It’s all useful stuff!

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It never ceases to amaze me that sometimes it is as if there is no news at all and then there is more than you want! Ummm, what shall I write about first – I know, something simple.

Movenote is a simple little app that gives you the opportunity to put not only voice-overs on your PowerPoint but face-overs too. The video at the end of the short post here provides an example for you.

I really like this next one. Learn how to speak and cook Italian with MIT! There are links to lots more free learning on this OpenCulture site too.

Not quite sure how this next piece of technology will make things more secure but anything that gets rid of the dreaded PASSWORD gets my vote. This article from the famous Forbes journal explains how Google intends to get rid of passwords. Keep your eyes open for it, it could be our salvation πŸ™‚

Another thing I hate as much as passwords are cables. They are everywhere, all over the desk, under your feet, arrgh! Wireless technology has helped a little but we need more – like this idea from Apple. I do hope they hurry up with this, I can’t wait.

This article from Technology Review is just mind-blowing. At last the age of technology is about to provide something amazingly useful, wonderful, fantastic! When someone says, “we are going to cure the ills of the world” you never quite believe them – may be this time they really mean it.

I was very pleased when I read this article. For me the quote from Paul Kagame at the end of the article is what Digital Literacy is all about. These are such good actions, I do hope he does not let anyone down.

I can’t wait to try this new technology from Intel, it looks such fun. The more serious applications of this, “perceptual computing” are endless – coming from a health background I can see how this is going to improve online healthcare enormously.

You might think I have moved a long way from Digital Literacy but all of this is what being literate is about. Knowing what is happening in the world and being prepared to make use of that knowledge is what being literate enables us to do. And we can have some fun too – here is a 12 days of Christmas list from ALISS, some of it is a bit gruesome but there are funny and interesting pieces too πŸ™‚

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Brain fodder

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Here are just a few items to keep you from falling asleep over your breakfast πŸ™‚

This article was written for teachers but you should take a look at the ideas it has for using Twitter in the classroom (lecture hall, etc). Do you agree with the suggested ideas, is this how you would like to see Twitter used, are there other ways you would like Twitter to be used as part of your academic studies? Post a comment and let me know, or take your ideas to your lecturers.

If you use Evernote you might like to try using LiveMinutes with it instead of using Google Docs to collaboratively produce documents.

Do take a look at Doodlecast Pro, this is a great App for adding interest and improving explanations in your presentations. There is a smashing little video on how to use Doodlecast in this article from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

I’ve just given you more to look at and think about and we just get more and more turn up on our desktops everyday. This is a really interesting article about how all this clutter affects our thinking and how to manage this clutter that is created in our busy days.

Some of you might be fascinated by this article about the symbols we use everyday, it might also help you to remember what they stand for.

This one is for those of you who are really interested in technology. Here is a little tiny, very cheap, easy to assemble computer kit. I can’t wait for mine to arrive πŸ™‚

Now what?

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We have looked briefly at what digital literacy might mean for you. Just to finish off these last four weeks here are two videos from employers. You will need to login to Uniview with your University username and password to view them – the first is from the Worcester Evening News the second is from SmartMonkeys. Now we are back to me providing interesting and useful links for you. I hope you enjoy what I have for you today πŸ™‚

In this article Alex Walsh is writing about keeping her own Professional Portfolio and how helpful it was in helping her to get a job. Alex is a teacher so this will be particularly interesting for those in Education but I think we can all learn from her. In a similar vein, Colleen Lee writes about how she maintains her Personal Learning Network (PLN), keeping things organised is about more than just the tidiness aspect. Both a Professional Portfolio and a PLN are tools that can help you think critically.

If you are not quite sure what thinking critically is all about this five-minute video on YouTube should help you make sense of it. If you would like a quick way into online resources to boost your critical thinking, take a look at these lists provided by the LSE.

Now for some interesting stuff to finish off with. You might like to look at these apps that can create PDF from your mobile phone. If you are into Greek Odyssey you might like this article on various translations – makes for good listening. If you are into natural sciences and the human genome this article from National Geographic is very interesting. Finally, but by no means least, here is something for all of you who are struggling with your PhD studies.

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.

