Reflections on 23 Things

This has been a great project to work on! Thanks to Charlie and colleagues for putting all the content together.

  • Were there Things that you particularly enjoyed?  

I most enjoyed Geocaching and SoundCloud – both new to me and things I’ll continue to use. I did also enjoy reflecting on things that I am already familiar with as well. But these two were my personal favourites.

  • Was there a Thing has has either had something in it that surprised you, or one you particularly enjoyed?


I’d heard of Geocaching but didn’t really “get” what was involved. My perceptions were that it would be dull or complicated. But it was easy and fun!


  • Have you been reading the community blogs? How did you find the blogging aspect of the course?

I should have made more effort to read more blogs by other bloggers. I did this more towards the end, probably because it was the Christmas Holidays and I had time! I found the actual blogging bit easy and even easier once I got a new phone that actually had space on it for the WordPress app! I don’t always want to turn on a laptop.

  • Did you have any difficulties completing the Things?

The altmetrics one felt a bit “academics only” to me (I’m not an academic) but it was interesting nonetheless.


  • If you were to do a course like this again is there anything you would change, or additional support you would like to see?

I liked the weekly emails from Charlie – they were motivating and interesting! Also it meant you didn’t feel alone and that you were just blogging into cyber space. I probably should have made more effort to interact with 23Things on Twitter as well as that might have helped with my motivation. I did look at the Twitter account a few times but didn’t interact. I noticed that someone else suggested doing the course with colleagues and think that’s a good idea. I should have drummed up some chums or colleagues to join me.

  • If you wrote a blog post at the beginning on what you hoped to gain out of the 23 Things course, looking back on the post do you feel you achieved those goals?

I had identified that blocks 3 and 4 would likely be of most interest to me and this turned out to be true. I didn’t manage to blog weekly and went for a Christmas holiday blitz… It was just easier as I had more time then.  I think if I’d kept on top of it from the start I might have managed weekly blogs. But I got behind and it was a slippery downhill spiral!

All in all a great course which I’ve really enjoyed! Thanks!

Thing22: Dubsmash

So Dubsmash is fun! Here’s my attempt at the Cup Song from Pitch Perfect! Had to get my husband to hold the recording button as it doesn’t let you let go – Clearly very much designed as a selfie video kind of thing.

There’s some fun stuff on this app (plus a lot of sweary stuff – can see why it has a minimum age!). Before finding this song we attempted a couple of songs from Frozen, the sloth from recent movie Zootropolis laughing and speaking slowly, and a particularly fine duo of Aqua’s Barbie Girl with my husband (we’re far too embarrassed to share that one!).

Great fun!

Thing21: Goat silk and gamification


My first encounter with Gamification was last August when I was at the CASE Europe conference. I attended a session on “Gamification in Higher Education” presented by Süha Soydan from the Student recruitment team at Özyegin Unievrsity in Turkey. One of the first things he did was make us get our mobile devices out and log into a quick quiz/game on Kahoot! Süha highlighted to us some of the positive qualities of using games in higher education:

  • a safe environment in which to fail
  • great for learning
  • instant feedback possible
  • can personalise to some extent usually

At Özyegin Unievrsity, they used gamification for student recruitment. They used Facebook to create a “future timeline” video game – basically a way of showing the applicant/offer-holder what their future life might look like if they choose to study at Özyegin Unievrsity! Genius.

But what was REALLY clever was that they also tied this up with a Scholarship! To be eligible for winning a scholarship, people had to submit a video, and go through some telephone and in-person interviews, before being invited to do an Elevator pitch to a panel! This helped the University increase their Facebook fan base, and enabled them to attract and recruit the kind of students they wanted. Furthermore, they got 2 million dollars of media coverage from it, and recognised by industry for their efforts. Nice work Özyegin Unievrsity!

Here’s their video:


NMS Games

I didn’t know that NMS had games – I tried out the Glowing Pig genomics game, and tried to mix a scorpion venom with a cat. This doesn’t look like it’s a goer folks! It’s probably for the best… 🙂


I then tried to mix spider silk with goats. Wouldyabelieveit, this has actually been done:


I’ll definitely be back to this site with my son as I think this is a really great way to learn!

I’m also keen to look at the how to code site – had a quick look yesterday, and love how you can tailor the  level to suit age of child etc – we’ve played about before with Scratch but Hour Of Code looks like a really great introduction to coding.

Thing20: LinkedIn

I like LinkedIn, have had an account for several years, and I have a good presence on my profile:


(although clearly I need to do something else on my profile in order to fill in that last little white gap at the top there!)

I have written recommendations for other people, and have received recommendations from colleagues and former colleagues – I like this aspect of LinkedIn – what better way to find out about a potential new employee/colleague than seeing recommendations? Anytime I’ve done interviewing here at work, I’ll always look applicants up on LinkedIn. It’s a great disappointment when someone doesn’t have an account!

However, for all I like it, I find I’m not inclined to log in very often. When I do, I’m always impressed and interested in the articles that my contacts share which appear in my timeline. As everyone I’m connected with on LinkedIn has a professional connection with me, I find that the content they share is pretty relevant most of the time (unlike Facebook, where you can be friends with someone but really not necessarily share their interests).

