Archive for the ‘Social Media / Networking’ Category

Social Media at ALT-Cs

September 9, 2013 1 comment

A look back at social media use at the ALT-C conference over the years. Very much personal recollections, certainly not a definitive history. Later today I’ll be heading to Nottingham for the ALT-C conference #altc2013 It’s ALT’s 20th conference which makes me feel like a relative newbie to the field of learning technology. My first ALT-C was in Sunderland in 2002, about which I remember very little – David Puttnam and the Stadium of Light. My first Social Media ALT-C My first social media fueled ALT-C was 2008 in Leeds and I think that’s the conference where social media first featured heavily. There was stuff going on before that (e.g. see #altc2006 photos on Flickr, #altc2007 RSS Yahoo Pipe) but a minority sport I think (I didn’t attend between 2003 & 2008, so can’t be sure). By 2008 I’d been messing quite a lot with blogs, wikis, Facebook, RSS and the like – I’d run my first social media workshop in 2006 “Social Software: Blog it, Digg it, Poke it!”.

Edubloggers at Work

Photo by samscam (CC BY-NC)

At the time of #altc2008 one of my tools of choice was Netvibes. Ahead of the conference I created this ALT-C 2008 Netvibes page and compiled an OPML file (collection of RSS) from it for others to subscribe to. I also created a conference wiki with Kris Roger (an LSE colleague) & Athina Chatzigavriil (UCL & future LSE colleague) to collate comments from delegates to help us write the 2008 Conference Review for the ALT Newsletter. The conference also featured Crowdvine which continued to be used as the conference site until last year. Crowdvine made a a lot of use of RSS and enabled delegates to add their various social media channels to their profiles e.g. my 2008 profile. The 2008 conference also saw the development of a conference Fringe with the introduction of F-ALT. I particularly remember the Edubloggers meet-up where I first met many people who have since featured heavily in my social media network. Talking of which, Twitter also arrived on the ALT-C scene at the 2008 conference with 310 hash-tagged tweets. See Twitter at ALT-C below. While ALT’s Youtube channel now features recordings from 2008, they weren’t actually added until 2011. I helped Seb Schmoller set-up the ALT YouTube channel in 2009 and the first uploaded video was Making Group-Work Work from the 2009 conference. Working as a WPC at ALT-C For the 2010 & 2011 ALT-Cs I was one of the four Web Participation Co-ordinators. This was a new role on the conference programme committee tasked with helping make the most of the online aspects of the conference including social media, crowdvine and the live streaming. I didn’t attend the 2010 conference in Nottingham in person but was very active from afar and did a lot of tweeting from the official @A_L_T Twitter account which I’d helped get off the ground in 2009. Twitter Usage at ALT-C Although Twitter featured earlier, as the chart shows it was 2009 that it really took off as the backchannel tool of choice.

Tweets at ALT-C

Tweets at ALT-C

These numbers have been taken from and for each year I’ve counted the number of tweets tagged within the same calendar year that included #altc20xx, altc20xx, or #altcxx. Despite a slight dip last year there has already been much more pre-conference tweeting in 2013. At the time of writing – lunchtime, the day before the conference, there are 1186 tweets for ALT-C 2013. I suspect the number of tweets will increase again this year despite the growth of other networks such as Google+. Top of the Tweeters

  • 2007 – @mmetcalfe (1 tweet)
  • 2008 – @andypowe11 (51)
  • 2009 – @jamesclay (252)
  • 2010 – @dajbconf (333)
  • 2011 – @digitalfprint (423)
  • 2012 – @digitalfprint (403)


Updated 08/10/2014 with the following tweet from @mhawksey:

No Talking at the Back

June 7, 2013 Leave a comment

A Twitter Backchannel pre-conference workshop for the Learning @ City Conference

I don’t usually ‘write-up’ or share my work workshops here, but this was a little different because 1) it was the first for a long time (my first at City!) 2) It was using iPads (for my first time) 3) it had the best set of feedback I’ve ever had.

