Is LinkedIn still relevant?

I have a LinkedIn account and profile – here it is: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/davidmhopkins

I think it’s OK – nothing special, nothing outstanding. I’ve put a little effort into making it what it is, making sure it’s up to date, professional, and that I have appropriate and relevant connections. I am fully aware of how this ‘shop window’ into my work can work for or against me at any time, even when I’ve been ignoring it for months on end.

Those who know me will know that I moved from Bournemouth University to the University of Leicester in 2012, and again on to the University of Warwick in 2014. I am certain that online professional persona was used as part of the interview/hiring process (let’s face it, they’d have missed a trick if they didn’t use them!) as well as my CV and application forms – my Twitter feed, my LinkedIn profile, my (under-used) Google+ stream, SlideShare presentations, published books, etc.

This is why it’s important to spend a little time keeping your profile up to date, trim the connections (or not accept those you don’t know in some way), post updates and projects, etc.

This LinkedIn Snakes and Ladders from Sue Beckingham is just perfect for anyone who has a LinkedIn profile, student or staff. Sue makes important suggestions on what will help or hinder your profile, like adding projects, publications, and a professional photo (help) or sharing trivia, posting insensitive or unprofessional updates (hinder).

LinkedIn snakes or ladders? from Sue Beckingham

My question is, do we still need LinkedIn? Are those of use who are active elsewhere (Twitter, FaceBook, Google, blogs, etc.) doing enough already, or do we need this ‘amalgamator’ that is LinkedIn to pull our work together? Do you use LinkedIn to find out about people you encounter?

Note: I don’t use the LinkedIn Premium. Does anyone?

Image source: Patrick Feller (CC BY 2.0)

Does your avatar matter?

We all have an avatar on our social network accounts. Some of us took awhile before changing the default, others selected one and have stuck to it over the years. But what does your avatar say about you?

For many this was what people remember me on Twitter for, despite the fact he wasn’t my first avatar:

David Hopkins

Remember him? I used him for about 3 years, and was happy. Scrolling through the status updates made it easy to see and identify tweets or links or shares coming from myself. At the time he was useful as few people used illustrations, favouring more social and personal photos. He was used everywhere, except LinkedIn. For LinkedIn I used a (slightly) more professional, but stylised, B&W photo.

I fought against changing it for quite a long while, against all the posts and articles suggesting I was unprofessional or lacking in integrity or ability to be trusted for not having a ‘proper’ avatar. he is/was my brand, and it was how people knew me and how I’d grown my PLN. I was all to aware of how it could be viewed, and how it could affect how others viewed me, but I am more interested in people judging me for my actions or ability to do my job than how my avatar looked or what shoes I wear. Judge me by my posts, tweets, and what I share, not my avatar or shoes or car I drive.

When we started the BYOD4L (Bring Your Own Device for Learning, January 2014) course I wanted people to actually see me this time, not an illustration, on the course and in the tweet-chats. So, for the duration of the BYOD4L course I changed my Twitter avatar to the same as my LinkedIn one (for no other reason than I liked it):

David Hopkins

But then I realised that I didn’t need or want to hide behind an illustration any more. I kept this avatar for Twitter, and started to update my other social channels to use this one too (SlideShare, Klout, Academia.edu, Google+, etc. After a few months I wanted something a little less obscure and something a little more professional, so I tweaked it and started using this one:

David Hopkins

Same image, but actually showing me, not half of me!

Then, Christmas 2014 I made one final change. It was originally a selfie I took and messed around with in different Apps for colour, blur, etc., but I ended up liking it … and it’s stuck for the last 6 months:

avatar festive

Note: I’ve not mentioned Facebook or avatars that I’ve used. There’s a good reason, I don’t use Facebook for work or my professional activity. I have used many different avatars that often reflect where I’ve been or people I’ve met, as well as using pics of one or both of my boys. I keep my Facebook account separate to my other online activities, this is part of how I choose to use social networks.

For those of you interested, this was my first ever avatar!Muppet

So … what does your avatar say about you? Or, what makes a good avatar?

