Clued up! Online skills for the 21st Century student


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Find yourself Online
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Be Digitally Literate
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digital icon   Digital Study Skills

Manage your studies online
Smarter Searching
Make Referencing easy
Build your Learning Network


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Using this site

The middle section of each page introduces the topic and contains videos and slideshows, both from our students here at London Met and from around the web, designed to get you thinking...

In the right-hand column you'll find Practical Steps you can take and further reading and advice which you might find useful in Read more about it.

Learn more:
The eight links above cover all the aspects of this website. Please bookmark and revisit the site, as we are constantly adding new materials and information.


What do we mean by ‘personal learning network’?

Being a student doesn’t just mean attending lectures and seminars, doing a bit of reading and writing the odd essay here and there. What it really means is becoming part of an academic community, making connections and changing the way you think.

Learning in a digital age means more than sitting in a lecture theatre or reading an online article. Sources of information and useful connections are all around you. As a student, you can be both a consumer and a producer of knowledge, but knowing how to access other people’s ideas and knowledge and share your own effectively are key skills. We all have our own learning environment which includes a network of other people – these could be social, academic of professional connections – and a constantly evolving set of tools and resources which we use to study and learn.



In this video, London Met students talk about their own Personal Learning Networks.


What kind of tools are we talking about?

What does your Personal Learning Environment look like? What digital tools to you use to curate your learning and connect with others? There is no right or wrong set of tools that make up a PLE - it's an entirely personal choice based on what you find most useful, perhaps what friends and classmates are using and what you have to use (e.g. the university virtual learning environment or email) See below for an example of tools you can use to build your learning network:

Think about how you can develop your own own learning network to help prepare you for the academic and professional challenges which lie ahead.

· which tools do you use already?

· which tools have you seen but perhaps not tried yet?

· how do these tools work together? In other words, can you sync information between them, use them on mobile devices etc.?

Personal Learning Environment: Janson Hews

Image: ‘Personal Learning Environment’ Janson Hews

It’s common practice to build and develop your personal learning network as you progress through university. As you become more confident, both academically and in terms of the type of technology you use to help you study, you might find that you start moving from being a passive consumer of online content, to an active creator of content. Creating and sharing content with others can take many forms, whether this is putting presentations on Slideshare, writing a blog, creating an online portfolio for your work or tweeting about your subject. There is now a huge variety of communication channels available and how you use these becomes more important as you move towards graduation. (See Smarten up your Digital Profile)”


Building up a personal learning network takes time.   Don’t try to use every single online tool you come across. Just choose a few to start with and get to know them well - encourage friends to try the same tools and start sharing content and ideas with them to help you understand how to use them effectively.

There are also tools you can use to help organise and connect the various tools you use - for example, RSS feeds such as Feedly and Alerts, online organisers such as NetVibes or Symbaloo, cloud based services such as Google Drive and even eportfolios like Pebble Pad or Mahara. Many of these are free for individual users.


The video below describes the way the digital revolution is changing the way we communicate and relate to each other.

Practical Steps you can take

· Ask your lecturers and tutors about influential people to follow - these could be bloggers or academics/experts with a Twitter account

· If you use Twitter, when you find a good individual to follow, check who they are following. It's likely they'll be following others who are relevant to the subject area. You can then also follow those people.

· As you develop your own online profile, think about starting your own blog. To start with, this could just be a way to reflect on your own learning.

· Look for groups and communities which might be active in your subject and get involved. These could be Facebook or Google Plus groups, on Linked In, sharing communities on Diigo or Pinterest or Tumblr blogs. The list just keeps on growing!


Read more about it

A very useful Student Guide to Social Media hosted by Manchester University

5 Steps to building a Personal learning Network (JISC). A short article which gives you a few ideas on how to create your personal learning network.

If you're interested in where PLEs came from and the theory behind them, try Reflections on Personal Learning Environments: Theory and Practice.



Ask around among your friends and classmates to find out the kind of online tools and apps they use. What would they recommend?