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 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

Guest post 2: A Remote Learning Guide written by Students for Students: How to ensure your remote learning experience is effective, supportive and fun. #shuSMASH

A remote learning guide

This is a second guest post written for students by students Matty Trueman, Kai Ackroyd, Curtis Alexis-Jones, Gagan Warinch and Eimantus Lukocius. We are final year students at Sheffield Hallam University.


The way students learn remotely is becoming more and more important as universities transition to online teaching. With many students facing a number of challenges during this current time, it’s important that there are answers to some of the questions that might have arisen. This blog post aims to provide an informative guide on how students can improve their remote learning experience, with the following questions being answered: how to stay motivated, how are other students learning, how to support your peers and how to be more social.


With most of us now transitioned to online learning, it is important to stay on track with the routine we normally carry whilst at university, work or social spaces. For many, a sudden change to a normal daily routine is a shock and can take a toll on your productivity and most importantly – your mental wellbeing. More now, than ever before it is essential to identify the methods that will help you complete your work and succeed. It is important to understand that tips for motivation isn’t a one size fits all approach and hence, why it is so crucial that you identify what works for YOU.

Here, we present some of the tips that can help you stay motivated, keep on track with your assignment work, and keep you sane during the lockdown!

  • Designate a specific workspace you will use to complete your work. It is a very important first step in ensuring you have a distraction-free space that will allow you to concentrate.
  • Get up in the morning at your routine time, dress, have breakfast and start by reflecting on what you did the previous day (or week) then progress onto the tasks for the day.
  • Don’t forget to take regular breaks and allow time to relax by managing your time accordingly (go for a short exercise outside, listen to your favourite podcast, play games or do any other activity you enjoy).
  • Maintain your regular routine/schedule and set realistic expectations for the week ahead by prioritising the tasks you think will take you the longest to complete.
  • Consider using Notion which is a great app  available on Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. Notion helps you to stay on track by providing an all-round solution to organise your notes, schedule, budget, reading list for specific module, grades calculator and more.

Download for iOS         Download for Android 

  Notion iOs QR code            Notion for Android QR code


Adapting to online learning can be difficult, especially if you have moved back home as there can be a lot of distractions! However there are some really useful tools that can assist you with all your learning needs. 

These are some examples of what has worked really well for us and we recommend you share with your tutors:

Blackboard Collaborate: Breakout Groups

This tool works really well with a large group of students, it splits you up into groups of around 3-4 (depending on how many people are in the session). Once you are in the breakout group you can speak with the group members through voice/ video and also through messaging in your own group chat. You also have the option to send messages in the overall chat if you have any questions. It’s really useful as you can discuss your ideas and also communicate with your peers. The tutor(s) can drop in and out of the breakout groups to check on how you are doing and answer any questions (if you have any).

Padlet: Share and Discussion

Padlet is an effective tool to share ideas, as anyone can add a post to the board (with the link your tutor/ peer gives you, or that you share out). E.g. Working in groups on a practice exam question. Firstly we used Blackboard Collaborate (mentioned above) to discuss our ideas), once we had got all of our ideas together for each section we posted them onto the Padlet board. This is an effective way to learn as you can share your ideas and also see everyone else’s ideas, so you get an in depth understanding around the topic. It is also easy for the lectures to go through and discuss with the individual groups as it is all in one place.

 Zoom: Scheduled Session

Zoom is a video conferencing tool that allows you to create meetings/ attend meetings that have been set up by your tutors. Tutors will initially send an email telling you the date and time of the meeting and a link that will direct you to the meeting.  All you need to do is click on the link. If this is your first time it will ask you to install the Zoom video conferencing software, wait for the creator of the meeting to connect and then your meeting will be in progress. If you aren’t familiar with Zoom and want to know more here is a useful guide written by the Digital Learning  Team as Hallam.

 Zoom: Open Time Slot

Another effective use of Zoom is having an open session. For example having a drop in session for assignments and any questions you have. This is useful as your tutor gives you a link to go to that you can access at any time on the day that they state. It allows you to ask anything that you need in regards to your assignment. The only issue is it’s an open session so anyone that the tutor sends the link to can join.

Peer support 

It’s important we look out for each other and consider peers that may be living alone away from family. Whether it’s through a video conferencing tool like Zoom or via other social media, there are a number of ways to stay in touch.

Ways to keep in touch

Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook are just some of the many ways that you can use to stay in contact with your fellow peers and friends from University. 

