Well blow-me-down!

Would you believe it. There I was yesterday complaining about publishers not using Kindle type services and what does Amazon do? They go and give students the opportunity to “rent” textbooks to download to Kindle. ok, so it’s only in the USA at present but hopefully it’s the thin edge of the wedge and we’ll start to see some progress now.

One of the reasons I discovered that little nugget of information was because I was working on a leaflet about ebooks for students for next semester. Trying to make Digital Literacy important to students is very difficult when they experience a very good system before they arrive at university (e.g. Amazon Kindle) and then HE (through little fault of their own) provides them with something that is next door to useless. ok, ok, I’m exaggerating but that is how students feel – students are frequently young, often new to HE, and always anxious to some extent – students feel that HE has let them down. This shining spire of excellence, a university, can’t do something better than a book supplier can. This is where and when students start to doubt what universities actually have to offer them. We, the lecturers etc, all know that a university education is about a lot more than an ebook but first year students don’t know that. How do I write a leaflet that explains why their lovely shiny bubble has burst 😦

Besides writing the ebook leaflet I’m trying to settle down to getting on with the other stuff I need to produce. The ghastly PIDs, yuck, I must do them but I think I ought to write the guidelines for using online resources first. I’m still looking for three groups of people to pilot the OER strategy with but with no luck, then again it is summer (it’s not really raining every day) and lots of people are away. I’m still working on trying to get the lunchtime webinars set up. There was a little delay whilst we waited for the University to make a choice about which company they wanted to sign up with. That is sorted now, well at least for the next twelve months, as they have decided on WizIQ. I still want to give Citrix Webinar a try though, if it is good enough and doesn’t cost the earth (like Adobe and Blackboard conferencing tools do) we might need to have another option in twelve months time 🙂 Which would you recommend?

Oh dear, I forgot that I was going to talk some more about the Bloomsbury Conference. I was really impressed by many of the people I met at the conference not just because of what they have already achieved – I found their enthusiasm so refreshing and inspiring. Despite having slogged away at trying to get social (or rather as one speaker advised us to call it, “collaborative”) media accepted by researchers and fighting to promote a more open and sharing culture in the research community, they still had so much drive. I do wish more of the academic community could feel like this instead of reacting, as is so often the case, with a sharp intake of breath to suggestions of something new.

One thing I must mention before I finish; if you haven’t already visited the Zooniverse site, do go there now. I love what they are doing with science data – this is how research should feel. They have a number of projects on the go – I think I like the Old Weather one best, it’s not just about the weather there is a whole load of social history in there too. The project uses the logbooks from the Royal Navy ships during the First World War to find out what was happening to the weather at that time. However the logbooks throw up a lot more information than just sea temperatures. Do go and join in the project it’s great fun.

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