February 14, 2013

iPad advice February 2013

In response to a request for advice on iPads, here's the current state of my iPad use: Personally, I'm still using the cheaper iPad 2, which seems entirely adequate. My eyes aren't good enough to notice the higher quality screen on the iPad 3. In addition, I carry an Apple Bluetooth keyboard (just the standard one that works with any Apple computer), and a Wacom Bamboo stylus (this is superb). I have a TekNet case (much better than the Apple case). As for apps, you can buy them with university funds by purchasing iTunes vouchers. After trying lots out, I'm now using: QuickOffice Pro - Word, Excel and Powerpoint editing with integration for Dropbox, Google Docs/Drive and other cloud services. UPad - for handwriting notes and sketching ideas - this is the one I use the most. Kindle - I now only read books on my iPad using the Amazon service. iAnnotate - reading and annotating PDFs, mostly journal articles. Mindjet - a free tool for mindmapping, works with Dropbox and Google Drive, and integrates with the desktop version (we have a site license for the desktop on Windows and Mac). Evernote - note books backed up into the cloud, If you have any other requirements, please do tell me - I've tried hundreds of apps for various purposes. For example Skype works well.

December 18, 2012

Evaluating the distribution of learning technology capability

This is a recording of a presentation given by Robert O'Toole as part of the Window on Teaching series in the Teaching Grid (31/10/2012). A developing methodology is outlined for investigating and describing the distribution of learning technology capability (for using learning technologies and for developing use).


September 03, 2012

Mindmanager for academic work and project management – by Robert O'Toole

Mindmanager is a sophisticated but easy to use tool for enhancing knowledge creation and management activities. Use it for rapidly capturing information and ideas, organising them, testing out ways of structuring and presenting the information, and to turn information into plans for action and for managing the resulting projects. Mindmanager now comes with a cloud-based collaboration service called Mindjet Connect, so that these knowledge and project management processes can easily be undertaken asynchronously by a distributed team.

This video gives a brief overview of how I use Mindmanager in my work as an Academic Technologist and in my research as a PhD student.


Warwick members can get a copy of Mindmanager, free of charge, from http://go.warwick.ac.uk/getmindmanager

Mindjet have created a series of video tutorials illustrating how to use Mindmanager: http://www.mindjet.com/mindmanager-learn-how

About the Author

Robert O'Toole is a Senior Academic Technologist with IT Services at the University of Warwick and a PhD student researching innovation and design in higher education.

July 15, 2012

Using digital publications in research – part one – by Robert O'Toole

I now almost exclusively use digital publications in my research, in the form of PDF files from journals and Kindle books from Amazon. This short video illustrates how I do this and the benefits it provides. My workflow is iPad based, although I do also sometimes use similar software on my desktop and laptop computers. It's all possible using other platforms. I will create a second video shortly, illustrating how I combine the Mendeley reference management system, Dropbox file storage and the iAnnotate PDF app.

This video is best viewed full screen.

About the Author

Robert O'Toole is a Senior Academic Technologist with IT Services at the University of Warwick and a PhD student researching innovation and design in higher education.

Researchers of Tomorrow – a response to the British Library report – by Robert O'Toole

The British Library and JISC have just published their report on Researchers of Tomorrow, the research behaviour of generation Y doctoral students. The report presents findings from:

the UK’s largest study to date on the research behaviour of Generation Y doctoral students (born between 1982 and 1994). JISC and the British Library jointly commissioned the three year study in 2009, which involved 17,000 doctoral students from 70 universities at various stages in the project.

Five key issues are headlined:

  • increasing reliance on secondary sources;
  • constraints on progress caused by information access problems;
  • confusion over open access and copyright;
  • researchers not using technology to its full potential;
  • insufficient training for the digital information environment.

One of the interesting recommendations is that institutions explore peer-support approaches, in which the researchers share expertise with each other.

Warwick has a strong and lively community of "early career academics" (as we like to call them), often to be found working and supporting each other in the Wolfson Resarch Exchange (in the Library). Looking at the findings in the report, and considering what happens in the Research Exchange, we might conclude that our community is atypically confident with technology and interdisciplinarity, and ahead of the game in adopting the kind of peer support approach that is recommended. The Wolfson facilty contributes to this, along with an appropriate and well designed programme of activities from our support services (Careers and Skills, Learning and Development Centre). But there's something else important that might be missed by a focus on "Generation Y" - the broad spread of skills and experience that comes with a more mixed community (with many older students).

I took a copy of the report into the Research Exchange to see if we really are better than the norm. Dr. Charlotte Mathieson (an ECA in the English Department) was kind enough to allow me to record her initial responses to some of the issues raised. Here is a video based on that interview, with some extracts from the report. Click on the image below to play the video.

About the Author

Robert O'Toole is a Senior Academic Technologist with IT Services at the University of Warwick and a PhD student researching innovation and design in higher education.