A Short Guide To Presentations

Many courses at Edge Hill University require you to present as part of your coursework. I don’t particularly enjoy presenting to an audience, but then again, I doubt many people do. However, one thing about presentations I do enjoy is the creation of the visual medium you present from. Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, Google Slides – these are the tools of the trade. Although my experience is primarily from scientific presentations, hopefully, these tips can transcend course boundaries and aid people from any discipline!

Text

The most common mistake when creating a presentation is to fill it to the brim with words. When this happens, you run the risk of reading directly off the screen and overloading your audience with information. I’d suggest minimal words on the slides, relying more on visual information like pictures and diagrams. However, words are still very much necessary to convey key information. Any statistics, unfamiliar names, or important facts should be highlighted by having them on screen – preferably with a related image.

Theme

An important part of a presentation is the theme. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, as long as it’s consistent. All of the previously mentioned programs have built in themes, with more available to download. I’ve found that most of the time, simple is best.

Here, the theme revolves around three main colours, orange, lime and cyan. Not exactly harmonious colours, but the contrast allows me to get the point across visually in graphs and diagrams.
A simple theme of just orange and white, but making use of bolding to highlight key points, as well as images to provide further understanding and make the slides visually interesting.

Graphics

Equally as important as the theme are the graphics in a presentation. Use of pictures to engage the audience helps break up any lengthy sections of the presentation and provide further visual information. In my two examples here, you can see how the images of four different habitats become the background of the next slide detailing the environments, and the use of a full-slide map that was used to provide context to the presentation.

In the biological sciences, graphs are very useful to display key numerical information in a visually appealing way. When using graphs, colour coding is key – as are labels. If your graph is up to scratch, then no other written information should be necessary on the slide and any further clarification should be made verbally.

I hope these tips serve you well, and I wish you luck on any future presentations you make!

Edge Hill Library- The Font of all Knowledge

Hello all, hope you have had a wonderful week and end to April!

I have done a post on places in which you can study (which you can find here) in which I mentioned Edge Hill’s very own library. I only went into brief information on the library, so I thought I’d do a post to explain what is on offer and how great it is!

The library is located in the centre of the campus, across from the Hub. One of the best things about it is that for students, it’s open 24/7! During the later hours, you need your student ID to get access, but if you work better at night like I do the fact it’s always open is perfect.

Within the library, there are three floors. The floors follow a noise-based system; for group work or if you are working with friends and want the freedom to take breaks and talk, the first floor has no noise restrictions, the second floor is a quieter floor but not silent, and the third floor is for silent study. These floors are also set up in a way that compliments the type of work you’re doing. If you’re doing silent work on the third floor, there are separate desks which allow you to focus purely on what you are doing, whereas on the first floor there are bigger tables for groups of people to sit together. There are computers on the first and second floor, however, if you bring a laptop to any of the floors there are plugs for chargers if needed!

On the first floor, there are group study rooms which are available to book on demand. These are rooms which have a bigger table in them for working on group projects, and the bigger of these rooms have access to a projector whilst the others just have a computer for your use. These rooms are great for if you need to focus more than if you were to sit in the open area on this floor.

On the second floor, there are also independent study rooms available for you to book. These are smaller than the group rooms but allow you the peace and quiet you might need to finish your assignments.

The library has a vast number of books to help you with your studies. Each degree has a section within the library where you find books to help you with your research and assignments, and a lot of the books have been requested by the course leaders or students so they are very likely to have just what you need.

If you need any help academically, there is a help desk located on the second floor. This is open 8-9 during weekdays and 11-6 on weekends, however, these times are sometimes different out of term time.

Possibly one of the coolest things about the library is the stationery vending machine by the entrance. If you run out of glue, or need a USB drive or folder, they’ve got you covered! It has more or less anything you might need to study. Also on the first floor, there are food and drinks dispensers so that if you are working for a long time you don’t start to get distracted by being thirsty or hungry.

I hope this post has given you more of an idea on what the library offers! If you want to read a little more about the library, click here to be taken to the University’s page on the library and its services.

What’s So Special About Edge Hill’s Library?