  • Real photo vs illustration / cartoon: Obviously I’d ignored this advice for many years, and i don’t think it harmed my online persona, but I have had more positive activity and engagements since showing people who I really am.
  • Show yourself: Again I didn’t do this very well, as one avatar only showed half of me, not my full face. It’s also worth noting to avoid obscure angles or facing away from the camera, or looking too far away.
  • Smile? Do avatars of people smiling make you want to find out more about them, or not? Does it matter? Some reports say a smile is better, but it depends on whether you’re a comfortable smiler (I’m not, too many chins!) or a slight smile (see above) is enough.
  • Colour? Does colour matter, are B&W avatars OK? I like the B&W look, it doesn’t bother me, but for some it’s not ‘right’ or ‘professional’ enough.
  • Staged vs natural: I have never liked staged, stock photos, anywhere. While they may suit the contact details on a website, they look out of place on social networks (note, these are social channels, the staged photos are more corporate, and this is why I tend to ignore shares or tweets from corporate looking accounts.
  • Consistency: If you use different channels then help your followers out by using the same avatar across them all. It’s not always possible to use the same account name or handle, which can make finding people difficult, but if the avatar is the same, it’s so much easier!

What about you, what do you look for in people’s avatars?

Image source: Chris Christian (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Interview with Terese Bird, #EdTechBook chapter author

The Really Useful #EdTechBook, edited by David HopkinsAs part of a new series of posts, I will be talking to authors of The Really Useful #EdTechBook about their work, experiences, and contribution to the book. In this seventh post I talk to Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE research fellow, University of Leicester.

DH – Hi Terese. How does the use of technology, in all its various forms, affect your day-to-day working life?

TB – Really, I do my job on the strength of first social media, and second mobile devices. I remember when I was being interviewed for my job at Leicester back in 2009, I was asked how I stay on top of developments in the field, and I said, “Twitter.” Even before I had any smart handheld devices, I was regularly using Twitter to learn from others in the field of learning technology and tech innovation generally. Even on extremely busy days, I can take a quick skim through Twitter, retweet a couple of things or put a couple of things on Scoop.it. Not only have I learnt from the blog post or news item, I have shared it, and often get some response on it — so in 20 minutes or so, I have done valuable horizon-scanning, learning, and networking in my field. I find other social media sites valuable as well: Pinterest, Academia.edu, YouTube, Flickr, Slideshare, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Recently, Mendeley has figured in hugely for me — I love that I can get references and papers just right within the app, share references, write my own notes and annotations, and add material into my bibliography from the browser. As for mobile devices, the funny thing is I do not own a smartphone. When the iPad came out, I just felt that was what I needed in terms of both portability and screen real estate. I didn’t want to compromise with the small phone screen, and also I found it was cheaper to have a PAYG dumb phone that costs £10 just for calls and texts, and my iPad for everything else. I’m still not really tempted to get a smartphone. I am a bit tempted by the Apple Watch, though.

For other aspects of my job, I use my iPad for most meetings, note-taking, and email while on the job. Because my iPad is usually at hand, I can make very quick replies to most emails. I use my MacBook Pro and a 27” iMac at work for iMovie, iPhoto, Audacity and Quicktime especially to put together materials for our university’s iTunes U site. For everything else, for most documents and some research software, I use the university PC which is very handy in the way it’s set up, I must say. I appreciate the Windows environment; I’m not a total Mac addict. I appreciate Android as well, especially when I was trying to get Google Glass set up at the Medical School. Google Glass — impressive, but I can’t envision trying to use it personally, only for professional use I think.

Your question is about technology in all its various forms. I think I will bore everyone to death if I mention all the forms — lecture capture software and hardware, webinars and the paraphernalia to get them working, Skype, voting systems in lectures, Google drive and all the Google tools, don’t get me started on all the apps. I listen to the radio on my iPad and read books, I have a Bible app, iBooks, I listen to podcasts, I use the Blackboard app as both an instructor and as a student — I’m studying International Education as a distance student with the University of Leicester and Phil Wood the instructor gives us iBooks of all the learning material. I’d better stop there!

DH – It’s quite obvious that all these different technologies, and not just the hardware, have made you more flexible and more dynamic in your working practices. All you have to do, if you want to see how important technology is to students, is wait in line at the coffee shop or watch them when they’re together to see how prevalent their use of mobile devices are. For me the biggest question is are we doing enough to engage them on these devices, do we stop them from being distracted from push notifications from different sources and networks when they’re in lectures? If we are somehow able to utilise their attention and their devices, are we being unrealistic with the level of engagement that academic staff (as well as students) will need in order to keep up with them?

TB – I like these questions — they’re not simple. ‘Are we doing enough to engage students on these devices’ is related to the question ‘are we being unrealistic with the level of engagement that academic staff will need in order to keep up with the students’ To answer this, I’ll begin by saying that I’m increasingly seeing social media as mainstream media. As television was to my generation in my youth, so is social media to young people today — quite pervasive, potentially addictive and therefore laden with cautions, but ultimately it is a significant means of communication and networking and it is not going away anytime soon. So it is both silly and futile for educators to ignore social media. But I think students need someone to discuss with them or teach them ways of using social media for their learning. This doesn’t have to be the academic who teaches them content of their subject — it might make more sense for this to be taught as a learning skill like academic writing and study skills. So, alongside your writing session you would have a session on ‘social media for independent learning’ or something like that. Some students won’t really need guidance on this, but some students really will.

