Thursday, 26 January 2012

ebooks - ebrary - mobile access - success

I've made some progress as far as accessing and reading ebrary ebooks on mobile devices. The ebrary mobile app works with the iPhone (thanks to a few tips from people including @jamesclay).
Once you know how to do it and have the various components it's quite easy.
1. Go to ebrary as usual
2. Log in - we log in through Athens
3. Go to settings and link your account to your Facebook account.
4. Download the ebrary app to your iPhone / iPad

5. Log in with your Facebook username and password

6. Enter your Adobe ID and password

7. Search for books. Read books.

Monday, 23 January 2012

eBooks continued

Tried the downloading process at home......
Opened ebrary, selected book, downloaded to adobe digital editions, downloaded BlueFire Reader App to iPhone, opened iTunes, selected BlueFireReader App in iTunes, add new, find eBook in Digital Editions folder on computer, add - opened BlueFireReader App on iPhone, opened........eBook is there but won't open
(It's under the error message)
Don't know why it won't open unless it is because we get our ebrary books through Athens rather than direct.
I can get this screen below but don't have any details to submit to it.  Tried selecting Read but still get error.  It does say though that the Last read date is 01/01/1970 - why would it say that.

I also discovered today that there is an ebrary app - it's only just come out last week I think.  But when I sign in with my Athens account which I presumed was the same as the ebrary account I get an error - unable to find user name.  There is an option to sign in with Facebook - not sure how this would work as there is no connection between my Facebook details and ebrary / athens details.  Students would not have the same email address either. Unsurprisingly it didn't work.  The challenge continues.....

Friday, 20 January 2012

eBooks and downloading to mobile devices

Today I was full of enthusiasm for eBooks and using them on mobile devices. This was partly due to the Apple announcement yesterday about iBooks and partly because it has been on my 'to do' list for our developments. As a College we use eBooks a great deal - at LRC/e-learning/IT student inductions we show all students how to access eBooks through our VLE and their Athens account. We have two main platforms - Dawsonera where we buy individual books which are on reading lists or requested by curriculum staff and ebrary. Ebrary is the FE JISC collection and has proved very popular - our efforts at promoting the books and helping students to access them have paid off as we are consistently in the top 20 nationally of FE Colleges and often in the top 5. We have also recently acquired some Kindles and are promoting them with staff and learners - at the moment we have only uploaded fiction and other free books to them but are looking for suggestions of texts and PDFs of course materials.

So todays task was to work out how to download ebrary books onto my iPad which is possible so they say. Simple you may think but no, not really. I had already had Adobe Digital Editions installed on my work computer. I'd downloaded the BlueFire Reader App onto my iPad as I'd read that that was needed too. So firstly I accessed ebrary via Athens, chose a book and clicked on download. There is an option to download a certain number of pages as a PDF or to download the whole book for 14 days using adobe digital editions format so I chose the latter.

The download consisted of a small file which I then dragged into Adobe Digital Editions which then opened up the eBook. So far so good. I then found that I needed iTunes in order to open the file in conjunction with the BlueFireReader. First problem as we're 'not allowed' to have iTunes installed on our computers at work - this is to do with people having music libraries on the network I think.

So I went to our Information Services dept and asked if I could use the Mac that they have there. We do have some Macs in College in the VPA dept but in general they are not encouraged. So using the Mac I downloaded Adobe Digital Editions - it didn't show the ebrary eBook that I'd previously downloaded, not sure why but anyhow downloaded another and dragged the file in. I had to try it a few times as at first it didn't work. Then I opened iTunes and connected my iPad. I stopped it from syncing my iPad with the computer and then went to Apps and add new. It showed the BlueFireReader on the left handside. When I clicked add new I then searched in downloads for the file from ebrary/adobe digital editions and it appeared in the new box. Then on my iPad in BlueFireReader it showed the book. But when I tried opening it it just showed the cover of the book i.e. 1 page. So back to the documents file on the Mac and downloaded the file of the book too. It still didn't work. It seemed to be downloading it to the Mac but not releasing it into iTunes for the iPad. I tried it a few more times and managed again to download the cover page and finally the book or at least a file that was the right size for the book but it wouldn't open. The error was that the loan of the book wasn't valid.

