Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Cpd 23 - Thing 18 - Jing

Thing 18 is about Jing and podcasting/screencasting. I use Jing occasionally and I find it does its job extremely well. Once you get the hang of it and make the screens the correct size, it is fairly easy to use.

At my institution, we have integrated it into our library Moodle pages. These are then either played or alluded to in the induction, depending on content. We have Jings covering how to use the catalogue, how to use keywords effectively, and how to use eResources. As I have recently started delivering staff training on Moodle and interactive technologies in lessons, I will be creating a lot more on these topics.

The positives are:
  • Fairly straight forward once you get the hang of it
  • A good visual way of teaching something that is difficult to explain without showing practically

The negatives are:
  • If any details change then the whole thing needs to be recreated (for example, all your access to resources is now through Moodle)
  • They have to be done in one go so either keep using the pause button or don't sneeze!
  • I really dislike listening to my own voice so it makes me feel all awkward!
Overall, not one of my favourite technologies but really rather useful.

Cpd 23 - Thing 17 - Prezi

Thing 17 is about Prezi and Slideshare.

I've used Prezi once and it took me so long to do I gave up on it. I first came across it last year at a Kingston University Partners' Day when a speech was given by Ian Collins from University of West England. It looked like an interesting way of presenting, and, being quite bored of PowerPoint, I thought I'd give it a try. As it happened, I had an interview coming up at a rather good University and the content of the presentation I had to deliver seemed to fit the profile of what a Prezi should be i.e. lots of connected ideas and topics. However I spent about three evenings thinking about the content and then had to spend another three evenings just trying to put it together. I could not get a handle on wizziness and seasick inducing motion. I came to the conclusion that when style starts taking longer than substance it's time to call it a day. In the end I transferred all my content to a PowerPoint but still kept the theme of connectedness.

However, saying all that, I have now seen a few Prezis and they are getting better.  I think my problem was that I as treating it like a PowerPoint i.e with a linear structure. Also, I've since found that having all the content structure of the presentation laid out before hand greatly helps. I will give it another go but it won't be for work any time soon as we  have standard PowerPoint templates for our referencing sessions and the information literacy and Moodle sessions I deliver are all practical.

Slideshare - I don't use this for work as we keep all our documents in one work area. I do use it a part of the CoFHE LASEC Committee; we keep our presentations from our events on it, which means we can easily give people a link to this rather than emailing several different PowerPoints to numerous people. It is also compatible with LinkedIn so I have added them to my profile. I find looking at other people's Slideshare accounts very useful when I am researching a topic as they are very quick to trawl through. The most recent ones I found to be of value were the JISC slides when looking for information on digital literacy. There's a wealth of information here.

Overall, this Thing has encouraged me to give Prezi another go and reminded me to look at other's slides more often, as well as update my LinkedIn page. So all in all - a worthwhile task.
And the job - sadly I was beaten by an exceptionally strong candidate - I wonder if they used Prezi...

Monday, 12 September 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 16 - Advocacy

Thing 16 is about advocacy and getting published.

I have not been published. I have been intending to get published for the last three years and for some reason something stops me from putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. I have entered library competitions where the winner would have to write a piece on the event they attended - I never won. I keep volunteering to write book reviews just to get me started and for some reason this hasn't come off (although, fingers crossed, there should be something in the post soon from the editor of Managing Information). In the past, I have written pages of ideas and introductions but never completed them. I guess previously the only library 'stuff' I did was for my job and I was a little nervous about writing about this in case I said something that was 'the wrong thing'.

However, now I am much more involved in library 'stuff' outside of my job, it is a much larger part of my life. I have written a piece about a CoFHE LASEC event I was involved in for Eclipse magazine, the CDG LASEC publication, and I hope this is published. Blogging is also getting me into the habit of writing more; I should probably take much more care crafting beautiful sentences in case people think this blog is an example of my ability I write!

