a(nother) new start

CC BY-ND 2.0 one2c900d (Flickr)

A new group of 2nd year Computer Science & Information Technology students have begun the CT231 Professional Skills module this week. After many years teaching this module, I won’t be teaching it this year and I will miss it! This blog will not be used to record this year’s CT231 activities and student work, but it remains a record of CT231 work during 2012-2014.

CT231 will continue to evolve and grow — you can see what’s happening on Twitter at @CT231 and #ct231, or you can contact Josephine Griffith @griffith_j to find out more. Best of luck to all!

I’ll be continuing my work and my research in the areas of open education, digital literacies, and digital identities. Please visit http://catherinecronin.wordpress.com if you’d like to find out more, or contact me at @catherinecronin.

Finally, the very best of luck to CT231 students — past, present, and future. You teach us as much as, or more than, we teach you. Thank you!

Image: CC BY-ND 2.0 one2c900d

Digital Media Projects

Over seventy students recently completed the year-long CT231 module in Professional Skills. For their final Digital Media Projects, students were asked to develop a resource for an audience beyond their own class and university, choosing whatever form of digital media they wished — blog, video, audio, app, etc. The range of topics was impressive — spanning music, dance, sport and fitness, Irish history and legend, education, gaming, social media, computers, computer science and information technology. Students also were asked to publish their projects openly online, using only their own work or openly-licensed content, and to make their work available with a Creative Commons license. Students shared their work via social media using #ct231, our course hashtag, as well as #icollab, the hashtag shared by the 7 student cohorts (from Galway to Auckland, NZ) who share their work in the iCollab community of practice.

All of the projects were interesting — a few which attracted particular attention in the form of comments, shares and retweets were:

Please check out the work produced by CT231 students below. Your feedback would be much appreciated!

Social Media, Games & Digital Literacy

Console Wars: PS4 vs. Xbox [blog] – Cathal Kelly

Mything the Point – hoax busting [blog] – Ross Clifford, Adam Long, Christopher Ward

Effects of social media on young people [blog] – Shane Martino Daly, Andrew McGinley

How news spreads fast through social media [blog] – Ronan Carr, Mark Nallen, Anthony Ruffley

Unholy Trinity Productions: What’s going on in Crimea? [web comic] – Conor McDonnell, Darren Dennehy, David Smyth

Car Content audio podcasts: next generation technology – Ryan Hehir, Thomas Keane

Computers, Computer Science & Information Technology

Turn an old PC into a LAMP server [blog] – Gareth Jennings

Mass Mural: collaborative drawing app [drawing application] – Adrian Cooney

Replace the LCD panel in a laptop – David Renton, Evan Preisler

How to build your own PC [blog] – Matthew Fox, Cathal Hardiman

Smart homes and smartgrid [blog] – David Heffernan, Shane Sheridan

Procedural tree generation & animation – Alex Lorenz


Guitar modding & customisation [blog] – Dylan Toner

Guitar tutorial – Aaron Kelly

Learn piano basics [blog] – Daniel Marcelo

Find the chords of any song [blog with videos] – Sean McLoughlin, Christopher Eluvathingal

Piano lesson – Brian Carroll

Music technology today [blog] – Martin Donnellan, Matthew Flanagan

Ireland, Galway & Student Life

Irish History, Myth & Legend [interactive map] – Jerry Lehane

GalwayDays – Galway events, interests, shopping, eating [blog] – Monika Penkova

Dansoc – NUI Galway [blog] – Claire Sheridan

Jogging routes around Galway – Shane Curtin

Having an enjoyable college experience – Darren Higgins, Sean Hughes, Michael Losty

TV & movie reviews [blog] – Michael Dowling, Kevin O’Sullivan, Kyle Lynch-Kurzawa

