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Month: March 2020 Page 2 of 3

Graphic: Artificial Intelligence


Reading Time: 5 minutes
Photo of a friendly robot

This is actually Pepper, not Teacherbot

What is Teacherbot?

Teacherbot is an artificial intelligence project to automate some aspects of teaching, thereby improving efficiency and allowing for the more ‘teacher-light’ tuition required for providing courses on the scale of MOOCs.

I had been interested in hearing more about Teacherbot ever since I first heard of it at the IT Futures conference in December, so it was a very nice surprise to see it featuring in the online education course.

Teacherbot was created to engage with students of Edinburgh University’s e-learning and digital cultures MOOC on Twitter. Teacherbot replied to tweets containing the #edcmooc hashtag, with responses drawing on keywords and how they were linked through terms such as “and” or “not”. It engaged with hundreds of students, tweeting about 1,500 times over the duration of the course.

Teacherbot could answer simple questions, and could respond to more complex questions by posting key quotes or asking ‘Would anyone else like to connect?’ Students felt it helped them engage with the idea of automated teaching, and said that Teacherbot had prompted them to think.

Photo of a laptop showing the back of a teacher writing on a blackboard

Engaged Online Teaching and the University’s Strategic Plan

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Image: Not very engaged online teaching

Why teach online?

The University of Edinburgh’s (2016) Strategic Plan endorses “a digital culture that will culminate in a university where: every core service is fully digital; every educator is a digital educator; every student is a digital student”.

Who are our distance learners?

Online students tend to be older, more professionally minded, and with greater challenges to overcome in their work-life balance. Engaged online teaching can help with this.

What are the unique challenges faced by distance learners?

In ‘Making Distance Visible: Assembling Nearness in an Online Distance Learning Programme’, the authors make some key points

Web Accessibility Word Cloud

Accessibility Experiment: Listening to a Web based Article via Audio

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Accessibility Experiment

When I looked up the article about Teacherbot, I decided to try out something else new, and take advantage of an accessibility feature of the online journal it was in: I noticed they had an audio option available and I thought that was great, so I had the article read out to me!

Screenshot of a professional journal with an audio option

Audio version of Teacherbot: interventions in automated teaching. Journal: Teaching in Higher Education
Critical Perspectives
Volume 20, 2015 – Issue 4: Twentieth Anniversary Special Issue.

Audio version of Teacherbot: interventions in automated teaching.
Journal: Teaching in Higher Education: Critical Perspectives Volume 20, 2015 – Issue 4: Twentieth Anniversary Special Issue.

It was an interesting experience in itself, and listening through the navigation options was a valuable reminder of the importance of making the navigation as accessible to those who can’t see where the options are as to those who can.

Photo: the Top 10 Unitarian UK Facebook Pages

The Scottish Unitarian Churches’ Social Media and Communications Workshop

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Photo of the grand looking Station Hotel in Perth

The Station Hotel in Perth: a very nice place to spend a day, with nice coffee and lovely chocolate orange cake!

I had a very interesting trip to Perth yesterday, to attend the Scottish Unitarian Churches’ Social Media and Communications Workshop. (I have a small side job updating the website and doing some of the social media posting for my church).

It was a great opportunity to network with people in similar roles at other Scottish churches, and to hear the latest communications-related news, tips and advice from Dr Rory Castle Jones, the Unitarians UK Communications Officer.

Communications: Traditional and Modern

Rory started off by comparing Traditional and Modern Communications channels.

Traditional channels of communication would include:

  • Leaflets
  • Posters
  • Press releases
  • Newsletters

Modern channels of communication would include:

  • Websites
  • Social media
  • Blogs
  • Email lists

So, Why should Churches use Social Media?

The UK has 45 million social media users, who on average use social media for 1 hr 50 minutes per day.
Here are some of the things churches can use social media for:

  • Publicising services
  • Publicising events
  • Connecting with the community
  • Explaining your faith

It seems very appropriate to include a tweet from Rory, showing the workshop getting started:

Photo of pies and the number Pi

Happy Pi Day!

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Happy Pi Day!

My favourite apron: I bake π

It’s March 14th: Happy Pi Day (3.14) to all my lovely readers (just me then!). I’ll be scheduling this to publish at 15 hrs, though sadly I can’t stretch the next part of the time to 92 minutes…

(If I could fit 93 minutes in an hour, I’d be smashing it as a management consultant).

Instead, I’m spending my day at a Scottish Unitarian Churches’ Communications, IT and Social Media Workshop, but I’ll be having some friends round for pie later on (check out the awesome pies my kids made in the main photo!)