Using online tools and social media can help to make you feel less isolated whilst looking out for your friends. For those who are stuck in their accommodation and away from their family, using Messenger and WhatsApp are highly beneficial tools that can help to deal with isolation and the physical barriers of seeing people. It’s important during this difficult time that people are staying well connected online to aid people’s mental health and isolation fears.

Zoom Screen Share and Remote Mouse Access

Zoom is a video conferencing tool that allows for video calls to be made over the internet, it also has some useful features that can be beneficial when working on group projects together. The first feature is the ability to share your screen so that everyone on the call can see what you’re working on. The second feature allows users to take over the mouse control of the screen that’s being shared, this is very useful if someone needs to change something during the call.

How to Guide (Screen Share)

Share screen

  1. Click the Share Screen button located in your meeting controls.
  2. Select the screen you want to share. You can also choose an individual application that is already open on your computer, the desktop, a whiteboard, or an iPhone/iPad.

select screen

Tip: If the participant is on iOS or Android, they can remote control your screen using their mobile device.

How to Guide (Remote Mouse Access)

  1. While screen sharing, click Remote Control and select the participant you want to give control to.
    remote mouse access
  2. The participant can click anywhere on their screen to start control. To regain control, click anywhere on your screen. The other user can still restart remote control by clicking on their screen.

Tip: You can also click Stop Share to regain control and not allow the other participant to start remote control again.


Given the current circumstances of being off school/college/university or even work. It is highly important to switch off and enjoy some downtime. You may have exhausted your Netflix options or maybe you’re sick of playing online. Don’t worry as there are other options you can keep yourself occupied with. 

Don’t let being stuck inside be the reason for you to avoid exercise 

Get creative, stimulate your mind!    

 Download the ‘Houseparty’ app on your smartphone, tablet or computer

  • Completely free app
  • Unlike Skype or Facetime video calls, the Houseparty app splits the screen between you and the person you are video chatting in your ‘room’
  • Eight users can be in a room at one time and the screen will be split 8 ways so everyone can see each other
  • It also includes mini games, compete and challenge each other 

Get involved on Instagram

 Instagram nominations (tag your friends and nominate them to participate in the challenge you have set)

  • Riddle challenge 
  • 30-day challenges 
  •  Throwback baby pictures
  • Kick up challenge


We hope you found these tips useful. Please share with other students!

Stay well and keep on studying.

Matty, Kai, Curtis, Gagan and Eimantus
BSc IT with Business Studies and BSc Business and ICT students at Sheffield Hallam University

P. S. You may also be interested in our previous post A student toolkit to help you tackle remote learning written by students for students


PPS #shuSMASH is an acronym for Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) and Social Media for Academic Studies at Hallam (SMASH) – a students as partners project.



Posted in Collaboration tools, Communication tools, Social Learning | Tagged | 1 Comment

Guest post: A student toolkit to help you tackle remote learning written by students for students



This is a guest post written for students by students Matty Trueman, Kai Ackroyd, Curtis Alexis-Jones and Gagan Warinch to highlight the free collaboration tools available and how they can support remote learning. We are final year students at Sheffield Hallam University.

Our blog post will look at how you as a student can: plan tasks, share work online, schedule and run online meetings whilst staying digitally connected through messaging services. In addition, tools to help with managing time and staying motivated during times of difficulty will also be shared.

Planning tasks 

Project planning tools such as Trello and Slack are useful for planning tasks and organising work. These can help your group capture all the tasks that need doing and track what has been done.

Trello allows you to work collaboratively by using task boards, lists and cards to organise and prioritise your work. Trello integrates with many other apps such as Slack, Dropbox and Google Drive to name a few. Trello can be accessed on the go via a mobile app or through the browser allowing users to update projects with ease. 

Slack is also another powerful tool that can be downloaded as an app or accessed through the browser. Slack allows you to communicate and collaborate in one place by organising different chat channels (groups). Within the channels files can be shared and face to face video meetings can be arranged through Zoom and Google Drive platform integrations which allows work to be shared via video. Each channel can be split down for different projects and groups to help organise your work. Slack also integrates with Trello and 2000 other apps to support your work.

Collaborative work spaces for group work 

Collaborative work spaces such as OneDrive & Google Drive are the perfect tools to work on individual and group projects in challenging times. You can access your files everywhere, no matter where you are as long as you are able to access the internet.

You can also share your files with your friends with just a few simple clicks. You can set the permission where your friends can either view, edit, comment on your stuff, or all of them. And thirdly they can encourage open discussion. You can create and reply to comments to get feedback and make files more collaborative, it can be done by commenting directly on the files.

