Monthly Archives: May 2013

Checking In

Hello again! I hope you had a great bank holiday weekend, and hopefully a chance to reflect on the workshops and begin putting it into practice with the first task which I posted on Friday after the workshops: setting up a WordPress account.

As I mentioned in the workshop, your WordPress account is the main way we’ll be interacting from now on, as we explore some of the tools we touched on in the workshop. You’ll be using it to interact with the other participants and with me by commenting on the posts here, with your questions, reflections, experiences and advice. So this week’s task is pretty important!

I’ve found that the hardest thing about learning to use social media effectively in a professional academic context is not using the technology itself, but the changes in behaviour and values that are needed. In some ways, the ethos and behaviours which make for good social media practice are the opposite of academic ones: in this case, not waiting months to create a perfect, polished and lengthy response, but pushing myself to make a quick, short and memorable contribution to a discussion. Hopefully you’ll find this a safe space to explore and push yourself outside your comfort zone! The other reason it’s important is that this programme is as much about your contributions as mine, so do contribute – the other participants will find your comments extremely helpful, as will I!

One more thing – I’ll be moderating the comments so we’re not inundated with spam or people who aren’t researchers at Cambridge. You’re welcome to use a pseudonym for the programme, if you’re not comfortable with exploring social media under your own ‘real life’ professional identity yet, but I’ll need to know who you are so I don’t block or delete your comments! Once you’ve set up your WordPress account with your username, do remember to register it with me on the ‘How to Join‘ page. And leave a comment below! Comments may not appear immediately – I’ll need to approve them, which I’ll do as soon as I can.

Your Online Identity

Hello again to everyone who attended one of the two launch events this week! Here’s the first of the online activities we’ll be covering over the next four weeks. This is an important one in some ways, as I’m asking you to set up an account with WordPress, the blogging platform I’m using here to create the programme, so we can interact online! For now, we’ll just be setting up a username so that you can add comments to these posts, but we’ll be returning to WordPress in a few weeks so you can explore whether it might provide a useful way to set up your own wordpress site, whether you want to use it as an online website to showcase your professional profile, or as a traditional blog.

Task: Setting up an account with WordPress

Go to (not, that’s slightly different!) and click on ‘Get Started’.

Wordpress signup

You’ll then be invited to set up an account and an associated blog (and watch the video if you like!). For this week, we don’t want to set up a blog just yet, just a WordPress account so that you can comment on this blog and interact with the other participants. You can set up a blog if you like though! We’ll be looking at blogs more at the end of this module.

Instead of setting up a blog, click on ‘sign up for just a username‘ in the bottom right hand corner of the page:

Wordpress not this

You’ll need an email address, username and password:

Wordpress account

Your Online Identity: Setting Up Accounts.

Before you set up an account, on WordPress or anywhere else, there’s a few things to consider.

  • Longevity. How long will you be using this account, and in what contexts? This affects the email address you will sign up with, which is needed for setting up most online accounts. Your university email account will last only as long as your degree or postdoc contract. If you want to use an online tool or platform over the longer term, then you might like to use a free email address provided by a provider such as Google (gmail), Yahoo, etc. What other purposes might it be useful to have a professional non-university email address for?
  • Username. (this also affects your choice of non-university email address) On some platforms, such as WordPress, you can either use a form of your real name, or a pseudonym (you can also set up more than one account). Which are you most comfortable with, and which is most helpful for professional purposes? Other platforms will entail using your real name, as it would make little sense not to (eg LinkedIn but this means you can only have one account). What are the pros and cons of using your real name, or a pseudonym? For this programme, you might prefer to use a pseudonym to explore the issue, but it is up to you* (*As moderator for the programme, I will need to know who you are to verify that you’re a Cambridge university researcher, but this will be kept confidential!)
  • Consistency. You may want to use the same username across several platforms, to create a unified online presence for your professional work, or for particular aspects of your professional activities. Before you set accounts up, you might want to see what usernames are free across the platforms you will want to use. Namechk will help you do this. Alternatively, you might want to use one username for professional accounts, and a completely separate one for your personal online presence so they can’t easily be associated.
  • Password. Choosing a secure password is very important. We looked at how tricky this is becoming in the workshop, and you might be interested in others’ views on how ridiculous the situation is becoming.  You could use a password generator, follow some simple advice on choosing a password and check how secure it is, or use a secure password manager. Remember not to select ‘remember this password’ on your computer, especially if it’s a shared machine!
  • Personal Information. WordPress doesn’t, but other accounts (e.g. Facebook) may ask you for more personal information such as your gender, age, location, interests etc. Much of this may be optional, and it’s up to you what you choose to reveal, but remember not to choose a password related to any of your public information, as it’s easier to guess! This is the deal you make; in return for free online tools and platforms, your data is used to build a profile of you so that they can target advertising to you. You need to come to a position you are comfortable with, on this issue, whether you opt out or accept the ‘deal’.

Now What? Once you’ve set up your WordPress account, you’ll need to register your username with us (see the How to Join page) so the moderator (me) knows who you are and that you’re a Cambridge PhD Student or Postdoc! We won’t be releasing this information publically, though. It’s up to you if you use a version of your real name or a pseudonym.

Next up: we’ll be discussing our views, experiences and advice on setting up an online identity in the next post, where you’ll get a chance to comment and discuss with others!

Comments or questions on setting up a WordPress account? Either add a comment below (either with your WordPress account, or if WordPress is the problem, WordPress allows you to comment through other online identities, including your email. If you’re really stuck, send me an email (CRSID is hmw51).

STEMDigital Launch workshop

Here are the materials from the STEMDigital launch workshop for Module One! For reference if you were able to join us this week, and to allow those who couldn’t attend to see what we covered.


and the handouts:


Next up: First post on creating your online identity!

Social Media for Sceptics

I ran a session today on Social Media for Sceptics, looking at how relevant social media might be for professional, academic purposes, and how researchers might identify and manage any risks associated with social media. If you attended this session, you’re welcome to join in with the STEMDigital activities here; if you weren’t at the session, then I’ve posted the slides and handout materials below for you, if you would find them useful! Either way, if you have any questions or comments, do ask them in the Comments!

and finally, a storify of the tweets!

[View the story “Social Media for Sceptics” on Storify]

STEMDigital starts next week!

STEMDigital will be launched next week, with two workshops at which you can meet the other participants and discuss some of the issues we’ll be looking at, over the 5 weeks of the programme. The workshops will give you an overview of the strategic issues and questions to consider when building your professional academic online identity, and offer some practical tips and advice on how to go about setting up an effective and secure online profile to suit your aims and preferences. We’ll then be following this initial session up online, with a weekly hands-on exploration of specific websites and tools through this blog.

As you may be based either in central Cambridge or over on the West Cambridge site, we’ll be offering two alternative sessions, to make it more convenient for you!

To book your place, see the joining instructions and visit Cambridge University’s Online Training Booking system. If you can’t make either of these sessions, materials will be posted here after the workshops, and you can still join in the online activities through this blog.

If you have any questions about the programme, check out the FAQ or find out more about the format and how it works.

I look forward to seeing you next week and online!