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TechItUpTuesday

A digital Christmas

#TechItUpTuesday

Winters day at Christmas with lights and decorations.

Understanding how the digital world has changed society over time is something that I think more people should know about. As this will be the last post before Christmas, I thought it would be interesting to see how digital advancements have changed our lives, not just at Christmas but every day. This is where I get to let my former history student out and look into the past to see how the digital world has changed and developed.

Where it all began

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 380eade8f5c052a12ca59b5e8d66900c.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 380eade8f5c052a12ca59b5e8d66900c.jpg

Despite what you might think Christmas was not celebrated widely even as recently as the 19th century. It was only near the end of the century when it became an annual celebration that started to spread across the whole world. In England, this change can be attributed to Queen Victoria, who married the German, Prince Albert in 1840. Prince Albert introduced some of the most prominent aspects of Christmas along with his influence in embracing emerging technologies. These influences then pushed England into the first Industrial Revolution.

1840 marked the end of the mechanical age, which began in about 1450. It was also the beginning of the electromechanical era, which continued until 1940. Many new technologies emerged during the mechanical and electromechanical eras. For example, Telecommunications, which became important for sending handmade postal cards for Christmas, started in the electromechanical era.

Christmas past, present and future

Since then, transformation, adaptation, and the influence of important technological advancements have reshaped not just Christmas but our whole world. I thought it would be fun to view this like the ghosts of past future and present from Charles Dickens’s timeless tale, A Christmas Carol, quite appropriately published in the 19th century in 1843. Now we have just looked at the past and how it all began, so let’s now move into the present.

Arthur Rackham illustration of Scrooge being visted by a ghost in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol Scrooge visited by a ghost

How has Christmas changed?

Handmade Christmas cards used to be quite a common practice but have now been replaced by commercial cards, and by e-Cards when the Internet became a key aspect of society. Another evolution is also how people send Holiday Greetings via video. With video becoming widely used and accessible with the advent of smartphones.

Christmas Abc GIF by HULU - Find & Share on GIPHY

In-store shopping replaced homemade gifts with all sorts of things one can buy. The Internet has made possible what many consider a shopping dream with online shopping and next-day home delivery. Christmas shopping is a few clicks away. There is even an option for sending a Christmas gift card by email, for those late shoppers who ran out of time. You can also play some Christmas songs on Spotify, have some hot chocolate, and online Christmas shopping has most of the traditional elements without the crowds.

Technological gadgets are the most wanted Christmas presents expected by both adults and children. There are rarely handmade gifts, like in the past. Mobile communications made it easy to send text messages and WhatsApp friends and family around the world. Video calls make it possible for family members to join from anywhere in the world.

Twitter and Facebook have also influenced Christmas making it even easier to send a single greeting with a photo of the family tree nicely decorated to hundreds of people simultaneously. With just one click a Christmas greeting can reach thousands of people.

Though some may complain about how technology has changed us as a society there is no denying the benefits. Postal delays are less of a problem as many receive digital greetings in perfect time, paper-free. Technology has made it possible to bring families and friends together in times when travelling was not an option. Video calling and chats allow families to virtually be together at the Christmas dinner table when members of the family live scattered around the world.

How we can use these developments now and in the future?

Technology has also allowed us to be more creative in different ways. We can still create our own cards but in an easier and more efficient way and we have better ways to plan what is quite a hectic time of year. Below you can see how you can easily use digital software to create a Christmas card. In addition to this, there are also digital planners you can use which can help you plan out your Christmas.

You will notice all these developments also have a usage outside of Christmas, shopping, communication and creation amongst many over things has never been easier. We can plan ahead and organise our day which is helpful for a student or in the workplace and digital creation can be used for projects and presentations. We can also easily talk to family and with fellow students or work colleagues. Also, the internet whilst being useful for shopping has created so many benefits when it comes to studying and working. Almost every day of your life as a student and when you go into the workplace involves some use of the internet.

This is a very exciting age to be living in and it will be interesting to see what developments come next.

Creating a Christmas Card in Canva

Digital Planner

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Information literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Using databases

#TechItUpTuesday

Graphic with a pencil on paper

What are databases?

A database is a system that makes it easy to search, select and store information. These databases will usually contain journal articles, but might also hold legal cases, statistical datasets, news archives, videos, geological maps, and much more. In the case of The University Of Hull and many other universities, the Library buys subscriptions to hundreds of databases that are made available to students and staff through the library website

A picture of a hand pointing at a screen with text and various icons floating around the outside.

How do I use databases?

You could just search for your topic when using databases but it is much better to plan your search strategy. Otherwise, you may spend hours searching to find what you want. Here is an outline of how to carry out your strategy.

Visual representation of your search strategy with five key points

1. Identify key terms

The first step is to identify key terms. It is important to consider the keywords related to your search topic and establish the appropriate terms to search. Rather than entering a whole assignment/project title, you need to pick out the important words that describe your topic. The database will only look for what you type in, so for each keyword, you need to apply a few search tips.

