Just a minute

Infographics from socialnomics.net on what we all get up to in 60 seconds.

Infographic: Every 60 Seconds on the Web
Every 60 seconds there are 100 new LinkedIn Users, 370,000 Skype Calls, 70 new Websites….

It’s enough to make your head spin; all that in a minute, and then again in another, and then again, a tsunami of crap…

Still far from clear(ing)

Andrew Fisher goes over the latest UCAS data; things are still far from clear

Consider the case of the applicant who just misses the AAB threshold. Prestigious institutions which have had many of their AABs hijacked by even more prestigious ones (maybe SOAS) and would therefore like to have this person, may not be able to accept such students at Confirmation or in Clearing, because they will be constrained by the  SNC; so there may well be a population of applicants too proud to accept the institutions able to accept them.  Even students well short of AAB may not be willing to go to certain institutions in Clearing. Once London Metropolitan is full at £6k or less, will applicants be willing to pay £9k to go to UEL or will they decide that at that price it is better to miss out on HE? We don’t know.

Read the rest and check out the charts. As he says, “the proof of the pudding will be in the Clearing.”

Should I be here?

Presenteeism
Presenteeism or working while sick can cause productivity loss, poor health, exhaustion and workplace epidemics. While the contrasting subject of absenteeism has historically received extensive attention in the management sciences, presenteeism has only recently been studied.

Certain occupations such as welfare and teaching are more prone to presenteeism. Doctors may attend work while sick due to feelings of being irreplaceable. Jobs with large workloads are associated with presenteeism. People whose self-esteem is based on performance, as well as workaholics, typically have high levels of presenteeism.

Can't help but think this is a round-pegs-square-holes thing

KnowU & MyEdu: Two Approaches to Social Media in Higher Ed
This is not to say that higher education won’t find ways to use social media for instructional purposes. Innovative educators are experimenting with new approaches and some of these strategies will stick, be shared, and ultimately picked up by other educators in time. But at this relatively early stage in its development, the low-hanging fruit of social media for higher education will likely be found in the areas of marketing, building communities and student support.

Read the rest of this article and try to relate this to your own institutions.

You're really not much better off with e-textbooks?

E-Textbooks saved many students only $1
Despite the promise that digital textbooks can lead to huge cost savings for students, a new study at Daytona State College has found that many who tried e-textbooks saved only one dollar, compared with their counterparts who purchased traditional printed material.

Read the rest of the article and wonder what the position would be for UK students (and their increasing fees).

Quitting paper and e-mail

  • Chris Smith at Lifehack.org starts his paperless new year
    The idea of ‘the paperless office’ has turned into a joke, an aspiration for the future on a par with hoverboards, jet packs and little robots that do your housework (oh, wait a minute). I believe, though, that we really should give this a go – it can’t be beyond us, surely? Here, Chris starts his year the right way, though you can’t help but think it’s all a bit small potatoes.
  • Thoughts from a TechCrunch columnist on quitting e-mail for a month last year
    He admits to having cheated a little, but still, an interesting exercise and one I’d love to have a go at. I hate e-mail. Some really interesting ideas on the failings of e-mail, and what a more Twitter DM-ish, Facebook Message-ish e-mail system might look like, “Gmail Lite”.

Books, productivity

  • Wired UK article about Anobii, “a virtual book club”
    “Amazon is the destination for purchases but not necessarily for inspiration”, explains Anobii’s CEO.”‘What am I going to read next?’ is the question we want to answer.” Fair enough, but how many of these social-media-book-clubs do we have now? And they all want to be the only one, the Amazon equivalent.
  • Leo Babauta, from zenhabits.net, summarises what he’s got up to in 2011. Loads.
    His “don’t procrastinate, stay in the moment” message is behind all his blogs posts and has led to several productivity and llfe-coachy ebooks. This productivity-through-present-centred-awareness thing comes up often on the web, with Mr GTD Allen being the most prominent I guess, but these Zen Habits posts cover this area very well too.

Chronodex

FE and HE bureaucracy and data

Red tape costs FE colleges £180 million a year
Further education colleges could make “substantial” savings by cutting the costs of bureaucracy, according to the National Audit Office. The body said today that colleges spend around £180 million a year on administrating funding, qualification and assurance systems. This amounts to £150 per student.

Adventures in Student Development
A while back I explained how I set up the system, and after nearly 2 years of use I can say that it’s still working.

HESA Press release 168 – What is a Course?
HESA, working with representatives from the sector, is pleased to publish a brief report that considers the variety of interpretations and models that exist across the sector. The report analyses how the concept of a course is represented in various sector-level information systems and specifications and how the definition of course changes across the Higher Education lifecycle.

