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Digital literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Showcase your work online

#TechItUpTuesday

What is an online potfolio?

Having an online portfolio is a unique way to showcase your work and let others know about yourself. It’s one of the best ways to express your personality, experience, and capabilities. The portfolio will usually include samples of your best work, including articles, reports, PowerPoint presentations, and links to blog entries. Portfolios are especially useful for work that can be presented visually, like photography, illustrations, and ad campaigns.

Why showcasing your work is useful?

You may be wondering why do I need to showcase my work online? While it may not be relevant for some jobs for any job that requires creative ability a place to show employers what you’ve done will be most beneficial. So, once you leave university and it’s time to begin job searching you can have a platform to display perhaps a project or presentation you created. People are usually more impressed when they can see your achievements visually than just written on your CV.

Owl Omg GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Here are just a few reasons why you should showcase your work:

It’s a great first impression for employers

If an employer sees your website link in your signature or on your resume, they’ll likely click on it to see what you’ve built. Seeing you’ve taken the time to build a website featuring work samples, recommendations, previous presentations and more will be a killer first impression.

Increases Your Visibility And Online Presence

When an employer Googles your name, your professional portfolio will be one of the first search results that come up.

Its flexibiliy allows you to showcase your personality

You’re able to show your personality by choosing a design, layout and the copy you write. With the click of a button, you can change content, videos, copy and pictures on your online portfolio. You can also constantly create new content to show your continuous learning process.

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Where can I showcase my work?

Pebblepad

PebblePad is the university’s electronic portfolio (ePortfolio) tool. It allows you to create an online, digital collection of your work including text, files, multimedia and links. This allows you to showcase your skills and knowledge to potential employers. The University of Hull provides all students with access to PebblePad. When you graduate, you can take your portfolio with you with the free alumni account. Any portfolio you create is private to you, but you have the option to share it with others.

PebblePad

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social networking website focused on professional and business-oriented networking. It allows users to maintain an online profile similar to a résumé or CV. You can list your skills and gain endorsements and recommendations from peers. This makes LinkedIn a useful website for showcasing your work, qualifications and experience. It also allows you to share details of projects you have taken part in, publications and other forms of portfolio. Recruiters often use LinkedIn as a platform for sharing job advertisements, managing part of the recruitment process and for approaching individuals about a specific job role.

LinkedIn

Slideshare

SlideShare is a slide hosting service that lets users upload PowerPoint, PDF, Keynote and OpenDocument presentations. Uploaded presentations can be kept private or shared publicly to allow users to view, rate, comment and share the uploaded presentation. Slideshare is a great way to showcase your presentations to future employers and it is a particularly useful platform for sharing conference presentations.

Researchgate.net

ResearchGate is a social networking site that enables researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. As well as the regular profile and messaging tools, it offers researchers the ability to follow research interests, share their data, comment and view access stats. The website features a proprietary metric to measure scientific reputation. It is called the RG Score and it works by analysing how “your research is received by your peers”

ResearchGate

SoundCloud

SoundCloud is an online audio distribution platform that enables its users to upload, record, promote, and share their originally-created sounds. This makes SoundCloud a great platform for sharing any audio-based creative work, particularly useful for drama and music students to share their work. It accepts most common audio file forms and also lets users record directly via the website. Anything you upload can be made available for streaming, sharing, embedding and download, giving creators multiple ways to share their content.

SoundCloud

Github

GitHub is the largest open source community in the world. If you’re technically minded, it lets you contribute to software and technology projects. GitHub will track your contributions making it a great way to not only build a profile in the open-source community but to also demonstrate technical capabilities. The site has several communication tools to let developers collaborate, making it a perfect place to host your own projects too.

GitHub

These are just a few examples but there are many more discussed in the skills guide linked below.

Relevant Skills guide: The Digital Student: Showcase your work

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Digital literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Digital Employability

#TechItUpTuesday

What do we mean by digital employability?

As a student, you may not have considered your digital employability a great deal, but it is important to think about how you present yourself online. This is because some aspects of what you post online could affect your future employability. Employers are more frequently looking through search engines and social networks as a form of pre-screening candidates. This means potential employers could be checking out what you are doing online and how you present yourself. This screening is done as early as the application phase before candidates are interviewed and most employers perform this screening post-interview and before the appointment. This makes your online presence very important for your employability.

