Web 2.0

AMEE 2013 #FOAMed Workshop

Today I’m running a workshop on #FOAMed with at AMEE 2013, along with my colleagues Annalisa Manca and Ellie Hothersall from Dundee and Laura-Jane Smith from UCL.  We’ll be giving a brief introduction to the growing movement of Free Open Access Medical Education #FOAMed.  We’ll be asking our participants to identify if if they are already using elements of FOAMed and how.  Annalisa is going to go over some of the educational theories that are at play in FOAMed and then Ellie and LJ will be demonstrating how they’ve adopted elements of FOAMed to support undergraduate teaching and in particular how they’ve used to Twitter to support teaching in public health and case-based discussions. We’ll also highlight some of the other FOAMed activities that are going a cross the continuum of education before we get our groups to look at how they might design a #FOAMed approach to some learning scenarios that we’ve come up with.

The slides from our session are here and there’s also a handout that I’ve put together with a brief intro to FOAMed, some examples, information on tools that can form part of a FOAMed toolkit and some tips taken from comments left by some of the FOAMed community on my last post.

Loving Haiku Deck

I have a tendency to download apps onto my iPad if I see them being tweeted about in a positive way or something catches my eye in Zite or my RSS feeds in feedly.  One such app is Haiku Deck, I’m not sure exactly when I downloaded it, but it’s certainly been sitting there for a good while unused.  A few weeks ago when I as visiting the Medical School in Galway I had to put together a series of presentations and although I did make my slide decks in Keynote and PowerPoint I did start to have a play with Haiku Deck and liked what I saw.  I’ve now had an opportunity to have a proper go at using it to create a visual representation of openness in education for one of the tasks on the OU’s Open Education MOOC and I like it!!

If you’re a fan of Presentation Zen design using images to tell your story, with few words and no bullet points in sight, then Haiku Deck makes creating presentations really easy.  You simply choose a template type in your title and then you can search creative commons images on Flickr from within the app and add them to your presentation.  You can select the key words to search against if the first stream of images doesn’t quite meet your needs.  All the attribution on the images is published at the bottom of each slide.  You can select images from your camera roll, Dropbox etc and also create charts and you can have a few bullet points or numbered lists if you must!

Presenting can be done straight from your iPad and you can also publish your presentation to the Haiku Deck website and there are options to share to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc.  There’s also an embed code so you embed on a blog or website, but unfortunately wordpress.com hosted blogs don’t yet support the embed.

There’s also more, because if Slideshare is where you like to publish and share your presentations you can share your Haiku Deck directly to Slideshare.  It simply posts a  PDF of your slide deck to your Sideshare account.

One final great feature of Haiku Deck is that you can export your slides to PowerPoint or Keynote.  The app simply emails the presentation to you so that you can use and present in the conventional way.  I exported my openness in education deck to Powerpoint and then uploaded to Slideshare so that I could embed it here.

So if you have an iPad I’d recommend giving Haiku Deck a go, the app is free and comes with a number of template themes with the option to pay for some premium themes.

Update on using Google+ in an elearning themed SSC

Google+_2A few weeks ago I blogged about how I was using Google + (G+) with a group of SSC students.  I shared some initial reflections following the first week of the SSC, which involved five students who had opted to develop an elearning related project.  The SSC finished last week and as promised here’s an update on how it fared over the 4 weeks.

I had a super group of well motivated students, and they all engaged with the G+ community.  My colleague Annalisa Manca also joined the group. After the group was set up, and everyone had joined, G+ was our main means of communication, there was only the odd email, and these didn’t relate directly to the SSC.

Over the course of the SSC we used the G+ community:

To share resources including sites that were useful sources of creative images and icons, such as Wellcome Images, Noun Project and examples of #FOAMed resources such as Anatomy Zone, Hand Written Tutorials and the One minute medical school. This was useful as I could share resources intermittently rather than bomarding everyone at the start of the SSC and overwhelming them with too much information at once.

To arrange meetings – we used the events feature to arrange our group meet ups and confirm availability.

For support – Four of the students were using Artiuclate Storyline to develop online resources. Storyline is a great tool but like Articulate Studio it’s buggy and can be very frustrating and the students had issues using it.  They posted problems in G+, where it wasn’t clear what the issue was we suggested using Screenr to show us. The students also posted and shared some Articulate Screenr tutorials that they had found useful.

