Appinions – Utility

Appinions banner

A great app will keep you glued to your device. Whether it’s lifestyle, social media, utility, gaming, productivity or news; apps are an essential part of student life.
Each month we challenge our Student Digital Champions to delve into a new category, delivering fresh perspectives and making proclamations for essential applications. Which features are dumb? What should be at the tip of your thumb?

Written by Polly Davis and Kexin Li

Polly DavisKexin Li

September 2022 – Utility

There is a palpable buzz around campus. Each year we welcome new students. But this will be the first cohort of freshers to arrive unrestricted since 2019.

For many this will be the first time living away from home, staying in shared accommodation and manging their own finances. Sadly, no-one has invented an app which can end an energy crisis or divert a recession (to my knowledge), but these utility apps could make your University journey a little easier.

Monzo

Monzo app icon

Monzo is my main form of payment in university, and I’ll tell you why. Each week, from my student bank account, I load a set amount onto my Monzo debit account to cover bills, grocery shopping, and socialising and this is facilitated by Monzo’s pots. These pots are where you can separate your money into different functions and withdraw money from them when needed, to help you save and budget if you’re like me and cannot stop tapping your card wherever you go. Even further, after each payment, you get to select what that spend was on to summarise in a weekly report- this visualisation of trends helps me organise my spending massively. Another feature which I am grateful for is the Coin Jar; provided by Paragon, this pot rounds up your payments to the nearest pound, and the money is saved into a pot. When money starts to get tight by the end of the week, you will find that these round-ups have amounted to a fair bit of extra money that can help you by.

When it comes to eating and drinking out with your friends, it can always get a bit awkward and tense splitting the bills and then chasing people for money. With Monzo’s ‘Split the bill’ feature, you can enter the total amount of the bill, add friends to the feature and set the amounts each will pay or split equally, and Monzo will let you know when it has all been covered- hassle free! Monzo currently have a joining offer with a free £5 spend when you make your first card payment in the first 30 days.

You may have heard of other bank accounts that have similar features. Starling Bank, rated at the same service level as Monzo, also provides visual saving spaces, categorised spending and ‘split the bill’ features. Nevertheless, Starling also provides you with a budget planner to help give an overview of your own finances. Once you have provided information of any income and transaction history, Starling Bank will calculate your average outgoings and what they are divided into. You can set your own saving and spending goals, and they will direct you to money management support if they detect that you are overspending.

During a cost-of-living crisis this year, this type of financial guidance can make you feel more in control as a student.

Reviewer: Polly Davis

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Acasa

Acasa app icon

Acasa is an app designed for shared households to set up, manage, and split the household bills in a streamlined way. This app can easily help students to keep track of all the expenses in your house such as utilities, internet, home maintenance, food and groceries, and record who should pay the bills and who has paid the bills. It is an effective helper for students to rent a house together, and it can eliminate the complicated process of paying various bills and effectively avoid misunderstanding and disputes related to paying bills. Acasa helps students automatically calculate their share of each bill, and they can pay off all their bill obligations only once a month. This app has a dashboard interface that clearly shows the income and expenditure between each other, making the complex and troublesome problem of paying common bills simple and clear.

Pros

  • Automatically help everyone in the house calculate their accounts payable
  • Avoid the embarrassment of debt collection
  • Other payments can be included in addition to household bills
  • This app is free for users

 Cons

  • Some users commented that this app is unorganised and hard to navigate
  • Customer service is appalling and inefficient
  • Costs may occur for additional services
  • The dashboard design may confuse the people who are splitting the bills, and incorrect calculations may occur

Reviewer: Kexin Li

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Please be aware that hidden costs have been discovered in some bill-splitting apps.

As one door closes, another opens. On behalf of the Digital Education Office, I want to thank the outgoing Student Digital Champions: Leah Parker, Georgie Pitts, Kexin Li, Polly Davis, Olivia Muggleton and Amy Preston for writing wonderfully engaging Appinion reviews. If you are interested in applying to be a Student Digital Champion, subscribe to this blog so you always see the latest recruitment news.

These apps aren’t supported or managed by the University of Bristol. Don’t forget to think about what data you are adding to these apps if you decide to download and use them. Our Online Identity video highlights some of the factors you may want to think about when you are online.

There will be more Appinions in 2023

A reflection on my time as a Student Digital Champion

Written by Olivia Muggleton, Student Digital Champion

Olivia Muggleton

I began my role as a Student Digital Champion (SDC) in the Summer of 2021. Having recently returned from my much needed post exam holiday, I was re-energised and raring to start making some changes to our digital learning experience as students at the University of Bristol. Since then, I am proud to say that I have provided the DEO with a number of insights, resources and other miscellaneous contributions which I feel will prove useful, not only for current and future students, but also for the DEO in helping them understand what it is that works for us. Beyond this, however, I have also received an immeasurably valuable experience thanks to the DEO, as it has pushed me to develop my skills and confidence in a way that I could not have imagined prior to that Summer of 2021.   

As it was an entirely remotely based role, being an SDC enabled me to gain valuable work experience despite living at my home in South Wales for my final two years of study. Although I was wholly inexperienced in working remotely, I soon discovered that organisation, time management and the ability to work productively and efficiently with minimal supervision, were going to be key to adapting successfully to this new style of work (at the time I had also started Peer Mentoring so this lesson was learnt doubly as fast!). As I was afforded great freedom to select and complete my tasks and projects in my own time, the SDC role really enhanced my skills in all the aforementioned areas, especially as it was a role that I undertook alongside my fulltime studies – Self motivation and drive are essential! As a result, I am now confident not only in my ability to adapt to new modes of working, but also in my ability to produce high quality work in a timely and efficient manner, by setting my own deadlines and keeping a thorough log of my hours. 

Desk with a laptop and lamp. Photo by Rich Tervet on Unsplash

Being able to work autonomously in this sense was not, however, the only skill that I developed thanks to my work as an SDC. The ability to communicate and work well in a team was also a central requirement for this role. Thanks to the highly collaborative and open minded environment that the DEO and other SDCs have created, this is an ability which I feel I have strengthened tenfold. I now feel that I can better appreciate the value and insight that can be gained by encouraging individuals from diverse backgrounds and circumstances to share their ideas and perspectives, as these will inevitably lead to more effective problem solving and an all-round more supportive (and subsequently productive) workplace – From accessibility requirements and culture to professional background, everyone has a unique perspective which can enable you to see the bigger picture when trying to creatively solve problems and overcome particular challenges. In the same vein, the SDC role provided me with an opportunity to focus on the areas of my communication skills which I felt least confident in – For instance, I was able to coordinate and lead two presentations which portrayed the student voice to university staff and academics within and beyond the University of Bristol. This has increased my confidence in presenting and orally communicating my ideas to my team members and audiences in a formal, presentational setting. It has also improved my confidence in taking the lead on projects, a confidence subsequently demonstrated by taking the lead in creating the student digital glossary and keyboard shortcut guide. 