If you have any inappropriate content on your social media or anything that portrays you in a negative light it can really affect your job prospects.

Inappropriate Parks And Recreation GIF by GQ - Find & Share on GIPHY

What should I look out for when it comes to my digital employability?

Below you can see a list of things you should avoid when it comes to digital employability. While some may seem obvious you may have overlooked some issues or made a subtle mistake. You might say well I know I haven’t posted anything inappropriate but maybe someone you know has tagged you in a potentially embarrassing photo or comment. It is important to remember that even though you may be responsible online, others may not.

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What should I avoid sharing?

Over sharing

Picture of a speech bubble

Do you share too much online? Employers may be concerned you lack discretion. Inappropriate comments about your current or former colleagues, bosses and employers is always inadvisable. You should be careful what you share online and who you share it with.

Language

Picture representing inappropriate words

Some employers won’t like to see the use of profanity or inappropriate language. If you know that you post such language publicly then either stop using it and consider removing it from previous posts. If you want to use that language, only use it in private chats as your employer may be concerned it will happen in the workplace too.

Alcohol references

Picure of a glass on wine

This depends on the organisation, as the occasional post about an alcoholic may not be a concern. You do need to think carefully think what public image these posts portray could portray about you. If you regularly post about drinking and hangovers after heavy nights out, then you may seriously damage your employability. This doesn’t mean you can never post anything like this, but you should check your privacy settings and make sure you’re not telling everyone.

Unsuitable pictures

Picture of a man in a silly costume dancing

This is similar to alcohol-related posts as pictures of student nights, fancy dress parties and crazy nights out are fun while you are a student. However, you need to be aware of who can see them. For photos and posts like this, you should ensure you need to give permission to be tagged in them. As you probably don’t want your future boss seeing that photo of you dressed like Super Man? As well as this you should make sure any pictures of yourself on professional profiles like LinkedIn are sensible and smart.

Personal opinions

Picture of the White house

Everyone has their opinion on politics or their own spiritual views, you just need to be careful who you share them with. Depending on your career you may have to be careful about sharing such beliefs. Civil Servants for example must be apolitical so any posts about politics are career-threatening. You should also be careful about sharing anything that could be compromising.

Harassment

anti-bullying picture

Anything that looks like you are harassing or bullying others is never acceptable. Even if it was a joke between friends if any potential employers see anything they would consider bullying you are incredibly unlikely to be considered for the job. While this may seem obvious, you need to consider how inside jokes between your friends may look to an outsider. If something can be misinterpreted, then make sure you remove it. This includes things that you have not written but are posted onto your profile/wall. If you leave such things there, you are in effect endorsing it so be careful about what you leave there.

Honesty

picture with the word honesty

Make sure you provide the same information across all the different social media and websites you use. Inconsistency with details like qualifications and education may concern some employers, especially if your online profiles contradict your C.V. This also includes exaggerating; it may be tempting to embellish your experiences you may think I’ll just say my trip to France was actually an exchange they’ll never know. I know we want to make ourselves look as employable as possible but if you go too far your employers will probably find out and it won’t be good for you.

Sex references

Picture of lips

This one should be obvious, but this is certainly something your future employer and colleagues do not need to know about. Be careful what you post on public networks and keep your private life private. You should always avoid sharing intimate pictures or videos either publicly or privately. You could easily lose control of such media and it can be very damaging to your reputation – let alone the potential embarrassment involved.

Drug references

Picture of Drugs

This is another one that is similar to alcohol as references to drugs also can negatively impact people’s perception of you. What you think about drugs is a different issue, but most employers would not find this appropriate.

Grammar

Picture of books

Keep the shorthand and text speak to texts. If you are posting anything publicly, think about how it represents you. The same principle applies to any form of professional communication. If potential employers see poor spelling and grammar on your online profiles, it raises questions about your language abilities.

Relevant skills guide: The Digital Student: Digital is employable

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Academic literacies Digital literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Learning through social media

#TechItUpTuesday

Last week we looked at managing your social media/network but what do we mean by learning through social media? Online social networks provide a whole host of tools to help you learn, share resources and connect with other students. This can be useful as university study has an ever-increasing focus on communal learning. Social media can also greatly assist in your career prospects.

