Extending the audience of a blog post


When you start to blog your focus is understandably on the post you are writing. However if you don’t then think about about how you will share this post to an audience that will appreciate it and potentially share with others, then you run the risk of ‘talking’ to the ether…

Connect your blog to your social media accounts

You can save valuable time by automating a tweet or post to LinkedIn which shares the title of your blog post and a link. Within WordPress you need to click on My Sites (top left) and then scroll down to Sharing. Here click on Connections and choose which of your social sites you wish to connect your blog to. Once connected, each time you publish a post, this will automatically be shared in these spaces.

connect WordPress to social

Add social media sharing buttons

As above go to Sharing and then Sharing Buttons. You can then select the social media sites readers of your blog can click to share a post to. This makes it easy for readers to share your post with their own communities. It will automatically take the title of your post and the link. This can then be edited by the individual if they choose to add a further comment.

sharing buttons

Add a subscribe by email box

Readers can choose to subscribe to your blog and receive email notifications when a new post has been published. You can do this by adding a ‘Follow Blog Widget‘ to the side bar.

Promote your blog

Add a link to your blog in your social media bios. That way if someone visits your Twitter account for example they can find the link easily.  Other examples include adding a link to your email signature along with the name of the blog and adding the blog URL to your business cards.

Re-post in Medium

Medium is an online publishing platform developed by Evan Williams (co-founder of Twitter). First of all you will need to create an account. Once this is done you can then choose to import your blog post by simply posting the URL. It’s quick and easy to do and your post is then shared to a wider audience.

Import a post to Medium

To import a post published elsewhere onto Medium:

  1. Click your user icon > Stories > Import or go to https://medium.com/p/import.
  2. Paste the URL of the story you’d like to import into the field.
  3. Click Import.
  4. Click See your story to edit.
  5. Publish your post.

Imported stories will automatically apply a canonical URL referencing the original source material.


Don’t forget to acknowledge shares of your blog post. A simple “thanks for sharing!” goes along way.


Posted in Blogs | Leave a comment

Different ways to engage in a Twitter conversation

Twitter conversations

From time to time it can be useful to keep an ongoing Twitter conversation together. This can be done by replying to a tweet.  Whilst you can also interact through a tweet by mentioning individuals or by adding a comment as a nested retweet, these do not allow you to develop a threaded conversation where the tweets of all those involved in the conversation are kept together.

In the example below you can see 39 people have liked the tweet and 22 have engaged with it (19 retweets and 3 comments).

If you then click on the tweet it will then provide a view of the tweet which includes the comments. You can reply to any of the tweets here and they will be added to this thread of tweets. (As I am viewing from my tweet I can also ‘add another tweet’ to the thread of comments.)

threaded reply


How to reply to a tweet

There are a number of ways to do this.

Direct reply to one person
This is a direct response to a tweet another user has made.

  1. Find the Tweet you want to reply to.
  2. Hover over the bottom left hand corner of the tweet
  3. Click or tap the reply icon
  4. A compose box will pop up, type in your message and click or tap Reply to post it.

Direct reply to a tweet  with multiple usernames
As above. If the original tweet was sent to more than one person, their usernames will also be included in the reply. To remove any mentioned in the original tweet, click on reply and then click on the names and then these will be displayed as a list. You can then uncheck the names you wish to remove.

reply options

Nested retweet
This is where you retweet with a nested comment. This will appear above the original tweet.

  1. Hover over the bottom of the tweet and click or tap on retweet.
  2. Add a comment and then click or tap on retweet again.

A nested reply will look like this. However it will not be linked to other replies.


Who sees your reply?

This will depend on whether the person follows you.

  • Not following you: The tweet will show in their notifications (unless they have chosen to mute these)
  • Following you: The tweet will appear in their timeline and notifications


What you will see when someone replies to you 

  • Not following you
    If someone sends you a reply and you are not following them, the reply will not appear in your Home timeline. Instead, the reply will appear in your Notifications tab.
  • Following you
    When someone replies to one of your Tweets you will see Replying to you before the Tweet and you will receive a notification in your Notifications tab.

If you click or tap on a reply in your timeline, it will expand to display the Tweet that was replied to.

To view conversations on other’s profiles go to their home page and rather than view just Tweets, click on Tweets and Replies.

tweets and replies

Protected Tweets
Replies from people with protected Tweets will only be visible to their accepted followers.

Muting notifications for a conversation

If you would like to stop receiving notifications for a particular conversation, you can choose to mute it. When you mute a conversation, you won’t get any new notifications about that conversation. You will, however, still see Tweets from the conversation in your timeline and when you click into the original Tweet.

To mute a conversation via twitter.com, or from your Twitter for iOS or Android app:

  1. Go to the Tweet detail of any Tweet or a reply in the conversation you wish to mute.
  2. Click or tap the  icon.
  3. Tap Mute this conversation.

Maximising visibility of your tweets

If your Tweets are not protected, then all replies are public, but only relevant people, such as those who follow you and someone who is part of the conversation, will see your reply in their Home timeline, even if you begin your reply with “.@”.

There are times when you would like all of your followers to be able to see your interaction with a tweet. You can do this by Retweeting or Retweeting with a nested comment.

How to add media to a tweet

  1. Type your Tweet into the compose box at the top of your Home timeline, or click the Tweet button in the top navigation bar.
  2. You can include up to 4 photos, a GIF, or a video in your Tweet.
  3. You can include a URL link in your tweet by typing or pasting this into the message
  4. Click the Tweet button to post the Tweet to your profile.

How to mention someone in a Tweet

  1. Type your message in the Tweet compose box.
  2. Type the “@” symbol before the username(s) when addressing a particular account(s). Example: “I’m Tweeting on @Twitter!”
  3. Click or tap Tweet to post.

Deleting a Tweet

Now and again you may spot a typo and want to delete a tweet. To do this:

  1. Visit your Profile page.
  2. Locate the Tweet you want to delete.
  3. Click the  icon
  4. Click or tap Delete Tweet.

Further help

Twitter help: https://help.twitter.com/

A caveat to this post is that Twitter has a habit of continually changing things so do make use of their help pages for up to date guidance!

Posted in Communication tools, Twitter | 3 Comments

The Google Yourself Challenge

Google challenge

When was the last time you googled yourself? If not recently (or indeed if you never have) then now’s the time to do this. Dismiss the idea that this is some sort of ‘ego surfing’ exercise. This is an opportunity to check what your online presence looks like to others.

You may not be aware of the many times you are searched for as an individual. This could be in the quest to find your contact details, information about your research/projects/teaching, or as a prospective employer to get an overview of your online profile. As social media use ranks highly anyone can quickly find your most recent activity. It is therefore important to understand what information you are sharing is private and  what is public; and also how this could impact on your career prospects and overall safety. Giving away too much personal information could result in a stolen identity.


Questions to ask yourself?

  • What do people want to know about you?
  • Where will they use this information?
  • Why is your profile important?
  • When and how often do you update it?
  • How will you use your profile to your advantage?

For many of us it is likely you will have a collection of online profiles which might include your staff profile on your employer’s website, clubs or societies, and social networking sites. It is the later that potentially needs the most attention. Some will be used purely for social and informal interactions and others for professional reasons. It is important that these are reviewed regularly to ensure your online presence there is seen in the best light irrespective of whether the profile is private to a circle of friends or public. Remember it is your reputation that is at stake. Let your profile work for you not against you!


Googling yourself

Take the time to ‘google’ yourself. The same process can be repeated with any other search engine of your choice.

  • Type your name in the search bar within quote marks as this will bring more accurate results
  • If you have a popular name, expand your search by adding further keywords e.g. your employer, town you live in


Taking control of your online presence

Checking the privacy settings on the sites you use is a must. For more information visit the Help/FAQ/Privacy Policy page of each website. It is important that you take the responsibility to understand how your information may be accessed or used.

Be aware that once you share information online, be this personal information or through posting comments/photos/videos, you have little control over who can see it and what individuals might do with it. It is quick and easy to screenshot (take a digital photograph) anything seen online and this becomes a permanent record despite the fact that you might choose to delete the information.

That said it is still worth investing time to ‘tidy up’ your online presence and remove posts or photos you are no longer happy with. You can also untag yourself from posts and set up measures to stop others tagging you if you wish to.


