Frustrated with PubMed? Finding Too Many Articles? Too Few? There Are Alternatives: Part 1 – Quertle
Many who search in PubMed do not find what they seek. Frustrated by off-topic, too few or too many results they look elsewhere for answers. They know they “should” use PubMed as part of finding biomedical information but can’t seem to make it work for them. If that sounds familiar, then read on!
Several alternative search interfaces attempt to solve these problems. Do they work? The answer depends on what you are trying to do. Are you looking for a few good articles? Are you doing exhaustive searches? Are you looking for articles about the psychosocial aspects of biomedicine? To find the right solution for you, it is likely you will need to “test drive” some of the possibilities. Search two or three questions with which you are already familiar, take a look at your results and then decide. This is the first installment of a series of postings in which several of these alternative interfaces will be introduced.
First, let’s be clear about the difference between PubMed and MEDLINE. MEDLINE (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online) is a literature database of life sciences and biomedical information. The database has more than 22 million records from approximately 5,200 selected publications from 1950 to the present. MEDLINE is maintained by the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Each record in MEDLINE is manually indexed with NLM’s controlled vocabulary, the Medical Subject Headings (known as MeSH). PubMed is the NLM’s free search interface for the MEDLINE database. However, there are a number of third-party search tools that can be used to access and interact with MEDLINE.
Quertle (the name is derived from the word query) is a website that is a relatively new third-party tool for interacting with PubMed. It was designed by biomedical informatics researchers who wanted a search engine that would be able to pinpoint the most relevant citations for their research. Sign up here for a free account.
Why Quertle? It claims to understand acronyms (e.g., NO for Nitric oxide), have a built-in understanding of biology and chemistry, and understand word relationships. Quertle suggests wording your search using a sentence with subject-verb-object construction. This is a “relationship” search, which we will touch on further below . Quertle also uses Power Terms, e.g., $Disease searches for disease names. The search “caffeine affects what $Diseases” looks for diseases affected by caffeine without have to list each disease. Quertle has many other features, which left me with the question of whether Quertle is that much easier than PubMed to learn.
The recurring example for this series of blog articles: “Is acetaminophen or ibuprofen better for fever control in children?” I would enter the search seen below:
- tylenol or motrin treats fever in children
Quertle yields 2 articles using Focused Results and 189 articles using Broader Results. The same search run in PubMed using MeSH yields 257 hits. The second of the two Focused Results looks promising, but I would like to see a bit more about the topic than this. Quertle sorts by relevance; the first page of Broader Results looks pretty good.
When viewing search results note that Quertle not only retrieves MEDLINE records but also full-text articles from PubMed Central.
Two take home points from comparing Quertle with PubMed:
- Quertle appears to be good at finding a few good relevant articles from MEDLINE.
- The PubMed search engine is better for exhaustive, “leave no stone unturned searches”.
Quertle is definitely worth a look if you don’t mind somewhat of a learning curve and are seeking a few to several good articles about a topic. Here is a quick guide to using Quertle. You can also view this Youtube video.
Future posts in this series will address:
- SUMSearch 2
- TRIP database
- For Mobile devices
- o PubMed on Tap
- o PubMed for Handhelds
- o PubMed Mobile
Installment two will be coming soon. Until then, stay well.
Evans Whitaker, MD, MLIS, Education and Information Consultant for Medicine.
Even before the iPad existed, Steve Job expressed loathing for the stylus.
The whole point was to have a simple device that required no accessories to fiddle with or to lose (take that Palm!) Since then, the iPad and other tablets have also proliferated, and they arguably could benefit even more from accessories than hand held devices might. There are also situations and creative use cases for mobile devices that Jobs might not have thought of back in 2007. Anyone who needs to be mobile but also writes long pieces or sketches and diagrams a lot could undoubtedly boost their comfort and productivity with an accessory or two.
Some of the accessories most often used with mobile devices include an external keyboard, a cable to connect to a projector or big screen, and yes, the lowly stylus. Do you use any of these, even occasionally? Let us know and feel free to share more about your use in the comments.
Select as many as apply.Take Our Poll
Powerful. Inspirational. Emotionally moving.
Those are the words that best describe Dr. Daniel Lowenstein’s “The Last Lecture” presentation, delivered to a packed house in Cole Hall on April 25th. The Last Lecture is an annual lecture series hosted by the UCSF Graduate Division (and inspired by the original last lecture), in which the presenter is hand-picked by students and asked to respond to the question, ”If you had but one lecture to give, what would you say?” Dr. Daniel Lowenstein, epilepsy specialist and director of the UCSF Epilepsy Center, did not disappoint. In fact, I can say with confidence that he delivered one of the best presentations that I have attended.
Rather than attempt to paraphrase his words, or provide a Cliff Notes version that doesn’t do his presentation justice, I will instead encourage you to watch the video recording of his presentation. The video is an hour in length, and if you have any interest in becoming a better presenter yourself, it is a must-watch. After the jump, we’ll explore my top “top 5 lessons learned” from Dr. Lowenstein’s presentation.
