Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Social networking and silver surfers

Guest blog by Dr Jyoti Choudrie, Systems Management Research Unit, Hertfordshire Business School

Dr Jyoti Choudrie
Ever wondered how many older people regularly use Online Social Networks(OSN) such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter?  Do they use them as much as younger people? Together with my colleague Dr Amit Vyas, we set out to find out the answers to these questions – and were surprised by the results.

With such rapid advances in internet technologies and the widening easy access to fast and reliable broadband, OSNs are an increasingly important for technology adoption.  And in addition, digital technologies can facilitate daily tasks, such that older adults may remain living at home independently for longer – information can be obtained and implemented so that their quality of life can be increased.

We used a random sample population of residents from the Hertfordshire area to identify and understand the adoption, use and diffusion of OSNs in the UK’s older population.

© Creatista | Dreamstime Stock Photos
& Stock Free Images
For the purposes of this study, ‘older’ individuals are defined as being internet users of 50 years old or above, and often referred to as ‘silver surfers’.

Our research found that in terms of use, 46.8% of the 519 adopters of OSNs used their OSNs on a weekly basis; 37.6% on a monthly basis and less than 1.6% on a daily basis for more than two hours.

The most popular activities OSNs were being used for were adding people they knew as contacts (86%), commenting on pictures (57%), sending messages (60%), viewing photos (55%), and obtaining events and media information (41%).

In terms of OSN applications for e-government, participants were found to use OSNs for central (14.6%) and local (1.2%) government interaction and communication.

The team found that that Facebook was the OSN used the most at 66 %, followed by Twitter (47%); LinkedIn (41%); Branch Out (10.4%) and Google+ (7.3 per cent).

76% of OSN users posted a picture of themselves, with 21% not having a photograph.  Privacy concerns were also very important when an older adult was considering accepting the use of an OSN in daily life. An interesting finding is that older adults using OSNs are known within friends, family, and peers as having a greater social status and are ‘revered’ and viewed to be most popular within friends and family.

Our research showed that OSNs are being accepted and used by a group of society that is perceived as not accepting this technology.  Older adults are well informed on privacy issues and those who use OSNs are viewed to be really ‘up there’ within their social group.

This research is vital for companies such as telephone and mobile companies in identifying the reasons for using or not using new OSN technologies.  And for policymakers, this research shows that older adults are aware of many of the issues as younger people.

The full article is available at the  British Computer Society or BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT)

Monday, 24 March 2014

MSc Mental Health Recovery (online)... 4 months on

Audrey Kempson
Audrey Kempson, Programme Tutor
MSc Mental Health Recovery & Social Inclusion (online) Programme Tutor Audrey Kempson reflects on how the past four months of this new course has gone...

The MSc in Mental Health Recovery and Social Inclusion (online) started in November 2014 with 60 students signed up to this truly innovative project that has been developed by partners in Europe and funded by the European Union. Experts in the field have put together an online course that reflects international work in the mental health field in Italy, the United States, Portugal and Poland.

This online programme has students from across the UK, Switzerland, Poland, Italy and Australia and is being delivered online with contributions from the team across Europe who are involved in sharing and reflecting on their expertise in particular areas of research, practice and continuing professional development. It has attracted doctors, psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers and has been particularly successful in getting applicants who are people with lived experience of mental illness and their carers on board. This has led to a course that is truly participatory and that has brought a great deal of hope and inspiration about the mental health recovery journey. Maybe one of the students says it best:
"I work as a Staff Grade psychiatrist at Brockfield House, secure unit in Wickford, Essex, United Kingdom. I work in medium secure acute and rehabilitation wards. My patients are detained under the section of the mental health act and mostly are prison transfers and under Ministry of Justice directives.

I wanted my patients to have Recovery and be able to voyage of self-discovery and personal growth. I wanted to increase my knowledge and help my patients cross bridges of stigma and recover. For being able to help my patients I choose the MSc in Mental Health Recovery and Social Inclusion Programme. I have been using the medical model and after attending the modules my knowledge have increased in different models of recovery and I am able to see the benefits within my practice. I am able to support my patients and provide a holistic view of mental illness that focuses on the person, not just their symptoms.

MSc in Mental Health Recovery and Social Inclusion Programme has been an excellent experience, the programme gave me an experience of meeting different students all over the world and also of having a discussion about various topics within the programme.