No Talking at the Back was a pre-conference workshop for the Learning @ City 2013 conference. The workshop ran 3 times – once for edtech staff and then twice with conference delegates. It’s an introduction to using Twitter to participate in ‘backchannel communication’ during live events such as conferences. There were some pre-workshop activities (including creating an account) and the session itself was a lot of hands-on practical stuff with some discussion around topics such as is it OK to tweet photos of fellow delegates.

Myself and the attendees all used iPads in the workshop which worked really well. I used Prezi to structure the session but much of my presentation was demonstration. It was a slightly strange situation (as it always is) to have participants communicating and interacting with each other online when sitting a few feet from each other but it seemed to work.


I had some great individual comments in the feedback and 100% chose Very Good for the workshop overall. More importantly everyone said they might change their practice as a result of the workshop – Yes (4 people), Probably (5) & Possibly (3). Summary of Feedback


Social Media Presentation for CLL

May 22, 2013 Leave a comment

Social Media in Engineering & Maths presentation as part of the HEA Changing the Learning Landscape programme

I gave this talk as part of a full day on the use of social media in teaching Maths & Engineering. It was Academic Professional Development in Learning Technology strand of the Changing the Learning Landscape programme. The event was held at the University of Manchester and attended by around 40 staff from institutions across the UK.

My talk was essentially highlighting the work of others so I can’t take too much credit. It featured polleverywhere and a collaborative editing experiment with a Google Doc involving 20 or so participants, most of whom weren’t in the room.


Making the Web Work for You

August 10, 2012 Leave a comment

IFTTT (If This Then That) is a great tool for automating tasks on the web and making your life that little bit easier

Let’s start with an example.  I regularly download PDFs (Articles, Reports etc) for reading offline, usually on a mobile device during my commute. I’ve done this in a number of ways but recently I’ve mainly been using my Kindle. The process for this is:

  1. I download / save PDF
  2. I send an email with the PDF attached to Kindle (see Sending Docs to Kindle)

Only two steps but it always feels just that little bit too much work! Now using IFTTT I have automated step 2:

  1. I save the PDF to a Dropbox Folder
  2. IFTTT automatically sends an email with the attachment to my Kindle

OK, it’s only a small time saver but every little helps 🙂

Screenshot of IFTTT Recipe

I really like the simple user-friendly interface IFTTT uses for creating these ‘recipes’. It works with loads of popular services & tools including email, RSS Feeds, Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, WordPress, Evernote & Dropbox. See About IFTTT for a more detailed explanation of how it works and Popular Recipes for more ideas on how you might use it.

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Google+ A new social networking tool

August 4, 2011 Leave a comment

The Google+ Project is Google’s new social networking service.

There have been lots of detailed reviews already, for example, the Huffington Post’s Google+ Review Roundup so I’ll keep this short.

The cornerstone of G+ is Circles.  Circles allow you to put your network friends into groups.  You can then send updates to specific Circles or filter your reading by just viewing updates from a particular circle. I love the idea of Circles and while they are more easily understandable & usable than twitter lists (which only work as a reading filter, not in reverse) I do find the interface a little confusing.  G+ Circles get a B-.

Google+ Cartoon Strip

When I first looked a Google plus with CLT colleagues a couple of weeks ago we got very excited by Hangouts.  A hangout is a video web conference for up to 10 people and it is excellent.  The audio/video quality is great and the video switches between speakers very quickly. G+ Hangouts get an A-.

I don’t do much photo sharing so I didn’t intentionally try out the Instant Upload.  However I took a photo at our away day two weeks ago and later discovered that Google+ had kindly put it online for me.  I was not amused.  I guess I must have missed some small print somewhere but the default setting needs to be off not on. G+ Instant Upload gets a D from me because of this.

