Author Archives: Katharine Thompson

Podcasts and multimedia: Activities 1 – 3 (4 is optional)

As the weeks go on we are discovering how many of the technologies featured in the programme can be integrated and enhanced by being used together.  So in this activity you’ll be having a go at utilising the technologies from previous weeks (blogs, wikis and RSS) with podcasts and online video.

Activity #1 – Pick your podcatcher and subscribe to some podcasts

In Week 3 you will have created an account with Bloglines or Google Reader and both of these readers can be used to subscribe to podcasts using RSS.

Or try something new and download iTunes and use that as your podcatcher.

There are podcasts on just about every subject under the sun so try and find ones which are of personal or professional interest to you – that way you’ll enjoy listening to them!

Step 1 – search for a podcast

Try using a couple of different podcast search engines such as iTunes, Podcastalley, Podcastdirectory, Everyzing and Podomatic and compare the results.  Remember you can also use Google or Yahoo; just add ‘podcast’ as a keyword in your search.

Step 2 – subscribe

When you’ve found your podcast you need to subscribe to it.  Look for the familiar orange RSS logo, or you may even see a handy button saying ‘Subscribe using iTunes, GoogleReader, Bloglines etc.  Alternatively look for the RSS feed URL and copy and paste that into your chosen podcatcher.

If you need a refresher on RSS then head back to the Week 3 post and activities on RSS, or contact the Learning 2.0 team.

Subscribe to at least 3 podcasts and then get your headphones on and have a listen to a couple.

Activity #2 – Create an account with YouTube or Google Video

Step 1 – register

If you’ve previously created an account with Google Reader then Google Video should recognise and you’re good to go.  Registering with YouTube just takes a few seconds.

Step 2 – search for some videos

Both Google Video and YouTube allow you to search for videos using keywords.  Have a go and see if you can find anything of interest. Try searching for ‘libraries’ and see what happens!

Step 3 – add some favourites and RSS feeds

Once you’ve found some videos you like try and make them a favourite, or set up an RSS feed so you’ll know when videos featuring similar content is added.

To find out more about these features go to the YouTube or Google Video help pages.

Activity #3 – Add media to your blog and wiki page

Step 1 – add audio to your blog

Follow these instructions to add audio files to your blog.  Think about copyright though!  You can find ‘podsafe’ music on Podsafe Audio, Jamendo and opsound.

Step 2 – add video to your blog and wiki page

If you haven’t done this already try adding a video to your blog and your wiki page.

Activity #4 – Become a podcaster! (Entirely optional)

If you think this podcasting lark sound easy then why not try it for yourself!

Step 1 – find out what you need to do

Try these quick tutorials which provide a good overview of the equipment and software you need to podcast, as well as tips on how to make your podcast great!

Step 2 – get some software

Audacity is free audio software for recording and editing your podcast.  It’s easy to use but these tutorials will help get you started.

Step 3 – podcast!

If you do podcast please let your fellow participants know and let them listen to your masterpiece.

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Week 7: podcasts and multimedia

This week we’ll be looking at podcasts and online video.

What is a podcast?

The exact origins of the term podcast are shrouded in mystery, although podcasting started to catch on around the same time as the iPod so there may be a connection!

A podcast is an audio file (usually MP3) which is distributed over the web. A podcast may contain music, or not. It may be just a few minutes long, or last hours. It may feature one person, a conversation or a panel discussion. It may be recorded ‘live’ or carefully scripted and edited. It may be professionally produced or made by you and me on our PC (or Mac).

The term podcast is now often also used to describe an online video or ‘vodcast’. So you may find yourself watching a podcast, as well as listening to it. In this post we’ll stick to a podcast being audio only to avoid confusion.

How do I listen to podcasts?

The variety of ways you can listen to podcasts is one of the reasons why this technology has become so popular. You can listen to a podcast on your PC, or download it to an MP3 player/iPod and listen on the move.