  • Synonyms (a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase) and related terms.
  • Consider American spellings and terminologies
  • Take into account Formal and informal terminology
  • Think about word endings and plurals for example instead of “Educate” maybe consider other endings like “Education”.
  • Acronyms and abbreviations can also be used for some words and phrases as well as some organisations
Trump Words GIF by moodman - Find & Share on GIPHY

2. Combine key terms

Next, you need to combine your terms using Boolean operators. Boolean consists of connectors that combine your search terms. Let’s take a look at how to use Boolean operators to help us get appropriate results.

This shows a venn diagram that demonstrates the use of the AND operator to link social media and teenagers. It only finds content that contain both. Content with only one will not appear in such a search

Use AND to combine and find information on all of your search terms. This will narrow your search. When using AND, you only receive pages including both of your search terms, though not next to each other. For your assignment, search for ‘social media AND teenagers’ to get results including social media specific to teenagers.

This shows a venn diagram that demonstrates the use of the OR operator to link teenagers and teens. It finds content that contain both teens, teenagers or both

Use OR to look for alternative terms, phrases or synonyms to broaden your search. When using OR, you receive pages containing one of or both of your search terms. For your assignment, search for ‘Teenagers OR Adolescents’ to get results including teenagers or adolescents, or both.

This shows a venn diagram that demonstrates the use of the OR operator to link teenagers and NOT pre-teens. It only finds content that contains teenagers alone. If content also included pre-teens it would be excluded

Use NOT to exclude a certain term and narrow your search. The NOT operator is used to find pages including only the first term and not the second term. For your assignment, search for ‘Teenagers NOT Adults’ to get results specific to teenagers only and not get any results related to adults.

3. Search techniques

You also need to consider some additional search techniques that can improve the relevancy and number of your results. These will consider things like different spellings, plural words, similar and related words, different words for the same concept. You do not want to miss a key paper because the author used “social networking” and you had only searched for “social media”! The main techniques to help with this are explained in the list below.

GIF showing a man searching for clues

Truncation

This ensures that all relevant articles are retrieved. It will often be an asterisk * which is placed at the stem of the word. Truncating will look for variant endings and plurals.

Phrase searching

Enclose your search terms within double quotation marks, i.e “social media”. This will avoid databases automatically inserting an “AND” between your search terms.

Wildcards

Use wildcards to improve your search. Different databases use different symbols. For example, on the EBSCOhost database, ? replaces one character, # replaces one or more.

Proximity

Narrow and focus your search, e.g. proximity searching. You can use operators NEAR (often N), Adjacent (ADJ) or SAME (in Web of Science). In some databases, you can specify the distances between search words, for example, in the EBSCOhost databases (such as Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier and Cinahl).

4. Refine your search

The fourth stage is effectively repeating the other stages by further refining your search. If your search doesn’t find enough results consider adding more synonyms or a broader topic. For example instead of Henry VIII try searching for Tudors instead. Although if your search finds too many maybe combine more keywords or limit the date ranges or language to just English. You could also limit your search based on the material, so maybe just search for news archives or add more words to a proximity search.

Angry Jimmy Fallon GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Find & Share on GIPHY

5. Save your search strategy

The final stage is to save your strategy so you don’t have to repeat this process if you want to find your chosen article again.. The video below goes through the process of an advanced search for journal articles in the Ebsco database Academic Search Premier. The techniques seen in the video can be applied to all databases that the Library subscribes to.

Recommended databases

Now that we know what databases are and how to use them I just thought I’d give you a few recommendations. These are a few databases I think many of you will find most useful at university and beyond depending on your career path.

JSTOR logo
EBSCO logo
Oxford Journals logo
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Academic literacies Skills Team

Strategies to make your revision successful

Revising your work and the information you’re studying is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure a high-level understanding of those subjects and high-quality work. Students in every subject area can benefit from a well-thought-out revision plan. Today we’ll discuss some of the different revision methods you can use, and how you can use feedback and revising drafts to your benefit. 

Study methods for revision

John Weightman & Codey McShane  

There are a wide range of possible techniques that may be useful to you when revising. The most important thing is to find what works for you. Everyone uses a combination of different learning styles throughout their academic study, and these will be unique to that student. That said, here are some example techniques that may be useful to you.

Leitner Flash Cards

The Leitner system is a revision technique using flashcards. The idea is to create your flashcards for the subject you are revising for and sort the individual flashcards into groups depending on how well you know the knowledge on the card. You then pull a flashcard from the group you remember the least from and attempt to recall the knowledge on its back. If you succeed, you can send it one box further along the line. If you fail, you send the flashcard back to the first group.

Index Cards, Cards, Paper

Groups of flashcards you know quite well should be revised less frequently than those you are having trouble with. This way, you’re focusing on the gaps in your knowledge, while still refreshing yourself on what you already know every so often.  