While I would love to elaborate on all the interesting projects and tasks that I had the pleasure of working on during my time as a SDC (and all the skills that I subsequently developed in relation to these projects), I believe it is sufficient to say that this was an incredible opportunity, for which I owe a great deal to the DEO. Accordingly, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the following individuals who made working as an SDC such a valuable and enjoyable experience. Firstly, I cannot convey enough thanks to Naomi (Nay), my first port of call when I needed any guidance in this role – From the beginning Nay has always been in touch and eager to put our ideas into practice, she really cares about our progression as SDCs and what we get out of the role, not simply how we can benefit the DEO. She works incredibly hard and is generally a lovely person who always made me feel comfortable in expressing any thoughts or feedback and regularly encouraged me to pursue the things that I cared about most. I would also like to thank the rest of the DEO team – Every one of them truly respect and actively seek out the student perspective, going out of their way to do it justice. It was nice to be treated as an equal in a professional environment where my input was highly valued, and I have the upmost confidence that the team will continue to work hard to shape their work around the needs and concerns of the students at the university long into the future. Last but not least I would like to thank my fellow SDCs – Although I have seen many come and go due to my extended time within the role, each one of them has inspired me with their ideas and passion, enlightened me and opened my eyes to perspectives and challenges which I may never have even considered without their contributions. Everyone has always been friendly and eager to help each other to be successful, which made for a very easy environment to collaborate and work productively as a team, so thank you!  

Person walking on a beach. Photo by José M. Reyes on Unsplash

I think my three extensions make it quite clear that I would happily go on to continue my work as a SDC, but unfortunately I could not do the role justice as I am no longer a student! So where do I go from here? As of July I have completed my LLB Law with The University of Bristol and cannot wait to get stuck into the legal world in practice. It is fair to say that this role has set me up incredibly well and provided me with a level of confidence in many skills which will prove highly transferable when I commence my next role. From team working and communication (written and oral) to problem solving and even remote working (time management, minimal supervision, organisation), working as an SDC has enabled me to leave university feeling prepared and ready to tackle the next phase in my life, but it has also provided me with some treasured friends which I know will help me on that journey.  

Girl looking over hills. Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

All that is remaining for me to say (in case I have not made it clear enough) is that I highly recommend that you apply to become an SDC – It is more than a source of extra income, it is an opportunity to shape the digital learning experience that is provided by The University of Bristol (and perhaps beyond) while gaining valuable experience and friendships along the way.  

Thank you 

Diolch 

Olivia 

Appinions – Gaming

Appinions banner

A great app will keep you glued to your device. Whether it’s lifestyle, social media, utility, gaming, productivity or news; apps are an essential part of student life.
Each month we challenge our Student Digital Champions to delve into a new category, delivering fresh perspectives and making proclamations for essential applications. Which features are dumb? What should be at the tip of your thumb?

Written by Georgie Pitts, Kexin Li and Leah Parker: Student Digital Champions.

Georgie PittsKexin LiLeah Parker

August 2022- Gaming

The age-old battle for control of the gaming industry has been waged between console and PC. Improvements in mobile technology, 5G networks and AV/VR integration could see mobile gaming closing the gap.

Unlike their rivals, mobile game developers often adopt a freemium business model, where games are available for free (or very little cost) and users are encouraged to make in-game purchases known as microtransactions.

Powernode

Powernode icon

Powernode is a puzzle game which requires you to “combine numbers to create energy sources and feed the network”. Essentially, power stations are numbered, and when numbered nodes pop up, you need to sustain them using these power stations. For example, you can use two “3” power stations to sustain a “6” node.

However, if you connect a power station to multiple nodes, it becomes less efficient, so you need to consider how you’re organising your board!

When you open the app, there are two game play options: Zen or Rush. I believe Zen is a slower version, whilst Rush is more fast-paced (although this isn’t explained).

Pros

  • It’s a very aesthetically pleasing game
  • It is challenging, which can be a good thing if you enjoy a challenge
  • Requires you to multitask and plan ahead
  • There is a global leader board, and as its a relatively new game, there are only 2000 people on it, so you could work your way up quite quickly

Cons

  • I couldn’t locate the “How to Play” section. Whilst there was a brief introduction, this was not enough to fully teach the game rules, so it was hard to get the hang of it!
  • It is challenging, which can also be frustrating if you’re looking for an easy game
  • Whilst there are two different modes of game play, there are no levels, so the only way to track progress is using your score

The aesthetic of the game is great. It claims to be very “zen”, and I would agree.

It is not an easy game to get the hang of and was actually quite frustrating at first! However, once you get the hang of the game, it is fun and challenging.

It is definitely a game you could spend hours playing, and I do get better every time I play it. At first I was unsure, but now I would definitely recommend if you like to be challenged, and enjoy focusing on different things at once.

Reviewer: Georgie Pitts

Download links:

Google play icon. Link to appapp store link

Brawl Stars

Brawl stars app icon

Brawl Stars is a mobile e-sports game from Supercell. The game is a multiplayer shooter where players battle each other in multiple competitive modes with different goals, from being the last brawler to collecting the most diamonds. Brawl Stars will display many different events as the player’s experience value increases such as Bounty, Gem Grab, Heist, and showdown, Brawl Ball, and Boss Fight. Brawl Stars’ gameplay takes the basic logic of MOBA games and cuts it down to the bare minimum — there’s no equipment, no pre-development time, and mostly you’re just waiting for wave after wave of group battles. The match time of about three minutes is also in line with the characteristics of mobile games. It makes full use of people’s fragmented time. Even if you lose the match, the frustration will become very small because of the short match time.

Pros

  • You can team up with friends for game battles
  • No advertisement
  • The game takes very little time, allowing players to start a game anytime, anywhere
  • Compared to other competitive games, the game is low in difficulty and very friendly to newcomers
  • The game design and the characters are very cute

Cons

  • Communication between teammates is difficult and can only be communicated through emojis
  • You need to pay for gems to buy boxes, skins and other things from the shop
  • Some players reported bugs in the game

I personally like this game very much, it makes me feel very relaxed and fun. It doesn’t require me to have any game skills, and I can adapt to the game very quickly. I often play this game in groups with my friends, and we discuss strategy or chat together during the game, which makes the game more interesting. My favorite event is the Showdown, its logic is the same as PUBG, which is to get the final victory by shooting the enemy, but this game is very easy to play, and I don’t need to spend a long time to finish a game. Besides, the game’s characters(Brawlers) are very cute that I’m tempted to spend more time in the game to collect them.

