Thursday, April 24, 2014

Need to Cram for FINALS?

I know most are not ready for finals, but here are a few tips for you to do without without going crazy-- you just need a little organization, some preparation, and a solid night of sleep!! 

  • Find out what resources are available to you. Instead of cramming in one night, make sure to look over information beforehand to determine what gaps are in your knowledge of the material, and then develop a game plan for quick learning. 
    • If you have the time, go to your prof's office hours, SI sessions, or a GA's study session to ask SPECIFIC questions you might have about the topics that will be on the final. 
    • Also, a lot of teachers give handouts or study guides for review.. STUDY THE GUIDES! 
      • AND there may be additional information on the final, especially extra credit questions, but make sure you know the information that is on the study guides!
  • Write things down! Sometimes the simple act of putting pen to paper can actually help you retain information. 
    • Write concepts on notecards, and then the definition or explanation of the concept on the back--it make seem obvious, but it's easier to sift through the known concepts and the concepts that need more attention.  
  • Understand the basics if you're low on time. 
    • Go over the study guide, review the notes, look over the syllabus for any other concepts that may not be on the study guide or in your notes. 
  • Don't over-study. It's tempting to stay in Alden until the wee hours of the morn, but studying for long stretches is actually less effective than short, varied sessions. Mixing up where you study and the types of studying you do (reviewing notes, reading, talking through concepts with classmates, etc.) is more effective than long, drawn out sessions in the lib. 
  • No more all-nighters. I know it's a hard concept to grasp, but you're better off sleeping and knowing less, than "knowing" everything but not being able to remember it, or confusing it with other concepts. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

OU Digital Literacy Survey

Please participate in the digital literacy survey that has officially been launched! It is designed for current OU students, and it only takes approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. It is crucial in my thesis work, and I ask that you complete this questionnaire honestly and in entirety. It will be measuring your digital skills during FIRST semester (or quarter) at OU and your current skills this semester. 

Thank you again for all of your time and effort in both the online learning community and survey. I will continue to update the community with additional information that can help assist students advance in their digital knowledge. Good luck with your projects and finals this semester! 

box -- More Cloud Storage for OU Students

Web-Based Service: 
box is a cloud-based file sharing ad storage service workspace which enables people to collaborate, synchronize, and share information. It provides 50GB of free online storage to ALL OU students, faculty and staff.

Options through Microsoft Office products: 
box for Office is a free add-on that help you open box files directly from Microsoft Office products, and you can then save to the cloud and share with colleagues using box. If you want to add this to your Office products (it's free, and is compatible with Office 2007/10/13, and available to all box PC users). Check out this link, and click on "To download the latest version, CLICK HERE"

With box, you can: 

  • drag and drop files in and out of box
  • edit your files right on box
  • access your files from any Internet-capable device
  • share files with other box users, either for viewing or editing
  • view or edit files others have shared with you
  • comment on files

After you Download the box for Office...
Click on the "Use company single sign on credentials" and enter your OU credentials (Oak ID and password) to log in to the box for Office.

In Microsoft Word, under the "Home" Tab, you will see the add on feature (box) at the far right hand corner (highlighted below)

You can then "Open" or "Save" documents directly from Microsoft Word. It is very useful to be able to directly save your docs from your word file to your cloud.

Check out this YouTube video, Box for Office, on an overview of box with Office as well as other features.. 

You can check out other official box applications here through OU.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Organizing Your Files with Dropbox

How to Organize Your Files with Dropbox 
Dropbox is a great tool for staying organized and accessing your data from anywhere, but it can become different to find what you need if your files become cluttered. Included are some simple ways to organize your files, and save yourself from unnecessary work and stress in the future! 

*If you don't have Dropbox, see my previous post, or visit the link above and download the program for free! 

*These tips apply for other file organization as well

First you need to install Dropbox, and then create a subset of folders within your main Dropbox folder. You can name these whatever you want, but the general idea is to have 4-6 main folders, and not to go too deep into sub-folder territory (folders within folders within folders, etc.) 
This is what my main Dropbox folder looks like: 

The "Big 4" Folders
1. Current Projects/Material 
You first need a current folder--important materials that you are working on or referring to frequently. This is where you will spend much of your time, updating it often with new material. This is where you keep all of your working files for your current class assignments, papers, projects, to-do lists, etc. 
  • Sub-Folders for Current Projects/Materials: 
    • One folder for each of your current courses 
  • Keep 2-3 Sub-Folders for each course: 
    • One folder for class materials--such as the syllabus, additional readings, assignments, project outlines, etc. 
    • Keep another folder for the actual assignments, papers, and other homework you are working on, or have finished 
    • Lastly, keep a folder for your class and reading notes 
When the semester is over, you should move all of these folders into the next big folder, The Archive. (In my Dropbox, my archive would be the "GRAD SCHOOL" folder since I am no longer taking classes. Currently, I am working on my thesis, and research at the Voinovich School, which are two sub-folders under my "Current Projects" folder). Below is my VS folder with the projects that I am working on for my research position.