As I’ve been helping our Medical School to embed iPads into undergraduate student training, I’ve been amazed at the students’ ability to figure out ways to learn better, more efficiently, more socially, and in ways that are frankly more fun using the iPads than they did without the iPads. Maybe they figured these things out themselves because they are highly-motivated students. But I think everyone is different, and some students really will benefit from some guidance in these areas.

Now for the more vocational, you would have ‘social media for business’ and ‘social media for marketing.’  These could be covered by the careers services of a college or university. And why should we do this? So that students can cultivate good habits of using social media for personal lifelong learning, and networking to serve their professional purposes. This includes the skill of determining good versus bad online sources and also curation and knowledge of which medium is good to communicate which kind of message online. I suppose these are aspects of ‘digital literacy.’ And alongside this, we need to somehow discuss or at least flag up with students the social media troublespots — things like addiction to the notification, addiction to the ‘like’ (this is more of an issue with young pupils), and admitting that in fact we cannot multi-task so that when it’s time to focus on an assignment, it is best to shut off the electronics. Similarly if the lecturer is not encouraging tweeting during her lecture, then maybe it’s best to ask students to switch things off during the lecture or for part of it. Nothing wrong with that! Perhaps we should also be discussing things like online radicalisation, porn addiction, trolling, and other things which adults need to consider in their own behaviour. Again these would not be things covered by the academics but more by the ‘study skills people’ and these could be the learning technologists.

Interview with Terese Bird, #EdTechBook chapter author

DH – Your chapter is about the student-led innovation in mobile learning; do you consider enough is being done to include the student body in the different aspects of their education? By this I mean more than just the individual classroom activity or learning resource, but the wider progress along the route to the qualification, and the design of the qualification itself. If the inclusion of ‘students a co-producers’ works in the classroom or lecture theatre, what about in the meetings that determined the structure, requirements, and technology they will need to work with?

TB – In my work at the Medical School, we are listening to the student voice by means of surveys and other online feedback, informal meetings and class observations. This is unofficial, and it is so valuable: I could not do my job without it. In the university generally, most if not all of the main committees include students. It was because of a student petition that lecture capture technology was adopted. There are other changes the university is considering for which the student voice is actively being sought. Even still, I think students’ input should be sought more. At these meetings, sometimes the student’s role is a bit observational and maybe rubber-stamp-y, as opposed to really integrated into the decision-making process. Maybe that is down to the individual committee or student; at any rate, I would like to see more healthy and constructive rabble-rousing on the part of students.

DH – I’ve read in a few places recently that children/students, who have been classed as Generation Z (born after 1995), are starting to push back against the technology that previous generations have adopted and embraced (Bloomberg Review: ‘Will Generation Z Disconnect?’). Do you think we’re doing the right thing, in Higher Education, in advancing our understanding and use of mobile technology if the students of the future (2-5 years hence) are going to shun the devices and online networks? Do we need to be more considerate and more understanding of the role technology takes in the process of learning?

TB – A Learning Technologist must always be a horizon-scanner. We need to keep up on consumer trends (because consumer devices will find their way into HE classrooms in students’ backpacks) and societal trends, how is communication evolving and where is it going. Academic communication should happen in the media and methods of the present world, and should not insist on happening in the media and methods of the past world. At the same time, we should evaluate what we do, and put it to research in some form, so we can see what students are thinking, whether any interventions help them or hinder them.

The Bloomberg article is interesting because as I look carefully at the survey findings, I am not sure we can conclude that Generation Z is turning away from tech or internet commerce/communication; indeed, the article refers to this generation as ‘overconnected.’ Yet they would prefer to get together with friends in person rather than online, and would prefer to ask someone for a date in person than online. This is very welcome news, by the way! The article doesn’t give similar findings from teenager surveys of the past, or of other demographic people in the present, so I’m not sure how this can be said to be a trend of revolution against technology. And also, as students, these teens would need to consider the professional and academic need to communicate with someone whom there’s no way of meeting in person. Regardless, though, learning technologists and all academics need to be continually sensitive to the student voice, and again that’s why we need to keep dialogue with students about how they’re learning. And there comes a time when we don’t need to be using a certain system or method anymore; it’s important to be able to recognise that. At the same time, we need to stay on top of tech developments which might really solve problems we have in HE, in ways we might not even be able to imagine at present.