Mind Mapping 

Mind mapping is a technique that allows you to visually organize information in a diagram. Start with a word in the centre of a blank page (or use a tool online) and around this write your major ideas and keywords and connect them to the central concept. Then branch out into sub-branches from your major ideas with other related ideas that support your major points. You could also consider using different colours for each branch and draw pictures if it helps. The structure of a mind map is related to the way our brains store and retrieve information. Therefore, using this method can improve your reading comprehension and enable you to see the big picture by communicating the relationships between concepts and ideas. 

Mindmap - Free image on Pixabay

Colour Coding 

Writing in colour is a dynamic way to organize the information you’re learning. It also helps you review and prioritize the important ideas. A recent study found that colour can improve your memory performance. The study also found that warm colours (red and yellow) “can create a learning environment that is positive and motivating that can help learners” It also reported that warmer colours “increase attention and elicit excitement and information.” 

Consider these tips: 

  • Write down key points in red. 
  • Highlight important information in yellow. 
  • Organize topics by colour. 
  • Don’t just colour everything because then nothing will stand out
Learn Sharpie Markers GIF by Sharpie - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Pomodoro Technique 

The Pomodoro Technique was originally created by Francesco Cirillo in 1999. This method has been widely used by thousands of students for over 20 years. The method is based on studying in timed intervals. Cirillo actually named it after the timer he used which was shaped like a tomato (Pomodoro in Italian). Cirillo found that breaking large tasks up into smaller manageable timed units is the most effective way to study. 

  1. Decide what you want to study and for how long. Then break your work into Pomodoro’s. 
  1. Set a timer for 25 minutes and start studying. (There are many pomodoro apps available or you can follow along with someone’s study session on YouTube). 
  1. Minimize distractions during each interval. If a thought pops into your head write it down.  
  1. After 25 minutes take a short break. Have a tea or a coffee, go for a walk, call your friend, or just relax. 
  1. Then just repeat and after 4 Pomodoro’s take a longer break for 20-30 minutes. 

The Feynman Technique 

This technique is one that I find quite useful. It doesn’t require any extra resources, as all you need to do is take a concept you’re revising and pretend to teach it to someone else – specifically, a child. As you take a particular subject and pretend to explain it to a child, look for the gaps in your own understanding. Explaining a particular concept to someone else out loud can be an excellent way to realize exactly what it is you don’t understand fully yet. 

After refreshing yourself on the knowledge you didn’t fully understand, there is a final step. Simplify your explanation. Using analogies is a suggested way to do this, as analogies are easy to recall and explain, and require you to omit any specialized jargon.  

This also prevents you from merely committing facts to memory. If you’re able to take a concept, reduce it to its simplest form, and then explain it in a different way, you’re more likely to understand the concept. 

The Preview, Questions, Read, Recite, Review method 

This method (also called PQ3R) is potentially a more natural way of understanding academic textbooks. It encourages asking questions to facilitate your learning, as well as understanding the context surrounding the facts you’ll be learning. Following the PQ3R method in order should help you have a streamlined study method that will work every time. 

Preview: Before you dive into any source material, it’s important to understand what it is you’re about to read. With a chapter in a textbook, this means reading the chapter title, introduction, subheadings, the first sentences of each paragraph, and finally, the chapter summary. 

Questions: During the Preview step, you should take note of any questions that are raised by the initial text you are reading. This will help you to become active in your study, and you should keep these questions in mind during the next step, Read. 

Read: That’s right, it’s reading time. Read the chapter now, paying attention to any text that is specifically emphasized by highlighting or bold text. Look at all the graphs and illustrations, including their captions, and reread anything that you didn’t quite get the first time. 

Recite: If there are any questions that come at the end of this chapter, now is the time to complete them, as well as your own questions that you recorded during the preview step. 

Review: A couple of days after finishing the previous steps, you can perform the Review step. Attempt to summarize the chapter. See if you can answer the questions that you created and those in the text easily, having already done so before. How confident are you that you could explain the content in this chapter to another student? 

Revising your revision techniques 

Joanna Rawnsley

You may not think honing your skills and looking back on your techniques is revision, but when you do this, you are actually revising your techniques which results in them developing.  

Before starting an assessment, going back to basics will help familiarise yourself with how its structured and how to get the best possible grades. For example, if you’ve been asked to write an essay, revising essay structures and academic writing will make for a better outcome. For more guidance on essay writing, we have a whole guide on it: Essay Writing Skills Guide. 

If you’re a creative, honing your craft is a key part of your course – writing, drawing, any kind of creative skill needs to be continuously used to help it develop. Have you ever not drawn for a period and when you get back into it, you seem to not be able to draw anymore? You obviously haven’t lost your capabilities; you just haven’t been exercising your drawing muscles. Once you start drawing again, you’ll find your techniques starting to develop once again.  

