Festive CPD: Using Twitter to engage in bite sized learning activities

It has been a long challenging year for all of us and I for one am looking forward to the holidays to spend time with family and friends. What better way to countdown than this selection of bite sized activities created by colleagues to share tips about learning and teaching.

Trent Institute of Learning and Teaching

Using an advent calendar template, each a new door reveals information and tips on ways to help you on your HEA Fellowship journey. Kate Cuthbert and Laura Stinson are reknowned for sharing excellent resources and this festive calendar is no expection!  

Follow @NtuTilt  and the hashtag #NTUFestiveFellowship for updates.



Active Learning Network

This group are posting a daily question to talk aboout and share active learning tips. I loved that the questions were croudsourced from the active learning network. Participants are invited to join colleagues in a mini tweetchat at 13:00 GMT to engage in a 15-minute discussion on the benefits of active learning.

Follow @ActiveLearningNTW and the hashtag #ActiveAdvent2021 for updates. 



University of Glasgow SOTL

This one starts Monday 6th December!

Follow @UoGSoTL for updates.  



Brighton Learning and Teaching Hub

Another advent calendar with each new door revealing useful tips on learning, teaching and assessment (and feedback).

Follow @BrightonLTHub for updates.


Santanu Vasent

Last but not least is Santanu’s #SantasEdVent21 activity where he will sharing useful tips and resources daily throughout December. 

Follow @SantanuVasent and the hashtag #SantasEdVent for updates.


Further additions!

Marc Duffy

Follow @DrMarcDuffy and the hashtag #SDGAdventCalendar for further updates.


Posted in Digital learning, Tips | Leave a comment

Easy listening – A collection of higher education podcasts


What is a podcast

A podcast is an audio programme that can be listened to on your computer, smartphone and other mobile devices. Podcast is a portmanteau, a combination of ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast’. POD is also described as ‘portable on demand’ (Wikipedia). Typically a podcast features one or more hosts who engage in a discussion with each other or guests on their show.

How to listen to a podcast

You can listen to a podcast via your computer via the site they have been created on. To ensure you get reminded about new episodes you can subscribe to podcasts on your computer using Feedly or iTunes.

However the added value of listening to audio is being able to listen wherever you are, be that commuting to work, talking a run, or walking the dog. Both Apple and Android have built in podcast apps, which means you can listen to the podcasts on your smartphone. There are also other apps such as Player FM, Podbean, Spotify which you can use.

I have an iPhone so went for the iTunes option. The quickest way I’ve found to add podcasts was to google the podcast show (on my phone or laptop) and select the link for podcasts.apple.com. Then simply click subscribe. The podcasts can then be accessed via the Apple podcast app on my phone or iTunes on my laptop.

My collection of podcasts relating to higher education, edtech and coaching

One of my earliest experiences of listening in to a podcast led by educators was Break Drink, led by Laura Pasquini and Jeff Jackson. They describe BreakDrink as “An occasional chat with Jeff Jackson and Laura Pasquini about life, work, and random stuff. There’s a good chance you’ll hear these co-hosts talk about their thoughts on current events, ukuleles, the NBA, podcasts, higher ed, rescue dogs, research, books, technology, and tacos… not in any particular order.” I really enjoyed the banter chat that goes on. Laura has gone on to host other podcasts as you will see below.

These are a selection of the podcasts I can recommend

The Education Burrito – Kiu Sum

Talking Higher Education – Santanu Vasant

Between the Chapters: 25 Years of EdTech – Martin Weller, Clint Lalonde and Laura Pasquini

Pedagodzilla – Mike Collins and Mark Childs

Gettin’ Air – Terry Green

In Vino Fab – Laura Pasquini and Patrice Torcivia Prusko

BreakDrink – Laura Pasquini and Jeff Jackson

Coaching Through It – Laura Pasquini and Julia Larson

Teaching in Higher Ed – Bonni Stachowiak

Beyond the Technology: The Education 4.0 Jisc Podcast

The Wonkhe Show

DCU Podcast (Dublin City University)

I’ve also had the privilege of being a guest on some of these podcasts. Below are the episodes I have contributed to:

Education Burrito Podcast Ep 2: Unwrapping digital identity with Sue Beckingham –

In Vino Fab Episode #57: Getting Social to Teach, Learn, & for CPD with @SueBecks https://invinofab.transistor.fm/57

Gettin’ Air Podcast https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/sue-beckingham/

25 Years of Ed Tech. Between the Chapters #16 Twitter and Social Media https://share.transistor.fm/s/d48df6a4 with Laura Pasquini and Chrissi Nerantzi

Posted in Communication tools | 2 Comments

The inaugural issue of the Journal of Social Media for Learning

JSML cover

The first edition of the Journal of Social Media for Learning – Conference Special Edition has now been published. The #SocMedHE19 conference took place at Edge Hill University in December 2019 led by Dawne Bell and Sarah Wright. Presenters were invited to contribute papers to the inaugural edition of this new journal. The Chief Editor is Dawne Bell and she has done a terrific job bringing this together.

Submissions were accepted in all formats (papers, posters, presentations, opinion pieces, technical reports), including reflection pieces outlining changes in individual’s practice following the conference. This has meant that there has been a wonderful range of contributions. Having this opportunity to learn from others’ practice through the different papers is going to be of value to many educators and students.

The foreword states the journal’s ethos is centered around the creation of a supportive space where all colleagues, but particularly those new to publishing, can contribute to the scholarly discourse about their academic practice, and if they so wish, secure opportunities to gain experience of peer-review and journal editing.

JSML provides a space to capture the many approaches of using social media for learning. The journal seeks to be inclusive and encourages those new to research or publishing to share their work and ideas in a format that suits them best. The review process is supportive and aims to help contributors to gain confidence. This is an exciting publication that can only go from strength to strength.

You can access the full journal here: https://openjournals.ljmu.ac.uk/index.php/JSML

Research Papers

Social Media for Learning: Advancing Theoretical Frameworks to
Understand Complex Learning Environments.
Alison Hartley, Valerie Farnsworth and Helen Bradbury

Flipped Classroom and Case Studies Facilitated Using Social Media
to Enhance Learning In Higher Education.
Christie Siettou

Can Social Media Use Predict Intercultural Knowledge, Attitude and
Skills Among Generation Z? A snapshot from a Pre-Covid19 Era.
Sebah Al-Ali

Self-Regulation Strategies of Smartphone use During University
Rebecca L Barron and Linda K. Kaye

Curation, Connections and Creativity: Reflections on Using Twitter
to Teach Digital Activism.
Paul J Reilly

Co-creating Learning Experiences with Students as Partners
Sue Beckingham

Escaping the Inactive Classroom: Escape Rooms for Teaching
Rachelle Emily O’Brien and Scott Farrow

An Interactive Social Media Workshop Using Lego® Serious Play®.
Kiu Sum, Sue Beckingham, Suzanne Faulkner and Deborah Baff

A Student Approach to Using Educational Memes as an Outlet to
Enhance Learning.
Jennifer Louise Worswick Irving-Bell

Crossing Boundaries: Twitter and Online Communities of Practice
for Nursing Students.
Emma Grady and Michael Brian Haslam

How Virtual Communities of Practice via Social Media Might
Enhance Nurse Education.
Michael Brian Haslam

Online Legal Resources and Their Potential for Visual Learning
Conor Courtney

Problematising the use of Snapchat in Higher Education Teaching
and Learning.
Paul Fenn and Paul J Reilly

Dog Filters and Flower Crowns: Using Snapchat as a Pedagogical
Tool in Higher Education.
Gary W Kerr and Suzanne Faulkner

Collaborative Conference Reflections: A Visual Journey.
Dawne Irving-Bell and Sarah Wright

The journal is currently accepting abstracts from the community, including those from delegates and presenters from The Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference 2020.

The deadline for submission is 31st May 2021 and publication will be in the late summer 2021.  

Posted in Social Media | Leave a comment

The 6th Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Event #SocMedHE20

This year things are a little different but the annual Social Media for Learning in Higher Education event will take place! This year it is led by the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow and will be online as a Tweetposium taking place on Twitter using the hashtag #SocMedHE20. The date of the event is 17th December 2020. Do follow @SocMedHE for ongoing updates.

The call for participation is asking presenters to submit 5 tweets which can include links, images or even videos, screencasts or podcasts up to 10 minutes long in total. Deadline for submissions is 15th November 2020. The theme for the event is:

Using social media to build community, care and compassion

This will be the 6th event. The inaugural Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference took place in 2015 at Sheffield Hallam University and was hosted there for a further two years before passing on the baton to Nottingham Trent University and then Edge Hill University.  The original website can be accessed here and maintains links to each event between 2015-2020. Thanks always goes back to Dr Graham Holden, Director of Learning and Teaching at Sheffield Hallam, who supported the idea for this event in the summer of 2015, and to Dr Alison Purvis and Helen Rodger as together we made an idea come to life. As with any event there is always an organizing team that makes it happen, and I have loved being a part of this every single year.

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Suggestions to help prepare for using online breakout rooms as learning activities

video conferencing

Groupwork is a valuable part of a student’s experience as it gives them the opportunity to work with peers and develop more confident teamwork and communication skills (amongst many other skills). In the classroom this activity can take place by asking the students to sit together in groups or if in a lecture theatre type classroom form groups of pairs by row and then one pair turn around to form a four with the pair behind. You might ask the groups to find a space of their own and return to the classroom after a set time. In these smaller groups students can be asked to work on a problem, engage in discussions, or any other activity they can work on collaboratively.

However when teaching online the use of video conferencing at first glance may not appear to be conducive of groupwork. It will depend on the space you are using but there are some that offer breakout rooms. The two examples I have experienced are Blackboard Collaborate and Zoom. At the time of writing I understand MS Teams are also developing this feature. For now there are some workarounds using other approaches like adding additional channels within a team. There could be others too.

Within Collaborate and Zoom the tutor leading the online class can choose to self select or randomly select groups of students. The feature allows them to send each group of students to a separate online room. The tutor can also visit those rooms to check on progress, and can bring the students back to the main room when they wish to. Once in the breakout room, participants have full audio, video, and screen share capabilities.

It is a different experience to being in the physical classroom and the aim of this post is to provide a number of tips that can help both tutors and students prepare for this activity.

  1. Provide clear instructions for the breakout activity that students can access prior to and during the activity. Once in the breakout room they will need to refer back to these! This will avoid the “What are we supposed to be doing” once in the breakout room.
  2. Have a practice run using this feature for the first time with your students. It may also be the first time for you, so let the students know this.
  3. Tell the students how long they will expect to be in the breakout room to work on the activity you are setting. You may also want to consider adding an additional bonus task to stretch those students who might finish before other groups. It’s helpful to give them a 2-5 minute warning so they can wrap things up.
  4. You can monitor progress by visiting each of the breakout rooms and checking on the students, but this can become time consuming where you have larger numbers of groups. One solution might be to assign a Google Doc to each group which students are asked to add notes/solutions to, and then have these open in different tabs on a different screen/device for you to view. It will highlight how they are doing and you can focus on visiting the groups that may need support.
  5. Once the allocated time for the activity is up, it can be useful to ask for each group to feedback what they have done. Warning the groups in advance and either asking for or assigning a notetaker and spokesperson, can help prepare the students.
  6. By asking the students to make notes in a collaborative document, they will have a record they can refer back to later. This may be helpful to feed into other activities or even assignments further down the line.

Prior to the online class

  • Create the detailed instructions for the activity that you will go through in the class and make this accessible to the students to refer back to.
  • Set up a Google Doc for each group, transferring the key requirements / questions to this working document and title by group number. This will form the working collaborative document the students can use to gather notes whilst in the breakout room. Having these as bullet points will help the students keep on task.
  • Provide the students a link to the Google Doc and make sure you adjust the settings so that it is set to editable, so that they can add information.
  • You will need to decide if you plan to manually create groups or opt for randomly create based on the number per group you wish them to work in.

During the online class

  • Go through the breakout activity brief and respond to any questions.
  • Ensure all students can access the master brief and the group Google Doc (GD) they will use in the breakout room.
  • It can be useful to assign or establish a volunteer note taker and person to feedback for each group, prior to sending them to the breakout room. If you plan to use this feature for future activities these roles could be rotated so all students experience.
  • Be clear everyone needs to contribute to the activity.
  • Where students will continue to work in the same groups, the working group GD could be used for future connected breakout activities, thus keeping the notes in one place.