The Library is an integral part of any university. It’s where the students spend hours upon hours (often in the middle of the night) studying. So, I thought, why not give you a bit of an insight into Edge Hill’s own library? Here I will tell you all about what the library has to offer and how to best use your time there. Think of this as your own virtual library tour, onwards…

The Library Catalogue

When I first came to Edge Hill I was amazed at how many books they had in the library and thought “how in the world am I going to find what I want?” You see, that’s where the library catalogue comes in. There are computers stationed around the uni dedicated solely to the catalogue (though It can be accessed from any computer or device). You go on, search the book you want, note down the number and go searching for it. The catalogue even tells you what floor the book can be found on! That’s not it though, you can also reserve items, renew them and look up ebooks. The library has so many online and hardcopy resources available and this is the best way to access them.

Study Spaces

The library has three floors of study spaces for Edge Hill Students and each have a varying degree of privacy. The ground floor has a huge open plan area with computers, tables and sofas where you can engage in work discussion without worrying about distracting others who need to work silently. On this floor, there are also group rooms, these are rooms you book out and can work privately in a group with less distractions. These are ideal for discussions or even rehearsing for a presentation as there are whiteboards and computers in these rooms. The second floor is more of a quiet study area with computers and quiet study booths where talking is limited. The top floor consists of a quiet study area with desks you can work at with your own laptop or areas with computers, as well as a silent study area. There are also individual silent study rooms that you can book the same way as group rooms if you need even less of a distraction.

Media Equipment

If you are studying a degree where you require specialist media equipment or you have a project that requires a camera or other resources, then the library has your back. You can borrow media equipment as much as you can borrow books at Edge Hill so there is no need to worry about purchasing expensive technology to complete an assignment. For more information speak to the library reception area and they can guide you and help you find the equipment you require.

Printing

There are printing and photocopying services dotted around the entire library. They are all connected to one network so as soon as you click print you can log into any printer and print from there, minimising the queues of students waiting to use one printer. Printing only costs a small amount and you can easily top up your printed credits via the university’s Go portal online, or if you prefer at the reception desk.

Until next time! 🙂

Deadline Advice!

Deadlines. Otherwise known as the killer of happiness in some cases, however, meeting a deadline doesn’t have to be as stressful and dramatic if you know how to cope.

So in this post, I’m going to be giving you a few hints and tips on how to deal with deadlines, and if you’ve already completed your deadlines, then a congratulation waits for you at the bottom of the post!


Care about your deadlines. Which may sound silly, however, sometimes it can be hard to motivate yourself if you don’t care. So care about your work and it’s hand in date, as it’s gonna make everything a lot easier.


Keep a list of upcoming deadlines. Lists help! I’m starting to loose count with how many times I talk about making lists when giving advice, but here we are again. Keeping a list of deadlines you have coming up will do wonders, as it’ll hopefully remind you to stay on top of them!


Break down the project you’re working on. Doing any project can be daunting
when you look at it, however, if you break it down step by step and work through it, you’ll feel a lot better. This works really well with essays as having a structure in place makes you feel less lost when you’re stuck on what you’re meant to be doing.


Focus on the first step. This links to the point above and basically means focus on each step, one at a time. As yes, it can be tempting to jump back and forth between paragraphs and sections, however, it can leave your work disjointed and can at times create confusion. So stick to your plan, and you’ll do fine!


Allow yourself time. Which may seem obvious, but it’ll help you out in the long run. Don’t leave it til the night before, start a couple weeks if needed in advance to give yourself the time to finish it without stressing yourself out and rushing the final product.


And finally, Learn from mistakes. If you rushed a deadline, and feel upset with the finished product, don’t panic. Just analyse what went wrong and how you can fix it next time, as sometimes you learn more from failing than you do if you had succeeded.


And if you’re like me and you’ve just finished all your deadlines… then congratulations! It’s over! You can relax. Take a deep sigh of relief and celebrate, as you’ve completed an academic year! So go ahead and treat yourself. A trip to the cinema? Journey to the beach? Explore the shops in Liverpool One? It’s up to you now!


I hope you found this blog post interesting, and have an amazing, stress-free week.
Until next time!