My trip to WordCamp Glasgow 2020

Reading Time: < 1 minute

WordCamp Glasgow LogoOn the 8th of February, I had the fantastic opportunity to attend WordCamp in Glasgow, a very interesting mixture of talks on different topics relating to WordPress.

I always enjoy the WordPress events, because so many people use WordPress, in so many different ways, that there is always something new to learn. It’s also very interesting to hear about how WordPress is being used and the different purposes it’s used for.

This year’s WordCamp was no exception: an enjoyably varied day with terrible coffee, some nice freebies, and really excellent brownies.

Talks I attended included:

  • Sustainable web development
  • Speeding up slow websites
  • Accessible subtitling
  • Developing code blocks for use with the new(ish) Gutenberg drag and drop / WYSIWYG editor
  • Scaling WordPress for enterprise level site development
  • Creating a user-first experience with AMP
  • and ‘Hacking Tim’, which turned out to be a WordPress security expert (called Tim)’s general life hacks for work-life balance and productivity

I’ll be writing up my notes on each of these topics and linking them separately.

If this inspires anyone to go to more local WordPress events, there’s a very nice WordPress Edinburgh Meetup group that meets one Wednesday a month at CodeBase. I think I’m actually in their photo:

Screenshot: Trello board inside a Microsoft Teams group

How to add a Trello board to a Microsoft Teams group

Reading Time: 5 minutes

This post assumes you have a Trello board (because who wouldn’t) and a Microsoft Teams group (and who wouldn’t want to cheer one of those up with a Trello board).

So here’s the Trello board I’ve created as the first Swiss cheese hole nibbled into my upcoming SharePoint project:

Screenshot: My Trello board

My Trello board, a thing of awesomeness that nearly keeps me sane in moments of SharePoint

And here’s the Teams group I’ve created for the same SharePoint project:

Screenshot of my new Teams group

It says, ‘Welcome to the Team!’ That’s a nice start, I like that. Big improvement, Microsoft!

Here’s what to do next…

Browser window screenshot showing and enormous blurry smiley icon

Changing the Favicon in my SharePoint SubSite

Reading Time: 27 minutes

A cautionary tale…

If you’re looking for how to do this yourself, let me save you some time: there’s a good post about it here: How To Change The Favicon In SharePoint Online, but it does require SharePoint Designer and the last 2 steps didn’t quite work for me.

Fatal Distraction:

Once upon a time…
I was almost making progress on starting a SharePoint project when instead I got annoyed with the enormous number of identical tabs that SharePoint opens in the browser:

Screenshot of browser window showing many similar looking sharepoint tabs open

Too much, SharePoint, and it all looks the same!

So I wanted to upload a favicon for my subsite. It’s the little icon that goes in the web browser tab to distinguish one site from another. Like this:

Smiley face icon

My favicon of choice, but bigger

It’s maybe a 10 minute job to change it on ANY NORMAL WEBSITE. So I thought it would be a nice, useful way to find out a little bit more about the workings of SharePoint…🤪

SharePoint screen for creating a new subsite

A Practice Site for SharePoint and Flow / PowerAutomate

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Having overcome (thank God) my initial stumbling block of all-consuming dread, I have begun building a practice site for using SharePoint document libraries and lists with Microsoft Flow (or PowerAutomate as I think it is now called).

Cher wearing a halo and standing like a religious icon

SharePoint: Who can save us?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

To be fair, it’s not her best work

I’m Attacking SharePoint and Flow with Swiss Cheese

I may have mentioned in previous posts (that I might not have published yet) that I am at the beginning of a big project to tidy up an old shared network drive, delete what’s no longer in use, and move all its remaining associated filing systems and processes into SharePoint. This is to be done for the purposes of efficiency, standardisation and automating of data protection. Yay.

A year ago, I hadn’t heard of SharePoint. (And yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away…) Since then, I’ve approached it first with an open mind, and then with increasing dread.

So when I first heard about this project, I thought, “Please, for the love of God, no.” What to do. SharePoint is part of my job, so I have to stop this negativity and get into it.
And if there’s one thing I know I am, it’s stubborn as ****. So there will be a way.

So. Who are those people most well known for stopping any panicking and making people get on with things? That’s right, Management Consultants. So I did some internet research, and discovered there are ways to get on with such things. First I would tackle my project with Swiss Cheese, then Salami, and then a Pomodoro. It’s no wonder these management types bring such comfort and reassurance everywhere they go.

Kicking off with the Swiss Cheese method, I am nibbling little holes out of my project until the rest makes enough sense to slice up like salami. So here goes…

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