Scheduling meetings 

These tools can provide a quick way to find the best time slot for groups to meet online, without the need for back and forth emails or messages. 

Online meetings 

Online meeting platforms including Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts are effective for learning when you have group work/ assignments and for contacting peers/ tutors for any support during this trying time. 

Zoom is  an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio meetings across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems. Key features are (free plan):

  1. One-on-one meetings: Host unlimited one-on-one meetings with peers/ tutors.
  2. Group video conferences: Allows you to host video meetings for up to 40 minutes and up to 100 participants.
  3. Screen sharing: Meet one-on-one or with large groups and share your screen with them so they can see what you see. 

Skype is accessed online and works across multiple devices; mobile, PC, Xbox and Alexa. Skype messaging and HD voice and video calling will help you share your findings/ideas and get group work done with others. Key features are:

  1. Individual conversations: Host individual audio/ video with peers/ tutors.
  2. Group conversations: Allows you to have audio/ video calls and meetings with up to 50 participants.
  3. It’s free to use: To send messages and have audio and video calls with groups.

Google Hangouts is a communications platform which facilitates messaging, video chatting and phone calls. You can access it via web browser or mobile devices (IOS/ Android).There is also a Google Chrome extension for this platform. Key features are:

  1. Individual/ Group conversations: Conversations can include up to 150 people.
  2. Individual/ Group video calls: Video calls can include up to 10 (Gmail, G Suite Basic) or 25 (Business, Education) people.
  3. Phone calls/ text messages: Make phone calls using Wi-Fi or data and send text messages with your Google Voice or Google Fi phone number.


Studying alone can help you focus but it can also be isolating. Make use of chat to check in on peers and see how they are. Use group chat to keep everyone in your group informed and to take stock of your progress towards forthcoming assignments. 

You may be familiar with apps like WhatsApp, Messenger and Twitter for keeping in touch socially with friends and they are also a good to use for group work.

Discord allows users to chat via text, voice or video call from anywhere. It can be downloaded to mobile, desktop or be used in a browser and instantly allows for voice communication. Users can create their own chat groups and invite others to it and you can see when others are online in the chat and instantly join in to speak. Users have the ability to have their profile appear as online, busy or idle to ensure others know their availability. It is widely used in the gaming community, but easily applied to students for group work or for effective communication. 

Self motivation / Time tracking

Carve out some space for study time. This will be harder if you are doing this at home or in halls where there may be multiple distractions. Here are some tools to keep you on track:

Toggl allows users to track the number of hours they’ve spent on a project across multiple devices (phone app, chrome extension, desktop app & website). With Toggl you can start timers, integrate it with over 100 online apps and add your hours to a calendar to keep track of what you’ve been working on. It will also identify any idle time so you can decide what to do with it later to keep you motivated.

Pomotodo is a great tool to help keep you motivated and driven to achieve your tasks and goals when not in the classroom environment. The Pomodoro technique is a time management strategy. The user will create and prioritise a list of all the things you need to accomplish. The smart system will limit distractions, schedule breaks and increases accountability.

Other resources

Check your university website for student support guidance and resources. The library web pages are always a rich resource to help you with things like referencing and academic skills. 

It is also important we all look after both our physical and mental wellbeing.  Reach out to friends you have not heard from and check they are ok. 

Student Minds

Big White Wall

Fika – Mental Fitness 


We hope this has been useful. Stay well and keep on studying.

Matty, Kai, Curtis and Gagan
BSc IT with Business Studies and BSc Business and ICT students at Sheffield Hallam University

Posted in Collaboration tools, Communication tools | Tagged | 12 Comments

The Global Digital Stat Report 2019 by WeAreSocial and Hootsuite

Digital Statshot Oct 2019

As we near the close of 2019 the Global Digital Statshot Q4 October 2019 is a fascinating slide deck to look at. Of the 7.7 billion total population more than 50% are active social media users and use their mobile devices to do so.

The full Global Digital Report 2019 can be found here and allows you to segment by country/region.

Posted in Social Media, Technology | Leave a comment

Time saving online tips (you may have forgotten you know)!

quick tips

This week I gave a colleague a quick tip on how to use the Snipping Tool available on your PC or laptop. She found this very useful so I thought I would share it in a blog post and some other quick tips that I have found useful myself.

The Snipping Tool

Snipping Tool icon

This simple tool allows you to drag a frame around something you want to copy and paste into a document or presentation. You may be familiar with the print screen function using the PrtSc button (others shortcuts here if you don’t have this button), however this grabs the whole screen.The Snipping Tool app allows you to also take a snapshot to copy words or images from a specific part of your PC/laptop screen.