Real dinners – on a student budget [blog] – Enda McDaid

Learning & Education

Encouraging girls involvement in IT [blog] – Ailbhe Leahy

ICT in primary school education [blog] – Greg Hanley, Mosi Ruane

Tutorial testout – testing various web tutorials [blog] – Luke Finnerty

Video lectures – a trial – Nils Blosenko, Thomas McGarry

Health, Fitness & Sport

Computer injuries help [blog] – Lydia Shirly, Matthew Hallinan, Alex McElhinney

Few Pints, Be Grand? – dangers of excessive drinking [blog] – Patrick Gallagher

Exercise and fitness [videos] – Aaron McGloin, Nigel McIntyre

4 sports [blog] – Seán Collum, Niall Martin, Breandán ÓConghaile, Shane O’Rourke

IT and food safety, production & delivery [blog] – Andy Yuan, Xingtian Du

The Future

Motoring into the Future [blog] – Anthony Jackson


A module ends, a networked community continues

To mark the end of the year of CT231, I’d like to begin by thanking you — all of the students who participated in the module. We’ve covered a lot of ground this year.

CT231 2012-13 image v2Many of the terms above may have seemed unclear or irrelevant last September, but hopefully you feel much more confident now about your research skills, your communication  skills (writing and presenting) and — as many of you wrote in your social media reflections — your digital identity and use of social media, especially for learning.

Working with you all this year has been a pleasure, an adventure, and a great learning experience. Exploring concepts both established (academic writing skills, referencing) and emerging (digital identity, privacy, social networks for learning), your ideas and your questions have helped me to think more deeply about my own practices, about creating learning spaces (physical and virtual), and about the always-fascinating collisions between theory and practice.

All of the presentations which you’ve posted online are available in the CT231 Student Showcase on Scoop.it and also on Flipboard (and informal videos of some of these presentations are available on Bambuser). Links to your final Digital Media Projects have been posted here in the blog and in the CT231 Student Showcase. Other #icollab students, in other countries, are just beginning their terms. Some of these students will view your work on Scoop.it, Flipboard and Bambuser, some will provide feedback, and some may connect with you via social networks (check the #icollab hashtag any time). This is the essence of connected, authentic learning — not limited by modules, term times, geography or insititution. Enjoy it!

The same goes for our connections as well. As always, the #ct231 hashtag will be our main connection… across time and different social media spaces. So please continue to share using the hashtag. While activity on the @CT231 Twitter account will quiet down over the next few months, it will be active again when next year’s 2nd years start the module in September. You’ll continue to be part of the CT231 community, of course, so please feel free to interact with future students, share thoughts or resources, and join the conversations.

We began by sharing ideas and developing skills within our class community, and expanded our interactions to include others in the NUI Galway community and the #icollab community of practice. I have seen many of you use those skills and that confidence to begin networking with others on a broader scale, using Twitter and other social media in new ways — as students, researchers, and soon-to-be professionals. Your reflections throughout this process have been valuable and will help to inform my own future teaching. Thank you.


Images: CC Catherine Cronin

Student presentations & social media


We’ve had a fascinating few weeks in CT231 Professional Skills! For our past four sessions, students have delivered in-class presentations, using Ignite or Pecha Kucha formats. Students selected their own presentation topics, and chose whether they wanted to work individually or in pairs. Presentation topics have ranged from Augmented Reality to the Future of Motoring, and Identity Theft to the Integration of IT in Sport. The use of timed presentation styles as a design constraint has proved to be a great success. Students have used compelling images and metaphors to tell their stories — with hardly a bullet point to be found. 🙂

With each new set of presentations, we are learning about different IT-related issues — as well different presentation skills and styles. However, as part of their efforts to share and engage beyond our own our CT231 class community, most students are opting to assign Creative Commons licenses to their presentations and to post, tag and share them online. Students use both #ct231 and #icollab hashtags, in order to engage with their peers in the #icollab community of practice, as well as with wider networks.

For the past few years, CT231 student work has been shared via the CT231 Student Showcase on Scoop.it. This year, presentations also are being curated using Flipboard — click the cover image below to go directly to the online magazine:

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 16.47.37

Some students have also agreed to be filmed while delivering their presentations — a great way of learning about their presentation skills as well as getting feedback from others. All of these videos area available on Bambuser using the #ct231 hashtag.