Reviewer: Kexin Li

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Luminosity

luminosity app logoBrain training app aimed to improve your cognitive skills including memory, attention, reasoning, flexibility, processing speed and problem-solving, using a variety of exercises. Lumosity claims it takes research from labs and has converted this into over 50 fun minigame-type exercises, using your performance score form to provide you with feedback on how your mind works.

Lumosity sets you a daily brain workout, consisting of multiple tasks that aim to improve your performance in one the training modules mentioned. If completed daily, this feature will allow you to track your progress on these exercises over time, providing you with information about your game strengths and weaknesses. Analysis of your game play is used to help understand your cognitive patterns and set up braining training habits, and subsequently used to curate a programme personally tailored to the individual.

Pros

  • Basic version is free on iOS and Android
  • Easy to navigate around the app
  • Unique and fun minigames

Cons

  • The free version only allows for three minigames in three training modules each day, meaning you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version to get extra features.
  • Insights, including game progress report and game strength profile, remain locked on the free version.
  • Subscription only, cannot buy game outright.

Overall, I liked the features of Lumosity and found it quite fun to do the daily fitness workout games and see how I was improving over time. However, with the free version you are fairly limited in what you can do on the app. A lot of the cool features I was excited about, including progress reports and all the games, can only be accessed on the premium version of the app. As such I did the premium free trial, and I would definitely say the premium features make the experience a lot better and more exciting, so the quality of brain training may depend on your subscription. All in all, the free version is still fun and challenging as modules and games are alternated each day, so it is an app I am definitely going to continue using.

Reviewer: Leah Parker

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Bad North: Jotunn Edition

Bad north app iconBad North is a strategy game in which you and your troops defend islands, travelling along the map and avoiding defeat.

You open the app and begin a campaign (you’re able to have 5 at once on different accounts), choosing your commanders and deciding on an “easy”, “normal” or “hard” option. Then, the game begins and you’re deployed to an island. The enemy approaches on boats, and if you defeat them, you get coins.

Your troops are replenished when the next level begins if they died on the previous island, but if your commanders (and all your troops) die, then it’s game over for that campaign, and you must restart it again from the beginning. However, you can recruit new troops if you win a battle on an island they already live on.

If your troops are low health, you can replenish them in a house on the island, but be careful if there are enemies approaching as you’ll need to fight them.

You can even upgrade your troops with different classes, skills, items and traits. For example, equipping them with bows and arrows and developing that skill until they’re veterans.

Pros

  • Option to restart the level midway through or flee if the battle seems lost
  • It is very simple to understand the rules
  • You can unlock different achievements which is great way to track progress and keeps you engaged
  • Easy, medium and hard options for the campaign
  • Good variety within the map in terms of islands you defend
  • Can have 5 campaigns going on at once

Cons

  • It is a bit frustrating that once your commanders die, it is game over and the campaign is lost
  • I didn’t realise that the shadow gradually covering the map was Vikings taking over the islands, and accidentally allowed them to take over mine, meaning it was game over
  • It is £3.49

I really enjoyed this game. It is different to the puzzle games I normally play, and requires different skills. However, it was really simple to understand the basics, although some elements required trial and error to get right.

I really enjoy the look and feel of the game; it has a minimalist feel which is effective and feels modern. It appears to be a rather simple strategy game that looks easy, but does require you to plan ahead and can be challenging. Like any good game though, you get better every time you play. The little troops are fun and easy to move around, and it’s easy to gather coins to upgrade them as the game goes on.

You’ll need to be good at planning and strategizing, thinking ahead and multitasking!

After beginning on the “normal” mode, I’d probably recommend starting on “easy”, unless you’re accustomed to games like this!

Reviewer: Georgie Pitts

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Stumble Guys

Stumble Guys app icon Stumble Guys is a knockout game where players can use different methods on different maps to pass levels. This game consists of 32 players competing against each other on random maps, either individually or in teams until a champion is determined. During this process, players need to pay attention to the traps in the level. If you accidentally drop a trap of the level, you will probably be left behind by other players. Each time has three levels and only one player can win the final game. This game is very similar to the current popular game Fall Guys, no matter the game name or the game design, but this is the version of the mobile game, so players can play the game anytime, anywhere. This game is very interesting and challenging, and players need to try repeatedly to get a certain level of winning skills.

Pros

  • Players can get skins, gems, and tokens by watching advertisements
  • This game is very simple and suitable for all game players
  • You can team up with friends to play this game and compete together for the championship
  • Each game is short and doesn’t take a lot of time.
  • This game takes up a relatively small amount of phone memory, only 512MB

Cons

  • The maps will not be updated regularly, so players may get tired of playing a map quickly, resulting in low game stickiness.
  • Players are often paired with robots in order to quickly fill rooms or levels
  • The lack of changes and new features in this game compared to the Fall Guys has raised questions about plagiarism.

This game was very challenging for me, I played for half a month and only got the final victory once. I need to play a map many times before I get used to the tricks. This game is friendly to Apple users. Fall Guys is a platform battle royal game, available on Steam and can only be downloaded by Windows users. Stumble Guys can be downloaded by both Android and Apple users, so this game satisfies my curiosity about Fall Guys to some extent. However, I’m not very satisfied that you need to watch ads to get extra skins. Players have four chances to watch advertisements for lottery draws every day, but these advertisements take a long time, which worsens my overall impression of the game. In addition, this game will not unlock new maps (like they do in Brawl Stars). I always play the same scene over and over again, which makes me less eager to keep playing.

Reviewer: Kexin Li

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Elevate

elevate app iconElevate is a brain training program designed to help you speak more articulately and concisely, improve your writing abilities, increase your reading speed, process written information more quickly, improve your focus while reading and listening, perform day-to-day math equations, and more.

Elevate’s games are supported by research and designed in collaboration with experts. Each day, you are provided with a personalized training program that adjusts over time to maximise your brain training results. Upon completion, you are able to measure your performance on these exercises and compare them across the skill groups.

Pros

  • Basic version is free on iOS and Android
  • Enjoyable and fun minigames
  • Weekly performance reports and content reviews available on free version

Cons

  • Need to upgrade to Elevate membership to access all features
  • Game play instructions quite vague

Similarly to Lumosity, I really enjoyed my daily workout, as I was able to play a variety of different minigames which were both fun and mentally stimulating. The app was easy to navigate and being able to my own detailed performance report which tracked my progress did motivate me to keep playing each day. The app was very easy to navigate but occasionally game instructions, and games themselves, were a bit vague. Again, like Lumosity, with the free version I was limited to what I could achieve on the app. Despite this however, I will definitely keep using the app as I did find the games challenging and motivating. I would recommend it to anyone looking for subtle ways to improve their reading and writing skills.

