Sunday 21 December 2014

Social Media and the Digital Scholar

In December I was invited by Professor Albert Sangra to visit the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain, to give a public lecture on 'social media and the digital scholar' and to run a workshop for his team in the EDul@b is the university's Research Group in Education and ICT and is an educational innovation laboratory specialising in the application of new technologies for distance education. Teaching at the university is delivered online through the Virtual Campus. 

My visit was a wonderful experience and I had the pleasure of meeting Montse Guitert (Director of the Digital Literacy) and Teresa Romeu (Professor of Digital Literacy). I hope our shared interests lead to future collaborations. 

The UOC: university of the knowledge society

The mission of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) is to provide people with lifelong learning and education opportunities. The aim is to help individuals meet their learning needs and provide them with full access to knowledge, above and beyond the usual scheduling and location constraints.
The UOC engages people who offer quality online university education and promote:
  • innovative education enabling personalised learning,

  • technological leadership that facilitates interaction and collaborative work,

  • academic research on the information society and e-learning,

  • the dissemination of knowledge.

Below is a summary of the talk I gave.

Social Media and the Digital Scholar

Social Media empowers us as individuals to become digital communicators, collaborators, conversationalists, critics, curators and creators using a variety of different mediums including text, audio, video and images. These open up dialogues online that may then continue face to face.
For many years we have continued to use established sharing mechanisms to share scholarly activity. For example journals, books, presentations, reports and case studies. To complement these social media as digital forums can be used to disseminate such work. This could be in the form of a blog post, a LinkedIn update or via Twitter. It is important to realise that these social spaces are being used more and more frequently by increasing numbers of people. With this in mind we need to reconsider where our audiences are when consuming information online. Short nuggets can be an ideal way to introduce a paper you have written or seek feedback on a project by writing these as blog posts. Readers can raise questions using the comments.
With nearly 3 billion people now online and social media featuring in the top visited sites world wide, individuals are increasingly using the spaces for informal learning.
"Digital Technologies are not only changing our communication habits and the patterns of our social interactions, they also create access to knowledge at any time and anywhere" - Vodophone Institute for Society of Communications
People often fear the thought of information overload when considering how much there is now is online. Clay Shirky however would argue that this is an issue of filter failure. We need to learn smarter ways to filter the relevant information. One approach is through the people that you follow or indeed follow you. You can help others by tagging related related information in posts and by sharing useful content they will also be interested in.
Providing bite sized links to your scholarly work can be helpful to others, highlighting topics of mutual interest. This can be done by:
  • writing a Linkedin blogpost
  • adding presentations to SlideShare and sharing also on your LinkedIn profile
  • adding your publications to your LinkedIn profile: articles, press releases, papers, books and chapters
  • adding projects you are involved in and add the names of those you are collaborating with
  • writing guest posts for other peoples' blogs, websites and digital magazines
  • writing your own blog
Citation sources of scholarly activity are also changing and educators are now taking note of blog posts and shorter articles and using these as references to quote aspects of the written work within their own work.
Something to consider when writing in these newer social spaces is to ensure there is connectedness between them. Make good use of the bio space and include hyperlinks to your blog or LinkedIn from Twitter, and vice versa. If you create a SlideShare presentation, share via Twitter and pin this tweet to the top of your profile for as long as you feel it is current.

Curation, collaboration and co-learning

Another useful way to share information is by curating. Web 2.0 tools such as, Mendeley, Diigo, ResearchGate and Pinterest are all worth exploring. These spaces provide valuable spaces to share and discuss a whole range of different topics by clustering information into curated groups.
Web 2.0 tools facilitate more constructivist approaches to learning, with greater emphasis on discussion and the creation of learning materials and knowledge construction by the learners. - Bates and Sangra
Collaborative informal learning include short courses and tweetchats. For example:
Both provide great examples of communities of scholars co-learning through open sharing of resources and information. They provide a space to raise questions and for others to answer these as well as share their expertise in their given area. Helping others find information of interest is a reciprocal activity that benefits many. Signposting others scholarly activity as well as your own work.


