February 22, 2013

The Need for Innovation in UK Universities

Here is a short video I created to demonstrate the importance and goal of my PhD study concerned with helping UK universities become more innovative.

Note: You can use higher resolutions for better quality (HD).



TEASER: Benefits You will receive after participating

As part of my doctoral studies, members of staff from UK universities who participate will have access to a number of useful free resources. Here is a sample (teaser) of these resources:


Reviews of Useful Tools for use in Education

Nowadays, there are many tools and technologies that can be used by both teachers and students in universities or even schools. Therefore, I developed an interactive website where I write short reviews of some of these useful tools and technologies and give examples of how they can be used. Here is an example:

Many tools/technologies are reviewerd and categoried into different operatnig systems

Reviews

Each tool/technology will have a summary along with any useful links (such as education discounts)

Review Summary

and specific rating

Tool rating

From 0 to 380,000 Fans: Can we use Social platforms in Education?

There is no more doubt today that social platforms can be used in education or to enhance learning. There are many examples of such social learning platforms including YouTube Education, iTunes University and much more.

I have been personally interested in how Facebook can be used to enhance or disseminate learning and useful resources. Therefore, back in 2009, I started an Arabic sceitfic research Facebook page. Now, I have over 380,000 fans and conting. This is all a personal effort! The Facebook page gained quite a lot of attention in the Middle East and it still do.

It is been almost 4 years now and I have gained quite a good experience from this. Therefore, I created a rich presentation of the good practices and lessons learned which I would like to share with you.

If I, as an idividual, was able to get this far and help educate thousands of people from over 15 countries, I am sure universities can benefit and achieve much better, especially since this can be used for marketing as well!

Social Media Marketing in Education


Use of Twitter in Education and Research

In addition to the two resources I have prepared for you above which I will share with you after taking part in the study, I would like to go ahead and share with you NOW some useful resources I came across recently. They are focusing on the social platform Twitter and how it can be used in education and research.

To thank you in advanced for participating in the study, here are the links:


If you are a member of staff working within any UK university, please go ahead and participate in the study to receive access to the rest of the free resources:

Participate in the study (Link will be updated soon)


June 12, 2012

MindMap: Presentation Tips

Here is a Mindmap which I've created after going through the 3 excellent workshops on presentation skills presented by Adair @ The university of Warwick and reading a number of books. I hope you guys find it useful!

presentation2.pdf


May 29, 2012

IKEA…You Fail at Customer's service…

To start of, I usually put the URL when I talk about something. In this case, I am not even going to put any links to IKEA's website so that they don't benefit from any visitors and search engine ranking.

Long Story Short

I bought a large desk. The desk was delivered damaged. I called IKEA over 3 weeks to replace it, every time they say we will send someone, they give me a date and no one comes. After that I decided to return the item, before the return period runs out. They say OK, we respect that and we will send someone. Of course, they give me a date, no one shows up. I call, they give me another date and no one calls or show up and the story goes on and on and on. The last appointment they gave me was last Saturday. No one called or showed up...

There is clearly a pattern here and they could go about doing this for quite sometime...I am not willing to try how long it will take them though! although someone else with more free time and a since of humour might have found it to be a good way to test how bad their customer service is.


Waste of Time

I am really annoyed by how much time I've wasted chasing them, when a one call should have been sufficient. Clearly, they don't care about customer's time. Imagine yourself chasing a company for almost 2 months and every time you call you are put into a queue and you wait to get someone to answer and once someone answers, you spend sometime explaining the problem, waiting for the employee to check the records, wait for him to explain how sorry they are and that they are going to fix this for me.


Lack of Trust !

Needless to say after hearing the phrase "Sorry for the inconvenience" and "We will sort this out" over and over again, I lost both trust and hope in IKEA. Hence, writing this post. Apparently some companies have used these words for too long that they have forgotten what they mean.


Can you help?

Since I am an international student, I am trying to understand what steps could be taken. Obviously I want my money back! and also, I want the damaged items taken from my apartment.

After 2 months of calls and live chats, I know I gave IKEA more than enough time. Now I am done waiting, I want to follow possible legal or other actions that can be taken to resolve this issue once and for all. I can't waste more time chasing them!

Therefore, if you read this post and you have any experience with companies not wanting or bothering to honor their return policy for any reason and you have took an action to resolve that, I would really appreciate your input. I know about the legal advisors at the university's Students Union and I am just not free this week to check with them and I thought some visitors might be able to help!