The infographic below highlights the key points to consider

Google yourself infographic



Credit: https://www.backgroundcheck.org/blog/

Posted in Digital Skills, Google, Tips | Tagged | 2 Comments

Creating a set of threaded tweets

Twitter icon

Sometimes one tweet is not enough to express the story you want to tell. You can create a connected collection of tweets known as a tweet thread. Now some of you might already be thinking if 280 characters is not enough then write a blog post or upload a deck of slides to SlideShare. These are useful ways to share information. Threaded tweets adds a further option that is quick and easy to do whilst staying within the Twitter app. Below are some examples of how this might be used.


  • A running commentary of a live event – this could include text plus images or video
  • Connect a list of instructions – this way the entire list can be viewed together
  • Curate tweets at a conference – a useful way to make notes at the different sessions you attend or if you are big Tweeter during one session
  • Build a connected quiz – here you would be posting a series of questions to prompt replies

How to do this:

  1. Click the Tweet button to draft a new Tweet.
  2. To add another Tweet(s), click the highlighted plus icon  (the icon will highlight once you have entered in text).
    Note: If you go over the character limit, the text that is over the limit will be highlighted for easier editing before you post.
  3. To delete any of your Tweets, click the delete button
  4. When you have finished adding all the Tweets you’d like included in your thread, click the Tweet all button to post.
  5. Once you have posted a thread, you can always add additional Tweets from the thread detail page. Simply click or tap Add another Tweet to post additional Tweet(s).

This GIF demonstrates what it looks like:

As you can see a thread will  appear on your timeline connected by a line to distinguish them as a bundle. When there are 4 or more Tweets in a thread, the Tweets will be truncated, and you’ll see an option to Show this thread. Click or tap this message to expand the full thread.

Posted in Twitter | Leave a comment

10 Ways to Use Twitter in Teaching

10 ways to use Twitter in teaching

  1. Resource building – tutors AND students can use a course hashtag to share links to relevant resources. These could include websites, news articles, videos, podcasts, images, SlideShare presentations as well as books and journal papers.
  2. Interactive lectures – ask students to answer questions during a lecture. Or, get people talking before the lecture or the seminar by raising questions.
  3. Quick-fire recap of a lecture – ask students to summarise key points
  4. Instant feedback – areas they would like to go over again
  5. Reminders of deadlines and events
  6. Set up a Twitter chat with an industry expert, client group or professional community
  7. Research ideas and opinions using the advanced search
  8. Reviews – write a concise micro review of a book, an article, a film or event
  9. Survey – set up a poll or an online questionnaire and tweet the link
  10. Direct messaging – use DM for private tutorial questions


Previously shared via Slideshare


Posted in Twitter | 4 Comments

Taking ownership of the LinkedIn notification updates you receive


The Notifications tab is your hub for notifications about you, your content, and your connections. You’ll receive notifications for updates about people in your network, the activity of your shares or posts, as well as career opportunities.

Notifications prompt you to congratulate connections for starting a new position or for work anniversaries, and to wish them a happy birthday. You are also notified about the number of the searches you appeared in and views of your profile, as well as likes of your posts.

I’ve noticed that for some this is information overload and found to be annoying! If this is the case then read on and find out how you can stop the notifications you would rather not see cluttering up your feed.

You can manage these updates directly from the Notifications tab to determine which types of notifications you’d like to receive. You’ll have the option to:

  •  Delete a notification – Removes the notification from your Notifications tab.
  •  Mute a notification – Stop receiving updates on a particular post on your feed. You can also disable future updates for that thread.
  •  Unfollow a notification – Stop receiving updates from that particular connection, such as job changes, likes, or work anniversaries.
  •  Turn off a notification – Stop receiving a certain type of notification, such as likes or job changes, from the people you’re following.

To turn off a type of notification, for example birthdays, then you need to select a notification from one connection who’s birthday notification shows in your feed and click on the three dots. This will then display a drop down menu. From here click on ‘Turn off’ and you will stop receiving all birthday notifications like this. Apply the same method for work anniversaries (or any other type of notification) by again choosing one connection with this type of notification.

