My blogging twilight

I finally realised today that this is my first post here since April 2013. This is very far from my dream when starting to blog in earnest in January 2006 to maintain about 5 posts per week. Looking through the archives for this blog I charted my posting record over the last 7 to 8 years. It tells the story.


Only once in all this time did I manage to attain my goal of 20 posts per month and that was a real outlier data point in December 2008. The next best month was 18 posts in February 2007. My steady decline in posting is obvious since the middle of 2007. This is despite my insistence on my students posting in blogs for (a few) marks in all my course up to my retirement in August 2011.

It is clear my blogging twilight is upon me despite the obvious value that my blogging has bestowed over the last 7 years or so. As I have written many times before my posts have formed a permanent record of my professional activities over time with occasional personal thoughts interspersed, definitely worth their being put into words.

Nevertheless I have to face the fact that my urge to blog has waned, especially given I appear to have three separate blogs ‘on the go’ with the other two being Cloud Scholar and Morsels. The latter began life as a Microsoft Live Spaces blog and migrated to WordPress when we were forced to switch in September 2010. Morsels was supposed to be for short, frequent, small gems of information using the WordPress P2 theme intended to ward off the Tumblr threat. I notice my last morsel was contributed in December 2012!

Thus it is time to retire this Scholarcast blog and Morsels and live out my blogging twilight in Cloud Scholar along. At least I posted there only two months ago.

For my blog posts in future see: Cloud Scholar

The average Australian of 2011

From the ABS page on the average Australian:

According to the 2011 Census, the average Australian is a 37 year old woman, born in Australia and with both of her parents also born in Australia. She has English, Australian, Irish, or Scottish ancestry. She speaks only English at home and belongs to a Christian religion, most likely Catholic.

She is married, and lives with her husband and two children (a boy and a girl aged nine and six) in a separate house with three bedrooms and two cars in a suburb of one of Australia’s capital cities. They have lived in that house for at least five years, and have a mortgage where they pay $1800 a month.

She has a Certificate in Business and Management, and drives to her job as a sales assistant, where she works 32 hours a week. She also does unpaid work around the house for five or more hours a week

Via @PetaHopkins 

Sieghart Review into Ebook Lending Attempts to Propagate Print Restrictions

I have just caught up with the Sieghart Report, a review of e-lending in public libraries in England. Its basic recommendations refer to Public Lending Rights (PLR):

  1. The provisions in the Digital Economy Act 2010 that extend PLR to audio books and loans of on-site e-books should be enacted.
  2. Further legislative changes should be made to allow PLR to take account of remote e-loans.
  3. The overall PLR pot should be increased to recognise the increase in rights holders.
  4. A number of pilots in 2013 using established literary events should be set up to test business models and user behaviours, and provide a transparent evidence base: all major publishers and aggregators should participate in these pilots.
  5. Public libraries should offer both on-site and remote E-Lending service to their users, free at point of use.
  6. The interests of publishers and booksellers must be protected by building in frictions that set 21st-century versions of the limits to supply which are inherent in the physical loans market (and where possible, opportunities for purchase should be encouraged). These frictions include the lending of each digital copy to one reader at a time, that digital books could be securely removed after lending and that digital books would deteriorate after a number of loans. The exact nature of these frictions should evolve over time to accommodate changes in technology and the market.

It is good to see recommendations 1 through 5, but the sixth is really peculiar. The report seeks to propagate the known limitations of a physical book, one copy in one person’s hands, and more hands means the book deteriorates over time. The whole point of an ebook is we escape this physical tyranny. The Luddites have won again.

Enrolled for Open Education MOOC at OU UK

As an avid supporter of MOOCs will form the future of all open education I have enrolled as a student in the Open Education MOOC offered by the Open University UK. The distinguished education technology guru +Martin Weller is the lead instructor. I hope to learn about the pedagogy behind MOOCs for my own talk to my local higher ed institution where I hold the honorary position of Adjunct Prof.

To regular readers of this blog please note that all posts tagged with the #h817open label are my work items submitted to the Open Education MOOC. Feel free to ignore these h817open posts.

The MOOC becomes a Networked Textbook

Once again we are treated to ground-breaking ideas by Dave Cormier in his post entitled ‘MOOC as Networked Textbook and a look back at the feedbook’. He suggests the feedbook, a collection of feeds from experts in a field that create a ‘living textbook’, replace the traditional textbook that contains knowledge trapped in time.

My favourite quote:

Choosing and choosing well has always been a valuable literacy, but in the context of a world of knowledge abundance, choice is [has] slowly become the most important literacy.

In the end, and this is my bias showing, the community becomes the curriculum.

A full read of the post is strongly recommended.

Experiences with Music Streaming Services on Sonos

Over the last few months like many in Australia I have had the opportunity to try several music streaming services. A monthly payment of up to $15 secures access to literally many millions of music tracks including all new releases. As it happens a Christmas 2011 present of a Sonos wireless music system proved to be a perfect fit for streaming music. A Sonos slogan is ‘stream every song on earth’.

My Sonos came with free beta access to the Songl music service which I started using in February 2012. Although still in beta the free trial just ended in the first weeks of August. Songl was a very good introduction but I found its selection of music, especially for a person in their 60s like myself, to be limited. I won’t be paying $12.99/month from September.

2012-08-19 SNAG-00In the first quarter of 2012 I signed up for Rdio, the first major international streaming service available in Australia. Like most services with two tiers of subscription I needed the more expensive version to use with Sonos. Rdio is $12.90 per month. The music selection is extensive and it has the Pandora-like radio station model for playing music related to a named favourite artist. Except I find the Rdio artist stations very poor. Artist and album selection though are excellent. It is the interworking with Sonos that is critical for me.

When they arrived I also signed for trials for other services: JB HiFi Now $99/year ($8.25/month), Spotify $11.99/month, and MOG $11.99/month. I subsequently abandoned JB HiFi Now (poor music selection) but took up subscriptions for Spotify and MOG. So now I have three services that work well on my Sonos as well the my own 27 GB of ripped music collection on my central home file server. (Sonos plays all the world’s Internet radio as well using the built-in TuneIn app and podcasts with Stitcher.)

Off course all these music streaming services are accessible on iOS, Android, Windows and OSX with offline syncing on the mobile phones, so you can listen to music outside the house wherever there is 3G or Wi-Fi. It is the Sonos interface to MOG, Rdio and Spotify that is important to me. For comparison I show the top-level interface and an artist search, Enya of course. For each service Sonos provides a box for artist/album/track search.




2012-08-19 SNAG-01 2012-08-19 SNAG-02 2012-08-19 SNAG-03
2012-08-19 SNAG-04 2012-08-19 SNAG-07 2012-08-19 SNAG-06

For me MOG is winning hands down. At the top level MOG has more features like Editors picks, and top tracks/radio/albums lists. After an artist search MOG also is way ahead. A couple of popular albums, artist-only radio (for me the best feature of all), top tracks and related artists are all great, unmatched features. Also MOG is included in my Telstra bill and is unmetered via my Bigpond internet service.

I am now paying $36.88/month and it is time to rationalise, so from next week it is bye bye Rdio and Spotify. I’m sticking with MOG for the foreseeable future. The new music streaming era is for me. I now thank my lucky stars that I have spent less than $30 in total on buying AAC/MP3 music over the years so moving to streaming is a no brainer for me.

The First OU Report on Innovating in Pedagogy, a Must-read

2012-07-25 SNAG-00The OU UK have adopted the methodology of the NMC Horizon Project to produce a forward-looking report called Innovating Pedagogy. The report covers 10 technology innovations that are having, or are likely to have, significant impact on teaching, learning and assessment. What’s more the report is presented in digestible fragments online with the ability to submit comments – a great leap forward from the bulky PDFs of the Horizon Reports that of late have concentrated too much on the technology and less on the pedagogy. If you prefer Innovating Pedagogy is also available as a PDF.

The 10 innovations are:

  1. Assessment for learning
  2. Badges to accredit learning
  3. Learning analytics
  4. MOOCs
  5. New pedagogy for e-books
  6. Personal inquiry learning
  7. Publisher led mini-courses
  8. Rebirth of academic publishing
  9. Rhizomatic learning
  10. Seamless learning
    All the hot topics are here so happy reading and commenting.

Another Salvo at the Academic Journal Publishers

2012-07-24 SNAG-00Another news magazine of high standing in the Economist has joined the battle against the traditional academic journal publishers. The article Scientific Publishing Brought to Book notes what has become a well-worn path of examples where public funding of research now comes with the requirement of open access to the resulting publications.

The article gives a good summary of the open access publishing models:

  • Gold model: authors charged a fee for secret review and publishing, papers available online for no charge. This approach is used by the Public Library of Science, PLoS.
  • Green model: authors publish in traditional journals with secret review, but must make free open access available online within 12 months. This is used by the NIH-funded medical research.
  • ArXiv model: authors upload their papers to a public archive funded by universities, papers are subject to a ‘ruthless process of open peer review’

Personally, I look forward to the introduction of the open access eLIFE later this year. eLIFE , supported by the Wellcome Trust, Max Planck Institute and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, aims to challenge Nature. Good luck to them.