2. The Archive 
Here is where you keep all the important materials that you are no longer working on, but you may need to refer to in the future. After each semester, you want to clean your "Current Projects/Materials" folder and put most of it in this folder (cut and paste the folders). You should make a list of folders organized by Year and Semester, as in the picture below. 

This makes referencing easy--and this can be helpful especially if you take similar classes (which you will!) in the future and want to refer to old notes and/or papers. 

3. Side Projects 
This folder is for things that you work on in your spare time, but are not currently your top priorities. Maybe you are trying to learn to code, or you blog in your free time, or are working on some side research--these are all projects that you undertake in your spare time. 

4. Miscellaneous
What you put in here can easily be separated from your more important or currently relevant school materials. I personally keep a folder "Pictures" which I organize pictures that I use for scrapbooks that I have. I also have a folder for online payments and receipts (I use the Snipping Tool on Windows 8 to save them).  

TIP: Make sure to give your files relevant names when saving your files for the first time (so you don't have to go back and rename them in the future). Try to keep them as short as possible while making it easy to decipher what is in that file. This applies to all material you download as well--PDFs often come with obscure file names, and it can be difficult sifting through many PDFs just to find an article you wanted to reference. 

**Overall, you can make folders for whatever purposes suit your needs, but the general idea is to keep them organized with relation to topic and to current/past, important/not-so important materials. 

Additional Resources: 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Access your Docs Anywhere, Anytime with Dropbox

Dropbox has already been briefly introduced in OU Get Smarts, but this is a more in-depth overview of this necessary program to use while in school!
  • FREE and easy to use 
  • Desktop application and/or web service 
  • Helps keep your data, papers, assignments, etc. organized and accessible from any device

You no longer have to email yourself multiple drafts or papers or congest your inbox with old papers and assignment. No more worrying about losing your flash drive, or losing all of your documents due to a computer virus. With Dropbox, all of your important documents, assignments, pictures, etc. are backed up on the Internet for you. 

Note: You start off with 2GB worth of space for free. To get more space, you can upgrade to a paid version, or invite other people to join the service and get extra free space with each person who signs up (that you invite). When you sign up with your .edu email address, you will receive 500MB worth of extra storage for each person (as opposed to 250MB for email addresses. Plus, each person that you invite also receives an additional 250-500MB of free space. 

To invite others, simply sign into Dropbox, and look for the link Get free space! Here, there are many options to increasing your storage space. You can refer friends through email and/or Facebook, follow Dropbox on Twitter, upload files, and more. To get you started with some free space, here is my Dropbox referral link.
* Feel free to share your own links in the comments to earn some free space from others! 

Additional Resources: 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2013-2014 OU Job Search Manual

The Ohio University Job Search Manual is no longer available from the Career & Leadership Development Center, but you can access it online: 2013-2014 Job Search Manual

The Job Search includes:
  • Networking and Researching 
    • Informational Interviewing
    • How to Find the Right Job
    • Turning your Internship into a Full-Time Position 
    • Cleaning up your Social Media Identity
    • Career Fairs
    • Using Social Media to Network and Find a Job
  • Resumes
    • Resume Writing
    • Transferable Skills 
    • Developing Self-Marketing Skills
    • Sample Resumes
  • Correspondence 
    • Cover Letters
    • Employment References
    • Job Offer Correspondence 
  • Interviewing 
    • The Interview
      • Preparing
      • Questions to ask the interviewer
    • Students with Disabilities 
  • Strategy 
    • International Students and the Job Search 
    • Choosing Between Job Offers
    • The Benefits of Company Benefits 
    • Backpack to Briefcase 
*For more information on the Career & Leadership Development Center, you can access the website here!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Guide to Online Collaborations

Useful Tips, Tools, and Apps for Online Collaborations 

The key to any team or collaboration, there is always going to be a need for cooperation and compromise between the members, but you need the right tools and ideologies to get your tasks or project complete. You first need to get everybody thinking on the same page and communicating their ideas efficiently, which requires strong leadership and the right platform for launching those creative endeavors. 


Get the Team Organized: Organization is a top priority, and each project may have a different style of organization, but you MUST have a clean method of sharing ideas and group-related topics together. 

