Monday, 22 May 2017

Future Skills: values, networks and lifelong-learning

"I believe the children students are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way" 
(Whitney Houston - slightly amended)


I have recently completed the Aurora course (a development programme for female leaders in higher education) and I wanted to share one of the ways I have been passing on what I have learned. To hear more about the actual course, look out for a future article in CILIP Update as well as further blog posts!

In 2016, I was asked to provide a guest lecture for students on the Masters Library and Information Course at UCL as part of their management module. At the time, I was asked to talk about marketing, promotion and engagement activities. The session went well; I highlighted the great work we had done at my workplace as part of the Customer Service Excellence Standard process and our interactions with students via social media. There was a lot of discussion afterwards.

The proposal

This year, I was asked to do the same thing. I was tempted to just say yes as it was the easiest answer – I had the slides which I could easily update with new activities our Library had been involved in and it would have been straightforward to do. However, I am no longer involved in those activities to the same degree as before and it didn’t feel right to be doing it, even though I knew it would be received quite well. The other possible option was to say no.

The programme

The Aurora programme focuses on values, strengths and the importance of sharing what you know. I pondered this as I drafted my email response to the module leader. I could say no but I could also use my strengths and talk about something authentic to me which they would find useful. I had liked listening to other people’s experiences at the events I had attended and enjoyed their enthusiasm and optimism for the future, so inspired by this I took a risk and offered my alternative.

The workshop

My workshop looked at the future skills that students on the LIS course may need. We looked at tips from others who had done the course, then proceeded to look at passions, values, networks, having a purpose and the importance and means of continually developing and learning. I shared my own personal story with a number of its ups and downs as well as a number of things I wish I’d learned much earlier in life.

The tips (some of them)

  • Consider your values and your passions - how do they fit in with where you are now and where you want to be?
  • Never stop learning: there are ways to find accessible material or development opportunities. Use what your workplace offers but if they can’t or won’t use what you can to find somewhere better
  • There are numerous special interest groups to be involved in with roles needing varying commitment and action – a lot of the social media training I currently provide would not have occurred without my own involvement in CILIP and LIKE
  • Create networks/ safety nets – it took me far too long due to a whole history of personal baggage to allow people to help me. Try not to make the same mistake!

The slides from the workshop are available below:

Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016: Reflections and the year ahead

"Which paths will you pursue, and which will you abandon? Which relationships will you prioritise, during your shockingly limited lifespan, and who will you resign yourself to disappointing? What matters?" (Burkeman, 2016)

Lots of reflective articles do the rounds at this time of year - out of all the recent ones I found the one above most pertinent. I started 2016 on a similar note by reading Reasons to stay alive by Matt Haigh Both discuss the fragility of life and the choices we make with the time we have. I've had enough personal experiences to know the truth of this, yet still feel that it can't be said or read enough.

Monday, 19 December 2016

The end of Fellowship?

This is the final part of my series of blog posts on gaining Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

If you’ve already read last week’s post you’ll know that I have completed my FHEA accreditation portfolio. I am very happy about this. Students and other staff may not know or care about it but it is a process I have found valuable and if it is accepted (I find out in February) then I will get a few extra letters after my name.

At the beginning of 2016, I decided to look into what gaining accreditation for my teaching involved. As my confidence had taken a nose-dive after various personal issues, I felt I needed to ‘prove’ myself again.

Rather than repeat everything I’ve done for it, here are a few links to the process I went through:
  • Embarking on Fellowship: More reasons as to why I started the process, an outline of the different types of accreditation the Higher Education Academy provides and the various route my institution provides to gain the award.
  • Choosing an FHEA mentor: I was required to have a mentor who was absolutely marvellous. This post covers what traits are required in a mentor and how I chose mine.
  • FHEA progress to date: Reflective Assessment Portfolio. I was required to write and collate a portfolio. This post contains information about what that consisted of and a more detailed look at the core knowledge and professional values I needed to demonstrate across the five small and two large case studies, as well as the professional development plan.
  • Technologies, peer-assisted learning, FHEA case studies...with a touch of Frost. This post goes into more detail about the two larger case studies submitted in the portfolio. The workshops were observed by academics at my institution, one of whom was my mentor. They offered feedback on improvements and used them to inform the references they provided – another requirement of the accreditation.

While it’s felt like quite a long process, I actually completed it ahead of my deadline by three months. As I took the Open route the deadline is chosen by the participant rather than the institution so there was no need to set this particular time – although it does feel nice to have submitted before Christmas.

So, these are the advantages I've found in doing this: