There is a huge amount of activity related to promoting STEM, with new items of interest constantly coming on stream. Keeping up-to-date is essential and this part of STEM Digging deeper aims to help you do this through maximising your use of the web and, if appropriate, delivering continuous professional development.
Maximise your use of the web
Here are seven different electronic methods of helping you keep up to date. Some of you will use them regularly, to others they will be new.
Sign up and/or register using at least one method new to you, to help your knowledge remain current. Bear in mind though that some of these sites are blocked by educational and other organisations' firewalls.
The easiest way to keep up-to-date is to have relevant information delivered to you, through RSS feeds, rather than you having to constantly check websites for updates. Most sites now have this facility.
RSS feeds - what are they? If you are new to this, read, watch and listen to this online article on Change the way you read the web, provided by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee who support UK post-16 and higher education research by providing leadership in the use of ICT (Information and Communications Technology)). In the article find out how setting up feeds is much better than saving to favourites! Scroll down the article to find the 'Ten Things to Try' and have a go!
You can keep up-up-to date with STEM using Twitter. It only takes 5 minutes to register, if you are not already into twitter, here are step by step instructions. Some important sources of information have twitter sites: National STEM Centre, Futuremorph and Mathscareers. Why not 'follow' them?
Some organisations have Facebook pages, such as COGENT, the Sector Skills Council for chemicals, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, nuclear, polymer and petroleum industries – the science-using industries. Check websites to see who you can find out about this way and keep up to date by 'liking' them. Note that many organisations block access to Facebook, but even if you can't or don't wish to access information in this way, some of your learners might.
Alternatively you can register on sites to receive email updates on: Futuremorph; National STEM Centre (including e-library); and the STEM Digital Storecupboard.
Another way to keep track of all of the various sources of STEM information and practice is to set up a free social bookmarking account, for example, with delicious. This will not only keep all the websites that interest you in one place, but you can share them with colleagues, learners and even parents, and develop your collection through the social nature of the internet.
Keeping in touch with STEM colleagues can be easier using a professional online network, such as Linkedin.
As you now probably know, The National STEM Centre also has online community groups that you can either join or set one up of your own. Groups such as these are great for exchanging ideas and teaching resources. Find out more and have a look at some of the other groups here.
Most smart phones have the facility to link to RSS feeds, facebook and Twitter, as well as email.
Continuous Professional Development
Keeping yourself up to date might be even more essential if part of your role is to help your colleagues keep up to date too. Obviously you can use elements of this STEM Careers module and the STEM Choices Resource pack on which it is based. All of the presentations in this module are available for download, customisation and re-use, and these and the content can be re-used for educational purposes. For most staff, STEM Getting Started has the best offering, but you may wish to use elements from other sections to extend or tailor the content more closely to your needs.
Other sources you may also wish to investigate:
- The Learning and Skills Improvement Service have produced a series of CPD modules, one of which, An Introduction to Career Development for STEM Learners, is aimed at those who are working in the FE and skills sector. The module is presented as a half day workshop. The associated resource list can be found here.
- An inservice training pack for subject teachers from the Centre for Science Education on the Engineering a Better World Resources, found in the National STEM Centre elibrary. This has material for a pre-course task and 2 twilight sessions, a total of 6 hours CPD.
Use your STEM Careers Personal Action Plan to jot down any outstanding issues or action points. If you don't have one you can download from here.
Taking it further...
You can find out more about the power of social media on this JISC help page.
Add any comments in the box below or on the STEM Careers Helping Students Get The Message online community group on the National STEM Centre website.
Move on to the next section: Promoting Equality and Diversity in STEM