Category Archives: blogs

Social networking sites: Activities

Ok, this weeks activities are fairly straightforward.  The second one is optional.

1. Set up an account with Ning and join the Learning 2.0 Ning network

Create your own page.  Try to build in some features you have discovered so far in the Learning 2.0 programme.  You will receive an invitation to join the network via your hotmail address.

7 things you should know about Ning

2. Create a Twitter account and tweet for a week (Optional activity)

Twitter is a social networking site (that is also referred to as a microblogging service) that enables you to update your contacts on what you are doing at any moment in time.  It works in a very similar way to your status update in Facebook.

In this activity you are asked to post updates for a week and find some people to follow.  Try different ways of using Twitter – from your personalised homepage (e.g. Netvibes), from your phone, from your desktop or from a Twitter client.

What is Twitter and is there any reason I should care?

Twitter in plain English from Commoncraft

As a start to this activity try following Jenny – you can find her via email ( or by her username jennye


Week 8: Social networking sites

Well we have made it to Week 8 of the programme – this week we will be learning about and trying out social networking sites.

What is a social networking site?

Social networking as a broad term can refer to the entire ‘Web 2.0’ phenomenon, but what we will be focussing on this week are usually referred to as social networking sites.

Many of you will already using sites such as Facebook on a regular basis.  Basically, they involve you setting up an online account, and then building a profile to reflect your interests.  You then add friends or contacts who can see your profile and interests and vice versa.  The next step is to add various applications and join various groups if you are interested in doing so.

Check out this Commoncraft video for a quick overview of social networking sites.

Features of social networks

1. Choose your social networking site

This often comes down to what your friends and/or colleagues are using.  However each does have different features/strengths, for example if you are really into music then Myspace is more relevant.  Facebook has a more generic appearance, where as Myspace enables you to customise your pages.

2. Sign up for an account, build your own profile, personalise your pages (depends on the service as to how much control you have over this)

As with most of these tools/services – you go to the web page of the service you want to use and sign up for an account (another password to add to your learning 2.0 collection).

3. Add friends/contacts, join a group and add any applications you like.

Some people like adding applications, join every group they can possibly find and send lots of invitations to you.  Others just have their basic profile and don’t do much more with their account.  It is completely up to you.

Each site has their advantages and disadvantages – if you are not using any of them at the moment, it’s worth taking a look at  a couple to see what you think.

The major players are Facebook, Myspace and Bebo.  Others out there include: Ning, LinkedIn, Elgg and 6pages (created by Imperial students).

For a comparison of Myspace, Bebo and Facebook, see: Myspace Vs Bebo Vs Facebook – the Ultimate Showdown of Internet Domination

How libraries/universities are using social networking sites

There are loads of examples of libraries and higher education institutions using social networking sites in various ways.  This could be to set up an institutional network, such as the University of Wales at Newport who have a Ning site up and running as do the University of Bradford, or creating a library catalogue search option, such as the World Cat search for their facebook application.

See the Imperial College Library account for more examples, try the tag socialnetworking or facebook.  Or do some searching of your own and tag some good examples.

Further reading

Social networking software on the Library Success wiki

See Brian Kelly’s blog for a post on: Revisiting UK University pages on Facebook for more local examples.

Social Network Sites: Public, Private, or What?

Podcasts and multimedia: Activities 1 – 3 (4 is optional)

As the weeks go on we are discovering how many of the technologies featured in the programme can be integrated and enhanced by being used together.  So in this activity you’ll be having a go at utilising the technologies from previous weeks (blogs, wikis and RSS) with podcasts and online video.

Activity #1 – Pick your podcatcher and subscribe to some podcasts

In Week 3 you will have created an account with Bloglines or Google Reader and both of these readers can be used to subscribe to podcasts using RSS.

Or try something new and download iTunes and use that as your podcatcher.

There are podcasts on just about every subject under the sun so try and find ones which are of personal or professional interest to you – that way you’ll enjoy listening to them!

Step 1 – search for a podcast

Try using a couple of different podcast search engines such as iTunes, Podcastalley, Podcastdirectory, Everyzing and Podomatic and compare the results.  Remember you can also use Google or Yahoo; just add ‘podcast’ as a keyword in your search.