It’s early days and predictions are dangerous but there is definite potential.  It’s certainly not Google Wave!  It’ll be interesting to see whether it attracts & retains users once it goes beyond the current “field trial”.  For now I’ll be staying on Twitter until I need a web conference.

Want to know more?

5 tools to make your working day easier

August 3, 2011 1 comment

A brief overview of my 5 favourites: Remember the Milk, Dropbox, Delicious, Evernote & Doodle.

After reading The research lab in your pocket: apps and the academy in this week’s THE I thought I’d highlight the 5 tools I make most use of, which includes two from the article.  My recommendations are focused on tools for everyone’s everyday working rather than as “essential academic tools”.

All of these tools have free versions.  Some also have paid for upgrades offering more features or removing usage limits.

1) Remember the Milk

Remember the Milk screenshot

A to do list.  It has many features, including shared lists but I use it quite simply.  I don’t set deadlines, I just use the 3 levels of priority and I use the Notes feature a lot to add information to tasks.  For example I regularly paste emails into Notes. My working day always starts with RTM.  I use both the website and the (Android) app.  You can also update your list via email, Twitter, your browser and probably in many other ways.  See Services. Some aspects, including the Apps require a Pro account (US$25 pa).

2) Dropbox
Dropbox screenshot“Your files, anywhere” is how Dropbox describes itself.  Dropbox replaces your need for USB memory sticks.  It allows you to access your files from any computer by storing them online while giving you access via the Folders on your computer.  There are Apps and access via their website too. It’s great for sharing files with others, as you can invite people to specific folders making it ideal for collaboration.

3) Delicious
Delicious screenshotA replacement for Internet Favourites / Bookmarks.  A place to store links to your favourite websites proving easy access to them from any computer and making them available to anyone. I like the simplicity of Delicious and have found myself returning to it after experimenting with a more fully featured social bookmarking service: Diigo. Delicious provides feeds which enables you to display your links elsewhere e.g. your website or Moodle.

4) Evernote
Evernote screenshotReplaces scraps of paper as a central place to make & keep notes.  It can also capture much more – including audio, links to websites, files & emails. You can organise you notes in notebooks and share them with others.  There are lots of ways to access it – desktop, web, Apps and some nice integrations, e.g. with Outlook.  I use this one on-and-off,  mainly for making notes in meeting, at events or on the tube. The premium version (US$45 pa) increases storage, allows collaborative editing and more file types.

5) Doodle
A Doodle iconReplaces headaches and roughly a thousand emails when trying to schedule meetings, particularly with those outside of your workplace. A must-use for fixing a date for your next meeting.  No account required, simply choose possible dates/times, email the participants who tick boxes in a simple form. It comes with other calendar integrations but I’ve never tried them.

Moodlemoot UK 2011 Keynote via Twitter

April 19, 2011 12 comments

Report on the Gráinne Conole’s keynote at Moodlemoot 2011 based on the #mootuk11 twitter stream

Senate House (by @nrparmar)

I’m not physically at the UK Moodle conference this year.  There’s no live streaming (although the sessions are all being recorded), so I’ve been keeping an eye on the #mootuk11 Twitter stream to see what I can glean.

How well does Twitter capture a lecture?

I thought it might be interesting to write up the keynote based on my Twitter viewing.  It’s difficult to say how well this works; perhaps someone who was there will comment below.  I feel that I probably have a good idea of the broad topic but lack detail and the nuances of Gráinne’s thoughts.  Also, it’s not always clear when tweeters are giving their own view or reporting the speaker’s view.  I have lots of links because sharing links is a popular use of Twitter at live events.


I know Gráinne, we’ve met a couple of times and I follow her blog and we’re friends on Twitter.  I mention this because it means I come to her keynote with a certain understanding of her work and the things she is interested in.  I know about her Cloudworks project and I gave an Introduction to Cloudworks (6-mins, includes audio) talk once.

Continue reading Moodlemoot 2011 keynote via Twitter