LinkedIn notifications

Once you’ve turned off a notification update, all existing notifications for this type will be removed from the Notifications tab and you’ll no longer receive these alerts. You can find a list notification updates you’ve turned off, on the Notifications tab.

If you’d like to see notifications appear again, once you’ve turned back on a notification update, you’ll start receiving these alerts again. All previous notifications of this type will also be surfaced on the Notifications tab.

Posted in Communication tools, LinkedIn | Leave a comment

How to change your Twitter username and not lose a single follower

Follow the Leader

There are times when you may wish to change your username, the name or photo on your profile, or any aspect of your bio. You can do this easily by following the steps below.

A common change is your username. When initially choosing your username it may be that your exact name has already been taken. People then go on to choose an abbreviated name, add numbers or characters to their name, or choose something more random. Whilst this provides you with a unique username, you should question how easy is it for people to find and remember your chosen username.

Another reason might be that the name of your team or organisation has changed. Rather than create a brand new account and risk losing your followers, simply change your username (and other details on your profile).

Changing your username will not affect your existing followers, Direct Messages, or replies. Your followers will simply see a new username next to your profile photo when you update. It is helpful to alert your followers in a tweet before you change your username so they can direct replies or Direct Messages to your new username.

Change your username

  1. Sign in to twitter.com or open your Twitter app (iOS or Android).
  2. Click on Settings and privacy from your profile icon drop down menu.
  3. Under Account, update the username currently listed in the Username field. If the username is taken, you’ll be prompted to choose another one.
  4. Click the Save changes button.

Change your name

  1. Sign in to twitter.com or open your Twitter app (iOS or Android).
  2. Go to your profile.
  3. Click or tap the Edit profile button and you’ll be able to edit your name.

What’s the difference between your username and your name?

Your username appears in your profile URL and is unique to you. It’s used for logging in, replies, and Direct Messages.
Your display name is a personal identifier (sometimes a business name or real name) displayed in your profile page and used to identify you to friends, especially if your username is something other than your name or business name.

How long can names and usernames be?

  • Your username can be up to 15 characters long.
  • Your display name can be up to 50 characters long.

How to customise your profile

  1. Sign in to twitter.com or open your Twitter app (iOS or Android).
  2. Go to your profile.
  3. Click or tap the Edit profile button and you’ll be able to edit your:
  • Header photo (recommended dimensions are 1500×500 pixels)
  • Profile photo (recommended dimensions are 400×400 pixels)
  • Name
  • Bio (maximum 160 characters)
  • Location
  • Website
  • Theme color (only editable on twitter.com)
  • Birthday

Click or tap into any of these areas and make your changes.

When changing a profile or header photo, click or tap the camera icon and select Upload photo or Remove. Photos can be in any of the following formats: JPG, GIF, or PNG. (Twitter does not support animated GIFs for profile or header images.)

You can also choose to Show my Periscope profile through your Twitter profile (available if you’ve connected your Twitter account to your Periscope account). Click or tap Save changes. If your Periscope account is connected, your Twitter profile will show LIVE on #Periscope when you are broadcasting.

Posted in Communication tools | Tagged | Leave a comment

The new way to curate social media posts and create stories using @wakelet


For many social media curators the impending end of free and open Storify, used extensively to create stories in the form of collections of tweets and other social media clips, was a huge blow. These stories saved and shared as one URL have provided numerous educators and their students and opportunity to save information collected in one space. I’ve previously blogged about ‘Making and telling a good story with Storify‘.

However Storify is moving to a pay only option aimed at corporates with a BIG budget…. Exit educators and students who have no budget.

The good news is….
drum roll….

This post aims to both introduce the brilliant curation tool Wakelet and provide a basic guide to getting started. An added bonus is that Wakelet has created a function that allows you to import existing stories created in Storify.

Wakelet’s ethos

The web is filled with disconnected pieces of information and it’s growing all the time. Even the most specific terms bring up thousands or even millions of results that include articles, videos, blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, documents and websites.

In real time social media streams, perfectly good content gets buried in no time at all. We encounter this daily, in both our personal and professional lives, and we wanted to do something about it – augmenting, not replacing search engines and social sites to add context.