Step 2 – subscribe

When you’ve found your podcast you need to subscribe to it.  Look for the familiar orange RSS logo, or you may even see a handy button saying ‘Subscribe using iTunes, GoogleReader, Bloglines etc.  Alternatively look for the RSS feed URL and copy and paste that into your chosen podcatcher.

If you need a refresher on RSS then head back to the Week 3 post and activities on RSS, or contact the Learning 2.0 team.

Subscribe to at least 3 podcasts and then get your headphones on and have a listen to a couple.

Activity #2 – Create an account with YouTube or Google Video

Step 1 – register

If you’ve previously created an account with Google Reader then Google Video should recognise and you’re good to go.  Registering with YouTube just takes a few seconds.

Step 2 – search for some videos

Both Google Video and YouTube allow you to search for videos using keywords.  Have a go and see if you can find anything of interest. Try searching for ‘libraries’ and see what happens!

Step 3 – add some favourites and RSS feeds

Once you’ve found some videos you like try and make them a favourite, or set up an RSS feed so you’ll know when videos featuring similar content is added.

To find out more about these features go to the YouTube or Google Video help pages.

Activity #3 – Add media to your blog and wiki page

Step 1 – add audio to your blog

Follow these instructions to add audio files to your blog.  Think about copyright though!  You can find ‘podsafe’ music on Podsafe Audio, Jamendo and opsound.

Step 2 – add video to your blog and wiki page

If you haven’t done this already try adding a video to your blog and your wiki page.

Activity #4 – Become a podcaster! (Entirely optional)

If you think this podcasting lark sound easy then why not try it for yourself!

Step 1 – find out what you need to do

Try these quick tutorials which provide a good overview of the equipment and software you need to podcast, as well as tips on how to make your podcast great!

Step 2 – get some software

Audacity is free audio software for recording and editing your podcast.  It’s easy to use but these tutorials will help get you started.

Step 3 – podcast!

If you do podcast please let your fellow participants know and let them listen to your masterpiece.

Week 4: Catch up week

And relaaxxx…

Yes Learning 2.0ers, Week 4 is a catch up week so no homework for you this Friday.

If you’re up to date with the programme so far then well done.  Why not spend this week updating your blog or working through some of the further reading we’ve suggested.

Remember, we ask you to write at least one post for each technology of 100 words or more.  Some of you have already posted some really interesting thoughts and ideas – and some of you have been a bit quiet.  Don’t be shy! Tell us what you think.

And if you’re a bit behind or feeling overwhelmed, this is the week to get back on track and complete those activities.

The Learning 2.0 team are standing by to answer your questions and provide help and support.

Blogs: Activities 1 – 4

This week we’ve been looking at blogs

Below are some activities to get you using and exploring this technology.  Have a go, but if you get stuck remember you can email us at and we’ll do our best to help!

N.B If you were able to attend the introductory session you will hopefully have completed Activities 1 -3 which means you can sit back and relax until next week!  Or if you like try Activity #4 and personalise your blog a bit, or take a look at the further reading.

Activity #1- Bag your blog!

Follow these simple steps to create your own blog.  You can also watch a brief tutorial we’ve produced to help you.

  • Go to, click on the big green ‘Sign up now!’ button.
  • Enter your username, password and email address (you can use either your Imperial email or your new Hotmail account)
  • Click the ‘Next’ button
  • Edit your domain name if you want to.  Your blog address will be so choose carefully!
  • Edit your blog title if necessary.  This will appear at the top of your blog page – so again think carefully about the name.
  • Read the ‘terms of service’ by right clicking on the link and opening the page in a new tab.  You must check the box to confirm you’ve read these before continuing
  • Choose which privacy option you prefer
  • Click the ‘Sign up’ button
  • Check your email account for your WordPress activation email
  • Click the link given in the email and you’re off!

Activity #2 Email your blog details to us

We need:

Your name

Your blog address

Email your blog details to Learning 2.0 at

Links to all the blogs will be put up on the Learning 2.0 blog.  When posting please bear in mind that work colleagues will be reading your blog, but you can make it as formal/informal as you like – it’s your blog.

