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

Posters and Presentations

Written by Amy Preston, Student Digital Champion and MRes Student in Physiology and Pharmacology

Amy Preston

Introduction to Posters and Presentations 

Presenting your research, whether part of your undergraduate dissertation or postgraduate research degree, is a huge part of academia. However, it’s often difficult to know where to start when making posters or presentations. There are a few different ways that you can approach them, so hopefully this post will give you some ideas!

Posters

The main thing to keep in mind for a poster is that it needs to be clear and rely on visual representation of your research. There are multiple tools you can use to make a poster. PowerPoint is useful, especially for posters in landscape orientation. You can also use Microsoft Word or Publisher, but these can be a bit trickier to use. Sometimes research groups will pay to use Adobe Illustrator which allows for figure-making as well. But it is up to you, and you don’t need to pay for expensive software if you don’t have the means to do so. 

The majority of the poster should be focused on your methods and results, so make sure to keep the introduction concise and have a few short conclusions and future directions at the end to summarise. Depending on your course or the conference you are presenting at, you will likely have a specific format to follow – including orientation and size. Usually, posters are A0 size and portrait orientation, so make sure you adjust your font size to accommodate this – a good rule of thumb is 24pt font for main body text and at least twice this size for your heading if your poster is A0. If your poster format is portrait, it can be helpful to split the poster into two columns if you have quite dense figures, but this isn’t essential if your data doesn’t fit this way. 

Poster presentation example
An example of a portrait orientation poster with a two-column format. The science isn’t accurate, but the method of presenting research findings is clear and easy to follow.

Presentations

Many of the same principles from posters apply to presentations and talks. Aim to make them clear, easy to follow and visually appealing. One way to help the audience follow along is to introduce each aim separately followed by its related methods and results (this is shown below). Or, depending on your data and how it fits together, you can introduce the aims all at once, then go through methods and results that follow on from each other. For example, if you found an unexpected result, what methods did you try next to further understand it and what did you find? Try to tell a story through your presentation.

Clear presentation layout
An example of a clear presentation layout, where each aim is followed by its methods and results. Again, the science is questionable, but you get the idea!

Making good quality figures

An effective figure should be clear and not too busy. It can be really helpful to demonstrate your methods with figures, especially in posters to save words, or for presentations where the audience may not have the same specialist background as you. You can create simple methods figures using tools like Microsoft PowerPoint and Visio (which are available in the Microsoft Office package with the university) or use free tools with pre-made components and better freedom for drawing figures like BioRender and Inkscape. Think about how you can break down complex concepts in to easier-to-manage chunks, to help your reader see the big picture.

A simple methods figure
An example of a simple methods figure – this can save words by representing data collection and analysis without having to describe what is quite a complicated piece of technology! This was created in BioRender for free with some data added in.

BioRender website

General tips to remember

  • More visual cues, less words
  • The main bulk of a presentation should be your methods and results – don’t take up too much space with the introduction, focus on your project
  • Unless asked to, don’t put your abstract in your presentation – you will be wasting valuable words by repeating yourself
  • Make your aims stand out – it really helps the understanding of the reader if they can refer back to them
  • Keep the font big, and save words by using bullet points
  • For each slide or poster section, use descriptive titles to help the reader follow along
  • Don’t assume knowledge of your subject area – although there will be physicists at a physics conference, their area of research may be very different to yours!

Useful resources

Hopefully you feel more confident presenting your own work, but above are some useful resources that help me when starting a new poster or presentation – good luck!

A student reflection on communication and social media

Written by Bobby Joynes, Student Digital Champion studying Theatre and Film.

Bobby Joynes

During my time as a Student digital champion, I’ve been quite interested in the relationship between the student body and the university through the use of social media. Students use their phones on a regular basis. Combining both social interactions with workflow as they use popular apps such as Instagram, snapchat and Outlook. I began work with the DEO to utilise this and to merge the connection between the two parties closer together. In doing so, we would be able to relay information efficiently and effectively, while also allowing students to take the initiative to begin their own explorations into their digital activity and to boost their knowledge of how things worked in the world of work.

Yes, it sounds like a tall order. However, I felt that if we were able to bridge the gap, it would be one step closer to securing a stronger connection between the student body and the university itself. I spearheaded a project, that is currently ongoing, to create more online awareness from the DEO to the body, with things like Instagram takeovers with the SU and other societies being the first step, and the project finally concluding with the full integration of an Instagram page run solely by the DEO and supported by the uni. The page would be a direct way of sending out regular tips and updates about ongoing events in order to keep students in the loop and much more aware.

Person holding phone showing Instagram logo
Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

As I said, the project is currently ongoing, and the DEO is working hard to try and achieve the goals that I originally stated. On top of this, I wanted to also make a comment about my own perspective surrounding my digital usage every day. As a theatre and film joint honours student, my interactions with technology come in irregular amounts, with the majority being used to support physical performance or film creation. Online learning is something that has generally been kept to a bare minimum because of how little of the course can be completed online. However, the communication that the staff have with the students is something that I truly appreciate. Regular forms and email lines of communication are sent out as a way of checking up on what we think works well and what doesn’t work so well within the department. At the end of the day, communication is the fundamental element that keeps any healthy relationship alive, whether it be between students or students and staff. Without that line of contact, unhappiness and anger can be allowed to build up, resulting in students not wanting to interact and even attend classes.

People working together
Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

I’ve personally found that this communication has been great at allowing me and my peers to express our thoughts which have then actually been publicly addressed, opposed to other empty promises and dead-ended emails sent by other departments which don’t foster any kind of interaction between themselves and students.

Yellow telephone
Photo by Mike Meyers on Unsplash

I want to finish by just saying how important it is for students to communicate with their staffing bodies. It may be tough and challenging, but if they don’t know, then how can they help you? And your opinion matters. It may not feel like it but raising issues with staff via emails or digital forms etc. can make the world of difference to how this university is run.

Find out more about the Student Digital Champions.