DH – Considering the time and effort taken to get new technologies adopted and implemented in HE, do you think we have the flexibility and imagination (not individually, but institutionally) to say “we don’t need that anymore”? Are we individually brave enough to say to the powers-that-be that something we fought hard for is no longer needed or relevant (I’m pretty sure most HEIs still have an overhead projector for acetates, somewhere)?

TB – I don’t think I have yet been in a situation where I have fought for an innovation and it has run its course and it’s become clear that it’s time to retire it. I think that when that happens, it happens sort of naturally. For example with the overhead projectors, even tho they were easy-to-use and almost never failed, they gradually got replaced by something that just looked better: PowerPoint on a better projector. So making that decision should not have been that difficult because it was happening naturally, gradually. Now there is another case: the case of something innovative being purchased but never really used very much. That would be the infamous case of the interactive whiteboards purchased in many UK schools in the past decade. They didn’t really get used because they were not easy to use and the people making the purchasing decision didn’t take this into tconsideration. To avoid putting all eggs into a basket that doesn’t work so well, I recommend the following remedy: try one as a pilot, evaluate, and work with the learning technologist throughout the process. Is it now time to close the door on interactive whiteboards? Perhaps. Aside from them being difficult to use, if one cannot throw an iPad image onto the whiteboards, then they’re kind of obsolete.

DH – Thanks for your time Terese. Terese’s chapter for the #EdTechBook is called ‘Students Leading the Way in Mobile Learning Innovation’ and looks at what, and how, the student’s are using their own personal devices, and what (if anything) we can be doing to utlise and maximise their interest and passion for being networked and mobile.

More news about The Really Useful #EdTechBook will be posted here and other social media platforms, using the #EdTechBook hashtag. Please follow and join in for news on the book’s development as well as each individual author’s own interpretation of the process and their own chapters.

Image source: Dave Stone (CC BY-SA 2.0)

How to: Display Open Badges on your LinkedIn profile

Here’s a short ‘how to’ guide on displaying your Open Badges, or a Mozilla backpack, on your LinkedIn profile.

There’s the simple way, which is not very visual or appealing, which is to edit your profile and use one of the three links available under ‘contact info’, which will display on your public profile like this:

Open Badges - LinkedIn ProfileI don’t know about you, but that doesn’t really do it for me. You?

  • This post has been updated to show how to display badges from either a Mozilla backpack or the Cred.ly website.

How about this … ?

Open Badges / LinkedIn

Yeah, much better – it’s also aligned to a role or time when you earned the badges. Here is is how you do it:

  • Login to your Mozilla Backpack.
  • Make sure the badges you want to showcase are in a collection.
  • Click the icon to share the backpack, and copy the page URL (it’ll look like this set from the BYOD4L course).
  • Login to your LinkedIn account, and go to the edit profile interface.
  • Find the part of your profile or work history you want to attach the badges to, and select the ‘edit’ option:

Open Badges & LinkedIn

  • Select ‘add link’ from the options presented.
  • Paste the link to your Mozilla backpack here. LinkedIn will parse the details to the link, hopefully pick up one of the badges and use this for the display. You will then have the ability to edit the title and details for this,so use this space wisely.

Open Badges & LinkedIn

  •  Save your edits and check the results.

You can also do this for other types of resources you want to show on your profile. On mine you can see links to SlideShare presentations, ebooks, etc. Try it out … it might be enough to make a difference when someone looks on your profile next time?

Update: What about if you are only using badges issued through, and stored in, Cred.ly? You can do the same too – all LinkedIn needs is the link to the badge collection. It’s a much longer process but one worth completing.

  • Login to Cred.ly website and view your badges you have earned.
  • Click the ‘Categories’ tab to view existing categories (collections, as they are called in the Mozilla Backpack). If you need to create a new category click the ‘add category’ button.

Open Bagdes, Cred.ly, and LinkedIn

  • Once you have the category created you need to add badges to the category. To do this you need to ‘manage’ each badge. Return to the the ‘All’ tab and click the ‘manage’ button on each badge when you place your cursor over it:

Cred.ly Manage Badge

  • On the ‘manage’ options you can select the category you just created, and then save the changes:

Cred.ly Manage Badge

  • Note – you can use the ‘share’ icon to send your Cred.ly badges to your Mozilla Backpack if you want.
  • Now you have badge(s) in your category, you need to get the URL to the category. Go back to the ‘categories’ tab and select the embed icon.