The Snipping Tool can capture any of the following types of snips:

  • Free-form snip: Draw a free-form shape around an object.
  • Rectangular snip: Drag the cursor around an object to form a rectangle.
  • Window snip: Select a window, such as a dialogue box, that you want to capture.
  • Full-screen snip: Capture the entire screen.

To access the Snipping Tool from Windows, use the search field at the bottom of your screen as below.

Snipping Tool

For easy access to this tool, you can choose to pin the Snipping Tool to your taskbar. You will then see the icon and simply need to click on this to open the tool.

If you have Windows 10 there is another version of this called the Snip and Sketch tool. To access press Windows logo key  Shift S to open or enter Snip & Sketch in the search field. This works in the same way. Once you snip an area of your screen — the snipped image is added to your clipboard and you can paste it immediately in another app. A screen prompt will also allow you to annotate, save or share it. Snip & Sketch also provides a few tools for annotating images, namely pen, pencil and highlighter. Once you click a tool to select ityou can click it again to change its color or thickness.  

The Notepad tool

Notepad icon

Again this can be found by searching for Notepad in the search field and you can pin to your taskbar. What I like about this tool is that you can use the Notepad to take notes whilst you are looking at whatever you have open, for example a Word Doc, PDF, PowerPoint or a web page and take notes. The notepad stays open as you scroll down the page.

Notepad example

For some reason, Notepad has word wrap turned off. This means everything you type ends up on one long line until you press enter, which starts another long line. If you would like to see what you are typing without having to scroll all the way to the right, turn Word Wrap on by going to Format. If you hover at the edge of an open note you can adjust the size of your notepad.

You can save text documents in Notepad in the same way as in Word. Files are saved with a .txt extension and in plain text. Alternatively select Ctrl and A to grab all the text and then paste where you want it to go.

Formatted text can be temporarily pasted into Notepad, and then immediately copied again in stripped format to paste into another programme.

The Find function

This function can search an open web page or programme to find a specific word or phrase. The Find tool is accessed by simply using Ctrl and F together. A box will then open in which you can enter the word or phrase you wish to find. It will then show how many occurrences there are and highlight these in the text.

Ctrl and F

The book above is called Social Media in Higher Education: Case Studies, Reflections and Analysis edited by Chris Rowell.

I hope you find these quick tips useful!

Posted in Tips | Leave a comment

How to create comic versions of photos using your phone and why you might want to!

I was reading up on the updates that came with iOS12 on the iPhone and I discovered you can access some new photo filters: Comic Book, Comic Mono, Ink, Watercolour and Watercolour Mono. The downside is you can only use these filters within Messages, but you can save to your photos for reuse later.

Above is an example of a photo of me taken using the Comic Mono filter. I’ve captured how to do this below. This is partially for my own benefit so I can come back to it but also to demonstrate that it is actually easy to do if you follow the steps.

How to access the comic book filter on an iPhone

  • Open the Messages app and start or reply to a conversation.
  • Tap the camera button to open the camera and then tap the spirograph-star button in the lower-left corner.
  • Next, tap the red-green-blue Filters button and scroll to the right to find the five new photo filters
  • Then tap the X button to close the Filters drawer.
  • The Messages app chooses the front-facing selfie camera by default, but you can select the rear-facing camera instead and keep the filter effect in place.
  • Tap the shutter button to take a photo with your chosen filter
  • Then tap the blue-arrow button to send it or Done button to add it to your text message and return to the Messages app. Either way, the photo is saved to your iPhone’s camera roll.

The filter works using both the front-facing selfie camera and the rear camera which you use to take photos. Now whilst you may not necessarily want to create a comic selfie, and given the emphasis on my hamster cheeks maybe I won’t be using this as my next profile picture; however it did get me thinking it could be a fun way to engage in digital storytelling. This could be done by creating a storyboard using images taken with an iPhone camera and one of the filters to produce a comic style strip as a digital story.

It should be noted that there are also many free online tools to create comic style stories (see some examples in the list at the end of this post).

Digital storytelling is way of using digital artefacts such as images, film or audio that can be shared digitally. It could also include taking photos of sketchnotes or creations using Lego, playdough or anything else you might choose to use! Digital stories might be shared for example via a blog or website, through social media or in an online discussion forum. Original photos or those with a Creative Commons licence can be used equally as well in a digital story and in a previous post I shared how Lumen 5 can curate these into a video. Chris Thomson’s blog is an excellent resource for all things ‘Storytelling’.