Click the image above to view the video. If you have trouble viewing this video, you may need to install the Silverlight plugin.
Last Lecture – Top 5 Lessons Learned:
- “PowerPoint” is still boring. Dr. Lowenstein’s projected slide show was not typical PowerPoint. It did not consist of any bullet points, familiar and boring templates, or images “borrowed” from a last minute Google image search. Instead, used images from his own collection, and Prezi to build a canvas of images that moved in all directions, expanding, contracting and rotating to craft his message. The resulting slide show was personal, meaningful and most importantly, relatable.
- Story telling is the secret to success. When I first began studying the art of presenting, the idea of incorporating storytelling into a presentation was an elusive one. I am now convinced that storytelling is the secret to transforming a good presentation, into a great presentation. It is the glue that holds all of the elements of your presentation together, as well as the glitter that makes it shine. Dr. Lowenstein’s entire presentation was crafted into a story, the setting of which was established right from the beginning and illustrated by his first content slide. There were also chapters within the story, the most memorable of which for me was the Justice segment of his presentation, and his depiction of The Basement People. He didn’t begin by pointing out the original members of the UCSF Black Caucus that were in the audience, as most presenters would have done. Instead, he gradually painted a picture for us, so we could imagine what it was like to be a minority at UCSF over 50 years ago. He described their struggles in detail, and gave us time to relate, and even pointed out the fact that they had met in that very hall where we all sat. He didn’t reveal their presence until the end of the chapter, creating a crescendo of emotion, and the moment brought tears to the eyes of many audience members.
- Vulnerability equals trust. If you want your audience to believe in your message, you must first give them a reason to believe in you. And one of the most effective ways to make that happen is to share your vulnerabilities. In the eyes of the audience, this makes the presenter human, and it creates a bond between both parties. No one wants to listen to a sales-pitch presentation. Instead, they want the whole story with the ups and downs, so they can decide how we feel about it on their own terms. Just be sure to share vulnerabilities that relate to the subject of the presentation, because you’re going for empathy, not sympathy (which could have a negative effect). Dr. Lowenstein, when talking about Joy and Sorrow, shared one of his deepest personal sorrows, which was the unexpected passing of his son. In contrast, he shared a touching moment with his wife, expressing his love for her, right in front of the whole audience. These moments worked perfectly in the presentation because they were genuine, and they gave the audience a deeper understanding of Dr. Lowenstein.
- Don’t forget humor. No matter how serious, no matter how technical, there is a place in your presentation for a little humor. It can be used to lighten a heavy moment, open closed minds, and bring everyone in a room together (even if your audience members have very different backgrounds). Amidst Dr. Lowenstein’s presentation were timely moments of humor that seemed to come naturally from his personality. And hey, who doesn’t like a good male-patterened-baldness joke, anyway?! But seriously, if you can laugh at yourself, the audience has no excuse to not laugh along with you. There are two keys to using humor in your presentation; (1) it should be relevant to the current topic or story, and (2) it can’t be forced. If you’re not good at telling jokes, then try another form of humor!
- Present on your passions. As a presenter, your goal is simple – to instill in the audience an understanding of your message, and a belief in you. If you give them the impression, even for a moment, that you don’t believe in yourself or the message you’re presenting, you’re a dead man walking (or presenting) in the audience’s eyes. If you choose topics that you are passionate about, however, you will never have this problem. You may think it was easy for Dr. Lowenstein’s to be passionate about his presentation, because his task was, in essence, to present about his life’s passions… but I can assure you, it’s not easy to talk about your own life in front of an audience. In contrast, imagine that you have to give a presentation on, say, your department’s new accounting policies. To make matters worse, imagine that your audience is being forced to attend. What do you do? Surely, there is no passion to be found in accounting policy, is there?! Well, actually, there is, if you take the right angle. For example, does this new accounting policy save the department time, or money? And then, can that saved time and money be applied towards more constructive, or creative tasks that your coworkers actually want to do? If so, and you frame the presentation in a positive light, the audience will listen.
To top it all off, Dr. Lowenstein spent the last few minutes of his presentation reviewing each of the 4 segments of his talk, and then related it all back to a single, clear message. That, my friends, is an example of storytelling 101, so I hope you were talking notes!
If you also found inspiration in Dr. Lowenstein’s presentation, please share your thoughts below, and I’ll see you at next year’s “Last Lecturer” event.
We are pleased to announce the release of Blackboard Collaborate™ 12.5 web conferencing at UCSF. Collaborate 12.5 sessions are available starting Wednesday, May 15, 2013. The update will be seamless for Collaborate users, just join the Collaborate session as you usually would via the UCSF CLE to take advantage of the update.
Below is a list of new feature in Collaborate 12.5:
- Support for Android devices to expand opportunities for mobile learning. Download the Android app here and the iOS app here.
- Built-in phone conferencing with auto-provisioned call-in numbers, eliminating the need for a third-party teleconferencing provider. Learn more here.
- Single-click individual permissions and ability to toggle chat emoticons on/off for increased moderator control. Read more here.
