Archive for May, 2014

Weekend writing – self publishing resources

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Self publishing has changed remarkably over the past 5 years.  It has gone from being mainly about shelling out to vanity presses, to now where there are professionals making huge amounts money (of course most people don’t).

It can be hard to know where to start or even if to start.  There are a bewildering range of options and opinions.

Well this could be a good place to start –

It was launched this week and has been put together by Publishers Weekly.  I haven’t had much of a look at it yet but PW is a trade magazine that has been running for over a hundred years, so their reputation and track record is pretty good.

“Publishers Weekly is getting into the self-publishing business with launch of a new site dedicated to self-publishing.”

“..focus on three main subject areas: book creation which includes editing and cover design; publishing which is all about the physical manufacturing of a book; and book marketing, which will include information on distribution, publicity and sales.”

Study Tip – The Science of Productivity

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Exams are coming!  And life is already here.  Focusing and being productive are skills that need to be learnt, now more than ever as we traverse our  “always on” world.

Scheduling, timed breaks, deadlines and stop multitasking are a few of the tips in this video.

Watch it and pass.

The Science of Prodcutivity

See more of AsapScience’s videos on their You Tube Channel

Use the categories below – ‘Passing Exams in the digital age’ and ‘Study Help’, for more tips.

Colour matching between Moodle and Photoshop

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

A little tip for Moodle site developers

Photoshop and many other graphics programs  tend to use RBG as the primary way to identify colours, unfortunately Moodle uses HEX

I wanted to create an image with a background the same colour as my table background.  So I looked at the table properties and found the colour.

moodle hex

Then I went to a HEX to RBG conversion site and put in the HEX codes

hex to rbg

I then took the RBG code and set the colour in Photoshop


If I had a preexisting image and wanted to match the Moodle colour could use the colour picker (most graphics program have this) to identify the RBG

colour match

I would then run RBG through a RBG to HEX converter . That would give me the HEX code to set my table background colour.

Fighting the good fight of cause an effect – Spurious Correlations

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Please send this link to all your students.  Spurious Correlations

It’s a bit of fun and clearly rams home the importance of looking at ’cause and effect’ when reviewing articles and interpreting media reports.


I think there might be a PhD in finding out what happened in 2007-09 to break the correlation.

Another fun spurious correlation is used by the satirical Pastafarian movement

Pastafarians worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a deity resembling pasta and meat balls. One of the core beliefs of Pastafarianism is that pirates are divine beings. Pastafarians believe we should mimic them by wearing pirate regalia, because it can be clearly demonstrated that the increase in the global average temperature since the 1800s is correlated with the decrease in the number of pirates.
More contributing evidence for this fact include the rise in pirate activity in the Gulf of Aden recently, since Somalia has the highest number of pirates and the lowest carbon emissions of any country.”

Another thing to be aware of when looking at stats is the veracity of the underlying assumptions.

An absolution classic example is how we inexplicably managed to double our deficit from $68 billion to 123 billion in a few months.   We had two Fiscal Outlook reports (both supposedly, but not really, based on independent Treasury information), one by the previous government and one by the new government.  One was manipulated down to try and win an election, and the other was manipulated up post election to promote a ‘Budget Crisis’ to justify cutting government spending (primarily on social welfare i.e. the elderly, disabled, unemployed, hospitals, education).   Most astute pundits expect the assumptions to be changed again just prior to the next election to show a miraculous reduction in the deficit (and so it goes).

Mobile devices and Moodle

Monday, May 26th, 2014

I spotted this on eCampus News

5 ways mobile devices have (and haven’t) changed studying

Okay, the first thing is, this study was done by Study Blue who are in the business of mobile education, but having said that, I agree with the findings.

1. Students are working together, and improving their grades
2. Students still cram
3. Students still like pen and paper, but move between offline and online with ease
4. Students are turning idle (and bathroom) time into study time
5. Students are no longer getting out of bed to study

The main take away for me is need to make sure our resources are designed appropriately for smart phones.  I think we are at the point where, for some (all?) resources, we need to prioritize design for phones over design for laptops.

I’m not a person who thinks the LMS has outlived it’s usefulness (I think that just shows a lack of imagination), but I do think the inherent design of our LMS’s needs to reflex the needs/wants of everyday 21 century students.  I’m not sure that adding an app is the way to go, Moodle has a few mobile apps, but I don’t see them used much (at Monash we can’t use them at all).   Moodle needs to work with browsers, and automatically adjust its design for mobile screens, like so many other sites already do.  It also needs to reflect the design imposed by the academic, not just be a content delivery system.

If anyone has created an addon to do this I would be interested in having a look.

If you want to have a look at some Moodle mobile apps have a look at this page on Moodle News.  Of course, unless your organisation is set up for them they won’t work.

Presentation tip – sometimes you need pictures.

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

How to rob a bank- from the inside.

Good information, good use of narrative, traditional presenter, great hook.  I should have been more engaged but by the end I wasn’t.  A few well chosen supportive graphics would have made a difference.  Something to help reinforce the point, and clarify some of the assumptions inherent in a talk of this kind.

“William Black is a former bank regulator who’s seen firsthand how banking systems can be used to commit fraud — and how “liar’s loans” and other tricky tactics led to the 2008 US banking crisis that threatened the international economy. In this engaging talk, Black, now an academic, reveals the best way to rob a bank — from the inside.”

How to rob a bank

Compare this to this earlier animated video of the crisis.  This is the opposite end of the scale in terms of graphics (and a lot more time consuming)  but a few still images of this kind would have helped in William Black’s talk.

Credit crisis

Interestingly our new government, despite all of the hard lessons learnt, has reduced spending (by $120 million) on our corporate watchdog ASIC,  preferring to encourage more ‘self-regulation’ – I’m sure everything will be fine.

Today’s first job (22/05/14) – Change your eBay security details

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

You have probably already heard this, but if you haven’t, eBay has been seriously hacked.  Your account is not secure.

ebay logo

PayPal data is stored separately and is supposedly secure, but I would change that as well (particularly given PayPal’s occasionally spotty history resolving customer disputes).

PowerPoint Mix – very first impression (more to come)

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

I have had a look at PowerPoint Mix and I will post a few videos over on the Meanderings YouTube channel in the next week or so, but in general I like it.  It has some definite limitations, but it is easy to use and the technical quality of the output is good enough.

So from me (so far) a tentative and conditional  two thumbs up.

A quick look at the featured  gallery page is a little depressing.  Mix suffers from the same problem as regular PowerPoint (and nail guns) in that owning the tool does not guarantee you’re not going to do yourself some damage.

It provides a whole new way of being not very good.

One quick tip.  At the absolute maximum, we only need to see your webcammed face in the opening and closing slide (at the maximum).

If you want some more tips we have a Google Community Monash Making Videos for Learning which you are welcome join.

Flipped learning – media update

Monday, May 19th, 2014

MOOC reporting is finally dying down as reality hits the over eager early adopters.

What appears to be taking it’s place is more reporting on online learning and flipped learning.

lecture-theatre flipped

Here are some ‘Flipped’ articles from the last month

6-myths of the Flipped Classroom

How to Flip faculty PD

Prof places herself in Flipped Courses (Generally I’d don’t recommend this approach.  I am more in line with this ‘Sometimes it’s better to be heard not seen’

If you’re a Monash person and want a bit more info about this, drop me line.

Weekend Funny – Buy my Volvo

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

This guy has way too much time on his hands…and he really wants to sell his Volvo