We didn’t use the Hangouts as we tended to meet up together a couple of times a week to review progress and share developments.  Had the snow been worse and getting into the medical school been an issue we might have used them.

The students were all positive about using G+.  Using the G+ mobile apps made it particularly easy to respond to posts and comments. I realised for the first time that the iPhone app included an instant messenger, which one of the group used a couple of times with me.  G+ wasn’t used at the expense of face-to-face interaction, the students still popped in to to ask things and check things and hire out equipment.

As well as G+ we also introduced the students to a few other tools and tips, which they were enthusiastic about.  These included:

  • Skitch – they loved this for labelling illustrations, diagrams etc
  • Google Docs and Google Drive – this was new to most of them, some used it for sharing their log books and reflections with the group, others used the forms to run quick surveys amongst their peers to guide their projects
  • Screenr – for highlighting problems they were having with Articulate
  • Pinterest – for organising and tracking creative commons images used in their resources and ensuring that appropriate attribution could be given
  • Dropbox  – was new to all but one of the students, who was quick off the mark in sending invites to the rest of the group to get more storage.  We also introduced them to SugarSync which gives you 5Gb of storage for free.
  • Google power searching tips, which proved very popular.

I felt that using G+ helped to foster a richer group dyanamic than I’ve seen in previous SSCs where students and I have met together as a group but communication in between has relied on email.  All the students developed fantastic resources and we’ll be embedding these into our curriculum resources and we also hope to share the resources as OERs/FOAMed learning assets.  I’ve also encouraged the students to consider running a workshop at our annual University eLearning Symposium on students as producers of learning and hopefully they’ll go for it.  One of the students developed a bank of formative assessment questions to support revision and again we’re going to look and see if we can submit a poster or presentation to the eAssessment conference that’s annually held in Dundee.

As for G+ I think it worked well with a small group of students.  Annalisa and I will be introducing it to a group of 5th years tomorrow on a prescring SSC, we’ll see if it proves as useful and works as well second time round.

Still looking for the perfect reference management tool

Workspace 3.0 - Noguchi File by paperbits, on Flickr

I mentioned in my post yesterday that I’m supervising a group of students on an SSC.  I’m introducing the small group to different ways they can use technology to support managing information.  As they’re developing elearning resources I’ve suggested they use a social bookmarking tool to keep track of any creative commons images they might use so that they can give the appropriate attribution.  I’ve shown them both my Diigo and Delicious accounts and posted some links for what’s in my libraries to our G+ community.  I’ve also shared a screencast on reference management tools and wanted to let them have access to the references I have bookmarked but this has proved easier said than done.

Over the past four and a half years I’ve set up accounts on 4 different reference management tools and there are elements of each of them that I like but each have their limitations and I’ve yet to find the perfect tool. I’ll run through the tools I’ve tried and what I like about them and what I think is missing.

I started using CiteULike just over 4 years ago when I started in my current post.  I liked the simplicity of it and the ability to post using a link from my bookmarks toolbar.  What I also liked was that it supported some of the same social bookmarking features as Delicious, namely the ability to

  • see how many other users have bookmarked a paper that you have and then take a look at these users’ other references.  Invariably this has helped me discover other interesting papers that I might not otherwise have come across.
  • subscribe to an RSS feed of another user’s references, again I’ve come across interesting papers in obscure journals that I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.
  • easily create a group to share references with colleagues or create a collection that can serve as a signpost to interesting research for students.

However what I didn’t like about CiteULike was that there seemed to be a growing number of references that didn’t pull through and needed me to manually input the key datafields for the paper and I found this a bit frustrating.

I then came across Zotero which worked as a Firefox plugin.  This seemed to pull in far more references automatically without me having to manually key in the data, it also pulled in keywords from articles, which could save me time on tagging.  I also liked that it handled blog posts and other web-based content quite neatly and there was also integration with Word.  I could access my bookmarked references on any browser by logging into my account and I could join groups but the ability to publicly share my references was lacking and I couldn’t see other users’ references or subscribe to a feed of their library.

