Tag: guide (page 1 of 3)

A Community Alignment model

TL;DR: I’m working on creating a Community Alignment model (name TBC) that sets out some of the ways I’ve had success working with diverse stakeholders to ship meaningful things. I’ve started work on this on my wiki here.


Just as my continuum of ambiguity is a fundamental part of how I approach life, so I’ve got a default way of working with communities. I’m working with City & Guilds at the moment and realised that it’s actually quite difficult to articulate something I take for granted.

As a result, I’ve started working on a guide to an approach that I’ve found useful for some kinds of initiative. It’s particularly useful if the end product isn’t nailed-down, and if the community is fairly diverse.

I’ve taken a couple of hours today to write the initial text and draft some diagrams for what I’m initially calling a Community Alignment model. Your feedback would be so valuable around this – particularly if you’ve been part of any projects with me recently, or have expertise in the area.

Click here to view the draft guide on my wiki

Thanks in advance for your help! 🙂

Image CC BY-NC Pulpolux !!!

HOWTO: use GitHub Pages to host a bootstrap-themed website

Last week I mentioned in a blog post and my weekly newsletter the pre-launch website of my new (part-time) consultancy Dynamic Skillset. I had an enquiry as to how the site put together, so I put together this screencast:

The great thing about being shown how to do something via video is that, if you get stuck, you can pause, rewind and watch parts again. In this one, I go through the process of downloading a responsive website theme and hosting it for free using GitHub Pages.

Remember, the way to increase your digital and web literacies is to tinker about and try new things. You can’t break anything here and all you have to lose is your GitHub virginity. 😉

PS If you’re interested in using GitHub to ‘fork’ (i.e. remix) someone else’s repository, you may find this video playlist helpful.

HOWTO: Issue #openbadges in 5 steps using WordPress + WPBadger

Image slideshow not showing? Click here!

Good news! Dave Lester has created a plugin for WordPress that makes issuing Open Badges fairly straightforward.
Follow the instructions below to get started.


1. Install WordPress*

Install WordPress

2. Install the WPBadger plugin

Install the WPBadger plugin

3. Follow the instructions at the plugin’s Installation page, specifically:

Configure the plugin by navigating to Settings -> WPBadger Config in the WordPress admin. On this form, fill out some basic information including Agent Name, organization, and contact email address. The award email text is optional.

Note the following:

  • After you install the WPBadger plugin you get two new menu items – Badges and Awards
  • Badges is to do with the creation of badges and Awards is to do with the awarding of badges (either individually or en masse)

Configure WPBadger

4. Follow the instructions on the Other Notes page to create your badge.

Things that may help:

  • Click on Badges in the left-hand menu then Add New
  • Fill in the Enter title here box (this is the name of the badge as it will show up in Badge Backpacks)
  • Enter some text in the main field about the badge itself and what it’s awarded for (this is what will show up at the badge’s Criteria URL)
  • Under Badge version on the right-hand side enter a number such as 1.0
  • Under Badge image on the right-hand side click on Set featured image
  • Once you’ve uploaded the badge image (a PNG file) you need to scroll down in the pop-up box to click the option to Use as featured image and then close the pop-up (you don’t need to insert it into the post)

Create your badge

5. Follow the instructions on the Other Notes page to award your badge.

Things that may help:

  • Click on Awards then Add New to award a badge to a single individual
  • Use the drop-down menu under Choose Badge on the right-hand side to select the badge to award
  • Enter the individual’s Email Address in the box on the right-hand side (try your own email address first if testing!)
  • In the main box fill out the reason why the individual has been awarded the badge (this is what will show up at the badge’s Evidence URL)
  • Press Publish

Award badge

The individual you entered in Step 5 should now receive an email telling them they’ve received a badge. When they click on the URL they can accept or reject that badge. If they accept it then it will be pushed to their Badge Backpack.

Badge in Open Badges Backpack

*How to do this is outside of the scope of this tutorial, I’m afraid.

HOWTO: Create a clickable tag cloud using Tagul

I’ve been asked several times now how I created the clickable tag cloud on the OER infoKit. To save having to explain myself lots of times (and to make others aware that it’s possible) I created this guide (be sure to click Menu/View Fullscreen):

HOWTO: Roll your own #twebay

Having sold individual things sporadically via Twitter (usually after mentioning I was about to put them on eBay) and finding myself needing to raise funds for a rather magnificent Sony Vaio P series,  I thought it was about time I developed a system. Enter #twebay.

