More Tweets than you can say “hashtag”

OK, so I was wrong! In my communications so far I have suggested tools like Twitter will reduce email overload…

Now I’m wondering why I even suggested that. Do they really, or are we just spreading the information overload? Perhaps we are, perhaps we are all searching for ways to filter the masses of information out there that we now have access to.

This article, “How To deal with Twitter overload” recommends some ways to “gracefully manage” Twitter using lists, time out, Twitter Apps, searching and more.

Just what is a Twitter fail whale anyway?

Why are we still using email at work?

The workplace challenge

At my current workplace there has been a challenge issued by our Institute Director to reduce our current ‘Email Overload’. It’s a really good idea and was cleverly kicked off with a challenge set out in a video message (not email). I think this method of promotion and communication has seen a much higher level of engagement. For the first time I have heard people talking about the challenge, reminding each other not to send ’emails’ if it can be avoided, and communicating in other spaces, like Yammer, Twitter, Facebook and even on a blog.

Why are we still using email for everything?

The challenge, and a recent staff survey has made me think about why we still rely on email at work. Most people I know rarely communicate by email at home anymore, preferring tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. These are tools that I have been using since 2007. Some of the challenges I’ve encountered when trying to incorporate use of these tools into the workplace include;

  • a lack of understanding about what the tools are for
  • privacy and security fears
  • thinking that these tools are a distraction rather than an effective communication and learning tool
  • thinking that these tools are for the younger generations only
  • thinking that these tools aren’t widely used in low socio-economic areas
  • lack of support for these tools
  • no sense of online workplace culture, no online community for the workplace

But could things finally be changing?

People are finally starting to embrace other communication tools to engage with each other at work, to find a purpose for using them and to realise the benefits. Is this because they use them at home and now they ‘get it’ and can see how to apply them at work? Is this the start of communicating in new ways at work, how long will it be until we see some real change?

What I want to know

What  is the primary method of communication for your organisation? Is email still the major communication tool or are you doing something different? I’d love to know…

mix, mix, mix…

Well, we may have a little chef on our hands. Either that or a brick layer, or renderer… he’s obsessed with mixing. This morning we had to walk the development to see all the builders, the cement trucks and men laying driveways. He loves being in the kitchen, “look, see, mummy?” So cute. This evening we made some peanut butter cookies, he has to crack the egg and mix the dough. Gets very upset when we put it in the oven and there’s no more mixing.

Anyway, (my partner) Julie’s cousin Kylie has started a great blog, “The Half Assed Cook“. The first recipe Coconut Fish With Cucumber Salad looks like a winner so pop in and check it out.

Kylie, you have inspired me to update my list of recipes!

Where’s my phone? Where’s the nearest toilet?

All important questions when you’ve just had a baby, I’ll spare you the details. This is where location enable services/ geo-tagging can help! 

iPhone Apps I use

Personally, I use location enabled technology on my iPhone now more than I actually talk to people. I use it to help me find my friends, my phone (my toddler keeps hiding it), my way around, facilities and services nearby (like bars, banks, hospitals, etc) and even the nearest toilet!

I’m also excited about the educational opportunities that this technology may lead to. Nearly everyone has access to this kind of technology now, mostly in the form of a smartphone or tablet device.

So what is Geo-tagging?

Geotagging is the term given to the adding of geographical metadata to photos, videos, tweets, websites and other media. This ‘metadata’ can include longitude and latitude, and other attributes such as altitude.

Why would you use it in education?

Because a high percentage of people have the access to that kind of technology (smartphones have become essential items for many students, sometimes they even use them for talking with people), so why not provide educational opportunities for them.

Examples & ideas for educational use

  • bring presentations & research tasks to life by placing geo-taggedphotos on an interactive map (here’s how – Check out these examples
  • a treasure hunt that makes use of GPS-enabled devices to find hidden objects
  • geo-tagged equipment in a workplace to present information/manuals on the equipment as people approach/ use it
  • exploration of different habitats, species (exact locations are recorded for ease of finding again & to place them on a map)
  • measuring distances
  • exploring IT in society discussion (e.g. in England during WW2 rural place names and signposts were taken down so that the Germans would get lost if they managed to land on our shores – how different it would be now)
  • Google Earth Student Showcase

Here’s a sample Lesson: Which Tree is which?
Objectives: the student will study trees on their campus, document findings and collect samples, images (smartpohone records GPS coordinates) then analyze the data upon returning to their classroom in order to identify the trees.

Tools you can use

  • Flickr – Many contempoary smartphones such as the iphone are gps enabled and will store the location the photo was taken and when uploaded to flickr will enable a link to a map showing the location the shot was taken.
  • My Maps – Google’s ‘My Maps’ is a service which allows google users the ability to create a custom map with numerous markers which can contain any embedded content such as flickr images/video. Geotagged images can be located on a My Map and displayed where they were taken. My Maps can be embedded in any application which allows third party embeds such as wikis, blogs, Moodle etc


Tech trends don’t trickle down to students, it’s the other way around!

I was just reading an interesting article about QR codes, which fail to engage young consumers. The findings below (from 500 students across 24 colleges across the US) interestingly show that only 21% of students could cope with the technology, they thought the process just took too long, they lost interest

  • 81% of students owned a smartphone
  • 80% of students had previously seen a QR code
  • 21% of students successfully scanned our QR code example.
  • 75% of students said they are “Not Likely” to scan a QR code in the future.

It’s surprising to me that so many people struggled with the technology, its as simple as taking a photo with a smartphone, easier than tying a web address into the phones browser.  Isn’t it?

I agree though with this point;

“Remember, when it comes to trends, especially those in the tech fields, adoption doesn’t trickle down to college students but rather the other way around. The college campus is what drives our popular culture – always has, always will. Without adoption or buy-in from this segment, a product will continually struggle for relevancy.”

I also have to admit that when I first saw the QR code, I jumped in, head-first, finding reasons for educators to use this technology to deliver content in new, engaging ways. But I don’t scan them myself, the novelty has well worn off, there’s no ‘what’s in it for me?’, so why would I expect anyone else to? Is anyone doing anything really innovative with QR codes? Is it working?

I’d be interested to know. Bring on Augmented Reality!

QR codes on campus


How much fun is Prezi?

I recently attended the  Strategic Regional Leadership for Innovation Conference in Port Macquarie. The conference attracted more than 300 delegates, was opened by North Coast TAFE’s institute director, Elizabeth McGregor and featured many speakers, including the Hon Simon Crean MP, the Hon Andrew Stoner, MP, Rob Oakeshott MP and many more, including the engaging and “17th most important person in London”, Dr Tim Williams, Publicani.

The conference attracted considerable media attention and was pivotal in reshaping thinking about regional leadership across Australia with a big focus on the NBN (National Broadband Network) and the opportunities and services it will bring to the mid-north coast. North Coast TAFE had a great stand demonstrating how we are currently using new technologies in education. The stand was manned by myself (a.k.a. Gadget Girl). North Coast TAFE had many presentations throughout the conference, but I thought I’d share the prezi that I developed because I just heart prezi.