Posts about: IT and Digital Skills

Studying off campus with Microsoft Teams

1 April 2020

As so many of us are now studying and working from home, Microsoft Teams has never been more useful and important.

It acts as a digital hub bringing conversations, content, collaboration, and apps together in one place. You can ‘chat’ with others, create and share files, check your Outlook calendar, and hold online meetings all within the same application.

How to access Teams

  • Log into Office 365 via with your University email address and password.
  • Choose Teams from the Office 365 homepage or click on the ‘waffle’icon.

For a quick overview of Teams take a look at our guide MS Teams – key features.

Been invited to a Microsoft Teams meeting?

If a member of the Skills for Learning support team invites you to an online Teams meeting, and you’d like a little bit of guidance, or want to know more about its features then take a look at our guide MS Teams – Online meetings and appointments. read more

Studying from home with Office 365

30 March 2020

Using Office 365

Studying or working from home has never been easier.

Using your Office 365 account gives you access to key online tools – such as Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Teams – which let you create and share anywhere and on any device. Just login to with your Uni email address and password.

If you haven’t used your Office 365 account yet then get an overview of these tools – Work remotely with Office 365 – and discover more by trying some of the great Office 365 courses on LinkedIn Learning. read more

Don’t just say it, Prove it! Gain Microsoft Office Specialist qualifications – for free

28 March 2020

Take this time for focus on a new challenge which can lead to developing your IT skills and adding extra qualifications to your CV.

With our free ‘Microsoft Office Specialist’ certification you can prove to employers that you have the key IT skills they require. This globally recognised certification will boost your CV and can help improve your academic performance too.

You decide which exams to take, with online teaching and exams available for up to five office applications:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Access
  • Outlook.

Or you can aim even higher with the Expert and Master level certifications. read more

Good habits to stay safe online at University and beyond

20 June 2018

As a student, you’ll rely heavily on technology to create and store your academic work. It’s important to take the correct steps to protect and secure this information.

This is the last in a series of 4 blog posts in which we’ve been examining how you can protect your digital privacy. (The first three were protecting your digital privacy; changing your online behaviour; and dealing with hackers .)

Most often, security issues arise because of the way people behave online.

So get into these good habits to stay safe online at University and beyond:

  • Keep your hardware and software updated. As a student you get the latest versions of Microsoft Office for your own computers and laptops. You can download these through your student Office 365 account.
  • Use anti virus software programs on your personal computing devices to block malware viruses or other hackers.
  • Avoid spam emails – never open attachments from someone you don’t know or you weren’t expecting.
  • Sometimes spam emails can look very convincing: so think before you click any link in an email.
  • Do not share your passwords with anyone else. Never reply to emails requesting your password, no matter how threatening or worrying the request seems to be.
  • Beware of pop-ups that use scare tactics in order to get you to click on them.
  • Back up the files on your computer. If your hard drive crashes, with all your work on it, it’s really important you’ve got a back up. As a student you get a terabyte of free secure storage via One Drive, which you can access through your Office 365 account. The University also gives you a gigabyte of free secure storage on your F: drive. You could also use a flash drive or external hard drive, but remember to create a folder on them with an emergency contact, just in case you lose it.
  • Be wary of sharing sensitive personal information online such as your date of birth or address.
  • Create strong passwords. A strong password consists of at least six characters(the more characters, the stronger the password) that are a combination of letters, numbers and symbols (@, #, $, %, etc.) if allowed. Passwords are typically case-sensitive, so a strong password contains letters in both uppercase and lowercase. Strong passwords also do not contain words that can be found in a dictionary or parts of the user’s own name. Here are some good tips on creating strong passwords.
  • Log off your accounts when you’ve finished, especially on shared computers around the University or in public places.
  • read more

    Your digital privacy: hackers

    18 June 2018

    Most people fear their email or social media accounts being hacked but don’t know about some simple steps to prevent this from happening.

    Be aware: your digital privacy may be breached through hacking.

