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)

How To Make the Most of YOUR Student Experience

Q: What is ‘the student experience’?
A: It’s what you make it!

This week, I held a workshop at the University of Glamorgan about ‘the student experience’.

I’ve mentioned Glamorgan in the past for their brilliant Glam Insight, where students write about their time at the university and their experiences while they study.

The students make clear how different their lives are, how varied their experiences are, and how wide-ranging their opportunities are.

In the workshop, I asked four questions. They are covered in the presentation below. But if I could sum things up as briefly as possible, here’s what I’d say in a nutshell:

  1. What IS ‘the student experience’?
    Nothing in particular. Reclaim it as your own. Ask what you want and why you want it.
  2. What should young people consider when applying?
    The bigger picture first, and only then the fact that they would like to live in nice halls.
  3. Why do students leave?
    Not enough subject research and not enough knowledge of what’s on offer.
  4. How do students make ‘the student experience’ work for them?
    Be selfish, open up to change, and be prepared to fail.

Question 4 is the big one here. If you want to skip the Prezi presentation itself and get straight to the good stuff in the archives, I’ve got the top 10 tips on making the most of your experience underneath.

“The Student Experience” on Prezi

How do you make the most of
‘the student experience’? 10 Tips

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others. The Student Experience is YOUR experience.
  2. Be involved!
  3. Seek out new opportunities and experiences rather than waiting for them to come to you.
  4. Embrace failure.
  5. Pick yourself up, dust yourself down, keep going.
  6. Take your experience seriously, even when you’re having fun.
  7. Enjoy the benefits, but do remember you can have too much of a good thing…
  8. Embrace the unknown. Prepare for the unknown. But don’t fear the unknown.
  9. Look beyond employability. Look beyond the piece of paper you get at the end of those years.
  10. Focus more on yourself, less on the degree. “Your degree isn’t the source of awesome. You are.”

10 ways to get better Google search results

Google is no stranger to us, right? You may even think Google is a bit too familiar

Google is probably a big part of your life, one way or another. But when it comes to that single box on the home page, waiting for your keyword input, what do you type in? A recent US study suggested that many Google searches don’t dig deep enough.

“Throughout the interviews, students mentioned Google 115 times — more than twice as many times as any other database. The prevalence of Google in student research is well-documented, but the Illinois researchers found something they did not expect: students were not very good at using Google. They were basically clueless about the logic underlying how the search engine organizes and displays its results. Consequently, the students did not know how to build a search that would return good sources.”

Rather than type a word or two in the search box and hope for the best, there’s a whole host of ways you can make Google find you far better results to suit exactly what you’re looking for. Here are 10 simple ideas to get Google working even harder for you:

1. Go beyond the first page of results

When Google returns about a billion results, you’re not even skimming the surface if you stay on Page One. Dig deeper. You may be surprised at what you find. Used with the tips below, it works especially well, because you’ll be getting more targeted results. What used to return a billion hits may now produce a million. Or a thousand. Or a hundred.
But even if you get a hundred results back, that’s still ten pages of Google goodness going on. If you ignore Page Two and beyond, who’s to say you weren’t amazingly close to finding exactly what you wanted?

2. Find similar words with a tilde (~)

With a WHAT!? The tilde looks like this:


Yes, a tilde looks a bit like a curly moustache.
But wait, its powers don’t stop at imitating facial hair. A tilde also tells Google to put a thesaurus to your word. For instance, if you search for “study tips”, you get one set of results. But search for “study ~tips” and you get results for study tips, study skills, study techniques, study guides, and so on.

3. “Use quotes”

When you’re looking for an exact set of words together, put them inside quotes so Google searches for the phrase in its entirety rather than as separate words. You can still add other words outside quotes.

4. Use ‘OR’ in your search

With a few interchangeable words in mind, the ‘OR’ operator lets you search for one or more of the words you choose. Sometimes you want to search a core topic, but with several separate sub-topics. By using OR between each of the sub-topics, you don’t need to bother with multiple searches. [Make sure OR is in capital letters, otherwise Google considers it as the word ‘or’.]

5. Use Google Scholar, Books, and News

Google offers other services that give entirely different results, which can be especially useful when you do academic research.
Google Scholar searches for scholarly papers. You can search within a timeframe, limiting the search to just the recent academic papers if you wish.
Google Books looks at content inside, you guessed it, books. When you need a juicy quote or want to read more about a technical detail, this type of search is great. You can also study a book before you even have the physical copy in your hands.
Google News looks at current events, making it great for relevant links about what’s happening right now in your area of interest. You can even set up email alerts every time new articles are published.

6. Search over a particular time

On the left hand side of your search, click on the text that says ‘More search tools‘. New options will appear to let you search the past year, the past month, the past day, even the past hour. You can also search a specific date range if you like.

7. Filter more

Also on the left hand side of your search, you can select various filtering options on your results. One good (though not perfect) option is to search by reading level (basic, intermediate, expert). You can also look at a search timeline, which can be hit and miss, but arranged differently to the standard search results.

8. allintitle:

Want to search for words that are so important they have to be in the page title? Just add ‘allintitle:’ before your search.

9. intitle:

If you want to search for a specific word in the title, but also drill down further with words that’ll only show up elsewhere on the page, add ‘intitle:’ before the word you require in the title of the page. Type the other words as usual. Google will do the rest of the magic.

10. filetype:

What if you only want to search for Word documents or Adobe Acrobat files? No problem. For Word files, add your search terms and include ‘filetype:doc OR filetype:docx’. For Acrobat files, add your search terms and include ‘filetype:pdf’.

These search tips are quick and easy, especially after you’ve used them a couple of times. But Google search goes further than that. If these examples have got you hooked, check out Google Guide for a complete overview of everything available at your fingertips.

Happy searching!

Edulinks – Week ending 20 May 2011

This week, NUS and CBI jointly launched a guide to employability skills. The publication, Working Towards Your Future, is definitely worth a download.

As the NUS/CBI guide was released, engineering consultancy, Atkins, called on universities to help students more with employability skills. Good timing, eh?

In the US, there’s a lot of talk about bubbles in higher education. Is it worth studying for a degree? Is HE too expensive now? Weighing in on the debate are The Economist, Slate, and NPR. Will the UK ever suffer from ‘bubble’ worries?

A student at LSE argues that fees of £8,000 may not be as helpful to disadvantaged students as a £9,000 pricetag. Sound like a strange argument? Then read on!

Students are rushing to get into investment banking in the hope of a big salary, according to High Fliers Research. They also report that confidence in the graduate job market has improved and that over a third of finalists made early job applications. Graduate applications in the public sector has seen a drop, however.

With improved confidence comes bigger expectations. For the first time in three years, the expected (hoped for) starting salary has increased to an average of £22,600. Students expect to be earning nearly £40k after five years and over %15 interviewed expect a salary of more than £100,000 by the age of 30! Perhaps we’ll see some of them starring in the apprentice in the coming years…