New term, new venue, same format

We’re kicking-off the new academic year with a meet-up at the new Costa Coffee on Park Place – the old Registry Office building – on Thursday 29th September. The quality of the coffee has been an issue through the past 12 months, indeed it has been suggested to be the main reason why we haven’t attracted thousands to our social media cafe events, so we’ve moved quickly to try out this new venue … and it has CAKES too!

The format of our meet-up is the same as ever … that is, it has no format other than the topics brought along by the people who chose to join us for as long, or as short, a time as they wish, or are able, to attend. Someone will be there from 11:00am and we expect to be coffee’d out by about 2:00pm. Then fully caffeined-up you will spill out to write the blog post you always wanted to, to investigate Google+ (well some of you might), to engage with the digital literacy agenda and CU’s JISC-funded project, or to play with the new whizzy Web 2.0 tool you’ve just learnt about.

One thing for certain is that there will be iPads, iPhones, Android-devices etc a plenty and they’ll probably be using Eduroam, MiFi and other networks to keep us all connected. So you need not miss anything going on in the outside world and you might just benefit from chatting with someone else who’s interested in using Social Media in Higher Education.

See you there!

Btw. There is no truth in the rumour that “Thought grazing” will have a pre-release iPhone 5 to examine – but that doesn’t stop us talking about it.

Brief review of things discussed at the December meet

The last meet generated a lot of interesting chat and ideas. Here’s a flavour of the kind of topics that were bounced around:

Kelly Page (@drkellypage , see: spent some time telling us about the wiki based learning activities she’s been doing with students to promote collaborative working. This naturally dovetailed with a topic that is of interest to Mike Johnson (@agentjohnson –  see: He’s in the early stages of investigating ways of automating peer generated feedback in online collaborative tasks. It’s early days, but there’s something very appealing about this approach – take a look at his CEQ related post.

There was also a fair bit of chit chat about ‘digital literacy’ and what it means for different people (for starters read ‘Thriving in the 21st century: Learning literacies for the digital age’). Do staff and students in different subject areas and disciplines understand it in the same way? In what way is different or the same as ‘Information Literacy’ or ‘Media Literacy’? (see: New media and literacies: Amateurs vs. professionals) – and most importantly, how can we go about improving the embedding of such knowledge and skills in courses and curricular across the University. I for one, would really enjoy revisiting this topic, in particular with regard to the Employability agenda being pushed by WAG.

Sara Nicholas (@sarahnicholas) described the work she’s been doing with fellow librarian Susan Smith on the design and development of a forthcoming workshop entitled ‘The Connected Researcher’, which is all about enabling researchers to engage through social media and technologies to establish better networking and collaboration. Some of the more intriguing things discussed were the notions of ‘digital identity’ and ‘digital footprint’ and the how and why a researcher might want to take greater control over these.

There was the usual exchange of what’s new on the iPhone and iPad . For me personally, Dropbox‘s traction continues to grow with clever interfacing to applications across all platforms. A good example of this is Trunk Notes. A fairly simple and straightforward personal wiki that automatically stores its content in plain text on Dropbox. Very useful because allows adding and editing content regardless of where I am. I’m deciding whether to move all my notes into this wiki. I’ve been a long time fan of concept mapping and I’m desperate to see a good tool developed for the iPad. IThere are signs of steps being made towards that with applications like Popplet. I can’t say it’s won me over yet, but I need to give it some more time and test out it’s export/import capability with more thoroughbred tools like Cmap.

The next ThoughtGrazing Social Media Cafe is scheduled for 1-4pm Wednesday 12th January in the usual place – the lounge of the Posgraduate Centre above the Students Union on Plas-y-Parc. All welcome, join us for a coffee and chat about anything to do with social and technology and media.

Last Cafe before Christmas

So we’re nearly in December, and this Friday – being the first in the month – brings around the next Social Media Cafe event (hashtag #tgsmc from now on).

What’s happened in the last month, apart from me having a bit of leave and learning a bit more about photography which is forcing me again to think about blogging, social networks and CONTEXT. I’d thought I’d put that one to rest … but I haven’t, and I’d like to talk to you folk about this on Friday at the Grad Centre from about 11.00am on.

I’ve also talked to some other folk at Newcastle and they’re interested in the concept of #thoughtgrazing and #tgsmc so I’m going to go and talk to them when I get back from Australia with @joenicholls. [Now there’s a country (according to my son who lives there) who are way in need of social networking!! :-).] In particular Joe’s ideas on tasks, extended digital literacies, and core’n’chore resonated well with folk from the Netskills team when I met them at a Conference just recently.

Joe and I also wondered whether any one wanted to talk about mobility. What does this actually mean for learners and researchers. What opportunities and challenges does it bring? What’s the role and responsibility of the provider of service (content or tools) to meet their aspirations and requirements.

So we have a couple of topics to get you thinking – but you’ll hopefully bring your own.

This’ll be the last #tgsmc of 2010. We’ve met three times. I’ve polled for days and Friday seems to be a favourite; but knowing that not everyone can manage that day, we’ll try and set up an alternative #tgsmc – maybe even at a different venue. What do you think?

Finally, what about you becoming an author on this blog. Please let Joe or I know, and we’ll add you to the list of folk who can post to the site. You’d be very welcome!

Polling for dates in December

A few people have expressed the view that a Friday is not the best day of the week to hold “the cafe”. So I’m polling to see which day would be best for you. We may not be able to change it for December, but it will guide planning for events next year.

So if you could go to:

and respond with what days are best for you; that would be a help

Next event – November 5th; no gunpowder please

We’re meeting again this coming Friday 5th November; again in the Graduate Centre, in the Students Union on Park Place. If you want to drop-in for any length of time between 11:00 and 14:00 you’d be very welcome.

If you want to know more about “thought grazing” go to the “parent site” or drop @thoughtgrazing a tweet.

Let us know you’re coming and use the space below to give an indication of things you’d like to chat about. I’ve added a post below which gives an idea of some topics that might get discussed.

[contact-form 1 “Contact form 1”]