Getting used to G+

Google Plus mobile page

I’ve been on Google Plus since whenever¬†Alan sent me an invite and we were looking for Social Media networks to replace the ailing FriendFeed we had been using with students. I always think it is worth bagging a username, and I know that Alan usually needs someone to talk to on any new social media networkūüėČ and to be honest, I love to play with suff.

It has taken me a very, very, long time to get used to G+. The main problems I have had with it have been the ones that are obvious with any new Social Media:

  • no audience that is unique to G+ or doing something different there that they are not already doing on Facebook/ twitter
  • initially, no notification system that attracted my attention, also not helped by not having any ‘stuff’ to be notified about. Email notification drove me mad and I don’t use a desktop browser enough these days to pick up the black google bar notification.
  • lack of a decent mobile interface.

I’ve kept dipping in and out, especially as the undergraduates that I used to mentor on Social Media projects with Alan moved from FriendFeed to Google+. I could see the point, and the benefits (no character limit, richer discussions, in-post video/ rich links out), but the mobile interface, notification and audience didn’t change, so it just didn’t have stickiness for me.

Finally, over this last month I have made a concerted effort to re-engage after finding the iPhone app. The interface isn’t perfect (no rich or embedded links when posting) but they have sorted out two major issues, notification and resharing/ +1. I’ve started to change the people I follow and made several revelatory discoveries, like being able to flip between the streams from each circle to filter out noise when I come to catch up at the end of the school day. I’m starting to discover different information from different people than those on my twitter network. It is starting to click. Alan is usually right in the end.

Jo Badge - Google+

Reflections on TeachMeet for Special Educational Needs #TMSEN12

Helping to organise a TeachMeet whilst trying to do a PGCE course is a bit bonkers, but then there is never a good time to anything in life, is there? Josie Fraser did the real work, and I was there to keep the publicity going, to nag her when she needed it ;-) and co-host.

I’ve been to two other TeachMeets and followed others online, and have always found them so inspirational. Following the tweets after the event, it has been a real pleasure to see people making connections with each other and continuing to to discuss the ideas they heard about and thinking about applying them in their own classrooms. Tony Hirst had a quick look at the community around the #tmsen12 tag we used for the event, which looks as though there was a potentially enormous community able to join in and share the practices we heard about.

Gephi visualisation of the community around #tmsen12
Flickr: psychemedia CC BY 2.0

I’ve heard from several teachers and students who have been inspired to join twitter, and the great community of educators it holds (if that was you, you might want to have a look at my quick guide about how to get the best out of twitter).

We did two things differently at this TeachMeet, the first was to hold a Critical Debate with invited speakers, which seemed to work really well and added a deeper, strategic tone to the wonderful practical resources and ideas that were shared. The second was that we¬†committed¬†to producing a micro-site with a selection of resources, videos, voxpops and tweets from the day. This will be produced in the next few weeks and should serve as a last reference to the collective knowledge and wisdom we pooled together during the day. One of the main reasons that TeachMeets work is due to their informal nature, but that means that often the great ideas they produce are not shared beyond the participants (real or virtual), liveblogs like those produced by Oliver Quinlan are another great way to keep a record that can be reshared at a later date. To give you a flavour of the day, I’ve used storify to collate some of the links and photos shared on twitter.


Blogging, tweeting and being a #PGCE student

This post forms part of a blogging carnival organised by Danny Nicholson. I haven’t taken part in a blog carnival, but I really liked the idea (and seems a good way to thank Danny for the¬†inspiration¬†I get from his whiteboard blog).

I am a primary PGCE student. Before I started my transformation into a teacher, I worked in educational technology, particularly the field of¬†plagiarism¬†detection. I started blogging for my EdTech work and due to the reflective nature of teacher training seemed natural to carry on. I had thought I would put my weekly course reflections here, but in fact I’ve discovered that much of my reflection as a trainee feels distinctly personal and so I’ve been selective in what I have shared publicly. My experiences as a learner (see the perils of electronic note taking as an example) have had quite an effect on me. The course has made me consider the nature of learning and how uncomfortable it can be to recognise that you don’t understand something.