  • Private Forums
    • Chat apps can be another solution, but it can be difficult to organize the information or even access the conversations at later dates. 
      • Discussion boards can be a good place to share these ideas--each of your team members can create new threads and reply to comments in real-time.
      • Other good tools would be Google Docs, where you can have a doc with the members' tasks, and comment and add to the discussion that way as well (see Google Web Apps below).  
  • Never forget the importance of an inclusive team that engages all of its members


      • Tools are suppose to ease your workflow; ensure that all team members have access to the tool(s) that you are going to be utilizing when working through this project 

  • Cloud StorageStoring your files into the Cloud has almost become a necessary modern day solution to file storage and file sharing--and there are many apps available! 
    • The purpose is to setup a single area where everybody can access important files at any time. DropboxCloudApp, and droplr are commons apps.
  • Google Drive  
    • Google web apps (Google Drive) are the pioneering products that have pushed the field of technology and placed tools in the hand of everyone! Google Drive allows you to create an unlimited number of word docs, spreadsheets, and presentations. You only need a Google account, and you will have a secure storage to your docs, etc. online.
      • The easy-to-use interface has made this sharing system ideal for all users. You can set the privacy (or "Share" button) to determine who is able to view/edit your docs/spreadsheets, etc.  
  • Pick a tool based on your project's needs and your teams capacities or preferences 
  • Help members set up the tool(s) your team has decided, and if needed, provide them with an into of the features that they will need to use 

  • Delegating Tasks: Organizing tasks, from content development to design and graphics, may be a roadblock that needs to be addressed early on. 
    • There are plenty of task/to-do apps, such as Wunderlist which is a great free task management system.
  • Each member has a different skills--delegate tasks based on people's strengths, and assign tasks/responsibilities accordingly 
  • Engage the team when it comes to execution--people should proofread other's work to cover all perspectives 
  • Let people write about what they are enthusiastic about--even if their writing isn't top notch. Their ideas may be brilliant, and you can always fix the writing style
  • Respect their idea, when you are editing someone's writing, make sure the idea they expressed is preserved
** COMMUNICATE frequently with your teammates. Update them on the overall progress, highlight gaps, and remind them of the responsibilities and deadlines. Praise individual efforts, and encourage members to share their progress, insights and challenges **

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Leadership Branding

Are you "Branding" Yourself in a Positive Way?
Do you know what attributes, beliefs and experiences distinguish one Brand from another? 
  • Think about Apple, BP, or Miley Cyrus--how would you define these Brands? 
    • Apple thinks differently; it is seen as an innovative company that has expanded worldwide access to education, created smaller products with a smaller impact on the environment. 
    • BP is seen as irresponsible from the oil spill in 2010--how long until this Brand turns to a positive? Not until the spills stop and changes are permanently made, but another spill occurred not even 2 days ago in Lake Michigan, so probably not for a while... 
    • Miley Cyrus- from Hannah Montana to twerking, need I say more? 
  • These are examples give you ideas of how people view Brands, (and these are just examples to get you to think about the big picture and the importance of your Brand on your future). 
You need to identify your strengths, and determine a plan for growth that will help you develop your "Brand."
  • Differentiation
    • Are you presenting yourself as unique? How? 
    • Will you stand out to potential employers?  
      • Your identity and Brand will serve as a key differentiator
  • Consistency 
    • Are you consistent in your presence across all platforms (from family, to school, to work, and organizations) 
      • This will help build trust between you and your connections 
  • Clarity 
    • Are you clear on your values, diversity, work ethics, etc.? 
  • Authenticity 
    • Are you being truthful in the way you are presenting yourself? (credentials, experience, etc.)

Suggestions to improve your Brand: 
  • LinkedIn
    • Connect with your Alumni and contact people in your field of study; let them know that you are interested! 
  • Twitter
    • Follow individuals and organizations in your field; tweet and retweet people to create that Brand for yourself.
*Think before posting... How are you Branding yourself on social media? Is your Brand consistent across all platforms? 

Workshop on Leadership Branding by the Ohio University Career and Leadership Development Center (January 2014). 

Monday, March 24, 2014

What is Your Digital Footprint?

Your digital footprint is everything on the Internet about you...

- All of your profiles on social networking sites
- Photographs that you, your friends, or your family has posted online
- Anything you have written, or that has been written about you (discussion boards, blogs, or articles)

Each time we add something about ourselves on the Internet, we enlarge our digital footprint. Whenever we mention someone else, we are expanding theirs. 