Social media tools for learning

Podcasts/Vodcasts

You may remember we covered podcasts in a previous article on Vlogs and Podcasts. So I’ll just give you a quick refresher, Podcasts and vodcasts are episodic programs distributed over the internet. Podcasts are audio-based (music or talk) programs and vodcasts are video-based programs. The ‘cast’ part of the term refers to the ability of a user to subscribe to future episodes and download them when available. There are thousands of Podcasts and Vodcasts available and they can be music, talk, or a mixture of both. There are many podcasts and vodcasts that focus on academic or work-based topics, we recommend checking out:

Season 3 Homer GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Sharing Ideas

Calendars/organisation

Cloud-based calendars and organisational tools are brilliant for group projects. They allow you to share events, deadlines, files and notes with other people in your group. The university provides a guide on working in the cloud for more information.

Collaboration

If you need to complete group work with other students but are not able to get together, there are lots of tools that can enable you to collaborate.

Google Docs allows you to simultaneously edit a single file at the same time as other users. You can also annotate and comment on the document which is useful for peer review. These tools can also be useful if you are in the same room but need to edit something at the same time.

Learn through online videos

There are thousands of videos available online to watch for free. Though some of these videos are more useful than others and cover a whole range of topics, there are also very useful explanations of academic/work concepts. If you are struggling to understand something or want to develop or learn a skill you may be able to find useful explanations on sites such as these:

YouTube
Vimeo
iTunesU
TED Ed

Visual learning

Pinterest

Pinterest is a visual social network that allows users to create photographic pinboards. As it is purely visual media, Pinterest works well as a source of inspiration. It not only allows you to share interests, but you can find lots of different study or career tips presented in a visual format as you can see below.

Revision on Pinterest

Build a professional community

LinkedIn can be used to find the right job or internship, connect and strengthen professional relationships, and learn the skills you need to succeed in your future career.

Twitter can also be a useful way to build a professional community through:

MOOCs are something we have discussed in a previous post and can also be a good way of learning online and for talking to your peers.

Relevant skills guide: The Digital Student: Social media for study

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Digital literacies Information literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday Visual literacies

Managing your social network

#TechItUpTuesday

I’m sure most of you already know what social networks are so I’ll just go over this briefly. Social networks and/or social media services allow you to network with people who share interests, professions, hobbies, backgrounds, or real-life connections. These services are based online and often have mobile apps to allow users to access the service on the go. If you don’t know much about social networks you can check out our SkillsGuide on social media.

How to manage your social network?

Managing your social network websites can feel like a massive task if not done efficiently and correctly. This is especially the case if you are using multiple social networks and communication apps. The volume of information from social network sites can overwhelm people and make it easy to miss valuable messages and notifications. This can have major consequences if someone posts something inappropriate on your profile or you miss an important message from a potential employer on a professional network. We will be discussing what would be considered inappropriate for your social media when we look into digital employability. Below we have some useful oh wait…..

Ryan Reynolds Marvel GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Now as I was saying here are some tips and tools to help you master social networking, so distractions like this don’t get in the way.

Useful Tips

  • Avoid signing up for email alerts. While useful, these will quickly take over your email inbox. 
  • Some of you may need more accounts for various reasons but if you know you don’t really use some of them perhaps consider deleting them.
  • Think about what you really need to post. Unless your posts add unique value or stands out in some manner, it may go unnoticed.

If This Then That (IFTTT)

IFTTT is an internet service that allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called “recipes”, which are triggered based on changes to other web services such as Twitter and Facebook. An example recipe might consist of sending an e-mail message if the IFTTT user tweets using a certain hashtag. There are also Android and iOS apps that enable phone or tablet changes to trigger other activities.

There is also a new companion app called ‘Do’ that can automate tasks on the press of a button. You can use this to automate a lot of your social media management. For example, if you post something to Twitter, you can also get it posted to your Facebook or Google+ account. These kinds of recipes can save you a lot of time. IFTTT also works with productivity apps like calendars, Evernote and OneNote so you can trigger events based on activity on social networks.

