Looking Back Over My Shoulder


Picture from themes.com
Picture from themes.com

I initially selected Living and Working on the Web as a module choice hoping that it would further improve my general computer skills.  Happily things worked out well for me.  The self-taught module allowed me to push my self, further develop my online skills and knowledge, incorporate feedback into my subsequent posts and improve my online presence to ultimately make me better prepared for my ever encroaching job search.

Looking back over my five posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) it is clear to see how I have developed.  Comparing my initial self test scores to my self test scores now; almost every section has improved.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 11.56.23

Although the ‘Creating online materials (text, audio, images, video)’ only went up by one point I feel this is one of the areas I have improved most.  A previous score of 3 may have been an over estimation of my abilities.  I have created many materials with the use of tools I had never previously heard of, let alone used (e.g. Powtoon, Haikudeck and Piktochart).

This module also helped me utilise my Twitter account.  Previously, although I had Twitter I would rarely tweet.  However this module pushed me to regularly tweet, posting about my blogs, asking course instructors questions and following new people.  I also gained followers (which is always good).

My favourite blog to write was Using the Internet: Create your Best Chance for Employment  although all topics were useful and interesting I found this to be the most relevant to my current situation.  I also found that this post gained the most traffic.  This was partly due to the other students within this module, but also due to the fact that it was selected to be part of a Free Learning experiment being run by the course instructors.  It felt really good to have strangers comment and link to my work.  This topic also allowed me to discover how important Linkedin and an online profile can be in a modern-day job search.  Through research and reading others blogs I discovered some great tools including Linkedin youtube channel and some great ways to make my profile stand out from the crowd.

Screen grab from my Linkedin (2016)
Screen grab from my Linkedin (2016; let’s make a connection).

Prior to this module I had always liked the idea of blogging, however I never really knew how to start.  This module has pushed me to further discover for myself the interesting world of blogging.  Now that I have my blog set up I definitely feel it is something I will carry on with in the future.  As soon as my exams are finished I am thinking of creating an unbiased blog looking at the pros and cons of leaving the European Union.  I plan to utilise the tools I have already discovered as well as discovering new ones.

The new skills I have learnt will be invaluable in my upcoming job search and in my general online life.  I am looking forward to continuing to further discover and develop whilst improving my online presence.  This has been my favourite module this term and I believe I have discovered a new passion.

Here is a quick summary of my journey, take a look.


Topic 5: Reflecting on Open Access

At the beginning of this topic I found it extremely difficult to settle on which type of content I should focus on, initially I was going to keep it quite general and discuss all content on the internet.  However, after I had written a first draft of this I realised that it lacked focus.  I subsequently decided to focus on Open Access, as I am a student I felt it was something I could relate to.

Picture from okfn

I knew little about Open Access at the beginning of this topic, and even less about the effects it could have on content producers.  Within my blog I tried to provide an equal sided argument showing both the advantages and disadvantages for content producers.  Although after, I personally  felt that the benefits (both for author and consumer) outweighed the costs.

Through reading others’ blogs I further developed my knowledge around Open Access.  Kemi’s blog brought the issue of predatory publishers to my attention.  Something that had not been discussed in my blog.  I found the rise in numbers of plagiarism cases in recent years shocking.  Although ultimately I feel this should encourage stricter enforcement around ethical practices rather than discourage the use of Open Access.  Further perhaps the predatory publishers are not as bad as we’re lead to believe.

One of the comments in Becca’s blog made me realise how lucky I am to have access to the subscriptions that the University Library pays for (and me inadvertently through my student fees).  It also sparked a further interest into the costs  and profits involved in ‘publishing’.  This resulted in me discovering that most costs and payments are shrouded in secrecy.  I assume this is for negotiation purposes, however it does feel a little shady.  Ultimately I feel there needs to be more transparent practices in journal publishing so people know what they are paying for.

Techy Bits

This week I produced a piktochart something I had previously tried (but not yet honed) and for the first time I created a Powtoon.  I found it a little difficult to get my head around Powtoon initially, the one I created was extremely basic but I liked that it gave me the ability to present information in a new way.  It is definitely something I will further develop my skills with.

Knowledge is Power but Money Makes the World Go Round

It’s safe to say we all love a freebie!  The internet was initially created to allow universities to easily share academic articles and documents (newsmedia, 2016).  Ultimately it has developed, providing a diverse range of content to the masses. With a larger and more diverse demand  for content comes the question of whether this content should be free and open to all, or only available for a fee.

When considering scholarly articles there are two ways of publishing online. One way is Open Access (OA), which allows content to be freely accessible.  The other way is by placing content behind a paywall, this requires readers to either pay a one of fee, or a subscription to access your content.

There are many benefits to allowing your content to be freely accessible.  By publishing your academic articles using Open Access it allows science to get back to its original purpose, spreading knowledge.

