Networking and Collaboration

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You always hear people going on about networking but what does that really mean and why is it considered so important?

We never only learn on our own, there are usually other people involved. They might form part of a class, be work colleagues or family and friends but they all influence what and how we learn. This video from Denison University in the USA is three years old but it is inspiring to hear how the students talk about learning how to network online. The wider the community we engage with the more chance there is for our learning to be honed by others. Basically that is what networking is all about, you find other people who have similar interests, you talk about those interests and, as a result, you learn. As you learn so do others learn from you, they also learn about you. So before you start networking you need to think about what it is that you want people to learn about you.

You need to be seen as friendly but professional, honest but not to the point of being rude and you need to be positive but not full of your own importance. You need to decide how you want to appear to others, this blog tells you about ten words you can cut from your writing if you want your argument to be more forceful. If you are trying to present a less formal personality you would want to leave some of these words in your writing; look to see how others write before you start. Be careful what you say and what you say about other people – let this video be a warning. Of course you also have to consider the law relating to what you do online. You might like to try out Accidental outlaw, a quiz about the law and online writing. One way to start networking is by blogging, like Laura Pasquini who writes about studying for her PhD. You could join discussions on Twitter, this might be with a support group such as #phdchat, it could be following a person who works in the your subject area, such as Richard Branson (if you are a business student) or a company such as TechSmith (if you are a computing student). You could join Facebook too and then link all your networking sites together thus enlarging your network. People often call this type of setup a Personal Learning Network (PLN).

You do not need to join in any discussions at the beginning, in fact it is better to lurk for a while so you can learn about the culture of the group you have joined. If you do not know how to join in here are a few tips:

  • If you do not have anything to say don’t say anything
  • Develop your listening skills
  • If you are not sure what someone means, ask them
  • Ask interesting questions about the site topic/subject area
  • Give helpful and interesting answers, do not use mundane phrases such as, “I totally agree”
  • Try to give only positive answers (this can be challenging), if you cannot be positive do not say anything
  • Do not comment or reply when you are angry
  • Provide people with links to useful sites/information
  • Do not use humour/sarcasm, it can very often misfire or be misunderstood
  • If you do say something humourous, remember to put a smiley, πŸ™‚ , so people know you are not serious

In the next post I’ll be talking more about employability and how it is linked to digital literacy. If there is anything you would like to have explained further do let me know, especially if you would like me to put a video into Quiler for you.


Who knows you?

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We all think we know everything there is to know about the online aspects of our lives but I am constantly finding helpful tips about managing my own data and image. So I’m going to carry on with the idea of the Digital Footprint in this post and see if there isn’t something of interest I can turn up for you.

Just take a look at this video – it’s really good – by Tom Scott, who is a sort of digital literacy journalist. Once you have watched the video ask yourself if Tom could do the same thing with your Facebook page? If you feel a little worried by this video, instead of worrying go and look at the Facebook Help site. There’s loads of information here about how to control who gets to know you and your friends in Facebook. Look at your other Networking sites and check their Help pages for Privacy and Security advice too.

For some general good advice on how to keep your computer/mobile phone/tablet from letting in unwanted attention your should look at this video from Channel 4 News. It provides some very basic advice which can be applied to any networking you do, such as:

  • Keep your personal details out of any profile you create (put in the minimum required)
  • Check your privacy settings are at the level you need
  • Periodically check your “likes”/”friendships” to make sure nothing fishy has occurred
  • Make sure you update your internet browser software (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer etc)
  • Make sure you update your operating system regularly (Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux, etc)
  • Install and regularly update some reputable anti-virus software

If you have any problems sorting out your privacy or security settings do contact me – I might not know the answer straight away but I can usually find out πŸ™‚

Summer siesta

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So here we are – the last post of this academic year. Students and lecturers are starting to pack up which leaves the campus free to be invaded by builders and other such people. Backstage, where no one can see them, people are furiously preparing for next semester.

One of our students has taken advantage of some University supported work experience in Australia. Lauren is studying Digital Film Production here at the University on the Screenwriting course and whilst in Melbourne is writing a blog about her experiences. Follow her progress and let her know that we are thinking about her enjoying all that lovely Aussie sunshine πŸ™‚

Why not get blogging/Tweeting/Facebooking like Lauren and let us know what you are getting up to over the summer break. Give me the link to your publications and in September I’ll devise a prize for the person who gets the most comments over the summer.

