• E-Mail in the Cloud: An Open University Survey

    Windows Live Mail mailbox in Redmond, WA

    Windows Live Mail mailbox in Redmond, WA

    I joined the Open University (OU) as an Associate Lecturer (AL) back in May 2000 to teach the university’s T171: You, Your Computer and the Net course, the university’s first large-scale foray into online teaching. As one of hundreds of new ALs, I was thrown into the world of FirstClass, the university’s chosen platform for collaboration and discussion in its courses, and among its students and associate lecturers. If you haven’t already heard, the death knell for FirstClass has been sounded. I believe the transition away from FirstClass for courses is expected to be complete by October 2010. As part of that transition, our e-mail accounts need to go somewhere, but where?

    Sample Google Mail Spam Folder

    Sample Google Mail Spam Folder

    If you’re a student, you may already be using your own personal, non-OU e-mail address at the university. If you’re an associate lecturer or other academic/support staff, having a .open.ac.uk e-mail address is an important part of your professional identity. According to David Wilson, director of strategic planning in LTS, a choice is being considered between Google Apps Education Edition and Microsoft Live@edu and should be made shortly (in Snowball 36 – November 2009). It will definitely be put into place for students, but it may extend further than that. The decision has not yet been made, so we have a very small window of opportunity to provide some input as to our preferences. I’ve constructed a very small, unofficial survey at SurveyMonkey to do that.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Photo Published & Cashing Cheques

    Here’s a picture of me (and 6 others) who were recently honoured with the first teaching awards ever available for associate lecturers at the Open University in the United Kingdom. In the picture, I’m wearing a black suit and a salmon-coloured top on the far right of the picture. A version of this picture just appeared in an article the May-June edition of Open House, the OU-wide newspaper for staff of the Open University.

    In previous years, the awards were only open to support staff and full-time central academic staff which is reflected in the headline for the article of “AL’s honoured at last.” Alas, while I am mentioned by name in the article, they don’t say very much about any of us. For example, about me. all they said is “Winnings [sic] ALs pictured are … TT280 and TT281 tutor Michelle Hoyle.” Yep, that’s it. We all had a few words in the article.

    The Ein At Teaching Awards Day

    The cheque arrived in the most recent pay advice and I’m busy plotting what “personal” and “professional” self-development use I can put it to. I’ve started with a new pedometer and a new scale (waiting for the bank transfer to clear and that to be shipped still), and am trying to justify one of those new AirPort Express portable wireless stations with support for streaming to my stereo. I was also considering retroactively including the cost of my rather expensive Rosetta Stone language learning software for German; that’s definitely personal development.

    Oh, the agony of deciding!