- Cloud-based MP3/MP4 conversion service, enabling instructors to make any recorded session easily accessible on desktop, laptop, and any mobile device. To request MP4/MP4 version of your recorded Collaborate sessions, please contact LTG staff.
LTG staff will be working to develop support documentation for the new features listed above. Please contact LTG staff in the meantime if you have questions about using Collaborate 12.5 at UCSF.
For current Collaborate support documentation, please visit the Collaborate@UCSF User Guide.
As part of our ongoing transition from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2, the Learning Technologies Group has recently debuted two new support resources: the Moodle 2 Support Center and the self-paced, online workshop “Creating Your First Moodle 2 Course.” These new resources, modelled after similar resources available for the previous Moodle version, provide on-demand training and documentation for the UCSF Moodle 2 community.Online Workshop
The “Creating Your First Moodle 2 Course” workshop will help faculty, staff, and other participants learn to perform the basic tasks associated with setting up a course or collaboration space in Moodle 2. Topics introduced to participants include site navigation, Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2 migration details, uploading files, creating activities, and choosing a student enrollment method. Although this workshop covers some of the same material as the in-person “Building Online Courses in the CLE with Moodle 2″ workshop, participants may find value in completing both workshops, in whatever order they choose. This online workshop is only available to UCSF users with a MyAccess username and password.Support Center
The Moodle 2 Support Center provides training videos, documents, a user discussion forum, and updates about Moodle 2 from system administrators. At the moment, the Support Center is comprised mainly of documentation geared towards faculty and staff. Learning Technologies staff will continue to populate this area with additional resources for faculty and staff, and also with new documents geared towards students who need help using the system, as time allows. The Moodle 2 Support Center is available to anyone, with or without a UCSF MyAccess username and password.Getting Started
To take advantage of these resources, visit the Moodle 2 Support Center (available without a MyAccess login) and the Creating Your First Moodle 2 Course online workshop (requires a MyAccess login). If you have questions, suggestions, or feedback, please post to the forums in each space, or send us an email.
Thomson Reuters has just launched a free online version of EndNote:
EndNote Basic includes storage for 2 gigabytes of attachments and 50,000 references, as well as the top 20+ most frequently used styles. I haven’t explored it in depth yet but it seems to replace what was formerly known as EndNote Web.
If you want a little background on why EndNote has decided to release a free version you can read this Wall Street Journal article.
BrowZine works by organizing the articles found in Open Access and subscription databases, uniting them into complete journals, then arranging these journals on a common news-stand. The result is an easy and familiar way to browse, read and monitor scholarly journals across the disciplines:
Click here for more information on how you can help the Library evaluate this research tool.
With the Moodle 2 pilot up and running, LTG staff has been busy updating documentation to help support UCSF CLE users. Collaborate moderators will notice some subtle changes in the way Collaborate sessions are created and managed in Moodle 2. But rest assure, the changes are not too significant and we have put together step-by-step instructions and a handy FAQ to help with the transition.
Updated Collaborate documentation is now available on the Collaborate@UCSF User Guide. We have also developed a Moodle 2 and Collaborate FAQ that is located on the User Guide as well. Moodle 1.9 support documentation is still available under the Moodle 1.9 Moderator Guide.
The LTG ‘Web Conferencing with Collaborate’ workshop has also been updated to incorporate support for Moodle 2. Register for an upcoming Collaborate workshop!
Please contact LTG staff with any questions about using Moodle 2 and Collaborate.
Image Credit: Erin Hayes, Moodle Trust
For a long time, Google Reader served as the hub of my online life. It’s how I kept up with a certain segment of friends from college, a number of colleagues, and the news more generally. Then, in late 2011, Google announced it would be “updating” Reader, and getting rid of all of the social / sharing features. I was pretty upset, and began looking for a replacement, when one of my friends pointed me to NewsBlur. Long story short, I’ve been hooked ever since.
