Times a changin

15 años de Playstation by Dekuwa
Christmas has changed for me over the years, from the excited, little, fresh-faced kid with Subbuteo (and tube of UHU glue) to the worn-out parent, with the jaunty paper hat and half-empty glass of beer.

One of the things that hasn’t changed, at least in our house, is the bumper, double issue Christmas Radio Times. Wouldn’t be Christmas without it. its a wonderful life by s_hermanCheck out some of the older covers, some are so familiar it feels like yesterday that I was thumbing through them to find It’s a Wonderful Life.

Until the deregulation of television listings in 1991, everybody I knew bought the Radio and TV Times (also a double issue at Christmas) The Radio Times published only BBC programmes and the TV Times, only ITV and Channel 4. During the holiday season, to keep track of what was on TV, both had to be read, the unwritten rule being: You must fold them into each other to re-access quickly.

RTAfter 1991, both publications were able to publish programmes from all channels. At this point I dumped the TV Times in favour of the Radio Times (it had the radio listing too, hence the name).

Satellite and Cable services also forced RT to change, moving the Radio information to a separate section near the back and listing digital services on the pages following terrestrial channels.

I began subscribing to cable TV services in about 2001, and with that came a very handy on-screen, programme guide. The guide only shows the next 24 hours of programmes but it’s quick and it’s easy to set reminders, switching channels at the start of the programme. Bundled in is Catch-up TV, BBC iPlayer and TV on Demand, all make by-passing the schedules easy, but I still had to buy the Christmas RT.

This year I took delivery of a HD recordable box. In addition to viewing the programme guide, I can set it to record the selected programme at the push of a button. It can also pause live TV – Nightmare – it’s like Groundhog Day when the kids get hold of it.

Radio Times is also available as a website. The site clearly has more than a hat-tip to the BBC site with a panel-style interface and rounded corners. The schedules have hCalendar microformats (remember them) so you could add your programme watching habits to Google or any other iCal enabled calendar.

micro

This isn’t the first publication to go digital, but I hope they never pull the hard copy like PHPArchitect have just done.

New technology! Bah humbug, give me the Radio Times to fall asleep to on Christmas day every year!

Online Excellence Scholarships

This year we’re launching our first “Online Excellence Scholarship” in a bid to reward students who are excelling in the construction and creative and interesting use of new media. Successful applicants could be upwarded £1,000 over 1 year (for PGCE students) or £2,000 over 3 years (for undergraduates) an attractive bonus for any student.

So how will we judge “excellence”? Well we’re particularly interested in the richness of content, creativity, innovation and/or technical accomplishment shown in the work and whilst most people have a MySpace page or a blog somewhere or other we’ll be looking for things that stand out from the crowd.

With all the web 2.0 technologies and sites available it’s easy enough for those creative and innovative individuals to really make their mark in the online space and we’re looking forward to seeing some of the best examples and awarding the scholarship to someone we feel can really add value to the growing online community. 

Those Weren’t the Days

Browsing the new undergraduate prospectus for 2008, it’s interesting comparing the content to that within the ‘Prospective Students’ area of the corporate website. A few years ago, the two were almost identical in terms of structure and text, but the content appearing online today is independent, written specifically for the web rather than merely ‘borrowed’ from elsewhere.

The most obvious difference between the Edge Hill site ‘now’ and ‘then’ is the amount of text – Jakob Nielsen’s research on writing for the web reveals how few people read word-for-word on the web – but presenting information to prospective students online isn’t just about reducing the word count from conventional writing.

Bulleted lists (describing the application process, for example), tables (displaying fee information) and strong visuals (department tours) help present information in an attractive, user-friendly format but the interactivity of the website is probably where the greatest change has taken place. Podcasts, streaming videos, virtual tours, forums and blogs are now all integral parts of Edge Hill’s online communication and allow current and prospective students to interact in a way which has previously not been possible.

Thankfully the days of getting 30 pages of text in my inbox to ‘go on the website’ seem to have gone!

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