Then Mendeley came along and the Twitterverse was buzzing about it so I created an account here.  I liked that I could import my CiteULike references and automatically autosave a reference from there too.  I could also autosave from Mendeley to Zotero and so everything was backed up and if one site was down I’d always be able to access my ibrary from one of them.  The other thing about Mendeley which seemed quite neat was that I could drag in a PDF and have this save to a folder on Dropbox and I could access these on my work PC, my MacBook pro at home and on my iPad.  Being able to annotate the PDFs on the Mendeley desktop was also handy before I got an iPad and again the ability to have groups was useful for collaborative writing projects.  There was a bit of a wait for the Word plugin for Mac and when it arrived I thought it was a bit flakey and not as good as the Zotero plugin.  Again no ability to publicly share my library, only the ability to share items with groups.

More recently a group at Oxford have developed Colwiz and I signed up for this soon after it was released.  I prefered the design of this to Mendeley and liked that I could search online directly from the desktop app.  As it was early days there wasn’t a bookmarklet and no support for Word on the Mac.  Colwiz offers a suite of additional project tools to support collaborative research including task management, events, calendars and cloud storage. I didn’t really persist with Colwiz and haven’t looked at it in a while, but a quick look at the Twitter feed indicates there are some interesting announcements on the horizon, so maybe time to revisit it and see what’s new.

I tend to use Zotero the most simply because of the ease of bookmarking references so easily in Firefox in the address bar.  The bookmarlet for Chrome and Safari on the iPad also work really well.  While initially I was quite taken with being able to annotate PDFs in Mendeley I don’t really like reading long papers on my laptop and find it much easier to read them and annotate them on my iPad using GoodReader or iAnnotate.

So I’ve shared a link with my SSC group to my CiteULike library but this isn’t as comprehensive a library as my Zotero library.  So I’m still on the look for the perfect reference management tool, and wonder if one dat it will exist. If Zotero had the Delicious type functionality of CiteULike in being able to publicly share your library and explore other people’s libraries and subscribe to RSS feeds it would be almost be there. Being able to post from Pocket or Instapaper would also be another thing on my reference manegement wishlist.  Anyone know if Zotero, Mendeley or Colwiz have plans to add these Web 2.0 social features?  I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d find them helpful if they did.

P.S. A quick update to this post. I received this helpful tweet from William Gunn, head of academic outreach for Mendeley, confiriming that you can publicly share a collection on Mendeley with a public group, which quite handy.

P.P.S. A second quick update.  As these tweets highlight Zotero also supports public groups and you can subscribe to an RSS feed of a group’s library.  In addition users can make their libraries public on Zotero and where that’s the case again you can subscribe to the RSS feed for the library or to feeds for specific keywords.  This looks like a possible solution for me with regards sharing some of my library with SSC students and I’ll have a go at setting this up.

P.P.P.S Third and final update – Mr Gunn has been back in touch to confirm Mendeley public groups also have RSS feeds 🙂
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  paperbits 

Getting started with Google+ in SSCs

Google+_2Last week I tweeted about using Google+ with a group of SSC students and had a couple of questions about the SSC and how I was using it so I said I would blog about it.

For those not familiar with SSCs these are student selected components also known as special study modules, which are a common feature in undergraduate medical degrees.  Alongside the core undergraduate medical curriculum students get to select specialties and topics that they would like to study.  They can choose from formally organised SSCs run by teaching staff across a wide range of topics and in different healthcare settings.  There is also the option to self-propose an SSC (SPSSC) and this is a particularly popular option with our 3rd year students, who want to explore and gain experience in a particular area of interest and they are responsible for arranging 2-4 week project and a supervisor.

I’ve supervised a number of these self-proposing students over the past few years who’ve wanted to develop an online learning resource to help them prepare for their future role of doctor as teacher and to develop their IT skills.  I like to have these students linked up with a clinical co-supervisor too so they can also get some clinical experience  and so that we have a subject matter expert to review the resource that’s developed. I’ve had 4-5 students at a time doing these SPSSCs with me over the last three SSC blocks and whilst they’re all doing slightly different projects as well as individual sessions with them I I like to bring them all together to introduce them to some prinicples in developing online learning, usability and accessibility, issues around copyright and the reuse of clinical recordings, different tools and software they could use and also give them tips for organising their project and managing information and resources. Meeting up together also lets the students share their ideas and storyboards and get feedback from their peers, they also share things they’ve learned each week and put their resource through some uasbility testing. As they’re doing an SPSCC they have to keep a daily log of what they’ve done each day. Typically students complete this as Word document but last year I suggested that each student do this as a blog and share with the rest of the group so that we could give feedback and comment. This has resullted in some really excellent reflection and analysis and allowed me to give quick and just-in-time feedback.