How to UNCOVER your digital footprint: 
  • Do a "vanity search," and type your name into a search engine to see what already exists about you. 
    • Repeat the search regularly using services such as Google Alerts (keywords of interest (eg. your name), and you will receive automatic alert messages from Google every time your name appears on the web; you can set these alerts daily, weekly, or monthly. 
  • Check your social networking privacy settings--set your account to Friends only. Follow these steps to ensure your Facebook profile is ready for potential employers or colleagues to see.
  • If you have a personal blog, remember that private blogs show up in search engine results as well.
    • Go through your blog posts and edit them for language or delete anything that will hinder you professionally.
How to MANAGE your digital footprint: 
  • Evaluate the content of your social media pages: ask yourself, will it affect current or future employment? Will it offend my peers or colleagues? 
  • Consider the privacy implications of what you are sharing: don't post anything on friends/colleagues' profiles that could potentially breach their privacy. If in doubt, ask people before adding pictures or posting content to their profiles. 
  • If you are seeking a new job or promotion: just remember that your digital footprint is important and can effectively act as your resume--particularly if you are using LinkedIn. Don't post or comment on anything that will hinder your chances of success. 
  • Set goals: do some research and spend some time figuring out who you want to following and affiliate with, making sure your research is relevant to your industry. This will show that you are interested in keeping up to date with industry trends.
  • Stay aware: be aware and stay active; what's new, what's getting old, what is exciting and what is shocking. 
  • Have fun: potential employers want to see that you are still active and contributing to personal and relevant industry networks-but always make sure to do so in an appropriate way. 
  • Delete abandoned social media accounts:
    • If you still have a MySpace or Bebo account lingering around, its time to delete it
How to ENHANCE your digital footprint: 
  • Build your online presence by showcasing your skills, experience, and interests. With most online sites, you can control the information about you that is publicly available. 
  • Online sites that include your CV or resume (LinkedIn) can expand your range of contacts 
  • Professional networking sites can give you access to potential employers, whose digital footprints you can also check 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Strengthen Your Profile and Connections on Linkedin

It is essential in this digital age to expand your network and build connections with others! Whether you are writing a paper and need some input, or if you are looking for job opportunities--expanding you network and building connections with others is so valuable to your growth and branding in the future.
  • Update or refresh your profile
    • According to LinkedIn's Career Expert, Nicole Williams, your profile is 12 times more likely to be viewed by a hiring manager if you have a detailed list of work experiences--this means the more chances you have to be discovered for new opportunities or advanced positions.
      • "You never know what about your past will be of interest to the recruiters, potential business partners or clients," Williams said. "Recruiters are on LinkedIn and by virtue of the way they're searching, such as using keywords and the duration of your career, they'll be able to find you better." 
Ways to Update Your Presence
  1. Edit Endorsements: Under the "Skills and Expertise" section, you can add endorsements to your profile; and while endorsements can be a good testament to your proficiencies, it has also been controversial because some people may endorse you for irrelevant skills. But, the more people that endorse you for relevant skills, the more you profile's likability will instantly boost!
  2. Add A New Profile Picture: According to LinkedIn, adding a profile picture makes your profile 7 times more likely to be viewed by others. You can change the privacy settings on your picture as well; the default setting allows everyone to see it, though you can change it so only your connections or those in your network can view it. 
  3. Update Your Summary: The "Summary" section of your profile should detail who you are as a professional: your title, role, skills, and expertise. According to LinkedIn, to increase the chances you'll appear in someone's search, your "Summary" section should contain at least 40 words. 
  4. Include Pictures, Videos, and Presentations: You can upload rich media to make your profile more engaging to show off your work. 
  5. List Volunteer Experience and Causes: According to LinkedIn, 42% of hiring managers surveyed said they view volunteer experience as equivalent to former work experience. You can also add information about volunteer opportunities that you are interested in, and add organizations that you support. 
** Check out this AWESOME site that allows you to create a visualization of your resume

Options for Connecting Your Connections
Whatever your endgame is when it comes to LinkedIn, extending your network and creating new contacts is a key part of that. This is the essence of good networking.

  • You can write to two people that should connect in a single message
    • Compose a message in your inbox and select both connectors as recipients. Simply make an introduction to each other (or a summary of the situation/benefits) and make sure that the box remains checked that allows them both to see the other person's name and email address 
  • Under Send a message, there is a link Share profile, which allows you to send it to another connections
    • Click on this and add a short explanation before sending it to the other person-it's for them to follow up between the two of them. 
  • Send a message to one of your connections suggesting that they request an introduction to the other person-and don't forget to add a link to their profile to make the other person easy to find 
  • You can send a message to one of your connections encouraging them to add the other as a connection, using a personalized message and stating that you have been encouraging them to get in touch 
These options might simply allow you to put two individuals in your network in touch with each other than may benefit from being in contact. It could also be the ideal way to help a colleague extend their own network by putting them in touch with your own connections who could be of value to them. 
*Think about the connections you may be able to foster-it will strengthen your own network at the same time as extending theirs, so it's ALWAYS good to keep an eye out for where these opportunities may exist!*


Ways to Focus and Succeed in Your Classes

Keeping your eyes open and your mind alert is sometimes difficult in your college lectures. Regardless if the professor is an easy grader, or the course is a breeze-you should try to stay focused if you want to learn new material (remember, you are paying for this education!), and it helps passing the midterms and finals Below are a few strategies you can use to help you do better in your classes.