IFTTT logo with a link to the site

Buffer

Buffer is a software application designed to manage social networks, by enabling you to schedule posts to social networks including Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. With tools like Buffer, you can limit the need to log in to your social networks by scheduling posts ahead of time.

Buffer logo with a link to the site

Pocket

Pocket is a save-for-later service. The service allows users to save interesting articles, videos and more from the web and other apps for later enjoyment. This means that when you see something you want to view or read later, you can save it into Pocket. This allows you to glance quickly through social networks, apps and websites and save items to read properly later.

Pocket,logo with a link to the site

Social network for work/bussiness

Now we have looked at managing your social network in your day to day life and as a student. However, if you are interested in managing your social network from a business point of view this is a good video for you.

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Digital literacies Information literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Data literacy

#TechItUpTuesday

Data literacy is all about how you handle data as a special form of information. Data is used in many ways from monitoring key performance indicators to generating new theories. Our own data – personal and organisational – can also be used, sometimes in ways, we might not want. We all need a basic understanding of legal, ethical, and security issues when we handle data and good habits of personal data security.

Jisc defines data literacy as:

The capacity to collate, manage, access and use digital data in spreadsheets, databases and other formats, and to interpret data by running queries, data analyses and reports. The practices of personal data security.

An understanding of: how data is used in professional and public life; legal, ethical and security guidelines in data collection and use; the nature of algorithms; of how personal data may be collected and used.

Jisc, Data Literacy
Analyzing Toy Story Gif By Gif - Find & Share on GIPHY

Data is a bit like marmite it is usually either loved or hated. Data is, however, an important aspect of most job roles or courses of study. The importance of data goes beyond just work and studies. In our daily lives, we are often presented with data on a regular basis. Data literacy is important whether you are comparing data for bills you have to pay, your student loan repayments, or looking at figures related to the coronavirus pandemic.

When considering data in the context of digital literacy, the focus is often on data management, analysis and visualisation.

Things to consider when using data

Accesibilty

Data can be very difficult to make accessible particularly if it is raw data (essentially just a series of numbers or information). For accessibility purposes, the focus has to be on interpreting, presenting, and summarising data. Just a hint the gif below is not a good way to make your data accessible or as you will see below the best way to store it.

Season 2 Nbc GIF by The Office - Find & Share on GIPHY

Storage

Data sorted, arranged, presented and explained with a story. You see bricks become more ordered and assembled as the model develops.

This may not be as much of an issue as a student but can be incredibly important in the working world. Whenever we create, use, or produce data we need to consider where it is stored. There are many legal, ethical, and security issues in how data is stored, accessed, and shared. These dimensions of data management are driven based on the type of data you are working with, and whether it contains any personal, sensitive, or commercially sensitive data. If you do have any sensitive information, make sure it is protected by a password or stored in a safe place. Here are some useful ways you can store data.

  1. Store it in the Cloud.
  2. Save to an External Hard Drive.
  3. Burn it to a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray.
  4. Put it on a USB Flash Drive.
  5. Save it to a NAS Device.

Data communication and presentation

Often, data is poorly communicated. The diagram on the left well represents the difference between raw data, and data that has been sorted, arranged, presented, and explained. We will now look through a few useful software tools to present and communicate your data.

Software tools to aid your data literacy

Here are a few useful tools for handling data with some links to tutorials and downloads. (Tutorials and guides are linked on the left and download links are on the right)

Data GIF by UpSteam - Find & Share on GIPHY

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet developed by Microsoft for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. It features calculation, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a programming language called Visual Basic for Applications. With a Microsoft 365 account, you can install Microsoft Excel on all your devices.

QSR NVivo

NVivo is a qualitative data analysis computer software produced by QSR International. It is designed for qualitative researchers working with very rich text-based and/or multimedia information, where deep levels of analysis on small or large volumes of data are required.

Microsoft Access

Access is probably the least well-known application in the MS Office suite. However, it is incredibly useful for a small number of student/staff researchers who need to store and manage large amounts of related data. You may use Access when the program you are using to keep track of something gradually becomes less fit for the task. 

