Archive for the ‘new technologies’ Category

Who wants to be a Millionaire?

May 23, 2008

I went on an in-house training course on Turning Point on Thursday 22 May. Turning Point is a piece of software that measures audience response to a set of multiple choice questions. A bit like ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire?’ except that you don’t get a chance to go 50:50 or phone a friend although you may be able to discuss the answer to a question in pairs.

Turning Point displays the question on the screen and the audience uses a keypad handset to record their chosen answer. The presenter needs to allow the audience time to think and consider their answer. Once the polling closes, the results are displayed on screen in the form of a pie chart. Reports can also be created analysing the results.

I can see how we can use this Turning Point software in our information skills programme in the following ways.
– It could be used for evaluation of information skills sessions to monitor how useful students found the sessions etc.
– It could be used to assess a student’s prior knowledge of a topic before the session, e.g. what is the library catalogue used for
– It could be used to check understanding after the session to assess what the student has learnt/retained.

There could be, however, some practical drawbacks in using the technology. The timing of our information skills sessions is quite tight with sessions lasting about one hour. There could be some difficulty in incorporating Turning Point feedback into a one hour session.

The second drawback I can see is a logistical problem of ensuring the software is set up and works in any training room we would use and ensuring there are enough keypad handsets available. I can’t see this being feasible during busy induction periods but could be possible with a more structured information skills programme, when we tend to use the same two or three training rooms.

For further information on Turning Point, go to the Turning Point website.


Blogs, wikis and social networking

January 26, 2008

What is the point of Web 2.0? A poor example of Web 2.0 is students boozing and bareing their bottoms on Facebook. Maybe Facebook has no place on university campuses! 

I joined Facebook to try it out but feel disappointed and bored with all the trivia: do I care if someone ‘superpokes’ me? Uploading photos with the intention of making them available to family and friends on the web is fair enough. But all this trivia! As for second life, where you can do anything from running your own virtual business or using a library catalogue – I believe life is too short for Second Life! 

Blogs, wikis and social networking was the subject of a workshop I attended this week. Some of the websites we looked at I think I will use, such as Flickr (a photo sharing website) and Furl (a book marking website).  

Tim Berners Lee, a physicist and founder of the World Wide Web, originally intended the web to be used as a tool for collaborative working. We learnt about how wikis can be used for participants at a conference to get to know each other a bit in advance of the conference and how they can post their impressions of the conference afterwards and post photographs. Furthermore, project wikis can be used for collaborative working where all the team members can contribute to and edit the content.  

So, what use can academic libraries make of Web 2.0? In the workshop, I looked at examples of a library news blog at the University of Bath, a library blog for students with postings about library services at Perth College and even a link from Facebook to the library catalogue and subject resources at the Wolverhampton Learning Centres.

There are also security, privacy and ethical issues to consider with Web 2.0. Too many sites allow full access by default, whereas they should be tied down to privacy by default.

Podcasting – French style!

August 24, 2007

All the best ideas come to me in the middle of the night. I have been learning about podcasting recently – and since I attended an in-house course on podcasting some time ago. This course covered the technical aspects of podcasting and how a podcast can be used by lecturers to encourage a student to listen to a ‘taster’ before a lecture or a summary of main points covered after the lecture anytime, anywhere. This provides value added content to the lecture.

The most exciting and fun part of the course was when we did the hands-on. A colleague, R and I formed a team and we created a podcast in the form of an interview on the cult-series ‘24’ where Kiefer Sutherland plays Jack Bauer, an agent of the fictional agency CTU – Counter Terrorist Unit. The interview was unscripted and R asked me my views on the main characters and my views on the whole show. I was very pleased when we listened again to the recording. The trainer told us he would upload our podcast to his site, so that future course participants would be able to listen to our podcast, if they deemed it enticing enough to listen to!

Since then, I have been exploring a little on the BBC news podcasts.  I need to explore more here.

Our university library has been piloting a project called ‘listening to language’ for language students (the library is also responsible for the Language Resource Centre at our university). The podcasts consist of several recordings each lasting 3-5 minutes in one of three languages: French, Spanish, or Cantonese. As a languages graduate I listened to a few of the French recordings and surprised myself at how much I understood. I filled out an online evaluation form for a competition with the first prize, being appropriately, an MP3 player.

I can understand how podcasts lend themselves well to language learning. Students can listen to short recordings of one or more speakers talking about themselves, their home town and leisure interests. This can be done while on the move, travelling to or from work, or while doing the washing up!

I wonder if podcasting will ever become widely used at universities, as a way of pandering to the web 2.0 generation and becoming more attuned to the way in which this modern generation learns? Research in America predicts that the use of podcasting will grow by 100% between 2004 and 2010. However, this figure applies to podcasting used in many spheres, including business and not just univeristies.