How do I find podcasts?

Like blogs and RSS feeds, podcasts have their own search engines so you can easily find the podcasts you want. iTunes, Podcastalley, Podcastdirectory, Everyzing and Podomatic among others all offer the facility to search for podcasts, and may also host them as well. But you can just as easily use Google or Yahoo; just add ‘podcast’ as a keyword in your search.

One key feature of podcasts is the ability to subscribe to a series. You can download an aggregator, or podcatcher like iTunes or Juice. Alternatively, because serial podcasts have RSS feeds, you can utilise an RSS reader like Bloglines or Google Reader to subscribe to podcasts.

Can I podcast?

Yes you can! Podcasting, like blogging, is open to everyone as the equipment required is minimal. Got a PC? Got a microphone? Got something to say? Then you can be a podcaster. If you want to know more, check out the activities for this week.

Enough with the audio – what about online video?

The availability of faster and better internet connections, low cost online storage, cheap digital camcorders and home editing software has resulted in an explosion of video online. Content may be professionally produced, like the programmes you can watch or download from BBC iPlayer. But all it takes is a quick glance at video hosting sites like YouTube and Google Video to see that we’re all getting in the act. In fact YouTube’s slogan is ‘Broadcast yourself’ and we do, in our millions.

How do I find online video?

We’ve already mentioned YouTube and Google Video, but other search engines like Blinkx, Exalead and Yahoo offer video searching options. Or you can just add ‘video’ as a keyword in your search on most engines to get results.

Can I YouTube?

You can create accounts with YouTube and Google Video (in fact, if you set up an account with Google Reader in Week 3: RSS, you can use the same username and password to access Google Video.)

An account allows you to upload your own videos to these services, as well as create favourite lists, set up RSS feeds etc.

If you’ve bought a PC or a Mac recently you’ll probably find digital video editing software like iMovie and Windows Movie Maker pre-loaded; ready and waiting for you to create your masterpiece.

The L20 team has a YouTube account and we’ve loaded the short video tutorial we made on setting up your blog.

As you can see the quality isn’t great as the tutorial wasn’t created for YouTube – but it demonstrates how easy it is to join the online video club.

What’s in it for libraries?

Podcasts and online video provide a new medium for libraries in teaching, learning and marketing services to students and staff. Libraries are increasingly using these technologies to complement and supplement printed guides or face to face contact.

Take a look at the Imperial College online lecture page. By using podcasts and video the College is opening up these lectures to everyone – not just the people sitting in the lecture theatre. Many departments are now recording lectures and making them available as podcasts.

The library dipped its toe into the podcast waters last summer and created an audio library induction.

Click play to listen.

More podcasts are planned for the new academic year; there are more details about this on the intranet.

To see how other libraries are using podcasting visit the Library Success Wiki which has a long (mostly US based) list of library podcasts.

Over this side of the pond Cardiff University Information Services worked with the student radio station to produce a six part series on essay writing.

Librarians are also using online video, mainly in the form of screencasts which capture the activity on your PC monitor. Screencasts are particularly useful for demonstrating online resources such as databases. The L20 video mentioned above is an example of screencasting.

Get your ears ready – time to start the activities for this week.

Remember to add a post to your blog about this week’s activity!

Further reading (and watching and listening)

Podcasting in Plain English from the Common Craft show – all you need to know about podcasting in three minutes.

Podcasting: if Terry Wogan can do it, so can we … by Claire Molloy and Elaine Shallcross – the library ‘podsquad’ from the University of Aberdeen discuss their experiences of producing podcasts and vodcasts

Listen to University of Aberdeen podcasts

Watch University of Aberdeen vodcasts

Beginner’s guide to podcasts and podcasting (plus: how to create a basic podcast of your own) – discusses what makes a good podcast and what you need to become a podcaster yourself

Week 4: Catch up week

And relaaxxx…

Yes Learning 2.0ers, Week 4 is a catch up week so no homework for you this Friday.