This isn’t only for creatives though. If you’ve been using a computer software, you need to keep up to date with it to build your knowledge on how to use it. The same goes for health practitioners, who must always have more training when new medical practices are found.  

As a writer, I continuously revise narrative structures, planning techniques, and poetic form. I write whenever I get the chance to develop my writing, but I also read craft books and fiction/poetry in the genre and form I am writing in. This helps me familiarise myself with the genre and its narrative structure, but also any devices other authors use that may make my writing stronger.  

Therefore, revising techniques and honing your skills is important when it comes to the revision process. 

For more information and guidance on revision, processes check out our Skills Guide. 

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Digital literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday Visual literacies

Advanced digital creation

#TechItUpTuesday

JISC describes digital creation as:

“The capacity to design and/or create new digital artefacts and materials such as digital writing, digital imaging, digital audio and video, digital code, apps and interfaces, web pages.”

JISC Digital capability framework

What do we mean by digital creation?

Previously we have covered digital creation basics through PowerPoint and Word. Depending on what you study and your interests there are more advanced digital creation software’s which some of you may wish to explore. Here are a few useful beginners guides for these software’s some of which you may be able to pick up more easily than others. You don’t need to go through all of these videos as some are quite long but if you are interested in further advancing your digital creation abilities why not give one of these a try.

Suggested digital creation tools/software

These are just a few recommended tools to develop your more advanced digital creation skills. That isn’t to say these are the only tools there are several others you could look into here. You could also learn about these tools or software through MOOCS which are online courses that will be discussed more fully in a later post.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a software that is often used for image editing, graphic design and digital art.

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign is a software that focuses on layout and page design for print and digital media. 

Sketch

Sketch is a digital design app from Mac. You can use it for UI (User Interface), mobile, web and even icon design. 

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based graphics software. It lets you scale down your artwork for mobile screens or scale up to billboard size

Blender is a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software used for creating animated films, visual effects, 3D models, and many more. This is a fun tutorial that I have tried myself, it tells you how to make a 3D realistic donut whilst teaching you all the basics of Blender.

How will these tools help in my future?

The ability to use just one of these tools can be tremendously helpful for jobs in any of these fields and more:

  • Web Design
  • Advertising
  • Graphic Design
  • Teaching
  • Video editing
  • Photography
  • Game Design

Digital creation/design permeates much of our society delivering information, product identification, entertainment, and persuasive messages, which is something we will cover in a later post. Having a good grasp of how to use one of these more advanced digital tools may also help you stick out from the crowd when it comes to your job search after University. Employers will like these skills as achieving the speed and agility necessary for competing in today’s work/business environment requires that organisations advance their digital capabilities and creativity.

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General

Procrastination & Time Management

Learning how to manage your time effectively is crucial to any student’s time at university, but also something you will need to take into any job/career. We, interns, are no different, the techniques we learnt as students to help us tackle procrastination have helped us manage our time whilst in our current roles. Here are some tips from each of us to help you with your studies (and avoid procrastination along the way!).

A photograph of alarm clocks. Procrastination can make time disappear!
Image from pixabay: Alarm clocks

Beating procrastination the old fashioned way

By Joanna Rawnsley

I’m old fashioned because I keep everything in a paper diary, if I keep things on my phone, I end up looking at them more often which leads to me procrastinating. When doing my work, I always put my phone out of my line of sight: out of sight, out of mind. Back when I was doing my assignments, I’d even turn it off, or onto “do not disturb” and put it in a drawer. That way I wouldn’t be distracted by notifications, and I’d be solely focused on the task at hand.

Speaking of tasks, every morning before I start work, I write a daily to-do list for that day. As I go about my day, I tick off any tasks I’ve completed, you don’t realise how satisfying it is to tick off tasks until you do it. I also write down any deadlines in my diary when I get them, so I always know when things need to be in. I do, however, use my phone for reminders. Having an “annoying” alarm going off helps remind me of meetings and deadlines, this way I’m less likely to forget things and I always have a calendar handy.

via GIPHY

Another way to help with procrastination is taking short breaks between classes, studying and work, especially if you’re working at a screen. Now bear with me, I’m serious about this! It’s good to take a break every hour or so to give your eyes a rest and stretch your legs. According to the Well-being Thesis taking “micro-breaks” throughout your workday will not only improve productivity but will also help with stress and your overall well-being. Getting a drink and/or talking to a peer for a few minutes helps you relax and then when you go back to your work, you will be more focused and more efficient. This also helps prevent you from burning out at the end of each day. I for one have been known to turn my laptop off and spend my evenings scrolling through social media and watching TV due to feeling lethargic after work. So, take breaks when you can and stay hydrated!

Now I’m going to go get a drink and take a micro-break of my own.


