How to have Employability

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Employability – the knack we all need to have, how to get employed and stay employed. Ok, it’s not the most important thing in life but it’s pretty high up on the list of “must haves”. Besides the basics of knowing your subject and being able to apply that knowledge, there are other things that make a potential employer offer you a job – and these days, it all starts way before the interview.

As I have mentioned in the handout on Employability in SAM, increasingly employers are searching the Internet to find information about potential employees – 68% of employers say they have hired someone because of what they found on their social network – 61% of employers have rejected an applicant after finding information about them on their social networks. The social networks employers most commonly screen are: 76% Facebook, 53% Twitter, 48% LinkedIn. If you are hoping to get a first class job, you need a good degree and a good online identity.

You want to avoid the type of experience shown on this video – this type of “youthful indiscretion” should have been dealt with. If you cannot remove or publicly apologise for your behaviour you should at least try to drown it with lots of examples of your good behaviour. This sort of problem is not as common as people think, it is more usual to find that people either have no, or very little, presence in social media. Often people use social media for connecting with friends and family but do not think about how to use it to help them get a job. Let’s rectify that.

Aimee Bateman is quite well-known for helping people develop their online persona, here she is at University of Westminster during their, “Get the Digital Edge” week. You might also like to look at Aimee’s own web site. The University of Westminster videos are a little difficult to see but the content is very useful. This video is about reputation, the person talking is Andrew Rigby who helps companies manage their reputation. Reputation management is really no different for individuals so do make notes about his tips.


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™‚

First steps

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As I said in the last post, I’m going to start from the beginning. In Digital Literacy there are many beginnings but I feel that the best place to start in this instance is with your Digital Footprint. I know that many of you are probably tired of hearing that phrase but as you are a member of the University community, those of you who know all about Digital Footprints can help those in our community who are not so familiar with it.

To start with here is a video about your Digital Dossier, e.g. the compilation of all the tracks your Digital Footprints have made. Although this video was first posted in 2008, I think it is quite good at explaining just how we make (or others make for us) Digital Footprints, understanding how it happens is even more important today than it was in 2008. Digital Footprints are not something to be scared about but we do need to be aware of them. We need to know how to make attractive footprints that we can be pleased that people look at.

A blog from America called Your Digital Footprint is rather interesting too. As far as Digital Literacy is concerned many countries in the world are all experiencing the same sort of thing so don’t dismiss this just because it is American.

Try searching for yourself online, you can do a Google Search or you might find a PeekYou search turns something up.

Start thinking about how you are going to manage your Digital Footprint from now on. Write down a plan of what you think you ought to do and then see how it compares to what you read about on the blog in the coming weeks – hopefully we will be able to give you some good tips πŸ™‚

Publish and be damned?

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I try very hard to keep this blog fairly light but there are times when I just have to speak out and this is one of them.

There is so much going on about Open Access, publishing, copyright, etc that I felt I must write something about it all. Lots of us get very cross about everything involved with publishing – it’s not surprising. For some academics it is part of their livelihood, for others it is about getting their research recognised in the “correct” way, for most other people it is something really annoying that gets in the way of getting their job done and for some it is an ethical issue that strikes at the core of their beliefs. So not a small issue for any of us. As the title to the blog today implies, this post is all about getting published.

As most of you know I’m a follower of The Thesis Whisperer, otherwise known as Dr Inger Mewburn. Inger has guests on the blog who write some very interesting posts, I have found this current post (To Posh to Promote) and the comments that follow fascinating. Evelyn Tsitas, the author, is known for being outspoken – which isn’t a bad thing. I would love to read her PhD thesis as it’s on werewolves, vampires and the nature of being human (wow I would like to have written on that). Inger’s own post on the PhD2Published blog is also critical of those who will not/cannot engage with modern technologies to promote themselves and their ideas. I agree a lot with most of what Evelyn and Inger say but I think we should give far stronger support to a call for universities to help, people to develop modern communication skills. People should have the opportunity to experience all sorts of communication in university whether it is blogging, micro-blogging, streaming video or 3D communication environments.

Another of my favourite blogs is from the LSE (London School of Economics). I nearly always find their posts to be extremely good reads, as I have this time. This post, The politics of the public eye, by Melonie Fullick, a PhD student at York University, Canada, is excellent. One of the reasons that people do not blog or use other modern communication media is because they are frightened that “bad things” will happen. Melonie’s post acknowledges this fear, discusses it and argues for the support that a good online, social network give. Melonie also identifies the elephant in the room – the question of what universities and academics are here for – aren’t we the ones who are supposed to, ask the difficult questions, be controversial, open up issues for discussion?

