Welcome to the first module of DigiThings! In this module we will focus on presentations, exploring different tools and strategies to engage students and other colleagues, and are hopefully fun to use too!
The first ‘thing’ we shall be looking at is presenting yourself through a blog. We shall consider online identity through creating a profile and choosing a username and avatar to represent you online.
Educators are encouraged to be ‘reflective practitioners’ (Schon 1983) – looking back at what we have done and considering how we can improve. Steve Wheeler identifies this and six other reasons why he feels teachers should blog.
A blog (and using other social media) can also be useful for research, as articulated by PhD student, Kylie Soane, helping you to clarify your thoughts, keep informed and share what you’re doing with a wider community.
You may also find these Academic Blogging 10 Top Tips from the Guardian Higher Education Network useful
WordPress.com is a free blogging platform. There are others, such as Google’s Blogger or Tumblr, or alternatively you can use the blogging tool in PebblePad. Your blog will be the mechanism through which you reflect and participate in conversations with others so please don’t forget to submit it to us so that we can link it from this main blog. If you already have a blog you are also welcome to use that!
Task: Setting up a blog and creating a profile
1. Go to wordpress.com (not wordpress.org as this is a paid service) and click on ‘Get Started’
2. Set up an account
You will need an email address in order for your account to be activated. You will also need to create a Username, Password and name for your blog.
Username: Choosing your username is important as it will be displayed whenever you comment on others’ posts and will also be used for any other WordPress blogs you may create in the future. It could also form the basis of your online identity, particularly if you have a few social media accounts and would like your online persona to be consistent. I use my real name (fleapalmer) but, depending on how you feel about your public profile and the blurring of personal and professional identities, you may wish to use a pseudonym. Namechk is a useful tool for checking whether a username is available across different social media accounts.
Password: Ensure your password is secure through using a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. It’s recommended to use a phrase rather than one word, although this can make your password quite long! Don’t check the ‘remember my password’ box, especially if you share a machine. You may want to use a secure password manager, such as LastPass, particularly if you have lots of accounts as trying to remember them all can be quite challenging!
See http://learn.wordpress.com/ for more details about setting up your account and other features that you can add to your blog.
3. Activate your account
You will be sent an email to confirm your account. Follow the instructions, click on the link and you’re ready to go!
4. Fill in your profile
The Dashboard is where you manage your blog – e.g. changing settings, creating new posts and/or pages and seeing how many ‘hits’ (visits) you get. You can get to the Dashboard by hovering over your blog name in the top left-hand corner.
One of the most important things to do is to complete your User Profile so that others can find out a bit about you! Fill in as much as you feel comfortable with remembering that this information will be available to everyone on the web. Although WordPress doesn’t ask you for too much personal information, other sites, such as Facebook and Google, encourage you to create a detailed profile. This is the deal – you use their products for free, in return, they use your information for targeted advertising. Of course, you can use this to your advantage through creating your own ‘online brand’!
5. Create your Gravatar
Your gravatar (globally recognised avatar) can be a professional photo of yourself or a picture that represents your username. Avoid using the default as people may not bother interacting with you as they might think you’re not serious or even a spammer! To create your Gravatar go to the dashboard and in the left-hand menu select Users > Your Profile > Change your Gravatar and follow the instructions to upload a picture.
6. Write your first post!
Here’s how to write your first post… (written instructions can be found at http://learn.wordpress.com/get-published/)
Don’t know what to write about? This course is all about trying out new tools and reflecting on how they might be useful in your practice, sharing thoughts via your blog. You may find the Reflective Framework useful to guide your thoughts.
Key Skills: How easy was it to set up your blog? Did you have any problems? Do you have any tips to share?
Profession-specific: How do you feel about having a ‘digital identity’? Are you using your own name or a pseudonym? Are you aiming to combine your personal and professional identities or will you keep them separate?
Evaluation: Do you think keeping a blog would be useful for your practice? What are the benefits/ issues? (You may find this article interesting: ‘Academic blogging: a risk worth taking?‘)
Integration: How could blogging become part of your workflow? Could you use your blog with students? research colleagues? How often would you post?
7. Register your blog with us!