Open Access also speeds up science!  Allowing other researchers to learn, cite and expand on your work and on your theories.  It ultimately expands humanities knowledge, and propels science forwards.  This video explains further.

By making scholarly articles instantly and freely available to the masses you are increasing the reach of your message, ultimately reaching a broader audience.  Access to scholarly articles in low income countries is a commonly cited problem for researchers there.  Open access can help provide scientists in such countries with the opportunity to participate in the international research community.  The content producer can revel in the knowledge that their research is not only helping those that arguably need it most, but also making a larger impact on science.

However producing research is not free, and Open Access does need to recoup its publishing costs.  Although the video mentions that research funding grants can pay for publication costs, it fails to address the effect of the recession and  subsequent spending cuts.  Lack of funding coupled with an explosion of research has resulted in strong competition to gain funding.  If researchers are unable to gain funding, yet proceed to allow their research to be freely accessed, this could result in authors failing to be reimbursed for the cost of their research.  Here is a Powtoon to further explain the costs.


Potentially, researchers may be expected to work for free.  If all research lacked funding and was required to be freely accessible it may deter future generations becoming researchers.

Finally, certain journals come with higher prestige.  Currently the highest prestige journals are behind paywalls.  Thus using Open Access could result in your work not being recognised as successful within the science community.







Topic 4: Reflecting on the Ethics.

For this topic we had an extremely broad question resulting in many diverse blogs. I personally choose to investigate endorsement ethics, leaning more towards the business side of things. However, my fellow students opted to focus on various topics including, ethics of the digital divide and ethical issues of social media use within education. This lead to me developing my knowledge in a lot of different areas. I definitely enjoyed taking the time to think deeply about subjects I otherwise wouldn’t have considered.

In the research of my blog (Endorsement Ethics. Who’s opinion is real?), initially I found it difficult to decide what I should include.  There were many ethical issues to consider (Ethical challenges, 2015).  Ultimately I opted to investigate endorsements.  Previously, I realised that some reviews are fake.  However, I was unaware of the new laws to try to prevent this (#AD) and the difficulties enforcing them.

Fab’s blog altered my perception of the digital divide. Previously I had only considered it between developing and developed countries. However, after reading his blog I realised that there are many influencing factors.


I also realised how much of a disadvantage it will be for people who do not have access to the internet or even the skills to utilise social media. It will affect both professional and personal lives.

Abby’s blog on the other hand brought me to consider social media use within education. I had previously only considered this at a university level (mainly through this module and our use of Twitter), however, when considering the pros and cons for younger children, there are many ethical issues. Ultimately I concluded that it is important for children to learn about appropriate use of social media in a safe environment, so using it in an educational setting would be extremely beneficial.


Finally in Abby’s post I saw how she had created a cartoon like presentation using PowToon, this was something I had not previously heard of. I intend to experiment with this in my next blog.

Stefany, PowToon

Endorsement Ethics. Who’s Opinion is Real?

Are large corporations stealing the voice of the people and manipulating it for their own ends?

Ethics are the moral principles that govern a company’s behaviour or their conducting of an activity (Oxford Dictionaries, 2016).

Pre-social media there was a clear divide between producer and consumer.

Then came social media and everything changed!

(Forbes, 2013)

Suddenly we have prosumers (Newsroom, 2015) Individuals who both consume and produce web content, in the forms of blogs, reviews, comments and posts. Sharing their opinions across their network of friends and followers.

It is inherently human to want to know what others are doing in order to organise our own behaviour. In psychology it is known as social proof. It allows us to make efficient decisions.

Corporations are well aware of this propensity to want to follow the crowd. Thus, it is not surprising that after seeing the huge influence bloggers have, that they would want to utilize this impact. Electronic word of mouth has been found to convey the reputation of products, brands, and complementary goods (Amblee & Bui, 2011).

But how much can we trust these online opinions?

Wal-Mart endured backlash when it was revealed they endorsed the blog ‘Wal-Marting Across America’ without being transparent about their involvement. This “average couple” were actually paid to take an RV tour of the U.S. while staying in Wal-Mart parking lots and posting positive blogs (Gogoi, 2006).

(CNN, 2007)

So here lies the ethical issue, should compensated endorsements be made apparent to consumers?

Although the ASA and FTC confirm that, if a blogger is compensated to write a positive review they should clearly state that it is an advert rather than a normal article, this is extremely difficult to enforce.

This video is an example of a paid vlogger.

In this case they followed the rules, clearly demonstrating the endorsement.

Screen grab from youtube, #AD

However, in some cases celebrity Twitter endorsements can be deemed as misleading; if it’s not made clear that there has been a form of compensation from the brand.