 I have learned a lot and still continue to do so at my MSc in Mental Health Recovery and Social Inclusion Programme at the University of Hertfordshire."
Dr Muhammad Shafi, Essex, England

More information about: MSc Mental Health Recovery and Social Inclusion (online)
Next course intake: every September
Next application deadline: 15th July 2014
Find outhow to apply
Follow Audrey on Twitter: @dr_aud
Follow UH Online on Twitter:@UHOnlineTweets

Please contact us with any enquiries about this course.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Public Health guest lecture

Jim McManus, Director of Public Health, Hertfordshire gives this insightful guest lecture to University of Hertfordshire public health students titled: Public Health Leadership in Distributed Systems.

Want to know about MPH Public Health (online)?

The Master of Public Health (online) started September 2013 and has grown popular very quickly. The optional modules, the expertise teaching the course and focus on evidence-based practice we believe contributes to its global interest.

We tailored this course for health professionals including doctorspharmacistsnurses and allied healthsocial care and environmental health professionals, plus the wider public health workforce in the non-governmental sector. It also supports managerialpolicy and practitioner career pathways.

There are specialisms available including:
  • Commissioning and leadership;

  • Management of the double burden of communicable and non-communicable conditions;

  • Primary care;

  • Child health;

  • Health system approaches to improving public health outcomes and addressing health inequalities.
More information about: MPH Public Health course

Course intake: every September and January

Next application deadline: 15th July 2014

Find outhow to apply

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Study your business degree online

KTProgramme Tutor Karen Trimarchi talks about studying a business degree course online.

"As Programme Tutor for the BA(Hons) Business Administration (Online) course, I am excited to offer you the opportunity to embark on a journey with us to complete a degree that works round your needs. The development of technology has now allowed us to provide you with a totally online learning experience on the BA(Hons) Business Administration (online) degree.

To me, education is an extremely valuable asset that will remain with you for the rest of your life. It is flexible, transferable and adaptable AND you never stop learning. If you have an enquiring mind, education will open doors for you in employment as well as in your personal life. At work you will be able to develop your skills and knowledge to create a career, while at home, your skills may be adapted to manage your children, finances and household.

As the UK economy continues to improve, this is the time for you to invest in yourself.  Today, construction industry is showing signs of recovery because of the Government’s introduction of the Help to Buy scheme. This is turn will create employment for the local community and businesses that rely on this industry. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Will you be ready for it?

Being well-educated opens up new opportunities and enables you to make choices in life. Personally having a UK degree from an established institution (I am a UH alumnus) has given me the opportunity to develop my career in the direction I wanted.

Invest in this now as an online degree with the University of Hertfordshire is a flexible opportunity for self-development.  The University’s reputation for innovation and enterprise provides students with a well-rounded learning experience.  I enjoyed my experience with the University so much that I never left!”

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Want to change, but finding it difficult to get started?

Do you want to be healthier, happier and less stressed? It is unlikely that anyone would say no, but it isn’t easy to change our lifestyle or habits in order to achieve these goals, however much we want them. It takes something special to get us out of a rut.
left to right:
Professor Ben Fletcher, Do Something Different and University of Hertfordshire
David Andrews, deputy cabinet member for public health and localism, Hertfordshire County Council (HCC)
Jim McManus, director of public health, HCC
Sue Beck, health improvement principle, HCC
Ronel Erasmus, Do Something Different
So, why not try one of the three online programmes designed to help bring about a positive change to your life?  As a resident of Hertfordshire, you can sign up for one, free of charge.

Hertfordshire County Council’s public health department, working in partnership with Do Something Different, has commissioned three online programmes under the ‘Do Something Different’ banner: Do Healthy in Herts, Do Happiness in Herts, and Do Less Stress in Herts. Try the one closest to your personal goals.

David Andrews, deputy cabinet member for public health and localism said: “Each programme offers you six weeks during which you will be encouraged to break away from the habits that keep you doing the same things and explore approaches that can lead to a healthier, happier or less stressful way of life. Places are limited so act now if you would like to try a new approach to changing your life.”

The programmes are the brainchild of Professors Ben Fletcher and Karen Pine from the University of Hertfordshire. Professor Karen Pine, one of the founding psychologists behind Do Something Different, says: “It’s easy to talk about changing things in your life, but most of us find it incredibly difficult. These programmes are all about doing. Each ‘do’ will encourage you to change an old habit or try a new way of doing something. That will help you to bring more happiness into your life, to feel less stressed or to adopt a healthier lifestyle, one ‘do’ at a time. It’s designed to be easy and fun to do, and we see great results.”