There is a distinction between reach and engagement. Whilst it may be considered good to have many followers in the social spaces we use, it doesn't mean that people are engaging with what you are sharing. Engagement can be measured by the ways people respond you the information you share. For example retweet, shares, mentions, replies, comments, likes, favourites and +1s. These will of course differ depending on the social space used. Those interactions and often conversations can provide rich feedback on your scholarly outputs and indeed lead to new opportunities for collaborative research or help to develop seeds of ideas into realistic projects.

A word of warning

It is important that we all consider our own digital footprint and the information we share online. Being aware of the blurring boundaries between social and professional can help to make us mindful of updating security settings where needed. Realising the just like ourselves others will 'Google' a name to find information about an individual and their work. Making sure others find the professional work we wish to be associated with or at the very least a professional up to date profile on LinkedIn or a website is our own responsibility. Social media will rise to the top of a search so by populating professional information on LinkedIn, your blog or Twitter for example, has to be to your advantage.

No time like the present

The exponential growth of social media and the ubiquitous use of mobile technology has changed the way we communicate both socially and for many professionally. It is therefore timely to consider ho social media can be used to develop personal learning networks and through open sharing find opportunities to extend the reach and engagement of our scholarly practice.

Saturday 6 December 2014

Shortlisted for the Edublogs Awards

A few weeks ago I was nominated for the Best Individual Tweeter in the Edublogs Awards. I have now been shortlisted. It is now up to the public to vote for individuals in all of the Edublog categories.If you would like to vote for me you can do so here:
Thank you in advance!
Best Individual Tweeter - 2014 Edublog Awards
View more lists from Edublogs

Thursday 20 November 2014

Social Media Who to Follow Webinar

I was delighted to be invited to take part as a presenter on the Student to Stemette webinar on the 19 November.

The theme for the session was Social Media who to follow.

I was invited as a representative from academia, along with two other presenters from industry and recruitment. We were each asked to speak for approximately 10 minutes to share our experiences of social media with students who are part of the Student to Stemette programme. My talk shared how social media can be used to connect, communicate, collaborate, curate and create. I spoke about the value of building a personal learning network through LinkedIn and Twitter, where we can engage in conversations, ask questions and share useful information. You can hear what I said in the video below (I am the first of the the three presenters). 

At the end of our presentations we took questions from the participants. It was wonderful to see their enthusiasm and interest in how they can develop their digital presence. Student Mary Akinyemi who is studying maths at the University of Exeter writes a blog called QUIRKY RAMBLINGS & SEASHELLS - A great example of how we can all can develop our writing skills and share interesting posts. These can be personal interests or linked to the academic subject area we are studying or working in. 

What is Student to Stemette?

Student to Stemette is bringing together girls aged 16+ and women currently working in STEM. A cohort of girls have been given the fantastic opportunity to build a one-on-one relationship with mentors. In addition a series of public webinars provide advice, guidance and connections from a network of other women working in STEM.

This first Student to Stemette mentoring cohort have been matched with 'Big Stemettes' currently working at Deutsche Bank. They all have STEM backgrounds and are helping their mentees explore the different paths on which they can use their STEM skillset. They will share their skills, time and their own networks. Student to Stemette is currently part of Deutsche Bank's current wider Born to Be Youth Engagement programme.


Below are just some of the channels you can learn more about the Stemettes:

Tuesday 18 November 2014

My nominations for the 11th Annual Edublogs Awards #eddies14

The Edublog Awards

The purpose of the Edublog awards is to promote and demonstrate the educational values of social media.

The process creates a rich resource for educators to use for ideas on how social media is used in different contexts, with a range of different learners. It also introduces us all to new sites that we might not have found if not for the awards process.

The Edublog Awards consists of three stages:

  1. Nomination
  2. Voting
  3. Winners Announced

Nominations are now open and I have made mine:

Best Individual Blog: David Hopkins 

Best New Blog: Chris Rowell 

Best Individual Tweeter: @timbuckteeth continues to inspire me

Best Free Web Tool: Twitter as I use it daily

Best Use of Media (Video, Podcasts, etc.): 

Best Mobile App: Hootsuite as it is the best way to view Twitter lists

Lifetime Achievement: Steve Wheeler 

Make your nominations now! 

