In the first of an occasional series I offer up Shinies to the following tools, as potentially interesting in higher education:
TwitterFountain - oooh, shiny. Picked this up via a tweet from Brian Kelly. It aggregates tweets and flickr photos that have been given a specified hashtag, in a nice visual interface. Educationally, it's just a nice way of aggregating some feeds that can be embedded in a page. So, a course might decide upon a hashtag and in their course page (WPMU?) have a twitter fountain running. Not sure it adds much pedagogically, but it provides a stimulus for conversation. One problem - it will pull in any flickr photo with the tag, so my initial idea of having twitter fountains displayed around the OU is probably not a good idea as some wag would doubtless think it's a great laugh to take photos of their private parts and post them with the #OU tag.
Shiny score - 4/5 Educational score - 2/5
Tweetstats - bit old, but was thought of it the other day when I wondered 'what times of the day to I usually tweet at?' (sad, this is the kind of thing I wonder about). Here is the answer for me, I tend to tweet during the morning, and not much at weekends and during August, when I'm on holiday which shows I do have something resembling a real life. Tony and Alan Cann are the people I do most replies to and Thursday is my Tweetest day of the week. Educationally it's not advanced statistics but does help show the different types of communicators you may have in a group.
Shiny score - 3/5 Educational score 2/5
Xtranormal - ok, I've already blogged this, it's a tool that lets you create short animated movies very quickly. Good fun and very quick to get the hang of. After I'd done one, Patrick, Glyn and Nigel also shared their quick efforts, to demonstrate the point. If one begins to thing of a course not as a collection of content that is given to students, but an aggregation of different types of media they produce, then getting them to use Xtranormal will both make something fun for them, and because they have to really think about the subject to produce a movie, be educationally beneficial. Alan Levine has already mentioned it as another way of 50 ways to tell a story.
Shiny score - 4/5 Educational score 4/5
Platform - bit incestuous this one, the Open University launched it's Drupal based social platform for students, called, Platform. This is the work of colleagues such as Stuart Brown, nothing to do with me (hence it works). Tony has, of course, already blogged it. This is the successor to the OU's student newspaper, Sesame, so what is interesting for me is the combination of top-down and bottom-up mix. The communications team will be finding stories and publishing and at the same time we'll be looking for students (and alumni) to engage with it and share content and stories. What will be interesting is whether 'OUness' is a strong enough bond to tie people together in a community. But the approach seems right and it's not just a bunch of print stuff stuck online, they've really engaged with new media.
Shiny score 3/5 educational score 4/5
Now, I really must go and create some shiny badges...