To get started, if you are over 18 and a resident of Hertfordshire, visit the website: and complete the quick, online questionnaire that captures your personal habits and behaviours. You will then receive a series of personalised do’s or fun, positive actions sent by text message and/or email, that will help transform your life with a series of small steps over the next six weeks. Each step is chosen especially for you and designed to push you outside your personal comfort zone into trying new ways of doing things. At the end of the programme you can complete the online questionnaire again to see what has changed.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Self-acceptance could be the key to a happier life, yet it’s the happyhabit many people practise the least

Professor Karen J Pine
Happiness is more than just a feeling; it is something we can all practise on a daily basis. But people are better at some ‘happy habits’ than others. In fact, the one habit that corresponds most closely with us being satisfied with our lives overall – self-acceptance – is often the one we practise least.

5,000 people surveyed by the charity Action for Happiness, in collaboration with Do Something Different, rated themselves between 1 and 10 on ten habits identified from the latest scientific research as being key to happiness.

Giving was the top habit revealed by those who took the survey. When asked about Giving (How often do you make an effort to help or be kind to others?) people scored an average of 7.41 out of 10, with one in six (17%) topping 10 out of 10. Just over one in three (36%) people scored 8 or 9; slightly fewer (32%) scored 6 or 7; and less than one in six (15%) rated themselves at 5 or less.

The Relating habit came a close second. The question How often do you put effort into the relationships that matter most to you? produced an average score of 7.36 out of 10. And 15% of people scored the maximum 10 out of 10.

The survey also revealed which habits are most closely related to people’s overall satisfaction with life. All 10 habits were found to be strongly linked to life satisfaction, with Acceptance found to be the habit that predicts it most strongly. Yet Acceptance was also revealed as the habit that people tend to practise the least, generating the lowest average score from the 5,000 respondents.

When answering the Acceptance question, How often are you kind to yourself and think you’re fine as you are? people’s average rating was just 5.56 out of 10. Only 5% of people put themselves at a 10 on the Acceptance habit. Around one in five people (19%) scored an 8 or 9; Less than a third (30%) scored a 6 or 7; and almost half (46%) of people rated themselves at 5 or less.

Treating our bodies to regular physical activity is another proven happy habit. Yet the survey revealed that this is another habit that often gets overlooked. The average answer to How often do you spend at least half an hour a day being active? was just 5.88 out of 10, with 45% of people rating themselves 5 or less.

Professor Karen Pine, a psychologist from the University of Hertfordshire and co-founder of Do Something Different, said: “Practising these habits really can boost our happiness. It’s great to see so many people regularly doing things to help others - and when we make others happy we tend to feel good ourselves too. This survey shows that practising self-acceptance is one thing that could make the biggest difference to many people’s happiness. Exercise is also known to lift mood so if people want a simple, daily way to fee happier they should get into the habit of being more physically active too”.

To support participants who want to boost their happy habits, Do Something Different and Action for Happiness have also created a new Do Happiness programme, which sends people regular small positive actions (Do’s) to help them practice the habits that science shows tend to make people happy.

How can we practise the self-acceptance habit?

Here are three positive actions that people can take to increase their levels of self-acceptance:

  • Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. See your mistakes as opportunities to learn. Notice things you do well, however small

  • Ask a trusted friend or colleague to tell you what your strengths are or what they value about you

  • Spend some quiet time by yourself. Tune in to how you're feeling inside and try to be at peace with who you are.
Where did the happy habits come from?

The happy habits included in the survey are based on the Ten Keys to Happier Living framework, developed by Action for Happiness based on an extensive review of the latest research about what really affects mental wellbeing. Together the Ten Keys spell the acronym GREAT DREAM, as follows:

  • Giving: do things for others

  • Relating: connect with people

  • Exercising: take care of your body

  • Appreciating: notice the world around

  • Trying out: keep learning new things

  • Direction: have goals to look forward to

  • Resilience: find ways to bounce back

  • Emotion: take a positive approach

  • Acceptance: be comfortable with who you are

  • Meaning: be part of something bigger

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Online guest lecture: Artificial Intelligence

To celebrate Europe week, we're honoured to have  Prof. Dr. Dagmar Monett from Berlin School of Economics and Law delivering an online guest lecture this morning for our online computer science students.

Online guest lectures are usually exclusively for our online Computer Science students, but on a first come, first serve basis, we're opening this up for prospective students to view also. Here are the details:
  • Guest Lecture: Agents and multi-agent systems

  • Presenter: Prof. Dr. Dagmar Monett from Berlin School of Economics and Law

  • Date: Wednesday 5th March

  • Time: 10:00-11:00 (GMT)
Check your computer is set up for Adobe Connect:

A kind note...

As this is a one-off, we cannot confirm we'll have a recording publicly available after the event. Please also note, the online Adobe Connect room has a limited capacity, we'll let visitors into the virtual room until that capacity is reached. 

Enjoy the lecture!