What YOU can do: 
  • Eat a healthy breakfast and/or snack before class
    • Eating a small, nutritious snack before class and taking a water bottle/something to drink to sip on during class can curb any hunger or thirst that can potentially cause distractions.  
  • Get sleep and exercise
  • Review your previous notes
    • Reviewing your notes from the previous class before the next session begins give you the opportunity to get back on track to where the last class left off--and you'll be more likely to pay attention since you'll remember what your professor was talking about. 
  • Turn off distracting devices
    • This includes laptops, cell phone, and tablets--all which can lead to serious distractions. Even if you promise yourself you won't browse the web and check your Facebook, most of the time you will stray away from the lecture--so don't even tempt yourself. 
  • Take notes on the least distracting device
    • As mentioned previously, don't use devices that are going to distract you--if you doodle, maybe typing your notes on a word doc (without the internet) is best, and if you browse the internet, pen and paper is probably best. 
  • Sit up front
    • It may seem intimidating for some, but being up front will help keep you focused. You'll avoid being distracted by the people behind you playing games on their laptop, and you'll be forced to pay attention and take notes because you are clearly visible to the professor. 
  • Avoid relying on stimulants
    • Whether it be caffeine, cigarettes, or prescription meds--these often cause disruptions in your sleep which can affect your memory and concentration. 

What you can do with OTHERS: 
  • Discuss content with students
    • Chat with other students after class about the lecture/class. Further discussions leads to a better and more comprehensive understanding of the material.   
  • Study and work with other students who are serious about succeeding
    • If you know others who are serious about doing well in the class, study and work with them! If you are able to find a reliable group of students that share a common interest--learning and doing well in the course--stick with them, they can be essential to your success in that class. 


Monday, March 17, 2014

Best News Aggregators

Are you interested in finding apps that help you discover new and interesting news, and things you wouldn't have found on your own? Below are some top apps that deliver a curated news experience!

Criteria for good news aggregator apps: 

  1. Right content: includes the right mix of content sources and quality content that you actually want to read 
  2. Personalization: the best aggregators learn based off your preferences, what you read, rate, and share with others; content relevancy 
  3. Speed and ease: from updating new content to scrolling through screens; make sure your news aggregators are fast, efficient, and simple standout 
  4. Social sharing: from email, to Twitter to Facebook, good aggregators have simple ways to share help with content curation and discovery with others 

Free Apps 
  • Feedly
    • Has become the RSS reader for the choice for many news junkies, especially since Google Reader went into retirement
      • Quick and responsive, with a fleet of powerful apps on iOS, Android, and the web
  • Flipboard
    • Offers a visual and straight-forward means of building your own personalized magazines 
      • Select your general interests, and then immediately dive into a pre-generated set of articles, laid out in the style of a newspaper 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Useful Participatory Websites



  • WordPress allows you to start a wordpress blog or create a free website in seconds 
  • EduBlogs is a blog created for educational purposes; supports student and teaching learning by facilitating reflection, questioning by self and others, collaborating and providing contexts for engaging in higher-order thinking 
  • Blogger is a blog-publishing service that allows multi-user blogs with time-stamped entries 

Social Bookmarking
Social bookmarking is a practice that allows those with sufficient attention, collaboration, and network know-how to multiply value of a public good which serves one's own self-interest

  • Delicious is a free and easy tool to save, organize, and discover interesting links on the web 
  • citeulike is a free service for managing and discovering scholarly references 
  •! is a site where you can build engaged audiences through publishing by curation 
  • Zotero is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share you research sources 

Recommender Systems 

  • digg has the most interesting and talked about stories, videos, and pictures on the web
    • breaking news on technology, politics, entertainment, and more! 
  • StumbleUpon is the easiest way to find cool new websites, videos, photos, and images from across the web 
  • allows you to create colorful mind maps (brainstorming) to print or share with others 

  • Spotify is a free music streaming website available on all mobile devices and computers for unlimited durations; features like offline listening and ad-free playback are available for premium subscribers 
  • is a music discovery service that give you personalized recommendations based on the music you listen to 

RSS Feeds

  • Bloglines is a web-based news aggregator for reading syndicated feeds using the RSS and Atom formats 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Participating in Online Class Discussions

How to Participate in Online Class Discussions (Jamie Littlefield)
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare
2. State your point, demonstrate your point, back it up with a quote
   - use a subject line that relates to your post--which will help create interest in your post
   - write clearly and with expressions (careful and concise writing)
3. Respond to your classmates
   - be supportive, considerate, and constructive when replying to your classmates
4. Practice chat room "netiquette"
   - keep your post focused on the topic
5. Be friendly but formal
   - proofread and review your response
6. Have fun
   - participate regularly