Reviewer: Leah Parker

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

These apps aren’t supported or managed by the University of Bristol. Don’t forget to think about what data you are adding to these apps if you decide to download and use them. Our Online Identity video highlights some of the factors you may want to think about when you are online.

Next month: Utility

Student experiences of online assessment

Written by Olivia Muggleton, Student Digital Champion.

Olivia Muggleton

Olivia recently presented at one of BILT’s Show and Tell events on Student Experiences of Online Assessment. It was a great event and we thought we should share it with the student community too.

Student Experiences of Online Assessment

Last week I was tasked with presenting a few of my thoughts to university staff as part of the Bristol Institute for Learning (BILT) Show, Tell and Talk webinar event. This webinar focused on the topic of online assessments and included talks from university staff and BILT Student Fellows on the behind the scenes of online assessment and their feedback on its success so far – including the wellbeing and accessibility aspects of this new mode of learning. I was fortunate enough to be able to use my role as Student Digital Champion to represent the student experience and offer some feedback from the people who are impacted most by the move to online assessments – Us!

In my presentation I focused on the experience of preparing for online assessments and how this has changed quite significantly over the past couple of years. So firstly, how can you prepare? Beyond revision of the unit’s course content, online assessments carry with them a whole load of technical challenges, whether they’re timed open-book over a number of hours or days, or whether they require hand written text or diagrams to be scanned and submitted: and if you get that far, the next challenge is saving with the correct file names and formats and submitting into the right submission port – and as with any other online activity, accessibility is also an incredibly important factor. So in acknowledging these additional requirements, lets discuss some of the online assessment preparation resources that are available to us as students.

Digitally Ready ‘Digitally Ready for Assessment’

Digitally Ready on Blackboard

Digitally Ready provides students with resources and advice with respect to online learning. Under this specific subheading of the ‘digital induction’ links can be found to all relevant pages such as student services, wellbeing support, the university assessment and exam arrangement pages, as well as the Study Skills resources on Exams and Wellbeing.

As well as signposting, Digitally Ready provides a virtual walkthrough of the Assessment, Submission and Feedback (ASF) areas in Blackboard and a step by step checklist to go through as soon as we know about a timed online exam, including what to do in the event that something goes wrong – overall, a really extensive and helpful resource. The SDCs are also currently working with the Strategic programmes and projects team to provide feedback to improve the ASF area for students.

I’m particularly fond of the Padlet that sits in this section which allows students to view and input their own preparation advice. This provides helpful, practical advice, tried and tested by people in the same situation, but it also builds a sense of community among peers, which has perhaps felt a bit lacking owing to the transition to online learning.

Study Skills ‘Exams and Wellbeing’ and ‘Online open-book exams’ resources.

The Study Skills service create a wealth of resources for students which cover just about anything you could need advice or guidance with. Especially relevant for our purposes are the ‘Exams and Wellbeing’ page and the ‘Online open-book exams’ page. The first of these is a well organised and structured resource which particularly focuses on the stresses that students might feel in the run up to exams. Rather than focusing on the technicalities and revision as such, it provides students with a refreshing insight into recognising unhealthy stress and advice on how to avoid it by better organising yourself and maintaining perspective. The ‘Online open-book exams’ resource delves deeper into the specific requirements of this mode of online assessment and provides some insightful advice regarding certain myths which surround online open-book assessments and some tips on preparing and revising for different assessment formats – for instance unseen, short-term seen and long term seen questions. This resource does tend to be most helpful in terms of aiding an approach to revision, but it nicely caters this to the relatively new format of online assessments. What I like most about this resource is its interactivity and varying format which really encourages engagement – and combined with the possibility of catering it to your own assessment format I think it’s a really appealing and useful page.

Study skills

DEO ‘preparing your submission’

This is a resource that we as SDCs have been quite involved with, we worked with the DEO to give some detailed student informed feedback on the layout and content of this resource and its practical ease for us to follow. This resource really delves into the technicalities and thoroughly explains each and every step involved in preparing to submit an online assessment in multiple formats, on Blackboard or Turnitin.

While it is predominantly focused on the technical side of preparation, I feel that this, alongside the ‘Submitting assignments in Blackboard or Turnitin’ guidance, are really invaluable resources, especially to students in first year who are likely to be entirely unfamiliar with this form of assessment via these platforms. More generally, I feel the DEO’s resources are really helpful as they provide an interactive (and thoroughly detailed) resource for students to click through and follow.

Preparing your submission

What are your thoughts?

Do you have any thoughts on these resources or on online assessments in general? We SDCs are here to champion the student perspective and experience so if you feel that there’s something we should know, please reach out so that we can be even more representative of your voice! We are also always working on giving feedback on university resources and areas of the online learning environment including but not limited to assessments, so subscribe to DigiTalk to keep up to date on our latest developments.

Further resources

 

Appinions – Security

Appinions banner

A great app will keep you glued to your device. Whether it’s lifestyle, social media, utility, gaming, productivity or news; apps are an essential part of student life.
Each month we challenge our Student Digital Champions to delve into a new category, delivering fresh perspectives and making proclamations for essential applications. Which features are dumb? What should be at the tip of your thumb?

Written by Leah Parker, Georgie Pitts: Student Digital Champions.

Leah Parker Picture of Georgie

July 2022: Security

Cyber security could be viewed as being an overly complicated topic, and understanding where to start can be daunting. Yet all you really need to know to protect your device, is there are three essential types of app every student should be using: A password manager, Find my phone and Multi-factor authentication (MFA). Our Student Digital Champions are on hand to help you choose which app is right for you.

Insecure passwords can expose your personal details to fraud. Even your University of Bristol password needs to be secure. Authenticator apps provide an additional factor for security above passwords, so even if your secure password gets compromised this will provide a safety net. Staff already use MFA and this will be turned on for all students at the start of the upcoming academic year.

Microsoft Authenticator

Microsoft authenticator app icon

Microsoft Authenticator provides an easy, secure sign-ins for all your online accounts using multi-factor authentication, password-less, or password autofill. You also have additional account management options for your Microsoft personal, work or school accounts.

The multi factor authentication (MFA) feature provides a second layer of security. When enabled, during login after entering your password, you’ll be asked for an additional way to prove it’s really you. Either approve the push notification sent to the Microsoft Authenticator app, or enter the one-time password (OTP) generated by the app. The OTP codes are time-based, so are only valid for 30 seconds. The timer aspect means the same one-time password is never used twice. You can also add multiple accounts to your app, including non-Microsoft accounts like Facebook, Amazon, Google etc.

Microsoft Authenticator supports cert-based. This means the app will let your work or school organization know that the sign-in request is coming from a trusted device and help you to securely access additional Microsoft apps and services without needing to log into each time.

