Monday, 20 January 2014

The problem with Facebook

"The problem with Facebook is that it's keeping things from you."
Thanks to Alan Cann for sharing this intelligently produced and extremely helpful video by Mike Elgan. 7 minutes well spent...

Friday, 17 January 2014

Study and Communication Skills for the Biosciences - 2nd edition

Study and Communicatiosn Skills for the Biosciences
I'm really pleased to say that the 2nd edition of my and Jon Scott's first book, Study and Communication Skills for the Biosciences, has just been published by Oxford University Press. After a successful first edition and then a follow up for the Chemical Sciences, OUP asked us to produce a 2nd edition, which we gladly did. In addition to substantial revisions it also includes a whole new chapter on employability.

Here's the blurb:
"Study and Communication Skills for the Biosciences is tailored specifically to the needs of bioscience students, both at university, and beyond. Written in an engaging and supportive manner, with examples throughout that demonstrate the relevance of topics covered to bioscience degree programmes, the book will assist you with the transition from school to university, with your studies at university, and with your progression to employment after leaving university. New to this edition, the chapter on making yourself employable provides invaluable advice on honing those skills most sought after by prospective employers and applying these skills after your degree is completed; it discusses how to make contacts and gain experience, and how to sell yourself to potential employers in an increasingly competitive job market. With a broad range of study and communication skills included, it is essential reading for any bioscience student who wants to get the most out of their degree."

Available in all good book shops...

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Health promotion as a model for engagement with careers

I'm sure people must have thought about this before (which is partly why I'm blogging about it) but I've been thinking in the last couple of days about the parallels between health promotion activity and engaging students with careers. The reason it came up is that a colleague mentioned the idea of a careers 'health check', which I think is a good idea, but my question is: why would students choose to engage with it?

GP practices often run 'well woman' or 'well man' clinics, but my guess is that the people who often go to these things probably aren't the ones who need it most, in fact they may be partly populated by the worried well.

Everyone in the higher education careers world knows that student engagement is a key issue and that doing it well is difficult, so can health promotion models help us to think about student engagement with careers?

Here are some quick observations re the parallels.

In both instances:

  • the challenge is to get people to do something that's good for them in the long run but might not have any immediate benefit in the short term
  • the process of doing something about it isn't easy, in fact it's hard work
  • people don't have to do it (so you only have carrots, not sticks)
  • nagging doesn't work (and according to the article linked below - neither does uncritical use of goal setting)
In throwing a few thoughts around about this in the last couple of days with Tristram Hooley on twitter, he pointed me in the direction of Jim Bright. Jim suggested searching for 'time discounting', which looks like a potentially useful avenue to pursue. Jim also directed me to a blog post of his on 'Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Overprescribing Goal Setting'

So, has anyone given this any thought? Is there research out there already? What are health promotion models and can we adopt them?

As usual, just thinking out loud. Any comments or ideas much appreciated.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Is anyone with Google Apps using Google Plus?

I'm probably more excited than I should be that Bristol are using Google Apps for Education. Google Mail, Google Calendar and Google Drive are going to be all very useful to use more in a work context. What I've been wondering about in the last few days though is whether there is scope to make more of Google Plus. I've had a Google Plus account for a while ( but other than for sharing photos with my family (the instant upload is brilliant, if not a little unnerving) I've not made much use of it - all my networks are on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn; Google Plus just arrived too late for me (and was one network to many for regular use).

I like this summary of social media by Doug Ray. Clearly it's a bit tongue-in-cheek but it's pretty accurate.

So I don't under-estimate the difficulties involved in encouraging people to switch social media platforms (I haven't done). But with everyone in the institution having a Google account it seems like there's an opportunity.

So, a couple of questions:
  1. Which other HEIs are using Google Apps for Education?
  2. Are any using Google+ well?