For more information regarding participation in online discussions, please see: How to get students to participate in online discussions

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

IF This Then That


Check out this site that allows you to create "recipes" that will inform you when something happens. The personal recipes are a combination of a trigger and an action from your active channels. Examples are given below.
  • When new photos are added to your iPhone camera roll--you will receive an email with a shareable link for each photo 
  • When you email attachments--they are automatically saved to Dropbox
  • When an apartment becomes available on Craigslist in your area, in your price range--you will be emailed/texted that post 

How to Learn Something New on Your Own

How to Stick with It When You're Learning Something New On Your Own (Thorn Klosowski)

Whether you are trying to advance a skillset, learn a new hobby, or just take an entire new learning experience, it is difficult to stick with it.

Below are a few ways to allow you to learn something and stay with it.

Find What You Actually Want to Learn About
  • Ask yourself- what are you actually interested in? 
    • If your not doing research for school or work, it may be difficult to pinpoint what interests you and what skills you want to develop
    • Check out this article about How to Stimulate Curiosity (Annie Murphy Paul) 
  • Resources like Khan AcademyMIT Media LabLynda, and Lifehacker U are great places to find out about new information that may peak your interest
Figure Out How You Learn Best
  • People obviously learn in different ways--some like to stick to a plan while others are better are winging it
    • Try alternative methods to learning through trial and error 
Learn By Doing Whenever Possible 
  • Most times, you learn best by doing
  • Practice in ways that help you continually learn, which may include expanding the process so you're learning multiple skills at once
Find a Community to Learn With

Monday, March 10, 2014

How to Find Online Communities

How to Find Online Communities 

Message boards and forums are places to go if you love discussing the latest news/world events, debating over new technologies, or anything else. There is a huge variety of message boards and communities to use--and you can start by using search engines and or sites (Twitter, reddit, etc.) to find communities that you will be able to express your opinions and learn from others. 
  • Google makes message boards and blogs which makes it easy to find and join different communities 
  • Yahoo also makes it easy to find great forums and groups
  • reddit is a social news and entertainment site where registered users submit content in the form of links or posts 
  • dmoz is a place to start looking-you can click on subjects and find different discussion forums and message boards 
You can also use any search engine to find a message board. Just search [topic message board], and you'll find plenty of results.



Wikispaces classroom is a social writing platform free to students and professors. It is easy to create a classroom workspace where fellow students can communicate and work on writing projects on teams (or alone). Assessment tools give students the power to measure student contribution and engagement in real-time. It works on browsers, tablets, and phones. 

Some of Wikispaces Features: 
  • Classroom Management: helps to manage all the activity, resources, conversations, and projects in your classroom 
    • Better organization 
    • Tools available to that allow you to share resources, make announcements, and foster discussions 
  • Project-Based Learning: allows you to create projects, define teams, and help assign roles within the project 
  • Knowledge Communities: this allows students to contribute, learn and achieve in the collaborative learning environment
  • Safe Social Networking
  • Online and Remote Learning 
For more information on Wikispaces, visit Wikispaces Classroom Introduction

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Google Drive (Docs, Spreadsheets, and Slides)

Collaborative Tools 
Google docs, sheets, and slides are productivity apps that allow you to create different types of online documents, work on them in real time with other people, and store them in you Google Drive online. You are able to access the docs, spreadsheets, and presentations from any computer. 

Google Docs
Online word processor that allows you to create and format text documents and collaborate with others in real time 
  • Things you can do with Google docs: 
    • upload a word doc and convert to a Google doc 
    • add formatting to your docs by adjusting margins, spacing, fonts, and colors 
    • invite other people to collaborate on a document with you, giving them the option to edit, comment, or view access 
    • collaborate in real time and chat with other collaborators
    • view the document's revision history and go back to any version 
    • download a Google doc to your desktop as a word doc, PDF, HTML, zip file, etc. 
    • translate a doc to different language 
    • email you docs to other people as attachments 
To learn more about Google Docs, check out the Google Docs getting started guide

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How to Organize What You Find Online

Organize What You Find

Mendeley free reference manager and PDF organizer
- free reference manager and social network that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research

Zotero free and open-source reference management
- free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research

Diigo social bookmarking website
- allows users to bookmark and tag web-pages, as well as highlight any part of a webpage and attach sticky notes to specific highlights or to a whole page

RefWorks online bibliographic management program
- designed to help researchers easily gather, manage, store, and share all types of information, as well as generate citations and bibliographies

Credible Resources when Researching

Credible Resources when Researching 
Google Scholar
- provides a search of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources
- includes theses, books, abstracts, and articles
** if you need help when searching on Google Scholar, check out Google Scholar Search Tips 

- digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources
- if you are logged on Ohio University's server, you will be able to access this information free