(I hate the elision of ‘Twitter’ and ‘eBay’ as much as you, but it’s a convenient hypocrisy…)

Here’s what I did:

1. Set up and published a Google Doc and passed it through Bit.ly Pro to get http://dajb.eu/twebay. This includes my details (including avatar and photo), a rationale for selling, and details of the items.

2. Configured and tested a Google Form (via Google Docs) to collect information from those interested. I figured the important information was the person’s name, email address, bid amount and a box for any other details they wanted to give me.

3. Publicised it and asked for retweets.

4. Checked the spreadsheet attached to the Google Form at regular intervals and replied to those making bids.

I managed to sell 3 items within an hour with an additional one that I’d forgotten later in the week. These were all to people who I’ve known a while on Twitter but I’ve never met in person.

The advantages of this method?

  • No eBay/Paypal fees
  • Buyer knows it’s going to a good home, seller knows where it’s come from
  • Time spent listing items for sale is massively reduced

Possible drawbacks?

  • You need a fair number of followers to gain traction/interest
  • There’s no formal feedback system
  • There’s potential to damage existing relationships when money becomes involved

HOWTO: Use Evernote to take notes on books.

Something I’ve started doing recently has revolutionised my ability to synthesise my reading of stuff in paper books. Here’s what I currently do – although there’s probably ways I can improve it (and no doubt something similar is possible using other devices):

You’ll need:

  • An iPhone
  • Evernote app (iPhone and desktop/laptop versions)
  • An internet connection (at some point)

What we’re going to do is to take a picture of a section of text, tag it and add contextual (bibliographic) information, and then send it off to be synced by Evernote.

0. Set up a notebook for your quotations/notes. I use ‘Ed.D. thesis’.

1. Take picture of text

Click on the ‘Snapshot’ option in Evernote. Take your photo of the text you want to capture – make sure you focus correctly!

2. Fill in note details

The title should be something that summarises what you’ve taken a picture of. Tag it appropriately. Click on ‘Append note’ and fill in citation details. Make sure you ‘Select All’ and then ‘Copy’ so that the next time you do this you can use ‘Paste’ and just change the page number!

3. Sync

Once you’ve synced it will appear in Evernote on your desktop/laptop.

4. Synthesise

With all the notes in front of you, it’s easy to synthesise your thinking. It’s fully possible to just to this on the iPhone, but it’s easier given the features and screen real-estate on desktop or laptop.

I use a Moleskine notebook and a good old-fashioned pen for synthesising (or XMind depending on how I’m feeling). It works wonderfully! 🙂

Embedding a live Twitter search in Keynote 09

Sometimes a simple idea strikes you whilst planning a presentation. This time it was:

Why can’t I embed a live Twitter search in my slides?

Although I never used the functionality, it turns out it was entirely possible to do this in versions of Keynote before Keynote 09 using ‘Web View’.

Gah.

Typical.

Undeterred, I came across this post which provides a Keynote 08 file consisting of a single Web View-enabled slide which, happily, works in Keynote 09.

This means that during my ALT-C 2010 presentation for JISC Advance I can show tweets using the hashtags #altc10 #ja in order to get some live feedback. Note that you if you embed a search from the Twitter homepage you’ll have to replace the %23 with # and %20 with a space in the URL that’s pasted into the Keynote Inspector box.

Here’s the result:

Questions? Ask away in the comments below! 😀

How to design the ultimate presentation.

Introduction

This post has been a long time coming, but there’s three specific short-term causes to it appearing now:

  1. I’ve seen some fantastic content and ideas be let down by woeful presentations recently.
  2. Before next week’s JISC infoNet planning meeting, I’ve been asked to give some advice to my colleagues about presenting effectively.
  3. My Dad had an interview for a promotion last week and I helped him with his presentation.

Every awesome presentation has the following. Yes, every single one.

  • A call to action
  • One or more ‘hooks’
  • Appropriate pace
  • Little on-screen text
  • Imagery

How to plan the ultimate presentation

Start with your ‘call to action’. What do you want people to go away and do/think/say? Put that in the middle of a large piece of paper, or – better yet – a large whiteboard.