In short this application enables users to curate a variety of content to form collections or stories, with the added bonus of adding text to provide further context.


Getting started


  • Give your collection a title and then add a description. Click save.
  • Choose the layout you wish to display:
    • Media View – links are shown natively e.g. videos can be played in page
    • Compact View – links are shown as tiles and description only
    • Grid View – items are shown next to each other in a grid
  • From here you can choose to add links to tweets. Choose to:
    • Add from Twitter (import tweets in bulk – see section below for more detail)
    • Add an image
    • Add from saved items
    • Write something
  • Click on the icon and simply add your chosen content.

add content

  • To reorder tweets you simply toggle on and off the ‘easy reorder mode’ button and drag the content into the order you desire.
  • Remember to save your collection as you go along. You can return to the story and edit.
  • Finally make sure you make your post public and publish. (The post visibility is set to private as default).
  • Then share the URL with your network.


Importing tweets using a shared hashtag

  • Create a new Wakelet and give it a title. Then save.
  • Go to the green ‘Edit collection/story’ button (bottom right).
  • Click the Twitter Import button that appears to search for Tweets to add to your collection.Twitter import
  • Add your chosen hashtag and then select all 50 tweets. Drag the cursor down. You can then choose to select all 100 tweets (and repeat until you capture all required).
  • You have the option of then checking the box ‘add in reverse order’ to display the oldest tweets first.
    Twitter import
  • Save as you go along.
  • Add extra detail to expand your story using text, images and links.
  • Edit options include reordering, adding extra information and deleting unwanted elements.
  • Finally make sure you make your post public and publish. (The post visibility is set to private as default).
  • Then share the URL with your network.


Importing stories from Storify

Wakelet has developed a simple to use process to import published stories already created in Storify (which will end access on May 18 and delete all collections).

  • From the home page you need to click on the ‘import from storify’ box.
  • You will then be prompted to enter your Storify username.
  • Choose to select the stories you’d like to import and click ‘Begin Import’ or select ‘Import All’. You will then see this message.
    Import all content
  • Look out for an email confirming the import is complete! Job done – AMAZING!


Examples of wakes

Below are a couple of examples of Wakelet accounts – my own personal account and the LTHEchat (Learning and Teaching in Higher Education chat).


Further Wakelet support

Follow @WakeletSupport

Check out the help videos https://www.youtube.com/user/wakelet/videos

Click the Help button and send your question

Go to the Explore tab and get inspiration from other ‘wakes’

Posted in Curation tools | Tagged | 1 Comment

Guest post: Keep calm and carry on learning! by students @Corran_SHU @abbybutler96 @Matty_Trueman @callum_rooney95

From time to time the unexpected happens and it is not possible for staff or students to get into university. This might be through illness, travel issues or as we are currently experiencing adverse weather.

Over the last week the #beastfromtheeast hit the UK and snow has disrupted travel across the country, meaning many staff and students commuting to university by train or bus have been unable to get to classes or meet with peers for group work.

The SMASH team (Social Media for Academic Studies at Hallam) were scheduled to get together for a planning meeting. Knowing the weather forecast was predicting even more snow and one member had already started going down with a bad cold; it was decided that rather than postpone the meeting, the group would hold an online meeting. This in itself led to a conversation about what space to use and what was required. It seemed a good a idea to share this as a blog post with some tips on getting started.

Here is the guest blog post led by Corran Wood, Abby Butler, Matty Trueman and Callum Rooney, students at Sheffield Hallam University from the Department of Computing.

Getting Started


An online gathering can be a text based conversation or also include audio and video by sharing your devices microphone and webcam. In some cases there can be echoing when using audio and to overcome this it is useful to use a headset. Some laptops now come with a built in webcam or you can use a clip on version. If using a smartphone or tablet, both are built in.

Getting prepared

The person leading the online session will need to invite others to the group conversation. In most cases they will need to know the username and in some cases the email address used for this space for each person. (Having the email option is useful to pinpoint individuals where there are others with the same name).

Choosing a space

There are a variety of free tools accessible via the desktop or as an app, as well as tools that can be deployed within a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) hosted by your organisation.  Below you will find a selection that can be used to create a Tutor-led or Student-led online session or group discussion.


