Posts Tagged ‘how to’

As I am reading your blogs, I feel the need to remind and/or educate you about a couple of very basic things:

  1. Linking. Link from text, like this. Don’t just paste URLs in. They’re ugly. According to Tim Berners-Lee (don’t know who he is? Google and find out!!!) URLs were never meant to be seen.
  2. Widgets. Use widgets to customize your wordpress theme. Show your tags and categories on the side bars.
  3. Settings. Go through them. See what’s there. Customize. Turn on liking and rating for posts and for comments.

Don’t be lazy. Figure out WordPress. There is a lot of detailed information out there. Use it.

You can also watch these screencasts I created a long time back about some wordpress basics. The dashboard looked a bit different then, but it’s the same idea. I made them for my liberal arts undergrads who were scared of technology. You are taking a PhD level class in Technology. You can figure this out. Just try, please.

I don’t think you need this kind of help, but here it is, just in case. 🙂

Whether you realized it or not, we learned a lot during the first week of class.

If you need some help or reminders with:

  • using Google Reader
  • understanding blog terms (post, page, permalink, and more: comment, trackback)
  • an overview of the WordPress dashboard as it looked like some time back, and/or
  • help creating a new blog post in WordPress

Please see these tutorials I created for students just like you. Of course, you can also learn how to get started directly from WordPress – and here is a good Twitter guide book from Mashable (a social media blog you should be following).

If you need help with Twitter, please see these posts I wrote for students just like you 🙂 You can browse the posts tagged “Twitter” by clicking the word “twitter” in the cloud tag on the left side bar.

We ended class with a to do list for you. I am sure you have everything in your notes, but just in case, here it is again:

  1. Set up your blog. You can use your real name or a pseudonym. Post your blog’s URL in a comment on this first post about class.
  2. Set up your Twitter account. Write your bio, customize your picture (avatar). Say hi to me on Twitter by sending a tweet that begins with @mihaela_v. Include the characters #TECH621 in your tweet. So, you can type a tweet such as: “@mihaela_v Hi, I’m on Twitter now. #TECH621”
  3. Do the readings and assignment for next week. See the syllabus. Readings are on Blackboard. You can collect the 20 social media sites on your blog. Just have them available in class. Print the list out or bring your computer. Each item on the list should include a brief description of the site. For example: Reddit.com – social news; Spotify.com – music listening/sharing.
  4. Subscribe to this blog. You can start by email, but I recommend you figure out Google Reader. Also, you may look into making iGoogle your home page. Here is what mine looks like, after I customized it with the widgets I need most:

iGoogle screen shotQuestions? Please let me know in the comments below.

It’s done!

Not only the literature review, but the entire paper. That explains why I didn’t have time to post an update on the blog.

In case you missed it, here’s part 1 – my process for working on a literature review.

I left off with an outline. So, what happened next?

After reading a few more articles, I felt that the outline didn’t make any sense whatsoever, and that I had no idea how to go about this. Stress plummeted to very unpleasant levels. When that happens, I know what it means: It’s time to start writing.

So I started writing. I started with just the first paragraph, and that lead me to the second. After that, I re-evaluated my outline. I looked at all the articles, sorted them into piles, and saw that my initial outline plan actually made sense.

This is what my lit review looks like

So, I started attacking the literature review section by section – aka pile by pile. As soon as I was done with a pile of articles, I put it aside. I kept writing, and writing, because at that point I was on a roll  – I knew what I wanted to do, and couldn’t wait to get it done. So I actually drafted the entire literature review in one sitting (maybe 5 hours or so). As the need occurred, I found more references to fill in the occasional gap.

When I write, I work with Word and Endnote – it is a reference management software that works with Word to insert citations in text and in the list of references. So I had to make sure that each reference was entered correctly in Endnote. I use Zotero to collect references, then export them into Endnote, and clean them up in Endnote. Zotero references often need a lot of cleanup – for example, each word in an article’s title is capitalized, and that’s not correct in APA style, so I need to go back and lower case each word manually, and add whatever information is missing. I hear Zotero also has a plugin for Word, but I am pretty happy with Endnote. Have you used it? What do you think about it?

I cannot share the end result publicly, but if you’d like to see the literature review, let me know and I’ll post it on Blackboard.

I am spending Spring break working on a paper, specifically, the literature review section. So I thought I’d document my process here, in case it may help you. Maybe we can turn this blog post into an ad-hoc literature review support group.

(Speaking of support groups, I tried creating one for College of Technology graduate students. Nothing much has happened yet, but if you’re interested, join the group on Facebook. I’m planning to try again to meet over the summer.)

Back to the literature review. It sounds simple. Here are the steps, in 140 characters or fewer (fewer, not less):

Yesterday, I worked on reading articles that an undergraduate research intern had helped me collect.