Pros

  • Straightforward, quick and easy set-up process.
  • Scan add both Microsoft and non-Microsoft accounts.
  • Allows cloud back-up, unlike Google Authenticator, which is useful if you lose access to your device and still need access to your accounts.
  • Recognises trusted devices and browsers, minimising the amount of log-in attempts requiring MFA.

Cons

  • No way to organise codes into folders or tags.

This is my personal favourite MFA app. I believe it provides multitudes of features that allow users to authenticate in many different ways and allows for more than just two steps in verifying your identity—providing for an even more secure experience. This is extremely important to me as with my school and work accounts I am looking for that extra security. I think as an iPhone user I like the ability as well to lock the app with touch ID, face ID or my passcode, for an extra layer of security. I also like how the app recognises when you’re accessing your account from a new or trusted device and, as such, adjusting the amount of MFA required. Overall, I think it’s a great app, easy to use and I’ve never had any problems with it and would definitely recommend it to those wanting extra security on their school, work and personal accounts.

Reviewer: Leah Parker

Download links:

Google play iconapp store link

Norton Password Manager 

App icon for Norton password managerThis is a password manager app, designed to store your passwords in a secure location. You can sign in with Apple or Google, or create a new account (I chose to create a new account using my University of Bristol email). The main area of the app is called the “Vault”, which is where your passwords are stored, and you can even choose to store credit cards or bank account details here too.

Saving a new password is simple. You click “Logins”, and the “+” sign in the bottom right corner. You can name the website, paste the URL and add the password. You can also add a note to accompany it and choose whether to sign in automatically next time you need to log into that account. It autofills the email as the same one you use for the Norton app, but you can change this if different websites use different email addresses.

Some other functions include:

  • Password Generator to provide you with more secure passwords
  • Secure Browser to protect you against online threats
  • Auto-fill, which automatically types passwords for you
  • Ability to save different addresses (home address, work etc), if a website requires you to enter an address

Pros

  • Many other password manager apps I looked at required a monthly subscription, but this one is free
  • Can search passwords by keywords, making it easy to locate the ones you need
  • Has a “notes” section, so you can add any notes you might need in regard to passwords
  • Offers a Tutorial Guide
  • Able to ‘favourite’ certain passwords that you need quickly and often

Cons

  • Logging back in after closing the app was difficult. There are two separate logins: one for the app, and the other for the password Vault specifically.
    • I was able to log into the app fine, but I hadn’t set up a PIN or password for the Vault yet, so couldn’t enter one to log back into it.
    • After deleting the app and redownloading, after logging in on the app, I was able to activate Face ID to access the Vault.

I would probably use this password manager. I like that it was free, especially in comparison to other ones which require a monthly subscription. This is significant, I think, because Google and phones themselves already save passwords for you, so paying for an app to do the same thing (although in a more secure fashion) is not particularly necessary.

I like the layout; it is very simple and easy to navigate, and you can search your saved passwords using keywords or favourite specific ones which would be helpful if you had a lot saved.

The only issue I ran into was logging back into the Vault after creating my account and closing down the app. Having checked the reviews, it seems this has happened to others! Deleting it and activating Face ID seems to have done the trick!

Reviewer: Georgie Pitts

Download links:

app store link

Google Authenticator

App icon for google authenticatorGoogle Authenticator generated 2-Step Verification codes on your phone for your Google Account to provide an additional layer of security when signing in. With 2-Step Verification, signing into your account will require both your password and a verification code you can generate with this app. Once configured, you can get verification codes without network or cellular connection. Features of Google Authenticator, to name a few, include: automatic setup via a QR code, use across multiple accounts, time-based and counter-based code generation and transfer of accounts between devices through a generated QR code.

Pros

  •  This app does not back up to the cloud, which from a security perspective is actually what you would want from a multi-step authenticator app.
  •  Relatively simple and straightforward to set up and use.
  •  Useful if you have multiple google accounts which required another layer of security.
  •  New feature means you have ability to transfer 2FA codes when upgrading to a new phone

Cons

  •  No cloud back up means losing access unexpectedly to the phone you set the authenticator app up on means you lose access to the 2-factor authenticator codes. This could possibly lock you out of your accounts if you are unable to log back into the original phone.

Personally I quite like the Google Authenticator app, it’s a simple app to use and it fulfils its intended purpose. I have set up Google Authenticator to multiple Google accounts and never had an issues with it. I find it is an app I can truly trust. That being said, I could see how this app may cause problems if I was to lose access to my phone. No question that cloud backup is extremely convenient but there is often a trade-off between convenience and security and this is a great example of that. This app is for those who choose a bit of extra security (codes only stored on the device) over the convenience of having their codes stored both on the device and in the cloud. I would say it just depends on the person whether you prefer to use an app with no cloud back up and extra security, or cloud back up and less security such as Microsoft Authenticator.

Reviewer: Leah Parker

Download links:

app store link

Find My iPhone

App icon for Find My app

This app allows you to track your Apple devices and notes the last time at which they were used/active. It uses Apple Maps to display your device location and is compatible with: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple watch, Mac, AirPods and AirTag. It includes Lost Mode, a noise alert for nearby devices and you only need your Apple ID to log in!

This is a very useful app! My favourite feature is how detailed the map is. Rather than it being vague, you can see the exact time and location the device was last used. Another favourite feature is the Lost Mode. By locking your device, no one can access your personal information, giving you an added level of security if you were to misplace your phone. Whilst this app does allow you to track your friends and family, it is not created for that purpose, and is more targeted to keeping track of your devices.

The fact it is compatible with other apple devices is really useful, particularly AirPods! We’ve all lost our headphones, so to be able to locate them easily is very useful!

Pros

  • Free! It comes with the phone
  • Has a setting which allows your devices to make a noise to alert you to where they are
  • You can put your devices in Lost Mode, which tracks its location; protects your data and even presents a message for whoever may find your device
  • You can even track your friends’ devices and vice versa, which can be turned off if you wish

Cons

  • Only available on Apple devices so Android users cannot download this app
  • If you lose your phone, you need a secondary device to locate it (a MacBook, for example), so if you don’t have one of these, then you cannot access the app remotely

I definitely recommend this app. It comes with the iPhone, and whilst I would be tempted to delete it to save storage space, I actually recommend keeping it around and tagging all of your Apple devices in case you need it in the future!

Reviewer: Georgie Pitts

Download links:

app store link Google play icon

*App Store link above opens iCloud to sign-in with your Apple ID, because the app is inbuilt. The Google Play link opens an Android equivalent called Google Find My Device. There are other available Android apps which share this functionality.

