Tim O'Riordan

Tim O'Riordan

I'm a PhD researcher in Web Science at the University of Southampton - but I'm also just interested in stuff in general.

Location Southampton


  • Hi Michael - I'm attempting to get people to talk about what steps they use to evaluate online content and avoid pitfalls in practical terms. Whether we use peer-reviewed evidence or 'rules of thumb', subjectively will always play a big role in the judgements we make. Sharing our experiences in this area is what this MOOC is all about.
    For example, when...

  • Hi Brian - I haven't and I'll take a look. It sounds interesting. Thanks.

  • Hi Michael - I suppose it depends how you define 'satisfying'. For example, how did you make the decision to take part in this MOOC? How did you evaluate it's usefulness - and mitigate the effects of potential 'spiders'?

  • Hi Rachel - Thanks for sharing! I hadn't heard of Springshare before. I regularly use Google Drive and to a lesser extent, Evernote for collaborative work. How do you find Springshare compares with Google Drive?

  • Some very good points here! The question of how we know something to be true has been around for thousands of years. Plato defined knowledge as true belief that has been tested by argument. Is this true for all information?

  • Hola Belem, bienvenida! Me alegro de que te este gustando el curso. A partir de ahora, tenemos que escribir en ingles ok? Un abrazo!
    Hi Belem, welcome to the course! We are glad you are enjoying it. For everyone to learn from each other, let us try to comment in English. Thanks!

  • Hi Laura - Good point. I have recently been trying to find information on the methods for teaching year 10 students about Python coding. There's a huge amount of information on the Web about Python programming - and it would have been easy to just take the first thing I found. However, finding the information I actually needed required a lot of patient...

  • Hi Matthias - Some excellent (or rather very bad) examples there! It would be nice to think there was a link between computer science doctorates and arcade revenue. What more evidence would you need to prove a causal link?

  • Hi Emma - Yes, there are a lot of bad/misleading graphics on the Web (The Guardian give some truly bad examples here: https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/gallery/2013/aug/01/16-useless-infographics).
    What strategies do you use to determine if analyses are biased?

  • Hi John - Sorry to hear that. Why isn't it relevant?

  • Hi Jane - What search strategies do you use to find data, and what sites have you found to be the most reliable?

  • Hi John - Good point. What strategies do you use to evaluate online information for learning?

  • Hi David - I agree, while it's not new, the issue of 'fake news' has been getting a lot of coverage recently because of increased awareness of the potential influence of the Web. What do you do to fact-check information online?

  • Hi David - I agree the researchers have yet to publish to peer-reviewed journals (as far as I can tell though searching - and they don't provide a link). But the publication is an established paper of record, it would be relatively easy to check their methodology by emailing one of the authors (a quick search found them at: https://sheg.stanford.edu/people)....

  • Hi John - Which user forums have you found to be most useful?

  • Hi Christopher - I think you're right. The Web provides a platform for a range of views, and not all information that I might disagree with is 'fake' - it's just another opinion. Having our opinions challenged is an important part of learning. Could some 'fake news' have positive outcomes?

  • Hi Achnes - We should be able to spot good sources - but it sometimes isn't straightforward. How do you filter out misleading information?

  • Hi Noor - Interesting observation. What do you think you could do to identify misleading information on the Web?

  • "3. Fact-checkers look past the order of search results. Instead of trusting Google to sort pages by reliability (which reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of how Google works), the checkers mined URLs and abstracts for clues. They regularly scrolled down to the bottom of the search results page in their quest to make an informed decision about where to...

  • "2. Fact-checkers know it's not about "About."
    They don't evaluate a site based solely on the description it provides about itself. If a site can masquerade as a nonpartisan think tank when funded by corporate interests and created by a Washington public relations firm, it can surely pull the wool over our eyes with a concocted "About" page."

  • Some good advice here for fact checking strategies:
    "1. Landing on an unfamiliar site, the first thing checkers did was to leave it.
    If undergraduates read vertically, evaluating online articles as if they were printed news stories, fact-checkers read laterally, jumping off the original page, opening up a new tab, Googling the name of the organization or...

  • Hola Carmen, bienvenida! Me alegro de que te este gustando el curso. A partir de ahora, tenemos que escribir en ingles ok? Un abrazo!
    Hi Carmen, welcome to the course! We are glad you are enjoying it. For everyone to learn from each other, let us try to comment in English. Thanks!

  • Ah - google translate! As well as doing this, I work for a European agency, and find google translate invaluable. I've also used the Web to research family history, and have improved my gardening through watching youtube videos.
    Personal time spent on computers is increasing, but whether they are taking over our lives is a matter for individual judgement....

  • Hi Elaine - I like your point about collaborative peer learning being only as good as the members of the group. How do you think this experience could be improved?