This year there are 5 quite different projects and during our kick off meeting I wondered whether it might be worth while having a go at using Google+ to support communication and sharing of resources over the 4 weeks of the SSC. I’ve been using G+ pretty much from the off, but it’s taken me a while to get the hang of it.  The penny has been dropping over the past few months and it was particualrly helpful in planning and organising a pre-conference workshop I co-ran at AMEE last year.  I was thinking that rather than responding to individual emails from the students they could post a query in G+ and then they would all see my response and links to any useful resources I might share.  It would also allow them to respond to each other’s queries and share things they discovered too. All of the students had a Google account and whilst they hadn’t used G+ before they were all game for giving it a go so I created a private community.

So how did the first week go?

Setting up the community – First off they all emailed me their gmail email details and I tried to add them to a circle but as many of them didn’t have a G+ account I couldn’t add them.  I’d assumed that if you had a gmail account you automatically had a G+ account so I had to email them all and ask them to set up on G+. Once they’d all done this we were up and running.

Using Google Drive – Whilst one student set up a blog, another shared their daily updates in G+.  Another student was keeping their log in a Word doc but then uploaded this to Googledocs and then shared this with everyone in the community.  Another student wanted to run a quick survey and asked for advice on survey tools, here again we made use of GDocs and Google forms.  By the end of the week one or two others were thinking of using Google forms to get some quick feedback from their year group on the sort of learning resource that would be helpful to their peers.  None of the students were aware of GDocs or GDrive and the respective mobile apps for smartphones and tablets, which once again confirmed to me that we shouldn’t make assumptions about students’ awareness of technologies.

Scheduling events – I scheduled a follow-up meeting and set up an event.  However with the delay in getting everyone into the group I still had to send an email later in the week to confirm the arrangements.  Now that everyone is a member this should hopefully work better this week as we schedule follow up meetings.

Hangouts – We haven’t used this yet but we’ll perhaps try this before the SSC finishes.  I’ve introduced the group to what a Hangout is and explained that they can collaboratively work on a document and share their desktop etc and that this might be handy if they are working on group projects at anytime.

Sharing resources – I’ve found using G+ a much easier of way of sharing and signposting resources to students. G+ sharing buttons on our departmental Vimeo channel has made it easy to share screencasts and similarly it’s very easy to share YouTube videos.

G+ app – This has been handy both on the phone and iPad particualrly given the recent upgrades which have made it much more user friendly and made it easy for me to post stuff and respond to the student posts.

What the students think – So far the students have been quite positive about using G+. Previous institutional surveys and my own conversations with students have highlighted that not all students are keen to see the University and Medical School using Facebook to support learning as they see this as their private and social space.  The students on the SSC all held this view but felt that G+ maybe had the potential to be used to support learning given the additional features.  We’ll see what they think at the end of the 4 weeks.

I’ve found using G+ a positive experience so far, I also think it’s saving me time.  If it continues to be then I’ll be making use of it again when the next SSC block runs in May and I might consider using it with a 5th year SSC on prescribing that’s running next month.  I’ll post an update when this 4 week block is over and perhaps mention a few other tools that the students have been introduced to including Dropbox, Skitch and Pinterest.

Technology, HE and spoon-feeding students

2010 Canon Photo5 Brief 5: Inspired by S by Jessica M. Cross, on Flickr

Alison Seaman has written an interesting piece on Personal Learning Networks: Knowledge Sharing as Democracy.  This sentence in particular caught my attention:

Underlying the development of a PLN is the need for individual learners to be able to have the capacity for self-direction, which requires a higher level of learning maturity—an absence of which may represent a barrier for a percentage of adults to learn in this way. Also crucially important for networked learning is the level of development of individuals’ digital and web literacies in order for members to optimally filter out ‘noise’ and contribute to the health of the network.

