3.2 Search engines and subject gateways
Although both search engines and subject gateways will help you find the resources that you need, the types of information that you find will differ.
Search engines such as Google and Yahoo! search the internet for keywords or phrases, and then show you the results. These results are not mediated by the search engines, and therefore you need to use your own judgement on the reliability of the results. You may, for example, find websites written by experts, alongside websites written by
You can find a lot of information about technology on the internet.
To find this information you might choose to use:
search engines and subject gateways;
books and electronic books;
2.2 Basic principles
Whatever resource you choose to use to find information on the internet, many of the same principles apply. Each source that you use will probably look quite different from the one you tried before, but you'll notice that there are always features that are similar – a box to type your search terms in, for instance, or a clickable help button. Different resources refer to the same functions using different terminology, but the principles behind them are exactly the same. The trick is to chec
2.1 Planning your search
Your approach to searching will depend to a great extent on what kind of person you are. In an ideal world, when searching for information for a specific purpose, we would all find what exactly we were looking for at the first attempt, especially if we are in a hurry. However, it’s always a good idea to have some kind of plan when you are searching for information, if only to help you plan your time and make sure you find the information you need. If I was starting to search for material on
1.6 Keeping up-to-date
How familiar are you with the following different ways of keeping up to date with information; alerts, mailing lists, newsgroups, blogs, RSS, professional bodies and societies?
5 – Very familiar
4 – Familiar
3 – Fairly familiar
2 – Not very familiar
1 – Not familiar at all
1.4 Evaluating information
How well does the following statement describe your approach to evaluating the information that you use?
When I come across a new piece of information (e.g. a website, newspaper article) I consider the quality of the information, and based on that I decide whether or not to use it.
5 – This is an excellent match; this is exactly what I do
1.2 Key resources
When you need to find information in technology, how confident are you that you know the best places to search (e.g. search engines, subject gateways, online databases, etc.) to find the information you need?
5 – Very confident
4 – Confident
3 – Fairly confident
2 – Not very confident
1 – Not confident at all
How familiar are you with journal articles
By the end of this guide you should be able to:
conduct your own searches efficiently and effectively;
find references to material in bibliographic databases;
make efficient use of full text electronic journals services;
critically evaluate information from a variety of sources;
understand the importance of organising your own information;
identify some of the systems available;
The internet provides a world of information, but how do you find what you are looking for? This unit will help you discover the meaning of information quality and teach you how to evaluate the material you come across in your study of technology. You will learn how to plan your searches effectively and be able to experiment with some of the key resources in this area.
This unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course Author(s):
Andy Lane, author and course chair to December 1999
John Martin, author and course chair from January 2000
Amber Eves, course manager
Laurence Newman, course manager
Pat Shah, course secretary
Susan Carr, author
Eion Farmer, author and critical reader
Jim Frederickson, author
John Naughton, author
Roger Spear, author
Karen Shipp, senior software designer and author
Ian Every, software manager
5.4.4 Theories of leadership
Trait theories see leadership as requiring certain personal characteristics.
Style theories see leadership as the adoption of certain styles of interaction: e.g. task-centred (or structuring) leadership and person-centred (or supporting) leadership.
Contingency theories argue that different circumstances demand different modes of leadership.
5.4.3 Two key leadership activities
Providing feedback: giving evaluative feedback so that it is experienced as helpful rather than destructive.
Problem ownership: the importance of accepting responsibility for our own problems, rather than blaming others.
5.4.2 Leadership expectations
Largely because of expectations created in childhood (our ‘inner child of the past’), we have many unconscious expectations of leaders, and may well harbour resentments, anxieties, suspicions, subservience, passive resistances and attitudes to leadership that have little relationship to current adult realities.
The leader needs to be able to manage these feelings and his or her own responses to them.
Leaders will tend t
5.3.4 Leadership theory summary
This brief review of leadership theories has indicated that there are no simple answers to what it is that makes some leaders more effective than others, and no single best leadership style or approach. What matters is that the style adopted should fit with the expectations of those being led and be consistent with the task at hand (that is, it should not ignore the specific characteristics of the task itself).
There are no simple answers, which is perhaps why this continues to be the s
5.3 Leadership theories
Many theories about leadership tend to focus on the question ‘What is it that makes one leader more effective than another?’ The hope is that by observing carefully enough how successful leaders operate, it will be possible to arrive at a theory which will either enable others to be more effective leaders, or at least enable organisations to select better leaders. These theories of leadership fall into three broad categories: trait theories, style theories and contingency theories. I'll e
5.2.2 Owning problems
Problem ownership is a tricky issue. It's also an issue that good leaders get right instinctively, and poor leaders get wrong consistently. The point is that there are two distinct classes of problems faced by leaders. The first consists of problems which are owned by the group members. Examples include when some additional resources are required, when instructions are not understood or when members complain that something is wrong. Under these conditions the leader's function is to provide p
4.4 What does a project manager do?
So what is project management and what does a project manager do? Project management involves managing teams of people from different disciplines to achieve unique project objectives. For example, a new product development team may never develop exactly the same product again. However, the competences used in product development may be transferable to other projects.
Project management usually takes place within a constrained environment. Typical factors which impinge on project managem
4.3.2 Setting goals and objectives
Whatever the structure and culture of an organisation and the range of people involved, goals and objectives are usually seen as a valuable management tool. This is as relevant to a project team as it is to a whole organisation. What I will focus on here are some of the tensions and ambiguities surrounding the management of goals, especially in the context of team development. To be effective in clarifying and achieving the team task, we need to take account of the variety of (often conflicti
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