Film/Show of the day: Dear White People (2017 Netflix Series)

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What Do I Do Now?

As of 9th May 2017 I will officially be finished with my degree. Yes, I know, It’s scary! But what’s even scarier is that the question I’ve been asking myself for the last year will be staring me right in the face: What do I do now? Now I don’t have the cushy support of uni to help me through all the difficult adulting and now I have to actually make it in the big wide world… argh! Not to worry though, I’ve been prepared-ish and I’m willing to offer you some advice on how you can cushion the blow of finishing uni. The earlier you start the better, I know it’s worrying but if you start thinking about your future from day one you can’t go wrong can you? Right…?

Start Saving

One day your student loan will run out (the horror!). So, it’s probably best to start saving asap, for that inevitable moment when you run out of dosh but haven’t found a job yet. Start putting aside a bit every week if you can spare it and it will soon mount up and leave you with a good financial cushion post-uni. Even if you just put your spare change in a moneybox, little by little, it will build up.

Start Applying

At the beginning of third year you should start thinking about applying for jobs or further education (whatever your choice is). With jobs, the more you apply for the better. Apply for as many jobs as you can until you finally find one. Make the most of the careers centre whilst you can. They can help you with CVs and personal statements for MA or PGCEs. Ensure that you take time on your applications, if you rush them or complete them half-heartedly you’ll find you won’t get the positive results you want.

Projects

Ever wanted to write a novel? Or put on a play? Or even take up pole dancing? Now’s the best time. That sweet time between the end of your exams and assignments and having to go home for the summer and find a job is the best kind of time! Use your new-found free time to work on projects that will better your future but also make you happy and will feel rewarding. Now you don’t have exams and coursework in the way you can start doing the things you want to. My personal goal is to get writing and to finish all the books I’ve been meaning to read for the last million and a half years!

Relax

For most of us we have been in education nearly every year since we were possibly four or five, we deserve a break. Don’t stress yourself out too much, take time to relax and enjoy the short amount of time you have in your student house with your friends Go out, explore the town, have a movie marathon, do everything you wanted to do but didn’t have time to previously because of uni work.

Until next time! 🙂

What Exactly Am I Studying?

Over the last three years I have really enjoyed studying English literature and creative writing, I’ve had the option of taking a whole load of different modules that cover so many different areas. This post is going to list some of my favourite modules that I have studied since first year and I’ll you a little bit about them.

  1. Periods and Genres one – First year

This module ran for one semester in my first year. It was a literature module in my first semester and was a great way to ease me into the course. It covered genres from Romanticism to post-modernism and gave me a good over-all knowledge of the literature periods which I have now built on. It also started my particular interests in romanticism and modernism.

  1. Writing Short Stories – Second year

This module ran over both semesters in second year, It was one of the core creative writing modules. It built on the fiction module from first year and extended our knowledge of short story writing. It really opened my eyes to the short story form and I have a newfound appreciation for it both from a reader’s perspective and a writer’s perspective

  1. Film Adaptation – Second year

This was a literature module that was also available for creative writing students. It ran in my second semester of second year. It looked at a series of different book/film pairings and used film and literature theory to analyse how books are adapted into films. This has been, by far, my favourite module because I learnt so much; I realised that films don’t particularly have to be ‘faithful’ adaptations of a source text to be successful and there’s a lot of thought that goes into the process. I also got to choose what film/book I wrote my assignments, I chose Matilda for my final assignment – nostalgia much?

  1. Special Author two: Jane Austen – Third Year

This module ran in my first semester of third year, it focused on the work of Jane Austen, looking almost her entire catalogue of literature and a few contextual novels that linked to her work. I enjoyed Jane Austen novels before as I had studied them in my romanticism module in second year, but this module made me all the more interested. We had an incredibly enthusiastic lecturer who made the experience even more fun and I now have a new favourite book – Emma, which I wrote an essay comparing to the film Clueless for one of my assignments.