In addition to sending students to breakout groups for groupwork activities, you can also use this function to send individual students. This can be useful if they are working independently on an activity and need some help, as they can share their screen with a tutor once in the breakout room.

The example of the collaborative working space given is a Google Doc. You could replace this with a link to a Padlet board, collaborative mind map or whiteboard tool, Google Slides, shared Trello board and more. I’d love to hear how you have developed activities for your students.

The infographic below is a summary of the points discussed. This was created using Piktochart.

Tips on how to prepare for online breakout room learning activities

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Using Wakelet collections and spaces to curate personal and collaborative compilations

Wakelet logo on a laptop

Wakelet is a free tool that enables the user to curate information from social networks to build social stories, bringing together a variety of different media that is scattered across the Web. It provides a space to then add an additional layer by adding a narrative and enables the user to create a multimedia digital narrative that is interactive and social. By using Wakelet, it’s possible to cite content from others who are part of an online discussion or at the spot of an actual event while adding further text to provide clarifications and context from your end.

Essentially there are three key steps to create a Wakelet Collection:

  1. Search
    Select a social network and search for social media content.
  2. Add content
    Drag the best elements into your story and add your own narrative.
  3. Share
    Via your chosen social networks or by sharing the URL or as a PDF.

Wakelet sharing options

A new feature just released is Wakelet Spaces:

  1. On the left side of your homepage, you can find the small ‘+’ icon. Click this to add a new space!
  2. Choose a name for your space and an image. You can choose to set your space as public or private by clicking Profile Visibility.
  3. Now it’s time to populate it with collections. You can either:
    1. Create a brand new collection from within the space.
    2. Transfer a collection from your home profile to your new space. To do this, go to where your collection currently is, click the three dots ‘…’, click ‘Move collection’, and select which space you want to move it to.
  4. Invite collaborators to your space. Once you’ve created your space, click Members on the side-panel on the left side of your home screen. From here you can access an invite code and QR code to share with your chosen invitees. They can use the code to access your space, by clicking ‘Got a code? Join a space‘, which appears once they’ve clicked the ‘+’ button mentioned in step one.

Benefits of using Wakelet

  • Each story can be shared as a URL link
  • Each element of the story can also be individually shared
  • It is a useful way to amplify the voices of the originators
  • Helps develop better web searching skills
  • Incorporate multimedia (video, photos, tweets, online sources) with original writing

Here are some examples of how you can use Wakelet:

Using Wakelet to capture events

  • Curate tweets shared during a conference
  • Aggregate a timeline of events
  • Reactions to important stories and breaking news
  • Live tweeting and eye witness reports
  • Gather social media responses about an event
  • Curate the history of a given event as a timeline
  • Create a narrative that can help readers makes sense of an event

Here’s one of my favourites examples where Wakelet was used to capture tweets celebrating Professor Phil Race’s retirement and 75th Birthday at the 2019 SOLSTICE Conference at Edge Hill University.

This is your Life Professor Phil Race (PDF) or via Wakelet https://wke.lt/w/s/8F40h1

Student uses for Wakelet 

  • Curate resources for a research project.
  • Develop an annotated bibliography.
  • Capture key points from a lecture by note taking using Twitter and gathering as a story.
  • Build a digital CV.
  • Use Spaces with peers to create a shared collaborative set of collections.

Teacher uses for Wakelet

  • Create a digital hand-out of readings or videos with questions to respond to.
  • Curate a collection of videos you want to play during a class.
  • Raise a question on Twitter and curate the responses as a story.
  • Hold a Q&A tweetchat and curate the dialogue.
  • Develop a class plan.
  • Create multimedia how to guides.

Wakelet resources

How to videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/wakelet
Supprt: https://wakelet.com/@wakeletsupport
Blog: https://blog.wakelet.com/

Posted in Curation tools | Tagged | Leave a comment

Building a taxonomy for digital learning

online learning

The QAA have published this useful article Building a taxonomy for digital learning that aims to build a common language to describe digital approaches of teaching and learning.