Now, to get away from being quite so serious here are a few things I think you will like to look at. First a video from the Open Access publishers BioMed Central. If you are not sure what all this Open Access and research stuff is about this video will help you understand it – a very good summary of OA from the RCUK supported by Springer. Next on my list of interesting things is a little promotion for Snagit. I find this little programme really useful, I use it all the time for all sorts of stuff – have a go. After you have tried out Snagit you can read these two articles from JISC Inform – great stuff, easy to read, very interesting. There is this piece on Learning in Adverse Weather (I just love that title lol), then some future gazing with, Coming soon… Can you see yourself using any of the things they mention? If you haven’t heard of the Khan Academy you should have done. This is their YouTube channel – see if you can find a session here that is useful to you, I bet you will. Finally a slide show for you about Maximising the potential of your network. Most of the slides are self-explanatory so, even though it does not have a voice over, this is one slide show I don’t mind promoting.

Have a lovely Easter πŸ™‚

What can’t you do online?

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I’ve found quite a hotchpotch of things for you all today. In fact I didn’t find the first item, that came via Paul Williams.

This Prezi is from Royal Holloway, University of London. A great resource for research students and undergrads alike. I’m sure you will like it and the funny video near the end πŸ™‚

I’m guess by now that everyone knows what Creative Commons Licenses are. The CC organisation gets involved in all sorts of things like the Open Data Hackathon earlier in February and the EasyBib Webinar on Thursday 21st. On the site the time says 4pm ET, for us that means 21:00 hrs (9pm). Even if you don’t join in do go and listen to everyone talking about the Open movement.

And now for something completely different πŸ™‚ If any of you are interested in Web Analytics, for example finding out more about your own footprint in Twitter or you want to do some research about networking/social media, you might like to have a look at some of these programmes. Some of them are aimed at commercial sites but that is no reason why they cannot prove useful to people in HE. Some are free – check them out:

    • TwitSprout will collect information and create diagrams from Twitter and Facebook
    • Netlytic will find and automatically analysis and discovery social networks from electronic communication such as emails, forums, blogs and chats.
    • followerwonk will find out all about your own Twitter account
  • There are lots more but I think the above will give you some insight into the sort of thing that can be done πŸ™‚

    Finally something which I think is charming. It shows just how comfortable we are all becoming with technology, the children in this post are not just Digitally Literate they are Digitally Fluent πŸ™‚

    Who, What, umm identity?

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    Today I have brought together seven items that are all, in one way or another, connected to identity. Do have a go at some of them they really are quite good fun πŸ™‚

    First up is Spezify, a visual search engine that will search for any picture with your name on it. Do you know what pictures there are of you online? Go and search for yourself and find out just how visual you are!

    Next comes Pipl another search engine, this one searches for anything about you online, or for anyone else you want to search for.

    By now you should have started to realise how this all connects to questions of identity. So first I looked at how our persona appears online. Now I’m looking at Second Life which provides the opportunity to create a different persona. For those of you who don’t know Second Life is a 3D communication device/social media tool where you can have meetings, or get together with friends to create a special online environment. For those of you new to Second Life (SL) here is the most recent video on how to shop for things in SL. One of the things that people have often complained about with SL is that you can’t access it on a mobile device – well you can now! Lumiya can be run on any Android device, tablet or mobile phone. You can’t do any building in SL with Lumiya but you can do everything else.

    Just what else will researchers come up with? Well one of the things they came up with was touch sensitive devices (haptics or haptic technology). Moving on from there they are now working on how to add touch sensitive technology to telemedicine. So you will not just see and talk to your doctor, nurse or specialist online but you will also be able to feel them! eeek! Read about what the researchers at University of Texas are getting up to.

    I could not resist bringing you this video spoof of how your grandparents use the Internet. At first the video seems dreadful but real but as soon as the presenter says his name is Bob you know it’s a spoof. A really great laugh but it does get you thinking πŸ™‚ It’s on the Digital Tattoo site from the University of British Columbia, excellent site, you might like to take a look round that too.

    Last an old but interesting article from Heloukee on the Paradox of Openness. Yet another view of identity or identities online that should give you some food for thought.

    Joining in … what?

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    Here I am, back from sunny Italy and missing the warmth like crazy πŸ™‚ Just been looking around to see what has been going on whilst I was away. I have a few things to bring to your attention that you will find worthwhile following up. Some really good stuff from University of Oxford, one of which I first mentioned in the September 24th post.

    Oxford University provide some online activities called, “23 things for Research“. These activities can definitely be used by researchers but are also really useful to students, lecturers and support staff too. If you just want to read what goes on this site that’s fine but you will get a lot more from it if you register and join in. Have some fun with setting up a blog and writing your first post,considering your “personal brand”, using Twitter, RSS feeds and Storify – and that’s just to start with! One of the blogs created by a student is Amy’s Inkwell – I like it, it’s a good start to blog writing.

    Other things you might like to engage with from Oxford University are their videos and podcasts. Many of their podcasts are discipline specific and are really interesting but they do others too. The easiest way to pick these podcasts up is to go to the oxengage Facebook page and look for the links. A video I particularly enjoyed was a talk by Professor Marcus Du Sautoy on how he uses social media – you can see it now on Oxford Podcasts: A podcast which was rather good was, “Would you blog the truth?” by Peter Gill.

    I think you might like this too. It’s about identity in our digital engagements. The item is from a course at Galway and the article is written by Tony Fish.

    ok that’s it for now, see you tomorrow πŸ™‚

    Eyes like poached eggs

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    Right guys just three things for you today ‘cos I have a headache, and eyes like poached eggs.

    The first item is a video (possibly a bit long) from one of the big names in virtual reality, Jeremy Bailenson. Prof. Bailenson is the Director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) at the Stanford University. Bailenson recently wrote a book with Prof. James Blascovich from University of California, called Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Words and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution. In the video Bailenson talks about some of the issues raised in the book – do watch, even just a little of it, it helps in understanding just how far we have travelled in the last few years.

    Next up is Videolicious, this looks like fun. Take a few of your dreadful videos and pictures, pull them together with the aid of this app, put some voice over them and presto! You have something worth showing people πŸ™‚

    Last, I thought I would try to get some feedback from you all. Read this article from Mark Smithers and tell me if you think, “lecture capture the single worst example of poor educational technology use in higher education?” Do you like lecture capture? Read what Mark says and see if you agree with him or not. Your feedback could really help lecturers to give you what you want.

    Getting organised?

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    Well I hope I’m getting organised – does anyone else think I’m getting more organised – on second thoughts don’t answer that πŸ™‚ The other day I started collecting feedback from students in preparation for some new ideas about supporting student’s IT needs. I’ll let you know more about that in a few weeks. It all made me feel as if things are starting to move in the right direction.

    I’m currently preparing for my session with the new research students so I thought I’d write here about some of the stuff we will be talking about. I’ll be drawing on some of my older posts which might seem like cheating but there’s no point in re-writing the information I want to direct the research students to such as the information from the RIN booklet which I wrote about in this post and a few others following. I’m sure some of you other students will find the stuff on those older pages useful too. The first on I’m going to direct you to is Writing, writing writing; contains some useful tips and resources on writing and a post from Networked Researcher blog.

    I suppose that one of the biggest hurdles new researchers have to get over is just getting out there, into public view, in the first place. It’s nerve wracking – hoping you’re presenting yourself in the right way, talking about your research but not giving the punch line away, worrying about copyright (doesn’t everyone), trying to find out which social media are the ones that other researchers use – the questions just go on and on. Let me see if I can tackle some of those questions from a Digital Literacy point of view.

    Presenting yourself in the right way isn’t too difficult. There are some simple things to remember:

    • Be positive – people like it if you either make them feel good or give them something interesting to think about
    • Be generous – give people things, like links to blog or other resources, be generous with your time and friendliness and be generous with your open mindedness
    • Be sincere – if something annoys you there is nothing wrong in saying so (but don’t be miserable about it), be happy but don’t go over the top (definitely don’t blog/Tweet/etc if you have had an alcoholic drink)
    • Be honest – talk about what you are an expert in, if you are just giving your opinion say so, don’t even hint at confidential things you should not be talking about (people won’t trust you in the future)
    • Be yourself – don’t try to be someone you are not, we all have lots of different personas, pick one of those and stick to it online

    Writing online and presenting yourself all takes a little while to get used to so expect to lurk for a while. Follow some really good bloggers such as the Thesis Whisperer. For example look at the this post from that blog – it is all about the transition from being an undergraduate to a postgraduate student. It’s about the Australian education system but a large element of it still applies to us here in the UK – the post doesn’t give you answers but it does help to identify some of the problems you might experience when you first become a postgraduate student. You might even eventually decide to use social media as your research environment like the Networked Researcher did.