Photo elicitation is a technique where a single or collection of photos (or other images such as paintings, cartoons, graffiti) can be used as a stimulus for conversation. This method can be used in research to ‘elicit comments’ from participants – photos can be chosen by the interviewer or by individuals. It can also be used as a form of open discussion. Usually undertaken face to face but there are no doubt multiple ways this could be replicated online. Liz Austen has written about how we can meaningfully listen to students’ voices using images.


Educational uses for digital storytelling or photo elicitation

Below are some examples of how these two approaches might be applied.

  • Create personal narratives – aspirations, achievements, significant events, inspirations, reflective learning journeys
  • Produce narratives to convey student support focused information
  • A way to portray synthesised research visually
  • As a focus for discussion
  • An opportunity to develop digital skills and creative ways of communicating


Other comic strip tools

Posted in Communication tools | Leave a comment

Serendipity and social learning is POWERFUL!

This post is a personal example of social learning and serendipity which led to learning about how acrostics can be used and the creation of three animated videos.

Last week I was following the conference hashtag #AHEConference2019  for the international Assessment in Higher Education conference and wishing I was there in person. However thanks to the many colleagues tweeting I was able to pick up some interesting points being shared. Two tweets in particular shared photos of slides for two of Professor Sally Brown’s presentations in which she had created acrostics to explore principles for feedback in one and learning outcomes in another.

What is an acrostic you might ask?

Wikipedia defines an acrostic as a poem (or other form of writing) in which the first letter (or syllable, or word) of each line (or paragraph, or other recurring feature in the text) spells out a word, message or the alphabet.

The word comes from the French acrostiche from post-classical Latin acrostichis, from Koine Greek ἀκροστιχίς, from Ancient Greek ἄκρος “highest, topmost” and στίχος “verse”.

As a form of constrained writing, an acrostic can be used as a mnemonic device to aid memory retrieval. (Wikipedia)

These two slides from Sally’s presentations were tweeted by Emma Flint and Anke Buttner and visually demonstrate the use of an acrostic:


My social learning

So as a result of me learning about Sally’s acrostics, I thought there was an opportunity to create an animated video for each of them using a tool called Lumen 5. This allows you to use text and select from a searchable library images, video clips and GIFs to create an animated video. You can also add music if you wish too.

The first is the FEEDBACK acrostic

The second is the VASCULAR learning outcomes

The process of doing this helped me to think more deeply about the each of the principles. I am now considering how I can use this approach with my students to help them explore concepts and principles. As already mentioned it may also have the potential to be used as a mnemonic for revision and recall. Getting the students to create their own will I think be the most beneficial.

What happened next?

Sally Brown was really pleased with the videos and offered to write an acrostic for me! Given my interest in social media for learning and social learning I asked if she would like to explore this. I was delighted with her response as she came back with Social Learning is POWERFUL and used ‘powerful’ to develop the following acrostic.


Sally expanded on these with this acrostic:

Social Learning is POWERFUL

People-centred: learning happens through often Playful interactions;
Opportunistic: learners can join groups serendipitously;
Worldwide: there are no global barriers;
Exhilarating: it’s Exciting interacting with friends and Excellent soon-to-Be friends through social learning;
Reflection-inducing: it can foster thoughtful and developmental approaches to productive Rumination;
Friendly: typically there is much warmth in social learning;
Unstructured or more formally organised making it Uplifting;
Levelling: it can be inclusive of diverse students

This has already got me thinking deeper and will provide inspiration for a further post so that I can expand deeper on each of these. Needless to say I was inspired to create another animation. I hope you like it.

Posted in Social Learning | 3 Comments

Coffee shops, pubs and social media spaces: considering the similarities of group chat in social places

A recent post in the Intelligencer titled Group Chats Are Making the Internet Fun Again shared by my colleague Scott Turner has sparked a flurry of conversation on Twitter this Sunday morning. What started as a conversation about the article on group chat, went off on a variety of different tangents. I’ll come back to that another day, as what I wanted to share here was my initial reflections after reading this post and the connections I made to pubs and coffee shops.

The post talks about the author’s choice to take conversations with those he chooses to engage with online, away from social media to group chats (namely Apple iChat). He reminisces about the”the halcyon era of AOL Instant Messenger, once the most widespread method of messing around with your friends on the internet”.

