Mobile Phones and Your Health

Before we start, you may have noticed that a couple of blog posts have been published earlier than anticipated this week.  Yesterday I sent the ‘5 mins more…‘ post a day earlier than I meant to.  It happened earlier in the week also. Sorry about that, the WordPress site we use has a button that says ‘Update’ on it,  which is essentially a ‘save’ button. Occasionally this very same button changes it’s function to ‘Publish’. It’s the same button, same place and the same colour. I habitually manually save as I go – too many scars – and this multi-function button is catching me out. Sorry if this has caused any confusion.

OK, here we go:

Not everyone has a mobile phone, or for that matter a smart phone, this much we understand. If you are one of these people, I hope you will still be entertained and informed by today’s post.

I’ve added quite a few links to webpages in this blog post, more than usual. Clearly if you read all of them it would take you beyond the 5 min time period allotted. Pick an area that you are interested in and read some of the pages I’ve linked to.

To summarise  (not much of this will surprise you):

  • Fatal car crashes related to mobile phone use are skyrocketing – and you will go to prison for a long time if you cause one.
  • The link between brain tumours and mobile phones is as yet inconclusive.
  • Your eyes will suffer if you look at any screen for too long.
  • We are becoming psychologically addicted to our phones.

Mobile Phones and Driving

‘Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.’
Jim Morrison

I’ve had a good surf around the web to find statistics on mobile phone related car crashes, and as usual there’s more stats out there for the US than UK – but all webpages seem to agree that it is a massive and under reported problem (Business Insider and Brake).

Recent changes to the law mean that, if convicted of minor mobile phone related offences, you can face up to six points on your license plus a £200 fine. It’s cheaper and safer to invest in a hands-free kit.

Just out of interest here’s a fascinating, if morbid, site detailing what you’re most likely to die from if you’re an American.

Mobile phones and Your Head


There’s some information on the Cancer Research website if you wish to dig deeper.


An increasing number of studies are showing that we are becoming psychologically addicted to our phones. The word nomophobia was coined in 2010 during a study commissioned by the UK Postal Service. It describes people who exhibit signs of anxiety if they do not have their phone with them, if their phone is running out of charge, or haven’t looked at it for in the last few minutes. If you’re interested, have a look at the All about counselling page and Nomophobia: A rising trend in students to test yourself to see if you have nomophobia.

Mobile Phones/Screens and Your Eyes

Prolonged periods of look at any screen can cause damage to our eyes. Have a look at Keeping your eyes in a digital world and keep the  20-20-20 suggestion in mind.


Find us some trustworthy UK statistics on mobile phones and traffic incidents (that are not published in newspapers).


Post any tips or sites with details of how to stay healthy in the digital world.






5 mins more…

Well done and thank you to everyone who engaged with the course this week. Don’t worry if you haven’t done all the tasks just yet. There is no time limit on completion of them, though it’s a good idea to keep up to avoid getting snowed under.

If I had more time I’d really like the opportunity to respond to some of the comments you made as they are always informative – thank you for them. I hope everyone is finding time to pass a cursory eye over them at the very least. There was one comment made on Thursday’s post, by John Manning from IT Services, that I would like to bring directly to your attention:

‘Up until recently my last job of the day was to walk round the teaching buildings turning off all projectors and computers left on in rooms (this could be up to 85% of rooms ), even though systems are automatically turned off at 9pm, this was saving up to 4hrs per day 20hrs per week, per room of which we have over 250. So if you are last in a room, please shut down your systems not just blanking them.’

I think we can all learn from that and make an immediate change to our habits for the better. Thanks John!

‘Now let’s take a look at some of your work in… the gallery.’

Well done to everyone who engaged with the course on Wednesday (‘Photography’), I urge you to go back to the comments section and read them if you haven’t already. There’s some fascinating stats and articles in there.

I’ve very much enjoyed looking at your photographs. You’re clearly a talented bunch. Here’s a selection:

These photos were taken by Rhys Frankland (Chelmsford Student Services) on an iPhone 7. Rhys selected ‘portrait mode’ on the camera which created a shallow field of focus, which focusses the eye on the subject, by blurring the background. If your phone doesn’t have that option on it, then Snapseed has a lens blur option that does the same thing.  I’ve added the thirds lines, you should just about make them out. It doesn’t have to be dead on (always go with what you think looks best), but as you can see the photos, do loosely adhere to the rule (and Yum!).



Some of our Library staff made some great memes. The top one here was created by Clare Young in Chelmsford, the bottom by Liam Herbert. Liam used a Windows phone and added text on the PC with Adobe Spark.

Library Meme.png



Fairly dry materials can look interesting if you find an interesting angle, focus the eye with some lens blur, and add text. A good example of this is the following meme which was created by Helen in IT Services (below) Helen said she used an ‘iPhone 6+, using Snapseed (just downloaded it)…. Just took the photo of whatever I could grab at my desk. I cropped it, rotated slightly, applied a linear lens blur and vignette, then overlaid with text.’


This shot was taken by Sally Cowens from Student Services (Chelmsford) while in Spain on holiday, and edited in Snapseed. The original and the processed one are below:



Jennifer Little from Student Services (Cambridge) made the meme below using Snapseed –simple and effective – love the angles.


Inspirational stuff from Sarah Johnson from Estates and Facilities:


This award-winning photograph was taken by Emma Stokes with an iPhone.

Hedgehog Picture.jpg

and the final one taken by Paula Langton in Estates and Facilities, taken with DSLR – I’ve added the thirds lines. Have you started to notice it yet on other photographs, art and TV?






Vampire Power


We should all be aware of our power consumption, not only from a personal financial perspective, but also as a responsibility to the planet. As the strap line of a well known supermarket says, ‘every little helps’, and when it comes to a 40 million people switching off their televisions at night, rather than putting them on standby, that can make a huge difference.

Power and financial cost

Have a play with this tool to ascertain how much energy you are using with devices and how much money (all be it in dollars) they might be costing you every year.

Vampire Power, Standby Power, Phantom Power

The above are all names for the power that our devices use when you are not using them. (It’s not always bad as some devices require some power going to them to retain information.)   In America this costs 19 billion dollars a year.

Mobile Phones

There are somewhere in the region of 40 to 60 million mobile phones in the UK. How many of their chargers are on right this minute, with no phone attached to them? Is yours on at home right now?

According to a number of studies, 50% of the power that our phone chargers use happens when we are not actually charging our phones – so switch them off. There’s also plenty of evidence to show that third party chargers can use even more energy this way, and can also be very dangerous when left on, or even being switched on at all. Be very careful, and avoid 3rd party charges if you can. Feel free to Google ‘Third party phone charger danger’ if you wish to inform yourself.

Our Planet

Well… I don’t think we need to go into that so much here. There’s a seemingly endless amount of writing on this subject freely available to everyone. Many articles report that somewhere in the region of 97% of all scientists believe it’s happening, and that it’s a man and woman made problem. I threw a stick and found this article, but you can find your own.

As consumers the cumulative use of the population is the issue. It’s easy to find statistics that confirm that it costs less than a pound to charge your phone in a year – but what price is that if there was a billion phones sold in 2016? Of course mobile phones are not the only culprits, in fact they take up a minuscule part of the over all need for power, and perhaps that’s the scariest thing about it.


Did you know that our University was awarded £1 million from the HEFCE Revolving Green Fund for the Combined Heat and Power plant on the Cambridge Campus Sustainability at Anglia Ruskin University. Find something on our site related to this area that you didn’t know, or think should be brought to our attention,  and share it in the comments.


Find me some recent statistics about UK power use, and post in the comments.


Find an up-to-date article about alternative forms of energy that you found interesting.

















Photograph taken on iPhone, processed with the Snapseed app, text created with the InstaQuote app.

Today I’d like to talk to you about using your mobile phone/devices or even an actual camera, to take photographs.

If you do not take photos, you will still hopefully find this interesting.

Why use photographs in your work?

  • Many studies suggest that as many as 40% of people are visual learners.
  • Photographs can accelerate understanding by illustration.
  • Photographs can help people to retrieve information from memory.
  • They break up text in presentations.
  • Using your own photographs means you don’t’ have to ask permission to use them!

According to Ofcom more people now have mobile phones than laptops and PCs, and 2017 is set to see mobile users take literally trillions of photographs. So, if we’re going to take photos with our devices, let’s look at how we might take better ones.

My 5 top tips for instantly better photographs

  1. Bend your knees. Photographs taken at eye level are usually more engaging. Bend your knees if you’re taking photographs of people who are sitting down or who are smaller than you. Get closer, or crop more tightly later when processing, to achieve a more intimate shot.


Eye level is often more engaging


Bend your knees rather than titling your camera

  1. Switch OFF your flash. If something is far away and it’s dark, your flash is useless. (Your flash is useless at concerts!). Classrooms are surrounded by windows and often have lights on, so you will rarely need a flash in that situation. Switch the flash back on if it’s too dark, obviously.


switch off your flash

  1. USE your camera and experiment with it. Look at what you have shot and remember what worked and what didn’t. Get used to deleting lots and lots of photos and keep just the good ones.

N.B. This point may draw criticism from many photographers. I’m not asking you to ‘spray and pray’ as it’s often referred to, nor am I advising you to spend the entire event taking photos, but DO use your camera more, and review what you shoot critically to make them better next time.