Now that Google Reader will be “powered down” as of July 2013, a whole new wave of web denizens are left to look for a replacement. Here are just a few of reasons why I love, and hope you’ll consider, using NewsBlur.A (local!) labor of love
NewsBlur isn’t owned by a large company, or a conglomerate looking to use your personal data for their financial gain. It’s developed by a single person: Samuel Clay, who lives in Cole Valley, just a short walk from UCSF’s campus. After Google gutted Reader’s social components, he gave up his job to work full-time on making NewsBlur the RSS reader of his own dreams. Despite running a one-man show, he does a fantastic job of handling user requests and bug reports. Case in point: when the recent and unexpectedly ginormous wave of Reader evacuees exceeded NewsBlur’s capacity for a couple of days, he worked overtime to get the service back to stability, and to update the site’s structure to prevent it from happening in the future.Import directly from Google Reader
If you’re moving directly from Reader, you can import your feeds directly into NewsBlur. No need to re-curate. Easy as pie. The (small) catch? If you have more than 64 feeds, you’ll need to purchase a premium account, at $24 / year. Speaking of which …Sustainable business model
Back when NewsBlur was still pretty new, Sam was considering moving away from the then-new yearly premium model, and instead offering lifetime subscriptions, as the best way to get NewsBlur off the ground as a self-sustaining business at a fair price to the users. Fortunately, Sam’s user base at the time helped him realize that the lifetime subscription model would be disastrous for everyone. As a result, NewsBlur has a free account that is good, but somewhat limited, and a premium account which provides full access to the service for a relatively inexpensive yearly fee. In short: NewsBlur is financially solvent, and not dependent upon the charity of its creator to keep it around.Feed organization and reading
(click the image for a larger version)
If you follow as many feeds as I do, you’ll probably want to group similar sites together to make the list easier to navigate. NewsBlur makes it easy to organize feeds into folders, and you can see at a glance how many new stories are available in each folder or in an individual feed. You can then choose to read stories just from one feed, from a particular folder, or all stories from all feeds at once. If you are on the bus and don’t have the time to finish a story, you can save it for later review, and if you’re looking for new content, you can view stories shared by the people you follow, or all stories shared by NewsBlurians.Cross-platform availability
If you want your RSS reader to be available to you anytime and anywhere, NewsBlur is a great choice. Its iOS and Android apps are free, well-supported, and mirror the interface of the web-based client both in interface and in function. The status of your feeds and posts are automatically synchronized across devices, so you can move seamlessly from iPad to laptop to Android phone without losing your place.Privacy and sharing
If you want your RSS reader to serve as a walled garden, NewsBlur is a good choice. You can set up a free account and simply forgo sharing, or pay for a premium account and use the Privacy options to choose who gets to see your shared items.
If you want to keep your reading activity private not only from other people you know, but from companies who stand to gain from selling you advertising, you can host your own version of NewsBlur — it’s free (as in no cost, and also as in open-source) and available for download on GitHub. You’ll be in complete charge of your stories, your data, your shared items. (The downside is your personal installation will likely be a good deal slower than the centralized servers.)
If you want to share your stories with others, however, and have others share their stories with you, NewsBlur is the best choice on the market. Whether you know them in person or only on the internet, whether they are talking about why my grits are terrible, when Janelle Monae’s new album is coming out, how urban cycling is like the internet, or the potential for solar panels to destroy the utility business model as we know it, NewsBlurians will provide you with direct and easy access to hundreds of the most entertaining, thoughtful, informative stories available online.I’m not a shill. No, really.
In the interest of full disclosure: I’m not getting kickbacks or free service for trumpeting Sam’s product. So why am I being so persistent on Twitter and elsewhere about getting people to join? What I want is more connections and conversations based not on geography or career field, but around shared ideas. Selfishly, I want a bigger community, with more people sharing and getting into conversations around stories I wouldn’t know about otherwise. UCSF is full of smart, creative, fun, interesting people that would bring a lot to, and I think get a lot from, the NewsBlur community.Give it a try!
I could write about NewsBlur for another 1000 words … but hopefully by now I’ve provided you with at least one reason to give it a try. Just go to the NewsBlur homepage, check out the interface by clicking “Try out NewsBlur,” or sign up for your own account — free or premium — by clicking “Sign up or Log in.”
Have you tried NewsBlur? Did you like it, or find it lacking? Want to share a link to your Blurblog (i.e. your curated list of shared stories — mine is here)? Leave a note in the comments!
- Extra! Extra! RSS News Reader Apps Information overload. The concept is over forty years old, and...
- Staying Organized with Wunderlist Last summer, I sought out a simple task manager application...
- Twitter here, there, and everywhere Twitter, the microblogging social network that limits messages to 140...
If you are frustrated with wasting time while trying to find the right research instrument, HaPI is the database for you. Health and Psychosocial Instruments (HaPI) is an easy-to-use database that provides users access to information on measurement instruments (i.e. questionnaires, interview schedules, checklists, coding schemes, rating scales, etc.) not only in the fields of health and psychosocial sciences, but also in organizational behavior and education.
Although the full text of the instruments is not included in the database, HaPI can help you with the following tasks:
- Discovering the landscape of existing instruments in your field of study;
- Determine the availability of reliability and validity evidence;
- Track the history of an instrument;
- Locate ordering information for a known instrument.
Additionally, there are several useful limit options highlighted below that can help you find specific information about the instruments.
- Use “Primary Source” to look for the original articles where the instrument was first published or a source that contains the full text of the instrument.
- Use “Secondary Source” to look for articles that use a particular instrument.
- Use “Review Source” to find articles that review ta specific instrument.
- Use “Translated Source” to find the instruments in different languages.
A good practice is evaluating the reliability and validity of a specific instrument before you decide to use it. To do this, use “Search Field” from the top of the search screen. Enter the name of the instrument and then select the following fields: Reliability, readability index and validity (see below)
Utilizing these HaPI tools will help you be able to quickly and efficiently identify the research instrument appropriate for your field of study.
A new feature in Moodle 2 is the ability to easily embed Vimeo videos in CLE courses using only the video URL. With ETS running a UCSF Vimeo pilot program, this is good news for many CLE users. The plug-in for embedding YouTube videos using just the video URL has been possible since Moodle 1.9, and Vimeo videos can now be added to Moodle 2 courses the same way.