Which got me thinking … Does the way that we generally use technology in higher education tend to support spoon-feeding and traditional sage on the stage approaches to teaching and learning rather than helping students to develop digital and web literacies to support more self-directed learning and skills for lifelong learning?  Our students can read announcements in the VLE and download lecture powerpoints, other announcments and important infromation are emailed. Long gone are the days of having to trek to check a departmental noticeboard in a building where you rarely had lectures. I often hear colleagues say we’re spoon-feeding students these days, they don’t know how easy they’ve got it.

Back in 2009 JISC published a report Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World, which highlighted that students had little insight into how Web 2.0 tools could support their learning as opposed to their social lives. Three and a half years on I wonder how much things have changed?  How many students have the skills to develop a PLN as outlined in Alison’s article?  There are some medical students writing super blog posts, engaging in interesting twitter conversations, making great contributions to the #ukmeded twitter chat, developing their own learning resources and peer learning initiatives, they are doing some really great stuff oline and have developed very supportive PLNs. But these students are the exception rather than the rule.  Does that matter, was it any different 20 odd years ago?  Would I be one of these connected students if I was an undergraduate now, would I engage with Twitter and blogs if I’d had to use them for my learning when I was a student?

We recently used Twitter to support teaching on flu epidemics as part of our public health theme.  Some students took to it quite enthusiastically and really enjoyed the interaction with tutors, but the vast majority engaged because they had to and I suspect most will not continue to engage with Twitter to support their learning.  Alan Cann has used tools such as FriendFeed and Google+ in learning activities with his students at Leicester over the past few years but this year decided to make use of Google+ voluntary and has not linked it to assessment.  As a consequence very few students have actually enagaged with it and Alan is having more interaction with his students through Dark Social tools such as email and the VLE.

So why don’t students get how tools like Twitter and Google+ etc can support their learning? Why do they stop using them once the piece of work has been assessed?  It took me sometime to get Twitter, and it took a while for the penny to drop with Google+.  Are we just too impatient with students who don’t get this stuff, forgetting the learning curve we went through?  Are students too impatient to get how web and digital literacies can support their learning, do they think we’re just trying to be trendy using Twitter in our teaching and it’s all pretty pointless?  Or is the problem linked to how we’ve used VLEs to largely transmit information and a wider issue in higher education around students being spoon-fed and not developing the skills to become independent learners as outlined in this piece by Peter Ovens in THE from November 2011?

When we asked our 2nd year students back in 2009 whether they were interested in us running some infromal sessions on using RSS and Web 2.0 tools there was large scale disinterest.  A few months ago when we surveyed all five years of students the pendulum had swung to most students being interested.  This semester we’ll hopefully be running sessions for staff and students to share tips on how they use different tools and apps to support their learning.  It will be interesting to see how this approach goes and whether it proves any more successful than using tools in timetabled teaching activities. I’m hoping it will be and that the students who come along will pass on what they think is useful to their peers.


WordPress in UK Education Event: Would you come? Do we need one? Are you using it?

At the end of July I shared a couple of links via Google+ and my Tumblr site about an LMS app theme for WordPress and WPLMS, both of which focus on developing LMS/VLE type functionality for WordPress.  I find this sort of stuff interesting because the team I work with have been migrating our teaching resources from Blackboard to a new learning portal built in WordPress.  This migration has been the culmination of three years work, starting with blogs on WordPress.com to support undergraduate teaching to then setting up our own WordPress multiuser site.  Feedback from staff and students have informed and driven our developments  to the point that our undergraduate medical curriculum is now delivered via WordPress.

Reading about LMS app theme got me thinking and I posed this question on Google +

I think I may have said this before but couldn’t a few of us in the UK using WordPress as an alternative to the more traditional VLEs work together to get some JISC funding to develop some useful WP educational plugins and functionality?

As Martin Hawksey quickly pointed out there are others using WordPress in education in the UK, there’s been interesting things going at the University of  Lincoln, Dumfries and Galloway College have been using WordPress as an eportfolio tool.  There’s also the work of Jim Groom at the Universty of Mary Washington, which was one of the initial triggers for my interest in WordPress, and more recently his DS106 cMOOC.  Steve Bonham joined the conversation which then spilled over to Twitter and Pat Lockley also chipped in and  we talked about the possibility of a meeting to showcase how WordPress in being used in UK HE and explore whether there might be opportunities to explore funding to support WordPress development.