  1. Be aware of and use the rule of thirds. People don’t just need to be in the middle of your shot. Most portraits, landscapes, film, TV shots, and most paintings, comply with the rule of thirds, or deliberately break that rule.
middle  middlethirds


Nobody likes having their photo being taken, by the way. Be positive with your subject, and brave. Suggest that they turn their shoulder VERY slightly towards you as it makes it look less like a mug shot.

NB: It’s not always easy to see a scene in thirds (and it’s not a law to do that either), but once you see it, you will see it everywhere – have another look at the Mona Lisa, the Hay Wain or TV programmes like the news and imagine lines on the image, like the one above.


  1. Apps: It’s become rather trendy to announce that you didn’t use a filter on your photograph, but in reality professional photographers spend hours processing and editing their shots – just don’t over do it (OR really over do it!).

img_2812Too far?! (taken with a free app called Prismo)

It’s often a matter of taste, BTW. This shot was quickly processed with an amazing app called Snapseed. Do you like the one on the right more or less I wonder?


Lots to choose from today:

Create an educational meme using your device and apps (I used InstaQuote on the image at the top of the page) and make the quote pertinent to your work or inspirational, and email it to me With your permission I’ll post the best ones on this blog for everyone to see.


Take a photograph considering the 5 tips above, and email it to me and I will give you feedback on it. With your permission I’ll post the best ones on this blog for everyone to see.


Let us know how you might find photography useful in your work. Or give us an example of how you have used photography.


Find some recent statistics related to mobile phone and photography (using Google), and post it in the comments.


Let us all know of any photographic apps you have found that you like.




All photographers were rubbish at it when they started.

Put your camera down occasionally and enjoy the event/gig/your life.


Speech to Text to Speech


All new smart phones, tablets and computers (that have a microphone input), have speech to text and text to speech either built in to them, or will support software that will do it, and more often than not that software is free. This enables you to dictate text into any app/piece of software (email/webpages/notes/Word etc.)

Why is it a good idea?

Using these technologies can be hugely beneficial to people with dyslexia and dysgraphia, and visual impairments. They can also be beneficial to people with repetitive strain, or any number of physical disabilities. Individuals who are attempting to communicate in a non-native language can also benefit.

These technologies may well be useful to you in your day-to-day work, and life. I’ve noticed a growing number of people using this technology to dictating quick notes,  diary entries, etc., just because it’s quick and easy.


Today we’d like you to do one of the following:

  • Click on an appropriate link for your device and have a go at writing a note, or get it to read a screen for you, and tell us how you got on in the comments section of this post. Watch this YouTube video to find out how to enable Speech to Text on Apple devices. Or text to speech on Apple devices and Android phones. Google it if I haven’t given you a link to instructions for your device.


  • Click on the picture below, watch the video, then leave a comment on this blog post NOT on the video page please, about anything you found interesting or useful. Sian Shaw has been using tablets to assess her students and recently gave a (very quick) talk about it at one of our TeachMeet events. Sian details how her students are using the voice to speech app to facilitate inclusivity and accessibility, as well as it being a really handy thing for anyone to do and use.



Going further:

Your 5 minutes will be up for today, but as usual we’re keen to give you as much as we can. If you did not watch the video above as part of your task, then please do, as we think you will be inspired.  There are a number of tools out there for dictating text, or reading screens that you may also find interesting:

Using speech to text in Word

Typing with your voice with Google

Information about Dragon Dictate





Digital Citizenship


Let us consider our responsibilities as digital citizens, as individuals, and as mentors in our personal and professional lives. Whether you’re simply emailing a colleague, or posting comments on social media, downloading and using materials in your work, or even inviting your staff and/or students to work with collaborative tools, it’s always a good idea to be cognisant of what you are doing, how it appears to others, the law, and the importance of setting a good example.

‘A digital citizen refers to a person utilizing information technology (IT) in order to engage in society…’ K. Mossberger et al.

Mossberger, Karen, (2011). “Digital Citizenship – The Internet, Society and Participation” By Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Ramona S. McNeal.” 23 Nov. 2011. ISBN 978-0819456069

How to be a good digital citizen

It’s a good idea to have these in mind whether in contact with students, staff or in your personal life:

Who are you? – we should all be aware of how we ‘come across’ whether that is in terms of what you post about yourself, or how you speak to or about others. If the occasion arises, it may be useful to speak to your staff and students about how they want the world, their colleagues, peers and potential employees, to see them.

Passwords – having passwords that are easy to guess not only puts you at risk of handing over your bank details for example, but may also give the keys to nefarious agencies to access University systems. NEVER give you password to anyone no matter how convincingly/nicely they ask you.