Image source: Pixabay

Saturday 25 October 2014

#LTHEchat: A new approach to CPD for learning and teaching in higher education

I am very excited to ne leading a new collaborative project alongside Chrissi Nernatzi, David Walker and Peter Reed called #LTHEchat which is short for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Chat.

We are each from different higher education institutions: Sheffield Hallam University, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Sussex and the University of Liverpool; but have worked together on a variety of other projects including Bring Your Own Devices for Learning.

The chats will take place in Twitter using the hashtag #LTHEchat and will run each week on Wednesday between 8-9pm GMT.

Each will tweetchat will have a specific focus and it will be up to the community to decide what comes next. We will be inviting guest chat facilitators too and hope that you will join us for some speed CPD linked to learning and teaching. Students are also very welcome.

The slideshow below is an introduction to tweetchats. To find out more you can also visit and follow @LTHEchat on Twitter

Introducing tweetchats using #LTHEchat as an exemplar from Sue Beckingham

Date for your diary

The first tweetchat is on Wednesday 29th October and will be led by myself and Chriss Nernatzi. 

Our topic is: New ways to engage in bite-size professional development. This will provide us with an opportunity to reflect on where we are at the moment, individually and collectively and explore together fresh ideas to engage in new and exciting development activities that can be combined with workload and life and help us further develop our teaching practice.

Hope you can join us :-)

Sunday 28 September 2014

Save the Date! BYOD4L is running again in January 2015

I'm very pleased to say that Bring Your Own Devices for Learning will be running again in January 2015. This will be our third iteration.

Planning and organising has started and we hope you will be able to join us in the New Year. There will be some exciting changes and we look forward to communicating these over the next few months.

Bring Your Own devices for Learning is an opportunity to consider how we can use our phones, tablets and other portable devices to engage in learning, support learning and organise our learning. We are all lifelong and lifewide learners so this is of value to both teachers and students.

BYOD4L is for students and teachers in HE but also in other sectors and if your institution would like to join us, please get in touch.

Consider following the blog so that you receive automatic updates in your inbox. You can also find information on Twitter by following @BYOD4L and #BYOD4L.

We look forward to learning together.

On behalf of the BYOD4L team

Sunday 24 August 2014

Edshelf is saved! Crowdfunding through Kickstarter saves the day #saveedshelf

Edshelf is socially curated directory of education technology. It's a discovery engine of websites, mobile apps, desktop programs, and electronic products for teaching and learning.

I have personally found Edshelf incredibly useful and created themed collections of tools and apps for the free open learning event Bring Your Own Devices for Learning (BYOD4L). The BYOD4L event ran over 5 days and was open to educators and students to learn together how we can use our own mobile devices for learning and teaching. Each day had a themed topic. These were: connecting, communicating, curating, collaborating and creating

For each of the topics I created a collection of app and tools that would be useful to 'connect' with, 'communicate' with, 'curate', 'collaborate' or 'create' with. Links to the collections were posted on the relevant pages of our BYOD4L Wordpress site. An example is below. You can find my other collections here:

Edshelf is free for educators but as with all tools is not free to maintain. Mike Lee the co-founder said "When I started edshelf, I didn’t want to take money from educators. I believed - and still believe - that it is possible to have an ethical and self-sustaining business by charging edtech companies instead"

When Mike announced that he was going to have to close Edshelf down what happened next came as a big surprise. The community of educators rallied round with messages via Twitter about how useful Edshelf is and #saveedshelf became a mantra. Suggestions from educators that crowdfunding might be an option kept coming. It was at this point that Mike decided to take a chance and see if a Kickstarter project could save the day.

The call

I and many others rose to the call and made a small pledge of $10 dollars. Others pledged more. The great news is that Mike has met his target! There is still time today to support this campaign. Be part of a community that has helped to make a difference - Visit the Kickstarter page now! Share your support via Twitter using the hashtag #saveedshelf.