In many of the popular social media spaces, there is the facility to have threaded conversations. This is where someone shares something or raises a question, and then one or more people reply. Further replies are connected so that you can follow the ongoing conversation. In addition readers of any post can simply interact with a like. One of the (many) critisisms of Facebook is that the complex algorthims and ‘multi-metric ranking system’ has meant that we don’t get to see all of the posts made by people we are connected to. Posts do not appear in your feed in a chronological order.

One definition of group chats is “a group of people who regularly exchange messages on the Internet, especially people who share an interest.” The group chat provides an opportunity to limit the conversation to a specific group and access is just for those individuals. Posting on Twitter (unless you have protected Tweets) is open to all to see. On Facebook anyone you have chosen to friend has the potential to see the group conversations. That said both spaces do also offer private group chat. In Twitter you can give a group private direct message a title, useful when you have a specific themed chat. Facebook also offer groups (which can be private or open), which can be named as you wish. LinkedIn too offers the affordances to create open or closed groups. Then there is WhatsApp, Snapchat, Slack and paid tools like Microsoft teams and Yammer.

There are of course pros and cons to any form of group chat. The subject can be focussed but can also go off on tangents. Any chat is open to different opinions, but you have the choice to leave the conversation should you choose to. The number of messages can accumulate if you don’t keep up, but then again you don’t miss out if you can take the time to scroll back. Conversations can be synchronous (in real time) or asynchronus (respond at a later time). Larks and nightowls (those up early or late) can post when they want to and members of the the group chat can choose when to respond. Turning off notifications during the time period you want to sleep is a good idea!

With all this considered it got me thinking about the way we communicate as humans and where we choose to have these conversations in physical social spaces such as coffee shops and pubs. These places can be very popular, and yet like online spaces, they can also fall out of favour. Aside from selling good quality beverages, people often visit these places for the social aspect. Let’s face it, it’s much cheaper to make your own coffee or buy your drink from the supermarket. People enjoy both talking and listening (in) to others, and socialialising is very popular in pubs and coffee shops (along with many other places!).

In these public social spaces conversations can take place:

  • as private conversations in pairs or small groups (assuming you haven’t a loud voice that carries) with those you arrange to meet there
  • with those you may know and ‘bump into’ because that’s your local or
  • with those you have never met as you choose to strike up a conversation with them.

The popularity of the venue can be linked to where you feel most comfortable. A city centre bar may be the hub for many a conversation, but a quiet local pub may be preferable for a private conversation. A high street coffee shop chain can provide a convenient place to meet, but a small independent coffee houses might offer a more unique and cosy atmosphere. A quiz night in a pub or drinks after a football match will bring people together with a shared purpose and anticaption of shared interests and conversation.

I’d suggest that online social media spaces are similar. There are different ways we can choose to interact and an ever growing choice of places to do this online. Social media sites might seem to lose favour for some and if people choose to migrate their conversations to other social spaces of their choice than that’s great. If you wanted somewhere to go for a quiet conversaton over a drink, but choose to go to a busy place, then don’t be surprised if it’s loud and heaving with people. The key thing to remember is that where you choose to have conversations is just that – a choice and the right choice is something we all need to learn to judge for ourselves. As an educator I see value in encouraging my students to experience different social spaces and to have conversations about protocols and privacy.

With the rise of smart phones and free WiFi in public spaces like pubs and coffee shops, access to social media is easily available and you might think you can get the best of both worlds of face to face and online conversations. In the main this might be true, but online you have the option of when to engage in a conversation. However when someone starts a face to face conversation, (unless you make it clear you do not want to engage with them) it is important to be fully present. Be mindful of multicommunicating –  the practice of engaging in more than one conversation at a time. Just as it would seem rude to be part way through one conversation and start interacting with another person near to you; joining an online conversation via your phone whilst talking to someone you are with can also be considered rude if the other person feels they are being ignored.

Whether communicating face to face or online it is important to develop listening skills, interpersonal skils and understand the protocols which may vary depending on with who and where the conversation is taking place. I’d like to think people don’t frequently go out of their way to be deliberately rude, but sadly it does happen. It is (in my view) important that whenever we communicate (face to face or online) that we are courteous, aim to be clear,  and give consideration to others to ensure they have an equal opportunity to interact.

Image sources: Pixabay (public domain)




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Tips on how to give your LinkedIn profile a Spring clean

When was the last time you read through your LinkedIn profile? For many of us I suspect some time! Often neglected, a profile can quickly be out of date and not reflect recent accomplishments. When not actively looking for another job it is not always at the forefront of our minds. However it is important to remember that through a google search, anyone could happen upon a link to your LinkedIn profile. First impressions count and it is therefore imporant that you present yourself in the best possible light.