Reader, I could probably advocate more. I didn't know there were advocacy resources on the CILIP website and I've started looking at a few of these. While useful, I'm a little concerned how out of date some of them are. The HE in FE information, the area I work in, is from 2004. So much has changed on the last seven years, including the rise in tuition fees, the change in government, the controversial Browne Review followed by the even more controversial HE White Paper that someone from CILIP needs to go over all this material.

I advocate where I can and explain what I do when someone says - " you did a Masters in stamping books". When I've had the opportunity to go to events I've involved myself in conversations and talked about the work I do, not only in my current role but also for CoFHE LASEC. Advocacy is so important, especially when the impact of everything undertaken needs to be assessed. I have started ensuring I can do this. I am currently investigating how I can realistically assess the impact of inductions of student performance and have also set up procedures to assess the impact of displays and events within the LRC. While teachers are becoming focused on evidence-based teaching, it seems that we have to do the same too if we are to remain.

There has been a lot of work put into trying to save the public libraries, an incredibly important task if we are to save them for future generations. It seems like school libraries have all but disappeared  - how was that allowed to happen? As part of CoFHE LASEC, we are considering doing some work on ascertaining the scale of redundancies and unfilled posts within the FE sector. I guess what this shows is that we all want to protect our own little silo of the information world. It would be lovely if we could get together and support each other but at the moment I'm not sure if this is possible. Many people are just trying to stay afloat and sometimes even this can be very gruelling at times. I don't know what the future holds for the profession or for libraries, however, as long as we do the best we can in the circumstances we are in and give the best service we can to our users then I would suggest then I would say we are all advocates for what we do.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 15 - Attending, organising and presenting

Thing 15 is about attending, organising and presenting at events and seminars.

In the last year I have done all three and while it has been occasionally nerve-wracking, it has definitely been interesting and worthwhile.

Some events I've been to:

HE in FE Bristol Conference - this was quite a large conference in Bristol. I got the chance to listen to many different speakers from various colleges and universities and also got chance to meet up with some people I knew from the affiliated universities I work with. Listening to the speakers made me think about how students are going to perceive the library and its offerings post fee hikes, which was rather worrying. It also made me realise that almost all universities allow the librarians from their partner colleges access to their eresources in order to help students use them. Unfortunately, the one university we are partnered with who doesn't do this wasn't there but I will keep arguing for access. It also made me realise that the institution I work for does many, many really good things but we aren't talking about them at conferences such as these. I aimed to change this!

CoFHE Enrichment day - As a new member of CoFHE LASEC, I was asked to speak at the CPD day the held in March. I was used to speaking in front of a room full of students but never in front of a room of professionals so was rather nervous. I spoke about my role in the institution I work for, how I support the HE students, how I keep the HE Centre running smoothly and the impact of a recently installed cafe in the premises. People started asking questions which was encouraging as it showed they had been listening and overall I enjoyed the afternoon.

Due to this experience, I have fewer qualms about speaking at the next event in November and it has also helped increase my confidence in delivering training to academic staff, a recent addition to my role as HE Resources Advisor. I've never embedded fonts though, recommended on the cpd23 blog. This has never crossed my mind although it seems like something I should be doing though! I do use Powerpoint (PREZI takes far too long to prepare) but I don't think I make any of the usual mistakes people do. I find memorising my opening sentences very helpful for keeping nerves at bay and telling myself that the audience doesn't know what I forgot to tell them.

London lib teachmeet -I've previously reviewed this and it was also included in the Information Literacy website!. 

Various Like events - these events are completely different to anything I had been to before. They are held in a pub and there are friendly, interesting people from all sorts of different organisations, although there doesn't seem to be many from college or universities. There will be a speaker and then we will all discuss the topic over dinner - very civilised. I haven't been to many due to them being a little tricky transport wise to get to but I do intend to keep attending as they are a useful reminder that there is a much wider organisation out there working in the information sector.