Oxford Journals
- largest university press in the world

Wiley Online Library
- world's broadest and deepest collection of online resources
- includes life, health, and physical sciences, social sciences and humanities
- over 4 million articles from 1,500 journals, 13,000 online books, and hundreds of referenced works, laboratory protocols and databases

Sage Publications
- research tools, journal alerts, and online journal access information

an excellent place to start your research inquiry, but do NOT use it as your ending point
- use your judgement, remember that all sources have to be evaluated
- when reading Wikipedia articles for research, consider the information carefully, and never treat information on Wikipedia as the surefire truth

Questions to ask yourself when determining if the information on Wikipedia is reliable: 
- Accuracy of information provided-- Is there a bias of information?
- Are the images presented appropriate for information/material?
- What is the style and focus of the article? Are there grammatical errors? How is the quality of the writing?
- Are you able to identify reputable third-party sources as citations?

- free citation builder for MLA, APA, Chicago and Turabian
- always check with your professor to determine the format of citations that you will be required to use for your bibliography/references

Friday, February 28, 2014

How To Think Like a Detective When Searching Online

Think Like a Journalist (Michael Bugeja) 
  1. Doubt: don't automatically believe everything you read 
  2. Detect: relentlessly pursue the truth to discover the "big picture" 
  3. Discern: think critically to find a fair balance 
  4. Demand: uphold and protect the free flow of information 

Practical Advice to Use when Protecting Yourself from Misleading Information Online 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Learn How to Search

Useful Google Search Tips 

  • Case Sensitivity: keywords are NOT case sensitive, so it does not matter if your words are all uppercase/lowercase 
  • Punctuation: not important, so there is NO need to use periods, commas, etc. 
  • Word Limitation: you are limited to ten words, so everything after 10 words is ignored from your search results 
  • Be Specific: the more targeted your keywords, the better your results will be 
    • If you want to search for an exact word or phrase 
      • use quotes (" ") around the exact word or set of words
    • If you want to exclude a word 
      • add a dash (-) before a word or site to exclude all results that include that word 
      • Examples: [jaguar speed -car] or [pandas]
  • Search Within a Specific Site
    • Searching for a specific website, or a specific domain
      • Examples: [ academic calendar] or [site: gov tax forms]
  • Common Words are Ignored: the, and, or, in, how, I, it, is, etc.
    • If you need to use AND or OR, the operators MUST be typed in all capitalized letters
      • AND tells Google that terms on either side or it should be included in the search results 
        • same as (+) 
      • OR tells Google to match any of the terms connected by the OR operator, which means that it can return results for one and not the other, or for both 

Online Tools to Help Keep You Focused

Examples of Online Tools to Better Help you Focus and Concentrate your Attention

10 Online Tools for Better Attention & Focus
(Jocelyn K. Glei)

Stay Focused: curb the time you spend browsing time-wasting sites
Focus Writer: create a distraction-free environment for writing
  • FocusWriter (simple, distraction-free writing environment)
  • Omm Writer (writing environment for Mac, PC, and iPad)
Time Out: take regular breaks to keep your focus sharp
  • Time Out (take breaks)
    • MICRO: take a 10 second break every 10 minutes of work
    • MACRO: take a 10 minute break after 50 minutes of work

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Increase Your Attention

10 Tricks for Paying Attention (Karen Pallarito)
Different coping strategies that help keep you focused rather than getting distracted by external stimuli. You need to pinpoint your weaknesses and review the strategies to get your tasks complete. 

Write it down: jot down keywords to remind yourself what you want to say (in a meeting, class) or do
  • Keep a random thought notebook on hand-for important reminders or ideas
Map it out: in the morning, map out your day, including classes, assignments due, meetings, errands, etc. and refer to your "road map" throughout the day
  • Keeping a daily planner is key (either a calendar planner or a planner app on your phone)

Keeping Your Profiles Secure

Tips to Keeping Your Facebook (and other social networking) Profiles Secure 
Facebook (and other social networking sites) continually changes their security and privacy settings, but they don't always inform you of their updates and new privacy features. A smart habit it to check your security and privacy settings often (approximately once a month), or whenever they have updates available to their site. 

Facebook Security Features: 
1. Secure Browsing 
  • Secure browsing (https) is an opt-in security feature on Facebook. When you turn this feature on, your traffic and all of your activity on Facebook becomes encrypted, making it difficult for others to access your info without your permission
  • How to Turn It On
    • Go to your security settings page (Account > Settings > Security) 
    • Click on the Secure Browsing
    • Check the box and save your changes 
  • Notes
    • Some third party apps don't support secure browsing (https), and if you try using it, it may ask you to "turn off secure browsing." To use this app, simply click Continue and https will temporarily be turned off, but it will be turned back on the next time you log in. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Networking is an essential aspect of your digital experience and expansion into the digital realm. 

