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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

App Swap Breakfasts





Back in January I was lucky to speak at the UICSA Event 'Changing Landscapes' at The Edge in Sheffield about ScHARR Bite Size. At the time I was in the process of handing ScHARR Bite Size - which I'd run for over three years to the ScHARR Staff Development Group' and was wondering about a follow on series I could investigate. At the conference I saw a brilliant presentation by Fiona MacNeill, Joyce Webber and Betheny Hewitt University of Brighton on App Swap Breakfasts.

App Swap Breakfasts are as you imagine a gathering based around breakfast time to talk and swap useful Apps. I thought this was a great idea and one we could replicate at The University of Sheffield. My thoughts were, although the Brighton model is based around teaching and learning, but it could be extended to every facet of the academic community to include research, communication and collaboration, why not, as there are so many useful apps out there and so little time to properly investigate them.

From my own personal experience I know many colleagues had tablet and smartphones and were only using a small number of apps beyond the core ones of email, Web browser, calendar and document viewer. I myself only use a small number of the few dozen productivity and professional apps on my iPad. The idea is also re-enforced by personal experience in that I was encouraged by my colleague Claire Beecroft to use the Turnitin App to undertake some essay marking rather than on my PC. Claire spent five minutes showing me the various tools within Turnitin, the marking rubric, the audio feedback and just how easy it was to navigate and leave comments and notes. So instead of sitting at my desk amongst the usual distractions of people coming into my office, checking emails and the Web, I was able to settle down in a chair and mark my essays in comfort. So all it took was for a colleague to sit down with me for five minutes, something I'm all too aware of in my role as trying to get others to adapt to new technologies and ways of working. So hopefully we can achieve what Brighton have done with this brilliant idea and share those apps we find useful that others aren't aware of, or have installed but not tried over an early morning coffee and croissant. What's not to like?

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