Great acts are made up of small deeds. - Lao Tzu

Friday 8 August 2014

ALT Newsletter: BYOD4L – Bring Your Own Devices For Learning

Reblogged from the ALT newsletter 8/8/2014
Association of Learning Technology

This post introduces the design and delivery of BYOD4L – Bring Your Own Devices For Learning (, a team effort based on an idea by Chrissi Nerantzi. Chrissi and Sue Beckingham who developed the concept into an exciting learning event drawing on Chrissi’s experience of open collaborative course design and her knowledge of open educational practice in the area of professional development of teachers in higher education – the focus of her PhD. Sue brings her research interest of social media.
The initial idea was to create an open collaborative learning event using smartphones and tablets for learning and teaching targeted at both teachers and students and we linked it to the  Media-Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group led by Andrew Middleton, a related conference and book project around Smart Learning. BYOD4L stemmed from the 5Cs of Connecting, Communicating, Curating, Collaborating, and Creating and a model based on Chrissi and Sue’s “Magical Open Box” conceptual framework, rooted in individual and collective learning ecologies inspired by Prof. Norman Jackson’s work around these..
Development of BYOD4L started in autumn 2013 and the event was offered for the first time in January 2014 over five days. It involved a team of collaborators (academic developers, learning technologists, lecturers and researchers) from different institutions. Volunteer facilitators were recruited to form the team from our personal networks. Over several weeks the team invested energy in making BYOD4L the success it became for those who participated. We include below a slideshare that captures further details of BYOD4L as well as participants’ voices.
The BYOD4L initiative was conceived and developed to model the use of freely available social media for creating meaningful learning and development opportunities beyond institutional boundaries. The co-creation and sharing of resources was fundamental to the pedagogic design, as was promoting learner and facilitator collaboration and creativity. Unlike many technology-enhanced learning projects, we had no seed funding. All we had was each other and our commitment to show that innovation is possible, and perhaps heightened, when working within such constraints. We were interested in finding a sustainable solution for open CPD and open course design more generally that fosters collaboration in a cross-institutional context. was selected as an attractive and highly configurable ‘home’ environment around which other media could be integrated by both the core facilitator team and the participants. It created a coherent identity for BYOD4L while encouraging participants to construct their own learning ecologies using media that suited them. Learning, therefore, was contextualised and tailored to their needs, priorities and aspirations. Each participant was able to carve their own path within a supportive learning community. Learners were encouraged to connect with peers and facilitators and engage in conversation, reflective and creative activities to further their knowledge, understanding and skills in the area of smart learning. To do this the learners established and developed presences in their chosen spaces which included Facebook, Google+, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, Pinterest, Storify,
David Hopkins introduced open badges to the team which were designed to motivate and reward learning in small chunks. There are badges for participants but also for facilitators. Andrew Middleton, David Hopkins and Dr David Walker peer reviewed participants’ and facilitators’ digital  portfolios. Ellie Livermore designed all BYOD4L artwork, while Dr Cristina Costa reviewed the design before the start as critical friend.
BYOD4L was offered for the second time in July 14. Five institutions joined us: Manchester Metropolitan University, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Sussex, University of Ulster and London Metropolitan University. The team consisted of 20 volunteer collaborators in total (see all of them at and many local events were organised during the week to complement online BYOD4L activities that created a real learning buzz. Many rich resources have been shared by participants on Twitter via our hashtags #BYOD4L and #BYOD4Lchat. We started small and are developing a model to scale-up open educational offers of this kind through collaboration. Could this be a sustainable solution? The BYOD4L team is currently working on a number of related research projects to evaluate many different aspects of this initiative and is disseminating findings through conferences and publications. Please check out
BYOD4L has been a wonderful opportunity to learn within a vibrant and supportive open community. And the good news are that there are further institutions who would like to join us in the next academic year, which is fantastic. For more information, please visit and follow @BYOD4L on Twitter.
We hope you will be able to join us next time!
The BYOD4L team was shortlisted for the 2014 Learning Technologist of the Year Award. For more information about the award please visit the ALT website.