ArcGIS

ArcGIS is a system used to make maps and for geographic information. It can create and use maps, compile geographic data, analyze mapped information, share and discover geographic information, use maps and geographic information in a range of applications, and manage geographic information in a database.

Microsoft Power BI

Power BI is a collection of software services, apps, and connectors that work together to turn your unrelated sources of data into coherent, visually immersive, and interactive insights. Power BI lets you easily connect to your data sources, visualize and discover what’s important, and share that with anyone or everyone you want.

R

R is a programming language and free software environment for statistical computing and graphics supported by the R Foundation for Statistical Computing. The R language is widely used among statisticians and data miners for developing statistical software and data analysis.

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Academic literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Boosting your Employability through MOOCs

#TechItUpTuesday

What are MOOCs?

MOOCs are free online courses that provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance your career and receive quality educational experiences. The courses are normally delivered asynchronously so you can complete them when you have time available. They often include activities such as discussions and peer assessment where you communicate with others. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course:

  • Massive because enrolments are almost unlimited
  • Open because anyone can enrol, there is no admission process.
  • Online because they are delivered, you guessed it online
  • Course because they are designed to teach you a specific subject.
Kevin Hart Teachers GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

How do they work?

Many of the courses can be started at any time while others start at regular intervals every few weeks or months. Although some may be less frequent and maybe only offered once. Some MOOCs are self-paced so you can choose how you progress throughout while others run on a schedule but are still somewhat flexible.

  • All the course material may not be available from the beginning. Instead, it’s released in fragments each week, allowing you to pace yourself.
  • Assessments may have deadlines, preventing learners from lagging behind.

They often range in length from 1 to 16 weeks. Most provide an estimate of the weekly time commitment, although this time scale may vary depending on the learner.

MOOCs can include:

  • Auto-graded quizzes – quizzes that are automatically graded upon submission, such as multiple-choice questions.
  • Peer-feedback assignments – assignments that are graded by other learners according to specific rules.

Your performance on these assignments then determines your overall course grade.

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Where can I take MOOCs?

Some of the main platforms for MOOCs are FutureLearn, Coursera and OpenLearn (provided by the Open University). The University has a couple of courses available on Future Learn, the University Preparation Course, and Introduction to Thermodynamics.

File:Coursera-Logo 600x600.svg

Not everything is free

Especially as a student, you may have to take into account the costs, though a vast amount are free some courses may have components hidden behind a paywall. For example, graded assignments.

MOOCs often offer two enrollment options:

  • Free Auditing – which gives you access to videos, readings, and forums for free.
  • Paid Enrolment – which gives you access to all the content, including paywalled elements such as the certificate of completion.

A small number of courses are pay-only. Also, when you finish a MOOC you may earn a certificate of completion. Sometimes, the certificate is free, but often, you may have to pay for it. A Paid certificate often requires ID verification, which involves sending a picture of yourself and a form of ID like a driver’s license.

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MOOCs the considerations

These are some questions you should ask yourself when considering why you want to take a MOOC.

  • Do you want to become better at a particular skill?
  • Are you looking to improve your job prospects?
  • Are you considering changing your goals or career path?
  • Is it just for the pleasure of learning?

Then you should also consider the more logistical considerations

  • Do you want to take the full MOOC or just part of it?
  • How much time can you dedicate to the course weekly?
  • Are you looking for an introductory, intermediate, or advanced course?

The MOOC listing usually contains information to help you decide if the course matches your goals, such as potential prerequisites, course content, difficulty, and expected time commitment.

Relevant Skills guide: The Digital Student: MOOCs

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Digital literacies Information literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Personalise your digital work environment

#TechItUpTuesday

Having a good work environment is incredibly helpful for your studies as well as in your future employment. Customising your digital work environment is also an important aspect of managing your Identity. This page will introduce some of the ways in which you customise your Microsoft 365 and Windows experience. Your identity is also about your preferences. You want to make both the Windows operating system and the software you use as quick and easy to use as possible. This guide is designed to help you get started. 

Maximising your use of large screens or multiple monitors

As a student, you may often be using a laptop but when going into the workplace you are likely to either be working with one large monitor, or a multi/dual-screen set-up. This section is all about making the most of your setup.