CoFHE LASEC Information Literacy and Teachmeet - I helped to organise this as I had volunteered the use of the HE Centre as a venue. It was stressful but I guess all first attempts at organising are. Certain things didn't work but we got good feedback and hopefully as my experience increases my abilities will strengthen. A more in depth description can be found on the CoFHE LASEC  blog.

Equality and Diversity Conference - it was a free opportunity and I took it., before realising quite how how tricky it was to get to Havering College from my home! I was the only one who attended out of the E and D Committee so at some point in the near future I will have to report back to lots of directors, something I'm not particularly looking forward to! I also asked a question too in front of the whole audience - we all kept being told how Equality and Diversity was important for all areas of the College and how it was a seamless experience for the students but the library/LRC was never mentioned, so I asked why this was the case. The audience were then told what a fantastic job the LRC did and how they were fully integrated into the college, so I left quite pleased.

Birmingham Lib camp - I will be attending this in October and I am looking forward to it. I have never been to an unconference and I am slightly concerned that it may be unorganised. On the other hand it will be based on what people really want to talk about so could be incredibly timely and relevant.

There are some events which I would have liked to attend such as LILAC, Umbrella and the CoFHE Conference. Funds not withstanding, it's incredibly difficult to get time out of work so events are after work in my own time or at the weekends. As much as I am a committed professional, I also need to remind my husband and kittens of my existence on occasion. I've followed events on Twitter and intend to attend webinars. I recently missed one by the SLA, of which I am recent recruit. It was called how to teach something you know nothing about. Having just started teaching academic staff how to use Moodle 2.0 and also teaching myself it at the same time as doing my usual day job, this is no mean feat and seemed an appropriate title!

I have entered competitions for a couple of different conferences but haven't won anything. I became a little disheartened especially as you put a lot of time and thought into it but I do intend to start looking out for stuff again, especially as some of the other librarians I've spoken to have received so many awards and bursaries.

So plans of action are :

  • learn how to embed fonts
  • enter more competitions, especially for LILAC, Umbrella and CoFHE
  • volunteer to speak more often
  • prepare for November's CoFHE LASEC event.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Cpd 23 - Thing 14 - Zotero, Mendeley and Citeulike

I remember using Endnote for one of my assignments at UCL and getting everything crossed out in red pen. It was my fault for not double-checking but I was relying on it to work! I vowed after that to do all my own referencing! However, I'm sure things have improved and, as I receive lots of referencing enquiries from students, I should really have another go at using these tools.

I regularly teach referencing at my institution but have never had to teach them how to use software. I think it's important that they know the basics first so they can recognise if anything has gone wrong! Higher Education students I work with are taught how to use either Endnote or Refworks depending on their affiliated University, however, they are taught this by the library staff at the University, rather than at the College. They often find this incredibly confusing so I think I should learn how to use these so I can help more.

I had heard about Mendeley at the British Library exhibition at my first LIKE event. It sounded an amazing way of sharing research and connecting to the eminent people in their fields, however, I didn't realise at the time it also sorted out referencing. I guess the downside to it is that you have to download it and then can't just access it from anywhere (please correct me if I've got this wrong) on the plus side it should be safer to use than cloud based software which may still disappear or get taken over and change. I think it would be very useful to serious researchers and I would probably use it or Zotero if I were to rewrite a dissertation or start a PHD - not that I have any intention of doing that... I don't think it would be suitable for the majority of students at my current institution as they are just not writing at a level where they have pages and pages of research which needs organising.

I like that you can add pdfs to Citeulike, but you can also do this with Zotero. I think that if I were to recommend a piece of referencing software to academic staff or researchers it would be a toss up between Zotero and Mendeley but I would recommend Citeulike to the younger students as I think they would get on better with the layout. It is a shame it doesn't do in text referencing though which students often struggle with. Perhaps, after more practise and after reading other people's reviews I will change my mind.

My next job, however, is to refresh my memory of Endnote and Refworks for my HE students who have access to the software...