Happy holidays everyone πŸ™‚

The joys of writing?

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Like anyone who maintains a regular blog input I must (somewhere in my psyche) enjoy writing. There are times when writing is very easy, sometimes the muse completely eludes me and sometimes it’s a really up-hill, frustrating task. In my wanders round the metaverse I have found a few items on writing that I’d like to share with you. One ‘cos it gives me something to write about and two ‘cos I think you’ll find it interesting and useful πŸ™‚

This article from is about how to get over social media writers’ block. It’s a bit different from what you and I might do as it’s coming from a business background rather than an academic one. There’s no reason why we can’t learn from these folks though. Chris Abraham the writer of the post knows what he’s talking about – at least, what I mean is, his experiences coincide with mine.

Gradhacker often has useful posts on writing (as well as loads of other types of help). I particularly like this one, Your Academic Twidentity, you do need to know how to write for Twitter. It is a different skill from writing your blog or your thesis. Do read Andrea’s post and the one she directs you to at the end, How to Hack it on Twitter, it’s all really good advice – especially the one about following #phdchat.

Of course, as always, I direct you to Thesis Whisperer. A great blog, run by people with lots of experience in academic writing. Provides a platform for posts and good discussions with other PhD students, PhDs and people with experience in publishing. I like this post on different approaches to writing from February by “Ben” from the Literature Review HQ.

Literature Review HQ has a forum for your questions and lots of tips, like this one on finding your literature review theme.

Finally, don’t for get PhD2Published. The site is a bit bright but I find that helps on a dull day or when I’m feeling fed-up with writing πŸ™‚ Lots and lots of interesting stuff to look through and prevent your from facing that writing task πŸ™‚

Developing Digital Literacies

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I was going to write about something completely different but then I saw the Tweet in the #jiscdiglit Twitter stream from CosmoCat. I’m not sure if many/any of you are aware that JISC is currently running a Programme called Developing Digital Literacies (unfortunately we were a little too young to join in). The Programme comes under JISC Cetis and on the Programme homepage it says,

“We’re working with colleges and universities to embed core digital skills into the curriculum. By digital literacy we mean those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society: for example, the skills to use digital tools to undertake academic research, writing and critical thinking; as part of personal development planning; and as a way of showcasing achievements.”

Which is, more or less, what we are trying to do here at Worcester. (I must say I really dislike the JISC homepages their new sites are much nicer. Have a look at the range of projects in the programme) What CosmoCat drew my attention to was Sheila’s work blog, which provides an excellent round-up of how the programme is progressing so far and what is happening with each of the projects. You can get a good idea of what it is like to work on one of these projects by looking at the blogs from them.

Do go and look at all the information in the links above as it will give you a better idea of what this blog and the Digital Literacy Services in general are all about:)

Connected – World Wide

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I was talking to a colleague this morning and we were saying how exciting it is to know that you can be connected to people all over the world – at the click of a mouse you can be connected to Australia and America at the same time (if they are awake that is). Are you connected all over the world? Let us know – we’ll work out who has the furthest connection and give you a little prize:)

If you want to get more connected you have to meet people. You might ask why on earth do I want to meet strangers – well sometimes, in fact quite often, strangers who are interested in the things you are intersested in are quite helpful (and, of course, interesting). Get out there start a blog, join Twitter, join Facebook, join, join Flickr, join Second Life, etc, etc. Join them all together so that friends from one area meet friends from another. Here, get started with the help from this blog post at, “Blogging about the web”.

I was at a UCISA event last Wednesday and was very impressed by what some universities are doing with social media. I think the best example was this one from Imperial College London. Amongst other things they are using Storify to create a single entity from pieces they gather on special days or occassions – like graduation for example. Anyone want to have a go?