Around it, write down everything that you want to say on the topic. Spatial location indicates relatedness (i.e. the close it is to another point the more related it is to it). Draw a circle around every point. You’ve just created a Rico Cluster!

Next, identify your key points. They’re the points within circles that give your presentation its structure, those that would be noticeable if absent.

Finally, think about the order of your presentation. It goes something like this:

Hook –> Challenge –> Story –> Call to action

Designing the visual element of your presentation

You should by now know what the start and the end of your presentation is going to entail. You should have an idea of how you’re going to ‘hook’ the audience’s interest and then provide a ‘call to action’ at the conclusion.

Notice that I haven’t mentioned anything about the length of your presentation yet. That’s because it doesn’t really matter whether you presentation is 5 minutes or over an hour, the principles are the same! All that changes with the length of your presentation is the amount of content you need to prepare, and strategies for dealing with the wandering concentration of your audience. More of the latter in a moment.

I’m going to outsource the rest of this section to two wonderful resources I’ve come across recently. The first is mis-titled in my opinion: The Top 7 PowerPoint Slide Designs is actually about the structure and design of your presentation as a whole, rather than PowerPoint. It’s always good to have examples up your sleeve to broaden your repetoire.

The second is embeddable. I just love the focus on passion and significance coupled with practical advice!

Of course, you don’t have to use slides! For my Director of E-Learning interview, I made up a hashtag on Twitter and put that on the screen whilst I blu-tacked A4 sheets of paper to several walls… :-p

Kicking-ass when delivering the presentation

We’ve dealt now with the hook, the call to action, and having little on-screen text. This final section, then, deals with pace and imagery. A grasp of the appropriate use of pace is one reason why very good teachers are almost always very good presenters: they know when to speed things up and when to slow them down.

For example, if you’re letting people know about this amazing, exciting new thing then you’ll talk really quickly with lots of enthusiasm in your voice. If you’re emphasising a key point, on the other hand, you may want to take your time. Either way, it’s very important to practice. Use a video camera. Failing that, talk into the mirror. As a last resort, talk to a chair in the corner of the room. Seriously.

It’s obvious, but seemingly not understood by many. Your presentation is not the slides! Your presentation is the sum total of the experience people get when watching and listening to you present. That’s why imagery is extremely important. It’s more than appropriate and good-looking pictures on a screen. It’s about being evocative. It’s about using metaphors. It’s about conjuring up a world where people can’t help but respond to your call for action.

Conclusion

I’d love to help people present better. I’m not perfect myself – no-one is – but having a commitment to getting better at something means you’re half-way there to being better at it. And yes, these things can take huge amounts of time to do properly. One recent presentation of mine took, altogether, one hour for every minute I spent presenting! But, as Yoda famously says in Star Wars:

Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’.

Please feel free to get in touch if you think I can help! 😀

Image CC BY helgabj

Design and the 5 Golden Rules of Technology purchases.

I’ve learned (from sometimes bitter experience) that there are five golden rules when it comes to technology purchases of any magnitude:

  1. Don’t impulse buy.
  2. Buy stuff that has a positive effect on your productivity.
  3. Set out the minimum spec for what you want at the start of the process (and don’t retro-tinker!)
  4. Don’t buy without having a hands-on (or if that’s impossible, watch lots of video reviews)
  5. Get recommendations from friends, your network, or relevant others.

The most important element in any technology purchase is design. It’s extremely unlikely that there is only one example, one model, one company that makes the technology item you wish to purchase. Why is good design important?

  • It can make the technology more than the sum of its parts (e.g. iPhone)
  • Your quality of life can be negatively impacted if you have to constantly fix things and be frustrated by a poor UI (e.g. Windows)
  • Good design can make you more productive – if only through time-saving – and actually improve your quality of life by providing an integrated approach to the way you deal with digital stuff (e.g. Dropbox)

I’m going to apply these 5 golden rules to my next purchase – a point-and-shoot camera. I shall, no doubt, blog my findings. 😉

Image CC BY bfishadow

Surviving to thriving: 10 steps to ensure you remain productive after a rough night.

Introduction

Whether it’s being woken up several times by our children, the eternal racket of noisy neighbours, or simply going to bed late and sleeping restlessly, we’ve all been in the situation where we need to be productive after a rough night.