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Developing a Social Media for Learning framework

Social Media for Learning #MELSIG keynote from Sue Beckingham

The growth of the Internet is unprecedented. Never before have we seen such an uptake of a new technology and the Internet in real-time and how quickly data is generated is phenomenal. The way we communicate and connect has changed. There are now a multiplexity of ways this can be done, building upon strong ties and creating new opportunities to develop weak ties. In his TEDxKC talk Michael Wesch stated that:
We are moving towards.....
  • Ubiquitous computing
  • Ubiquitous communication
  • Ubiquitous information
  • At unlimited speed
  • About everything
  • Everywhere
  • From anywhere
  • On all kinds of devices
Which makes it 'ridiculously easy' to.....
• Connect • Organise • Share • Collect • Collaborate • Publish
There is a shift from being knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able (Michael Wesch 2010)

Digital technologies and social media have enabled personal learning networks unconstrained by time and place. However these require new literacies for networked people. Rainie and Wellman (2012:272-274) refer to:
  • Graphic literacy i.e. infographics
  • Navigation literacy i.e. internet geography
  • Context and connections literacy i.e. PLNs (personal learning networks)
  • Focus literacy i.e. time for solitude switch
  • Multitasking literacy i.e.. appliances, people
  • Scepticism literacy i.e. ‘crap detection’
  • Ethical literacy i.e. trust
To develop these literacies it is therefore important that we consider how we can provide opportunities within learning and teaching. There is still a tension however and some may still argue that social media is for socialising and not for academic and scholarly work. There are also many counter arguments and exemplars of how social media is being used effectively. To frame this in academic practice it was felt that a set of principles was needed and this work in progress is currently being shared openly with an invite for readers to contribute and critique.

Developing a Social Media for Learning Framework

The following key principles offer a framework upon which the effective use of social media for teaching and learning can be plotted. The ideas in the framework work in combination or independently of each other. Each principle is informed by established ideas for effective teaching and learning and therefore able to help to clarify and legitimise the use of social media, in its various forms, in good academic practice. (Middleton and Beckingham 2014)
The seven principles proposed are:
  1. Socially inclusive
  2. Lifewide and lifelong
  3. Media neutral
  4. Learner-centred
  5. Cooperative
  6. Open and accessible
  7. Authentically situated
Socially inclusive
Supporting and validating learning through mutually beneficial, jointly enterprising and communally constructive communities of practice; fostering a sense of belonging, being and becoming; promoting collegiality, feeling connected, social glue.
Lifewide and Lifelong
Connecting formal, non-formal and informal learning progression; developing online presence; developing digital literacies for experiential, problem solving, creative and critical learning approaches.
Media neutral
Learning across and through rich multiple media; providing opportunities for choices and self expression.
Promoting self-regulation, creative self-expression, building self-efficacy and confidence; accommodating niche interests and activities, the ‘long tail’ of education.
Promotes working together productively and critically as peers (co-creation) in self-organising, robust networks that are scalable, loosely structured, self-validating, and both knowledge-forming and knowledge-sharing.
Open and Accessible
Supporting spacial, temporal and social openness; promoting open engagement in terms of access being geographically extended, inclusive, controlled by the learner, gratis, open market, unconstrained freedom, access to content.
Authentically situated
Making connections across learning, social and professional networks; being scholarly and establishing a considered professional online presence and digital identity
The framework and principles are intended to:
  • Promote discussion informing curriculum design and staff development;
  • Validate and refine existing practice;
  • Help identify how social media can be further embedded in practice to enhance and transform it.
It is work in progress - Your contributions and feedback will help to develop this framework.

Talking through the Social Media for Learning Framework with Andrew Middleton.

Saturday 19 July 2014

Day 5 #BYOD4L Creating by @suebecks

Image source:

Day 5 and the final Tweet Chat is going to be led by Chrissi and myself on creating. This has to be my favorite topic and it fills me with joy at this stage of BYOD4L when our learners and facilitators are sharing so many creative ways of learning and teaching. From ideas in the classroom to fun activities that can provide great activities for inductions or icebreakers in workshops.