The main benefit of a dual monitor setup is productivity. Research has shown an increase in productivity and a reduction in the time it takes to complete tasks. A study by Jon Peddie Research found a 42% increase in productivity when using multiple displays. For example when moving from one window to another on a single screen laptop or desktop not only do you need to take time to find the right tab or window to open, but you need more time to access the information. This can interrupt your flow and consequently make you lose your concentration.

However, when working with two screens we get a more natural flow and concentration levels remain high. Over a long period, this can add up to a significant amount of time. Consider how many times you use the process of switching between windows every day and it is probably quite a lot.

What if my digital work environment is just a laptop?

You might not know that you can actually split your screen which can greatly increase your productivity. It allows you much like dual monitors to look at two different programs or screens at the same time. You could have a web page open for reference on one side of your screen and a word document open for making notes on the other. This video explains how to go about splitting your screen on a Windows computer or you can visit here for instructions on a MAC.

This may seem obvious but keep your laptop/computer updated. Many of us often ignore updating our computer for days, weeks, or even months before actually updating the software that our laptop is recommending to us. Software updates are recommended for good reason. They not only ensure that you’re working with the most up-to-date and best quality version of the software that you need to complete your work, but they help your laptop to run as fast and as well as possible too.

Snl Update GIF by Saturday Night Live - Find & Share on GIPHY

Windows shortcuts

I thought it would also be useful just to finish things up with a few handy shortcuts to help increase your productivity. Practice these, and you’ll be a Windows ninja in no time:

  • Alt+Tab: Open task switcher.
  • Windows+Tab: Open Task View.
  • Windows+Down Arrow: Minimize window.
  • Windows+Up Arrow: Maximize window.
  • Windows+M: Minimize all windows.
  • Windows+D: Display desktop.
  • Windows+Home: Minimize all windows except the active one.
  • Windows+Shift+M: Restore all minimized windows.
  • Windows+Shift+Up Arrow: Stretch window to the top and bottom of the screen.
  • Windows+Left: Snap current window to the left side of the screen.
  • Windows+Right: Snap current window the the right side of the screen.
  • Windows+Up: Snap current window to the top of the screen.
  • Windows+Down: Snap current window to the bottom of the screen.
  • Windows+Shift+Left or Right Arrow: Move a window from one monitor to another.

Relevant Skills guide: Integrated sessions: Personalising Windows, using shortcuts and managing multiple screens

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Hull University Archives University history

Fire! Air Raid Precautions at the University in the Second World War

Every now and again we uncover a small collection of records at Hull University Archives that really bring life to years gone by. One such discovery was made in 2019 whilst staff were preparing an exhibition and source guide on Second World War records. Amongst the early records created by the University of Hull, we found a series of Second World War firewatchers’ report books with associated papers.

Firewatchers report books [UA PARCEL 26]

These records give us a fascinating glimpse into some of the air raid precautions that were taken by the University.

A fire-watching scheme

The University initiated a scheme for fire-watching in February 1941. The need for such a scheme was driven by heavy bombing raids on the city. These bombing raids often caused fires to spread in areas where bombs fell.

Description of a bombing raid observed by the firewatchers on duty at the Science Building (Cohen), May 1941

Willing volunteers

75 staff and students signed up for the scheme in the initial months, indicating a clear enthusiasm at the University to support Civil Defence efforts. This, however, was not enough to ensure that each volunteer only worked the maximum 48 hours per month suggested by the government’s Fire Prevention (Business Premises) Order 1941. The average number of hours worked by fire-watchers at the University was 63 per month. By 1942 staff and student numbers were depleted as a result of enlistment. It was only possible to continue the fire-watching scheme because many men carried out both fire-watching and other civil defence duties. Female students stepped into the gap, undertaking fire-watching duties at the Needler Hall accommodation building.

Entry recording shortage of firewatchers at the Science Building (Cohen) and a need to use female students from Needler Hall to fill the gaps

Equipment

The University provided equipment for the use of firewatchers on duty, along with instructions for what to do:

‘If a fire bomb has lodged above ground, use the rake to pull it down to the floor, then apply sand’; and ‘Dustbin lids are to be used as shields when dealing with incendiary bombs’.