Adding YouTube and Vimeo videos to a CLE course page is as easy as inserting a hyperlink into a Word document. Simply insert and highlight text, select insert web link, add the video URL and Moodle does the rest. There are advantages and disadvantages to using this method as opposed to using embed codes to add videos. For clarification, an embed code is the short HTML code typically used to embed an online video on a webpage. The main advantage for using this new method is the ease of use. You are also not limited to the 75MB upload limit when embedding a video like you are when uploading directly to the CLE.
A disadvantage to using this simpler method is the inability to customize the size of the video player. By default YouTube and Vimeo videos are sized to 400 x 300 pixels when viewed in the CLE.
To insert a YouTube or Vimeo video in a Moodle 2 CLE course:
- Copy the URL of the Vimeo or YouTube video
- Turn editing on in the CLE course
- Select “Add an activity or resource” link
- Select “Page” to add the video to a webpage in the CLE, or select “Label” to add the video directly to the CLE course page
- Paste the video URL into the page content field
- Highlight the URL, press the “Insert Web Link” button in the Moodle 2 editor
- Insert the video URL in the “Link URL” field
- Select “Save and display”
It is that easy! Click for more detailed instructions on Basic Video Embedding.
There may be times that you want to customize the video player to make the player size larger. This can be done by embedding the video using the respective YouTube or Vimeo embed codes. Click for detailed instructions on Custom Video Embedding.
Have fun and please contact LTG staff with any questions!
Just a reminder that registration is now open for LTG Spring 2013 workshops. There are five workshops being offered and below is additional information on each. Library workshops can also be found on the UCSF Library Class Calendar and are open to UCSF faculty, staff and students.
Building Online Courses on the CLE with Moodle 2
Presented by Brian Warling
Moodle is the linchpin learning management system that provides many of the CLE’s core functions. In 2013, we will transition to Moodle 2, the latest version. In this hands-on workshop, you will learn how to use many of the new Moodle 2 features and enhancements, including: new course navigation tools; drag-and-drop file and resource management; conditional release; much improved quiz building and navigation; private files; new page layout options; and mobile interfaces. We will also discuss transition plan details. Open to UCSF faculty, staff and students. Read more and register here.
- Wednesday, April 17, 9 – 11am
- Wednesday, May 1, 2 – 4pm
- Thursday, May 16, 9 – 11am
- Tuesday, June 4, 9 – 11am
- Wednesday, June 19, 2 – 4pm
The Better Presenter
Presented by Sean Gabriel McClelland
We have all fallen victim to presentations that leave us bored and confused. In this workshop, you will learn to become a better presenter and create slideshows that enhance your presentations, not detract from them. You will develop an understanding of why templates are bad, and stories are good. Read more and register here.
- Wednesday, April 10, 1:30 – 4pm
- Tuesday, May 14, 9:30am – 12pm
- Thursday, June 13, 9:30am – 12pm
DV Workshop: Shoot Like a Pro
Presented by Sean Gabriel McClelland & Dylan Romero
Shooting a video is something that anyone can do, but it takes practice to produce a quality product. In this workshop, we will introduce you to LTG’s video equipment, discuss best practices for planning and shooting effective video, and then practice those techniques with a hands-on exercise. Read more and register here.
- Tuesday, April 23, 1:30 – 4pm
- Wednesday, May 15, 1:30 – 4pm
- Wednesday, June 12, 9:30am – 12pm
DV Workshop: Edit Like a Pro
Presented by Dylan Romero & Sean Gabriel McClelland
Editing digital video is becoming more and more commonplace, but it does not mean that everyone does it correctly. In this hands-on workshop, we will cover editing software, terminology, conventions and distribution options pertaining to digital video. Our Digital Video: Shoot Like a Pro workshop is a recommended but not required prerequisite. Read more and register here.
- Tuesday, April 30, 1:30 – 4pm
- Wednesday, May 22, 1:30 – 4pm
- Wednesday, June 19, 9:30am – 12pm
Web Conferencing with Collaborate
Presented by Dylan Romero
Learn the fundamentals of using the web conferencing tool Blackboard Collaborate, previously known as Elluminate. Attendance is highly encouraged for anyone moderating or administering Collaborate sessions. Come check out the new interface with support for mobile devices and learn how to better collaborate with students, faculty and staff! Read more and register here.
- Thursday, April 18, 2 – 3:30pm
- Tuesday, June 18, 2 – 3:30pm
For workshop related questions, contact the Learning Technologies Group.
Have an iPad? Help us evaluate a new research tool that is being considered for possible subscription. The libraries of the University of California are running a trial of a new app called BrowZine. It allows you to browse and monitor many academic journals right from your iPad. To facilitate research, articles discovered through BrowZine can easily be sent to Zotero, Dropbox, iAnnotate or several other services to integrate with your existing workflow.