If you’re up to date with the programme so far then well done.  Why not spend this week updating your blog or working through some of the further reading we’ve suggested.

Remember, we ask you to write at least one post for each technology of 100 words or more.  Some of you have already posted some really interesting thoughts and ideas – and some of you have been a bit quiet.  Don’t be shy! Tell us what you think.

And if you’re a bit behind or feeling overwhelmed, this is the week to get back on track and complete those activities.

The Learning 2.0 team are standing by to answer your questions and provide help and support.

Wikis: activities 1 – 4

This week we’ve been looking at wikis.

Below are some activities to get you using and exploring this technology.  Have a go, but if you get stuck remember you can email us at learning2.0@imperial.ac.uk and we’ll do our best to help!

Activity #1 – RSVP please!

Check your inbox (we will be sending the invites to your Hotmail accounts) – you should have received an invitation from WetPaint to join the Learning 2.0 wiki.

Please accept the invite and head on over to the wiki and register with WetPaint so you can start Activity#2.

Can’t find your invite?

First try checking your Junk mail folder in Hotmail – it may be in there.

Second – email the Learning 2.0 team and we’ll invite you again!

Activity#2 – get wiki-ing!

Go to the Learning 2.0 wiki at http://wikilearning20.wetpaint.com/

You may need to sign in with the WetPaint username and password you created in Activity#1. To do this click on the ‘Member sign in’ button in the middle of the screen.

Once you’ve signed in you’re ready to create your first page!

  • Find the wiki pages navigation menu on the left of the screen
  • Click on ‘Add page’
  • Give your page a name. We suggest you use your name in here so other participants can find your page easily. So call it ‘Frank’s page’ for example.
  • Click the ‘add page’ button and your page has been created!

Now you need to add some content.

  • Click on the ‘EasyEdit’ button at the top of the screen. This will make your page ‘live’ and you’ll be able to enter text. You can write about anything you like.
  • Use the ‘East Edit toolbar’ to format your text, try using bold, adding bullet points etc.
  • When you’ve finished click on the ‘Save’ button in the ‘Easy Edit toolbar’.

Take a look at my page – it took less than 5 minutes to create. Yours will be much better!

Activity#3 – collaborate

Ask one of your fellow Learning 2.0 participants to be your wiki ‘buddy’.  Why not try sending them an IM to do this? Or you could just go over to their desk and ask them…up to you.

Find out what their pages are called and start editing and adding to them.

And if you’ve got time…

Activity#4 – explore

Try some of the other features of WetPaint wikis.

Create some new pages using different templates.

Use the Discussion forum to start a conversation with fellow participants

Use the ‘widget’ button in the Easy Edit toolbar to add video and other media to your page.

 

Week 2: wikis

In this second week we’ll be looking at wikis.

What is a wiki?

Wiki is taken from the Hawaiian word ‘wiki wiki’ meaning quick or swift. In Web 2.0 terms a wiki is a website in which content can be added, edited and changed by a group of members which means a wiki is great way of people working together and collaborating online.

The daddy of all wikis is of course Wikipedia. This free encyclopaedia allows anyone to edit or create new ‘pages’. So, for example, if you had information you wanted to contribute to the Wikipedia Web 2.0 page you could do so very quickly and easily and everyone viewing that page would be able to see you what you’d added.

How do wikis work?

Rather like the blogs we looked at last week one of the benefits of wikis is that you don’t need any special techie skills to create or use them. Wiki software is designed to be intuitive and employs a WYSIWYG interface so no need to learn HTML – although some wiki software allows you to do extra whizzy stuff in a form of HTML called Wikitext or Wiki Markup. Wiki software can either be downloaded onto your PC, or is hosted on the web (like your blogs) and you just log in and start working.