It had taken me hours and hadn't worked - it must be easier than this.
This must work, it does work according to lots of websites and info so I'll try again at home and then at work.

Friday, 6 January 2012

LRC 3D Wayfinder

Our 3D project involved two parts - the 3D Induction experience / walkthrough and the Wayfinder. We used the 3D LRC Induction last term successfully and have now got the at seat Wayfinder.  It uses the same 3D model of the LRC space, contents and resources but is used by individuals at their computers.

To use it you start by selecting where you are i.e. which computer area are you working at? 

Then you select the book subject area or other resource area you would like to find.

Then you are 'walked through' to your destination.

You can choose to walk faster or slower (potential here for whizzing round the LRC at top speed especially up the stairs) 

The other areas that you can select are printers, enquiry desks and lifts and you will be directed to the nearest one to your current location.  You can select rooms with specialist resources or facilities such as the Multimedia room and the Quiet room.

We are trialling it on a small number of computers so far.  We will then install it on all the computers in the LRC.  We are also going to have a standalone kiosk style computer so that users can walk up to it and find resources without having to log on to a computer first - they will then be able to search for available computers.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Learning and Technology Strategy Group

Yesterday was our first meeting of the term for the Learning and Technology Strategy Group.  We meet once or twice a term and the purpose of the group is to drive the strategic development of learning technologies across the College.  Such strategies are difficult not least because they are called different things in different educational establishments and change so rapidly.  Four years ago we had an ILT strategy, then it became a e-Learning strategy then an e-Learning & ICT strategy and we have recently changed it to the Learning & Technology strategy.  The strategy has a strategic group which endeavours to carry out, develop and take forward the aims and objectives.
The latest update to the strategic document have made it much more relevant and manageable - we have got rid of some of the details which were essentially a position statement of where we were as a College as far as learning technologies were concerned and also IT in general. This was a reflection of the time i.e. moving from 4 different campuses to one new 21st century technology enabled building with new resources.  It is much more focussed now on what we want to achieve as far as teaching and learning are concerned by using technology and resources.
It will change and develop over the next two years, it has to due to technological changes.  It will have no choice but to change in the face of the changes in teaching and learning that will happen in the FE sector but it provides a strong basis for us to move forward.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Spring term - Day 1

First day back after Christmas - it is wild, wet and windy outside including a blizzard mid afternoon which would have blown anyone off their feet.  However in the LRC it has been bright and warm and a relatively calm but busy day.  This might be due to it being Tuesday not Monday, Monday being our usual day for challenges.  Lots of students are back and seem to have got down to work quite quickly - it is a very different feel to the start of the year than in September with a much more organised and focused environment.
I have spent today catching up with tasks that I had quickly finished off in December and following them up more efficiently.  The email situation has not been to bad, not many outstanding which is very different to the situation at Easter or summer.
We are starting an e-learning project which we have some LSIS funding for based on online collaboration for teaching and mentoring.  It will be using Mizaru which is a web conferencing / virtual classroom environment based on Adobe Connect.  We have 30+ members of teaching staff who are interested in participating so we have designed the questionnaire which will be distributed to them tomorrow as a base line.  I'm hoping that it will go well and develop over the next few months.
This afternoon I spent doing finance and budget related tasks - something I put off given the chance especially at the end of term when I have no brain power nor inclination left. 
Tomorrow is our Learning & Technology Strategy Group meeting - we have changed the time from Monday afternoon to Wednesday morning to make it more convenient for more people to attend.  I've set the netbooks up with the papers for the meeting to encourage attendees to be paperless.  During the meeting we display the papers on the whiteboard too.