To learn more, check out this short video:
If you are affiliated with UC, your feedback on BrowZine would be helpful. Please fill out this short survey after you’ve given it a test drive. To do so, search for “BrowZine” in the App Store and download. When initially launching BrowZine, select your campus from the drop down list. This trial access ends April 30, 2013.
A few things to note about BrowZine
- The app is free, but your library must subscribe to both BrowZine and the journals for you to get content (with the exception of some open access titles)
- The content is tied to the device. That is, you can’t log into a personal BrowZine account from a different iPad or the web.
- There is an Android app coming this summer
There are some similar apps and services out there that do allow access from multiple devices. Some are more visual and have been compared to Flipboard. Some of them also integrate journal updates with relevant Twitter or newspaper feeds and trending topics.
Let us know if you use any of these, and how they compare to BrowZine.
I stumbled upon a real gem this week, thanks to the Presentation Zen master himself, Garr Reynolds. The gem is a recorded lecture given by Harvard physicist, Eric Mazur, titled “Confessions of a Converted Lecturer.” He describes the trials and tribulations that he went through while trying to be come the best lecturer, and teacher, that he could be. This is a man who truly cares about student learning. In my opinion, he absolutely crushes this one out of ball park and deep into McCovey Cove.
(Click here to cheat, and access the abridged version.)
Garry Reynolds did a great job of breaking it down, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m going to direct you over to his post for that. Instead, I thought I’d share the following:
Top 10 Moments from “Confessions of a Converted Lecturer”
10. All along, there were signs that something was wrong.
Referring to various forms of feedback that he received from students throughout the semester about his teaching performance.
9. How do you come up with plausible wrong answers?!
Referring to the all-too-common process of developing a multiple choice test.
8. If I have the book, and they have the book, what am I going to do in class?!
Referring to early in his teaching career, as he was developing his teaching methods.
7. Shift focus from teaching, to helping students learn.
Identifying one of the most important messages from his “confessions” lecture.
6. The plural of anecdotes is not data.
Pointing out the fact that educators tend to throw out the scientific method when it comes to assessing their performance and teaching methods.
5. You don’t benefit from watching someone else solve a problem. YOU have to do it.
This one is self-explanatory.
4. Teaching is more than just the transfer of information. Assimilating information is the hard part of learning, but we put all of our efforts [as teachers] into the easy part, which is the transfer of information.
3. To quote Socrates, 2000yrs ago- we should teach by questioning, not by telling.
That ancient Greek dude was smart!
2. The better you know something, the more difficult it becomes to teach.
This one really hits home for me, because I talk about “the curse of knowledge” in all of my workshops. It’s so true, especially in health sciences!
1. The lecture method is a process whereby the lectures notes of the instructor get transferred to the notebooks of the students… without passing through the brains of either!
Are traditional indicators of success, end of semester evaluations and standardized test results accurate, or misleading? I’ll give you one guess as to what his feeling on that matter is (and I agree completely).
In the most basic form, his current teaching method consists of two parts. (1) Students are assigned pre-class reading. (2) Class time is used to delve deeper into the areas that are difficult.
He goes on to say that it’s impossible to sleep in his class because every 2 minutes a classmate is talking to you, and there is a continuous information flow happening between everyone in the room! Sounds pretty great to me, and this also gives me flashbacks to the physics class I took in college, which was NOTHING like that.
And finally, here is a great example his teaching style in action:
What do you think? Is he completely out in left field, or is he so right that it’s scary?!
Clinical Queries (CQ) is somewhat hidden on the PubMed homepage, but allows you to quickly narrow your search for clinical information to systematic reviews and controlled clinical trials. Medical genetics results are also shown in a third column.
Using CQ is easy. Type in the search box, click on Search and look at your results. You can fine tune your results by choosing a Category (as “Therapy” in the example) and Scope (“Broad” or “Narrow”).
That is all there is to it. CQ is useful when you are looking for a few good articles on which to make evidence-based clinical decisions.
Give it a try!
Evans Whitaker, MD, M.L.I.S., Education and Information Consultant for Medicine, UCSF Library.
UCSF faculty and staff often contact LTG with questions about how they can leverage the messaging system in Moodle to better communicate with students. The current messaging system in Moodle 1.9 is not intuitive and is used infrequently at UCSF. Messaging in Moodle 2 has been overhauled and some of the improvements are substantial enough to potentially win over some new users.
Both faculty and students receive notifications via the messaging system based on events in the CLE. Messaging is now ‘event-driven’ in Moodle 2, meaning users can select from a list of events in Moodle that trigger a message. The message can be delivered via a pop-up window in the CLE, through an email notification or both.
