Now this is what I call an ambitious printmaking project

Filed Under (General, Printing, Technology Reviews) by ronan on 10-05-2014



View this interesting video of a linocut printmaking process that is undertaken by artist – Creative Fellow Angela Cavalieri ( The process from design through to final hanging is fascinating for its ambition.


Angela Cavalieri: large scale linocut printmaking process











Structuring Knowledge: New visions for higher education

Filed Under (Events, General, OpenSource, Research, Technology Reviews) by ronan on 26-06-2012

Yesterday I attended the Society for Research into Higher Education conference at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. The three main speakers were excellent and the debates which followed each presentation were engaging and thought-provoking.

Ron Barnett who talked about structuring knowledge in an Age of Non-Structure made some enlightening assertions about the use (or lack of use) of the imagination as a key aspect of student life and more importantly a key aspect of critical thinking.

Tina Besley all the way from the University of Waikato, tackled the fairly controversial area of academic entrepreneurship – but not as I had expected from the “academic capitalism” position of Slaughter but from a new perspective of social and networked creativity that encourages new imaginative and innovative approaches to teaching and learning. She also teased the audience with some exciting images of Bangkok university’s new and slightly off-the-wall building programme – more of which I will post later.

Michael A Peters – of Open Science Economy fame treated us to an entertaining and wide-ranging overview of “openness” as a political economic and social concept. He was of particular interest to me because he had an inherent appreciation of the “library” and “librarianship” in all that is currently happening. He mentioned of course open access publishing and scholarly activity – but also noted the importance of metadata and nodded enthusiastically towards the future with references to the semantic web and quantum information theory.  I found his “informaticisation of biology” and his “biologisisation of information” to be an intriguing juxtaposition.

A very good day spent debating theories of knowledge in nice surroundings – well done SRHE for organising this pity I could only stay for the first day.

From Lending to Learning – published

Filed Under (Built Learning Environments, General, Information Literacy, Professional practice, Research, Technology Reviews, VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)) by ronan on 29-11-2010

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Ahh – finally… my book which is now available – an extract from the opening pages:

“As I write this introduction a debate on BBC Radio 4 suggests that in order to effect public sector efficiency savings, volunteers should run public libraries along the lines of charity shops. There are regular announcements of this type in the media with yet more initiatives to change public libraries. To breathe new life into them, to put new energy into the service and to take new approaches that range from raising noise levels to the provision of coffee and chat facilities. At the heart of all such announcements lies a very important, yet simple, question: what are public libraries for?

Wander into any one of the hundreds of public libraries in the UK and you will see a range of services there that have evolved in a fairly haphazard way. This is not to say that there is poor quality of service, simply a lack of consistent strategy. One is tempted to ask some very obvious questions. Who looks after the public libraries of this country? Is the power to shape the future of public libraries in the hands of the central government, the regional assemblies, local authorities or made-up agencies, quangos, held together by the short-term thinking of hands-off politicians and civil servants? What are the reasons for keeping an institution such as the public library active over centuries – is it simply tradition? And, looking ahead, what might be the public library needs of our grandchildren?

In the chapters that follow I try to unravel the complexity and distil a logic that might offer a way to view the public library not simply as a national institution steeped in tradition, or as a purposeless place providing little more than popular glossy magazine titles, but as a learning space. Or, more correctly, a space owned by and dedicated to learners.”

Order this title now through your local public library – or buy it yourself, read it and send me your comments.

Rónán O’Beirne From Lending to Learning – The development and extension of public libraries. 2010 Chandos Information Professional Series Chandos Publishing an imprint of Woodhead Publishing Ltd., Cambridge. ISBN 9781843343882.  – 216 pages  234 x 156mm  paperback £45.00 / US$75.00 / €55.00

Talis Alto and Bradford College

Filed Under (General, Technology Reviews) by ronan on 15-07-2010

It is great to see the published Talis Case Study on the excellent work that Lakshmi and Simon have carried out on optimising Bradford College’s library management system. Reading it reminded me of the importance of monitoring workflows in such systems to ensure they remain efficient. Another point worth noting is how the role of the single  ‘systems librarian’ has become outmoded and in its place we have introduced a number of librarians with a good knowledge of the system – the latter being infinitely more preferable. A third aspect has been the willingness of librarians at Bradford to engage in systems reviews through the use of webinars to learn new skills and develop their knowledge. 
Well done to all staff involved in this over the past 18 months it sets us up to reap benefits from future developments.   

Full Case Study available here

‘Storing Information in the Cloud’ Unconference

Filed Under (Events, Technology Reviews) by ronan on 12-07-2010

On Friday 21st May 2010 I attended the above ‘unconference’ run by
Aberystwyth University – but held for convenience at the Centre for Excellence in Enquiry-Based Learning (Ceebl) at Manchester University.
The conferecne was one of the outputs of a project that was archive society focused. Cloud computing was seen as a  hot-topic but one that was not very well understood, certainly in the UK.  Unconferencing is something that we were unfamiliar with – the idea being that because of the sense of the unknown associated with the topic there were no fixed presumptions about the structure of our input. But it was almost more difficult to manage an unconference so we ended up with a bit of a hybrid of conference and unconference. During the round table introductions it was apparent that a wide range of interests and different agencies were represented