These apps aren’t supported or managed by the University of Bristol. Don’t forget to think about what data you are adding to these apps if you decide to download and use them. Our Online Identity video highlights some of the factors you may want to think about when you are online.

Next month: Gaming

Appinions – Travel

Appinions banner

A great app will keep you glued to your device. Whether it’s lifestyle, social media, utility, gaming, productivity or news; apps are an essential part of student life.
Each month we challenge our Student Digital Champions to delve into a new category, delivering fresh perspectives and making proclamations for essential applications. Which features are dumb? What should be at the tip of your thumb?

Written by Polly Davis, Leah Parker, and Kexin Li: Student Digital Champions.

Polly Davis  Leah Parker  Kexin Li

June 2022: Travel

The travel industry has taken a battering over the last few years. Staffing cuts in aviation have led to recent flight cancellations, whilst providing proof of negative covid tests have once again been dashing plans at the last minute. However we intend to spend our well deserved time off, somebody has inevitably found a way to enhance the experience using a mobile app. But are they any good?

Step: Your world

app icon Step is a new travel app based on a public, interactive map where everyone can pin their favourite places of culture, drink, health, shopping, stay, and food. With Step, you create your own profile with your own specific tags of places where you are from and where you mostly visit- this does not limit where you can pin, the map covers the world! By simply searching a place you have visited, you can create a recommendation by pinning this on the map. Scrolling around, you will be able to see so many recommendations around you which really helps to get a feel for the culture and life of the community of the place you are in. Even more so, following your favourite Culture Creators and accounts allows you to see their own personal recommendations. This has been extremely helpful whenever I have been in London visiting friends and we are lost as to where to go- each pin is attached with pictures, the website of the business, opening hours, address, and phone number, with additional comments from users. I have found so many places around me that I would not have taken a second look at if I was using Google or even my own eyes.

 

Pros

  • Interactive map with the ability to comment
  • Create your own profile
  • Follow other creators
  • Can add photos
  • Can build up a following

Cons

  • Relatively new app so pins are fairly limited to popular places
  • Cannot specify what type of establishment you are looking for, such as filtering by the nationality of the food
  • Pins are not reviewed by any critics, therefore recommendations are subjective
  • Not available to download via Google Play

Reviewer: Polly Davis

Download link:

app store link

My Travel Tracker

app icon

I love travelling, and I have always been tempted to make a travel blog- but I have also always been quite intimidated by that large and scary environment. My Travel Tracker is a way to document your travels into categorised trips that are displayed on your own personal map. Each trip can be pinned with photographs and geolocations and descriptions to give an in-depth feel to your itinerary. These trips can be viewed by others as it is also a social networking app where you can take inspiration from other travellers and interact by commenting, liking posts, and sharing. Like Instagram, there is a community page where you can view recent travel posts from other creators and view their own Bucket Lists. Even more, there is a section where you can post short films of different places around the world- this is especially helpful if you are stuck on what place to travel next to, get a grasp of the environment, or to simply reminisce on your own time there. Some travellers decide to categorise their posts by the best places to eat, drink, visit or stay in an area which can be searched for in the community section if you need guidance when you are visiting an area!
This app creates a safe and friendly community full of creators with the same passions of adventure and curiosity about the world!

 

Pros

  • Can create a profile area with a colour map that highlights the countries you have visited
  • You are free to post in whatever format you would like, whether it be a blog, tip list or just pictures
  • Can follow other travellers and interact with their posts which will appear on your timeline

Cons

  • Not every place in the world has been posted so popular tourist locations have more posts attached with them
  • The community page is ordered in terms of popularity of a post or profile
  • All communication with other creators is public

Reviewer: Polly Davis

Download link:

app store link

 

Bristol Guide

Bristol guide app icon

This app provides a distinctive guide to Bristol, pointing new visitors wanting to explore the city to an exciting array of attractions, or perhaps even helping residents discover new places they were not previously aware of. This app aims to encompass a full Bristolian experience to the user.

This app allows you to locate the nearest attractions and sites around you for you to go and  visit. Or, if you prefer, you are able to look at places to visit in a specific category you are interested in. These categories include events and festivals, parks and greenspaces, pubs and bars, and restaurants and sport, to name a few. By pressing on the event you are interested in, it provides a brief overview of the site, including contact and website details if you would like to learn more, and its exact location.

Pros

  • Free
  • Simple to use
  • Range of categories containing a wide variety of sites and events, including popular and lesser known ones.

Cons

  • Some categories lack essential information – e.g. the events and festivals tab has no information on the dates and times
  • Would be nice to see some reviews of the places shown
  • Includes some pictures but would say it definitely needs more!
  • Not available to download via Google Play

 

Overall, I really like the idea of the app! I think it includes a wide range of sites and attractions to visit, which would be useful for not only first-time visitors, but also residents wanting to explore more of the unknown parts of the city. Through using the app, I was able to discover lots of green spaces I did not know existed just right near me which was amazing. However, I would say it’s clear this app needs an update, as there is some information lacking which would be useful, such as dates of festivals and events. I also think more pictures would really benefit the app, as it only contains a single image for each listing, which does not always truly represent the beautiful appearance of these sites. Overall, I do like the app and would definitely recommend it to those living in Bristol over the summer so they can go and explore the city.

Reviewer: Leah Parker

Download link:

app store link

Voi

Voi app icon

Voi is a new, innovative way of travelling round the city. This app provides a new mode of transport, aiming to cut down our emissions while still getting to places quickly. Voi scooters are bright red, and operate simply through twisting the handle to accelerate, and pressing down bike-like brakes at the front to stop. They are now equipped with indicators as well, which you can use to signal when you are turning left or right.

The way it works is you first download the app, and set up your Voi account on the app by scanning your driver’s license. The app then allows you to find your nearest Voi parking spot, where you can also see the number of Vois available. You simply scan the QR code on the Voi and once you’re ready you can unlock it and begin voing! When you’ve reached your destination, you then park your Voi in the closest parking spot and are asked to take a picture upon completion.

Voi offers regular users the opportunity to buy Voi passes, whether this be just for the day, or a month. There are designated parking spots, discounted parking spots, and also marked slow zones and no Voi zones. Voi scooters also stop working past a certain time and have installed a software aimed to test your reaction skills to promote safe use.

 

Pros

  • Passes are relatively cheap.
  • Quite fun way of getting round.
  • Especially round Bristol, quite easy to find and locate Voi parking spots.
  • The app allows you to locate Voi parking spots and places you can find Vois
  • Voi prevents you riding on the pavements, ensuring the safety of pedestrians

Cons

  • Have to find a designated parking spot to put your Voi in – If travelling to a new destination it may be difficult to determine where exactly to find these.
  • Potentially scary particularly if you are not a licenced driver, or the weather conditions are harsh.
  • The Voi may run out of battery in particularly inconvenient locations.
  • Only accessible in certain cities.