    Talking of blogs don’t forget your own Graduate Research blog, it contains lots of useful information that is not normally available to you.

    Don’t forget most blogs provide the opportunity to comment – make use of this, it is a marvellous way to get started and to practise the “voice” you want to use when you write your own blog. Another way of practising your “voice” is to use Twitter, you will learn how to say something relevent in 140 words πŸ™‚ You also get a chance to meet other research students and some smashing researchers and, of course, there is your own Twitter stream (John-Paul can give you the #tag).

    I think that’s enough for now and I really ought to get on with some other work 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:)

    Blogs and Blogging

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    As you can see from the end of my last post I’ve been looking at how different people and universities are using blogs. I really did like the way Imperial had a group of their students blogging. It would be great if we could get our students blogging like this too – any of you game?

    There’s also the way that the University of the Arts in London have created blogs for different parts of their University. The Campus is very widespread, all over London, having these blogs helps to bring them together and let them know about stuff going on everywhere. I don’t think our locations around Worcester are quite so wide spread but you can see how they could get out of touch with one another without the blogs.

    The University of Nottingham also has a similar thing where they have a page that brings together all their blogs. There they even get their Vice Chancellor blogging πŸ™‚ They seem to blog about anything and anything from, “A world in crisis” to a “Geog Blog”.

    This last one I really like. Can’t remember which of my contacts tipped me off to this one but it’s a smashing idea. It’s called Project 365 and people commit to blogging about one thing for a whole year. Go along and have a look at some of the things people have blogged about. If any of you decide to have a go yourselves let me know and we’ll follow your blog from here. Good luck!

    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?

    Ways of communicating

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    I don’t know how much all of you are into metadata but I just had to bring you this smashing little video from some guys at Ghent University. These three guys make metadata sound really interesting (well of course it is).

    Now this is one for our budding researchers doing their PhDs. I keep trying to convince them that they have to get out there and get their names and their research known. This short but sweet post is from the Mobilize this! blog which is, “A research impact blog from Canada’s knowledge mobilization network”. I just have one question – how on earth do you keep 70 people in a pub sober enough to have a discussion?!

    Carrying on with our theme of Communication for this post. JISC fund lots of interesting things, some of the funding comes under the heading of Digitisation and Content. One of the things JISC funds, which comes under e-Content 2011, is the Cataloguing of Kays (Body Image in 100 Years of Kays Worcester) which has nurtured the World of Kays website in the bosom of the ILS family. Go and have your say on the Your stories page and upload a pic of your granny in her new frock πŸ™‚

    You see my little chickadees you have to get out there and get noticed πŸ™‚

    Time and tide get your feet wet

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    I’ve been looking at some stuff about the changing learning and social world, age, technology and our engagement with technology. Well, that’s my job I suppose but it’s also what fascinates me. There has been a lot of debate about Digital Natives and as far as I’m concerned the idea has been proved to be a myth. This article from The Economist comes from last year, it talks about Digital Natives, etc but there are a few other points it raises that make it interesting beyond that boring topic. About halfway through the article it suddenly asks, “What about politics …”? What the author goes on to argue is that the new media people engage with is not making them more politically aware, in fact the author thinks it is all just a superficial sham. Read the article and let me know what you think.

    After I read that article I fell over The Mindset List from Beloit College in America. I think this is very useful, it reminds us that not just every generation but every age views things differently because of what they have grown up with. So each intake of school leavers to University sees the world differently from the previous year’s intake. I think their YouTube video explains it really well – ok it’s American but I’m sure you can see what they are getting at.

    Another YouTube video I found was this one by Lou McGill. I suppose this is really aimed at lecturers but I can think of at least on PhD student who will be interested in viewing it. Having discussed this sort of thing with him over coffee on Monday I guess it could have been what sparked off my ideas for this particular blog post. Lou is not unfamiliar to me but I don’t think it’s wrong of me to say that this video is smashing, it really makes you think about how we teach and how we behave with students. Lou talks about a course she has done online, what she experienced,how it made her feel and how it added to her conceptualisation of Digital Literacy. Excellent stuff.

    I couldn’t resist bringing you this – just look at this cute little computer, a real Thumbelina πŸ™‚ I want one!

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