    What you share by email or text may not be as private as you think. An email or text is like a letter that you send in the post. People shouldn’t read it, as they should respect your privacy, but someone could see it. These messages are transmitted from one device to another as a digital code, which can be scrambled, or encrypted, as it is sent. Your message goes first from the sender to a server and then to the recipient. In the process it’s possible for your message to seen by hackers or people who illegally access the code. Free public wifi sites are often not encrypted, so are not secure from hackers. Avoid them. (The University’s wifi is secure, however).

    Hackers use several techniques to invade your privacy. They might impersonate a company that you usually interact with in an email or text and ask you for personal information such as passwords or bank information. They might send a link, that when clicked, releases viruses or malware onto your device.

    Lots of hacking attempts start with the hacker getting hold of the victim’s password. According to one online organisation, seven out of ten victims of hacking indirectly provide their password to the hacker. Using the same password for lots of accounts, or passwords that are easy to guess, helps hackers invade your privacy. Protect yourself by using strong passwords and additional protection such as two factor authentication or password reset checks for all your accounts.

    But email scams are only the tip of the iceberg. Social media is very attractive to hackers: it’s a quicker way to spread malware, viruses, and perpetrate identity fraud or scams, partly because people are more likely to trust and click on links they see on social media.

    Hackers can combine information about you from different social media sources to guess your identity. They look for names and addresses: your full name, names of pets, mother’s maiden name and so on – all of which may be used as passwords or could verify your identity. Those cute online quizzes which ask you to share the name of the street you grew up on, or the name of your first pet may be used for identity theft. Of course hackers will also look for email addresses and phone numbers as well as places you regularly go – such as bank branches.

    Finally, stay away from questionable sites where malware is common: illegal download sites and pornography sites are riddled with viruses and malware.

    Protect yourself from being hacked in these ways:

  • Keep your personal information to a minimum on social media sites, even on ‘private’ social profiles.
  • Don’t engage with spam emails which ask for your information.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to identify that an email is spam, so think before you click on any link in an email or text.
  • Be wary about clicking links from friends in social media; you never know if they’ve been hacked.
  • Create high quality, strong passwords that protect your accounts.
  • Use two-factor authentication or password-reset checks for all your accounts.
  • Use software programs such as anti-virus to block malware viruses or other hackers on your own computer. And keep them updated!
  • Sign out of accounts once you’ve finished using them.
  • read more

    Change your behaviour to protect your privacy online

    13 June 2018

    The most common way for your privacy to be breached online isn’t an unknown hacker. It’s your own behaviour.

    This is the second in a series of blog posts about how to protect yourself online. (Read the first one here.)

    Your own or other people’s online behaviour can breach your privacy.

    If you’ve ever walked away from a shared computer without logging out of social media accounts or email, you’ve left yourself open to a breach of privacy. It’s like leaving the door of your house wide open.

    Sharing inappropriate content about others on social media is another area that can have huge consequences. There are lots of stories in the media of people being sacked or failing to get a job because of inappropriate online comments. So now is a good time to start behaving online as you would want to in the future. Some students at the University of Salford – such as nurses and health care professionals, for example – are already bound by the codes of conduct of their future employers, and breaching these can have serious consequences.

    Even if you behave impeccably online, other people may behave badly towards you. Someone might snoop maliciously in your accounts; or share your personal information.

    Protect yourself in the following ways:

  • Log off your accounts when you’ve finished, especially on shared computers around the University or in public places.
  • Do not share your passwords with anyone else. Never reply to emails requesting your password, no matter how threatening or worrying the request seems to be.
  • Make sure your passwords aren’t guessable. Use strong passwords .
  • Respect other people’s privacy. Accessing or sharing someone else’s personal information online is not only hurtful but it can often have major reputational or even legal repercussions.
  • Treat others online as you’d like to be treated.
  • read more

    Your digital privacy: start protecting yourself

    11 June 2018

    We all expect a certain level of privacy when communicating online. However, you may have less privacy than you imagine. So how might your privacy be breached? And how can you protect yourself?

    First up, remember this: some online communications are just not private.

    Social media platforms are simply not private: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, for example, are fantastic platforms for communicating and collaborating. What you share will be seen by others and may be seen by many thousands or millions of other social media users, through sharing or screenshots, even if you delete your original post. Students can sometimes be shocked that a post on social media will be seen by others at all.

