Thing 17

Rudai23thing17reflections picture

Reflective writing part 3: Deeper Reflections. Learning by Doing.

gibbs-diagram

Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford.

For Thing 17 I have decided to go through one of my past blog posts but rather than use the Gibbs model and edit straight into the post for deeper reflection, I thought I would try and slowly go over one of my blog posts here to reflect on it, adding additional comments in Italics in the hope that this process would allow me to introduce more depth to my reflection and in turn get more out of the learning experience: Using the italics would also allow me to see clearly if there was specific areas of my reflection that I was missing out from the Gibbs Learning by Doing cycle.

Thing 9: Video
The screen capture was a less daunting version of a video, with no visuals and only my voice and words to contend with, this made me feel less anxious about using it and uploading in a public domain. Being a free online tool, The screen capture tool would allow my workplace to easily explain library facilities to users, such as the eReading materials, as I demo in the screencast, but their potential is huge, especially as a means to demonstrate instructions to library staff, as a reference point for any new staff and also a means to update information when upgrades to the service take place on how to use online facilities to our users through adding links to our webpage or through our social media sites..Screencast o matic does have time limitations, so this will need to be considered when making the screencasts into small ‘bite-size’ sessions. This has benefits to that making many smaller screencasts will allow specific information instructions to be put into the screencasts, so not overloaded with information. The disadvantage is how to put enough information into each screencast to make it a useful.
Screencast-o-matic was a very easy screen capture tool to use, the instructions were clear and after following the extremely helpful advice from the Rudai23 Team through their Thing 9 blog, someone totally new to the whole experience like myself was even able to complete the Thing 9 task. Okay it isn’t perfect,it did take me 5 attempts due to not scripting what I thought would be an easy enough introduction talk to begin with. It was only when I started talking I realised that while I knew what information I wanted to say, I wasn’t clearly explaining the steps and I was ‘umming’ a lot! So I made myself a short script that I edited a couple of time until I came up with the final script in the demo video. I also found that to begin with I wasn’t effectively using the visual pointers to show the instructions well. So I needed to practice using the pointer, slowing down my speech to my slower screen-pointer movements so each step of the process was clear. I also wanted to add annotations with the basic information I wanted to say to allow for subtitles to explain the screencast for those unable to hear /understand my London drawl. The written annotations also allowed me to summarise the main information I wanted to get across in writing, allowing both visual and written instructions I was able to add annotations and manage a basic demo.
The potential of screencasts to myself and my colleagues for providing easy to follow visual step-by-step instructions that I have already talked with colleagues about using the screen capture tool to ease staff time on questions we are repeatedly asked.
Before proceeding with screencasts, we would need to be absolutely clear about what we wanted to achieve and get feedback from work colleagues and line managers to ensure we make clear and useful screencasts displaying the correct information and council ‘tone’. We would need to be clear about, what font size would be best to use for library users/staff to view? Thought needs to consider whether once the screencasts have been made, if they are compatable for wider council use, especially if they are desired to conform to a specific ‘standard’ that is expected from council services or whether the library already uses a certain style that needs to be followed.

I have asked that we find a quiet place to record as the microphone picked up the smallest noise. I would also script what I was going to say and what annotations to add and think that working together with other colleagues would ensure we produced exactly the screencast we wanted, especially as some of my colleagues have lovely voices to listen to! We would need to ensure that if we were going to make many small screencast following a theme (such as introducing and access each component of our eReading service in detail) we have clear visuals (pictures and written annotations) and clear vocals using approved scripts to allow our instructions to be easily followed by a diverse range of library staff and users.

Going back over my Thing 9, I realise how much of what I considered ‘little detail’ was actually important  and that I need to include in more ‘Feelings’ as this would allow me to reflect on many smaller details in my evaluation that I hadn’t initially included – detail on scripting the screencast, and whether the format of my screencast conformed to a desired format the council might have used. Had I not put this detail in, and gone straight ahead, I could have wasted a lot of limited time and effort producing a video that needed re-doing before all ‘parties’ were happy with the outcome. Before doing anything, I will need to evaluate the screencast demo further with my colleagues/ creating a specific meeting regarding the potential of screencasts with my direct line managers should allow us to view the demo and as a team decide how we will proceed, to get maximum use of the screencast tool. Alternatively, emailing the screencast to all parties using Google Drive to ask for their comments and suggestions would allow me to take their considerations into account and make further ‘test demos’ until we agreed on a style and format of the screencasts we could use as a framework for future screencasts.

Reflecting deeply really helps draw out all the possible outcomes of a situation, allowing you to highlight improvements and try out suggestions and learn from the outcomes, taking the project and your own learning onto the next stage with each reflective step.