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™‚

Another Academic Year

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Here we are back again after the summer – how did it manage to go so fast? As this is the beginning of semester I thought it might be useful if I started right from the beginning again. I’m not going to just start right from the beginning again, though that would make my job really easy πŸ™‚ Things have changed quite a bit since I first started writing this blog – for one thing people are becoming more aware of what this digital stuff is all about and there are more digital literacy resources around. So over the next three or four weeks I thought I would bring some of the new resources to you.

As usual this blog will go out about once a week. SAM the hub for all the University digital news, goings on, policies, guidelines and resources will go out about once a month. The Scoop.it site, Calling all Lecturers for those interested in education, goes out at least daily. QuileR, the site for short training videos, is reviewed whenever I get a request for training or updates in a certain programme from either students, lecturers or other members of staff. Do contact me if you want to know more about QuileR. I put a message out on the ILS Facebook page whenever there is a publication.

Before I finish for today I thought you might be interested in Picadilo. Picadilo is a photo editing programme you can use online, it has plenty of tools to play with so try it out and send me your results.

From cringing to ridiculous :)

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Here I am back again after my break, keen to bring you all sorts of exciting things – well interesting things at least πŸ™‚

You might laugh or cringe over these videos from the EU about a family called the Clikkers. These videos are part of the EU programme to inform people about digital literacies, they are quite good really but probably aimed at a slightly younger age group than the one here at the University.

We all need to learn more about our digital footprints.This slide show and it’s accompanying Word document provide some useful advice and handy urls to help us find out more about these footprints. We all have them and, as this other video points out, we have them from before we are born. This next video demonstrates how it can all go horribly wrong!

Usually when things go horribly wrong it’s because people have not had a chance to develop good digital literacy skills; this article from the BBC is a good case in point. Everyone in our society needs to develop these new skills, if you do not have them you lose out. The digital revolution has left some people stranded with old skills, those of us who do have digital literacy skills need to help those who don’t. Right, that’s enough preaching now for something completely different πŸ™‚

People often wonder not just what avatars are and why we use them. This e-book, “The use of avatars” has loads of information about avatars and how they are used. Do you have any avatars? What do you use them for?

Have a look at the Oxford University, Internet Institute. There are loads of podcasts and videos here about modern technologies related to the Internet. Subjects include things like, “Facebook: The Strength of Weak Ties”, “The Changing Business of Software” and “The Life Story of a Pioneer: From Hi-tech to Philanthropy” and lots, lots more.

Now some things for a little bit of fun πŸ™‚ First Padlet, you might remember this as Wallwisher. It is a great way of sharing and planning with friends online. Go and have a look and try it out. Next is something called Blubox, if you take loads of pictures and want to scrunch them up so they fit in a smaller space Blubox is for you. Blubox is a photo compressor which claims to compress your photos by 90% whilst maintaining the resolution. Have a go and let me know if it works as well as it claims – I have loads of photos I need to compress! Finally, I bring you bomomo – I don’t think it does anything useful, it just makes pretty pictures but it is good fun πŸ™‚

For new and old alike

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I realised that I had not provided anything for some of our newer students on the last few posts. So today here is something for the newbies πŸ™‚

I was wandering around the web as I often do and came across these really useful short animations from Jisc Netskills web2practice. If you are not quite sure what Twitter, RSS, etc are or why you should use them these videos explain it all for you.

Many of you already know how to find Creative Commons resources on the web. For you this Creative Commons New Zealand page is just one more useful link for you, for the newbies this is something you should add to your RSS feed πŸ™‚ Here are 7 Ways to Find Creative Commons Images.

I’m sure some of you are already using WordPress for writing your free blog. These two videos I found on YouTube explain how to set up a web site using WordPress and how to make it a commercial site. Pretty obviously this is not free but if you are thinking of setting up your own business online this is a cheap (about Β£25 per year), but good way, of doing it.

Mozilla, the web browser people, are developing a web literacy standard, i.e. the basics of what you should know and be able to do on and with the web. The competencies come under the headings of Exploring, Building and Connecting. If you are not sure of what this involves, take a look at this page and see if you are able to do all this stuff.

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™‚

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