I find that the “sponsored” content is relevant and often of interest too. For example, today in my feed I saw a Hootsuite sponsored article about 6 steps to create a social media strategy. The targeting is pretty slick in LinkedIn (I know this because I advertise the University of Edinburgh’s online programmes there!) which is better for the advertiser (relevant audience) and the recipient (relevant content).

It’s a great place to go for career-relevant information e.g. join groups that are relevant to your career. However, I turned off the email notifications as I just found they clogged up my inbox and I never read them. Perhaps the best plan with LinkedIn is to log in every Monday morning and just have a browse – there’s always interesting articles to read and people to connect with. Maybe this will be my new year resolution!

Thing19: Altmetrics

Impact is important for researchers, and it’s good to see there are now ways of tracking the impact of academic articles. I installed the bookmarklet but struggled to find an article in my professional field that could deliver statistics via Altmetric. So I looked at the stats for the article about Bringing elephants to Australia. The altmetric popped up in the top right corner with basic stats which shows the impact of the article on news/blog/tweets/google+.


Clicking for more details brings up much more information, and highlighted that the article was in the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric, so well done the writers of this article!


It’s a bit like Google Analytics – you can see which geographic regions and countries were most engaged with the article, and also interesting to see that, for example, 47 of the citations were by “members of the public” – more than scientists or science communicators. If I wrote this article, would I be happy with that demographic breakdown? I’m not sure – perhaps I would be pleased that it had such wide impact that it had been picked up by everyday folk; but on the otherhand if I was wanting to prove to my boss that my work was being engaged with in the academic community, then perhaps this statistic wouldn’t be as helpful. Also, I wonder what the criteria is for classifying someone as “member of the public” – if someone is tweeting or blogging about it from their personal blog/account then does the altmetric classify them as a member of the public rather than a scientist? How does it know?  All in all, this looks clever but for me it’s limited still in that I couldn’t get it to give me stats for the articles in marketing journals that I tried! And i think data like this also has to be taken with a pinch of salt as the information it presents is not necessarily the whole picture perhaps.



Thing18: Pokemon go!

In an amusing progression from my last post (Geocaching) where my nine year old deemed Geocaching “better than Pokemon”, here I’m going to write about Pokemon!

We got Pokemon on our phones the minute it came out. At the time we were on the island of Islay, and we had no idea how it worked, and were wandering about Port Ellen trying to figure out what to do and see if we could find anything. My son was pretty impressed with it but we didn’t find too much. Back on the mainland, he started watching videos on YouTube of people playing it, and worked out what to do. Also he’s nine, so of course he just experimented with pressing buttons on it and, bingo, figured the whole thing out. It’s been played quite a bit since and while interest in it isn’t quite at the obsessive levels in our household that it was in July, there’s still an enthusiasm to “go and walk the dog and join a gym” from both husband and son (and i’m not talking about a gym where you do exercise, unless you count furiously tapping your finger on a mobile phone screen as exercise!)

I don’t really play it very much myself mainly because it drains the battery quite a bit on my phone, but it’s quite fun to see a wee cheeky Pokemon in your kitchen or in the street using the AR option, although my son seems to prefer to have AR turned off and just play it in the computer game world.

One thing that winds us up about Pokemon Go is that if you live outwith a city, there’s so much less to find! It’s a real shame actually; when we go into Edinburgh we’re all blown away how many pokemon you come across and how many pokestops there are! Go 10 miles out of the city and there’s hardly anything! Rubbish! So it would be great if they could improve this – it’s all virtual afterall so why is there less to catch in rural areas?

A recent upgrade to the game has meant that you can see exactly where a pokemon is – i.e. you can see that there’s a Pikachu at the war memorial round the corner and head there and catch it! That makes it a lot more fun than just knowing that one is “nearby” – in fact it makes it a lot more like Geocaching!

It has certainly encouraged my son to go outside for dog walks a bit more that’s for sure!

I’m interested in trying google AR so might invest in a viewer so that i can try it out although at present i’m not sure what i would do with it.

Thing 17: Geocaching

“Better than Pokémon”

Says my 9 year old! Wow this was so much fun, how did I never really pay attention to what this is? I’d heard of it but just not really appreciated how good it would be. 

So I downloaded the app and watched a couple of videos as I wasn’t sure how it worked and wanted to know more. The videos were short and helpful. 

We then grabbed the dog and our coats and headed out to the one nearest our house. Had nearly given up (was looking on a lampost) but then suddenly saw what looked like a rusty bolt attached onto the bottom of a railing by side of road! We wrote our initials and the date inside and then read up from the app about the historical connection to the location. 

Bitten by the Geocaching bug, despite freezing cold weather, we then headed off to find another; this second one was marked as XS in size.  Good grief we thought, the first one we found was tiny! Could you get smaller? Oh yes you can apparently!

Both times we had to use tweezers to get the logbook out. Luckily I have some on my keyring! Even using the “hint” on the app, I was close to giving up on the second one. I started to think ‘maybe someone has stolen it or perhaps it’s blown away’ and I probably would have given up if it wasn’t that someone had logged it as found only a few days before. 
But my 9 year old persevered and eventually found it, totally totally hidden and held on magnetically again to the underside of a bench this time. 

Loved this Thing A LOT. Can’t wait to go Geocaching again and we’re even talking of planting and logging our own!