Over the coming weeks, additional presentations will be added to the Scoop.it and Flipboard collections, and students also will be sharing their final Digital Media Projects. We look forward to 5 more student presentations this week, as well as a visit from Bea de los Arcos, of the OER Research Hub project. There will be live tweeting on Thursday, February 27th, from 1-2pm (GMT). Please join us via #ct231.

You can find current updates at any time at any of these links:

Effective Presentations (part 2)

Last week we discussed the requirements for the in-class presentations (see Assignment #4 below): an Ignite or Pecha Kucha presentation, consisting of 20 slides, automatically timed to advance automatically. Guidelines for preparing and delivering the presentation were discussed last week in Effective Presentations (part 1), also shown below.

This week we went on to discuss good practice in creating presentation slides. In any presentation, but particularly in formats such as Ignite or Pecha Kucha, it’s important to use high-impact images to get your message across. As much as possible, let’s ban bullet points and death-by-PowerPoint! The goal is to create image-rich slides which communicate your message powerfully and quickly. The first presentation shared in class discusses why and how to use Creative Commons-licensed images:


If you haven’t watched them already, please view the Creative Commons videos shared in class last term. When you want to reference a Creative Commons-licensed image in your presentation, you’ll need to include 3 elements: the CC license information, the creator name, and a link to the original work. Let’s say you use www.compfight.com to search for CC images on Flickr and you find the following photo you want to use: http://www.flickr.com/photos/will-lion/2595497078 .

  • The license info can be found by clicking “License” in the right-hand information bar. In this case, the license is CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (i.e. Creative Commons 2.0 license which the creator has specified as Non-Commercial and No Derivatives, i.e. the image cannot be altered).
  • The creator’s name is Will Lion (shown immediately to the right of the image on Flickr).

The CC license you would specify in your project would be CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Will Lion (i.e. link to the original image on Flickr is embedded in the creator’s name).

The second presentation shared in class gave some examples of slides used in image-rich presentations… these are just some ideas to get you started. Have fun creating your own presentation style!

Presentations – sample slides from ct231

Assignment #5: Digital Media Project

Assignment #5 is your final Digital Media Project. There are three milestones: the project proposal, the 1st draft of the project, and the final project. Detailed requirements are explained in the assignment document — please review these carefully.


30th January – Submit your project proposal by posting on the wiki in Blackboard. I will provide feedback there.

3rd March – Complete the 1st draft of your project; share it to receive feedback.

27th March – Complete the final version of your project, share it online and submit a 1-page report on Blackboard.


Assignment #4: Presentation

Assignment #4 is due on the date assigned to you — please see the schedule on Blackboard (presentation dates are spread between late January and late March).

Assignment #4 is an in-class presentation based on your research topic from the 1st term. Please see the presentation resources in the post below (or click the tag presentations) for plenty of helpful advice. Post questions here in the blog, on Twitter (using #ct231) or contact Catherine.

During class on January 23rd, students collaborated in class to create the presentation marking guidelines which will be used to assess the presentations:


  • clear structure: beginning – middle – end

  • ideas flow from one to another


  • accurate, true and up-to-date

  • aimed at appropriate level (2nd year IT)

  • original (not someone else’s presentation/story)


  • relevant images/pictures (not text-dense)

  • Creative Commons-licensed  images (citing CC license information)

  • no bullet points

  • colour
  • 20 slides – no more, no less


  • interactive / engage the audience

  • speak clearly

  • show your in-depth knowledge & your interest!

  • don’t learn the presentation by rote (can use brief notes)

Effective Presentations (part 1)

In our first class of the 2nd term, the main topic was Presentation Skills. Each student will give an in-class presentation this term (Assignment #4).

You may develop and deliver your presentation individually, or you may work in a team of two. In both cases, you’ll be required to deliver your presentation in a timed format:

  • If you work individually, you’ll prepare and deliver an Ignite presentation. An Ignite presentation or Ignite talk is simply a 5-minute presentation of 20 slides, with the timer set for 15 seconds per slide.
  • If you work as a pair, you’ll prepare and deliver a Pecha Kucha presentation. Also called Pecha Kucha 20×20, this format is very similar to Ignite — only the timing is different. Each of the 20 slides is shown for 20 seconds. The length of a Pecha Kucha presentation is 6 minutes & 40 seconds.