An important thing to remember is that messaging preferences are set at the user level in Moodle 2. By default students receive pop-up notifications for personal messages and email messages for event notifications. These can be set for when a student is online or not online. Both email and pop-up notifications can be configured by users to be triggered by various events in the CLE. Students configure these options, or turn off notifications completely in ‘Message Preferences.’ Because of this capability, faculty who use the messaging system in the CLE should remind students that important course related messages can be missed if notifications are turned off. Messaging preferences are applied system-wide to all courses that a student is enrolled in through the CLE
Some examples of how messaging can be used at UCSF are:
- Notify students of upcoming assignments
- Notify students of feedback for assignments
- Remind students to provide feedback
- Notify when a post has been submitted to a discussion forum
- Send a personal message to faculty or students
- Send multimedia content to students/instructors in a personal message
There are two main components of the messaging system for both faculty and students. The first is viewing any messages sent or received through the system to other users. To view all messages, navigate to the ‘Navigation’ block and select ‘Messages.’ This will include all pop-up and email messages sent through the CLE, even if the user has notifications turned off.
To configure which messages you receive and how, navigate to the ‘Settings’ block and select ‘Messaging.’ By selecting the check marks next to each event, users can determine how they receive both event-driven and personal messages.
If you are a faculty member interested in messaging students, navigate to the course in the CLE where you would like to send the message. From the ‘Navigation’ block, select ‘Participants’ and all enrolled users in the course will be displayed. Select either all or individual students using the check marks listed next to the names and select ‘Send a Message’ from the drop-down menu at the bottom of the page.
Depending how users have their message preferences configured, they will receive your message in a pop-up window, email or neither if they have message notifications turned off. Recipients are not able to see the students included on the message; protecting the privacy of the students.
Messaging in Moodle 2 can often be confused with the ability to send notes in the CLE and the email digest, which notifies students of forum posts daily or with each forum post. Stay tuned to the Convergence blog for an upcoming blog post on these Moodle 2 features and as always feel free to contact LTG staff with any questions about the CLE or the transition to Moodle 2.
Messaging 2.0 Resources:
Having experienced some chronic digestive issues, I’ve tried various methods of tracking what I eat and how it makes me feel, including pen and paper, Google spreadsheet, and a web application geared mostly for the desktop.
I figured out some of my food sensitivities, but I’ve been looking for an Android app that would let me track foods more conveniently and might do some analysis to make sense of the still sometimes mysterious and unpredictable Stomach Troubles.
There are many apps for counting calories, but finding one for tracking allergies and sensitivities is more difficult. I tried out two apps to track symptoms from food and other triggers. (Neither of the apps below tracks calories or portion size.)
With so many people experiencing allergies, gluten sensitivity, lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, and other issues, the following discussion may be helpful for you, as well as for patients you might see in clinic. And while I’m focusing on food sensitivities, these apps could really be used to track the occurrence and severity of any symptom.
I want a food journal that:
- has a user-friendly, intuitive interface. Logging my food and symptoms should be easy.
- is fast. I don’t want to wait a long time for the app to load, and I want to be able to use it without a network connection.
- lets me export my food diary to show to a healthcare provider.
- analyzes my symptoms to detect patterns
Ideally, I’d like to be able to enter data via desktop computer as well as mobile device. Sometimes it’s just more convenient to enter foods with a keyboard. But I didn’t find this in either of the apps I tried.mySymptoms Food Diary ($2.99; Android, iPhone, and iPad)
mySymptoms has detailed symptom analysis, is fairly easy to use, and comes with a large database of foods.
mySymptoms has many good features:
- Pre-existing database of foods, symptoms, and medications. You can edit, add, and delete items.
- Individual ingredients can be grouped under other food items, which is important for tracking sensitivities to particular ingredients.
- Complex analysis to detect triggers and patterns for various symptoms. Symptom intensity is factored in, and you can adjust the time period for analysis.
- Does not require a network connection.
- Lets you track stress, environmental triggers (like smoke or pollen), exercise, and more.
- Notes can be added to foods and events.
- The app is well-supported. It seems to be updated frequently, and when I submitted a bug report, I got a response the next day.
But I do have some complaints:
- It takes a while to get a hang of the interface. It’s not the most intuitive and doesn’t make good use of my phone’s Back button.
- You can export your food diary, but can’t export the analyzed results.
- Many of the pre-loaded foods are not broken down by ingredient. For example, yogurt should contain milk, tea should contain caffeine, and bread should contain wheat.
Also, there are a lot of somewhat obscure items in the database, but I was surprised that some common foods are missing. The database definitely has a British feel — when was the last time you ate bloater, Wensleydale cheese, or a Knickerbocker glory? There are no brand names or fast foods, which may be inconvenient for some users.
I’ve tracked my food for three weeks, and I’ve gotten some interesting leads, but no conclusions. mySymptoms reports some surprising “suspect” foods which I hadn’t considered, so that’s promising. I know getting results will take time, but at this point it still feels like a matter of faith that all the tracking will pay off. The testimonials on the mySymptoms website make me hopeful.
I don’t have a true food allergy, so I’d be interested to know how well mySymptoms can detect something more clear-cut, like celiac disease or a true allergy.Allergy Journal (free; Android, iPhone, and iPad)
I wanted to be able to recommend a free app, so I also tried Allergy Journal. This app helps you keep a food diary and lets you review a) what happens after you eat a particular food, or b) what you ate prior to a particular symptom.
Honestly, I didn’t spend much time using its analysis tool, because I found it inconvenient to enter my food using this app:
- There’s no pre-existing database of foods.