7 ways to hold an online session with students

  1. Blackboard Collaborate
  2. Google Hangout
  3. Skype
  4. Facebook group
  5. Google Community
  6. Blackboard discussion forum
  7. LinkedIn group

1. Blackboard Collaborate

How it can be used
Blackboard Collaborate is a simple, convenient, and reliable online collaborative learning tool that provides a virtual classroom experience. It allows tutors to engage with students by creating video conference calls, online meetings, file sharing and discussions. Moreover, the ability to collaborate and make real time annotations on documents with the addition of emojis makes this tool a student and tutor friendly application.

How to get started
The maximum number of participants for a session is 25 with up to 400 users in a chat. If it is the first you have used  Collaborate you may have to download the Blackboard Collaborate Launcher. The maximum number of simultaneous talkers is 6. One of the attributes is that the session can be recorded.
Further support

2. Google Hangouts

How it can be used
Google Hangouts is a useful tool that allows users to communicate with each other using video call. Other features include chat and screen sharing. Users can schedule a meeting using Google Calendar and Gmail.

How to get started
You will need to create a Google account and log in; a computer or phone with a camera and microphone (Learn how to use your camera and microphone when you start a video call for the first time); an an internet or data connection. From your phone install the application from the Itunes, Android or Chrome web store. You can use Hangouts to talk with multiple people at the same time. You can send messages in a group conversation with up to 150 people, or have a video call with up to 10 people.
Further support

3. Skype

How it can be used
Skype is similar to Microsoft teams and can be used either via an application or online. Skype allows for individual and group calls through an online chat, video or audio. Telephone numbers can be called or contacts added by username. Skype allows for the sharing of documents and the feature of showing participants individual computer screens which can be useful to show others.

How to get started
Create a Skype account – this can be done using a personal email.
Download the application onto your device or alternatively Skype can be accessed via an online web browser. Add contacts via username or email and get connecting! Up to 25 people can connect in a call.
Further support

4. Facebook Groups

How it can be used
A good tool for group work, chats can be set up in Facebook messenger or a Facebook group can be created (either public or private) for greater variety of usage. A Facebook account is needed but it is not necessary to be friends. Features include: sharing photos, videos, polls and creation of plans.

How to get started
Participants need a Facebook account then someone will need to either set up a group or group chat. 150 people maximum (according to Facebook community).
Further support

5. Google Community

How it can be used
Google Communities is an online platform that allow for the sharing of information whether public or private. They allow for information to be shared, and likes and comments to be added expressing your opinions. This is a shared area to allow for a ‘community’ to be created between individuals.

How to get started
Participants require a Google+ account, from there you can create or search for communities of interest. Once a community has been created, it can be managed by the creator. This includes adding individuals, removing individuals, moderating posts and comments and editing the layout of the community. There is a limit of 30 people joining the community per day. Individuals who join the community can share posts or information, and comment and like other posts and comments.
Further support

6. VLE discussion board

How it can be used
A discussion board known also as a discussion group, discussion forum, message board, is a space where users can leave and respond to messages. This could be in the form of a Q&A, a debate or conversation. Alternatively multimedia such as YouTube video could be added as a focus for questions and discussion.

How to get started
This will differ depending on the VLE used by your organisation. Examples of VLEs include Blackboard, Moodle, PebblePad and Canvas.

7. LinkedIn group

How it can be used
LinkedIn groups enable virtual interaction in a professional environment without the need to be friends with the other participants. LinkedIn members with similar interests can link together and share business and career interests. The main feature is the ability to engage with other members without being connected with them directly.

How to get started
Participants require a LinkedIn account, and the group owner will have to set up the group for other members to contribute. The owner does not have to be connected to those who join the group. The group can have up to 20,000 members, according to the LinkedIn help page.
Further support


7 Apps for group discussions

  1. Snapchat
  2. HouseParty
  3. WhatsApp
  4. Slack
  5. Trello
  6. Twitter group DM
  7. RabbitTV

1. SnapChat

How it can be used
Snapchat can be used as a group discussion via private groups. People are able to send snapchat photos and videos as well as images and videos from your phone camera roll. These can be edited with text and emojis etc. Text chat can also be sent in the group. Bitmojis can be used as an individual avatar. Private groups can now have their own story so people are able to post to the story for repetitive viewing. A very quick and easy method of group discussion but messages need to be saved or will disappear in 24 hours.