The 9 Skills Needed to Be a Super-Connector (James Altucher)
James Altcher provides some great insights and advice to becoming better at networking with others - a skill that is essential to develop and a necessary practice to put into action while in college.

As the old saying goes, it's not what you know, but who you know. This is particularly true, as simply knowing others isn't enough either. 

1. First, you must produce something of value in order to leverage your ties with others--whether it is through your knowledge, skills, experience, ideas, or connections. Producing something of value is the first step you need to take in order to become a super-connector!
  • So you want to know how you produce something of value in college? Work for free! No, it's not ideal for the broke college student, but you can join a student organization, do volunteer work, take on an internship, and help professors with their research.
2. Then, you can begin to "bridge" those ties. For example, a friend of mine is starting a informational website, but doesn't know anyone who can be the editor of the site. I know someone who is majoring in media studies (technology), that is interested in one day editing a website, so I introduce the two, they kick it off, and we can all benefit from this new connection made!
  • What I did was create a bridge between my two ties - they did not know each other previously, but they both knew me, and thus I became the bridge that connected the two of them. 
  • Also, if you bridge that connection, you'll be on their mind for future potential connections they can make that would be helpful to you.
**Remember, universities are highly coveted for their networking potential, so invest in your future by building your social network now! 
**Click on the link above to find more tips on becoming a "super-connector"

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Collaborative Tools

The Best Collaboration Tools for Small Groups and Teams (Alan Henry) 
Below are some of the best tools you can use to do anything from collaborating with classmates, projects and priorities, organizing a renovation, planning a vacation, or organizing a sports team.


  • free for up to 15 users, you only have to pay if you use more than 15, click here for more information on pricing
  • very helpful when you work with other users--and you can start sharing projects, workspaces, and other ideas with people to get their feedback and support
  • you can easily assign specific tasks/to-dos to other people, keep track of everyone's progress, add and manage tasks on the go, add comments, and have conversations about specific tasks on those tasks


  • free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily--never email yourself a file again!
  • put your stuff in Dropbox and get it from your computers, phones, or tablets. Edit docs, automatically add photos, and show off videos from anywhere
  • share photos with friends, work with your team like your using a single computer--everything is automatically private, so you control who sees what
  • your files are backed up through several providers

Friday, February 7, 2014

Conducting Research Online

How to Conduct Scientific Research On the Internet (Without Getting Duped) (Alan Henry)
Do you know how to determine if something controversial is actually true? The following is how to use the internet as a powerful research tool without being led astray. With the following tips, you'll learn how to quickly cut through the crap and get to the valid information.

Recognize Your Two Biggest Research Enemies 
Your own confirmation bias: your own natural tendency to find, believe, and source information that agrees with (or confirms) what you already believe about a topic. You may be presented with information that'll challenge your preconceived notions and beliefs--but you need to keep an open mind and seek to understand and find evidence to all side of an argument.

Questionable sources of information: articles that are unsourced or poorly cited usually draw conclusions without properly backing them up. This can occur when people cite a study that doesn't support their conclusions or report a study's conclusions blindly.

Fire Up Your Critical Thinking Skills and Start Searching
Real research takes time! Start by searching through your favorite search engines--but know that the search engines will NOT be the end of your search (they're fine for getting your feet wet). Browsing through results and sources will help you understand the depth of information available for the subject that you are researching, as well as getting an overview of what is available.

Google Scholar cuts out a lot of material and searches directly for articles in well-regarded publications, journal articles, research and reference papers, and other useful materials.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

OU Get Smarts Online Community Pages

This blog is intended for ALL Ohio University students and faculty that are interested in enhancing their digital skills through a variety of techniques. The blog contains pages of the 6 main digital literacies: 
      (1) Attention,  
      (2) Critical Consumption of Information, 
      (3) Online Participation, 
      (4) Collaboration, 
      (5) Network Smarts, and 
      (6) OU/Institutional Know-How. 
  • You can join in discussions, leave comments, or post additional links that may be beneficial to other participants 
  • You can view the specific pages if you are already familiar with some of the literacies
  • (or) You can navigate within all of the pages to learn about all of the digital literacies provided  

OU Get Smarts Facebook group
This online community is intended for all Ohio University students who are interested in becoming digitally literate. Benefits to joining the Facebook group include:

  • Expand your knowledge and digital skills 
  • Cultivate your networks (meet and connect with other people) 
  • Focus your attention and consumption of information to get things accomplished in life! 

Questions about Facebook Groups? Check out the Terms of Use... 
Facebook Group Privacy & Abuse

  • Provides answers about the privacy options for groups, if people in the same group can see more information on your timeline, how to report something that you see in a group, etc.