My personal learning network is massively important to the way I learn. The people I follow provide¬†support, inspiration, encouragement and challenge me to reflect on my learning. Serendipitous¬†discovery through twitter is an amazing way to find out things you didn’t know you needed to know (like this fabulous list of blog post prompts¬†for teachers from Alec Couros @courosa). My PLN give me feedback on my understanding and interpretation of everything from teaching theorists to assessment for learning. I have shared reliance on twitter with my fellow students. ¬†I am organising a TeachMeet ¬†with Josie Fraser, which I never would have dreamt was possible whilst I was still a PGCE student.


I’ve been thinking about using different online tools with children in my next teaching placement. One idea is a to use! as way of curating sources of information and posing questions for children to hunt for the answers from the links. I’ve started with some ideas for the Terrible Tudors, I’d love to hear how other people are using! in the classroom.

Science presentations to my #PGCE peers using my online peers

Following a science audit (a series of multiple choice questions on primary science topics) I discovered I didn’t know as much about the Earth and Moon as I thought I did (and yes, before you ask I *did* get the biology, chemistry and genetics all right – phew). To get us to act on our areas of weakness, we need to give a 15 minute presentation to our peers on a¬† topic in that area.

Why does the moon appear to change its shape at different times in the month?

Here are some slides summarising what I did – I didn’t use them, as this was a hands on exercise.

Reflection on the exercise:

Research: the motivation to research the topic was definitely helped by knowing I would be sharing what I learnt with others (made sure I really understood it to be able to answer questions).

I found some great information online, including some nice youtube¬†videos that showed demonstrations of setting up a ‘sun’ (torch), ‘earth’ (basketball) and ‘moon’ (ping pong ball on a stick), and showing how the shadow and the reflected light of the phases of the moon are created. Links bookmarked on delicious.

However that led me to a major problem. I got stuck from the flat diagrams showing this type¬†of demonstration – how when we are on Earth do we see the Moon when it is on the side between the Sun and the Earth? Surely the Moon is on the sunny side of the Earth – you know – the part in the sunshine i.e. during the DAY time. Isn’t it night when we see the Moon?

Fortunately I have an incredible PLN and so tweeted my frustration after a sleepless night worrying about the state of the moon phases. Within a few minutes I had a link from Tony Hirst to a brilliant interactive demonstration that showed me exactly what I needed. I could sleep easy !

Organising the presentation: Once I had got the topic straight in my head I started thinking about how to demonstrate this in easy steps. I wanted to turn this into an activity if possible. Twitter came to the rescue yet again…

Tweets about a moon phase activityThanks to @audm, a PGCE student elsewhere in the country, who had seen her PGCE colleagues showing this demonstration, I had the outline of a great activity ready to use. I loved the idea of getting my peers to draw the phases themselves, I could see that it was a great way to answer the questions I had had about viewing the moon from different places too.

Why I’m going to TeachMeet Midlands #tmm11

I work at Leicester University promoting the use of eLearning to academic staff and students in the School of Biological Sciences, most of my research has been in the area of plagiarism and it’s electronic detection, so why am I going to TeachMeet Midlands this weekend?

Most of the people that read this blog will already know why, it’s because I’ve finally had my place on the Upper Primary PGCE course at Leicester University confirmed and I’ll be starting a new life as a trainee teacher in September. I’ve been using twitter since late 2007 and it has long been an invaluable tool. It provides access to a wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom from a network of enthusiastic, passionate people that stimulate and challenge me every day. I can’t imagine being a teacher without it, so I’m starting as I mean to go on and taking the opportunity to build my teaching twitter network as soon as I can. I’ll definitely need all the support and encouragement I can get, I’ve lots of skills to bring to teaching, but I’ve even more skills to learn and put into practice.¬†I would love to hear if you have a teacher you follow that particularly inspires you, let me know in the comments, ¬†or via a tweet @jobadge.

I’m also coming to try and pick up some practical tips from real practitioners and start to think about what sort of teacher I would like to be. Why did you decide to come to TeachMeet Midlands?

