Category Archives: Education

Turning Your Blog into an Open Academic Journal

I was catching up on blog reading this morning, which has become a rare luxury for me as administrative duties seem to have taken over my life. But one post that particularly caught my attention was one that discussed a new WordPress theme called Annotum. Combining Annotum with WordPress turns a blog into a serious (at least seriously-formatted) open access journal. While sharing information on the Web can and does take many forms, there are still times in academia where an online open journal format could serve many very useful purposes. One application of Annotum might be to simply encourage the publication and sharing of articles and position papers among faculty in a department. They wouldn’t have to be articles that are ready for serious peer-review, but more a way to encourage professional interaction among colleagues. I realize that it might be a rare department whose members can find the time and motivation to do this, but it seems like it would be a great way to vet research and ideas among the department before sending it out into the larger world, more so if the “internal departmental journal” was password protected.

An even more exciting way to use Annotum, however, would be the obvious use of it to create open journals at the college-wide, departmental or even course level for student publications. Creating an open journal for students would give them the chance to have their work reviewed by an “editorial board” and then published publicly in a forum that is open to the world, but also promoted within the college. This would give their work a certain amount of prestige that most Web 2.0 applications lack. Additionally, Annotum apparently has the ability to export the journal to PDF, so print versions of the journal can also be easily produced if there is a need. Annotum and WordPress are free, so the only only cost to a department to do this, would be the manpower involved in setting up the site, reviewing submissions, and then managing the site in an ongoing basis. It seems like a great way to give student scholarly work a little more status, while maintaining the advantages that Web 2.0 in education is known for.

For a discussion on how Annotum works see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK63828

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mLearning

I am feeling a bit guilty right now. Today was supposed to be a day for working on my class, but I got caught up in configuring some of my devices for mLearning, aka mobile learning. I really wanted to set some time aside to explore some of the possibilities and today turned out to be the day. Up to this point, mLearning has seemed a bit hyped. But today I set up my Nokia Nuron 5230 smartphone to download several podcasts from NPR and PRI. Now I can listen and learn pretty much anywhere, anytime. I can listen to the podcasts through my BH-214 wireless Bluetooth headset or in my car through the Bluetooth connection to my car stereo. Downloading and listening to podcasts while on the road is now easy and routine.

I also set up a Stowaway wireless keyboard, and now the smartphone works just like a mini-computer. Texting, e-mailing and note taking are now extremely easy to do and just as convenient as being on a netbook. And speaking of netbooks, I also configured my netbook to tether to my smartphone using a Bluetooth connection. Now the phone provides a wireless Internet connection to my Netbook, anywhere that I have cell service.

Finally, also on the netbook, I installed Intel’s AppUp store for netbooks and downloaded several applications, some free, and some not.

While some of the innovations I describe have been around for a long time and really aren’t earth shattering, the way that I have suddenly brought everything together shows me that mLearning is more than just trying to see things on a tiny screen. It is a learning strategy of surrounding yourself with learning opportunities-anytime, anyplace through technical innovations that we are just starting to grasp. I can’t wait for the hologram screen and controlling by hand gesture to reach the market.

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