As well as being able to create and edit your own pages, you can also do this to content added by other users. Tracking tools in wikis also allow you to see the ‘history’ of a page; who edited it, what changes/additions they made etc. There is usually a ‘revert’ feature where you can reinstate a previous version of a page if it’s better than the new one!

How do you start a wiki?

There are lots of companies offering free wikis out there. The one we’ll be using for this weeks activity is called WetPaint but there are loads of others. Some offer specific features and functionality and if you’d like to explore other wikis and see what they offer then go on over to the WikiMatrix which has a long list of wikis and what they can do.

Are all wikis open to everyone?

No, the ethos of sites like Wikipedia is to be open and allow anyone to contribute – a wonderful idea, but this can cause problems. However, in most cases you will only want certain people to be able to contribute or even to see your wiki, especially if you’re using it in a work context.

Generally wiki software has levels of privacy and security which you can set according to your needs. For example, in our Learning 2.0 wiki you’ll be invited to join and become a writer/contributor – if you’re not on the list, you’re not getting in! The College has its own wiki software which has very strict privacy controls and is only open to College members.

How is the library using wikis?

IRD have now put their procedures onto a wiki (N.B. the wiki is on the staff intranet so you need to log in to see it) as it allows all members of the team to update information for staff in this fast moving sector.

The Learning 2.0 team have a wiki which helps us with the admin and organisation of the programme – although this hasn’t weaned us off email!

During the IRMAP last year the Natural Sciences team created wiki for sharing all those many versions of spreadsheets and organising workflows – we really found it useful.

Many other libraries and organisations are starting to use wikis in projects which require collaboration and document sharing.

Ready to start this week wiki activities? They are just a click away.

Further reading/watching

Library success wiki – created by Meredith Farkas (she’s a bit of a Library 2.0 guru) as a space for librarians to promote all the great things they are doing in their libraries and for others to pick up ideas and inspiration.

Wiki Wiki Webs: new ways to communicate in a web environment by Brenda Chawner and Paul Lewis – a paper which discusses the merits of different wiki software and how libraries are implementing wikis.

Wikis in plain English from the Common Craft Show – another great little film from Common Craft which tells you all you need to know about wikis in under 4 minutes.

 

Blogs: Activities 1 – 4

This week we’ve been looking at blogs

Below are some activities to get you using and exploring this technology.  Have a go, but if you get stuck remember you can email us at learning2.0@imperial.ac.uk and we’ll do our best to help!

N.B If you were able to attend the introductory session you will hopefully have completed Activities 1 -3 which means you can sit back and relax until next week!  Or if you like try Activity #4 and personalise your blog a bit, or take a look at the further reading.

Activity #1- Bag your blog!

Follow these simple steps to create your own blog.  You can also watch a brief tutorial we’ve produced to help you.

  • Go to WordPress.com, click on the big green ‘Sign up now!’ button.
  • Enter your username, password and email address (you can use either your Imperial email or your new Hotmail account)
  • Click the ‘Next’ button
  • Edit your domain name if you want to.  Your blog address will be http://yourdomainname.wordpress.com so choose carefully!
  • Edit your blog title if necessary.  This will appear at the top of your blog page – so again think carefully about the name.
  • Read the ‘terms of service’ by right clicking on the link and opening the page in a new tab.  You must check the box to confirm you’ve read these before continuing
  • Choose which privacy option you prefer
  • Click the ‘Sign up’ button
  • Check your email account for your WordPress activation email
  • Click the link given in the email and you’re off!

Activity #2 Email your blog details to us

We need:

Your name

Your blog address

Email your blog details to Learning 2.0 at learning2.0@imperial.ac.uk

Links to all the blogs will be put up on the Learning 2.0 blog.  When posting please bear in mind that work colleagues will be reading your blog, but you can make it as formal/informal as you like – it’s your blog.

Activity #3 – Write your first post

Each week you will be expected to post an entry of between 100 and 150 words.  Things to think about include what you thought of that weeks technology, what you learned and whether or not you think it would be appropriate in a work context (whether personally or as a part of the services we provide).  There are no right or wrong answers!

