Refining Twitter: how to filter out (or search for) tweets by specific keywords — using Tweetdeck

Using Tweetdeck, you can hide tweets if they contain words you specify — and, conversely, set up filters like a search, to show only tweets showing specific keywords. There are two main ways of doing this and, on the day of the iPad2 goes on sale in the UK, I’m using ‘iPad’ as the keyword to filter out or (Apple fans, please note) search for.

Filter out anything you don’t want to see from Twitter

One way is to set a filter to affect everything in Tweetdeck; this applies to all columns and accounts. In the settings, look for the Global Filter menu — and type in the relevant word(s). You can also filter out tweets by people and source. Farewell those unwanted updates from Foursquare or, perhaps.

To filter out tweets from all columns/accounts, use the Global Filter

To filter out tweets from all columns/accounts, use the Global Filter

The other, more selective way is to apply a filter to a chosen column — which you can also use as a ‘positive’ filter to show only tweets as specified.

Filter columns for specific words in Twitter

Look for the row of icons at the foot of the column you wish to filter or search, and click on the filter icon (an arrow curving down to a line). Using the default settings that then appear, you can type in a word or other text to exclude. To remove a filter, click the ‘x’ to the right.

Use the column filter to hide tweets

Use the filter to hide tweets containing specific words

Use column filters to find relevant tweets

Finally, the small drop-down menus in a column filter also allow you to search for tweets containing specific words or other text — simply change the minus sign to a plus. This ‘positive filter’ can be a useful shortcut, eg to hunt down a tweet you glimpsed and need to find again, or quickly to show particular tweets or only those with links (filter for ‘http’).

Use a column filter to show only specific tweets

Use a column filter to show only specific tweets

You can also filter by name, source or time of tweets instead of text. The column filter provides additional flexibility when used with a search column, eg to remove (old-style) retweets from a search on a particular hashtag (filter out ‘RT @’).

£5.7m to develop Open Education pilot projects in UK

From the HEFCE press release today:

HEFCE has announced an initial £5.7 million of funding for pilot projects that will open up existing high-quality education resources from higher education institutions to the world.

In plain English, this means making available teaching and related material in digital form — for others in HE (and elsewhere) to reuse and adapt for teaching and learning.

The press notice explains that:

Open educational resources could include full courses, course materials, complete modules, notes, videos, assessments, tests, simulations, worked examples, software, and any other tools or materials or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

Also spotted today: Martin Weller of the Open University writes about SocialLearn, the OU’s project to develop a social network for learning — a few steps on from its Open Education initiative, OpenLearn.

Anyone wanting to keep track of developments in Open Education would do well to check Stephen Downes’ invaluable blog, where it features frequently, eg covering recent publications and events.

The Observer’s tangle with science story — now removed from website

The Observer seems to have pulled a front-page story from its website, after problems emerged with the article, which was published on 8 July 2007.
Observer front page 8 July 2007

The case raises some interesting questions not only about science reporting — but also about corrections and clarifications, and the importance of some journalistic essentials.

Ben Goldacre, who writes the Bad Science column in The Guardian, has analysed the article in detail in his column and on his blog and in the British Medical Journal.

He’s expressed his concerns forcefully (follow the links above to read his detailed analysis):

I am pretty jaded and sceptical, but this front page story has completely stunned and astonished me. The misrepresentations and errors went way beyond simply misunderstanding the science, and after digging right to the bottom of it all, knowing what I know now, I have never resorted to hyperbole before, but I can honestly say: this episode has changed the way I read newspapers.

The difficulties lie not only with the original story, Ben suggests — but also with the clarifications from The Observer’s Readers’ Editor, Stephen Pritchard, which appeared in the two following issues: on 15 July and 22 July 2007.

Ben Goldacre’s assessment of the situation:

Two failed “clarifications” later that clarify nothing, and I am even less impressed. Retract. Delete. Apologise.

One of the journalistic failings seems to have been that no-one from The Observer apparently contacted Dr Fiona Scott, even before publishing the first clarification. She then posted some comments online, which The Observer published as part of its second clarification — again without having spoken to her or exchanged emails, it appears. However, it took Ben Goldacre a quick Google search and a couple of hours to get an email reply, as he notes in this post.

