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5.4 Monitoring progress

This stage of the framework is about keeping track of how you are doing and what progress you are making. Are you using IT effectively for your purposes? How do you know? Could you have done things differently, such as made use of different facilities and software packages, taken more advantage of training sessions or local expertise, or recognised that such support would have helped you?

Monitoring your own performance and progress needs practice; try to stand back and look at what you
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5.3.1 Plan your use of IT skills and select methods

Exploring and planning an activity often results in a number of different options, possibilities and ways forward. Some approaches will be more feasible or will interest you more than others. At this stage, you need to think about how you will be using your IT skills and how you will assess the overall quality of your work.

Review the skills you will need to achieve your goals and the criteria you will use to check that you have achieved them. Opportunities and constraints to do with yo
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5.2.3 Identify and research relevant sources of information

Spend some time finding out about what you will need to complete your IT work successfully and who you need to consult. You may need to arrange access to a library, to the Internet, databases on CD-ROM or online, or specialist training or publications. If you need to learn more about specific IT procedures or techniques (for example setting up a spreadsheet, using a database, archiving data), then look first at your course material and then at study guides or notes aimed at your area of inter
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5.2.1 Identify opportunities for using IT skills

Where and how will you use information technology skills over the next 3–4 months? You may need IT to help you search for, develop, exchange and present information, including text, images and numbers. You may have to learn how to use a new software package, use email or computer conferencing, or search for, select and evaluate information from the Internet or online sources. Spend some time thinking about your study or work requirements and what opportunities you will have or can create to
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5.2 Developing a strategy

In developing a strategy for improving your IT skills you are aiming to:

  • identify the opportunities you can use to develop and practise your IT skills;

  • establish the outcomes you hope to achieve and targets for meeting them;

  • identify the resources you might use for developing your skills, including people who might be able to help you as well as books, study guides, tutorials, specialist training, databases, libraries
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5.1a Working on improving your IT skills

The three-stage framework for developing your IT skills provides the basis for you to become more confident in:

  • developing a strategy for using a variety of IT skills, including being clear about what you want to achieve, identifying relevant sources of information that will help you to achieve your goals, and planning how you intend to improve your skills;

  • monitoring your progress and critically reflecting on your performance in sear
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5.1 Introduction to improving your skills in information technology

This key skill develops your information technology (IT) skills in your studies, work or other activities over a period of time. To tackle all of this key skill, you will need to plan your work over at least 3–4 months to give yourself enough time to practise and improve your skills, to seek feedback from others, to monitor your progress and evaluate your strategy and present outcomes.

Skills in information technology cover a broad range, from using software unitages to developing a c
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4.5 Drawing ideas together

This key skill has used a three-stage framework for developing your skills. By developing a strategy, monitoring your progress and evaluating your overall approach, you take an active role in your own learning. But learning does not necessarily follow a path of steady improvement, it involves change: revisiting ideas, seeing things from different perspectives, tackling things in different ways.

You are unlikely to be able to complete your work by working through it from beginning to end
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4.4.3 Identify ways of further developing your communication skills

Think about your overall level of communication skills and suggest areas where you feel you need to improve, based on the experience you have gained. You might find it useful to discuss with your tutor or another student or work colleague how you might do this. There may be changes you feel you need to make so that you can move forward, such as trying to extend the facilities and resources available to you, changing the way you study to make best use of the time you have, or focusing on impro
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4.4.2 Assess the effectiveness of your strategy

Think about how your decisions, the resources you have used, and the people you have consulted have all influenced the way you tackled the work. Consider the effect of your own communication strengths and weaknesses on the outcomes of your work. Use your notes and comments to identify what was and was not helpful in achieving your outcomes, and assess how your own capabilities in communication contributed to this. Assess your achievements against criteria in order to judge quality and success
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4.4.1 Organise and clearly present relevant information

You need to know how to present information in ways that best suit your purpose, subject and audience, that is how to structure coherently what you say so that a sequence of ideas may be followed easily; how to use a range of techniques to help present information and support your argument (such as diagrams and models), and when to use technical vocabulary and conventions. Check that your work meets relevant guidelines and conventions. You may have guidelines about this at work and different
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4.3.5 Adapt your strategy

Often, plans run into difficulties because of unforeseen or changing circumstances. For example, it may have taken you longer than expected to get the information you needed, or just as you were ready to print off your final version of a report, the computer crashed. Plans are only a means to an end and frequently need to be modified. If you run into difficulties, think about how they affect the production of your immediate work and your overall goals. Do you need to modify your short-term pl
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4.3.4 Monitor and critically reflect on your use of communication skills

You need to know how to track and record your progress on your use of communication skills. Try to assess the overall quality of your written and oral work and the way you produced the work. Checklists and criteria provided as part of the project or assignment and those set out in the Bookmark can be very useful tools in helping you to assess for yourself precisely what you are doing and how well you are doing it. Unless you know what you are doing wrong, it is very difficult to improve.

<
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4.3.3 Communicate relevant information

A main outcome of this key skill is that you will be able to communicate complex information orally, visually and through writing.

Complex subjects are those that include a number of ideas, some of which may be abstract, very detailed, difficult to follow or require you to deal with sensitive issues or the interpretation of others’ viewpoints. Communicating information at this level may involve using technical vocabulary, carefully structuring what you say and/or write, and using diag
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4.3.2 Synthesise information

Synthesising information is about assessing the new information and prior information in relation to each other, looking for logical relationships in the material, identifying the important ideas, and taking a critical attitude towards the material by relating it to your own views and experiences and thinking about how the material can be used. Synthesising information is not just summarising the information or identifying main points.

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4.3.1 Judging the quality of information

Judging the quality of information is not the same as a description of it, nor is it the same as simply agreeing or disagreeing with it, and an evaluation of information should not include personal attacks. It does require you to assess the information in terms of its strengths and weaknesses and give adequate reasons to support your assessment. You may need to check facts, research other sources and question further.

There are vast amounts of information available today and magazines,
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4.3 Monitoring progress

This stage is about keeping track of your progress. How confident are you that you are achieving the standards of communication required for your work? How can you check how well you are doing?

Monitoring progress in communication skills involves knowing how to:

  • make judgements about the quality of information that you use from various sources;

  • synthesise information; and

  • communicate information in a form that s
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4.1 Introduction to improving your skills in communication

This key skill focuses on the ways in which you receive and respond to information and communicate with other people in your work, study and everyday life. Communication skills include speaking, listening, reading and writing for different purposes. Techniques such as note taking and writing summaries are important, but so, too, are the techniques of evaluation and application, such as evaluating the relevance and quality of information.

Communication is part of everyone's life and impr
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3.10 Drawing ideas together

This key skill has used a three-stage framework for developing your skills. By developing a strategy, monitoring your progress and evaluating your overall approach, you take an active role in your own learning. But learning does not necessarily follow a path of steady improvement, it involves change: revisiting ideas, seeing things from different perspectives, tackling things in different ways.

You are unlikely to be able to complete your work by working through it from beginning to end
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3.8.3 Identify ways of further improving your own learning and performance

Remember that improving your own learning and performance is not something that you can do once and then forget about it. It is a process that needs to become an integral part of your normal approach to work and study throughout your career in higher education and in the world of work. Developing and using the skill of improving your own learning and performance can enhance all other learning. As you worked through this key skill, what is it that you have learned? What can you take away with
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