Why Your Choice of Verb Helps You Evaluate a Text – TUB-Thump 034



Do I demonstrate a point? Or do I merely claim it?

Sometimes you want to refer to a text in a positive light, while other times you want to pull back a bit on the emotion.

That’s where your choice of verbs comes in. The words you use in your coursework matter.

The super-useful pocket guide, Writing For University, by Jeanne Godfrey, describes the power of using different verbs to show “your evaluation of what the author does”.

Episode 034 of TUB-Thump checks out the different words you can use, depending on the message you want to convey. You need never again confuse someone illustrating and establishing something with someone claiming or assuming!

I believe you’ll find this useful. But, hey, I’ll now let you be the judge of that!

Music for TUB-Thump is Life, by Tobu, which is released under a Creative Commons license. Check out more of Tobu’s great sounds on Soundcloud, YouTube, and his official site.

TUB-Thump is part of the Learning Always Network.

Keep being awesome!

Farewell Facebook? Au Revoir Apps?


For those who move away from Facebook entirely, there are no doubt many others who haven’t left, but do far less on the site than before. Talk to parents, share unproblematic content, organise a few events…’harmless’ use can continue.

For everything else, new tools do the job. Students go where the family aren’t. They seek out specific communities of people. They form private networks away from prying eyes so they can keep in touch with their offline friends.

You don’t need to pretend to be several different personalities online. All you need to do is share particular types of information in particular places.

Say you buy a meal at McDonalds. You don’t explain to the cashier that you sometimes go to Burger King too. You don’t go to Nandos with your mates and announce that you also went with your Mum when she was visiting.

Your actions are public, but you keep the situations apart. Ever had one of those times when stuff clashed? Awkward.

A More Private Public?

When you’re online, you have new safeguards to consider, but it works in a similar way. Information, status updates and messages tend to linger. Plus, it’s easy enough for people to piece the information together and get a better picture of your actions. But when it comes to backing away from family, old school friends, and casual acquaintances, most bases are covered.

Information that you want strictly limited and kept away from particular individuals must be handled away from public services. If you broadcast stuff that you don’t want certain people to see, the safest option is not to broadcast it at all or do it in such a way that (almost) guarantees privacy.

And I don’t mean posting an embarrassing two-second Snapchat photo to someone in the hope that they don’t take a screenshot and share it with others. It means not posting the photo in the first place.

To App Or To Interact?

Facebook shouldn’t be concerned solely about young people who stop using the site. They should also think about those who have changed the way they use the service. Why? Because it changes the way they engage with the stuff that makes money. Everything changes…the way they see adverts, how long they spend on the site, their opinion of the service offered, the quality of the information they transmit, and so on.

When interest dwindles further, or if parents migrate to other services where their kids are hanging out (whether the kids like it or not…?), the knock-on effect could see older users moving away from Facebook too. This is all long-term stuff, which means the company won’t be resting on their laurels.

But is there a truly viable way for any social media players to keep up momentum and remain a solid player for many years to come?

I no longer think in terms of the sites and apps that people use. I’m more interested in the way they interact and the type of things they want to experience. Changes in these areas are potentially more telling than a service that’s popular at that particular moment. All it takes is one minor update or the next big thing to come along and all bets are off.

What are your favourite apps?

Now think about your answer. Will they still be your favourite apps next month? Next year? In a decade?

If you want to influence young people and connect directly with them right now, the big apps of the day matter.

But if you’re more interested in the overarching psychology behind the choices people make and the way people like to engage with each other, it’s time to look deeper than today’s top performer.

We’re Not Stereotypes, But We Share Similar Values

One thing you don’t want to do is assume that young people are wildly different to those in older generations. We all do things differently, but that doesn’t mean we want different things in the end.

People act the way they do because they have developed into that state. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail. No matter how hard we try, we can’t form an accurate picture of each individual. We boil personalities down into stereotypes. But look closely and you quickly see a more complex reality that’s not so easy to summarise.

A Communispace survey found that people’s values stay roughly similar, no matter how old you are. Issues that were important way back are still pretty important now.

And younger people aren’t sharing their life stories online. Most of their private and personal matters are not broadcast. Mistakes can be made and promises broken, but we’re not witnessing a rise in explicitly open individuals who don’t care what others read about them.

We may be happier to communicate online that in years before, but the tools weren’t previously available. Advances in technology allow us to do things we couldn’t do a year or two ago, let alone decades back. These technological advances change actions and experiences far more than they do values and opinions.

No matter where you end up in years to come, the app won’t change you, but you might change the app.

Actions and Experiences

15 Ways to Get a Fresh Perspective On an Old Topic

How do you give yourself a fresh pair of eyes when you’ve seen it all before?

I pondered this after the announcement that David Eastwood–someone deeply involved in HE–had been made Chair of Russell Group.

In a time of difficulty for the sector, it is obvious that a top role needs someone with a lot of experience and influence in order to be heard and to make a further mark.

To show the extent to which Eastwood knows the sector, here are just some of his current roles:

  • Vice Chancellor of the University of Birmingham;
  • on the advisory board of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI);
  • a member of the QAA board;
  • Chair of the UCAS Board.

What, you want more? Fine. Eastwood’s past experience includes having been head of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), chief executive of the Arts & Humanities Research Board, and he was on the panel of the Browne review of HE.