Activity #3 – Write your first post

Each week you will be expected to post an entry of between 100 and 150 words.  Things to think about include what you thought of that weeks technology, what you learned and whether or not you think it would be appropriate in a work context (whether personally or as a part of the services we provide).  There are no right or wrong answers!

So your first post should be about blogs and maybe what you think of the Learning 2.0 programme so far.

And if you’ve got time…

Activity #4 – Explore templates and widgets

Explore templates

  • Click on the ‘Design’ tab in your dashboard and select ‘Themes’
  • Click on the template to preview how your blog would look
  • If you don’t like it, click the X in the top left corner
  • If you do like it click ‘Activate’ in the top right corner and you’ve got a new template.

Explore widgets

Widgets are bits of code which you can add to your blog to perform different functions.  For example you can add a calendar, or a list of your most popular posts.

To find out more about widgets and how to use them, visit the WordPress faq pages.

Week 1: blogs

In this first week we’ll be looking at blogs.

What are blogs?

Blog is an abbreviation of ‘weblog‘.  As the name suggests ‘weblogs’ are logs or diaries which are online. Each entry written on the blog is called a ‘post’.

How did blogging begin?

The term weblog is generally attributed to Jorn Barger and was first used in 1997.  Wikipedia has extensive entry on the history of blogging if you’d like to learn more about where all this started.

Who blogs and why?

In recent years blogs and blogging have become pretty main-stream and thousands of new blogs are created every day.  Most blogs are written by individuals and focus on the events of their daily lives and are usually read by their friends and family – or often by no-one at all!  And, of course, there are a large number which feature amusing pictures of cats.

But it would be wrong to dismiss bloggers as a bunch of slightly self-obsessed nerds who want the world to know what they had for breakfast.  Now it seems that everyone blogs from politicians and heads of state to celebrities and captains of industry.  Even librarians are at it!  Blogging is free (or very cheap) to set up and run and this makes it a great way to get information out to a potentially unlimited audience.

How do blogs work?

Most blogs are written using specific software which is often freely available.  This usually involves signing up for an account and getting a free blog or blogs.  The software provider ‘hosts’ your blog online which is great as you don’t have to worry about any technical issues (usually!), all you have to do is write your post.  It’s also possible to use blogging software which is installed on your PC, but most bloggers go for the easy hosted option.

In our Learning 2.0 programme we’ll be using (because it’s the software we’re familiar with) other companies providing hosted blogging include Blogger, TypePad and LiveJournal.

Bloggers post, comment, muse and rant about anything and everything.  What blogs have in common is that they still retain the diary format with entries displayed in chronological order with the newest entries first.  Blogs are also searchable so readers can trawl back through the blog archives to find a particular post. ‘Tags‘ are used to categorise the content of posts and these are created by the blogger and can be used for searching.  Of course, librarians have used tags for ages – we just call them ‘subject headings’.

What’s with all the jargon?

As with all this new fangled Web 2.0 stuff, the blogosphere has its own jargon of pings, trackbacks, memes and, well, blogosphere. This useful glossary will have you talking like a true blogger in no time.

How do I find people’s blogs?

Finding blogs can be a bit of a challenge but there are many search engines dedicated to just this activity.  Probably the two best known are Technorati and Google Blog Search.

Now you’ve got a bit of background about this technology let’s start blogging!

Go to the blog activity page for your instructions.

Further reading

The world’s 50 most powerful blogs – With some sites receiving thousands of hits a day the influence of the blog is increasing. See what the Observer newspaper considered to be the 50 most powerful.

What’s the Ballyhoo about blogs? – Librarian’s opinions on the pros and cons of blogs and blogging. N.B. This article is hosted by ScienceDirect, so if you’re off campus you’ll need to do the signing in thing.

The ethical blogger by Karen Schneider – How careful do librarian bloggers have to be about ethics and professional standards?

Blogs in plain English from the Common Craft Show – OK, this is watch and listen rather than read.  Common Craft produce great little films on a variety of Web 2.0 technologies.  This 3 minute film tells you all you need to know about blogs.