The first speaker was Dai Davis Solicitor and Chartered Engineer Partner, Brooke North LLP Security and legal issues of the Cloud. This led as all discussions of legal matters invariably do, to lots of what if questions. One aspect that came out of this was the nature of the agreements that are being put in place by the likes of Google and Microsoft with regard to their cloud applications for the educational sectors. Another was the discussion about the G cloud – government cloud.
Dai left his audience with the key point that the Data Protection Act was a critical part of the legal jigsaw. Specifically the principles of: not keeping data for longer than is necessary; taking appropriate measures to ensure it is kept safe; and ‘thou shalt not export data’. The final one of course being of critical importance if you are using Google Apps or Microsoft Edu@Live to store student data in their cloud, which, of course, may be in Cowdenbeath or may be in California.

Steve Bailey Senior Adviser JISC InfoNet spoke about how cloud services in his view are seen as a ‘game changer’. Examples he gave included workflow management systems and document management systems in the cloud used to facilitate globalised markets and collaboration. Graduates want to use their own set of tools and as these users come to the workforce their preferences will need to be taken into consideration. Again he illustrated with the example of an unnamed company in London who on a Monday sent a global e-mail saying that Facebook would be banned and so big was the outcry that by Friday the decision was reversed.

Paul Miller

Paul Miller, (it was good to catch up with him after our metadata days and the MEG (metadata education group) back in the 2001), gave a presentation on the security issues associated with cloud computing. This was centred on; software as a service, platform as a service, infrastructure as a service and storage as a service. Not surprisingly many of the issues were common sense and there were a very many steps that one could take to ensure secure systems. Having said that 100% security was something most delegates, in discussion, accepted was elusive.

My general impression of the conference was positive and I took some highly practical action points away, the most important one being to check the contract we were about to sign with Microsoft Edu@Live for our student email!
Further details of the conference and the project, including a literature review of cloud computing are recorded here.

"The clouds were his blankets, the lake was his bath" – future of the book…..

Filed Under (General, Technology Reviews) by elearning4bradford on 15-04-2010

AR – Augmented Reality  part of  Mediated Reality is the big new thing I thought this video on the use of augmented reality in book production and in learning development was worth sharing. It does give an insight to the way these technologies will become important over the coming decade.

Mac Book

Filed Under (Events, Technology Reviews) by elearning4bradford on 19-12-2008

mac book

The Mac Book is a slick piece of kit – upon which I am writing this post. I have got one for evaluation purposes from the nice people in the Digital Media Services part of Learning Resources; already I’m more than impressed. The ergonmics and aesthetics of the design are faultless. The functionality I have yet to explore but again it looks good; for example it found the home wireless router and was surf-ready within 32 minutes of entering my home. My 12 year-old guitar-playing son has already authored some pretty funky tunes on the Garageband app which seemed second nature to him. So looks good and may become standard issue for Art & design staff over the coming 12 months.

RFID and ASUS eee

Filed Under (General, Technology Reviews) by elearning4bradford on 04-11-2008

asus eee

Are we, at Bradford College, the only College in the country providing Asus eee’s for loan?

Through our Trinity Green Learning Development Centre we have 150 of these little gems in a range of tasteful colours, available for our learners to use innovatively. And, what’s even more exciting and unique is that we are issuing them for loan using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) – that’s right we’ve tagged them all!

Initial feedback is good – but watch this space for a full evaluation coming soon.


Filed Under (Technology Reviews) by elearning4bradford on 17-01-2008

This is the latest piece of equipment I am evaluating, the Eee PC is a Mobile Internet Device that offers many of the advantages of mobile computing.

I am particularly interested in how it might work for our learners. It is easy to setup and learning how to use it takes less than 5 minutes. It has excellent Wi-fi connectivity and this is enhanced by its fast operating system – Linux – (there is also an option to install WindowsXP) and 512mb (DDR2) memory. There is no hard-drive. Instead the Eee uses Solid State Disk storage which comes in 4gb or 8gb – it boots very quickly and is pretty shock-proof (although I’ve not tested this!). The 7inche screen has a built-in webcam, excellent audio and its packed with useful applications.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature though is its price – it retails round the £220 mark. Full testing, as part of a wider exercise, for example by a group of 10 students, is planned – findings will be posted here. My findings so far are very positive – it could be a very useful tool for learning.

PocketSurfer 2

Filed Under (Technology Reviews) by elearning4bradford on 28-11-2007

Thanks to those Central Media Services people I have had the pleasure to play with this easy to use, sleek, very slim black number from PocketSurfer 2.

It claims to be the fastest handheld surfing device – and it is pretty nifty, that’s because it uses Quad Band GPRS -(mobile phone technology). The qwerty keyboard does take a little time to get used to but once youve overcome this it works a treat. About 5 hours battery life if you use it always-on and about 5 days on standby.

I used it effectively to browse to our college’s Virtual Campus and to check my emails, and although one would need to be  fairly nimble-fingered to write long sections of text using this keyboard, it does do the trick.

I think this, or its successor would be a good candidate for a pilot with a group of students perhaps those in a work-based learning environment where conventional web access may be restricted. Anyone with any further ideas or if you wish to trial the PocketSurfer2,  just contact me.