Issue importing references from WordPress to Endnote using Academic Blogger’s Toolkit.

Issue importing references from WordPress to Endnote using Academic Blogger’s Toolkit.

I love Academic Blogger’s Toolkit (ABT). It allows me to add references to my WordPress research and reflection blog (which isn’t this one and I don’t have a link to it as it’s for my eyes only—sorry). One particular feature I quite like is the ability to export references I’ve created in Endnote and have them imported into ABT.

That is, until recently. For some reason, the last update to Endnote has caused it to stop working. To resolve the situation, I sent a Twitter message to the creator of the plug-in, Derek Sifford, via Twitter (@flightmed1). Within a day—a day!—the issue had been reviewed and solved. Now that, ladies and gentleman, is what I call impressive.

So, if anyone else has the same issue, here’s what to do.

  1. Export as RefMan (RIS) file. Text only.
  2. Rename the file extension from .txt to .bib. On a Mac, you MUST …
    1. Select the file and choosing File -> Get Info
    2. Click the arrow to the left of “Name and Extension”
    3. Click return key
  3. Import using ABT

* Annoyingly, you can’t merely rename the extension on a Mac by clicking it. All that does it add .ris to the end of the file (so you end up with FILENAME.txt.ris). Go figure.

And, again, a huge thanks to Derek. You’ve got a fan for life now, sir. 🙂

Shifting to Twitter & creating multiple Twitter accounts

Last week my students suggested we should move away from TodaysMeet and try Twitter. Today was the 2nd week of using it and it’s interesting to compare the two programmes, particularly in light of observing and interacting with my students.

Personally, I quite like TodaysMeet. I’ve explained why in previous blogs (here and here) so I won’t bore you with the details again. Suffice to stay I wasn’t particularly keen on the move to Twitter as I felt we were in a good ‘groove’ with TodaysMeet. However, the students wanted to give it a go so fair enough.

The first issue was ensuring all students created a professional twitter account using their university email address. I needed to reiterate that this was linked with their professional persona and that comments needed to reflect this.

The students decided the easiest thing to do would be to follow me (and for me to follow them) on Twitter. This would allow all of us to see each others’ tweets without the need for a hash tag. These accounts were set up specifically to be used in classes at the University and that others outwit our class wouldn’t be linked so this alleviated my concern about all of the students (and my) linked friends getting a plethora of—what would be to them—unintelligible tweets.

The next issue was finding a programme which would display the tweets large enough to be read from the projector. The only programme I could find which seemed to do the trick was Twitterfall. This seemed perfect until I realised it was very slow at publishing the tweets and, at times, didn’t seem to update itself. Perhaps it’s the connection in this particular building but I’m not convinced. I ended up just showing the main Twitter page at http://www.twitter.com. It wasn’t nearly as good, in my opinion. However, the students didn’t seem to be too bothered about the tweets not projecting as nicely as I wanted them to. They were more comfortable using Twitter and they liked the fact their conversations were threaded/connected and also that they could see only their own tweets.

The students did seem to engage a bit more with Twitter, possibly due to being more comfortable with it. I’m still not convinced that it has merit over TodaysMeet for our use in lectures and tutorials but the fact students are able to view only their own tweets is the winning variable here, I think.

The one issue that I had, though, was trying to figure out how I could use Twitter with all four year groups. Twitter only allows one account per email address. This wasn’t a problem for the students but it is a problem for me. I didn’t want my tweets with one year group being published to the other year groups. I also didn’t really want to create four bespoke gmail accounts.

The solution was to use one gmail account and the + symbol. So, when creating my new Twitter account for my 1st year students, I used my gmail account but added +year1 at the end of the email address (e.g., myemailaddress+year1@gmail.com). For the 2nd year students, my twitter account was linked to myemailaddress+year2@gmail.com — and similarly for years 3 and 4. All of these email addresses come to me—Google doesn’t see them as separate accounts!

I then created filters in Google so that any message to +year1 would go into a specific folder. It was a bit of a pain setting it up but it wasn’t too time-consuming and it wasn’t too onerous.