Excerpt from instructions given to firewatchers by the University
Air raid precaution equipment given to firewatchers by the University

Fire-watching posts

Staff established fire-watching posts on top of the Science and Arts Buildings. Fire-watching duties included raising the alarm if a fire was spotted, as well as making a record of any air raid alerts, plane sightings, anti-aircraft activity, and all clear sirens.

Entry recording an air raid alert, several bursts of anti-aircraft fire, and the all clear being given

Maintaining morale

Shifts were long, lasting from 6pm to 9am the following morning. Four fire-watchers were on duty each night. The four fire-watchers were to consist of one staff member and three students. At least one individual had to be on look out at all times.

Request made by firewatchers for supplies to make the shifts more tolerable!

It is unclear as to whether the above suggestions were granted…probably not! To pass the time more soberly the fire-watchers played games:

Entry recording a game of chess played to pass the time whilst on duty

Blackout duties

In addition to their duties as fire-watchers, the volunteers also served as blackout officers. If any light could be seen emanating from windows or doors, the University buildings might become a target for enemy planes flying overhead. Blackout infractions are detailed in the fire-watchers’ report books:

Report book entry relating to blackout measures

Provisions

The volunteers were provided with meals and hot drinks by the University. Comments entered into the report books show that provisions weren’t always considered ‘up to scratch’ by those on duty:

Entry recording a firewatcher’s thoughts on the dinner provided by the University
A description of the lasting memory of the ‘chocolate mould’ referred to in the former entry

But we must remember that there was a war on and supplies were short, although this doesn’t appear to have prevented the volunteers from complaining:

Entry requesting that some sugar be provided to mask the taste of the coffee

Close but no cigar

Other than a few near misses and a bit of superficial damage, the report books show that the University campus escaped any major incidents during the Hull Blitz of 1941-1942.

Entry noting fires observed in Hull which were caused by incendiary explosives
Statement that two craters had been made in the sports fields on campus by a falling bomb
Note recording near misses around the University campus

Unbroken spirit

Fire-watching at the University continued throughout the war, only finishing on 24 March 1945. However, the report books show that the initial enthusiasm for volunteering had worn off by late 1942. After this time, we find various notes indicating that fire-watchers were turning up late or not at all for their registered duty. However, given the difficulties faced by fire-watchers we can perhaps understand a dip in levels of enthusiasm. Volunteers were having to contend with faulty equipment, lack of food, loss of vacation time. By 1942, the situation was no longer novel. War-weariness had set in and the initial excitement of something quite out of the ordinary had warn off. Fire-watching had become a dull task, made worse by the drudgery of having to repeat it month after month.

One firewatcher’s musings on the night sky, and another’s comments on those musings

These books offer us a valuable opportunity to examine the experiences of those who remained behind during the Second World War. The descriptions recorded in their pages help us to understand how the city must have looked, sounded and smelled during an air raid. And the comments made by the fire-watchers give us a glimpse at their personalities.

Check out our guide, to find out more about Second World War records at Hull History Centre.

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Digital literacies Information literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday Visual literacies

The importance of accessible content

#TechItUpTuesday

As a student, you may not have considered accessible content and adapting your work to make it accessible to everyone. However, this issue will likely become much more important when you enter the working world but even as a student, I think it’s still important to consider this. Perhaps you are making a presentation, you may want to consider if it’s easily accessible for everyone in the audience. Also, if you get in the habit of doing this now it will not only help in your future it will help those who view your work such as fellow students or tutors, especially those with disabilities or impairments. If the content isn’t accessible to everyone some viewers may be confused like this.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Over 1 billion people have some form of accessibility requirement. So, the added bonus of ensuring that your content supports these individuals is that the changes will benefit everyone. Using Microsoft Office, Canvas, Teams, and other apps or software correctly directly benefits both you and the person reading them.

Accessible technology benefits everyone, including people with:

  • Permanent disabilities like those listed below
  • Temporary impairments like cataracts or a broken arm
  • Situational impairments like working hands-free and eyes-free while driving
Icons lisitng disabilities including visual, hearing, cognitive, speech, mobility and neural.