The original Observer article used to be online here. The Google cache of the original story is here — or at least it when I wrote this post. But if the article was pulled for legal reasons, perhaps it won’t be on Google’s cache for much longer.

Will The Observer run a third clarification next Sunday?

Meanwhile, credit to its sister paper, The Guardian, at least, for publishing Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science column on the article.

Changing higher education: the development of teaching and learning

My review of this book has now appeared in the first issue of Networks, published by the Art Design Media subject centre of the Higher Education Academy. It’s on the ADM-HEA website, too, in the resource reviews section, but only as a PDF here. If you don’t fancy the full review, try the first paragraph below for the point made by Lewis Elton.

Review of Changing Higher Education: the development of learning and teaching. Edited by Paul Ashwin. Abingdon, Routledge 2006. £22.99. ISBN 0-415-34129-9

Conference participants were discussing the importance of encouraging experienced academics to develop their teaching. One rose to say: “Some say they have 20 years’ experience of teaching – but in reality they have only one; they have simply repeated it each of the following 19 years.” That remark came from Lewis Elton, a leading figure in the development of teaching and learning in HE, and whose work underlies much of this book. (He was also honoured by a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Times Higher in 2005).

The title – Changing Higher Education – hints at a double meaning. It describes many of the changes that have affected learning and teaching in HE over the past 30 years or so, as well as considering how they might evolve in the future. More actively and engagingly, its authors also offer pointers for staff wishing to examine and change how they facilitate students’ learning.

In his introductory chapter setting the framework for the rest of the book, Paul Ashwin highlights the huge changes that HE has undergone in recent decades. It is not only about the growth of universities, student numbers and diversity, nor confined to policy and funding issues. These are important and have an impact on teaching and learning, but perhaps the most fundamental shift Ashwin charts is a shift in focus (in thinking and research) from “what the teacher did and how they [sic] organised the curriculum for students” to “how students experience their learning environment”.

Against this background, eight chapters go into more thematic detail to cover the development in HE of three main areas: students’ learning; learning technologies; and teaching. An underlying coherence is formed by the connection the authors share with Lewis Elton: they have all been his students and/or colleagues, and draw on his invaluable research and development in this field.

“Aren’t we all learner-centred now?” asks David Boud, who shows how ‘learner-centred’ has meant different things to different people. Combining research findings and his own experiences, he argues that teaching and learning should be viewed “within its broader context and network of social relations” – including where power lies and how it is exercised.

Academics have long wielded power over students through assessment – but we may be missing out if we fail to use participative forms of assessment – essentially self- and peer-assessment, individually and in groups. Vivien Hodgson uses examples from learning sets and online discussions to argue that it can encourage critical and creative thinking more effectively than traditional forms of assessment. That rings true from my own experience of peer assessment and group work, although both need careful attention to the quality of feedback.

The learning of postgraduate research students is the theme of another chapter. I admit to less experience in this field, but it seems this has been true of too many established supervisors! Twenty years on, “the loud cries of the few stalwarts devoted to trying to improve the learning/support of PG research students” have only begun to be heard, says Pam Denicolo. She fears that funding constraints will lead institutions to lay new courses as a veneer on established practice.

The impact of increasing numbers of non-traditional learners is outlined clearly by Will Bridge. What struck me was their influence on teaching and learning for the whole university population – through greater use of APEL (assessment of prior and experiential learning), for example, and the need to deal with wide variations in knowledge when students start a course. Many non-traditional learners also have plenty to offer, such as input from their life and employment experience; let’s make better use of this potential.

Diana Laurillard’s chapter provides a superb introduction to e-learning. She notes how learning quality has often lost out to other drivers of change in this field – and makes a powerful pedagogical case for paying it due attention. As part of her argument, Laurillard shows how poorly equipped academic professionals tend to be as teachers, rather than as researchers. David McConnell concentrates on networked e-learning, touching on key issues faced by learners, such as the social context, collaboration, design and assessment.