So we’ll use Twitter for the rest of the term, despite my earlier plan about waiting until next term. We’ll see which programme the students prefer.

I just wish I could find a decent way to present the tweets like I can with TodaysMeet. Any ideas anyone?

An amalgam of Twitter and TodaysMeet

An amalgam of Twitter and TodaysMeet

live-tweeting-history-gallery-660x433-130122-pictureI like TodaysMeet. It’s similar to Twitter in that you have a defined, limited number of characters in which to write whatever you want to write about. Unlike Twitter, you don’t need to have an account, you don’t need to worry about hashtags and the room is self-contained. In other words, unless you go to the specific room which has been created, you aren’t going to see any messages/tweets. It’s very good for conferences and, in my case, for classes.

Twitter, on the other hand, vomits out every single tweet to every single person who is following me. Sometimes this is a good thing but, often, it drives me nuts. Some of the people I follow tend to tweet when they are in meetings, lectures or conferences and I’m inundated with tweets that, to me, make absolutely no sense. And there are 250 of them. I tend to scroll right past them which is a shame, in a way. I just don’t have time to read them all and engage with them. Maybe once I retire …

To avoid all of my students’ Twitter followers from receiving a plethora of tweets, we use TodaysMeet. No problem there. Except …

The one thing Twitter does do is allow the user to see only his/her tweets. TodaysMeet doesn’t do this. Students who have been trying to take notes or to engage more with TodaysMeet have identified this as one potential problem. Some of them do want to take notes using TodaysMeet. Great! But they also want to be able to review their notes/comments without having to hunt for them in a forest of other people’s comments. Fair point.

So I need to find something which is a blend of both Twitter and TodaysMeet.

Any ideas anyone?

Reflecting on whether to move from TodaysMeet to Twitter

Reflecting on whether to move from TodaysMeet to Twitter

Had an interesting conversation with a 2nd year student today. We were discussing the use of TodaysMeet and whether it was useful. This student had some interesting points worth considering.

As someone who prefers to take notes on the iPad, this students felt it was, at times, challenging to jump from a note-taking app to TodaysMeet. There were times when parts of the TodaysMeet conversation were being missed as the student flipped back and forward from tweeting to note-taking.. This led to an interesting discussion about trying not to take notes in the ‘traditional’ sense but using TodaysMeet to note down the main points – or working as a group to have one person tweet whilst another takes notes.

At this point, the student made the point that unless there was a way to only view only your own tweets instead of the whole conversation, students would be very reluctant to embrace this new note-taking paradigm.  A very fair point. I certainly wouldn’t want to scroll through 20 PDF pages of conversation to find where my own thoughts and notes were hidden.

So what is the alternative?

One suggestion made was to have all students create a new, professional and bespoke twitter account to be used only for my classes at University. Students could follow each other (and me) but add no one else. That way the tweets would still be self-contained. Once everyone had signed up, the settings could be changed to private. Students could then easily read their own posts or read the whole conversation.

It’s a sensible idea with a couple of slight issues.

  1. If a student already has a Twitter account linked to their University email address, they cannot create another one;
    As I already have a Twitter account linked to the university (@agpate), I would be stuck too.
  2. All students would have to have a username which was relatively easy to find and all students would have to follow all other students.
    Something like “UoGMAPEStudent12345678” would probably do the trick but it’s a bit cumbersome.
  3. I cannot save a Twitter ‘conversation’ as easily as I can on TodaysMeet.
    Well, I can but it really isn’t pretty. There’s tweetdownload.net but it’s ugly as sin.
  4. Students could DM (Direct Message) each other which could reduce the input (and impact) in the main conversation.

On reflection, I think I’m going to stick with TodaysMeet for this term. At the beginning of next term we could switch to Twitter and see how that works out. TodaysMeet and Twitter could then be compared in more depth. Something to consider anyway.

Dumfries students urged to tweet

Wow. I’m quite thrilled it made it to the BBC News Page. Made my day. A pity there wasn’t a mention of TodaysMeet though. Still, rather chuffed! 🙂

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-24240577