These 10 steps help me be productive after a rough night. I hope they work for you too! 😀

1. Don’t snooze

The likelihood is that if you’re having a rough night you’ll probably wake up half an hour to an hour before your usual waking-up time. Get up! Whilst it’s tempting to stay in bed, snoozing actually has a worse effect on your productivity than getting up and getting on with your day.

You can always go to bed early at the other end!

2. Have a cold(er) shower

I remember reading in Men’s Health magazine that having a cold shower after running or a work-out helps your muscles to recover more quickly. It also stimulates your skin. In fact, I end every shower that I have with a quick burst of freezing cold water. This means that even in the middle of winter the bathroom seems warm…

In terms of our current focus, a cold (or colder) shower stimulates your skin and makes you feel a bit more alive/human. It gives you a jolt similar to a double espresso… 😉

3. Bounce!

My wife’s got a mini-trampoline. It was a bit of a fad: she’d bounce during watching Friends back in the day. I noticed that she would always seem happier afterwards, but attributed this to watching comedy.

In fact, research shows that bouncing stimulates the brain and releases endorphins. You may not have a trampoline, but you can bounce on the spot. Aim for 100 bounces – it’s enough to make you slightly out-of-breath and feel a lot better!

4. Focus on others

The chances are that if you’ve had a rough night then anyone else you live with will have done as well. Focus on them. Make sure they’re OK. The last thing you want to do is have an argument with people you live with and care about because you’re both tired.

Do something nice for them – make them breakfast, iron their clothes, smile at them – whatever. The very act of focusing on someone other than yourself will make you feel better.

5. Eat carbs

If you’re anything like me you’ll be tempted to head for something sweet for breakfast the morning after a rough night. It’s the sugar your body’s craving. Instead of heading for the leftovers of last night’s dessert, choose something that will stand you in good stead for the day.

Try some muesli, perhaps with some fruit. Not a big fan? Eat lots of toast. The carbohydrates will release energy slowly, keeping you productive until you next meal. Choose sugar, and you’ll suffer from blood sugar spikes and troughs, making a bad situation worse.

6. Write down two things to achieve today

You might have a to-do list as long as your arm, but focus on just two things to achieve before you get back into bed for that much-anticipated next sleep. Perhaps during your breakfast write down something to achieve before lunch and then another thing to achieve before you head home for the day.

Slimming down your to-do list and focusing on just a couple of goals means that you will feel the sense of achievement experienced when you complete something worthwhile.

7. Clear your mind during your commute

If you usually listen to the radio or your favourite music, it’s worth abstaining today. Silence is best but repetitive, fairly nondescript music works as well. Think about the two things you need to get done today and think about how to achieve them.

Another thing to do is to let go. It’s easy to be overcome with negative emotions when you’re tired. Let go of frustrations, anger and other negativities that would otherwise affect your productivity.

8. Stick to routines

It’s tempting to try and cut corners when you’re tired, to avoid doing the routine so you can get to the things you’ll be judged on and held accountable for. But those routine tasks are there for a reason: they underpin everything else that you do. So don’t ignore them. Stick to, for example, keeping things tidy, in order, email answered and making your presence known.

The idea is to move from surviving to thriving. Without the routines and workflows that underpin your productive system, you’ll end up in productivity ‘negative equity’. Which is not a good place to be. 😮

9. Take a caffeine nap

I’ve written before about how useful caffeine naps can be. The idea’s a simple one: drink a cup of coffee, close your eyes and relax for 15 minutes, wake up and get on with the rest of your day. I find they work best early afternoon an hour or so after lunch.

Even if you don’t go to sleep properly, you will experience moments where you’re not completely awake and you’ll certainly rest your eyes and relax. Then, just as you open your eyes the caffeine will be kicking in and you’ll be ready for the rest of the day! 😀

10. Read before bed

The biggest thing to avoid when you’ve had a rough night is not to have another one immediately afterwards. Whilst bouncing back from one rough night’s sleep is eminently do-able given the advice above, two in a row can kill your productivity until the next weekend.

Don’t look at screens for the hour before you go to bed. Hit the hay earlier than usual. Read something that will take your mind off things. Relax.

Conclusion

Do these work for you? Do you do anything different? Share you experiences and advice in the comments section below! 🙂

CC BY-NC-SA crashbangsqueak

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