Time management in the workplace

By David Moore

Throughout this Internship, I have had to schedule my time between different people and their required designs. How I started this, is a week at a time and planned the following week ahead of time for example on one occasion I had to finish editing videos and complete Halloween designs in the same week. I was stressed at first but planning and preparation and doing the video first left me enough time to complete two designs a day so I could finish the work by Friday. What stopped me from getting distracted was I tried to mix my design work, so I was not doing the same work repeatedly. So, one day I would do videos on After Effects and on another day, I would create my own images on Photoshop and create slides and descriptions of work ideas for new images on PowerPoint or I would separate hours of the day to do a mixture of them all.

This is my first work experience and I have found the time management quite challenging as I am not a morning person as it took some time to get used to the hours but once I got into a routine, I have enjoyed my experience. It is important to me to keep a routine, so I do not lose track of where I am.

via GIPHY


Avoiding procrastination with the right mindset

By Codey McShane

For me, the most important aspect of managing procrastination and my time for study was getting into the correct mindset. While I was at university, I found it easy to beat myself up for procrastinating, which would only make me want to study less. When thinking about doing my work evoked feelings of guilt or made me feel under intense pressure, it became way harder to get anything done at all. For me, what helped was accepting and forgiving myself for procrastinating – there was no point dwelling on what I’d already done, and all I could change was what I was going to do. I didn’t pretend that it hadn’t happened, but I recognized that I could still turn things around and give myself a fresh start.

via GIPHY

It was incredibly freeing to be able to let go of these feelings of anxiety and realize that so long as I began working now, whatever I produced would be the best work I could’ve done starting from my fresh start. Of course, this isn’t a method that will work for everyone – there is no magical cure-all for feelings of anxiety or stress that may prevent you from being able to work. The answer may be different for you (e.g., therapy, medication, journaling, exercise, dieting, mindfulness/meditation). But if you can get yourself into the right frame of mind in whatever way works for you, I found it way easier to apply some simple methods to mitigate my procrastination.

Here are some tips that worked for me:

  • Structure your time.
     The simple act of creating a daily schedule for when I would study helped a lot. Having a planned-out routine for when I would study and when I could relax made it a lot easier to power through it.
  • Find your incentive to work.
     Once I planned out exactly what and when I was going to be studying, I got a big sense of satisfaction by being able to cross that task off my list when I had finished doing it. Figure out what motivates you and use that to your advantage.
  • Starting is the hardest part.
    Once I was studying, I tended to not get distracted. But getting there in the first place sometimes felt impossible. Studying when you don’t want to requires discipline; I had to do the work even though I didn’t want to. It helped me to think things like “Just do this first task, and then you can stop if you need to.” Once I’d completed that first task I was past those initial feelings and could then continue with my schedule.

Cutting distractions to avoid procrastination

By John Weightman

Procrastination was a problem for me when I first started out as a student so much so that I would sometimes have YouTube clips playing in the background while I was supposed to be concentrating on work. However, I soon realized I couldn’t keep doing this as even though I would get the work done it would take much longer and lead to stress as deadlines loomed. As has already been mentioned one way to solve this was to turn off my phone or other distractions. But sometimes we find it difficult so what I would occasionally do is listen to relaxing sounds or music nothing loud or distracting. It was just something that helped me concentrate though now more frequently I also go along with the method of just turning off my phone.

A photograph of a mobile phone sitting on top of a book. This kind of set up leads to procrastination! Put the phone away and out of sight.
Image from Pixabay

Another good way to avoid procrastination is to think about the different places you have been when studying where were you the most focused? Where were you most distracted? Is there anything you can do to make studying enjoyable?

So, in my case, the music made it more enjoyable for me and I also found that working in a different environment to the one where I spent my free time was beneficial. For example, as a student, I found I did more work in the library than I did in my room as there were just more distractions but at the library, the people around me were working which motivated me to work. I carried this on after I was a student too as when I’m working now, I have a separate room where I can do work and it doesn’t have things like a PlayStation.

It is important to remember though that what works for one person might not necessarily work for you.  For example, studying with friends may limit your productivity. But for others, studying in groups can help to increase motivation and avoid procrastination.

Managing time

So, if we have got our procrastination under control how would I manage the time I have to work. Breaks as we have covered are important, I would often do something fun which for me is playing the guitar. I would say right I am going to write for maybe an hour then I’ll play the guitar for 20 minutes and let my mind concentrate on something else. Alternatively, you could try something like exercise which you may not believe but actually works in the same way sleep does. It can focus your state of mind, helping you to clear your head and boost your brainpower in between study sessions. If you don’t exercise much maybe aim for a 10-minute run/workout here and there, steadily increasing the amount you do as you go on.

via GIPHY

Finally, as a history student planning and research was also very important for me. If I managed my time well it would allow me to process new information and plan how I was going to use it which can help you to avoid having to re-read and repeat any research. One way of effectively planning before researching is to make a list of everything you want to find out so that you can make notes below each subheading as you go. Rather than writing out information just anywhere, if it is stored in the correct place on paper, it will then go to the correct place in my mind.