Building a Taxonomy for Digital Learning defines and assesses the most common terms that providers use to describe the ways in which they and their students engage with digital teaching and learning, helping those providers to evaluate the appropriateness of their own terminology. Achieving a consistency between terms such as ‘distance’ or ‘remote’ learning, ‘blended’ or ‘hybrid’ learning, ‘campus’ or ‘onsite’ delivery is important to ensure a better understanding of the learning experiences on offer.

It begins with the definitions of terms used by educators and highlights the differences between some of these that are used interchangeably but have nuanced differences. For example online vs virtual vs digital; blended vs hybrid; distance vs remote; and one that has been quite contentious during Covid19 for many is social distancing vs physical distancing. Many called for the term social distancing to be replaced by physical to emphasise that during this time being able to engage in social interaction online was ever more important as a way to engage with family, friends, peers and in the context of learning and teaching our students.

In section 2 it goes on to provide a taxonomy of students’ digital experiences. These include:

  • Passive digital engagement/experience:
    Where little or no aspect of the learning and teaching activity on offer is designed to be
    delivered digitally.
  • Supportive digital engagement/experience:
    Where some of the learning and teaching activities developed by a provider are supported by digital support materials.
  • Augmented digital engagement/experience:
    Where learning and teaching activities developed by a provider are designed with digital learning aspects as a core part of the engagement, intended to enhance students’
    experience of onsite learning.
  • Interactive digital engagement/experience:
    Where digital learning and teaching activities are designed by a provider as the primary way in which students will engage, both with the programme and with each other.
  • Immersive digital engagement/experience:
    Where digital learning and teaching activities are designed by a provider as the only way in which students will engage, both with the programme and with each other.

The 3rd section provides a comprehensive glossary of terms and definitions. Whilst this is not an exhaustive list, it spans 6 pages and goes some way to demonstrate the terms we are using. With this in mind it is important that we make sure we clearly explain what these mean to our students who may not be familiar with them.

You can read the complete QAA report below.

Click to access building-a-taxonomy-for-digital-learning.pdf

Posted in Digital learning | Leave a comment

Getting started on Zoom and some tips on using it for teaching

Zoom on a mobile phone

For many Zoom video conferencing has been the go to tool for online meetings. Users using the free version have a 40 minute window. The Pro version allows you to sign in using your work credentials (user name and password).  It is quick and easy to set up a meeting and you simply share the link. This post is aimed at those who may not have had the opportunity to try it out.

A new word to enter the dictionary of 2020 is likely to be ‘zoombombing’. This is where uninvited guests enter meetings. It has also been referred to as Zoom raiding. It is important therefore to understand how to adjust the settings and to only share a link with those you know. You can opt to add a password and create a waiting room.  Recent updates have made this a default setting.

In addition to being a video conferencing tool, within Zoom you can set up polls, whiteboards and breakout rooms. At the bottom of the post are links to useful support pages for how to set these up. If you have never used Zoom before this Getting Started on Zoom guide is helpful.

Click to access Education%20Guide%20-%20Getting%20Started%20on%20Zoom.pdf


Educating on Zoom

Zoom have also put together a useful Tips and Tricks PDF for Teachers using Zoom.

Click to access Tips%20and%20Tricks%20for%20Teachers%20Educating%20on%20Zoom.pdf



These are some of the links from the document above:

Posted in Collaboration tools, Communication tools | Tagged | Leave a comment

Digital accessibility health check: points to consider

digital health check

At least 1 in 5 people in the UK have a long term illness, impairment or disability. Many more have a temporary disability (Gov.uk). Making a website accessible means making sure it can be used by as many people as possible.

Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. You can read more detailed information about accessibility principles from the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

It is also important to consider accessibility when writing a blog. WordPress offer a helpful accessibility support page.