Over recent years I have received invitations to speak internationally, collaborate in projects and write publications through LinkedIn connections and people visiting my profile as it appeared in a google search. It is well worth the investment in time to give your profile a sproing clean and some tender loving care. Below are some points to consider.


Is your photo professional (no selfies)? Ideally this should be a headshot with your face looking taking up approx 70%-80% of the space available and looking straight forward. If you don’t have a professional photo, ask someone to take a photo of you against a plain backdrop (white or pale coloured wall).


Does your headline include the things you want to be known for? For example your job title, company, specialisms/expertise, or as a student or recent graduate the name of your degree, looking for placements in… or graduate looking for work in…


Have you changed your vanity URL to be LinkedIn/in/yourname? If your name has been taken, be creative and add a dash or relevant keyword.

Along with your contact information (email address and optional telephone number) have you included links to your blog, website and Twitter handle (if you have one)?


Think of this as your elevator pitch. Do the first two sentences entice you to want to read on? Is the tone authentic (consistent with who you really are) and aspirational (positioning you for what’s next)?

Consider including some personal information to convey your interests, values, and life experiences.

Decide on a writing style (first or third person).  Ask someone to proofread your whole profile to check spellings and that it is grammtically correct. Use white space to break up the paragraphs so the text is not bunched together.


Do you have an entry for each experience element of your career – including a description with relevant keywords in each entry? Think of the search terms others would use if they were looking for someone with your experience and skills, and add these throughout your profile.


Add all relevant qualifications. For your degree, select your university from the LinkedIn list so the logo appears in your profile.


Add skills to your profile. Are the top three skills in your skill/endorsements section the ones for which you want to be known?


Do you belong to relevant groups in these areas: specialist interests relevant to your career, thought-leadership, alumni, charities?

Publications and projects

Have you included your publications (journal articles, books, whitepapers) and/or projects you have (c0)worked on?


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Student guest post: 8 ways students and staff can engage in remote collaboration

remote collaboration

A guest blog post from Sheffield Hallam University Business and Technology students working within the SMASH team. A student partnership group researching Social Media for Academic Studies at Hallam.

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As we enter into the second semester of university (or the last semester for final year students), with the cold weather upon us and deadlines looming – it is often difficult for students participating in group work to all be in the same place at the same time for meetings.

The SMASH team (Social Media for Academic Studies at Hallam) last year wrote a blog post following their struggles of meeting up as a group after the #BeastFromTheEast disrupted travel across the UK. This year, the team have decided to build upon this post, and create more ideas and suggestions into tools for remote collaboration. Not only does this list build upon some of the tools mentioned in the previous post, and demonstrating how these have been implemented within the students’ own courses; but also introduces new tools, which have been researched and used first-hand to ensure they are useful and sufficient for use by both staff and students.

8 Apps for Remote Collaboration

  1. .Trello
  2. Google Apps
  3. Google Hangout
  4. Messenger
  5. Github
  6. Zoom
  7. Blackboard Collaborate
  8. Padlet

1. Trello

How it can be used

Trello can be used to create Kanban style boards for group work. Users are able to create bespoke categories and add and move notes added to these. ‘Power-ups’ can also be downloaded, adding additional features to the Trello boards, including Google Calendars (mentioned below), and imagery such as ‘gifs’ and popular survey sites such as ‘SurveyMonkey’.

How to get started

Create a Trello account & add users to the board, setting privacy settings where necessary. Start building categories and notes within these, adding additional features where you see fit. Adjust the Trello board as you continue through a project.

Further support

2. Google Apps

How it can be used

Google applications contain a wide variety of collaboration tools, spanning from Google Drive, where shared folders, documents and presentation slides can be added; to Google Calendar where group meetings and Google Hangouts can be organised, for when students are not able to meet up at the same time or for staff to plan Academic Adviser meetings.

How to get started

More examples of Google Apps can be found below, including Google Trips maybe for a student organised trip and Google Duo which could be used for one-to-one meetings between students and staff.

More Google Apps

3. Google Hangout

How it can be used

Google Hangout is a free Google application, which can be used for messaging and video-chatting amongst staff and students. As an alternative to Whatsapp (which requires a mobile number to add contacts and create groups), this application only requires an email address to begin contact. You can also add Google Hangout as a Google Chrome extension, and allow notifications for constant communication between groups and individuals.

How to get started

You can either download the Google Hangout app on your phone or alternatively download the extension quickly from the Google Play store. Alternatively for Sheffield Hallam users you can search for the tool on Blackboard, and login automatically with your SHU credentials (and access the SHU student and staff directory).