The slides advance automatically so you will  need to design your presentation for that format and practice delivering your presentation within those time constraints. The requirements of the presentation and some tips on presentation skills will be discussed in class:


During class we watched Scott Berkun’s excellent Ignite talk: “Why and How to Give an Ignite Talk” — this is a great place to start. Watch it as an excellent example of an Ignite talk, as well as a source of useful advice for how to prepare one.

Some other useful presentation resources are listed here:

This article was written by presentation expert Olivia Mitchell on creating an Ignite or Pecha Kucha presentation. This is terrific, visual article — very helpful.

This blog post has excellent advice on finding relevant, potent images for your presentation.

Useful checklist for ALL presentations — not just PowerPoint.

Prezi videos, examples and templates.

Nancy Duarte is the author of the excellent books Resonate and Slideology – excellent sources for all presenters. This 25-minute video is worth viewing (and bookmarking) if you want a deeper understanding of what makes a presentation which truly connects with an audience.

Google image search: filter by usage rights

It’s great to see that Google is making it simpler to search images by usage rights. In addition to searching for open access and Creative Commons-licensed images on Flickr, you can now do this easily on Google. When searching for an image on Google, just click the ‘Search tools’ option, then select an option under ‘Usage Rights’. This may be useful for finding images for your blog posts and digital media projects.

cccScreen Shot 2014-01-14 at 14.35.51

Cooperation, Collaboration & Creative Commons

In the past two weeks, we’ve explored cooperation and collaboration, as well as copyright and Creative Commons.

Cooperation & Collaboration

There is a growing body of work and literature around cooperation and collaboration, and the distinction between them. Both are important concepts to grasp as programmers, creators and networked individuals. In essence, collaboration (co-labor) means individuals acting together towards a common goal; cooperation (co-operate) means individuals sharing with one another, without any direct benefit. Collaboration happens in groups; cooperation happens in networks.


CC BY-NC-SA Harold Jarche

Both collaboration and cooperation are essential for creativity and effective problem-solving. We need effective teamwork skills in order to collaborate in groups, and we need network literacies and Personal Learning Networks in order to work cooperatively in networks. In this module, we are developing literacies in both areas through our participation in the #icollab community of practice.

See readings by Howard Rheingold and Howard Jarche in our course reading list (link above right) to explore these topics further.


CC BY-NC-SA Harold Jarche


Copyright & Creative Commons

If you create and/or share information online, it is important to have an understanding of both copyright and Creative Commons. You retain the copyright (an exclusive legal right) to everything you create — a photograph, video, music, blog post or software program. However, by assigning a Creative Commons license, you can determine the rights by which your work can be shared, used and remixed. Whether you create your own work to share online, or share information created by others, the following resources will help you to do so with greater awareness. These two short Creative Commons (CC) videos are a good place to start:

Creative Commons License A Shared Culture by Jesse Dylan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike (CC BY-NC-SA) license.

Creative Commons License What is Creative Commons? Wanna Work Together RG Remix by MasterNewMedia.org is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike (CC BY-NC-SA) license.


If you need an image to illustrate a blog post, for example, you’ll need to search for Creative Commons-licensed or open access images. This requires a bit more work than simply searching in Google images, but it is essential in order not to violate copyright. Fortunately, there are some great tools which help you to find Creative Commons-licensed images and other materials. Here are a few:

  • Compfight – excellent search tool for Creative Commons-licensed Flickr images
  • CC Search – powerful search across a variety of platforms (e.g. Flickr, Google images, YouTube) to help you find content you can share, use, remix
  • Flickr images – enter search term, click Advanced Search, then tick the box “only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”
  • Flickr CC bluemountains – search for CC images on Flickr, returns images and CC license information
  • Content Directories – extensive list of directories of Creative Commons-licensed materials (audio, video, image, text)
  • Creative Commons Wiki – a Creative Commons image directory

Finally, you can keep up-to-date by following @creativecommons on Twitter and keeping an eye on the Creative Commons blog. Please share any additional resources on Creative Commons resources on Twitter, using the #ct231 hashtag.