Picture credit: ‘Reflection Reflections’ by https://booksandbeatsandbeets.wordpress.com

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Thing 16 Collaboration Tools

I have had a look at Google Drive and sharing documents. This is used in my workplace, but is relatively new and I have had limited use. I can see that I will be using Google Drive for sharing future documents for edit, but I will need to be clear that edits need to be completed by a certain time to allow for all comments and suggestions to be considered for the final version of the document. IF being share with many, one person would still need to be responsible for the overall end document.

I am aware of colleagues that have lost documents through others ‘editing’ their document using Drive, but think this mistake might have been due to limited training in using the editing tools present by all people given access to edit. Therefore original, back up copy(pre open-to-edit) might be useful to have in case this happens in future!

Using the Rudai23 Document just now, I found I really liked the ‘suggestions’ tool rather than the ‘edit’ as it allowed me to comment rather than alter the original document, leaving it up to the document’s main ‘owner (s)’ to decide if they want to use my suggestions or not. It also allows me to see who has edited/commented on the document – once again, really useful if you have a meeting and want everyones view on it. The colour-linked comment boxes on the side help see who has said what, again, useful to see where the productive/constructive comments are coming from.

It is a very efficient way to get everyone’s input into a document, especially if you need to complete a project but have limited time with the people you are working with because they are in other buildings/ organisations/other parts of the world or due to time tables not overlapping

I can see that this would be very useful for making a presentation in google slides if there is more than one of you collaborating from say, different organisations for a conference, saving lots of joint time together or sending email drafts back and forth, by being able to edit the document this way, passing it back and forward with edits and comment until all parties are happy with it is quick, efficient and productive.

Thing 15 – Library Advocacy – Fighting the out-of-date-dusty-book-shushing media stereotype in a time of need and survival

From Public Libraries 2020 Libraries Change Lives campaign

Advocacy for public libraries

The Public Libraries 2020 youtube clip clearly shows the importance of libraries. Anyone who has ever used a public library knows how important they are and how and why they change lives – through new skills, information, meeting people and as a safe space for enjoyment, the public library is one of the few places that everyone in that community can use.

People rely on the help, information and services the library provides at different stage in their lives. Increasing the libraries profile through advocacy highlights the changing role of libraries and the ranges of services they offer the wide community to both regular and infrequent library users. National Libraries Day each year allows us to profile our public library service to the wider community through events throughout the borough, actively encouraging people to come in and see what services are available to use, including story times, craft sessions and digital drop-in training sessions. These are then promoted through our social media presence.

This year I was involved in the National Libraries Day campaign, organising a competition through social media asking library users to tweet photos showing why they love their local library:

NLD15westcrofttwitterNettyNLD15

On the day itself we asked visitors to write on paper hearts, why they loved their local library to put up on display throughout the day. Users highlighted a range of the essential services on these hearts. Whilst we were able to see what people on the day felt were important to them, we were also able to gage how much people knew of other services we provided from what was said, and what they enjoyed. It was a chance to get constructive feedback and well as appreciative ‘Thank Yous’, which boosted staff morale, especially when specific staff were names for their expertise..

This year, Johnny Rotten was involved in the National promotional campaign helping counteract the current media commentary that seems to always get back to ‘Why do we need libraries now when we have Google’  comment.

National Libraries Day is exactly that, an annual event we can look forward to for a day of promoting the value of libraries and that’s great, but advocacy needs to be everyday especially during these austere times when library closure are all too common or libraries are being compromised through reduced/shared space and professional staffing. Speak Up For Libraries and Voices for the Library come in, as they are highlighting the situation libraries are currently facing with Speak Up For Libraries hosting an annual conference. Both organisations give awareness regarding the current situation facing public libraries in the UK and advocate the role of public libraries to a wider audience including politicians and to the media.

Fighting the apathy

Mainstream media always seems to go back to a very old and out-of-date image of libraries, as though they are a relic of the past and not necessary, Advocacy is needed now more than ever to challenge these outdated stereotypes to correctly inform the public of the services we offer and also promoting the importance of our professionally trained and skilled staff for providing up-to-date information, literary and public services. We need to stand tall and proud about what we offer as libraries, why you cannot get our services elsewhere and why libraries, including their trained professional staff need to be in community discussions as part of education, heritage, arts and health/wellbeing for a civilised, educated, healthy and creative community.

We are important.

Last year BBC Radio 6 Music broadcast a special ‘Celebrating Libraries’ season during November 2014. Part of their advocacy for libraries included Scroobius Pip’s specially written poem:

Listening to ‘Pip explain the importance of libraries made me full of pride in the profession, the services we offer and of our essential ‘need’ to our communities and why we must be advocates at all times for libraries.

