Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘tips

iPod in handOur colleague Andrew Checkley E-Learning Manger at Croydon College has been developing a Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) course with his Learning Resources (LRC) team which he talked about at the March 16 London FE Moodle Roundtable event. The course is on academic writing. Find out more about it on their E-Learning blog post.

As well as using material from the LRC on the course Andrew found some useful research material on the State Library of Victoria’s website. The resource covers:

 

  • working out what question you are trying to answer
  • finding the information
  • choosing the resources you use
  • making and organising notes
  • presenting your material
  • reflecting on your work.

There’s also some handy material on writing essays too which covers:

  • identifying the essay question
  • using quotations
  • writing
  • editing.

Plus there are tips on study skills:

  • stress management
  • dealing with exams.

Last but not least at this time of the year many of our students are doing GCSE examinations in English and maths so this BBC Bitesize app available on Android and iOS will help you. The app has flashcards which will help you revise and covers numerous GCSE subjects.

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Critical thinking booksStella Cottrell’s book Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Arguments is a guide that can take you from college to university. It helps you look at what you read in a different light by demonstrating and explaining how academic authors build up their arguments in their writing.

How does that help you? It will help you understand arguments and guides you into weighing up the logic of them. This will not only assist you in evaluating different authors’ opinions and theories but will also benefit you in developing your own writing style to convince your tutors of how you have assessed others’ work and built up your own arguments with persuasive evidence.

The book gets you to identify bias, hidden meanings and follow a line of reasoning to its logical conclusion. It’s not only useful for essay writing, reading and making notes from academic literature but is also invaluable for debating and any piece of writing or presentation where you would need to persuade your audience of your arguments.

Cottrell’s book gives you exercises to do to build up your skills of critique, analysis and argument. It’s one you can dip into time and time again. Having read it myself it’s easy to recognise that had a book like this existed when I was university it would have been a key to getting a top grade!

Palgrave who publish the book also have a free companion website area Critical Thinking which sits under their useful Study Skills website.

If you’re just starting your studies then the Pocket Guide by Kate Williams called Getting Critical is a good starter guide and similarly advises on reading with a critical eye and developing your writing skills so you are analytical too. We also have another Critical Thinking guide by Debra Hills. Hills’s guide gives you a definition and takes you through the steps in the process of reading and writing critically and has a number of tips on using sources, note taking and planning your answers.

Gold Mine by Kuznetsov is licensed under CC by 2.0

Gold Mine by Kuznetsov is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

First of all, what do we mean by information overload? It is that feeling of falling down a dark hole when there is too much information to carry out a task. So even simple tasks can be made difficult when we are faced with too many options and no specific direction.

For example, you may need to find out about main theorists for a subject for your UCAS application. As Confucius is credited with saying ‘You can not open a book without learning something.’ There are entire libraries online and offline devoted to human knowledge. Where do you start?

If you have access to lots of information this gives you the chance to be selective and find a direction. The trouble is how can you be selective without being biased or limited? How can you read it all? We all need help with overcoming our biases, speed reading and managing time. The key is not learning willy-nilly (although this can be great too sometimes!) but to focus on what you need to learn for the task at hand. Finding the most appropriate, relevant nuggets of information is the ultimate challenge of academic study (and who knows, probably in life too!).

There is no one way to cope with information overload. We would like to hear about your advice to other students on that awful feeling of being overwhelmed with too many sources, too many theories, too many words. What do you do? What if you are dyslexic? What if you are starved for time?

If you post a tip to us by email, on Twitter or in the LRC and you may receive a World Science Day calendar thanks to UNESCO.

This week we have had the opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of ebooks to the classes. Here are a few notes to refresh your memory or if you missed the class.

You can access ebooks inside and outside the college through the VLE: learn.hillcroft.ac.uk. Log in then enrol on the LRC eresources page and go to the Eresources book. We have two ebook providers with different sets of ebooks: Dawsonera and ebrary. Follow the links on the page to their websites. You can do this on any electronic device with a internet browser (tablet, smartphone, Kindle Fire). If you are outside college then it will prompt you to log in via ‘Shibboleth’ and then find the college in the list and type in your Hillcroft email and password.

What can I do on Dawsonera?

Download in full (pdf) – most will allow you to do this for a loan period (1-7 days).

Copy or print text/pages – Be selective! You can print between 5-20% of an ebook or copy quotations to paste directly into your assignment.

Add notes to pages online – You can export notes and print them all out with the relevant page numbers automatically added.

What can I do on ebrary?

Download chapters or in full (pdf) for a loan period – with printing and copying enabled.

Copy or print text/pages (with citations).

Highlight, add notes and bookmark (together called ‘Annotations’) online. Saves them for you on ‘Bookshelf’ when you log back in to Ebrary.

Extra benefits!

You only need Adobe Reader (free) as an app to read the downloaded ebook offline. In college you can use Read&Write Gold for its text-to-speech feature. The free app version is called ‘Natural Reader‘ if you want to use the read aloud feature on your own phones and computers.

We will be putting together a detailed guide for you in the near future.

Also the good news is that we will be able to change it so that no purple padlocks will be seen on the Dawsonera site, so you will be able to access and browse our content better.

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