Let’s just say he knows a bit about HE…

Having loads of experience sounds great, but it’s just as important to look at each situation from a fresh perspective. Without new ideas, you face getting set in your ways.

You can’t forget what you know and become a novice again, so you need another way to look at things differently.

"I've Seen It All Before..." (photo by ZeroOne)

“I’ve Seen It All Before…” (photo by ZeroOne)

Below, I’ve got fifteen tips for getting new views. They aren’t designed to change your opinion (although they might!). These tips will help you to see further, to understand why not everyone sees things from your point of view, and to give you greater strength in your own views.

  1. Read stuff that you don’t agree with – It may not change your own opinion, but it will help you see how other people view the situation.
  2. Think about the issues you don’t know so well – Learning never ends; it just gets more specific. Look beyond what you already know and keep discovering even more.
  3. Ask for other opinions/options/ideas and work with those you hadn’t considered or acted upon before – I often say that you should listen to advice, and then choose whether or not to make use of it.  Over on Twitter, @Mandlovesgeeks recognises how tough this can be. Mand suggests that you should “ask for feedback from someone else – & try to listen to it, even when it’s painful”.
  4. Play ‘what if…?’ and see how your view changes – When faced with alternatives, it’s easy to dismiss them out of hand without considering them. They sound wrong and that’s the end of that.
    Instead, think ‘what if…?’ and work out some pros and cons to different ideas. You may find something positive after all, or you may have a useful list of cons to use in future discussions.
  5. Imagine what it’s like to be an outsider looking in for the first time – When you don’t have all that experience, what does the start look like? If you had to explain things to a child, how easy would it be?
  6. Imagine what it’s like for an insider in a very different position to your own – People are great at working together, but they regularly take on very different roles. You may be working toward the same goal, but is everybody travelling toward the goal in the same way?
  7. Play devil’s advocate on your own long-term opinions – After years of sticking to your guns, it’s worth nudging yourself once in a while and arguing with your own opinion. Pick great holes in your well-worn perspective and argue back with just as much conviction.
  8. Don’t take anything for granted. ANYTHING. – It’s easy to forget that you know so much about the topic and that you have no doubt developed lots of short cuts and assumptions. Scrap them. Start afresh. If you haven’t done something the long way round for a while, it’s worth reminding yourself.
  9. Go somewhere else. Do something new – A new perspective on other things around you will get you thinking in new ways. Use this to your advantage. If you can’t get away from your physical surroundings, listen to some music you wouldn’t usually choose.
  10. View from a different medium – Used to doing everything on a screen? Print it out. Tired of text? Try an infographic. Bored of the same textbook? Find a new book on the same subject.
  11. Sit on it – When you’ve been over-thinking, fresh thoughts are hard to come by. Put it down for an hour, a day, a week, a month…whatever. Come back to it when you’re no longer obsessing over things.
  12. Stay curious – Auto-pilot is dangerous. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but can boost your career
  13. Write about it (mega credit to @emmielouli) – Get words out on the page and your view may look different to the shorthand version in your head. If your view stays the same, you may notice gaps in your knowledge and questions you can’t quite answer. These aren’t reasons to be ashamed. These are areas to explore!
  14. Look across different sectors/subjects (mega credit to @helencurtis) – You don’t have to stay on your own turf. Find out what happens elsewhere. See what’s different. How could it work in your context?
  15. You tell me… – I need a fresh perspective. What do you do to get a fresh view of something? Let me know in the comments!

Pushing Daisies and being swayed by suggestion

I was checking through various news items early this morning and noticed something that’s worth mentioning to you:

No matter how clever we think we are at bypassing other people’s suggestions, we regularly pick up on bias, opinion and interpretation without noticing.

Consider this…ITV1 started showing an American programme, Pushing Daisies, as part of its weekend peak-slot lineup.  In my opinion, it’s good fun (remember, that’s my opinion).  ITV have made a big marketing push for the show.  They want you to like it too, naturally.  If you missed the first episode, you can watch it on the ITV catch-up feature (UK only, I believe).  I found the introductory opening on YouTube too:

The first episode to air in the UK had 5.7million viewers, according to overnight figures.

So how does that sound to you?  Brilliant, Reasonable, Rubbish?

According to The Guardian, Pushing Daisies ‘wilts’ on its debut, after viewing figures “failed to live up to expectations”.  It’s probably wise to ask, whose expectations?

BBC News called the figures “a relatively strong showing for a US import”.

Brand Republic also mentioned “relatively strong” figures that were “solid, if not spectacular”.

I don’t want to start analysing the figures themselves, or start breaking down the different age ranges of viewers.  I just find it interesting that 5.7million viewers has been seen in both a positive and negative light.  The same information has resulted in different opinions.

Different opinions are to be expected, but we need to be aware that they are constantly fed to us in order to maintain a sensible balance in life.  If I had only read the article in The Guardian, I might have thought it a shame that the show may not have the oomph in place to keep running here in the UK.  But if I’d only read the Brand Republic article, I could have walked away quite pleased with the results.  Who knows?  As it stands, I see the figure as a good start and I hope it stays that way, or gets better with word of mouth.  I hope this because I like the programme.  That’s the bias.

While many of us try to keep an open mind about things, we’re still swayed by what we consume, whether we like it or not.  It’s worth remembering not to blindly accept what we see, even if it’s based on facts and figures.  It’s the least we can do to fighting the daily barrage.