So your first post should be about blogs and maybe what you think of the Learning 2.0 programme so far.

And if you’ve got time…

Activity #4 – Explore templates and widgets

Explore templates

  • Click on the ‘Design’ tab in your dashboard and select ‘Themes’
  • Click on the template to preview how your blog would look
  • If you don’t like it, click the X in the top left corner
  • If you do like it click ‘Activate’ in the top right corner and you’ve got a new template.

Explore widgets

Widgets are bits of code which you can add to your blog to perform different functions.  For example you can add a calendar, or a list of your most popular posts.

To find out more about widgets and how to use them, visit the WordPress faq pages.

Week 1: blogs

In this first week we’ll be looking at blogs.

What are blogs?

Blog is an abbreviation of ‘weblog‘.  As the name suggests ‘weblogs’ are logs or diaries which are online. Each entry written on the blog is called a ‘post’.

How did blogging begin?

The term weblog is generally attributed to Jorn Barger and was first used in 1997.  Wikipedia has extensive entry on the history of blogging if you’d like to learn more about where all this started.

Who blogs and why?

In recent years blogs and blogging have become pretty main-stream and thousands of new blogs are created every day.  Most blogs are written by individuals and focus on the events of their daily lives and are usually read by their friends and family – or often by no-one at all!  And, of course, there are a large number which feature amusing pictures of cats.

But it would be wrong to dismiss bloggers as a bunch of slightly self-obsessed nerds who want the world to know what they had for breakfast.  Now it seems that everyone blogs from politicians and heads of state to celebrities and captains of industry.  Even librarians are at it!  Blogging is free (or very cheap) to set up and run and this makes it a great way to get information out to a potentially unlimited audience.

How do blogs work?

Most blogs are written using specific software which is often freely available.  This usually involves signing up for an account and getting a free blog or blogs.  The software provider ‘hosts’ your blog online which is great as you don’t have to worry about any technical issues (usually!), all you have to do is write your post.  It’s also possible to use blogging software which is installed on your PC, but most bloggers go for the easy hosted option.

In our Learning 2.0 programme we’ll be using WordPress.com (because it’s the software we’re familiar with) other companies providing hosted blogging include Blogger, TypePad and LiveJournal.

Bloggers post, comment, muse and rant about anything and everything.  What blogs have in common is that they still retain the diary format with entries displayed in chronological order with the newest entries first.  Blogs are also searchable so readers can trawl back through the blog archives to find a particular post. ‘Tags‘ are used to categorise the content of posts and these are created by the blogger and can be used for searching.  Of course, librarians have used tags for ages – we just call them ‘subject headings’.

What’s with all the jargon?

As with all this new fangled Web 2.0 stuff, the blogosphere has its own jargon of pings, trackbacks, memes and, well, blogosphere. This useful glossary will have you talking like a true blogger in no time.

How do I find people’s blogs?

Finding blogs can be a bit of a challenge but there are many search engines dedicated to just this activity.  Probably the two best known are Technorati and Google Blog Search.

Now you’ve got a bit of background about this technology let’s start blogging!

Go to the blog activity page for your instructions.

Further reading

The world’s 50 most powerful blogs – With some sites receiving thousands of hits a day the influence of the blog is increasing. See what the Observer newspaper considered to be the 50 most powerful.

What’s the Ballyhoo about blogs? – Librarian’s opinions on the pros and cons of blogs and blogging. N.B. This article is hosted by ScienceDirect, so if you’re off campus you’ll need to do the signing in thing.

The ethical blogger by Karen Schneider – How careful do librarian bloggers have to be about ethics and professional standards?

Blogs in plain English from the Common Craft Show – OK, this is watch and listen rather than read.  Common Craft produce great little films on a variety of Web 2.0 technologies.  This 3 minute film tells you all you need to know about blogs.