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!

HE data, SharePoint

Space utilisation: practice, performance and guidelines – UK HE Space Management Project
The guidelines discuss ways of collecting the relevant data on both predicted and actual utilisation; evaluating current performance and the reasons for it; calculating the inefficiency multiplier; reviewing targets; and developing measures to optimise utilisation.

Is SharePoint a records management system? – podcast « Thinking Records
Last Friday Brad Teed (CTO of GimmalSoft) and I discussed whether or not SharePoint could be regarded as a records management system. We recorded the discussion for the ECM Talk podcast series.

'Audit Culture'? Sure about that?

This Times Higher Education article annoyed me this morning:

No plaudits for ‘audit culture’
Academics in the UK have to devote themselves to “gaming the system and distorting their output” because of the “elaborate audit culture” that has developed around higher education.

That is one of the opinions put forward in A Manifesto for the Public University, a new collection of essays by campaigning academics in opposition to the coalition’s university reforms.

Writing in the book, published next month, Michael Burawoy, a British professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that the sector has been the victim of bureaucratic attempts to simulate market competition.

This regulation is now being deployed to teaching as well as research, he argues. Together with “commodification”, universities are facing twin pressures that are “destroying the very basis of (their) own precarious autonomy”.

Professor Burawoy’s essay is one of seven in the book, edited by John Holmwood, one of the academics behind the Campaign for the Public University, which has launched an alternative to the higher education White Paper.

And so on and so forth 

What annoyed me about it was the lazy way it was using terms like audit and bureaucratic when describing the position we’re in. The usual baddies. Strikes me we’re only where we are because of politics, not bureaucracy. It’s not too much audit that started messing with our funding positions and set us off down this track to the market. If anything, we’ve either not got enough audit or have too much of the wrong kind.

There’s lots wrong with where we are now, but if we just go back over the whole ‘academic v administrative’ themes, as THE is wont to do, then heaven help us.

Worrying statistics?

Worrying statistics

Documenting the curious increase in claimed family deaths — especially of grandmothers — during tests season at college
This gem is from “The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome and the Potential Downfall Of American Society” by Mike Adams (The Connecticut Review, 1990). Adams’ hilarious explanation for this phenomenon:

“Only one conclusion can be drawn from these data. Family members literally worry themselves to death over the outcome of their relatives’ performance on each exam. Naturally, the worse the student’s record is, and the more important the exam, the more the family worries; and it is the ensuing tension that presumably causes premature death.”
www.easternct.edu/~adams/Resources/Grannies.pdf

Google, student IT use

Google takes buzz saw to Buzz, other appendages
And, as announced in July, Google Labs is shutting down – the site’s last day is Friday. So long, Buzz, Code Search, Jaiku, Google Labs, and the University Research Program for Google Search – and thanks for all the fish. ®

College students limit technology use during crunch time
But while students pare down to essential technology at crunch time, some were inventive in the way they had used it earlier. Two thirds said they had used social media for coursework during the term. In post-interview discussions, students mentioned Facebook for coordinating meetings with classmates, and to a lesser extent, YouTube tutorials to understand material not clear in either textbooks or classroom instruction.

Technology and HE

Blackberrys and Beyond: Technology and Global Higher Education
I worry that this effect might infect researchers who are increasingly able, through these devices combined with blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and the like, to live in even more specialised worlds of research and gossip, even though they may feel like cosmopolitans.

Mental health, Twitter, HE in Wales, Excel

Mental Health and Social Media | Therapy Soup
Of course there are dangers, too. We’ve blogged about the dangers of the Internet and Social Media in the past, but we wanted to learn more specifically about the potential for mental health care and addiction treatment benefits.

How Scholars Are Using Twitter (Infographic)
The effect Twitter and the social Web have begun to have on entertainment, journalism and other media-related industries is by now well known and much-discussed. Its impact on other areas of human culture and knowledge, however, is still emerging. For example, how does the microblogging service impact academics and scholarly communication?

Uni of Wales needs ‘decent burial’ – Leighton Andrews
The University of Wales (UoW) requires “a decent burial” following a turbulent period which has damaged the reputation of Wales, says the education minister.

Excel Blog – Tips on using seven heavenly text functions
Harness the power of the suite of Text functions, such as RIGHT, LEFT, MID, FIND, LEN, TEXT, and REPLACE, and you’ll be an unstoppable force. Okay, maybe that’s a bit over the top. But learning to use these functions can really build your formula prowess. And it can be fun! Still a little extreme with the enthusiasm? Sorry, I’ll tone it down a bit.

Online education, economics

The Difference Between Online and For-Profit | Getting Your Degree | Military.com
It is far too common for people to erroneously use the terms ‘for-profit’, ‘distance learning’ and ‘online’ as synonyms — these are distinct and very different concepts. Why do people continually use the terms interchangeably? Ironically, it could simply be a case of needing more education on the subject of education.

txttools – txt messaging for education, healthcare and business
Some txtfacts: 2.5 times as many people use txt rather than email worldwide; 3 billion users worldwide; 98% of the UK population have a mobile phone capable of txt messaging

Econophysics
Econophysics is an interdisciplinary research field, applying theories and methods originally developed by physicists in order to solve problems in economics, usually those including uncertainty or stochastic processes and nonlinear dynamics.

Digital HE, therapy, university systems

Universities must rethink their approach to student digital literacy
The emphasis should be on building digital communication skills so that students can share and develop their ideas and aspirations online, says Dr Abhay Adhikari

World Mental Health Day: A Cognitive Therapy Toolbox
Cognitive therapy has provided me a toolbox of useful techniques that work for nearly any mental or emotional jam I find myself in. I don’t journal much anymore, or talk to empty chairs, or write letters and burn them, but I pull out these sturdy cognitive tools again and again.

University of Venus
The University of Venus is a collaborative venture bringing together the voices of GenX women in higher education from around the globe.

AACRAO: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers Homepage
AACRAO is a nonprofit, voluntary, professional association of more than 11,000 higher education admissions and registration professionals who represent more than 2,600 institutions and agencies in the United States and in over 40 countries around the world. The mission of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers is to serve and advance higher education by providing leadership in academic and enrollment services.

Uncertainty breeds opinions and initiatives which then add to the uncertainty
These are interesting times in many parts of the world. Uncertainty has become a feature of higher education in more than the usual ways, and, as we have found recently in the U.K., uncertainty breeds a multitude of opinions and initiatives which then add to the uncertainty in a seemingly endless feedback loop.

Student enrolment service branded unfit for purpose

Looks like the university’s own academic staff are happy to slag off their admin systems to the press, if I’ve read that right.

HE admin, education

AUA Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice
You are a professional with a rewarding career, and the PG Cert in Professional Practice appeals to managers and administrators right across the spectrum of UK higher education. It is validated by the Open University. If you wish to extend your understanding of the sector in which you work, as well as increase your professional abilities and career prospects, then this PG Cert is ideal for you. You’ll enjoy a highly flexible programme allowing you to balance professional development with the rigour of academic enquiry. You will also be allocated a Mentor to help you along every step of the way. The programme leads ultimately to a level 7 postgraduate professional qualification.

The quest for knowledge is good in itself and helps the country thrive – Will Hutton
A culture of scholarship, the role of the teacher as teacher and the quest to know for the sake of knowing are to be replaced by a culture of consumer utility in which student choice and business need are kings. This is to be forced on universities by creating a new artificial market for student places and by research funding to be allocated less by what is intellectually compelling than what is commercially, and quickly, exploitable.”