Archive for February, 2010

“Nottingham Uni’s the place to be…”: The Student Experience, Video and Representation

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Two videos have recently appeared on the Web which address the student perspective at the University of Nottingham. Jonathan Kogan and Nic Gilbert’s celebrated Student Learning Experience has amassed over 20,000 hits on YouTube, whilst the slightly less irreverent Student Voice video we made for the Visual Learning Lab (VLL) has been ‘on tour’ in staff workshops around the University. At the most recent of these events, a number of attendees – responding to some of the negative comments on teaching practice described in the video – expressed surprise and a little concern that it was showing on the University YouTube channel. I pointed out that the video had gone through the not inconsiderable vetting processes of both the VLL core team and the University YouTube selection panel, and suggested that showing students actively developing critical perspectives of their own learning experiences might actually be seen as progressive.

Though very different, both these videos can claim to represent an authenticity that is lacking in the slick promotional videos which many universities (including Nottingham) routinely distribute, and I suspect many potential students have become somewhat immune to these. The University are hardly likely to endorse Kogan and Gilbert’s film, but if you search for Nottingham University on YouTube, it’s their video that comes up first, and – at least for a certain demographic – it might be one of the best recruitment tools they have. Take it away boys…

Social Media @ Jubilee Graduate Centre – Session Three

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

We had another great turn out for our third and final social media session at Jubilee Graduate Centre last week. We are now looking into taking this to the main campus, though we might consider merging the three sessions into a single all-day event. This may allow time for lengthier and more interactive discussion activities.

Twitter, Crowdsourcing and Access to Knowledge

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the second of our social media sessions at the Jubilee Graduate Centre, I mentioned that I had recently responded to a tweet from one of my followees on Twitter. He posted a link to an article he was desperate to read but unable to access as his University wasn’t subscribed to that particular journal. I quickly found out I had access to the article through my University of Nottingham account, and uploaded it to GoogleDocs for him to pick up. For all I know, others may have responded in the same way.

Interestingly, the response to this in the session was mixed. Most I’m sure, appreciated the time and effort I saved this guy; the inter-library loan service is an invaluable yet often frustratingly time-consuming provision which many of us rely on. I used the opportunity to emphasise the expectation of reciprocity in social media interactions; that I would hope others would do the same thing for me. Perhaps the uneasiness evident in some of the responses was a natural reaction to the way this small, virtually insignificant act represents one of the ways social media challenges traditional channels of academic access to knowledge. And the recognition that we all influence, and depend on, the complex socio-economic structures that bind Higher Education and academic publishing.

Social Media @ Jubilee Graduate Centre – Session Two

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Last Friday, we continued our series of sessions in social media at the Jubilee Graduate Centre. Nineteen PhD and Early Career Researchers attended and kept us on our toes throughout with interesting comments and questions. The response and feedback was terrific, and I look forward to seeing many of them back for the final session on 17 February. Here’s the presentation for Session Two:

BBC Release Video Content and Code

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I have embedded this video rush of an interview with Stephen Fry – made as part of the BBC TV series The Virtual Revolution – more for what it represents than for its content. That’s not to say Fry’s typically eloquent defence of the Web is not worth a viewing. But this is, I believe, the first time the BBC have released video content and code in this manner.* This and similar rushes have been released under an international permissive “Share-Alike’ licence (inspired by, but not identical to, the Creative Commons Licence), and form part of an impressive looking Web resource.

Whilst this experimental move is clearly designed to align open-access/code sensibilities with a promotional ecxercise, lets hope it points the way to further commitment in this area.

The video can also be downloaded and comes with a full transcript.

* This service may not be available to users outside the UK.

Growing up with J D Salinger

Monday, February 1st, 2010

The death of J D Salinger this week gave me an excuse for digging out my old copy of The Catcher in the Rye. It’s a few years since I last looked at it but, along with Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, it’s probably the novel I’ve re-read the most. Indeed for several years it became a bit of a ritual to read it on my way home for Christmas, in homage to Holden Caulfield’s narrative.

As I’ve got older, I’ve increasingly warmed to Mr. Antolini – Holden’s highball-swigging ex-English teacher. Debate over his homosexuality often overshadows his empathetic relationship with Holden, epitomised by his eloquent words on the painful transition to adulthood and the values of scholarship and learning:

“Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them – if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.”