Final f2f meet-up at Sheffield Hallam Uni

A small group of us met (myself, Andrew Middleton, Julie Gillin and Ian Glover) and during the hour we talked about feedback. First creating a mind map of sort using the whiteboard, we discussed feedback quite broadly and then focused in on the role of smart devices, apps and social media could now enhance this process. Andrew Middleton then captured our summaries using his iPad and posted the video on YouTube. 

Two things came from this: 

  1. Rather than just talk about the topic we created a visual map each with a pen in hand. We didn't worry about colours and shapes of boxes, but did refer to this and the digital tools like Mindmeister mindmapping which make it easy to collaboratively work on a mind map and move elements around. For today we used a paper tissue and re-wrote!
  2. We captured a summary (un-rehearsed) of the key points we had discussed. This took under 4 minutes and is now saved to listen back to.

The aspect I talked to was tutorial feedback. The opportunity for students to capture the feedback they are being given can now be done in many ways using the very devices they carry with them every day - their mobile phones. 

Examples might include:

  • recording an audio or video file of the conversation
  • making bullet notes on paper or the whiteboard and taking a photo
  • creating a mind map using an app, paper or whiteboard (plus photo) 

What is important is giving the students the choice to capture the feedback in a way that is meaningful and useful to them and encouraging them to do this. As educators we should help our students to utilise technology to enhance their learning and guide them towards ways they can do this.  


Sam Illingworth planted the seed in our evening Tweet Chat, Ian Guest set up a Google Doc and before we knew it a group of us had written a poem, each contributing a verse each! How did this happen? I think we simply responded to a challenge and knew we had a small time frame to complete this. It was fun and creativity won the day.

In the digital jungle

Reaching out into the chaotic, swirling abyss
Feeling that e-learning can be so hit and miss
I want to avoid device apathy and neglect
But what does it mean to really connect?

So onwards we go
But where, do we know?
Wouldn’t it be great?
If we all started to communicate

Curating a task, can be quite unfamiliar,
belonging in museums, art galleries and similar. 
With mobile devices we curate a different way 
Sharing resources with scoop it and Mendeley 

Five brief days, so short and sweet 
In Twitter and Google we gathered to meet 
Inspired to explore, discuss and create
Minds now expanded; an enlightened state 

Knowledge isn’t just facts 
Or historical acts 
Its cerebral energy we state 
When we start to create 

But this isn’t the end! 
We now each have a valuable PLN to tend 
Our #BYOD4L community will continue to grow 
Help us reach out to let others know

1 Sam Illingworth
2 Neil Withnell
3 Ian Guest
4 Peter Reed
5 Carol Haigh
6 Sue Beckingham

GCU Games On

A mini collaboration with Sheila MacNeill gave us the opportunity to take part in a creative challenge alongside a course she was running. Sheila and team from Glasgow Caledonian University have taken their first steps into the world of open online education this week with the launch of GCU Games On - a three-week, open online event to celebrate the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. 
I was thrilled to see our community embrace this with Hayley Atkinson getting my gold medal; Julie Gillin and Cheryl Dunleavy getting silver and all of the other creatives a bronze medal. You can view some of the shared photos below!

The Tweet Chat
The final chat #BYOD4Lchat - well at least for this iteration. Plans are already in the making to run BYOD4L again and invite other institutions to take part. But back to the Tweet Chat. We broke all the conventions of the previous structures chats. We asked the community to go create something that visualised what they would take away from BYOD4L. We were not disappointed! So many wonderful examples were posted on Twitter.  
We then moved on to Socrates and a Question Shower led by Chrissi. For the final 10 minutes  we put out the challenge to create an activity we could do together and the community rose to the challenge! It was fun, fast and furious! There was a feeling we didn't want things to end and the conversations went past the hour. I wish we had more time to give the participants to develop activities and set us challenges. There is the potential I think to start earlier and make this a 2 hour interactive active tweet chat! It is all about experimenting and adjusting. Who'd have thought so  many educators would dedicate an hour of their Friday evening to this?!
To see more about the final Tweet Chat take a look at the Storify slideshow.