Star Wars and information management

In this post, Jed Cawthorne uses Star Wars as an allegory for poor information management. Star Wars is a useful allegory for what happens when hard won knowledge is accidentally (?) discarded and the potential pain to be endured in learning it again. In an enterprise context this manifests most often when business processes are not adequately documented at design time, and then someone tries to document them later, but doesn’t finish.

This is a common problem in many organizations. I am finding numerous examples of this lack of knowledge transfer in a scholarly association to which I belong, since so many processes and procedures reside in the memories of previous board members. The irony is that not even information managers (which is the case in this association) are always good at documenting knowledge to ensure its smooth transfer. Documenting processes and procedures is admittedly dull work, especially since it is often easier to simply rely on memory rather than take the time to document them. A lack of documentation can make it difficult to separate procedures from actual policies. Further, relying on memory can serve to fossilize procedures; so, for example, one person might have decided to implement a process that was appropriate for a particular context and time, only to have that process become part of the status quo (we’ve always done it that way), even if the original context no longer applies. Documentation can provide valuable background and context to procedures which, in turn, allows us to evaluate whether these procedures continue to be valid and relevant.

Liking the Facebook spectrum of Like

Fipp reports that the enhanced Facebook Like buttons have proven to be popular in the United States. I must admit to not being a fan of Like buttons in general, as I often feel pressured to hit them for fear of offending my friends. If I don’t like a friend’s post, does this signal that it bothers or offends me? This post provides a tongue-in-cheek look at the pressure to like posts. At any rate, the infographic below, created by Fipp, and derived from Statista, suggests that the enhanced Like features have been well received. The demand for a Dislike button has been around for a while, but Facebook  has yet to respond.

Chart of the week facebook buttons



Apps to assist collaborative learning

This post discusses how apps can be used to create a collaborative  learning environment. More specifically, the author provides guiding questions and apps for learning as starting points for global collaboration lessons to encourage student voice and engagement across content areas, native language, and grade levels. I have listed the apps below, as well as their official descriptions:

  • Padlet: No description is provided on the official site (a bad oversight).  According to the linked post, it is a virtual corkboard that allows students to express and organize their thoughts on a shared topic
  • Voxer: Combines the power of live voice with text, video and photo sharing.
  • KahootCreate, play and share fun learning games for any subject, for all ages
  • SoundTrapMake music online
  • ThingLink: An interactive media platform that empowers publishers, educators, brands, and bloggers to create more engaging content by adding rich media links to photos and videos
  • NearpodEasily create lessons in minutes for your next class

Google Chrome apps to assist student learning

Google Chrome has hundreds of apps that can be used for a variety of purposes. This post lists five apps that can be used by students (and educators) to assist in the learning process. I have listed the apps below, followed by their official description:

  • Canva: Easily design beautiful, professional graphics
  • PicMonkeyFree photo editor with Collage, Touch Up, Teeth Whiten, Fonts, Effects, Filters, Frames, Stickers & more
  • PowToon Presentations Edu: Lets you create awesome presentations and animated videos
  • WeVideo: Makes video editing easy for everyone and accessible from anywhere
  • Google DrawingsAdd some color to your documents, presentations, and websites with easy to create charts and diagrams

All the apps above focus on graphic designs and presentations. These are two areas in which I am not particularly strong, so I look forward to exploring these apps.


How 5 Digital Assistants Use Your Data

This article provides useful and sobering information about how the digital assistants Siri, Cortana, Amazon Alexa, Facebook M, and Goole Now use your data. The article highlights the privacy and security features of these digital assistants; for example: By using Siri, Apple adds, you agree to allow Apple and its subsidiaries and agents to transmit, collect, maintain, process, and use your voice input and user data. Amazon Alexa saves your voice recordings, but you can erase them via your personal settings. As we move increasingly in the direction of voice-activated applications such as search, and voice-to-text, we need to consider carefully the new  personal metadata footprints and trails that we generate.

Google docs templates

I have been using Google docs for a number of years; while the online version of Word does not have the full functionality of the desktop version (in particular, the ability to use the citation manager), I am impressed with the growing number of templates that are available for use. From a teaching perspective, I like the APA Report Template (APA is the required citation format in my program). The template shows how to format paragraphs, headings, and sub-headings:





Most importantly, it provides an example for the proper citation format (unfortunately, it does not provide examples of in-text citations). Helping students to use proper citation format is always a challenge, so this template might be particularly helpful:


All our students have access to Office 365 and online Word products via the University, but these products don’t have these templates. I will most certainly recommend Google docs to my students when I return from my Sabbatical in the Fall term.