As a starting point here is a very useful collection of posters from the UK Home Office to help you design for accessibility. They consider designing for users:

  • on the autistic spectrum
  • of screen readers
  • with low vision
  • with dyslexia
  • with physical or motor disabilities
  • who hard deaf or hard of hearing
  • with anxiety

Click to access accessibility-posters.pdf


The Usability.gov website includes the following best practices for accessible digital content:

  • Do not rely on colour as a navigational tool or as the sole way to differentiate items
  • Images should include Alt text in the markup/code. This is alternative text to describe your image to people who can’t see it.
  • Complex images should have more extensive descriptions near the image (perhaps as a caption or descriptive summary).
  • Provide transcripts for podcasts.
  • If you have a video on your site, provide visual access to the audio information through in-sync captioning.

On 23 September 2018 new regulations on the accessibility of websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies came into force in the UK.

Posted in Accessibility, Blogs | Leave a comment

Things you may find useful when using Twitter that you might have slipped past you!

Bird tweeting

As the old saying goes “Every day’s a learning day’.  Social Media including Twitter seems to be always changing things. Whilst introducing new features in the main can be useful, they sometimes pass you by.  For me it was saving a draft of a Tweet. How did I miss that?! This post highlights some tips that I hope you will find useful. For keyboard shortcut fans there are a list of commands towards the end of the post.

The basics

To create a Tweet you type your Tweet (up to 280 characters) into the compose box at the top of your Home timeline, or click the Tweet button in the navigation bar. You then have the option to include up to 4 photos, a GIF, or a video in your Tweet. To send, click the Tweet button to post the Tweet to your profile.

How to save a draft of a Tweet

There may be times when you are part way composing a Tweet and then something interrupts you finishing it. You can save a draft of your Tweet by clicking the X icon in the top left corner of the compose box, then click Save. To access your draft Tweets, click on Unsent Tweets from the Tweet compose box.

unsent tweet



From here you can  choose to edit the Tweet prior to sending or to delete the Tweet.

unsent tweet options


How to schedule a Tweet

You may want to write a Tweet but not send it immediately. To schedule your Tweet to be sent at a later date/time, click on the calendar icon at the bottom of the compose box and make your schedule selections, then click Confirm.  To access your scheduled Tweets, click on Unsent Tweets from the Tweet compose box.

schedule a tweet




Here you can the options available for scheduling the tweet. You need to select the date and time you want your Tweet to be released. There is also an option to choose an alternative timezone. The default should be where you are in the world.

tweet schedule options





How to delete a Tweet

  1. Visit your Profile page.
  2. Locate the Tweet you want to delete.
  3. Click the  down arrow located top right of your tweet.
  4. Click Delete Tweet.

You can only delete your own Tweets. Whilst you cannot delete Tweets which were posted by other accounts you can unfollow, block or mute accounts whose Tweets you do not want to receive.

To delete or undo a Retweet you’ve made, click on the highlighted Retweet icon in the Tweet. This will remove the Retweet from your timeline, but will not delete the original Tweet.

How to pin a Tweet to your Profile

This will pin a Tweet that you have Tweeted at the top of your Profile page.  Once pinned you will see above the Tweet ‘Pinned Tweet’

  1. Visit your Profile page.
  2. Locate the Tweet you want to delete.
  3. Click the  down arrow located top right of your tweet.
  4. Click Pin to your Profile.

To unpin the Tweet follow the above 3 steps and the Click Unpin from Profile.

Keyboard shortcuts

The following are a list of keyboard shortcuts that can be used via your browser on twitter.com from your Home page. To get to Home, click on the blue birdhouse icon.


  • n  =  new Tweet
  • l  =  like
  • r  =  reply
  • t  =  Retweet
  • m  =  Direct Message
  • u  =  mute account
  • b  =  block account
  • enter  =  open Tweet details
  • o   =  expand photo
  • /  =  search
  • cmd-enter | ctrl-enter  =  send Tweet


  • ?  =  full keyboard menu
  • j  =  next Tweet
  • k  =  previous Tweet
  • space  =  page down
  • .  =  load new Tweets


  • g and h  =  Home timeline
  • g and o  =  Moments
  • g and n  =  Notifications tab
  • g and r  =  Mentions
  • g and p  =  profile
  • g and l  =  likes tab
  • g and i  =  lists tab
  • g and m  =  Direct Messages
  • g and s  =  Settings and privacy
  • g and u  =  go to someone’s profile
Posted in Twitter | Tagged | 1 Comment