Online tasks

Salesforce debuts Do.com, a smart social productivity app for small teams
Several other companies have tried and failed to make task management successful (there’s fresh competition from former Facebook staffers with Asana), so it’s telling to see Salesforce, which is known for its enterprise apps, trying to take a stab in this space. This suggests companies continue to believe there’s a huge market in helping people manage online tasks – and that no one has cracked the nut yet.

HE fall, environmental data

Figures suggest that the fall in the number applying to university is mostly owing to a glut of applications in 2010
Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, which represents the UK’s 20 leading universities including Oxford and Cambridge, said it was too early to predict how many students would end up at university next autumn. She said it was unfair to compare the number of applicants for next autumn’s courses with those for this year’s because the previous figures may have been artificially inflated by students applying before the near-trebling of fees came into effect. “Current 2012 figures are actually very similar to figures at the same point in 2010,” Piatt said.

Information is Beautiful on the Thailand floods
Floods. Amazon deforestation. Earthquake destruction. Satellite maps somehow don’t always help us to fully imagine the size of these disasters. Is there a better way to visualize the scale of destruction? Here I’ve been playing with the ranges of various natural and unnatural disasters, pulling data from various media reports and the US Geological Survey.

MS training

Microsoft Office Specialist Certification
Turning Motivated Individuals into Office Superstars. Discover the only performance-based certification that validates the skills needed to get the most out of Microsoft Office. Whether you want to drive your career or increase your productivity on the job, earning the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification demonstrates the valuable expertise you need to succeed.

Introversion

Caring for your introvert
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

Asana, Kindle, student finance

Facebook’s Dustin Moskovitz has new project: Asana
A home screen for work like Facebook is a home screen for goofing off.

Asana – Task Management for Teams
If you’re looking for a tool to help you keep your projects organized, especially if you work on those projects with other people, Asana is a new webapp that can help you keep on top of your to-dos, get updates from other people helping you, and capture everything you and your team are doing in one place so everyone can refer to it quickly.

Amazon Kindle owners can now check out books at the local (US only!) library
The process is simple: supported libraries will allow users to visit their web site, enter their library card number, find the books they want to read, and click “send to kindle” to have the book transferred to their Kindle ereader or smartphone running the Kindle mobile app. The libraries have control over which titles are available and how long the book will be “lent out” to you, but when the lending period is up, the book will vanish and automatically be “checked in” at the library again.

Independent Taskforce on Student Finance Information
Our aim is to help future students and parents in England tackle the myths and misunderstandings surrounding the recent changes to student finance by bringing together best of breed resources from various stakeholder organisations. We want higher education Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) providers to have access to the best unbiased education tools so that they can cut through the controversy and provide clear and informed guidance to prospective students.

Worrying, meditation, SharePoint

Scheduling ‘worry time’ may help you fret less
First, patients must identify and realize when they are worrying. Second, they must set aside a time and place to think about these worries. Third, when they catch themselves worrying, they must postpone worrying, and instead focus on the task at hand. Finally, patients are told to use the time they’ve set aside for worrying to try and solve the problems their worries present.

A guide to meditation for the rest of us
“Why meditate, especially if you’re not planning to drop everything you’re doing and Google for the closest mountain retreat? If you’re anything like me, meditation will help you realize just how far, and how fast, your mind can wander from what you’re supposed to be doing at the moment. In an age of multitasking, hyper-scheduling, and instant internet distraction, that alone can be a huge help. Beyond just anecdotes, it’s also been suggested that meditation can actually exercise your brain’s “muscles” to increase focus, and has been shown to lower stress and increase forgiveness among college students who take up the practice.

What is SharePoint good for?
Rob Koplowitz said that SharePoint was a Swiss army knife of a product that had a huge array of different features. A service like Box.net was like a screwdriver – it did one job (filesharing). But if you only want a screwdriver, why buy a Swiss army knife?

Social media at work

Guide to social networking in the workplace via JISC Legal
A new guide to social networking in the workplace has been published by ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). The guide is aimed at helping employers and staff agree on how to handle employment issues related to the internet, blogs and social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook. The guide offers practical tips on how to manage the impact of social networking on discipline and grievances, bullying, defamation, data protection and privacy amongst others.