Oh...One more thing!

How would you feel if you experienced something like this? Please let me know in the comments!


May 17, 2012

The Good…and the BAD

I am a Muslim and I am proud to be one. Islam taught me to be respectful to others, and I hope that I am good at doing that! If not, please let me know :). I am keen to correct the bad image of Islam caused by the media around the world by respecting and helping others, helping those that need, by participating or contributing to great causes or organisations such as UK Heart Foundation, UK Cancer Research among many other things. Of course I am not writing this as a show-off, rather, to show that I care about others and I know I am not the only Muslim doing this.

The world is full of injustice, especially injustice towards Islam or Muslims and in some cases treating them unfairly.

Here are a few comics that I've found and I wanted to share. Unforutantelly, I gave up finding the source so I couldn't add it or mention it.

Islam 1
















Islam

Islam

Islam


Conclusion:

As with everything else in this life, there is the good and there is the bad! but I know you already know this!

The question is, did you do your research before making any judgement? Of course I am not talking about Islam here, I am talking about everything!


March 22, 2012

Scrivener, a great writing environment!

Writing about web page http://drhariri.com/blog/1384/scrivener/

Note: this is a summary of a blog post I wrote on my Arabic research blog (برنامج الكتابة الرائع Scrivener), a blog that I have been running for over 3 years, aiming to spread knowledge and resources to help postgraduate students and researchers in the middle east.


For a while, I have been finding it more and more difficult to use Microsoft Word for writing, especially when it comes to bigger documents.

I often find myself thinking about where to write a certain chunk of text and even if I decided, it is sometimes hard to quickly reach the section that I want to update/edit.


A couple of week ago, Paul, my supervisor, started a discussion with me on how best to store and work on my thesis. He suggested that I use a feature that exists in MS Word where documents can be linked together to a certain master document. So, I went ahead and decided to learn about this feature which I have never heard of before. However, while writing, it came to my attention that some users reported their files and projects becoming coprrupted as a result of using this feature. So, I decided that using it is too risky, so here is an X for that.


I decided to look for alternatives, and all of a sudden, I remembered a certain software called Scrivener, which seemed very inetresting to me about a year ago so I decided to follow their Twitter account back then.

I decided to visit their website and I found out that they have already released a Windows version as it only had a Mac version back then and although I use a Mac mainly, I didn't start using it back then.

I took a look at the introduction video and their website and it was fascinating to me to find out that many novelists, authors, journalists and even researchers have been using Scrivener and have been very happy with it.

I also started googling Scrivener and found that others are using it in education and research.

Scrivener Interface

The main concept behind Scrivener is that it offers a great writing environment where documents are split into chunks of texts. Those chunks could be chapters, sections, a few paragraphs or a few lines. The beauty however about Scrivener is that if you decided to combine all of those chunks into a single document for printing or sending, this can be done automatically and very easily using Scrivner's compile feature.

What this means is, if you are writing and do not want to worry about structuring or stylying at all, you can do that without any problems, and once you finish you can tell Scrivener to combined everything and format it in a way you specify. So, you could tell it to format chunk's titles as H3, for instance and to format any higher level groups as H2s or H1s.

The big advantage in this case of course is, your writing space is always there and you are free to add as many chunks of texts or images as you want.

Scrivener Interface

Scrivener of course is more than just a writing environment, it has many geat features that I suggest you check.


Inregration with Reference Management Software

Since its important to me to have the ability to insert citations within Scrivener as I currently do in MS Word, as it has my Mendeley's plugin installed, I decided to look for possible ways of integration. to my surprise, there was no way to do this with Mendeley at the moment. However, it seems that those using Endnote or Zotero have a better luck as both of those reference management software offer an RTF scan feature that can be used to update citations and references list once the final document is made.

This is a quick video showing how Endnote can be used with Scrivener:


And here is the longer version of it where the author, a PhD student, explains how he uses tools like Evernote and Scrivener in his research activities.


Any hope for those using Mendeley?

Well, personally, I wouldn't turn down a potentialy beneficial software just because it doesn't work nice with another one. In this case, I decided to use Scrivener and insert citations manually like I usually do anyway. However to stay alerted to where they are I write them, for instance something like (John, 2000), then, I highlight them in Scrivener.