    Even if you are using social media platforms responsibly, you should be aware that they collect your personal data . Recent scandals in the news have forced social media companies to be more open about what data they collect from their users. For example, you can find out what data Facebook holds on you here and the same for Twitter here. If you switch on ‘location’ on your mobile phone’s social media apps, you give that company access to your location, which will help them target adverts at you, and more besides. It can also broadcast your location, and perhaps, details of your private life, to people you would rather did not know that information. You can turn location services off on most apps: here’s how to do it on Facebook and on Google.

    Email communications may not be private either. For instance, it may be acceptable for your employer to see your emails through your work email account. Your University email may also be monitored by Digital IT, in line with the University’s Acceptable Use Policy. The University is committed maintaining your digital privacy so will only monitor your account in strict accordance with legal regulations.

    Organisations you interact with online will probably keep data about you. They have a responsibility to keep your data safe and must inform you about what’s being kept and why. New rules – the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into force in May 2018 – which impose greater obligations on all organisations that collect and process the personal data of EU citizens.

    Next time: 2/4 Malicious privacy breaches…

    Finding pictures the legal way 3/3

    26 June 2017

    Welcome to the third in this series on searching for images the legal way. If you missed them, check out part one (using Google image search and Microsoft to find legal images), and part two (safe picture search engines).

    Today we’re meeting (possibly) the best colour search engine in the world, also known as the Multicolr Search Engine from TinEye Labs. Use it to search for pictures by colour. This is a fantastic tool, especially if you’re trying to build a colour scheme for a visual piece of work. All the images have a creative commons licence, which means they are going to be fine to reuse in your academic and professional work.

    • Step 1: Select up to five colours
    • Step 2: Adjust the proportion of the colours, if you wish
    • Step 3: Add tags to refine your search. Here I’ve used ‘garden’
    • Enjoy the results. These pictures are OK for you to download and use.

    But the TinEye Labs goodness doesn’t stop there. Its second tool to try is the colour extraction tool.

    This allows you to take the colours from an image and use them in any way you choose – it would work well if you want to create a colour scheme for an academic poster from an existing picture.

    Searching for pictures the legal way 2/3

    23 June 2017

    Welcome to part two of this series on searching for pictures the legal way. If you missed part one, it’s here. If you know how to do a Google search for an image that’s ‘licenced for reuse’ you’ve made a good start. But sometimes the results from Google alone can be disappointing.

    Fortunately, there are many other search engines that are dedicated to finding free-to-use images that are licenced for reuse. My favourite is Pixabay – because it’s powerful and intuitive to use. But there are many others which are worth a try:





    Creative Commons Search

    Flickr Creative Commons


    Next time: Meet (possibly) the best colour search engine of them all

    Finding pictures the legal way (1/3)

    21 June 2017

    When you’re looking for pictures to illustrate or enhance your academic work, how do you search? Do you ‘copy and paste’ from the internet, as a student recently told me? Or simply type your search term in that old reliable, Google?

    Unless you’re careful, searching like this can contravene copyright law and potentially get you into legal trouble. Whenever you find an image through a regular Google search, there’s a good chance that it either:

    • has a license which forbids you to use it, or
    • has no license at all

    Assuming that you didn’t ask for prior permission to use the content, it’s illegal to use it if either of these two cases applies.

    Fortunately, there are various ways to search for images that are OK to use in your academic work, for presentations and in your professional life. Here are the two simplest ones.

    1. If you want to use Google, here’s how to search for pictures on Google the legal way:
    • Go to Google and type in your search term.
    • Do an image search.
    • Click Tools
    • Click Usage Rights
    • Select ‘licenced for reuse’
    • All the pictures that display are fine for you to use.

    2) Another option is to use the inbuilt creative commons image search within Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (in versions 2013 and 2016). From within your document, go to the ‘Insert’ menu on the ribbon and select ‘Online Pictures’.









    This will take you to a Bing search engine which will return Creative Commons (ie safe to use) images for you.

    Sometimes, the results from Google and Microsoft alone may be disappointing. Next time: some alternative safe search engines for pictures that will give you brilliant results.