January: Month of the ‘Best of…’ Posts [EduLinks]

Now that TheUniversityBlog is back, how about a load of links? Lots of ‘best of’ features for you to grab loads of goodies from last year’s haul of great online content.

First up, the Guardian has predictions for the 2014 graduate jobs market. What does your future hold?

Leo at Zen Habits presents great content on reaching your best potential and leaving pointless actions behind. Here are his favourite posts from 2013.

Becoming Minimalist shares a highlights post. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a minimalist to get value from the posts. You may start becoming one soon though!

Tyler Tervooren at starts his version of the 2013 ‘Best of’ post with a bang. “11 Lame-Ass Excuses You Make Every Day That Are Ruining Your Life”. Can you handle it?

Jane Hart links to the 50 best articles she read in 2013. Education-wise, there’s something for everyone.

With a postgrad vibe, Patter has her top 10 posts from 2013.

Tony Bates looks beyond 2014 and thinks about online learning in 2020.

Paul Greatrix (aka @registrarism on Twitter) brings together his collection of 2013 (and 2012) posts on The Imperfect University. Well worth a read if university admin and policy is your thing.

As for beefy study tips, I’ve got a heavy, but valuable read. A journal article that breaks down the very best ways to learn and study. Sadly, the usual techniques are generally the least effective. It’s heavy, but important stuff. Set aside a bit of time for reading so you can work more efficiently in the future.

That’ll keep you going for a while. What did you read in 2013 that inspired you to do awesome things? Share the wealth!

Winner (photo by kreg.steppe) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

(photo by kreg.steppe) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

TUB Reboot – TheUniversityBlog in 2014

Here comes a lot more from TheUniversityBlog, or as I affectionately call it, TUB! More great stuff on the site and a newsletter too.

I spent an extended time away and had a great time. Of course, I missed all of you too. Moving away from the social pulse is strange.

It felt a bit like Doug Belshaw’s BlackOps, where he takes a month (or two) off from social networks and email. Last week I did a lot of catching up and participated in Martin Couzins’ great new course on how to be an effective digital curator. The course is a great way to get lots of people together who are interested in collecting and shaping content, so it was a good way to get back in the swing of things online.


Now we’re very much in 2014, I wanted to make a few changes. For a start, I’ve updated the site. What do you think about the new look? If you read via email or a feed, come and take a peek. I plan to increase the post numbers again, with a selection of shorter pieces alongside the lengthy posts.

But I need your input for the most relevant stuff. Do you need more exam tips? Want to sort out your work/life balance (or don’t even think it exists)? Interested in higher education in the news? Have something on your mind that you wish was covered here? Get in touch and let me know which aspects of uni life you want the lowdown on.


I’m also about to start a newsletter, ‘TUB Thump‘. Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed a signup link on the sidebar. Many, many thanks for those of you who have already subscribed. The first edition of the Thump will be out soon.

You want in? For exclusive content, competitions, quick tips and great links, sign up to TUB Thump here. Only the best from TUB Towers.

Let’s make 2014 shine!

(photo by Neal) (CC BY 2.0)

(photo by Neal) (CC BY 2.0)

Who? That.

You should read Plashing Vole’s post on using ‘that’ and ‘who’ when talking and writing about literature. Does a literary character get lumbered with being a ‘that’ or can they break through to new depths and become a ‘who’?

Plashing Vole explains:

“A Whovian treats characters as real people, a Thaterite analyses them linguistically and celebrates the separation of art and what some people still refer to as ‘real life’.”

Do you have a preference? Plashing Vole prefers ‘who’ and–after brief consideration–I agree it sounds better. I also agree that it’s easier to call a wild animal ‘it’, although I do it for sake of ease and not because it’s a ‘dumb beast’. Unless I went around sexing each creature I wanted to refer to, I’d feel unhappy about giving a 50/50 chance to getting a guess of ‘he’ or ‘she’ correct.

In general English usage, here is what is printed in the Oxford A-Z of English Usage:

“It is sometimes argued that, in defining relative clauses, that should be used for non-human references, while who should be used for human references: a house that overlooks the park but the woman who lives next door. In practice, while it is true to say that who is restricted to human references, the function of that is flexible. It has been used for human and non-human references since at least the 11th century. In standard English it is interchangeable with who in this context.” – p.154 (1st ed.)

Animals are non-human, so ‘it’ seems the way to go. But for literary use? A fictitious character is not human, but does masquerade as one in the mind of the author and reader. At least, that’s the hope.

Perhaps ‘that’ is the easy way out. But when enough people are frustrated by its use, it’s not an easy way out at all. Interchangeable or not, a character that/who is real in terms of what you’re studying is operating in a complicated place.

Given all the potential trouble here, surely we could grace them as a ‘who’…

A New Medium: Great Links Worth Reading

I recently started writing over at Medium. It’s a convenient place to post anything not quite so student related. And more stuff that is!


I thought I’d link to a few posts of mine and others that you should take a look at.

You can keep track of my latest posts and recommendations at my profile page.

Check out some of my first posts to Medium:

Writing on Distraction-Free Writing – 7 tips to help you concentrate on just the words.

What ‘Preparation’ Really Is – Getting to finish means getting through start. This is an updated version of an old TUB post.

Dead Is Dead – When you stop using a service, that doesn’t mean it should stop existing.

And here are a few great posts from other awesome peeps:

How to College – Some great, down to earth advice on making the most of your time at university. By @EricJorgenson

Take Your Ideas For a Walk – Sometimes the creative process needs you to take a journey. By @IanSanders

I Never Win Because I’m a Girl – “The piano doesn’t care who you are. Neither does the ground when you run.” By @luckyshirt

Dear Dumbphone: A Millennial’s Declaration of Love – Not all of us are so quick to embrace smartphones. And when we do, how does it change us? By @steffiexplores

The top reasons people tell me they aren’t able to write online are:

  • I don’t have enough time;
  • I can’t think of anything useful to say;
  • I can’t write.

First, it doesn’t have to take a long time. Second, you have more useful stuff to say than you realise. Third, you can’t write if you don’t write, so get writing!

Considering how many millions of people are now writing prolifically online, I’m still surprised to see so many people still not creating their own content. If text isn’t right for you, try audio and video. Go beyond status updates and sharing stuff with friends. Push your words out to the world.