Productivity, charts, students

The Done Manifesto Lays Out 13 Ground Rules for Getting to Done
The Done Manifesto is a set of working rules based on a sense of urgency. No time for careful deliberation, move on.

Liking Rule 4 a lot:

4: Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.

Preventing Cancer – Chart Porn
The key is a bit complicated at first, but there’s lots of interesting information here.

Why ‘students as customers’ is bad for policymaking
Are students becoming more like customers? Do they consider themselves consumers? In the abstract, it is a philosophical question, except that it is so emotive in the higher education context that it is rarely approached with philosophical objectivity.

GTD, stats, fees

New GTD Setup Guide for Outlook 2010
For those of you on Outlook 2010, we just released a new Setup Guide to assist you in creating a rock-solid GTD system in Outlook. Since the 2010 version changed some ways things are done in Outlook, we created a new Guide specific to this version.

Correlation or Causation?
Need to prove something you already believe? Statistics are easy: All you need are two graphs and a leading question. Correlation may not imply causation, but it sure can help us insinuate it.

Tuition fees could bring bonanza for humanities
If the same fees apply for all subjects, humanities departments may benefit, says Jonathan Wolff – but creative arts and some social sciences may suffer.

Digital HE

HE Planning Blog: Core/Margin: Implementation
There is an element of the prisoners’ dilemma here because if the Government’s policies drive a few universities into bankruptcy that is a problem for those universities; if almost all the existing universities are bankrupted, that is a problem for the Government. Because a significant group of universities have moved, and the margin numbers have been substantially overbid, Government will be emboldened to keep pushing, and institutions above £7,500 (and below AAB) will begin to feel more threatened. We can expect to see a further wave of fee reductions next year.

What will drive the expansion of design in digital higher ed?
For a variety of reasons (that I will address in a future post), the software and content created for digital higher education has completely ignored the role of design – and it shows. However, there are a number of forces in play that may give the field of design a more central role in digital higher education.

Word in the cloud, Excel projects

“Save & Send” Word Documents to Windows Live Skydrive
Today, I want to describe how you can save Word 2010 documents directly to “the cloud” using Windows Live SkyDrive. Windows Live SkyDrive is a service of Microsoft. It provides 25GB of free online storage. Two of the greatest features it has are document sharing between yourself and other Windows Live users, and in-browser editing of the documents that you store there. Let’s open a Word document and see how this is done.

Excel as a project management tool
It goes without saying that Microsoft Project is THE program to use if you need to manage large projects. But what if you manage smaller projects? Can you do that in Excel? Sure, but life will be easier if you start with a template that is specifically designed to facilitate project management.

Personal clouds

SkyDrive – designing personal cloud storage for billions of people
SkyDrive has grown tremendously since we launched in 2007, and recently, we’ve made a number of updates to SkyDrive. But we know we have a ways to go. As we look to the future and designing a personal cloud storage service for billions of people, it’s important to reflect both on what’s going on in the industry and the problems people are having with today’s approaches to the cloud.

HE fees

Offa releases details of revised access agreements
Proposals by 25 universities and colleges to cut their tuition fees so they can bid for 20,000 cut-price undergraduate places in 2012-13 have been approved by the Office for Fair Access, but it has led to only a small fall in the sector average of £90 to £8,071. … The National Union of Students said that by switching funding from bursaries to fee waivers to “cope with the moving goal posts of funding policy”, the universities that had revised their access agreements had taken £13.8 million “out of students’ pockets”.

HE standards, e-mail

Watchdog finds fault with Leeds Met validation
The Quality Assurance Agency has raised concerns about Leeds Metropolitan University’s validation of degrees. The watchdog said this week that it had “limited confidence” in the institution’s management of academic standards for courses delivered by partner colleges.

The price of a University drop-out 4: Time for some numbers
The data takes into account HEFCE decided partial completion premiums and the reduced funding delivered for each masters and post-graduate student (because they pay entirely for their course), and is, basically, quite complicated. The data I compiled (in slightly raw, Google doc form) was drawn from HEFCE-released data from 10/11, and is free for anyone to play with, so if you want to see how your university fares for non-completion rates, take a look. So what can we take from this? I think the most interesting discussions will be for the future, and how the whole system will dramatically change why tuition fees sky-rocket.

A “zero email” policy that makes zero sense
According to this article (also covered by the WSJ), the French IT company Atos has discovered that its employees are becoming less productive because of the increasing onslaught of email. … the CEO announced that the company will BAN EMAIL. This is a technology company with 74,000 employees. No more emails – internally, at least, as a few people outside the company still use the tool. If you work in X business, shouldn’t you make sure your employees are good at X?

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.