I don't see a huge problem of not being able to automatically use Mendeley within Scrivener. However, I decided to tweet those @Mendeley_com and @ScrivenerApp to see if there are any chances for an integration between those 2 to be born, and to my joy! they said that they have met and they are working on something that will make it possible for Scrivener and Mendeley to play nice with each other! So, let's hope that they develop something for us very soon!

Join the campaign and spread the tweets for a Mendeley Scrivener integration!

By the way, if you use Mendeley and would love to use Scrivener, don't be shy to do just what I did, LET THEM KNOW!. go ahead and tweet to both of those great companies how you love to see an integration as soon as possible.

If you are new to twitter, use something like:

Hi! I'm very interested in an integration between @Mendeley_com & @ScrivenerApp please!


October 01, 2011

Atlas.Ti 6 vs NVivo 9: A Comparison

Follow-up to Potential uses of CAQDA software packages from A.Hariri's

A couple of days ago I received an e-mail from one of my research blog (in Arabic) followers asking for my opinion on choosing NVivo or Atlas.Ti. I've sent her a summary of some of the issues that I faced when I tried both of them.

Today, I was asked by a friend of mine, Salma Patel of why I chose Atlas.Ti over NVivo as well, therefore, I decided to write a detailed post about this to help those who may be looking into this as well.


I found that Atlas.Ti 6 and NVivo 9 were two of the most used software packages out there. So, I went ahead to do some research and I decided to try them both. I ended up choosing Atlas.Ti although I was much inclined to use Nvivo for the following reasons:

Nvivo stores everything within 1 project file. There is the obvious risk of losing everything if this file becomes corrupted.

Yes, I will make backups, but I still want to be safe. Furthermore, what if there is a bug in the software itself? It wouldn't really be able to access anything.

Atlas.Ti has a project file that only stores projects information and certain details. Documents/PDFS do not have to be imported into the project. Atlas.Ti can get them where they are :).

In the worst case scenario that something may be wrong with the file, you can still access external documents such as PDFs.

I already have a working structure of my documents (Thanks to Mendeley), why would I need to copy those files over to NVivo too? Waste of space in my opinion. Some could say delete the PDFs from Mendeley and just have the record for each document. Well, this can be done but then, I wouldn't really be using Mendeley's nice features such as effective searching within PDFs and pictures, etc..

Because Atlas.Ti will reach your documents where they are, you could have Mendeley arrange your library into a certain structure, then, you ask Atlas.ti to link those documents to your project.

Note: You may want Mendeley to sort your documents into folders based on Years at the the top level so that you could easily see which document your passage you are reading if you output a list of passages within Atlas.Ti. I have also had Mendeley rename the files so that Author's names are in the begining of the file name for the same reason too.

Because it relies on 1 project file, there is no doubt that the file size would become bigger as you go on. Project file remains very small.
I found NVivo to be a bit slow although I was working with an empty project... Still going fast
The bigger the project size the laggier NVivo becomes. Would not lag as much because the project file which runs the show is relatively small.
Until recently, NVivo had a very bad support for PDFs and I was surprised to see the company taking their time (months!!!) to release an update that would fix this although I would expect this to be a core feature in this age! I haven't looked into the update which they said should fix any PDF issues because I had already decided to go with Atlas.Ti. Excellent support for PDFs!
Due to the above point, I believe that NVivo should look more into updating more frequently, especially when certain things should be fixed and are demanded to be fixed by customers in the forums Many updates released continuously which improves the way Atlas.Ti works or fixes bugs and so on. In fact, I think I've seen 4 minor updates for Atlas.Ti within the last 2-3 months. It tells me as a customer that they care!
Although a bit slow sometimes, the UI is better than Atlas.Ti which was one of the main reasons I was seriously hoping to use it. However, the late release of the update and the slow response killed any chance I had of using it. UI not as nice as NVivo, but, as I started working more with Atlas.Ti, I started to appreciate the UI and how it is arranged. However, it is obvious that I am more interested in performance.


These are what I think some of the key issues I based my comparison on, when it comes to features, both software packages offer very similar set of features.

After writing this comparison, I have to say that I do not hate NVivo, I simply think it wasn't for me. Others may find working with NVivo is better for their own reasons. I still follow the development of both NVivo and Atlas.Ti, and I still retweet some of their announcements and so on to my Research Blog (in Arabic) followers.

I hope some of you out there find this helpfu! and I am happy to learn about your experiences with any of the mentioned software packages.


