The Changing Face of Facebook

AS one of more than 750 million users of Facebook you may have noticed a whole lot of changes to the user interface in the past week or two.

Facebook has taken on all its competitors by incorporating all the greatest features from their competitors into their network.

They have taken ideas from websites like Google+, Tumblr and even Twitter. You will see timelines and also newsfeeds quite prominent on your new Facebook front page.

It is not often that we see that a successful network make such huge changes to their user interface.

It is usually done when things aren’t working well, but I think we can all agree that Facebook is very successful.

A major change is that Facebook used to be a very private social network by default, now the default has changed to a very public network.

You need to now realise that all your content on Facebook is very public, except if you were to choose not to make it public.

You do still have all the options available to make it private.

One feature that I think will be great in Facebook is the Timeline profile option.

Go take a look at what you can expect at

You will soon have the option to have a true “life-page”.

This feature will be available soon, but you can go and take a look at the features.

Facebook is no longer a very easy network.

The learning curve has been raised, but with so many features and options you may need a course just to get all the settings set.

If you do not want to share your life with the world you will need to check your settings.

More exposure needed in Bloemfontein

THE advances in educational technology are amazing. The showcase that I wrote about last week was a huge success and it was wonderful to see the latest technology being showcased in Bloemfontein.

As I wrote last week, the showcase invited four companies to exhibit their latest products and also to give a short presentation about their products and the uses thereof. Something I think we need to realise is that if we do not invite innovative technologies to the Free State we will be left behind. We are centrally located in our wonderful country, but the technological hubs of our country seem to be Cape Town and Johannesburg. We are merely a stopover on route from one to the other. And that is only if they travel by road.

Whatever happened to the computer fairs that used to be presented in Bloemfontein? We are living in a technology-based society where all we do are either technology driven or enhanced. How can we get companies to see Bloemfontein as a destination for technology instead of just a stopover from one technology hub to the next? We have two universities and many other educational institutions.

I am not just talking about technology in education, but in all spheres of our lives. I am currently looking at applications for the iPad for home automation. Did you know that with the right hardware and switcher systems you can control every light, fan, television, hi-fi and geyser in your house through a little app that runs on your iPad? You can also control all of these things from your iPhone or other smart phone.

These are things we are not seeing as we are not lucky enough to have regular technology shows in Bloemfontein. I spoke to some of the companies last week and they said that if they got invited they would love to come and exhibit their wares. Someone just needs to invite them. So here is a business opportunity for someone. Contact these vendors, get a hall and start something in Bloemfontein!


Technology Showcase for Educators

THE past few weeks I have been writing quite a bit about educational technology and innovations.

I think this is due to the fact that I am working quite hard in this area at the moment exploring new technologies and the applications of these technologies to enhance the teaching and learning experiences of both the student and the lecturer/teacher.

For the past few months I have been working on the development of an Active Learning Centre to be implemented at the Central University of Technology (CUT), Free State. This type of classroom is often referred to as a Smart Classroom or a Classroom of the Future. I think it is vital for educators to use technology in their teaching. Even if it is just sending emails to students to remind them of a test the following day or maybe to send them a link to content online that could be of value.

Next week the CUT will, as part of its 30 year celebrations, host quite a number of showcases. I have put together one of these showcases on 20 September. There will be a number of presentations including my presentation explaining the development of the Active Learning Centre. During the day a number of educational technology providers, including Apple and Smart Technologies, will be showing some of their innovative products. I would like to invite all educators or technology enthusiasts to join us. You can attend the day for free. If you would like me to email you the program please email me at and I will forward it to you. .Nico Baird is a new media expert and can be contacted at or visit


From Blogging to Glogging!

LAST week I attended a number of workshops at the University of the Free State. In the past whenever I attended one of these workshops there would always be someone promoting blogging in education. This time I was surprised that blogging was not presented as a great tool, but rather glogging. Yes it is not a typing error, I did say glogging.

If you like scrapbooking you will love Glogster ( The website can be used for you to create your own online “scrapbook”. You can add all your photos, videos, memories, even sounds of your life to the page and easily arrange and manipulate it to form a beautiful collage. You can arrange and resize images, videos and even rotate and stack images on top of each other. You only realise how much you are able to do with it after you have viewed a few of the demo pages that are available on Glogster.

I think this is probably one of the greatest tools for educators who want their students to create a themed website by researching a topic. Glogster knows this and there is even an educational category on the website.

I must tell you that for individual users the creation of a page is still free but there are options with more features etc. that you will need to pay for.

You will, however, be able to create great things with the free version.

If you are a teacher, you should really use it for your next assignment. Your students will love you for it! But as I said, if you love to scrapbook or express yourself creatively and even if you just feel arty, then this is a great tool to explore.

Nico Baird is a new media expert and can be contacted at or visit

Open Educational Resources

THIS week I attended the annual Nadeosa (National Association of Distance Education and Open Learning in South Africa) conference in Johannesburg and as always the conference did not dissapoint.

The conference is one of the few where they charge very little, do not give you loads of gifts in your conference bag but deliver on quality of content.

I have found the past few years that the higher the conference is priced, the more gifts you will get to make up for the lack of good quality content.

Each session that I attended at this conference taught me something new and of value.

I wonder how many of the educators in the Free State realise how many resources are available to them for free?

I have often heard it said that teachers are struggling to get resources to use in class.

This is true for both school teachers and higher education lecturers.

There are a vast number of open educational resources out there. Locally produced and also from the international community.

Locally for school teachers I would recommend the Department of Education website which you will find at On the right hand side of the website you will find a link to Workbooks. Here you will find many workbooks which you can download and use in your teaching.

Other open education resources that are available can be found at the following websites:

OER Africa at, MIT open courseware at and also if you want great innovative talks you should also visit TED at

Don’t forget that you can also get access to great video resources directly from

There are loads of open resources available for you to use in your daily educational endeavours. The main thing to remember is that you are allowed to use these resources free of charge. You can now have the best content available to you to use in your teaching.