Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Ever Googled yourself? Screen Shot 2013-04-04 at 1.29.42 PM Of course you have… perhaps the question should be more specific: Have you ever Googled yourself and, by using various search tools and terms, discovered more than might pop up on the first screen of 10 items? Recently I had some Year 9 students in my mentor (tutor) group do just this. Their reactions were amusing and revealing; thinking that they knew all this, then discovering how far the rabbit hole went. Rather than coming in on the well-honed negative of “anything bad you do online will be online for life”, I came at it on a different tack. Why not see it in a positive light. Rather than warning about “screwing up on FB”, promote it as a way of setting up your digital identity. On the basis that future employers (and possibly partners?) can and will check you out, why not develop your digital character? Here are three areas and methods to help students see how far their digital footprints go:- –

  • start with the basics: if in a different country to the United States, use the country suffix in the search (e.g. for Australia=.au), if a number of people share your name, use minus (-) to help remove them from the search, particularly if you can identify where they are (such as a State/County/Province or suburb), if it is different from you. Use inverted commas for some or all of the terms.
  • put in past connections: one student discovered that, because he played representative water polo, there were competition results from five years ago that contained his name. He was ten at the time. What hobbies, sporting groups, memberships, clubs and the like do your students have now (or have had in the past)?
  • click on images: there might not be much here worth promoting, as opposed to the likely avalanche of Facebook photos. Maybe look to suggest that developing 2-3 images as profile images (or even fewer) is a good idea. This way the ‘best side’ of you will be the one to come up at the top of the search, because how frequently it has been linked and posted to in the internet.

Then, of course, it becomes a question of setting the students up for the future. In my case, they have between 5-10 years, depending on study choices and opportunities. What this means is that there is time to develop your digital profile. I have students doing community service, volunteering with sporting groups, undertaking their Duke of Edinburgh bronze medallion courses, doing work experience. All of it counts, and, most likely, all of it will be visible for future employers and the like. Encourage the students to find ways of celebrating positive achievements, appropriately and in the right forum, online. Isn’t that a better way of looking at building students’ connections with the internet, rather than trying to fix a problem after the social disaster has occurred?

I thought for a bit about the image that I’ve used here – whether I should avoid using “me” as the example – and realised this is exactly what I’m talking about – if you’d wanted to find this out about me, Google can give you the information is 0.21 seconds. And I’m pretty happy with how my digital self appears…

On Monday I will start my first degree since the early 90s. I’m undertaking a Masters in Education, specialising in eLearning. The differences in the two approaches couldn’t be more pronounced. On the one hand, my first English lecture had 800 odd sitting listening to a lecture from a professor with decades of tenure, discuss (I think) the novel, Joseph Andrews. At the time (1989), I was in awe of the University itself – the oldest in Australia – with the size of its place, all of the buildings and the 1000s of students. So this wonderment transferred quite happily to sitting and (trying) to take notes in an A4 Lecture pad while the one-way delivery of performance was given. There were  “tutes” of about ten people, where we would break down the lecture in a more informal and social fashion. Then there was the social side – of clubs and societies, the cafes and bars and growing friendships. There were no mobile phones, the internet didn’t exist and, as I recall from a Psychology I lecture, “my presentations are copyright, so you are not permitted to make audio recordings of these lectures”.

Sydney University Quadrangle 2

Sydney University Quadrangle 2 (Photo credit: iansand)

How much things have changed. Now my University is 700km away and I am studying “by distance”. Ironically, “distance” can actually be measured in metres; the distance to my nearest computing device. Thus I was checking my (required) university email account as I lay in bed last night via my iPad. I can access all the online readings, the library database, the course notes… even the course participants who I will be discussing ideas and working with, without requiring any form of travel outside of my home. There are Facebook pages specific to the course and a Twitter hashtag to follow. I’ve already started using Notability to turn my required readings from PDFs into annotatable documents that automatically sync to Dropbox. I’ve started to use “e-highlighters” in a range of colours without unzipping a pencil case!

I’m excited with what’s about to follow. Most of my work will occur via a Moodlewhere I’ll be able to take part in discussion bulletin boards, use the class Forum and receive and submit my work. I am conscious of the self paced learning which recommends 12-15 hours per subject per week. It is self paced to a degree as I still need to complete those readings and submit those pieces of work. So while I might not need to sit down for a lecture at 9am on a Monday any more, I am conscious that I need to sit down some time and do that work. My education has, until now, been predicated on a timetable and while it still exists, the goalposts are being excavated ready for the subsequent shift. The irony is that I still play field hockey for my alma mater and fondly recollect that learning that I did in those days.

University of New England (Australia)

University of New England (Australia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, if you ever pop by in the future, feel free to give me an e-kick… up the back side, to keep me on course and get me back to my studies!

Over the Australian summer holidays, I’ll change tack a little and look to write more often and more broadly. Normal blogging transmissions will resume late January/early Feb next year. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these posts.

How good is StumbleUpon?!

Dice five

I’ve got WordPress to thank for this. Doing my usual look around the workings (read “Dashboard operating system”) I came across some of the extra ways of having readers ‘respond’ to one’s writing. I’d noticed the StumbleUpon button but had no idea what this actually entailed. So, having come to the end of a school term, I decided to do some investigating.

Why is it good? Well, simply, I keep coming across items that I like (hence StumbleUpon). This comes from selecting a number of Interests at the outset and then, as the site says “We take in a lot of different signals to ensure we are showing you the best stuff on the Internet. You can make sure you are getting the best recommendations by Liking and Disliking web pages we show you, following other members whose Likes you find interesting, and following to a variety of Interests. This all helps us personalize your Stumbles so we can show you the best of the Web.”. I’m not sure how this works, or, in the scheme of things, how accurate this even is. All I know is that I have “liked” quite a few things and “not liked” only a couple, hopefully allowing some hidden algorithm to feed me more of the content that I find most stimulating, striking and useful. What I do know is that I have unwittingly posted to Facebook a couple of times – mind you, broadcasting some of the top info about the best Sci-Fi books of all time is probably a half-decent thing.

The other way that StumbleUpon grabs me is via the ability to list items. Below is a screen shot from my iPad of how my lists look.

My Stumble Lists

My Stumble Lists

For me, the boon here is the ability to press a button and have it “saved for later”. So, for items of interest, ideas and even examples to use in teaching, I have a kind of repository to draw upon. I think that the ability to Follow like-minded Stumblers would also prove rewarding – something I have yet to master.
I also have a Pinterest account, but have not done a lot of searching with this tool. I think the difference for me is how the “stumbles” come to the viewer one-at-a-time. This means you have a moment to assess whether you wish to view the item (especially with its preview ability) before selecting or discarding it. There are still a lot of stumbles which are just that, stumbles – items which have little merit for me. However, I think this is also a good thing. As an imperfect process, you are more likely to find that gem and decide that it is something worth treasuring.
I can highly recommend StumbleUpon to anyone who has yet to have a look – assuming I am not the last person to catch on, that is!
Any stumble fine-tuning suggestions or other ideas about its features would be happily accepted!