Common types of inaccessible content

Some types of content are more accessible than others. Below are some examples of types of content that can prevent people from understanding the information being conveyed and how to make them accessible. Don’t worry as a student you won’t be marked down for not including these in any assignments though it would be useful for those with impairments who may view your work. Again, it is more likely you will have to think more about this in the working world.

  • Images – Won’t be accessible to people with visual impairments so you need to provide meaningful alternative text.
  • Tables – Those who use screen readers cannot read tables in the same way that sighted users can. This assistive technology relies on the table being coded with HTML tags which can then be applied to the table headers.
  • Videos and audio files – To ensure accessibility to everyone, you need to include transcripts or captions. Remember to include descriptions of images included in video content. Captions will help those with hearing impairments to understand the video. Whereas for those with visual impairments transcripts can be read by a screen reader.
  • Links – You need descriptive, explanatory text to help those who use screen readers to be able to distinguish between one link and another.

Microsoft 365 tools for accessible content

Immersive Reader

Immersive Reader is a tool that lets you remove clutter and adjust the font, colours and spacing to aid reading comprehension. This can help all readers but can be particularly useful for anyone with dyslexia or visual stress. The video below tells you how to get started! You’ll find the Immersive Reader button in most Microsoft Office programs and on University Canvas pages too!

Magnifier and read aloud

This tells you how to use Windows 10 Magnifier read aloud & text cursor indicator. These are new Windows 10 Accessibility updates. Magnifier now has Read Aloud from anywhere, and there is an easy way to change your text cursor indicator colour and size 

Office Lens

Office Lens captures notes and information from projectors, whiteboards, documents, books, handwritten memos, or anything with a lot of text. It can also remove shadows and odd angles so that images are easier to read. You can upload document and whiteboard images to Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and you can save them as PDFs or send them in email.

Dictation

Here is a useful step-by-step tutorial that shows you how to use the built-in Dictation in Word, OneNote, PowerPoint as well as Windows 10. Dictation (speech to text) especially helps those studying or working from home that need this inclusive capability.

How to create accessible content?

You may be wondering “so how do I know what I should or shouldn’t include to make my content more accessible?”. Well, the university has designed a very useful poster that guides you through what you should include or avoid to make your content more accessible. You can view it below or go to this link for a PDF copy.

This is a preview of the poster, please follow links to download PDF for screen-readable version.

Relevant skills guide: Digital Wellbeing – Accessible content for an inclusive workplace

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Digital literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Vlogs and Podcasts

#TechItUpTuesday

What is a podcast?

Both Podcasts and Vlogs are a form of digital creation. A Podcast is basically a series of episodes, that have been programmed and formatted, focusing on a specific theme or topics like technology, sports, or anything else. They are often just delivered through audio, but they can be visual as well. Podcasts are generally free and widely available on a variety of platforms. You just need a device and an internet connection to listen to Podcasts.

Season 3 Podcast GIF by The Good Place - Find & Share on GIPHY

What are Vlogs?

A Vlog is really just a blog but for video with a series of entries that can often combine embedded video (or a video link) with supporting text, images. Entries can be recorded in one take or cut into multiple parts. Vlogs are popular on platforms like YouTube. In recent years, it has spawned a large community on social media, becoming one of the most popular forms of digital entertainment. This popularity is likely because as well as being entertaining, vlogs can deliver deeper context through imagery as opposed to just written blogs.

How to create content for a Vlog/Podcast?

Many of us now find a lot of our time listening to podcasts or watching content creators on platforms such as YouTube. Here we’ll bring you a few videos showing how people go about creating such content to hopefully show you that it doesn’t always require technical wizardry or extensive knowledge. First, let’s look at podcasts. The American website Castos gives a great breakdown of things to consider when creating a podcast and as you can see most of it depends on your ideas and planning, rather than any technical know-how. Most of the software required to create podcasts (or video content) can be sourced for free. All you might need to buy when starting up is your hardware (such as a headset).

How to Vlog?

So, if you have a burning idea/topic/hobby that you’d like to share with the world, why not consider doing it via a podcast or vlog. As you can see from these videos even when creating content for YouTube, just getting started and giving it a go with the technology you have (such as your mobile camera) is as important as anything. And as with podcasting, plan plan plan.

Creating a Podcast

Relevant skills guide: The Digital Student: Social media for study