Categories
Digital literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday Visual literacies

Making effective PowerPoint presentations

#TechItUpTuesday

Microsoft PowerPoint Logo
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 7d0bf5544c7c7de10df981156d14f306.jpg

PowerPoint is an important part of your digital creation skills. Today we are going to discuss how to use it effectively and create great presentations.

Most of you have probably given the odd presentation at school and you are likely to give more at university and possibly even more in your working life depending on your career path. You may think well my particular field doesn’t really involve presentations so I don’t need to bother. You likely will have to give one at somepoint. For example, even though my main role is writing content like this I did have to give a short presentation when I first started just to introduce myself.

Slide Transitions and Effects:

Transitions and effects often become the focus of attention, which can greatly distract the audience. In addition to this when a presentation contains several of these effects and transitions runs on a computer much slower than the one on which it was created, the result can be slow and often look silly. These effects rarely enhance the message you’re trying to communicate leave the fade-ins, fade-outs, wipes, and dissolves to Hollywood filmmakers.

Project Powerpoint GIF

PowerPoint Graphics (don’t use Clipart)

As PowerPoint is so widely used if you go for clipart graphics it shows a lack of creativity. If you want to use graphics, use your own photographs or better-quality graphics from free image sites like The Noun Project. Screen captures can also add realism when presenting information about a Website or computer program.

PowerPoint Templates are distracting

Templates should be avoided as it forces you to fit all your originality into someone else’s mould. The templates are often distracting and use poor colour combinations. Create your own distinctive look or you could use the university or organisation logo in the corner of the screen. Could you really concentrate on what someone was saying if you were looking at this?

Example of a bad PowerPoint Template

There’s too much text

Slides are great at depicting an idea using graphics or providing an overview. However, they are not good for detail and reading so you should avoid paragraphs, quotations and sometimes even complete sentences. Try and keep to at most five lines of text and use words and phrases rather than full sentences. The audience will be able to retain the key points more easily. Don’t use your slides as speaker’s notes or as a script to read from. You don’t want to write something that ends up looking like this.

Example of a bad PowerPoint presentation with too much writing

Take the audience into account

Many people will often scan a table or graphical image directly from material that was designed to be printed and red off an a4 piece of paper not as part of a presentation. The results are at best mediocre. Print visuals are usually meant to be seen from 8-12 inches rather than viewed from several feet. These images are too small, too detailed and may often have too much text for an effective visual presentation. This also goes for font size for example 12-point font is too small aim for a minimum of 40-point font though sometimes a bit lower may be okay. Remember the audience and ensure all elements of any slide are large enough to easily see

Season 4 Michael GIF by The Office

Technology can go wrong

This is relevant for anything you store on your computer. You never know when equipment will malfunction or maybe you will have to give your presentation on another computer. You should be prepared by having a backup of your presentation on a USB, a compact-flash memory card with an adapter, or even a CD-ROM. In the worst-case scenario, nothing works, and you have no visuals to present. You should still be able to give a good presentation if you prepared correctly as the slides should just be a visual aid, not the main focus. So, make sure you familiarize yourself with the presentation, practice it and be ready to engage the audience regardless of the technology at hand.

Angry Employee Office Destruction GIF

PowerPoint Tips

Now we’ve explored how to make your PowerPoint presentation more effective and what can go wrong why not check out some useful tips for you to use in your next presentation.

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General

Explore Your Archives 2021

Endless discoveries to be made!

Every November the archives world takes a week out to celebrate our collections, encouraging everyone to #ExploreYourArchive.

At Hull University Archives we’re always discovering interesting things hidden away in our collections and the national #ExploreYourArchive campaign is the perfect opportunity to show them off.

Archive Animals

With so much to choose from, we found it hard to narrow down our choices for this blog so we set ourselves a theme, ‘Archive Animals’ because why not! The rules were simple: all items must feature an animal in some way, and no animal type could be repeated. After much ‘ruminating’ (sorry) these are our top five…

1. Dogs have feelings too

Who doesn’t love a dog?! Okay, some people, but here at Hull University Archives we just can’t resist their fluffy little paws and waggy tails. Our first selection was difficult, there are just so many options (including a rather stern looking Victorian lady wagging her tail at an upright lapdog). But, in the end, we went for this one:

U DBV2/30/8 – British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection stall, mid 20th cent.

From the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection collection, this old English sheepdog is just begging us to sign a petition against live animal experimentation in the early 20th century.

The British Union (BUAV) was formed in the late 19th century by Miss Frances Power Cobbe to raise public awareness of vivisection and to campaign against it. Aside from photographs, the collection contains publicity material, notes and reports, newsletters and publications, minutes and correspondence. The material is vital evidence of early animal rights activism.

Explore the contents of the collection further here.

And just because we’re nice, this is the one that almost made the cut:

U DDCA2/54/87b – Photographic print from the Stapleton Family of Carlton Towers collection, early 20th cent.