Making friends and influencing people

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I had a marvellous time on Tuesday afternoon when I met up with Michelle Rogers from Early Childhood Studies. Michelle is one of those people who has loads of enthusiasm and very quietly makes interesting things happen. We nattered for ages about the things she has been doing with the students she works with and the very interesting technology she has to play with. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring you some examples of what Michelle is doing in the not too distant future. If you can’t wait for that you’ll have to contact her yourself πŸ™‚

This post from The Thesis Whisperer should encourage all of you to go mobile. Dr Inger Mewburn is the writer of this blog as well as the author of numerous publications about research education. There are 20 replies to this blog at the moment so there should be lots of ideas for you to pick up about mobile learning and working – why not add your own reply whilst you’re there.

I have some more toys for you to play with this weekend. The first is Diagramly, it’s fun, it’s easy to use, it’s online and it’s free. I get really fed-up with Word at times, especially their awfully inflexible diagram tools. I’ve used a few different diagram programs, I think I’ll try giving this one a try too. Another useful tool is Citebite where you can link to a specific quote on a web page. Very useful if, like me, you read a lot of pages and can never remember just where it was you found that one interesting little nugget. A similar program is Awesome Highlighter – try them both and let me know which one you think is best.

Finally we are trying out a site for Lecturers called Calling all Lecturers. I try to put a little something on the site each morning – you can comment on it, send it to Twitter of Facebook or even start your own site and re-scoop the things you like. Let me know if you like it and what other topics you might like included on it.

Analysing the web?

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What have I found for you today – let’s see. Oh yes I’ve just added Networked Researcher to the Blog Roll. I really like this blog it’s interesting, useful and witty – just the ticket.

I’ve been talking with a friend today about things like web analytics. I think that some of these sites I’ve visited will appeal to IT and Business students. This site .eduGuru, a site for the Higher Education community, makes it fun to learn about stuff like Google Analytics Filters. I also looked at this site, eduStyle that promotes the redesign of university and college web sites. Yesterday I mentioned Protovis for picturing the web of Twitter conversation. This helps you to visualise the way in which people are connected and the people who have most influence in a particular community at a particular time. Rather helpful if you are an inexperienced researcher and you need to know who the important people are in your field. Another influence measuring tool is Klout. If you are trying to measure just how much influence you are having in a particular community – quite useful if you are trying to get your research or museum/collection noticed.

Finally, I’d just like to leave you with some social media tools to play with over the weekend. Here are 10 Social Media Tools for you – some might even prove useful πŸ™‚ See you next week – have a good weekend.

So much to see, so little time :)

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Well now, I’m finding so many interesting things that I want to share with you! For the first of these interesting things I thought I’d share with you PhD2Published, in their own words, “It offers a wealth of hints and tips for early career academics on how to get published as well as providing discussion on the future of academic publishing in the e-age.” So if you’ve just finished or are writing up your PhD thesis this is a page for you. I wish it had been around when I got started!

The next item is another blog but this one is specifically for our visual arts people. “How to use social media Part I” followed closely by, “How to use social media Part II“. Part I is on blogging and Part II is on Twitter but Charlotte Frost’s page (Part II) and the Knowledge Bank (Part I) both contain a lot of useful information for you.

If some of you are tired of using text to communicate with friends why not try this, “Voice Thread” (I love its Popeye cartoon clip) it looks like great fun but I think it could also be rather useful. Have a go and let me know how you get on πŸ™‚

Oh yes and about the Guardian live discussion, I still have more to share with you tomorrow. If you are interested in the discussion itself do look at my other blog where I’m pulling out a different topic/thread from the discussion each day.


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It seems a bit duff writing about the same bloke on both my blogs but I really enjoy the stuff he writes about. I was very interested in this particular piece of research, “Got Facebook?” when it first came out. I’m sure that those who read it, like me, were really glad to at last have something good said about social networking sites and Facebook in particular. I don’t use Facebook all that much myself – the way I work fits better with things like Twitter and – but it certainly has a lot to offer.

I have found that I do a lot more socialising now than when I didn’t do any social networking. I find out about new reports, discussions, news quicker than I did before and, more importantly, have a chance to add a comment or join in a discussion far more often than I did before. There is a live discussion going on in the Guardian, “Breaching the digital divide: How could HE better use the Internet“. A very interesting discussion with respected panel members. Not only is it live, you can also read it after the event.

I wish more people would take notice of all the interesting things people are talking about in relation to Digital Literacy – such an exciting time in HE.

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