Two chapters concentrate on the development of teaching, but with themes of particular relevance to teachers as learners. One shows how and why professional teaching status (and accreditation) has developed in HE – a theme that Liz Beaty weaves effectively with academic identity, changes in HE, and government policy. In the other, Lorraine Stefani outlines interesting debates centred on the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). How far do academics understand what it means to take a scholarly approach to learning and teaching, for example? Crucially, she addresses the role of educational development and the difficulties of placing its role in institutions generically or by discipline.

In a concluding chapter, Ashwin sets out two scenarios and four questions that draw on the developments charted by his fellow authors. His “bleak future” is dominated by isolation and alienation, while his “bright future” involves integration and critical engagement. Ashwin’s four key questions – to ask in a critical examination of the development of learning and teaching – concern the values and purposes of underlying models of learning and teaching; collective or individual activity; power relations; and models of change.

Its cover blurb claims this book offers “an insightful framework through which to understand and question current and future developments in learning and teaching in HE”. This is an ambitious and wide-ranging agenda for a slim volume (152pp), but one that it addresses directly and effectively.

For newer teaching staff, Changing Higher Education provides a valuable and concise introduction to contemporary debates in teaching and learning, usefully set in the context of developments in recent years. This is not a ‘how to do it’ book for lecturers, but its top-quality contributors include plenty of references to follow up; its pithy content add value for others, too. It would remain unopened, I fear, by Elton’s academic who has taught the same thing in the same way for 20 years.

Jonathan Hewett

Teaching and learning for digital (multimedia) journalism

Reflections from a syndicate at the World Journalism Education Congress — I’ve been part of a group of journalism lecturers discussing adapting journalism education to a digital age. Guy Berger from Rhodes University has blogged about this (and other points from WJEC).

The content of what we teach and what students learn (including skills) has formed a large part of discussions — but today we’ve also focused on how: teaching and learning strategies (hooray!).

I argue that teaching and learning needs to reflect more of the characteristics of digital journalism (and Web 2.0). This involves plenty of approaches and methods that have much to recommend them on proven pedagogical grounds, such as:

  • collaborative and interactive student-led group projects
  • open-ended assignments that foster exploration
  • peer feedback and assessment
  • enquiry- (or problem-) based learning (EBL/PBL)
  • students negotiating their own assignments and assessment criteria
  • students as fellow-explorers (even teachers)
  • lecturers as facilitators of learning
  • learning to make decisions on the basis of incomplete information
  • business models for journalism (and ‘new media’)
  • entrepreneurship skills and understanding.

I hope some of this makes it to the final session at the WJEC…

Press Gazette and — thinking alike

Pure coincidence, of course, that Press Gazette‘s diarist, Axegrinder, picked up on two of the same stories featured on last week. You saw them here first — if you were one of my early readers, anyway.
The ‘Grammer School’ billboard is on the PG blog, and the Mail and Express front pages about house prices appear in the print version (right).

Any sub knows the difficulty of avoiding occasional mistakes. Such as ‘backpeddling’ in an Axegrinder headline. Confusing pedal and peddle seems to be a classic — one of The Guardian’s homophone horrors missed by spellcheckers. After making the error in a review of a cycling book, The Observer corrected succintly:

Our review […] included the phrase: ‘The story of her lonely peddling makes for evocative reading.’ Cyclists pedal. Pedlars peddle.

But I bet we’ll see pedal/peddle cropping up again. Can you tell that I used to be a sub, by the way?

Confusing the readers: divergent stories from the same source

Daily Mail and Express front pages: house price stories

Confusing if they see the front pages of the Daily Mail and the Daily Express, that is. Choose between “Is the house price boom over?” and “House prices still soaring” respectively.

These are going in my file of possible examples to look at with students — at first glance, the stories look contradictory. On closer inspection, it’s a matter of emphasis, both using Land Registry figures in different ways: the Mail story concentrates on those for the month of April, while the Express piece looks at the annual increase.

Both angles were fairly clear in the Land Registry source document (PDF here), although the annual 9.1% increase was flagged up more prominently.

One aspect of stories that students sometimes find tricky to pick up, at least to start with, is how a chosen angle might play with readers. Here it’s “welcome news for homeowners” (Express) or “end of the 11-year property boom […] alarm bells sounded […] bubble appears to be bursting […] situation now is likely to be even worse” (Mail).