Brief review of things discussed at the December meet

The last meet generated a lot of interesting chat and ideas. Here’s a flavour of the kind of topics that were bounced around:

Kelly Page (@drkellypage , see: spent some time telling us about the wiki based learning activities she’s been doing with students to promote collaborative working. This naturally dovetailed with a topic that is of interest to Mike Johnson (@agentjohnson –  see: He’s in the early stages of investigating ways of automating peer generated feedback in online collaborative tasks. It’s early days, but there’s something very appealing about this approach – take a look at his CEQ related post.

There was also a fair bit of chit chat about ‘digital literacy’ and what it means for different people (for starters read ‘Thriving in the 21st century: Learning literacies for the digital age’). Do staff and students in different subject areas and disciplines understand it in the same way? In what way is different or the same as ‘Information Literacy’ or ‘Media Literacy’? (see: New media and literacies: Amateurs vs. professionals) – and most importantly, how can we go about improving the embedding of such knowledge and skills in courses and curricular across the University. I for one, would really enjoy revisiting this topic, in particular with regard to the Employability agenda being pushed by WAG.

Sara Nicholas (@sarahnicholas) described the work she’s been doing with fellow librarian Susan Smith on the design and development of a forthcoming workshop entitled ‘The Connected Researcher’, which is all about enabling researchers to engage through social media and technologies to establish better networking and collaboration. Some of the more intriguing things discussed were the notions of ‘digital identity’ and ‘digital footprint’ and the how and why a researcher might want to take greater control over these.

There was the usual exchange of what’s new on the iPhone and iPad . For me personally, Dropbox‘s traction continues to grow with clever interfacing to applications across all platforms. A good example of this is Trunk Notes. A fairly simple and straightforward personal wiki that automatically stores its content in plain text on Dropbox. Very useful because allows adding and editing content regardless of where I am. I’m deciding whether to move all my notes into this wiki. I’ve been a long time fan of concept mapping and I’m desperate to see a good tool developed for the iPad. IThere are signs of steps being made towards that with applications like Popplet. I can’t say it’s won me over yet, but I need to give it some more time and test out it’s export/import capability with more thoroughbred tools like Cmap.

The next ThoughtGrazing Social Media Cafe is scheduled for 1-4pm Wednesday 12th January in the usual place – the lounge of the Posgraduate Centre above the Students Union on Plas-y-Parc. All welcome, join us for a coffee and chat about anything to do with social and technology and media.

Aggregators, jabber and the connected researcher

Perhaps the most noticeable attendees at the first “event” were the shiny Apple kit that was present. The complete suite from Mac Book Pro, through iPad to iPhone were present and correct, and working effortlessly off the eduroam-enabled WiFi network in the Grad Centre.

Oh! How I love eduroam! What a joy it is to just walk into a WiFi-enabled room, open my laptop (yes I was the one with the MBP) and connect to the network without doing anything. That’s the way wireless networking should be!

The coffee might not have been great (but then I did have the first of the morning – barely waiting for the device to warm up), but the chat and banter was great. I tried to keep a twitter flow running so that those who had indicated that they couldn’t make it would get a feeling for what was going on.

There was quite a focus on social media and “new journalism”. This was not surprising, given Glyn Mottershead was an early arrival. We did have tweets into the event from Anne-Marie Cunningham who shared with me her excitement of 100 hits on a Facebook page from her new first year students without her having referenced it at all.

Viral adoption - first year MEDICs

Then we also had a tweet in from Sarah Nicholas bemoaning the fact that she had been on leave and hadn’t dragged herself in so that she could have chatted about her Connected Researcher Workshop session planned for the New Year.

I’ve been playing around with Yammer again. It’s an interesting tool as you can have “inside the firewall” [corporate-centric] discussions, groups [for tasks/projects and focussed discussion] and communities (which is what I’ve set thoughtgrazing up as) for [discussion that can include external “partners”]. It appears to me to be an ideal “half-way house”, or at least one that allows the social media seed to be sown. I feel much the same about posterous – I may actually use posterous too for “Thought grazing …” as you can post to it using tools that most users are happy with … ie email.

Other than Anne-Marie and Sarah a few other apologies were received – Kelly Page, Mike Johnston, Andrew Frayling, Martin Weller and Stuart Hill – but the rest of us – Joe Nicholls, Paul Hobson, Chris Graves, Simon Wood and Cathie Jackson and me had plenty to talk about.

Of the topics that I picked-up on (I was being acused of being anti-social for trying to tweet/yammer at the same time) I thought one which centred around how we might improve the IM Chat service using XMPP (Jabber) was very interesting. There was animated discussion on aggregators for the iPad with GoodReader getting the vote ahead of instapaper. Of course if you’re looking for x-platform feedly or tumblr (for RSS feeds) and (twitter as a newspaper) might be of interest.

There was also some discussion about the day of the week that we might try and use for the next event.

How’s Wednesday for everybody?