Monday, 29 August 2011

Cpd - Thing 13 - Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

Thing 13 from CPD23 focuses on Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox.

Google Docs - I started using Google Docs when I joined CoFHE LASEC. I had never used it before but found it very easy to pick up.We use it to collaborate on training events, keep a list of members, lists of useful contacts and the details of those who have attended our events. We also keep our minutes there. I have found this really useful as it cuts down on the amount of emails sent each other and means we can all see what each other is doing, our progress and what still needs to be done.

I haven't really used it for any other purpose but I think I would have used it for my Chartership documents if I had known about it when I started. The downside to Google Docs at the minute seems to be that whenever I am at work and using it it goes incredibly slowly and the typing doesn't seem to pick up, hopefully this will solve itself soon before I pull any more hair out...

Dropbox - I have just downloaded Dropbox which seems to do exactly the same things that Google Docs does. Perhaps if I didn't already use Google I would use this instead.Downloading Dropbox at home was easy but unfortunately there seems to be a block on this at work - which defeats the purpose somewhat - annoying.  It does seem easier to back things up to Dropbox than it does Google Docs so I may still put my portfolio in there to save a repeat performance of my work server not saving it when using it from home. That sick feeling in the in the pit of the stomach is not something I like to experience very often!

Wikis - I noticed since joining Twitter that many people were tweeting about the Library Day in the Life project and I think I might join in the next one as it looks like an interesting way of finding out what goes on in various library posts round the world.

Wikis have become increasingly useful in my workplace due to the fewer staff members we have and the number of sites we have to maintain. It is often difficult to meet up to discuss projects to keep the service moving forward so a way round this was to create a wiki and for everyone to contribute.

The last wiki used at my place of work was for creating the LRC's mission statement. I think this proved to be very effective method and I like how it also allows for thinking time, i.e. you can often be guaranteed a great idea will come to you when everybody has left the meeting - having a wiki ensures these little nuggets are saved too.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 11 and 12 - Mentoring and Putting the social into social media.

Thing 11 is looking at mentoring.

I currently have a mentor as I am doing my Chartership and it is a prerequisite of the portfolio being accepted by CILIP. I have found it useful as meeting up with her has meant that I keep to my deadlines and she often points me in a slightly different direction to the one I was looking at - not in an immediately obvious way just a slight nudge! I've liked having one for this reason.

Other than that, I've never had an official mentor, although I have occasionally had unofficial ones throughout my life. These have generally been people I look up to and admire.

I have had to be a mentor to people in my current workplace and felt woefully under prepared for it, however, I didn't have any complaints and despite one of the members leaving later on I'm sure it wasn't because of me!

Although having a mentor is a nice thing to have I wouldn't panic if I didn't have one and I don't think others should do either, as often they are there to provide confidence. I  have built on my confidence by working hard and knowing that I can do what I put my mind to and participating in new ventures, like this, can really help.

Thing 12 is going to be quite a short blog this time, as I think I have already extolled the virtues of social networking before. I think social media is a fantastic tool  for building  networks and creating a sense of community.

Professionally, for me the ADVANTAGES are:

The speed of which I can interact with people - I know there's the phone but a tweet or a post in an online debate is so much easier, quicker and doesn't involve disturbing people working or trying to locate them.

The amount of appropriate and  really up to date knowledge I can  access - usually someone has read an interesting article or report and is willing to share. I rarely have the time to look for the them so it is great to latch on to what the people actually paid to research the good stuff have found!

It has put me in contact with people I would never have normally been in touch with. I have met them both online and then in real life, for example, the Cpd23 meetup in London. I found out about the Birmingham Library Camp through Twtter and the whole thing, from the agenda to the cake, has been organised by bunch of social networkers. I am looking forward to meeting many of them there.

The DISADVANTAGES for me are:

Sometimes I feel like I am missing out on what's happening as I can't keep up with everything, especially on Twitter. I can't have Twitter on constantly like some do so I generally just look through say 20 of the last posts from each of my saved lists and have to just leave it at that, otherwise, I'd be spending an inordinate amount of time on there which would not be healthy. For everything else I use rss feeds and have told myself it's okay not to read everything and occasionally use the 'mark all as read' button - without really having read them (who's going to know?) - great post on this here from Laura Woods, aka @Woodsiegirl.