Cred.ly Manage Badge

  • This will not give you a simple URL, but the code to embed the badges into your website. You can do this easily if you want, but to show the badges in LinkedIn (as above) you will need to strip the code for the badge category:

Cred.ly Manage Badgeasd

  • Now continue the original guide to add this link to your LinkedIn profile. Be warned though that, when I tried this, I could not get an image associated with the link (unlike the ones produced from my Backpack).

 

New kit: Chromecast

A few months ago I was trying to decide on whether to spend £100 on an Apple TV or £30 on a Google Chromecast. I opted for the cheaper, newer, untried, unknown Chromecast.

Here are my thoughts, so far … it’s not there yet, but it has potential.

It is easy to set up and easy to use. Simply plug it into an HDMI slot on the back or your TV. If’ you’ve a USB port on the TV too then use this for power, if not you’ll have another cable trailing on the floor to a plug. Follow the short, simple instructions to set Chromecast up on your wifi, either through your laptop or iPad browser, and that’s it. It took about 3 minutes in all and then I was away.

YouTube: Chromecast guided tour

This is what you get in the box (as well as a couple of cables):
Chromecast

You’ll also need to download the Chromecast App for your device in order, I think, for the options in the different Apps to work.

From my iPad I’ve been able to use YouTube, Netflix, and from last week, the BBC iPlayer:

YouTube (free) - find the video you want, send it to Chromecast and watch it on the TV. Chromecast automatically sets the best quality it can display based on broadband speed and TV resolution, so if it’s an HD YouTube clip and you’ve a relatively good connections, it’ll stream in HD. The YouTube app has the advantage of being able to add further videos into a queue, which will automatically play once the previous one has finished.

Netflix (free) - Again it’s as simple as finding the film or programme you want and sending it to the Chromecast. The content is then streamed straight to the Chromecast leaving the device as a remote to control the playback, or surf while you watch the film.

Chromecast Netflix

BBC iPlayer (free) - This is new, the iPlayer App was only updated last week, so I tried it out over the weekend with my boys. They love the Cbeebies children’s channel and, nstead of crowding round the iPad screen, we had it streamed to the TV – far more sensible and better on their eyes and backs (no crouched seating positions, not too close to the screen, etc.).

BBC iPlayer Chromecast

Photowall (free) - Announced just days ago, this app from Google (flagged as an ‘experiment’) lets you and others send photos from your device or laptop to a Chromecast-connected TV, allowing you to show and share photos, doodle, or make notes on images on the screen.

Chromecast Photowall

From the laptop it’s as easy as installing ‘Google Cast’ from the Chrome store to your Chrome browser, connecting the two together, and you’re away. There is a minor delay between what you do on the laptop and what is streamed to the TV, but so long as you don’t try and stream video you’ll be OK.

  • Video quality from Netflix, YouTube, and BBC iPlayer was excellent – HD quality on an HD TV. There were a few occasions where we had either poorer quality video or it stopped streaming for a minute or so, but that’s down to the Internet connection, not Chromecast.
  • The downside is that, for the moment, you cant use the iPad Chrome browser, it’s only the desktop version that can stream to a Chromecast.
  • The full list of apps that can ‘cast from are listed here.

While the device is aimed at consumers and consumable media, it could be used in classrooms or schools – it’s small and cheap, easy to move and connect on different TVs or networks:

  • [Laptop / iPad] If you’ve a screen in a reception area or corridor, then stream student work from YouTube. You could make this a prize for a competition or ‘good work assembly’ to have the winners on a screen next week.
  • [Laptop / iPad] If you have a TV in the classroom then students can showcase their work from their own laptops to the TV and talk the class through what they did, how or why they did it, etc.
  • [Laptop / iPad] Use Photowall app to create a gallery on the TV for students to share their pictures (homework, group work, etc.) on the screen and provide a talking point.
  • [Laptop / iPad] Show educational videos, from your desktop, from YouTube or BBC iPlayer apps.
  • [Laptop] Share a presentation, through the Chrome browser, from SlideShare, Google Docs, desktop, etc.
  • [Laptop] Show a website (educational, of course) and use it to spark debate or project work.
  • [Laptop] Create mind-maps and show in real time.

This is one bit of kit to keep an eye on. As more Apps come bundled with Chromecast support, the device will gain popularity and use. In the meantime I can use it at home, albeit in a limited way, but it’s enough for now.

Note: I tried to connect it to a TV in a public space (with permission) here in Leicester. Connecting to the TV was easy, but Chromecast can’t connect to an enterprise level wireless network (i.e. eduroam). If this is what your school or institution has then save your money. If Google are reading this … if you can sort this little hiccup out you’ll have a really powerful device for school’s to have and share.

Links: