Online options for taking your data with you

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With greater access to educational resources online, learning will become a lifelong dedication for the majority of people. Sebastian Thrun, the founder of online course provider Udacity, describes the future of learning as akin to a “toothbrush technology”, one which you will pick up, twice a day for five minutes and not just confined to the walls of the educational institution.

If you’re a graduating student you need to think about the data that you have amassed and the resources you have created whilst at University, as it’s likely that you may want to reference it in learning contexts later in life. You may already be in the process of creating a portfolio of work developed during your studies, or thinking about setting up your online portfolio, so it’s important to take a backup of files that may be held on University machines or in Learning Space and also any data that your institution has amassed about you as a learner.

First up, you’ll need to backup your files. Online/Cloud storage solutions are offered by a lot of the companies you’d associate with the web, like Google and Apple, but if you’re concerned about privacy and long term availability (and a bit more technologically confident) you could set up your owncloud. Here a list of some cloud storage options  and the benefits of each.

In terms of backing up your data in Learning Space, such as forum posts, you might copy and paste the text/images into a Google Doc, which will immediately be available within your associated online storage. If you’re doing this through owncloud or backing up to a physical hard drive, you might look at pasting into a document that uses the Open Document Format or .odf extension as this is likely to be compatible with most ‘Office’ software in the future.

If you’re in the process of developing a portfolio, there are a range of online options that will allow you to upload images and text and display these publicly. Each one will have it’s merits and you might look to see which is popular within your area of professional practice. For example, Tumblr is widely adopted by the art community and WordPress by writers. Ultimately, it’s your decision so choose what best fits your workflow, but it’s advisable to pick an option that allows you to export your work, or at least keep an alternative backup so that you can remain flexible as the technology changes.

The two lists associated with this post are public and collaborative, so please add any more tools that you are aware of to:

Cloud backup/storage

and/or

Blogs/portfolio Services for staff and students

On demand video streaming tools

Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen the emergence and rise of two technology tools that are competing to win us over with real-time, on-demand, video streaming/broadcast with a social media twist. Meerkat and Periscope offer the ability for mobile users to broadcast and view live video from all over the globe with the added function of connecting with other viewers using Twitter.

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Both apps do similar things, but at the time of writing only Meerkat is available on Android as well as iOS, so we’ll be looking at the experience of Meerkat to begin with.

Creating a new live stream on Meerkat will present you with a screen like this:

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At the top you see user and location details, across the video you see message details and at the bottom you have a few controls; post a message, switch on the flash, flip the camera and stop the stream.

When you start a new stream, it will post a link to your Twitter feed and then when you make any comments you have the choice for them to appear just in the app, but also on your Twitter feed:

Whereas previously, live video streaming apps have been designed around the Desktop use (Skype, Hangouts), Meerkat and Periscope are specifically focusing on the mobile experience, by having full screen video and a commenting overlay with just a few buttons for interaction.

Potential Learning and Teaching Applications

I’ve written before about DIY Lecture Capture and these new apps offer similar possibilities for mobile users. With the addition of a Swivl for example, you could stream a live session and have an automated camera operator following you around the room. You could use this for CPD in the form of a lesson observation, have colleagues comment live with their thoughts/feedback.

Live streaming might also be great for field trips. You could connect with other staff/students and potential students in real time and learners could choose to document the video through Twitter/Storify and discuss this when back on campus.

These examples are off the top of my head, the technology is new and many streams will be of people’s kitchen’s as they get used to the app, but there will be educational practitioners already putting this technology to use, so if you have an idea or learning activity that might benefit from  on-demand streaming, get in touch with the team.

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