The power of the social network to amplify ancient history ;-)

Couldn’t resist posting this from Gareth Johnson’s blog post today¬†about the Leicester Research Archive:

“This month sees a notable improvement in access to the LRA, and a dramatic increase in the number of page views. Two things strike me as I look at the statistics this month. Firstly the top item is possibly the single highest individual monthly access since records began.{…}

  1. Delos: Investigating the notion of privacy within the ancient Greek house (Burke, Samantha) (2381/8947)
  2. Female Fandom in an English ‚ÄėSports City‚Äô: A sociological study of female spectating and consumption around sport (Pope, Stacey Elizabeth) (2381/8343)
  3. Design of Flight Controllers based on Simplified LPV model of a UAV (Gu, Da-Wei et al) (2381/3879)
  4. Writing up and presenting qualitative research in family planning and reproductive health care (Pitchforth, Emma et al) (2381/309)
  5. Social inclusion, the museum and the dynamics of sectoral change (Sandell, Richard) (2381/52)
  6. Saint Christopher Wall Paintings in English and Welsh Churches, c.1250-c.1500 (Pridgeon , Eleanor Elizabeth) (2381/7964)
  7. Teaching presentation skills to undergraduates: Students’ evaluations of a workshop course. (Colman, Andrew M.) (2381/537)
  8. The Impact of Labour Turnover: Theory and Evidence from UK Micro-Data (Garino, Gaia et al) (2381/4441)
  9. Aspects of speleogenesis in the Carboniferous limestone of North Derbyshire (Beck, John Salisbury) (2381/7561)
  10. The propagation of VHF and UHF radio waves over sea paths (Sim, Chow Yen Desmond) (2381/7444)
  11. The molecular characterisation of narcissus latent virus and Maclura mosaic virus (Badge, Joanne Louise) (2381/8993)

It‚Äôs worth highlighting¬†that the joint 10th item on the list is the 700th thesis added to the LRA, which was actually added at the request of Dr Jo Badge herself early in January via the EThOS scanning service.¬† As I celebrated this fact on the social networks, it‚Äôs perhaps little surprise that it has such a high level of access so early in its availability (although it could just be that Jo writes a good thesis!)” [my colouring!]

I don’t think it’s my thesis (Gareth is too kind!), but links to it did get reposted on my twitter account, friendfeed, this blog and elsewhere, so no doubt it’s people curious to see what a daffodil virus has to do eLearning! Ah the power of amplification!

What do you have that you could include in the LRA?

Tweeting links and bookmarking on the iPod Touch

I was trying to reply to Ann Marie’s question about how to tweet URLs from safari on the iPad, iTouch or iPhone, when I realised it wouldn’t fit into 140 characters. So, here is the longer version, I use several different ¬†methods:

1. Bookmarklet – This is a way to edit the bookmarks that you can save in Safari on the iTouch. The one I use came as a suggestion with the original¬†Tweetie when I downloaded it as an app. Here is how to do it (mobile friendly page) I know you can also do this with twitterlator, but haven’t found if you can use it with Twitter for iPhone since twitter acquired tweetie as their official app. ¬†The bookmarklet is easy to use, just click on the bookmark link when you want to tweet a link and click ‘post to tweetie’.

2. Via is great for moving between platforms. Use the ‘+’ button on the safari browser to ‘mail link to this page’ and email the link to posterous. If you set up your posterous account to tweet, then email directly to, posterous will automatically tweet the link for you. Like this. (tip – save this email address in your iTouch contacts list to make it even quicker to email).

3. Good old copy and pasteūüėČ ¬†I usually use Tweetdeck or Twitter for iphone as my tweeting apps of choice, both have URL shorteners, so if you paste in a long URL, tap the shortener link, they will zap them down to size for you.

Anne Marie also asked about bookmarking – I know she is a delicious fan, and so am I. I use two methods:

1. I use the mobile site to bookmark on my iTouch. This is a regular bookmarklet on my safari that I use on my Mac and put on my iTouch by syncing my bookmarks across (no faffing involved with editing the java script here, the one on the Mac works directly on the iTouch once synced). Just like the tweetie bookmarklet, this is a simple click of the bookmarking page to push over to delicious.

2. is really useful for bookmarking tweets with URLs. I started collecting everything I tweeted, but found it got too messy and I ended up with a lot of untagged bookmarks. So I used the very flexible settings to only copy URLs that I add the hashtag #bm and then any other relevant delicious tags. So I usually retweet something of interest (which also serves to forward it to my network on twitter) and add the relevant tags. This works really well. See what I’ve bookmarked so far using this system. The tag ‘’ is always added.