Further support

4. Messenger

How it can be used

Facebook Messenger is a free messaging app which is used for instant messaging, setting plans, sharing photos and videos and many other additions Messenger provides for group communication. Messenger also has a video and call option which allows for group calls and meetings in real time. This tool is used widely by students as it’s part of Facebook so your contacts are instantly linked with the account or you can choose to message new contacts.

How to get started

To get started simply download the Messenger app from the website and it will redirect you to the right system you need to download for your device.

Further support

5. Github

How it can be used

Github is a tool for developers which allows you to work on code, to host and review projects you are working on and build software alongside other developers who are working on parts of the code and creating a final software solution that works. GitHub brings teams together to work through problems, move ideas forward, and learn from each other along the way. The GitHub tool allows you to write better code, manage your chaos & finds the right tools to help you.

Further support on how to signup your team

How to get started

GitHub can be joined for free, all you need to do is sign up with the link above, which gives you unlimited public repositories, unlimited private repositories, 3 collaborators for private repositories, issues and bug tracking as well as project management which is more than enough for a beginning non-business team.

Further support and info about more features within GitHub and what you can do with it

6. Zoom

How it can be used

Zoom is an audio and video collaboration tool, wherein students & staff can organise virtual meetings – if they’re based at home or in another location, rather than having to meet face-to-face at the same time. Online video meetings, video webinars (for student or tutor presentations or marketing events for open days) & zoom rooms (collaboration-enabled conference rooms) can all be used within this tool.

How to get started

For meetings which have already been set up, use this link to join: (entering a meeting ID)
Or to host a meeting, sign up to Zoom, and follow the ‘Host a Meeting’ link to choose which service you would like to use. There are unlimited free 1 to 1 meetings and up to 40 free mins for group meetings.

Further support

7. Blackboard Collaborate

How it can be used

The primary use for this tool is to maintain remote relationships where physical participation is not possible. Used by lecturers, remote sessions can be set up that enable screen recordings to be shared alongside voice calls to give the look and feel of an ordinary lecture/seminar. This is also more than a live tool, as it allows sessions to be saved as recordings, allowing students to revisit the content.

An example of its use is during our Business and Technology Professional Practice module where students who are on placement can receive content delivery and ask questions whilst away from university about their final year assessments.

How to get started

When accessing your module sites on MyHallam (the name of our Blackboard VLE), at the bottom of the subheadings on the left you will see a “Blackboard Collaborate” option. Clicking this link will take you to the Blackboard collaborate main page, where live and scheduled sessions can be found. Clicking these sessions will allow you to view the content. During these sessions, a live chat will be present where questions can be asked from anyone present.

To access previous Blackboard Collaborate sessions, expanding the hamburger menu on the top left, going to recordings and changing the date range from the drop-down menu on the right, allows you to view all previous recordings in the date range. Selecting a recording allows you to watch back the recording.

Further Support

8. Padlet

How it can be used

At a high level, Padlet is an online tool based around ‘Bulletin Boards’, where creators can invite others to modify or view their boards. Among some of the uses for this tool are; Idea Creation, To-Do Lists, Blogging, Mood Boards and storing ideas in a central location through adding photos, videos, links and attachments. The social feel of this tool is supported by functionality that enables you to create networks with other members, liking people’s posts and create folders.

An example of where this has been used is during our module Developing Strategies for Change where every student contributed to compiling examples of mergers and acquisitions.

How to get started

Signing up to create a Padlet is easy via Google, Facebook and Microsoft accounts (as well as traditional means) and once you’re in, you can begin making boards via the “+ Make a Padlet” button. A wide variety of boards are shown, from templates to blank ones, depending on what the intended use is. The background styles are completely customisable and once this is selected, double click anywhere on the board and begin adding to the board. There is also an option to allow users to rate or comment on posts.

Sharing Padlets can be done from inside the board via the share button, and to see shared padlets return to the home screen and go to the shared sidebar option.

Further support

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We hope you have found this post useful, and encourage you to add in the comments any other tools you have found helpful for remote collaboration.


Students from the SMASH team at Sheffield Hallam University

Jess Paddon – IT with Business Studies – @JessPaddonSHU

Joe Gilbert – BSc IT with Business Studies – @JoeGiIbert

Ola Mazur – BSc IT with Business Studies – @SheffAleksandra

Matthew Trueman – BSc IT with Business Studies – @Matty_Trueman

Image credit: Harry Whitaker  – BSc Graphic Design (image used with permission)

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