 

Overall, I love the idea of Voi as a way of travelling, especially in a busy city such as Bristol, where bringing your cars may not be feasible due to the lack of car park spaces, or if you’re like me and you just can’t drive! I find it particularly useful when the buses may be unreliable or I need to get somewhere quite quickly if I am running late. Yet, I will admit, I have suffered a fair few scary instances with Voi, and so I personally do not use them often unless I am on quiet, residential roads. I would definitely recommend learning your road rules before attempting to ride a Voi, and definitely practice before heading to the main roads. I think with a careful and responsible user, Vois can be quite fun and provide a cost effective way of travelling to places, and not to mention they are much more environmentally friendly than other modes of transport. I would definitely recommend using Vois opposed to a car when you can, but just as with any mode of transport, make sure you do your research before riding them and learn your road rules!

Reviewer: Leah Parker

Download link:

app store link

 

Google Translate

Google translate icon

One of the biggest problems you may face while travelling is probably the language barrier. Google Translate will be your best aid for basic daily communication in most countries! Google Translate is a free translation service, which provides instant translation between 133 languages, and supports the translation of words, sentences, and web pages between any two languages. The interface of the app is very concise, with only three pages: Home, Saved, and Settings. In addition to inputting text for translation, you can also directly translate the text in the photo through the camera. For tourists, the instant translation of conversations and the transcription function provide great convenience. You can record your voice directly, and Google Translate will automatically translate it into the target language and read it aloud.

Pros

  • All features are free
  • The translation speed is fast, and the communication can be translated instantly
  • Very simple and convenient to use

Cons

  • There may be translation errors leading to misunderstandings, and grammar and structure errors occur frequently
  • The choice of languages is limited. “Conversation mode” is available in 71 languages; “Transcription mode” is only available in 10 languages
  • Accents may lead to inaccurate voice input

 

I personally think Google Translate is the most frequently used and helpful app for travellers, and it helped me immensely when I travelled to Turkey last week. When I was communicating with my Turkish host, we used Google Translate the entire time, making our conversation smooth and pleasant. Google Translate solves all the problems related to language barriers to the greatest extent possible with simple functions, which I think is amazing. Although there may be grammatical errors due to machine translation, I think it has no impact on the communication between tourists and local people, so it is a very excellent app for me in general.

Reviewer: Kexin Li

Download link:

app store link

 

App in the Air

App in the air icon

If you have frequent flight needs and are easily troubled by problems such as flight information changes, App in the Air can effectively help with air-related problems to ensure you travel smoothly! The main function of App in the Air is to help you manage your hotel and flight reservation and give timely notifications and relevant information so you can optimize your travel experience. Different from other OTA (online travel agency) apps, App in the Air is more like a personal travel assistant, because you can not only book air tickets and hotels from this app, but also manually import your flight number and hotel reservation, and it will give you all relevant information and suggestions. Beyond that, it acts as a memoir by collecting statistics on all the flights you’ve ever taken and competing on the global leader board. You can also invite your friends and compete on the friend list for flight stats.

Pros

  • Convenient and easy to use. The app design is very concise and straightforward
  • Helping you record flight statistics and keeping track of your accomplishments during your trips
  • You can add your loyalty programmes to track status and bonuses
  • Providing very detailed information and tips for travellers

Cons

  • There is a fee for membership, and regular users only have a 14-day free trial
    • £9.99/year for Basic.
    • £29.49/year for Pro.
    • £44.99/lifetime
  • The functions of this app are not unique, and most of them can be replaced by other free apps
  • Users have complained about bugs in the app and incorrect flight information being provided
  • Hotel and flight information booked on other platforms require manual input

 

I personally think this app is more useful for regular travellers, but it is not very attractive to me as a student. It can effectively help travellers to manage all reservations and plan your trip, and its notification function can greatly help you to avoid missed flights and other problems during the trip. However, as far as I am concerned, all this travel information can be found on free platforms, and I do not need to spend extra money to obtain such information. This app can only provide flight information, but not bus or train related information, so the frequency of use for me is very low. Also, all the hotel and flight information I booked from other platforms have to be entered manually rather than displayed automatically, which makes the function of recording travel statistics a little troublesome.

Reviewer: Kexin Li

Download link:

app store link

These apps aren’t supported or managed by the University of Bristol. Don’t forget to think about what data you are adding to these apps if you decide to download and use them. Our Online Identity video highlights some of the factors you may want to think about when you are online.

Next month: Security

Ways I make online learning work for me

Written by Helena Thornton, Student Digital Champion

Helena Thornton

When I started university, we were in the murky depths of the pandemic. It wasn’t the transition anyone had envisaged! Alongside the expected changes: moving away from home, living in halls in a new city etc, came the less anticipated move to (almost) complete online learning. I was used to an all-in-person sixth-form approach, so this was a lot to get used to.

For better or for worse, much of my teaching has remained online this year, and so alongside the significant focus on independent learning at Uni (also online!), I have had plenty of time to get used to online learning since I began University in 2020. My learning styles and strategies are still far from perfect, but I have spent time and effort finding ways to make online learning work for me. I thought it would be helpful to share some of these; they might be things you could try, or might give you an idea of how to customise your own learning to suit your individual needs and preferences.

Planning!

University is full of juggling commitments, different assignments, lectures, social plans, general life activities, etc. I find it impossible to keep it all stored in my head: if I’m going to do it, it needs to be written down.

As a result, I find making to-do lists really helpful. I choose to do these on my computer, so that they are right there when I log on for the day. I have an Apple laptop, and use an app called ‘Stickies’, which lets me make coloured sticky notes to display on my desktop. They look great, and – even better – are completely unavoidable when I’m on my computer!

For PCs, there is a similar application called Sticky Notes.

To do lists on my desktop

Mind Maps

I have tried a number of different ways to organise my thoughts and notes when preparing an essay or other assignment, and I have found mind maps the ideal tool to help me capture different trains of thought, or different elements of a project. They are also a great way to visualise information – much more user-friendly than a block of text!

Like to-do lists, mind maps can be made by hand, but I have found websites and software that make them so much easier to create and share. When done digitally, they are also a lot more visually appealing, and you can move things around and add/delete as much as you would like.

Mindmap made on Miro Mindmap made on MindView

I currently use paid-for software called Mindview* to create mind maps, however, there are a lot of free alternatives online. One that I particularly like is Miro, a free website with mind mapping and brainstorm templates you can use individually, or collaboratively with a team.