I occasionally feel like I can't keep up with all the new social networking platforms, as reiterated in Phil Bradley's post. I know I need to for the benefit of my own professional development and the people I provide a service for but sometimes it just seems like -  yet another thing! Google+ is a prime example of this!

I'm not sure yet how I can get round these issues but I will be reading other's blogs out of interest to see if they have experienced similar issues and how they have dealt with them. My tip at the moment is to be selective.

The majority of the social networking community I have experienced comes across as really friendly and helpful. There have been the occasional blips such as the Little Gossip website and people using Twitter and Facebook for the riots and hate campaigns. But for every site glorifying a Raol Moat type character there is another called #riotcleanup. I think social networking reflects society - it is not like the crooked mirror in Andersen's The Snow Queen which distorts it.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 8,9 and 10 - Google Calendar, Evernote and Chartership

Well, this week I am amalgamating a few Things as I'm off work for a little while and am trying to just think about things like growing veg, exercise and pondering the meaning of life rather than anything library or work-related - this is to prevent me from having a meltdown come the time of enrolling and inducting new students.

Trying to do more of this...

Firstly, I use Google Calendar sparingly. I have it on my iGoogle page but don't really have much on it. This doesn't mean I lead a carefree existence and can pick things up and drop them as I please, far from it, it just means I currently use other facilities.

 My workplace uses Outlook so this means I tend to as well. I have a page which no-one else can see which I use for work and personal commitments, for example, workshops I am delivering and dentist appointments. I even put meet ups with friends as otherwise I'd end up not seeing people for ages! I have this side by side with the work one and transfer any relevant appointments across.

I started using the Google one as I thought I could also download other useful calendars, like the CILIP one, however, it won't let me at the moment. I like Outlook but can only use the webmail version at home and I really don't like it due to its lack of functionality, so perhaps Google Calendar may still have a chance. I don't seem to use my work diary more for keeping track of events anymore - just my day to day work. I wonder if the sale of work diaries has reduced...

Secondly, I quite like the idea of Evernote as I have often made comments on people's ages and promptly forgotten about them until I did the Google yourself task for Thing 3 and there they were! I don't want to download it just yet as I borrowing someone else's laptop but will as soon as my new one arrives (or I return to work). I had never heard of Evernote or Springpad, which was mentioned in the comments box, so am definitely going to have a look at them. I wish I had known about the Web Clipper before I started my my Chartership as this would have been very useful when trying to compile my bibliography.

Which leads us nicely into thirdly - Thing 10. In whatever job I've had in the past I've wanted to be very good at it! I had all my stars when I worked for McDonalds, for example! So when I landed a job as a Learning Centre Assistant based on my customer service skills rather than any library knowledge, although obviously I'd been an avid library user in the past, I looked at the next step up the ladder. I already had an English degree so investigated studying for a Masters. Due to financial constraints and personal circumstances I decided to continue working full time and did a part time course at UCL. Very difficult but I managed it and have used this as an example of being incredibly organised ever since!

As soon as I qualified, I was given the opportunity to work at Kingston College and set up a Higher Education Centre. I have really enjoyed this job and like delivering workshops to the students and liaising (aka having a good chat) with the staff. Having a job which sits across two sectors is interesting but requires a lot of catching up on what's happening in each one! I didn't start Chartership straight away as I had other training needs which I wanted to sort out. After completing the CMI Diploma in Line Management, to improve my line management skills I decided to take on both Chartership to develop professionally and PTTLS to develop my teaching. 

I have now finished my PTTLS and am close to Chartership completion, so I am now looking round at the next big thing to do. I am contemplating doing something unwork related, like learning Spanish, but have yet to come to any conclusions, as this will be of use both personally and professionally. I would really like to try writing articles, or just the one, but still haven't got round to it - I think I'd feel a bit embarrassed handing something over which no-one has asked for.

 I am also in the process of trying to find some kittens to buy :).

Learning Spanish will be useful if I go back here!
Plans/ideas for future:

Buy kittens
Learn Spanish
Write articles
Continue involvement with other library peeps