BBC Radio 6 Music will repeat their ‘Celebrating Libraries’ theme in 2015 , with their library celebrations ending this weekend with a range of events for all ages displaying the range of resources that modern libraries offer, highlighting Manchester Central Library as a central community hub. Mainstream media like this is a fantastic support to libraries, reaching out to all music lovers of all ages promoting the link between libraries and the arts (nice one BBC 6 Music!)

to quote author, Hari Kunzru:

Libraries set people free …they are not luxuries or relics..we must fight to save them

AR you enjoying your digital experience? Thing14: Augmented Reality

Public library AR experience: Solus and the Summer Reading Challenge

For Thing14 I will focus on my experience using AR through the Summer Reading Agency.

I have used the Solus app during the last 2 years as part of the promotional material from The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge; During 2014 for Mythical Maze as seen in the above youtube clip, and for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, Guinness Book of Records.

In 2014, the app displayed a moving animation of one of every10 pictures when held up against it, making up the 10 part Mythical Maze picture trail. As an incentive for using the app, every picture from the trail and all the stickers collected during the challenge scanned through the app increased incrementally points to gain access to games and information through the app; using the app on everything (trail and stickers) allowed all three Mythical Maze games and information/rhymes on all 10 mythical beasts.

The greatest incentive for completing the app trail/getting reading stickers was gaining access to these games. Many parents were rather reluctant to use the app at first, most being worried about signing up to something and giving their personal details, especially as this was linked to a children’s activity. Once it had been made clear that this wasn’t necessary they were pleased to try it out. I was working at a branch library during this time, and so I downloaded the app onto my own personal phone and was able to show parents what games/information they would get access to once they had used the app to scan the picture trail and their stickers.

This year the summer reading challenge linked in youtube clips in addition to the moving pictures that could be seen through the app linked to the Guinness Book of Records theme. Prior testing of the app caused a few problems this year; some of our iPads kept crashing when trying to load the camera to demonstrate the app, and the youtube links didn’t always work. Also, devices that were able to download the Mythical Maze app the year before were not compatible at downloading the app this year. Hmmm…. The app crashed on people’s phones more frequently this year too than last year, which was a shame as being able to see the youtube clips(such as the largest yoyo) when it worked, were amazing, but for some library users waiting around, trying out the app that kept crashing was rather disappointing. One user summed it up ‘It’s a lovely idea, but we came in to read”.

Reflecting on this, I know that the apps work well, especially after seeing how well they worked for the Mythical Maze. Loading the apps onto library tablets/mobile devices might be a way to demonstrate how the app works (a youtube clip like the one above) increasing the chances of library users  seeing the app working well. But if they don’t work efficiently then our time and our aims are not being effective.

Layar

I would be very tempted to try using Layar to create our own apps to include as part of a school visits or as a children’s library trail where the posters could be linked to certain books/themes to lead them around the library to find specific information, as demonstrated in the LibrARi demo. (not as a replacement Dewey, but as a visual guide for a specific purpose). We would have to carefully plan the trail as to what we wanted the users to get from the experience, with additional information. Knowing that as part of the Layar package we could have as many posters as we want within the cost is useful, for sending posters out to run in our branch libraries and also to have extra copies of the posters in case of accidental ripping/sharpie marks!

I would be interested to see how AR would work  for adults as a way of linking up with other organisations in the local area, and using posters a trail to link to, say our “Books On Prescription” area to help us link users to local organisations and interest groups. It could also be used during a local arts festival season to highlight some of the activities that go on and activities that are on offer through the app linking up to relevant youtube clips.

It is important that libraries can support both children and adults in using this technology. Having information available for both library users and staff in an easy to follow format to guide them through using the app will assist in gaining confidence in using this technology that is becoming increasingly common in our daily lives from booking concert tickets to checking in baggage at airports.

Thing 13 – Professional Organisations

Prior to starting my certification and after 5 years of working in libraries I joined CILIP. I joined for many reasons; The main reason was to connect with a group of like-minded individuals interested in their profession and learning more about it. I saw the many free courses available to new professionals, the support, the contacts and the network of groups available. So I signed up and now wish I had joined sooner. I also wanted to put the energy, enthusiasm and love of my job to a more constructive use: bettering myself with a qualification but also allowing me to evaluate my role in a professional context, giving me focus in areas of the profession I would like to improve and also which direction I would like to take.

Certification  through CILIP allowed me to widen the professional door, increasing information and contacts and through these networks, including social media contacts to gain a wider understanding of the profession.

Joining this professional body allows me to see wider that just the public library sphere in which I work, whilst joining specific special interest groups allows me to gain in depth expertise on the issues effecting certain groups that I have more than a passing interest in, these being the PMLG (Public and Mobile Libraries Group), YLG (Youth Libraries Group) and the Library and Information Research Group from whom I receive regular newsletters.