So as the title of this post asks, do you think we should try and hold some sort of UK WordPress in education event?  Would you be interested, would you come?  There is a JISC WordPress listserv but it has very little activity.  There are growing numbers of individuals and organisations using WordPress in UK education, there are annual Blackboard user meetings and Moodle meetings and although there is annual UK Wordcamp there’s not an educational event.

Do we need an event?  Should we start a google doc where we could detail who’s using WordPress and how, a bit like Matt Lingard’s doc on UK VLEs?  Would you be interested in a Google Hangout for a starter discussion?  Would there be any chance of funding from JISC or other groups that might fund a WordPress special interest group or an educational WP hackday type of event?

I was going to publish this post following that conversation, but things were too busy and hopefully I’ve not missed a trick in not striking while the iron was hot!  What do you think, are you interested? Would be great to hear from you via the comments here, Twitter, Google+ and any other channels that this post might be shared.

Starter for 10: What online tools & social media should be accessible in the NHS?

I’ve written previously about the problems of accessing elearning in the NHS and how this affects teaching and learning.  Back in November my colleague Andrew Howe and I gave a presentation to the NHS-HE Forum on accessing University teaching and learning from the NHS.  Our presentattion  gave an overview of some of the problems our clinical teachers and students face accessing University resources on their NHS PCs.  We also highlighted the frustrations concerning the inability

  • to access the growing amount of open learning content available  on sites such as YouTube, Vimeo and blogs and
  • to make use  of Web 2.0 and social media tools.

These sites, tools and technologies  make it easier for teachers to produce and remix online learning content.  They also offer many opportunities to support collaborative work, research and to share information with patients and colleagues. The reality, however, for those involved in teaching in the NHS and for our students on clinical placements is that access to many of these sites and tools are blocked by NHS firewalls. In some cases health boards have made them accessible but only to those clinical staff using them for research.

The outcome of our presentation and the following discussion at the November NHS-HE Forum meeting is that a short life working group has been set up to look at NHS-HE connectivity best practice.  The group includes IT managers, librarians, medical educators with responsibility for elearning and  we’ll be putting together our work plan when we meet later this week.

One of the things I’ve been tasked with doing is coming up with a starter for 10 list of tools/sites that should be accessible from the NHS.  I know the sorts of sites that my colleagues are keen to be able to access for example

  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • WordPress sites
  • Blogspot sites
  • Posterous
  • Social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Diigo
  • Google docs
  • Slideshare
  • Ning
  • Twitter

I’m also interested to hear what the wider NHS community involved in teaching and research would like to access.  Which tools would you like to access that are currently blocked in your health board or trust and why would you like to have access them, what benefits would they bring to your work?

Thinking about Posterous, Friendfeed and Tumblr

Last month Posterous ran a marketing campaign targeting users of Tumblr, Flickr and WordPress, amongst others, trying to tempt them over to Posterous.  Posterous has claimed that platforms like WordPress are dying and that users should make the most of their new import tools and transfer their blogs over to them.  The tone of Posterous’ campaign come in for some criticism and there was a piece on ReadWriteWeb questioning whether calling out dying platforms was good for Posterous? Another blog onecoolsitebloggingtips posed the question, Preposterous or Posterous?, highlighting that many have not been impressed with ‘the direction the Posterous advertising has gone’.

So will I be moving my blog to Posterous? No I don’t think I will.  I have WordPress, Tumblr and Posterous sites but I use them for different things.  I don’t blog here as often as I would want to, but I like that here on WordPress (WP) I can save drafts of pieces that I’m writing and come back to them.  Maybe I’m missing something on Posterous, but I can’t see an option to save a post as a draft, I seem to have to publish a post as private and then come back to it and then when it’s finished change it to public view.  Posterous is adding new functionality at quite a pace so this may come on stream before too long.

