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.

Critical Thinking

How to Train Your Mind to Think Critically and Form Your Own Opinions (Thorin Klosowski)
Critically thinking is a very useful skill, and although some people know how to absorb important information, and then use it to form a decision or opinion for themselves--some are unable to think critically and just spout off what they hear others say. Critically thinking takes practice, and we can train ourselves to do it better.

  • Train Yourself to Pay Attention to the Right Details

One of the most important parts to thinking critically is the ability to learn what details actually matter. Because we are exposed to so much information and other's ideas everyday, it becomes easy to get lost in the details. Start by listening to your gut--if something doesn't sound true, then that is your first warning sign. Then you can start to look for holes in an argument:

Think about who benefits from a statement: think about who benefits from the statement being made--if someone's making an argument, then there is a good change they benefit from it for some reason.

Question the source: especially with the Internet, the sources are not immediately visible, so if something sounds off, track down where it came from before you form an opinion about it.

Look for obvious statements: a common trick in debates and reviews is to find a critical argument inside a series of obviously true statements. For example: "So, now we know the sky is blue, that grass is green, that clouds are white, and that Apple makes the best computers"

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Decade of Facebook

A Decade of Facebook: 10 Things the Social Network Changed Forever (Lou Dubois)
Now worth $157 billion, the social networking site has over 350 million photo uploads, and approximately 6 million "likes" daily. This is an interesting link of the ways that Facebook has changed the following things forever.

  1. The Definition of a "Friend"
  2. What it Means to "Poke" Someone
  3. What it Means to "Like" Something
  4. Parent/Child Relationships
  5. How Relationships Begin (and End)
  6. The Resume
  7. The Vacation Photo Album
  8. Pushing The Look-At-Me Culture
  9. How Brands Reach Consumers
  10. The Digital Dataset

Facebook at 10: Mark Zuckerberg celebrates a decade of social networking dominance (Dion Dassanayake)
A article marking the tenth year anniversary for Mark Zuckerberg's creation of Facebook (February 4th 2014), and his domination in social networking. The site has grown to 1.23 BILLION users (1 in 6 people) worldwide since Mark created Facebook in his Harvard University dorm room. Zuckerberg comments, "We're looking forward to our next decade and to helping connect the rest of the world."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Websites Sharing Personal Information?

They Know What You're Shopping For (Jennifer Valentino-Devries and Jeremy Singer-Vine)
Today, companies are increasingly tying people's real-life identities to their online browsing habits. Do you want to know which websites are sharing your personal information? Check out the link to find out more information! 

Five Ways to Reduce Identity Tracking Online (Jennifer Valentino-Devries) 

  1. Log out of social networks when browsing and clear cookies 
  2. Use a service to help you avoid social tracking
    1. Disconnect Me (site specifically aimed at blocking code from companies) 
  3. Use disposable email addresses
    1.  Disposable Email Providers
  4. Block JavaScript when filling out forms 
  5. Use a fake name 
*Ultimately, you just need to be smart and think when using unfamiliar websites and browsers. If the site is requesting personal information that is not pertinent, you probably shouldn't be providing your own information. 

  • If a random site is asking for your name, birth date, email address, etc. to simply view their site, do you really want all of your information out there so it can be passed around through third party sites? 

Do you want to know which companies help protect your information from the government? Check out  the Electronic Frontier Foundation's annual report that examines the policies of major Internet companies (including ISPs, email providers, cloud storage providers, location-based services, blogging platforms, and social networking sites) to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the gov't seeks access to user date.