Outlook, HE standards

Outlook Today: Your morning coffee before the onslaught
Let’s take a look at your morning. Chances are it takes you a while to wake up. You may need a shower, a shave, some coffee, breakfast, and maybe a chat with your loved one. Then—and only then—will you feel steady enough to wrestle with that onerous inbox of yours. I am very much this way: The last thing I want to do first thing is jump right into email. It’s tempting, I know. How beautiful those bolded folders are with their brilliant blue unread mail counts, just itching to take over your brain, your time, and your life.

Light-touch rules could quickly become heavy
A risk-based approach to quality assurance could lead to more rather than less red tape for universities because the government’s reforms are likely to put pressure on standards.

Databases, student debt, HE social media

The ten most amazing databases in the world
The 10 most amazing databases in the world do more than store knowledge. They provide researchers with new ways to solve long-cold crimes, predict economic recessions, measure your love life, map the universe and save lives.

Young adults see student debt as growing unmanageable, poll finds
Young adults agree that college is becoming increasingly unaffordable in today’s economy even as it is becoming more important, according to a recent poll released on Wednesday by Demos and Young Invincibles, two research and advocacy groups.

Confusion reigns as student fees fear takes hold
The communication of student fees has been described as a “national scandal” as a poll shows 59% of people in England feel they have little or no understanding of the new finance system. The news comes as thousands are expected to hit the streets today to protest about rising tuition fees. Many wrongly believe they cannot afford to go to university.

16+ universities dive into Google+ brand pages
Since Google+ launched brand pages Monday, universities across the world have wasted no time setting up pages for their communities to follow. Interestingly, their early approaches have differed greatly. While some view the page as an advertising tool to perspective students, others are expressing school spirit and engaging with their student body.

Technology and HE admin

Technology just makes us all busier
I’m hardly the first to point out that instead of consuming the time-saving benefits of information technology by making the work day less pressured, we have found other ways of filling up the time. Now that we have such whizzy computers, university administrators can do valuable things that we had no time for before, such as making sure every member of the department has signed a piece of paper swearing that they know where the fire exits are.

Something about this article makes me very cross. Is it just because it’s lazy? attacking an easy target? horribly missing the point and overlooking all the positives and changes for good? Or perhaps that little dig from an academic at university administration (FOR GOD’S SAKE, CHANGE THE RECORD)?

Overseas students, FOI, productivity

Colleges lose licences in immigration crackdown
More than 470 UK colleges have been barred in the last six months from accepting new foreign students from outside Europe, the Home Office says. They either had licences revoked or did not sign up to a new inspection system – part of government efforts to curb abuse of the immigration system. It estimates the colleges could have brought in 11,000 students.

Universities UK response to Home Office update on student visa changes
Beyond the substance of these arrangements, it is essential that the government considers the way in which the rules are communicated externally. It’s important that the UK appears ‘open for business’ to those individuals who are genuinely committed to coming to the UK to study at one of our highly-regarded universities. We must also be conscious of the impact that cutting down on pre-degree courses is having on our universities. Many universities operate pathway programmes with a range of providers. It is estimated that more than 40 per cent of all international students arrive through this means.

Tweets could now be considered valid FOI requests
According to recent guidance published by the ICO, tweets addressed to an institution may constitute valid Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

What kind of worrier are you?
And this list actually made me feel better because, while I checked off the majority of them, I realized I still have plenty of things to worry about that I hadn’t even thought of! Score!

Productivity Future Vision
In 5-10 years, how will people get things done at work, at home, and on the go. Watch the concept video to get a glimpse of the future of productivity, then explore the stories and technology in more detail.

Take a more realistic approach to your to-do list with the 3 + 2 rule
At the morning you think you can do a, b, c, d, e. But then something goes wrong with b and you spend much more time on it than you anticipated. Subsequently you can’t finish c and d and you feel like you haven’t done enough. Let it be. Instead of having unrealistic expectations, just acknowledge that you can do only 3 big things and 2 small things. Do them and call it a day!