How to get started
Create a Snapchat account & create a new group. Add accounts through contacts, usernames or local accounts. Maximum number of people is 31 plus your own account.
Further support

2. HouseParty

How it can be used
An application used to host video group discussions with the addition of text input. It can be used regardless of type of device (as long as you have a front camera and can download the application). Groups can be created and the ‘houseparty room’ can be locked so only the invited can enter. Houseparty room links can be shared.

How to get started
Create a Houseparty account & add contacts via link, numbers, username. Add friends to the room or create a group and call the group. Able to pause your video and look at other content on your mobile whilst still on chat through audio. Users can video chat with up to 8 people and are notified when a friend enters the app so you can decide if you want to join or not (without having to decline a call).
Further support

3. WhatsApp

How it can be used
WhatsApp Messenger is a free messaging app that uses your phone’s Internet connection 4G/3G/2G/EDGE or Wi-Fi, to let you message and call friends and family. WhatsApp allows users to send and receive messages, calls, photos, videos, documents, and Voice Messages. This a great tool to use for groups to actively engage and discuss using a variety of multimedia platforms to enhance the experience.

How to get started
To get started simply download the WhatsApp app from the Android, Itunes or Chrome Web Store, it uses your phone number so you don’t have to worry about pins or usernames. It also links with your existing address book allowing you to contact them via WhatsApp.
Further support

4. Trello

How it can be used
Trello is a free online tool that enables participants to manage project tasks though collaborating on a planning board. Groups can engage together and create, update, move and delete task descriptions from different columns. The boards are kept private and participants can only view the boards they are invited to edit.

How to get started
Participants require a Trello account, and the owner of the Trello board adds new members using their email address so they can each contribute. Each Trello board can have unlimited members, and each account can belong to an unlimited number of group boards according to the Trello help page.
Further support

5. Slack

How it can be used
Slack is an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge”. The app allows you to create multiple channels that are either private or public and you can choose to add a purpose to let members know what the channel is about. There is also the option to send a private to direct message to between 2-9 people. This is useful for short conversations that don’t need a whole channel.

How to get started
First, visit slack.com/create to create a new Slack workspace. All you need is an email address that you can access. There are a few ways to give new people access to join a workspace: send them an invitation by email or allow them to signup using their email address.
Further support

6. Rabbit

How it can be used
Rabbit is a free online streaming service, it allows you to share your screen with friends and colleagues from anywhere. Some of the features of Rabbit include: watching videos in-sync, video, voice and message chat’s and browsing the internet.

How to get started
Everyone who uses Rabbit requires an account, one individual creates a ‘room’ which they can add specific individuals (up to 25 people) or leave ‘open’ for anyone to access. Once this room has been created the link for the room can be shared though your Rabbit friend list, Facebook Messenger, Facebook, email or a simple link. When everyone is in the ‘room’ the video, audio and multimedia options can be used.
Further support

7. Twitter Group Direct Message

How it can be used
Direct messages (DM) do not have the 240 character restriction, so can be used to have a detailed threaded conversation. There is an account limit of 1,000 Direct Messages sent per day. Once you reach this limit, you can’t send any more Direct Messages for the day. Within a direct message you can share links, add images, GIFs or emoji.

How to get started
Users need a Twitter account and to be connected. You can start a Group DM session on Twitter at any time by heading to the “Messages” tab. Click the “New Message” icon toward the top of your screen on web, or the speech bubble icon on mobile, and search for the names of people you’d like to add. You can give your group conversation a title.
Further support

We hope this post has been useful and encourages you to try new ways to communicate and collaborate online. If you have additional spaces you recommend please share in the comments.

Posted in Communication tools | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Blogademia: Introducing blogging as a professional tool in academia


The term ‘blogademia’ is cited by many as being coined by Saper (2006). Sadly however this paper is no longer accessible. I came across it as I was researching this topic having been asked to give a short 15 minute introduction to blogging as a professional tool for academics at Anglia Ruskin University. The term seemed a fitting addition to this blog post.