2. A bunch of asses

At 3pm on 23rd August 1837, a group of 10 students, accompanied by two staff from Haxby School near York, set out on a multiple day excursion around North Yorkshire. The trip was recorded in a wonderful little journal written by one of those students, Hewley John Baines.

Baines describes visits made to Hambleton Coxwold, Byland Abbey, Rivaulx Abbey, Duncombe Park, and Helmsley. He notes the sites and monuments visited by the group and includes sketches of the same.

But the reason we love this item is the central role played by animals in the trip. In the opening lines, Baines tell us that seven members of the party were mounted on donkeys, whilst five rode horses and ponies. He later recounts (with below illustration) how a Master Smith’s donkey took to sitting down, which caused the rider to slide off his mount backwards leading to much laughter amongst his companions.

U DDBH/27/3 – Illustration of Master Smith from the journal of Hewley John Baines, 1837

And finally, we are told that at Easingwold the group heard several remarks on the figure they cut:

Some cried ‘Tail them’! Others shouted, ‘These chaps have just come from the ass market’!

Journal of Hewley John Baines, 1837

Such accounts of youth experiences are rare in archives and so are a fantastic find when we do see them. This one comes from the Baines Family collection.

Explore the contents of the collection further here.

3. Do you think you can get an education by just swanning around!

Our next item is from the aptly named Miscellaneous Local History collection, a collated collection begun by our first archivist Norman Higson. The collection covers anything and everything local history related, from 19th century local recipes to Acts of Parliament. But one particular item stood out for us:

U DDX/16/227 – Inside cover of the arithmetic exercise book of Miss Ann Lamb of Rudston, c.1850

It is rare that we find evidence of female education prior to the 20th century in the archives. So, this exercise book, belonging to a Miss Ann Lamb of Rudston, is a fantastic discovery.

When we think of the education of young ladies during the 19th century we tend to bring to mind Jane Austen-esque images of embroidery, European languages, and rudimentary history or geography. But Miss Lamb shows us that women can be both logical and creative at the same time with her swan illustrated front cover. The subject of her studies, arithmetic, was traditionally considered a male province. Nevertheless, here we have an East Yorkshire girl learning maths, and, not only that, she’s doing it with an artistic flair!

Explore the contents of the collection further here.

4. Old McDonald had a farm

Here we have an ode written by poet Hubert Nicholson to that humble beast of burden, the ox:

U DNI/1/1 – Poem ‘A Yorkshire Farm’ by Hubert Nicholson (journalist, novelist and poet)

Part of Yorkshire’s rural landscape for longer than records can tell, the ox features regularly in agricultural records and accounts kept by ancient landowning families. In fact the ox was so entrenched in the daily life of our medieval communities that it even lent its name to a unit of measurement: the oxgang, a measure of area based on how much land could be tilled by one ox in a season.

Explore the contents of the collection further here.

5. The mower stalled, twice

Any Philip Larkin enthusiasts should recognise the above as the opening line of one of his more famous poems, The Mower. Inspired by a tragic incident with a hedgehog and a lawn mower, we really hope that the little guy in this next item was not the source of his inspiration:

U DLV/3/222/4 – Photograph taken by Philip Larkin at his Pearson Park residence, 20th cent.

Most people will know of Philip Larkin the poet, and those of us who work in the University Library are well aware of Larkin the Librarian, but Larkin the Photographer is a less well-known entity.

In recent years we’ve seen the publication of a number of illustrated works written about Larkin. These illustrations have been largely selected from his own photographic collection. Amongst the selfies (yes, Larkin was taking selfies before phone cameras even existed!) and the photographs of family members, holidays, and girlfriends, we’ve discovered lots of animal pictures – many of them cows, strangely enough.

Explore the contents of the collection further here.

Over to ewe

If your interest has been piqued why not discover more at Hull History Centre? Check out the website and our online catalogue.

Need support using archives? Check out our Archives SkillsGuides. Topics include the theoretical basics, search strategies, uncovering diverse collections, online primary sources, material held at Hull History Centre, and palaeography. Want to chat to someone about resources available for your own coursework or research? You can email us at archives@hull.ac.uk to ask a question or arrange a chat.

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Internships

The end of my internship

It’s been an amazing journey for the last 3 months, and I can’t say enough how much I’ve enjoyed my time as an intern. Through it all, I’ve learnt a lot and improved my skills in web design, as well as having learnt a lot about Customer Engagement, a field of work I never fully understood before this role. 

I’ve met so many people and I feel like I’ve had a chance to get to know a little of everything that happens in the Library. It’s amazing how much goes on behind the scenes to bring the fantastic experience we get as students at the University of Hull, and I appreciate it more having seen behind the curtain. 

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So, what have I done? 