Your information – keep your information private, and do not hand it out online. Information is ‘big bucks’ these days, and they will try to get it from you any way they can. Some Facebook users may be aware of questionnaires that claim to ascertain things like what kind of butterfly you are… (!?), or whether you and your partner have compatible star signs. They may appear to be just a bit of fun, but these questionnaires are entirely created to gather information about yourself. It will be saved, and used to build a picture of your habits.

Photographs and what you post/email – it is almost impossible to completely delete what you write or post online. Think about it. You may also be horrified/interested to know that if you have children with mobile phones, your name would be legally associated with anything that phone is used for. Educating children to be good digital citizens is interesting and essential, but we don’t have time for it here, though the topics of online cyber-bullying, sexting and revenge porn are sadly pertinent to all ages.

Copyright – be aware of copyright and your right to use, share, and teach with materials. You should demonstrate this awareness to your staff and students at all times. It’s a good idea to be able to answer rudimentary questions about copyright with your staff and students when asked. Have a look at the links on the ‘Copyright Licenses’ post.

Protect yourself – ensure you have up-to-date antivirus software on your machines – and make sure you take updates to software as they often have security fixes in them. Your staff and students should be aware of this. It’s not just your machine and information you’re protecting.


Choose one of the following links, and share something that you found interesting/useful/something you didn’t know/hilarious and post a comment about it in the comment section of this post – the link to comments should be at the side of the title of this post if you’re viewing this on the web, and at the bottom if you’re reading this on your email.. Feel free to do more than one.  You must post a comment in order to be eligible for a digital badge.

  • The Guardian has a good piece on deleting history on social media that is worth a read.
  • Google ‘Going Dark’ and find something interesting to comment on. (it’s more the FBI side of things rather than dying your hair links you need.)
  • What happens to your data when you take online questionnaires?
  • Have a look at this page. DO NOT enter any of your passwords into it. However, you may wish to have a play with different styles of passwords, e.g words and numbers symbols, lower and upper cases etc. It’s quite eye opening. Let us know what you had to do to make a password as secure as you can. P.S DO NOT PUT YOUR OWN PASSWORD IN THERE.

5 Days of Digital Literacy is back on Monday

Hello, 5 Days of Digital Literacy is back this coming Monday (6th of February, 2017) so we thought we’d drop you a line to cover some admin for newcomers, and some news and information on digital badges.  Please read all of this post whether you’re new to 5 Days or not.


We thought you might be interested to see some statistics since the course started back in October 2016:

  • 292 people are currently following the blog
  • 2,411 comments have been made by you
  • 13,459 views of the posts
  • 1,474 tweet activities (tweets, reposts, likes, mentions, etc)
  • 438 digital badges have been awarded through
  • 1,973 instances of activity with those badges (sharing, linking to LinkedIn, etc)

Welcome to newcomers

Signing up to this WordPress blog is essential if you wish to make comments, receive your digital badges, and have the posts sent to you automatically. You will find a ‘Follow’ section somewhere on this page (usually down the right hand side). Please enter your work email address into the field provided and press the ‘Follow‘ button. You should then receive an email asking you to confirm that you wish to join the blog. Please read the rest of this post newcomers, it may help you with the course.

Digital Badges

  • Congratulations to everyone who has engaged with the course, completed activities, and received their digital badges. Everyone who has completed all 5 activities from any one month on this course should have received their digital badge by now. Well done and please continue. If you think you should have received a badge and haven’t, then please contact me on – BUT please read this page before doing so, as it may contain the answer you need.
  • A fair few people have completed 5 activities but not from the same month and so will not have received a digital badge yet. To receive a digital badge, you must complete 5 activities within the same month, as they are grouped in themes. We have, so far, posted 3 lots of 5 activities, and they ran in October, November and December 2016. You can see which month they were released right next to the title of the post. A bit of scrolling has to be done to find where you are – some of you may wish to scroll back, and fill in some of the gaps.  Please contact me by email if you think you should have received a badge, and haven’t:
  • There’s also a number of people who do not have a account set up and so cannot receive the badges they have earned. If you wish to receive a badge, you need to go to and set up an account with your work email address.
  • We get a lot of queries about how you can show your badges to other people. Once you have a Credly Account you can share them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or simply through Credly itself, and you could happy make reference to them on your C.V. The answer to this question can be found using Google. But here’s the link anyway.

Activities: IMPORTANT

  • Post your answers to the activities in the comments section of the post the activity is set. Just click on the link ‘leave a comment’ next to the title of the post.
  • Please read the activities carefully and answer them as requested.
  • There is a considerable amount of admin attached to this course, so following the instructions will save us work, and make your experience more enjoyable.

Finally: Please let people know they can still join in. Each month has different content.  We will pick up answers to the activities from all posts at any time, and this course will remain open.