As I was reading, I experienced the following:

  • elation and satisfaction at learning new things
  • panic that there’s so much more to read than I have time before the deadline (and by deadline, I mean before I die)
  • confusion about how to organize the articles into literature review sections
  • occasional tiredness and boredom, coupled with restlessness. Even though I was tired, I couldn’t stop reading, I had to pick up article after article.
  • the thought that I can’t do this before deadline, I should just give up and try a later deadline
  • the thought that I’ve done this before, and just like I miraculously met deadlines before, I will meet the deadline this time, too.

You may experience all of the above, except, maybe, the last one – if you do not have sufficient experience. What I am trying to say is that unpleasant feelings, panic, and doubts are part of the process. They don’t mean much. Just like a headache goes away, they, too, will go away. So notice the unpleasantness, label it as normal, and keep going. I wish I’d known earlier on that they are a normal part of the process.

The most difficult for me was the confusion, the fact that I could not see a structure or a way to organize articles into sections. That’s when I knew I need to take a break (go to sleep) and give my brain time to process all the new information. When I woke up this morning, I had a structure in mind, an I could hear the words for the first paragraph (which is the hardest for me to write).

Pooky helping with a literature review. Note the piles of articles in the background. Each pile became a lit review section.

This is where I am right now. My paper is about using social media in higher education. So, I’m thinking that the outline of the literature review will go something like this:

  1. Several people argue that Web 2.0 is so much better than sliced bread (cite here all of these arguments). If it’s so wonderful, how come we don’t all use Web 2.0 in our teaching? And more importantly, what evidence do we have that Web 2.0 is as really as great as these arguments claim? (This is my transition to the section about empirical studies.)
  2. Empirical studies have looked at social media tools individually. There are studies about microblogging in education and at conferences, which show that… (summarize results here). There are studies about using blogs in education which show that… (summarize results here). There are studies about wikis… There are studies about some other random tools… However, there aren’t studies that look at an integral social media solution. What happens when you combine several of these tools in education? That’s the need we are trying to address with our study.
  3. Theoretical framework: Learning outcomes, Self-determination theory, Social capital (explain all these theories and how they apply to our problem).
  4. Study goal and research questions.
  5. THAT’S IT. That’s the end of my literature review.

I am now thinking that there’s a bunch of statistics and studies about how students use the Internet and social media, and they seem to belong somewhere in the literature review, but I am not sure where. Help me out: Where do you think I should plug them in, in this structure? Or should I leave them out?

How’s your process going? What feelings are you experiencing? What are you discovering that works well for you?

 

These days, it is fashionable to use slides with lots of images and little text. Though it is fashionable, it is not always effective, because visual learners will understand/remember your points better if they can read the words.

For presentations that you won’t deliver in person, this is especially important. Even though you will be recording audio over your slides for your final presentation, you can’t be sure that people will take the time to listen. So, can your slides stand on their own, without your voice-over, and still communicate effectively? That’s quite challenging, but feasible. Here is an example that accomplishes that:

[Update: One additional tip for not sucking at powerpoint is to proofread your text, something the above presentation occasionally fails at.]
And this is an example of what your bio slide could look like:

Here is a list of resources (how-to articles and tools) on making infographics. Via Kevin Dugan of the Bad Pitch Blog.

You may feel a bit of information overload and a bit of confusion about TECH 621. This is normal, because this course probably is very different from others you have taken.

You are trained to succeed in your typical course, but may not be sure how to tackle this one. Here’s some help:

To succeed in TECH 621 you need to create a set of social media habits.

You need to do certain things regularly, just like you brush your teeth, drink coffee, etc.

Here are the social media habits that you need to succeed in this course:

1. Keep up with your RSS feeds

Aim to clear your feed reader daily. Skim all posts, read a few, comment on a few. Please sign up for backtype so I can keep track of your online blog comments.

2. Save & Share useful info

Share with the class and with the world whatever you believe is interesting/important, from our class perspective. Share on twitter and save on delicious if you need to use it for your final project or for the class wiki. Remember to use an URL shortener when sharing links on Twitter (a few good choices: bit.ly, is.gd, cli.gs; there are many more).

3. Use Twitter

Use it whenever you can. I understand you’re not at your computer all day long, like I am, but aim to use it at least once a day. Use it to get a grasp of Twitter culture.

Share links, thoughts, talk about what has your attention, engage in conversations with others. Use it just for the sake of using it – because that’s how you learn the social norms of Twitterville.

Note that you can use twitter from your phone, even if it’s not a smart phone, but please be sure not to exceed your plan’s number of text messages.

4. Blog

Aim to write at least 2 blog posts every week: one on a required topic (class readings), the other on an elective topic.

Of course, you also need to keep up with the class readings. There’s no way you can do all this unless you learn to skim. I’ll teach you how in class, and in a different blog post.

And finally, one more word of advice:

Give it an honest try.

If it’s clear that you are trying honestly and trying hard, you’ll come a long way. Meeting deadlines is one way to show you’re trying honestly. There are others, you can brainstorm in the comments section of this post.

Questions? Want to know why I ask you to do these things? Comment below or e-mail me.