Virtual graduations

virtual graduation

virtual graduation - photo courtesy of F Littleton

November 26th saw a new innovation for virtual worlds. Some students who are distance learners were graduating, but were unable to come to the ceremony – Fiona Littleton, working with colleagues in informatics, created the first Second Life graduation held in parallel with McEwan Hall graduation. 4 MSc graduates graduated in Second Life with 2 graduating at McEwan Hall. The live feed from McEwan Hall was streamed in to Second Life.

21 Guests in total attended the ceremony in Second Life – university staff, current students and visitors from other universities.

The event has now been nominated in the edublogs “best use of a virtual world in education” awards. To vote go to http://edublogawards.com/2009/best-educational-use-of-a-virtual-world-2009/ I must admit, it’s a difficult vote – I was also impressed by the Virtual Round Table conference, and CANVAS …

BBC Coverage:
news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/8378291.stm

More details on the Virtual Graduation:
www.wiki.ed.ac.uk/display/VueWiki/Virtual+Graduation
or contact fiona.littleton@ed.ac.uk

More details on MSc in E-learning:
www.education.ed.ac.uk/e-learning

update: the virtual graduations have won the Edublogs awards for the “best educational use of a virtual world” – see all the award winners here

Keeping references with Mendeley

I was recently pointed to some software that is now in beta – called Mendeley – which gives you a way to store research citations and then access it from any computer. I’m still working on seeing the ways it could help with research, but so far it looks really promising!

What I like about it:

  • I can upload/store a pdf file and it will automatically extract the relevant citation information (journal name, date etc)
  • it will also extract the references in the article and store them
  • I can use the online version as a back-up
  • it is possible to create folders for references that are related
  • there is a plug-in for Word which means I can add the citation as I am working on a document, and it will then create a bibliography (as does Endnote, but this is free)
  • I can create a shared group so that with colleagues we can share references about a topic
  • it is possible to publish my own work

I can work online or offline, and then synchronise my references with the online version; then I can go to my office computer andsynchronise also, which means I don’t have to keep sending myself emails to rememebr to update!

Dress well – get the job

It was fascinating to read an account of a recent appointment to headmistress in a private school in Edinburgh. The new appointee is, however, apparently not taking up the post. Whether she does or not is not particularly important to me – how private schools maintain their perceived superiority over other educational instututions is not something I lose sleep over. What did interest me was the spin the news article put on it:

“The other woman is a bit younger, and slightly racy in her dress.”

The comic picture in my mind of the doomed visit by the new headmistress where she was sniffed at by the parents is worth a giggle. Is it just a political statement to say that being younger could be a negative feature? And what exactly does “racy” mean? Could a man be described as “racy”? It is also interesting what is left out of the report: there is no mention of the new, young, racy woman’s views on class sizes, or differentiation, or integration of technology, or accessibility. What do they do in those schools anyway?

Round we go again

As an undergraduate student, I was able to study in Glasgow for 4 years because I was eligible for a student grant. Each year, the amount in the grant reduced and the parental support was increased, but it was still a scheme that made it possible for me to graduate with an MA. Quite frankly, without a grant I would not have gone to university.

A few years ago grants were abolished and instead student loans were brought in. This was supposed to give students the opportunity to repay society for giving them a higher education (!). I don’t know personally of anyone who changed their mind about doing a degree because of this alone, but I’m sure there were plenty families who really had to think very carefully about it and look at other options (like going straight to work).

In the news now, though is a grand new plan for being able to support students: give them grants!

UmĀ  …