  1. The Art of Screen Writing – Third Year

Another core creative writing module that runs over both semesters in third year. It looks at screenplays, how to write them and the theory behind them. As I’m mainly accustomed to writing stage plays, this module has been a challenge for me to adapt to screenwriting and how different it is to writing for stage but it’s nonetheless a welcome challenge. I’ve enjoyed studying different screenplays such as The Graduate and When Harry Met Sally and I am now in the process of writing my own.

Keep Calm and Carry On

It may only be February but the summer will soon be here and with it will come the stress of exams and deadlines. University and school life can be difficult, you could be under a lot of stress and it may become a bit overwhelming at times. There’s no shame in admitting that you let work get on top of you sometimes, we all have those moments. So here are a few tips of how to keep calm during those stressful work periods and they will hopefully have a positive effect on your mental health and performance level.

Do something you enjoy

You may struggle to relax when you have a lot of stressful things to think about but it is important to take time out of your day to do something you really enjoy and find relaxing.
This can be anything from taking a relaxing bath, reading, watching a film or playing video games. Taking a break from your stressful routine to chill out is incredibly important and will help your mind de-fog and restore your motivation so you get more done.

Meditate

I find that using apps like Headspace can help calm you if you’ve had a particularly stressful day. If you take out 10 minutes of your day to meditate it can help improve your mood and performance whilst also helping you stay a lot calmer. I have used this app quite often to help me take back a bit of control and keep myself nice and relaxed. Whether you use it as a one-off or even make a routine of it meditation will help you concentrate when you aren’t feeling your best.

Candles & Scents

It has been scientifically proven that scents can help to improve your mood, perhaps lighting a candle – or using a scent diffuser as a lot of student accommodation forbids the use of candles – will make you feel a lot calmer and will fill the room with your favourite smells making you feel happier whilst you do your work.

 

Go out

If things are starting to become more and more stressful and you’ve been stuck in a stuff room for hours on end take a break – go for a walk or meet up with some friends for an hour or two just to clear your head and then you will be much better. I find this a really effective strategy as when I return I have a renewed motivation and feel ready to tackle the workload.

Until next time! 🙂

New Year, New Study Schedule!

Hi everyone!

Hope you all had an amazing Christmas and enjoyed the New Year. Welcome to 2017! I hope it brings you lots of great things.

The holidays are always a great time to relax and unwind before the next semester starts. The key is knowing when it’s time to get back to work!

Luckily I don’t have any exams this year, so my main aim has been the reading for next semester and finishing off a few assignments due over the next couple of weeks.

If you make New Years Resolutions then one thing on your list may be to get more organised, or to stop procrastinating. And even if you’re not the resolution making type I’m going to send a few tips your way that will hopefully help keep the stress away and improve your productivity.

Tip Number One: Don’t Leave everything to the last-minute!
Now the definition of procrastination is to put off doing something until the last-minute so this seems obvious, but the hardest part is to make a start. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and that 3000 word essay you’re trying to ignore can begin with just one sentence. Take everything in stages, build work up slowly and you won’t have to panic when the deadline is fast approaching and you haven’t started.

Tip Number Two: Always be prepared.
Sometimes you can’t plan all of your work ahead, exams are the main example. You often have no idea what’s going to come up until you turn the page over so you may be a bit worried about how to be ready. Revision is invaluable – I’ll probably do a post on this before the end of the month if you’re interested – and always listen to your tutors! Although you may want to zone out at 9:00 am on Monday, or skip the reading they set you next week, they have your best interests at heart. Arm yourself with knowledge and you won’t only put your mind at ease you’ll become more productive!

Tip Number Three: It’s okay to take breaks.
I’m not talking about having a Facebook tab open during your study time, or scrolling through Buzzfeed articles! It’s natural to get distracted, but some distractions you have complete control over. Put your phone on silent, only focus on work for a set period and reward yourself with quick breaks to grab food, check your messages or to just have a wander. Your brain can only focus for a certain amount of time before it stops taking in information, so have a short break every hour, it will help more than trying to power through!

I hope some of these tips help you. They’re the things I always keep in mind when I’m writing assignments or studying for exams, and they always send my productivity through the roof.

Hope you all have a great (productive) week!

Quote for the day: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -Benjamin Franklin

Until next time 🙂

-Becki.

