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Dear [First Name]

Thanks again for choosing OERu as your learning partner. This is the last email in this short orientation series and we hope that you have found these communications useful in setting up your own personal online learning environment.

Today we would like to introduce two open source social media applications. The OERu’s own social media network, using a distributed platform called Mastodon, and a powerful application called Hypothes.is that enables you to annotate any web page on the Internet so that you and others can see those annotations. You can also discuss annotations with the community.  

The OERu uses a “course feed” feature to collect and harvest posts from our different social media sites that contain the relevant course “hashtag” in the body text of the post. Today you will also have the opportunity to practise using tags and hashtags in two short activities.

Using hashtags

Many software applications provide support for a dedicated tag field (for example, blogging software or forum software) whereas other applications support a special case of tagging called “hashtags” where the tag is incorporated in the body of the text.

Tags are user generated keywords or labels added to posts. The use of tags makes it possible to search for related posts using the same tag and, because they’re machine readable, assists software applications to automatically generate tag clouds or filter posts using the specified tag.

A hashtag is a tag prefixed with the hash or pound sign (“#”) without any spaces, for example “#LiDA101”. Many social media sites support the use of hashtags in the body of a text post. This enables users to search for posts using a specific hashtag.

Today is a good opportunity to test how hashtags work before you commence your studies with OERu. We will show you how to do this in the activities below.

Join the OERu social media network

Social media is a significant part of the digital world today. It’s a powerful resource to support your learning.  Because we at the OERu respect user privacy, we do not require learners to create accounts on third-party proprietary social media services administered by corporations like Facebook or Twitter as a matter of policy.

The OERu hosts an instance of Mastodon, an open source social media technology. Our mastodon.oeru.org site provides a valuable source of peer support with contributors around the world sharing thoughts, tips and and ideas on open learning.

Mastodon is not a single centralised technology platform like Twitter or Facebook. It is a federated technology made up of  thousands of independent “instances” of Mastodon, across multiple open source software servers, managed by volunteers and communities around the world. There is no corporate provider or owner - the Mastodon platform is itself owned and developed by a community of volunteers. Users on one instance have the ability to follow and interact with users on other instances, and you can migrate to other instances in the future.

We recommend that you watch this short video on Youtube: What is Mastodon?

We now invite you to join our OERu social network on mastodon.oeru.org:

Annotating web pages using Hypothes.is

Hypothes.is is an open source online tool that enables you to annotate any web page or pdf document accessible online via your browser and to share these annotations publicly. Users can also reply to annotations. Hypothes.is supports tags, so annotations tagged using the respective OERu course code will be harvested and appear in the course feed. 

To use Hypothes.is, you must create an account and be logged in to post annotations.  

There are two ways to activate the browser buttons displayed on the top right-hand side of your screen which are used to annotate web pages when you are logged in to hypothes.is.
  1. Activating Hypothes.is via your browser (You will first need to add the Hypothes.is extension or bookmarklet to your browser. Note that Hypothes.is is available for most, but not all, web browsers.)
  2. Going directly to the “Paste a Link” option on the Hypothes.is website. (This adds the prefix “https://via.hypothes.is/” in front of the url of the page you want to annotate.) 
(Note: “Highlights” are private and will not be shared publicly. Highlights can be used for personal note taking of pages you visit online.)

This concludes the short series of three orientation emails to help you get started with study at the OERu. If you have not had the time or opportunity to complete these preparations before the course starts, don’t worry - OERu courses remain open and you can proceed at your own pace. If you prefer more detailed guidance, you may be interested in taking the Digital literacies for online learning (LiDA101) micro-course.

We wish you every success with your open learning activities!

With kind regards,
The OERu team


Activity 1

Practise using hashtags on mastodon.oeru.org

Each Mastodon community can establish a set of traditions and practices applying just to their instance, or local community. Many instances have a tradition of new users introducing themselves to the community and including the hashtag #introductions in the body text of their introductory post or posts. We support this tradition and encourage new OERu learners to introduce themselves to our community.

Please ensure that you have uploaded an avatar image and edited your display name on mastodon.oeru.org  before completing this activity.
Post a toot (what we call posts on Mastodon) introducing yourself to the OERu learning community and include the following two hashtags in the body text: #introductions #ipm101 (i.e. the course code for this course. Note there is a space between the two hashtags.)

Search for the hashtag #introductions on mastodon.oeru.org (consult the OERu support site for more information on searching). If you included the #ipm101 hashtag in your toot, this should appear in the course feed after a short period. (Note that the harvester checks for posts approximately every 20 mins. If you don’t see your post, come back later.) 

Activity 2

Practise annotating a web page and pdf online document using tags

In this activity, you will create an account on Hypothes.is, annotate two types of pages and share your annotations with OERu learners using the tag for the course code.

  1. Consult the “Get Started” page for an overview of Hypothes.is
  2. Create an account on Hypothes.is
  3. Read how to annotate a web-page on the OERu support site
  4. Post an annotation on each of the following pages and tag your post using the course code: ipm101 (Note you must be logged in to hypothes.is with your account credentials from 2 above to annotate) 
If you have correctly tagged your annotations using the course code (ipm101), these will displayed in the course feed when the harvester next searches for posts on hypothes.is (this is an automated process that occurs approximately every 30 minutes).


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