Well, it feels like a whole bunch of stuff. I’ve done research into Customer Engagement Strategies, delivered presentations on the same, helped edit SkillsGuides, gave my input on a wide range of stuff to help the Library have a student perspective. I’ve helped design and run Usability Testing sessions and fixed bugs or improved aspects of the Library website.  

I’ve also done some less easily defined things, like learning how a workplace works, making connections, and speaking to a wide variety of people working in different roles so that I can get an insight into what they do. I think these skills will really help me in my job search and future careers. 

Speaking of, what’s next? 

Well, I’m hoping to continue now to get an IT job in another University (or academic library) somewhere in London, where I live. As fun as it’s been to work remote, I’m excited to learn how to work in a physical workplace and everything that comes with that, including interacting with and directly helping customers. Wherever I end up though, I’m planning on keeping in touch with the amazing people I’ve met during my internship here. 

via GIPHY

It’s been really fun, and really insightful. I’m glad I got this opportunity, and I’m looking forward to the future. See ya! 

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Internships

My Internship Progress – The Final Post

My Internship Progress – The Final Post

via GIPHY

Two weeks ago, the public communication skills guide I’ve been working on went live and is now available for all who need/want guidance and advice on these types of assessments, but also for anyone who wants to learn more about writing for the public. I am incredibly proud of myself for completing this guide and the amount of work I’ve put into it.

I’ve also been working on the content for another new SkillsGuide about infographics, using the information provided by Dr Dom Henri, a lecturer at the university, as well as my own research into visual communications and design principles.

Writing these guides has provided me with more research expertise and taught me about how to communicate efficiently to the public; this will help me with furthering my career.

As well as working on the guides I’ve been writing weekly blog posts (like this one). I concentrated mainly on student well-being and mental health due to this being incredibly important to me. I also wrote about my experience as a creative writer and aspiring indie author. Me and the other interns collaborated on a few posts too, to help students with time management and procrastination. Writing these posts alongside the skills guides content has given me the opportunity to be more creative whilst working which I have really enjoyed.

Even though my internship has included a lot of writing, I have also helped start discussions between one of my old lecturers and the Skills Team to provide more guidance to Creative Writing students. This involved setting up a tutorial session for first-years to teach them how to get the most out of the library and skills guides, as well as the Creative Writing department potentially writing content for a SkillsGuide about creative writing assessments. I was very proactive as a student, so am passionate about helping other students as much as I can.   

What have I learnt whilst being an intern?

I realised that I am good at working on my own initiative, and always have many creative ideas. I can be impulsive, however, but whilst working I learnt how not to jump the gun, instead, I should talk things through with the team to get the best results. I found that I am incredibly passionate about collaborating with other departments/teams to help student experience and engagement. This passion has led me to apply to become a Graduate Ambassador at the university. (Hopefully, I won’t be leaving the university just yet)

What’s next for me?

Image from Pixabay

Being an intern at Hull has offered me many new opportunities. Not only have I applied for the ambassador position, but I’ve also been able to apply for copywriting, marketing and social media positions. I now have more confidence in my capabilities, and I am a lot more ambitious after these 12 weeks.

I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity of being an intern with the Skills Team and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Oh, one other thing, I am still working on my book and am now a Master of the Arts!

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General

Final Blog – This is the End – David Moore

After 12 weeks of work experience and how time has flown by, my internship is at an end and what an experience it has been.  From meeting new people, learning new skills and gaining experience within a working environment. 

So, after the first week which was hectic but enjoyable my work began from learning how to do timesheets, something that I have never done before to drafting design ideas for projects.  Throughout this journey sometimes I felt that my head was going to explode with information, which included searching websites and mandated training, but I overcame each obstacle and enjoyed every moment.  With the help of Lee and members of staff including other interns (Jo & John), it showed me a guiding light into the unknown and this has been a good learning curve for me.

During this time, I have gained a clear understanding of my role Visual Design Intern which is to help the other Interns design images and videos for the Skills Guide and Digi skills.  This involved creating images, of which I used PowerPoint, to create these icons I had to change the size, colour and merge them together to create simple images.  For the videos, these are instructive videos on how to create blogs, magazine articles, letters, opinion pieces and wikis.

For example

Skill guides

  • YouTube Videos – These videos are to show how to do blogs and shows examples of letter to editor, magazine articles, newspapers etc. 
  • Public Communications SkillsGuide – I helped with images.
  • Helped with other designs and images as required.

Digi Skills

  • Digital Tools – created images for the titles of topics.
  • Images based around public holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Bonfire Night etc, for example the title was Fear of Missing Out and the holidays was Halloween.  The image I created is

Conclusion

The end of the journey has come around quickly and I am thankful for the experience and gained a lot of knowledge.  I have met a lot of new people, explored the university as a staff member which showed me how things work in a working environment and having the chance to work in an office if only for a few days (working from home was great too).  Thank you to all the staff members of the library for helping me along my journey and this opportunity for which I am grateful.