Work vs Life Over the Holidays

It’s no secret that in university you get a lot of work, even over the holidays – especially over the holidays. It can become really stressful, you want to spend time with your family and friends, and make sure you get enough time to revitalise before your next semester, but you have that inevitable cloud of work looming over you. The key is to keep balanced, I’ve picked up some tips over my time at uni that have really helped me to keep calm and enjoy the holidays whilst also getting everything that needs to be done, done.

Make Lists

My trusty whiteboard at home

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I swear by lists, they help me keep my life together and keep me from getting so stressed that I end up exploding into a mushroom cloud of unfinished work documents. So, naturally my first tip is to keep a to do list, I find keeping one in the notes section of my phone is helpful, then I have it with me constantly. Lists also help you plan your weeks in advance so you don’t end up double booking plans or making so many plans that you have no time left to do work. I tend to make a written list, as well as the one on my phone so I have it up on my wall and I can take the immense satisfaction in ticking off the things I’ve done. It’s an added bonus that you get to feel less and less stressed as you watch the work physically decline.

Take time out to chill

Right. I can’t stress this enough, take time to enjoy yourself. I’m the kind of person who over works themselves, whereas there are some people who do the complete opposite. The point is you need to strike a balance between your work and your social life, by all means make plans with friends and family but make sure you have designated study times (the lists will help with this) that you can fit them around. Most of all, when you are out enjoying yourself, try not to think about work – that’s for later, you have this under control!

Motivate yourself with frequent breaks

If you struggle with procrastinating, like most students do, you can combat this by taking short, frequent breaks. If you are writing an essay split it up into thirds or quarters – for example for a 3000 word essay every 500 words you get a break and can do something you want to do. This will keep you going as it gives you targets to hit and the promise of a reward at the end. If you break your work up into small, manageable chunks you’ll feel less inclined to procrastinate. Don’t take on too much or you will lose willpower and motivation, even if you have to do it over a few days, it’ll be better for you in the long run.

Find somewhere quiet to study

My current less-than-ideal workspace

My home-home is always hectic as I have such a big family and my brother’s kids are often round when their parents are in work so it’s never easy to get work done. I find myself stuck in my bedroom with my earphones in trying to drown out the sound of Peppa Pig coming from downstairs – it’s not ideal! If you have the same problem I suggest, whilst at home you travel to your local library and do work there, it will give you a lot more peace and if you’re anything like me, if you’re in a library you’ll be less likely to get distracted. Perhaps even meet up with friends who also have work to do, you can form a study group which may keep you going when you start to feel like a work-orientated recluse. One thing I find very useful is going back to Ormskirk a week or so early so you can get time to go to Edge Hill’s library and get a silent study room so you can cram in a bit more studying before semester two begins.

Ashley Tuffin also brought up some great tips in this recent post.

Have a wonderful new year! 🙂

Fancy a Cuppa?

Hey everyone!

Hope you’re all having a good week. It’s halfway through the semester which means it’s reading week, so I’m hiding away in my bedroom with a stack full of books and starting an assignment or two.

It’s not all work and no play at uni though, although it’s important to find the right balance!

Occasionally if I need a change of scenery I’ll wander over to uni and grab a Caramel Macchiato to help me relax. It makes finishing my reading list a little more sweet! Or it makes for a nice reward when I’ve submitted an essay I’ve been working on for a while.

The point is don’t drive yourself too hard! You’re going to put off work as much as possible if you don’t give yourself a reason to enjoy it (at least a little.)

Whether that means a group study session, an indulgent cup of coffee or a trip to the cinema just make sure you have a little something that keeps you on the right track and will give you that extra incentive to keep working.

Reading week is so important to me, it gives me the chance to prioritise any reading I need to do for the second half of the semester, do some research or work on upcoming assignments.

Trust me, it’s better to do as much work as possible during the semester and reading week than to leave it all to the last minute and be working over the Christmas break!

With that said, I better go and finish some work now.

Enjoy the rest of your week guys!

Quote for the day: “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it” -Thomas Jefferson

Until next time!

-Becki 🙂