Keeping it varied

They say that a change is as good as a break. Why not use both?! When I started my degree online, I quickly found that I was spending endless hours stuck in my room hunched over my computer, and it began to feel very monotonous and unengaging. Don’t let yourself get stuck in that trap post-pandemic! If online and independent learning still make up a large part of your timetable, take it upon yourself to find ways to keep your learning varied, and keep yourself engaged.

One way I do this is by moving around between chunks of time spent studying. Sometimes I take my work from one study space to another, or between a café and the library. This way, I am less likely to zone out and lose productivity, having sat at the same desk for hours on end. If I don’t feel like moving my workspace, I take the time to go on a short walk in a break from studying, so that I can get a smaller change of scene. This doesn’t work for everyone, but for me, the shift in environment keeps me on my toes.

I miss my library image
Taken from imissmylibrary.com

If you aren’t able to move around during the working day, but still want to capture that change-in-environment effect, you could try using different online study-environment websites. These can offer soundtracks/pictures that simulate the different study spaces I mentioned. Some of my favourites are ‘I Miss my Café’ and ‘I Miss my Library’, which create adjustable background noises to study to. The library option also includes a built-in to-do-list tool to help you keep productive.

It’s important to remember that just because these work for me, doesn’t mean they are right for everybody. Everyone has their own preferred ways of working, and so will have a different experience with any tool or type of study. However, finding a few study techniques you can go back to time and time again can be a really helpful way of making your study habits more personalised, productive and enjoyable. I have also listed below a few other resources I have found useful – I hope you find some that work well for you, too!

Other helpful digital tools for university work:

Connected Papers: for researching papers and assignments

Canva: for creating posters & graphics

Liner: for highlighting online webpages

Cold Turkey: for blocking other online distractions when working

Purdue OWL: contains so much referencing information!!

 

*Mindview: this is a paid-for software, however is available to all students on University computers. If you make use of these to study, I would recommend giving Mindview a try! Otherwise, Miro is a great – free – alternative.

Digital tools for a greener you!

Written by Souwoon Cho, Digital Education Developer.

The 22nd of April is Earth Day  DigiTalk are expanding our focus from the learning environment to the wider environment that we live. While concern for the environment, also known as Eco-anxiety continues to grow, it can be hard to know what positive action we can realistically take.

Climate change

Here are some digital tools to help you make your day-to-day life more sustainable.

Looking upwards at trees

Be aware of your carbon footprint

The first step to making positive change is to have an awareness of your current situation. Take WWF’s carbon footprint calculator for a quick and user-friendly assessment of your current impact on the environment. It also gives you a breakdown of your results and tips to reduce your impact.

A laptop next to a glass with a leaf in it

Plant trees while you search the web

You are likely to have heard or said the phrase “Just Google it”, which reflects the dominance of one search engine in everyday use. But have you tried Ecosia?

Visually, Ecosia looks just like what you would expect from a search engine. But in the background, every time you search, at least 80% of the profits generated from advertisements are donated to non-profit tree planting organisations around the world. The University of Glasgow made Ecosia their default search engine on campus in 2020, and the University of Bristol switched theirs to Ecosia in 2021. So, with an estimated 45 searches need to plant one tree, are you prepared to make the switch?

Man sitting on money

Engage in the circular economy

Food waste and fast fashion impact the wider environment but also make a dent in your pocket! Apps such as OLIO, Good to Go and Freegle help you connect with businesses and others in your community to minimise the amount of food, clothes and furniture going into landfill. It’s also a great way to grab your next meal or some furniture for your student accommodation at a reduced price or even for free!

So, what do you think you will try?  Do you have any other digital tools to suggest?
Let us know in the comments below.

Further resources:

Digital Skills and Employability: Where to Start

Written by Amy Preston, Student Digital Champion

Amy Preston

Why are digital skills important in the workplace? 

Now that we are emerging from a 2-year pandemic, many companies are moving back towards hybrid or in-person working. However, you’d still be hard pushed to find a job description that doesn’t have digital skills on their list of requirements. Even non-technical and non-office-based jobs require some degree of digital literacy. Recent surveys exhibited on the government website have shown that essential digital skills (things like communicating, handling information and online safety) are required across low, medium and high-skilled occupations. And competency in Microsoft Office is generally required for entry into medium and high-skilled jobs (which graduates typically join). However, it’s not just basic digital skills students need to be thinking about – different jobs require different specialist technological skills, which future employees need to think about when trying to boost their CV. For example, specific requirements for a job as a patent attorney will be notably different to one in marketing – one may require knowledge of online safety and privacy, whereas the other will emphasize creativity.  

What are the JISC digital capabilities and JISC discovery? 

Because digital skills and employability go hand-in-hand, you may want to look at JISC’s six elements of digital capabilities below. These are the key digital skills looked for by employers, and very important for students (future employees!) to be aware of. Or, take a look at the reimagined JISC framework in the form of the Digital Capabilities Tree by the Student Digital Champions and DEO (Digital Education Office). A good way to find areas that you need to focus on is the JISC discovery tool, which provides a questionnaire on your digital capabilities. This will generate a report and give you ways to improve, with links to useful resources. It’s great for assessing how you can improve your digital capabilities as a student, and as it applies to jobs too, implementing these techniques now is how you will stand out as a digitally skilled candidate to employers! 

Jisc digital capabilties
Image showing JISC digital skills: information, data and media literacies, digital creation, problem solving and innovation, digital identity and wellbeing, digital communication, collaboration and participation, ICT proficiency, and digital learning and development.

How can I make my digital skills stand out when applying for jobs? 

If you know you are interested in certain jobs after you graduate, scope out adverts for them on LinkedIn, Indeed or other job listing websites to see whether they list any specific digital skill requirements for their jobs. As mentioned above, you will often see they ask for proficiency in Microsoft Office. Find how you can showcase your proficiency – for example, you may have taken the ICDL (or ECDL) exam in school, which is highly regarded by employers looking for Microsoft Office proficiency. But more importantly, consider what specific digital skills you have that match the job requirements and how you can gain skills that you don’t already have. For example, if a job wants some coding experience, there are plenty of resources available to help you. ‘Learn Python the Hard Way’ is a great free resource to use as an introduction to Python coding. Use your digital skills to do some digging and find online resources to help you gain specific expertise that will make you stand out! 

Finally, be aware of your online identity when applying to jobs. The first ‘Digitally Skilled’ video talks about what online identity is and how you can shape it. Have a look and see if there are ways that you can adjust it to improve your employability – this is an important skill in itself! 

Jisc discovery tool
Image showing an example of a JISC Discovery (circular bar plot) digital capability report.

Further resources

If you need further help with job applications, head to the Careers Service website for information on employability and bookable workshops such as CV writing and interview skills. Also look at the DEO’s resources and other DigiTalk blog posts for all things digital! Finally, best of luck in securing a job with your new and improved digital skills!