The ASA introduced #ad to inform people when a tweet is a paid endorsement. However, this can sometimes result in negative feedback from followers, resulting in celebrities disregarding the rules.

Wayne Rooney was reprimanded for tweets about the sporting brand Nike last year, and was recently brought in front of the watchdog again due to the unclear nature of his marketing tweets.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 21.36.58
Screen grab from twitter

Personally I use online reviews for many things, restaurants, holidays and any major purchase. Knowing that some of these may be biased or untrue isn’t a surprise; usually I feel I could tell the difference. However, research suggests that we are not that accurate in spotting fakes. Whilst software algorithms spot fakes 90% of the time (Mukherjee, Liu & Glance, 2012), regular people doing the same have 50% accuracy (Business Time, 2012). To boost your chances take a look at this guide 9 ways to spot a fake review.

Thanks for reading and leave a comment about your experiences with fake content!


Amblee & Bui, (2011) [Retrieved 20.04.16]http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2753/JEC1086-4415160205

Business Time, (2012) [Retrieved 20.04.16] http://business.time.com/2012/02/03/9-reasons-why-you-shouldnt-trust-online-reviews/

Canham, E., Youtube, (2015), [Retrieved 20.04.16] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STFS6BO5dkk&ebc=ANyPxKopQqB6T1CziIgdieLKW0uq3VNh_yMAO6gIONST_n1xN2OuIzU-AhFIKDC19AUnKLEkHEQbMcWOVMLw3j1EiSHeBayufg

Changing Minds (2016), Social Proof,  [Retrieved 20.04.16]  http://changingminds.org/principles/social_proof.htm

FTC, (2016) [Retrieved 20.04.16] https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking

Gogoi, (2006) [Retrieved 20.04.16] https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking

(Mukherjee, Liu & Glance, (2012) [Retrieved 20.04.16] http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2187863    

Newsroom, (2015) [Retrieved 20.04.16] http://newsroom.niu.edu/2015/03/17/social-media-changing-the-rules-of-business-ethics/


CNN, (2007) [Retrieved 20.04.16]http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/biz2/0701/gallery.101dumbest_2007/54.html

Forbes, (2012) [Retrieved 20.04.16] http://blogs-images.forbes.com/steveolenski/files/2013/11/social-media-cube-1024×922.jpg


Reflecting on Authentic Profiles

Image from Lifehacker

When approaching this topic I initially felt I had a reasonable idea of how to create an authentic online professional profile, after all, I have LinkedIn. However, I never truly appreciated how important it was to create and develop online profiles and networks. The statistics indicating how much employers use social media platforms (Jobvite, 2014), came as quite a shock to me, and the fact is, these numbers are only increasing! I definitely feel that it is time to step up my online professional presence!  Through my research, I also discovered that getting involved in relevant online interactions is key when developing an authentic online profile. A one way relationship won’t appeal to many. I must confess this is how I’ve been running my LinkedIn profile to date.

When writing my blog I mainly focused on what the candidate could post to improve their chances. However, after reading colleagues blogs, I realised that an authentic profile is a lot more complex. Jodie’s blog made me realise the connections that are made, and the images chosen, can be as important as the content posted. She also sign-posted some great sites for future tips, such as the LinkedIn youtube channelThis was a tool I was previously unaware of, but I shall be putting it to good use in the future.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 14.34.06
Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 16.27.03

As well as adding a background image (me in a magazinetips from Forbes (2014), I also personalised my URL, updated my title, and changed my location to where I will be looking for work (rather than where I am at the moment)!

Miss CEO’s blog allowed me to further consider the idea of content. Prior to this topic I had struggled with the content of my CV, and subsequently my profile on LinkedIn, after reading her blog and viewing this video:

I realised that I was trying to say too much. The key is to specify and tailor your words to highlight your strongest assets.

Techy Bits

I feel I got slightly more adventurous this week with my ‘techy bits’. As mentioned in last week’s reflection, I had planned to expand my skills with the Haikudeck, true to my word I managed to create a great presentation, on the main blunders to avoid when postings may be viewed by potential employers. It took a while to resolve some embedding issues, but after recruiting a fellow blogger’s help (Holly, 2016), I managed to resolve these issues.

Amidst a discussion in class, a colleague mentioned Piktochart to me, a way of creating your own aesthetically pleasing charts. As I had a lot of statistics supporting this topic, this was a great way to synthesise the information into a more palatable representation for my readers.

As I had never heard of either of these sites prior to starting this course, I feel I am discovering many new tools and pushing myself technically. Which is the whole reason I signed up! Happy days!


BBC News, (2013), https://youtu.be/QBYuFviU1xg

Forbes, (2014), http://www.forbes.com/sites/williamarruda/2014/11/09/5-easy-ways-to-create-a-brilliant-background-for-your-linkedin-profile/#20835ac8420e

Holly, (2016), https://themarketingfresher.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/holly-tripp-aspiring-marketer-second-year-marketing-bsc-student-at-southampton-and-service-supervisor-at-bq/comment-page-1/#comment-33

JobVite, (2014), https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/jobvite_socialrecruiting_survey2014.pdf

Jodie, (2016), https://bloggerjodie.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/linkedin-as-enablers-of-employability-and-professional-identity-development/comment-page-1/#comment-27

LinkedIn, Youtube, (2016), https://www.youtube.com/user/LinkedIn

Miss CEO, (2016), https://missceospeaks.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/topic-3-building-a-professional-digital-profile/comment-page-1/#comment-15

Using the Internet: Create your Best Chance of Employment

In the modern-day job market having a strong authentic online professional profile is becoming, not only important, but in some cases essential. More often are employers taking to social media to search and scrutinise potential employees. Statistics surrounding employer’s use of social media and more specifically LinkedIn (the main player in employment social media) demonstrate how important it is, not only to be present professionally online, but to standout and shine (JobVite, 2014).

So great, employers are taking to social media, but what do you need to do? How do you stand apart from the crowd? And what mistakes do you need to avoid?

What To Do

First thing’s first, get a LinkedIn account!! As the statistics show LinkedIn is an employers best asset. This fact also makes it your best asset.

Once you’re logged in, you now have to consider what is effective and more specifically, what will work for you. The number one rule is to be authentic, if you’re not people will know (Sievers, 2015). The aim is to paint a vivid and authentic picture of yourself through your writing. The more authentic you make your profile, the more value your connections will have to you. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Be honest with yourself and allow your readers to get a feel for who you are. To do this you need to completely understand your goals, your character traits and your skill sets (Farris, 2015).

How to Stand Apart from the Crowd

Being on LinkedIn is a great start but as we saw earlier there are 414 million members (Statista, 2015), what is going to make you stand out?

Here are some tips from Forbes on how to boost your professional profile(s).

It seems the top tip is to be an active member of the online community. You get back, what you give! By engaging in a professional online setting, and demonstrating that you have an authentic voice that can be seen to be contributing, you are showing future employers that, firstly you have a unique voice with something to contribute, and secondly you have the ability to create and nurture relationships with others. Admittedly, this second talent will be more important to some employers than others, however, it is generally a good skill and will leave employers with a positive impression (Shin, 2014).

Another and arguably stronger way to set yourself apart, is to blog your way to success. That’s right, blogging is a direct route to highlighting your expertise, networking and engaging with people in your target community, and demonstrating that you are passionate and completely immersed in your chosen vocation (Collier, 2012). A blog can also be linked with your LinkedIn profile, in this way it can help provide a body of work which shows off your writing and language skills, and also your marketing and self promotion skills (again these skills will be more valued by some employers compared to others, it all depends on your target career).

Image by: Conseil Marketing

Mistakes to Avoid

So now you know what you should be doing, it is important to also consider the fatal mistakes that should be avoided! Watch this short presentation to see some common mistakes.

Although it must be noted that social media is becoming a more important tool in todays recruitment process, it is also important to note that it is not the only tool. When applying for jobs it is crucial to cover every angle, that is, still engage in the ‘so called’ old school methods of creating a great CV, speculative applications and even picking up the phone to call companies (which will leave a longer lasting impression than an email). If you manage to target job applications from all angles you will have a much higher chance of success.


Collier, K., (2012), http://www.jobsite.co.uk/worklife/blog-your-way-to-job-10444/ [Presented Online: Accessed 12th March 2016]

Davidson, J., (2014), http://time.com/money/3510967/jobvite-social-media-profiles-job-applicants/ [Presented Online: Accessed 12th March 2016]

Fairclough, H., (2016), https://www.haikudeck.com/p/12055177bd/social-media-mistakes-employment

Faris, D., (2015), https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-authentic-linkedin-debra-faris [Presented Online: Accessed 12th March 2016]

Forbes.com, (2014), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSPVHMoKFhU [Presented Online Video: Accessed 12th March 2016]

Geoff, (2014), http://wersm.com/top-linkedin-facts-and-stats-infographic/ [Presented Online: Accessed 12th March 2016]

JobVite, (2014), https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/jobvite_socialrecruiting_survey2014.pdf [Presented Online PDF: Accessed 12th March 2016]

Shin, L., (2014), http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2014/06/26/how-to-use-linkedin-5-smart-steps-to-career-success/#3439a8406292 [Presented Online: Accessed 12th March 2016]

Sievers, K., (2015), http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563215002368 [Presented Online: Accessed 12th March 2016]

Statista, (2015), http://www.statista.com/statistics/274050/quarterly-numbers-of-linkedin-members/ [Presented Online: Accessed 12th March 2016]