  • Hi Venkat - Yes there are many choices, and these have increased markedly in recent years, but are they available equally to all? Teaching methods and social contexts slowly evolve, but how much does this effect us on an individual level?

  • Hi Venkat - Welcome to the course! I like your couplet! In terms of using the Web to learn I prefer 'borrow' to 'steal' :)
    But how do you retain the knowledge you gain from using technology that gives such rapid results?

  • Hi Achnes - Welcome to the course! I think you're right. Learning takes place all the time. The big question for this course is - how do you use the Web to support your learning?

  • Hi Mumtaaz - Welcome to the course! I hope you will find the course useful in developing your approach to learning online.

  • Hi Vaibhav - Welcome to the course! That's a good point. Using search engines also involves using our critical faculties. What skills do we need to sort the useful information from the not useful?

  • Hi Rupert - You're right that teachers have a responsibility to guide learners and help them critically analyse sources. But how should learners make reasoned judgements in an informal, networked setting?

  • I think there are pros and cons for face to face as well as networked learning. Certainly, immediacy, eye contact, and (sometimes) empathy are missing from networked learning, but there are advantages. Like: having time to consider your responses, finding evidence to support your assertions, and constructing well-formed arguments. Words can be misunderstood,...

  • Hi Maria - Welcome to the course! That's a good point about technology changing the way we learn. How has the web changed your approach to learning?

  • Hi Marcelo - Welcome to the course! Working out what is - and what is not - useful information on the Web is an important part of building your personal learning network. I look forward to seeing your ideas about this.

  • Hi Karin - welcome to the course! I hope it helps you find new ways of using the Web to support your learning.
    There is a strong argument supporting the idea that the Web is tearing up traditional methods, and is changing the way we learn - MOOCs are a good example! In this course we are encouraging people to think about how they use the Web in their...

  • Hi Karen - Good point. Web technologies can be seen as simply additional tools to be used along with traditional methods. They are used to augment memory, and can be seen as a lazy shortcut. But, haven't we always done this? I recall my grandparents using a 'ready reckoner' booklet to help them work out the return on bookmakers odds, and I had a well thumbed...

  • Hi Louise - Good point about technology helping us learn. Certainly search engines make finding stuff on the web easier than it was before, but are they now essential to learning? What other technologies help you learn on the web?

  • Yes learning is vital, and technology can help - but how important, or even possible, is it for most people to keep up with latest developments as they emerge? Is there more to be gained from using and adapting the technologies we have to meet our own needs?

  • Hi Michael - Good point. If we don't engage in overtly social activity (collaboration, dialogue, etc) can we say that we have learnt socially? But isn't sharing knowledge on the web inherently social?
    As Siemens says in the video, it’s about awareness of others while learning - connecting, building and improving on the work of others in the network without...

  • Yes parents guide their children, as do teachers - we learn from our own experience assisted by the experience of others.
    Ensuring everyone learns the same things at the same pace in a diverse network is a challenge. Do we need new skills to learn in this environment?

  • Good point. Personally, I remember the classes were we had to chant times tables, but not the times tables themselves. Even today, my personal approach to mental maths is a combination of recall and ad hoc reasoning. Could you learn basic concepts like times tables without a behavouralist approach? Or is some level of rote learning required to achieve mastery...

  • You can definitely see the 'Burns Effect' in action. But unlike his documentary series the voices here are representative, not actual quotes. If you want to read what people were actually writing about during the period have a look at Maynooth University's "1916 Letters" project: http://letters1916.maynoothuniversity.ie/

  • This is just the first week and I understand that there has to be some simplification to get key ideas across, but there is a danger of entrenching perceived wisdom. It should be noted that, while unionist was strong in Ulster, a large number of people voted for an independent Ireland in Belfast, Derry, and across the north - and that there were many...

  • My feeling is that the main driver in people’s lives is economic, from which everything else follows. This makes sense if you examine life in any period anywhere (not just Ireland in the early C20th) from the perspective of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. First and foremost we need to have enough to eat, have shelter, and feel physically safe. Once this has been...

  • Tim O'Riordan made a comment

    My grandfather and many of his siblings emigrated from the west of Ireland as a direct result of the events of this time. As a young man I heard stories about of Casement’s arrest at Ardfert, about the deprecations of the tans, and the War of Independence, but very little about the Civil War that followed. I’m interested in anything and everything about this...

  • I haven't used it myself but there's an android download for version 4.4 and up at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=tv.periscope.android&hl=en_GB

  • I think it would be a mistake to separate the social aspects of computing from the technical - e.g. hiving off e-safety to other areas of the curriculum, or creating a computer science 'techno-ghetto'. The social and technical aspects of computing are closely interrelated. The way in which an algorithm is written can directly impact on someones life somewhere....