Why engage with blogs as a professional tool?

  • Blogging can help academic writing
  • Reading others’ blogs can open up new perspectives
  • Reflect on your own development
  • Connect with thought leaders
  • Provide a forum to critically discuss new ideas

 “In this new landscape, the academic of today has many options for communicating the findings of their research: whether to discuss ideas and results in a blog post, upload a working paper before submitting it to a journal, or to use social media to share their findings on the big story of the day.”

Introducing the Impact of LSE Blogs project Arrebola and Mollett 2017


Blogging vs a Website

blog vs website

Adapted from Mollett et al 2017:75

One of the key benefits of creating a blog is that it is very easy to publish new content. Clearly if it is your own you have sole access. However it is becoming increasingly popular to ‘share’ a blog whereby multiple authors contribute to posts. A website that is owned by an organisation, for example a university, tends to have a more complex approach to adding new content – from a technical perspective but also because there are multiple gatekeepers and for good reasons protocols for format and design of content. A valuable alternative is therefore creating a blog. Many institutions now enable WordPress sites and these can be requested via IT services. The URL will include both the university URL and the title of the blog. An example is below – The Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference blog.



Why start a Blog?

Why start a blog? Pat Thomson (2015) offers the following reasons suggesting that blogging can help academic writing. Blogging…

  • can help you to establish writing as a routine
  • allows you to experiment with your writing ‘voice’
  • helps you to get to the point
  • points you to your reader
  • requires you to be concise
  • allows you to experiment with forms of writing
  • helps you to become a more confident writer

David Perry’s (2015) simple three rules of academic blogging are as follows:

  1. Pick the right platform
  2. Write whatever you want
  3. Write for the sake of writing

Finding something you are interested in and would like to write about is an obvious place to start.

Types of Academic Blogs

Blogs can take a variety of forms:

  • Self reflective (the blog could be public or private for your personal benefit)
  • Multi-author blogs (MABs) as opposed to single author
  • How to guidance
  • Discipline focus on your research or learning and teaching activities
  • Promotion of publications – books or journal articles
  • Learning and teaching (pedagogic research)


Getting started

  • Choose a blogging platform
    I’d recommend WordPress, but do explore other options such as Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Wix, Weebly, WikiSpaces or Google Sites. Other options include LinkedIn, Medium, Facebook.
  • Give your blog a name
    This needs to be succinct enough so that people will remember it, and also clearly indicate what the content is about.
  • Consider buying your own domain name
    You can explore the options through WordPress, but there are also other ways to do this. As offers change over time I’d suggest you google this to get the best deal.
  • Design your blog using a simple theme
    WordPress offers over 100 different free themes to choose from.
  • Add an about me page
    Assuming you are going to create a public blog and want people to read it, adding your details is a useful addition. Readers may want to discuss your posts and do this offline rather than through the comments.


Help and Support

WordPress offers a comprehensive collection of articles https://en.support.wordpress.com/

WordPress support
Structuring your posts

  • Give each post a compelling title
  • Chunk content under sub headers
  • Make use of bullet points
  • Use images (preferably your own or those with Creative Commons licences https://search.creativecommons.org/)
  • Embed YouTube videos or infographic posters

Engaging your audience

  • End your post with a call to action (to encourage reader comments, questions and discussion)
  • Enable comments (that you can screen first)
  • Engage with comments left by readers (or delete the undesirables)
  • Link your blog to your Twitter account (to auto tweet new posts)
  • Add social media sharing buttons
  • Allow users to sign up for email alerts

Monitor engagement using free analytics within the blog


Blogs to explore

Below is just a small selection of blogs I’d recommend you explore both for content but also to see the different styles and approaches that can be taken.



Arrebola, C. and Mollett, A. (2017) Introducing the Impact of LSE Blogs project.
Mollett, A., Brumley, C., Gilson, C. and Williams, S. (2017) Communicating your research with social media. London: Sage
Perry, D. (2015) 3 Rules of academic blogging
Saper, C. (2006). Blogademia. Reconstruction, 6(4), 1–15.
Thomson, P. (2015) Blogging helps academic writing



Posted in Blogs | 5 Comments