I initially started using Posterous as a bit of an online scrapbook and then started my football blog there and recently I’ve been thinking about whether to move this over to WP.  Perhaps I’m just a creature of habit, but I do prefer using WP and maybe it’s because as I see this as the place to think out loud and places like Posterous as somewhere to aggregate things that I find of interest.  Martin Weller outlined over a year ago on The Ed Techie how he was using Tumblr as a place to dump interesting things he comes across, whilst his blog was the place he thinks things through.  I’ve been using Tumblr in a similar way, it’s the place I post things on the web that I find interesting.  I prefer the Tumblr toolbar bookmarklet to the Posterous one because it gives me  more options including the option to save to draft.  I don’t post much by email, but if I wanted to I can do that with Tumblr too and there’s also a neat little app for the iPhone.  Posterous have made much about the fact that Tumblr doesn’t have comments as standard, but it’s easy to add this by integrating your Disqus account.

Over the past month I’ve been thinking a bit more about how I want to use Tumblr and also taking another look at Friendfeed.  I’ve been following Alan Cann’s pieces about Friendfeed over on his Science of the Invisible Blog with interest and decided it was time to give it another go.  I signed up ages ago but never really got it.  My Friendfeed feed just seemed to be full of people’s tweets, so recently I took Alan’s advice and culled a lot of the people I followed, I unsubscribed everyone that was just publishing their twitter stream as I already see these tweets on Twitter.  The thing now is to find people to follow.  Part of the problem for me seems to be the lack of individuals working in medical education who are active on sites like Friendfeed, Twitter etc.  Whilst I’ve not really started to follow anyone new on Friendfeed I have started to follow some people on Tumblr.  It’s not that easy to find people to follow on Tumblr but I’ve found a few and it’s been interesting to discover information and content that I wasn’t coming across via Twitter or other channels I use.  The one drawback of Tumblr is that you can’t easily comment or enter into dailogue with other Tumblr users because of the lack of commenting as standard, which is a bit frustrating.  You can only comment if people have installed a Disqus account and not many people have done this.

I’ll continue to use Tumblr as my online scrap book and perhaps with time more people might add Disqus so that there can be a bit more discussion which will add further value.  I will also keep checking Friendfeed but I’m still not sure if it’s for me.  More recently I’ve come across Amplify, which seems a bit like Friendfeed and I’d be interested to hear what others think of it and what value they get from using it.  As for Posterous I’ll continue to use it but I don’t think it’s going to kill off WordPress and Flickr.  If the Posterous bookmarklet web posting was more like the Tumblr one and you could save to draft maybe it will give Tumblr a run for its money and I might end up using it more.

Medicine for students as and when required!

Today saw the culmination of 4 months of hard work by about 10 of our 2nd year medical students with the launch of a new website DundeePRN Medicine for students as and when required.  I blogged back in September about blogging doctors and how a colleague in respiratory medicine had set up DundeeChest to support the teaching in the respiratory system block.  After an initial mixed response to DundeeChest (one student said – what blog?) by the end of the 4 week teaching block 98% of the year thought that all of the teaching blocks should be supported by a blog.  There has been interest from other systems and several other blogs have started up, and Friday will see the latest in the emerging Dundee Blogging Network, DundeeBones.

Early in the chest block DundeeChest asked whether any students were interested in getting involved in the blog, podcasting and e-learning developments generally.  About 10 students registered an interest and with the support and encouragement of DundeeChest, DundeePRN was born.  The students involved aren’t all techie types, but they do have a technical whizz among their ranks who’s built the site.  As a group they’ve shown real commitment and started to develop a resource, which whilst it’s primary focus is medicine at Dundee could become a useful resource for medical students elsewhere.  Many of the pages are public, but some can only be viewed by registered users, but anyone can register for an account.  The students have been posting links to BMJ articles, commeting on medical news, developing revision resources and providing a comprehensive overview of the teaching hospital and the learning opportunities available in clinics and on the wards.

DundeePRN was launched to our 2nd year students today and 73 new users have signed up since lunchtime.  Over the coming weeks the PNRers will spread the word to the 3rd and 1st year students and then the 4th and 5th years. They’re also hoping that more of the local clinical teaching staff will get inolved to help verify the content and also provide other input. It’s been great to watch DundeePRN develop over the past few months and see a group of students develop their own learning space.  Exciting times!!