- You can’t organize foods by their ingredients or group foods into meals.
- There’s no running list of what you’ve entered for a particular meal. To confirm what you’ve entered, you have to navigate to a separate section of the app, which is inconvenient.
- When I entered a new food, the current time did not always display.
- The interface is a little clunky in general.
I did like that there’s no need to categorize your food as a particular meal or snack. Foods are simply organized by the time you ate them.
The symptom analysis is more simplistic than in mySymptoms, but during my brief review, it functioned well:
- You can adjust the analysis window for reports.
- Export your food diary and symptom reports in PDF or Excel format.
I would also recommend trying the iOS version of mySymptoms, which has some additional functionality not available for Android.Conclusions
In this case, it seems like you get what you pay for, as mySymptoms is definitely more robust and sophisticated than the free alternative. If I can determine a particular food or two that’s causing problems, mySymptoms will be well worth the three bucks, and hopefully, the time involved.
I didn’t find a lot of apps to try (and my time was limited, as well as my patience for using multiple trackers at once!). So if you have an additional app to recommend, I’m all ears!
Images of mySymptoms Diary (at top left) and Results, SkyGazer Labs Ltd.
Allergy Journal images, IBKR Analytics LLC.
Many educators and students are familiar with the Khan Academy and have seen the video tutorials created by Salman Khan. Since 2009, the Khan Academy has become a rockstar in the field of educational technologies and has gathered both supporters and critics along the way. Regardless of your opinion on this type of asynchronous learning activity, we can all agree that it is definitely a creative way to teach short chunks of content to many learners.
LTG recently acquired a Wacom DTU-2231 interactive display that is available to UCSF faculty, students and staff. The 21.5” tablet monitor easily connects to the PC or Mac in CL-247. You can draw directly on the touch-screen surface of the tablet to create videos similar to those seen at the Khan Academy. Some of the more popular software used with the tablet are SketchBook Express, PowerPoint, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Learning how to use the Wacom tablet monitor only takes a few minutes and is designed to simply ‘plug and play.’
There are many potential uses for the tablet monitor at UCSF. Below are just a few examples:
- Sketch a workflow or process
- Explain a concept or idea
- Provide a break in PowerPoint with a demonstration
- Annotate over a document, x-ray or image
- Annotate using Snipping Tool
To begin using the Wacom DTU-2231 tablet to create your own instructional content, follow the steps below:
- Reserve CL-247 at tiny.ucsf.edu/reserve_mm.
- Email email@example.com to reserve the tablet and set up a brief consultation. The tablet is available during normal LTG hours, M-F, 8:30 am – 5pm.
- Plan or outline the instruction.
- Practice using the tablet and stylus in the software you plan to use.
- When ready, use the screen-recorder Camtasia to capture the annotations and drawings on your screen. If you are drawing or annotating on the Mac, use Sketchbook Express or the ink tool in PowerPoint. If you are using a PC, use PowerPoint.
- Edit screen-captures and other assets in Camtasia, iMovie ‘11 or Final Cut Pro X.
- Share your videos using Vimeo, YouTube or the UCSF CLE.
As always, please contact us with questions about potential ways to use the Wacom tablet monitor or any of the technology supported by LTG staff!
John Cleese is my new hero. His genius extends well beyond the confines of Monty Python. I had heard about his lecture on creativity from multiple sources, and finally watched it. In my opinion, he really nails it. Watch the video, and then we’ll discuss its connection to presenting better after the jump!
“Creativity is not a talent, it’s a way of operating.”
I often ask attendees of The Better Presenter workshop to raise their hands if they consider themselves to be creative. I normally see a few hands go up, reluctantly. I think it is because we have forgotten how to be creative, and also because we think you either have it, or you don’t! As Cleese clearly explains, we are all creative, but we have to work at it. We need to “quiten our mind down” and get into the right state of mind. When I’m planning and designing a presentation, this is exactly what I attempt to do. I try to find that creative state of mind, and it definitely takes time and discipline to get there.
As he goes on to explain, you need a few things to achieve this creative, or “open” state of mind. Here is a quick summary:
- Space – seal yourself off so you cannot be disturbed, create an oasis of quiet.
- Time – designate a specific period of time for this creativity to take place, with clear lines for normal life to stop, and then start up again.
- Time (again) - you must allow yourself to be comfortable with taking the extra time to find the best creative solution, instead of taking the first thing that comes to you, because “maximum pondering time leads to the most creative solution.”
- Confidence – you must not fear making a mistake, you have to be free to play, and take risks.
- Humor – nothing gets us from the closed mode to the open mode faster than humor!
If these techniques are new to you, I recommend trying them out during the brainstorming phase of your next presentation. This will set you off on the right foot, and you might be surprised at what you come up with. I find that I need to do this somewhere other than my office or home, because there are far too many distractions and opportunities for disruption in those two environments. Empty classrooms, the library and coffee shops are my go-to places for creative work.
And just remember, after you are satisfied with your creative output, to return to the “closed” state of mind, to get the project done!