Potential uses of CAQDA software packages

About a year ago, I was looking into Computer assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDA) software packages that may help me in doing my literature review by allowing me to code certain passages within documents into codes that I could then easily explore or retrieve.

I think one of the potentials I saw in some CAQDA software packages is that if you code useful passages within lots of papers and documents into codes (which are similar to keywords), this will make it easier for you to retrieve those stored passages of texts within different documents.

For example: if I have read 100 PDFs and assigned things that I believe relevant to my research into codes, it would be much easier to just output the passages that belong to a certain code within those 100 PDFs in 3-5 pages (since other information within each document will be hidden) showing where every passage came from and how they can relate to each other (You can use relationships between them too!). This would surely be much easier than having to check all those 100 PDFs to try and find bits and pieces here and there that belong to the topic I am trying to write about.

Another potential where I personally think CAQDA could help is building a rich research library of journal papers and different documents over the years. Because, in many cases, a PhD might be the first step of your research career, especially if you are a lecturer or someone that is interested in publishing journal papers in the same field. I guess what I am trying to say is, lets assume that while doing your PhD you come across 100 journal papers that you consider important in your research field. After that, you become a lecturer at some university where you are expected to do more research. So you read more journal papers and you assign more information to codes within the CAQDA software. After a couple of years, you could have a very rich library of papers that you have already read and classified into certain codes or keywords.

After that, all you have to do really when you want to write a journal paper is ask the CAQDA to output information related to a keyword and start writing.


For instance, you may choose to first write a background, so, you output background information which you store in a code. Next, you may choose to become more specific, so, you may want to identify previous gaps and even gaps that may still be in need of research. You output information assigned to a code "Gaps in....." and you find all different arguments by different authors, etc...

I believe that using a CAQDA helps a lot when it comes to writing, if it was used by the researcher while he was doing his literature review.

I know that some would argue that it is not good to just read certain parts of the paper and assign them and just forget the rest of the paper may see like taking things out of context, but this is only true if the researcher himself didn't pay attention to that.


Of course I am only scratching the surface here as most CAQDA have much more advanced and useful features such as reports & networks diagrams where you could visually show the relationship between different passages. For instance, you could show a number of authors disagreeing with author A while may others are supporting him.


I have been working with a CAQDA software (Atlas.Ti) mainly as part of my literature review as I believe it keeps me organised and helps me find information that I have already looked into much faster than I would usually do. I will continue to use it as I go on with my PhD and I hope that I learn more about it and try the various features available and be able to share what I find or anything new later on.


August 21, 2011

Wordpress Mac Permissions Issues with Zend Server CE

If you have installed Zend Server CE on your computer to use as a development server, you may have ran into the issue of Automatic update not working on Wordpress. This is the function that usually updates your Wordpress plugins and Wordpress system or core files. Furthermore, another related problem that you will likely to have as a result of this is that you won't be able to have Wordpress edit your .htaccess to change the way your blog URLS look like.


The cause of this problem is that the Apache user used by Zend Server CE (User: daemon, Group: daemon) is not given enough permissions to be able to make changes to your files on your Mac. The solution to this should be simple, at least it worked for me right away.

The Solution:

  • Open your Terminal application (Applications -> Utilities)
  • Use the following commands in bold:
  1. Navigate to your htdocs folder that was created by Zend Server CE using something like:
    cd /usr/local/zend/apache2/htdocs
  2. Change the user of your blog folder which resides within the htdocs folder. In my case my blog folder is called blog, so I used this command:
    sudo chown -R daemon blog
  3. Change the permissions of the folder using:
    sudo chmod -R g+w blog
  • Now, try to update your Wordpress plugins or Wordpress system itself (core files), this should have solved your Wordpress Mac permission issues. In my case, I didn't restart and it worked. If it doesn't work rightaway on your development environment, try restarting your Mac.

Note: The solution above worked for me because I don't allow any network access to my development environment, if you for some reason need better security, you should probably check Zend Server's documentation to follow their suggestions with regard to how to make your development environment safer.

Hope these steps work for you!


January 27, 2011

Qualitative Research related blogs

Writing about web page http://merlien.org/news/qualblogs.html

A great list of qualitative research related blogs by Merlien institue. Can be found here.

Do you have any similar excellent resources? Share them please!


Books I Enjoyed

As I buy/view books, I update this list with the books that I most liked:
[View my Book List]

Little About me

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