Outside of these newsletters, these special interest groups also have a social media presence and I regularly look out for new tweets from @CILIPPMLG

Joining CILIP has allowed me to take advantage of attending free events run by specialist groups. In this past year alone highlights have included a tour from the curators of the British Library’s Terror and Wonder Gothic exhibition, (with time to ask the curators about their planning and collection), attending YLG London Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Nominations evening, PMLG’s tour of the City of London’s Business Library. Attending these tours gave me the confidence to ask other specialist libraries if I could visit them, and was fortunate enough to spend an afternoon with the Libraries, Archive and Art staff at Kew Gardens: Books AND Plants!

The support given through Professional Registration and New Professional days is very helpful and increasingly if you are unable to attend, webinars are advertised to allow members to attend this way.

Following professional bodies on their social media pages also highlights many international news articles and keeps me up-to-date with my profession. I would also recommend you join some of the support networks offered including linked groups on Facebook.

I heartily thank Amy Straker for the Facebook CILIP Chartership Group, without this group I wouldn’t have discovered Rudai23! So thank you Amy!

Thing 12: Attending Conferences

I have only attended one library conference – and it was a fantastic experience.

With a background in teaching and my role at the time linked to my library’s children’s team, I was fortunate to attend the 2013 CILIP Youth Libraries Conference (YLG) in Birmingham. Attending a conference in a different part of the country is, in itself a positive experience and one of the only things virtual conferences cannot give you.

Travelling is learning, and as such I wanted to make use of my journey to the conference, which allowed me to drop in at the British Library for their Children’s Illustrations exhibition, then on to explore Birmingham, part of the country had never visited before (to my shame, it’s a wonderful place!) and prior to the start of the conference visit the Julia Donaldson exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and sneaked in for a look around at the new Library of Birmingham.

Attending the two day conference allowed me to meet other like-minded individuals, including children’s publishers, authors  and the wonderful people that are children’s and school librarians (often solitary but with bundles of enthusiasm, keenness, overflowing with ideas on how you can improve your library with absolutely no money ,dried up felt-tip pens and sometimes tomatoes).

I am rubbish at remembering names and tend to lose name cards, so alongside a notepad, I put contact details directly into my phone helped to keep details  from getting lost, grouping contacts under a conference ‘list’ for future reference.

A Lauren Child illustrated tomato

A Lauren Child’s illustrated tomato a children’s librarian had plans for!

I came away from the conference with a real buzz for my role and an enthusiasm for what I could achieve over the next year or so. Spending time with others in you profession also meant after-conference-hours discussions, something that is often limited through phone calls or virtual conferences and yet resulted in many useful names, links and book contacts.

Since 2013 there has been limited opportunities for attending conferences for me due to lack of funds. Despite the lack of funding through work, I have applied through through CILIP bursaries to attend conferences. All have failed to get  any funding opportunities to attend conferences.*sigh*

I know that I am not the only one that finds this frustrating, but in the present financial climate of cutbacks and expensive travel, it is increasingly becoming the norm.

But this does not deter me! Oh no! This year I attended CILIP’s Conference in Liverpool through Twitter (@knightystar)

Whilst physically being at a conference has the benefits of being able to see certain talks, it also means that sometimes you end up watching presentations that don’t really apply to you. So attending virtually can assist. Whilst I had a few issues getting onto Periscope, there were many ways of experiencing the conference:

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One particular talk I wanted to see was by R David Lankes ‘An Action Plan for World Domination Through Librarianship’ and I was able to interact with through twitter and listen to his talk thus saving me the time and expense of travelling to Liverpool to attend.ciliptweet

The conference twitter feed was awash with information and views from the conference. There was a minor issues on twitter that there appeared to be two different conference hashtags going around, so I had to try keeping up with both feeds to ‘see’ what was going on.

Although I am sad not to be attending as many (make that any!) conferences as I would like, virtual tools make conferences more readily available to those that cannot attend.

In future I will be book marking the conferences I cannot get to and following the speakers I want to see at their various times via twitter and hope that library conferences and specialist group meetings (YLG) link up through a virtual medium for those unable to attend.

I will also write a blog post about the conference/presentation shortly afterwards as I think this will allow me to remember all the details, names and (with photos) remind me of the specific useful messages I will take from the conference for future use.

Photo credit: Lauren Child’s illustrated tomato taken by https://booksandbeatsandbeets.wordpress.com/

Thing 11: Reflection: Time and Tide…

East Runton reflections

Deeper reflections and time

Time to stop for a few minutes and consider how far I’ve come. This course has really expanded my knowledge of many social media tools, forcing me from the comfort zone of updating my library’s facebook/ twitter feeds into using and interacting myself through these and other social media forms. Had I not started this course, I would have happily watched and understood the processes at a distance, talking myself out of interacting or ‘putting myself out there’. I am still on the cautious side, but as this course is progressing I am feeling more comfortable in the various virtual mediums. Making the initial trial screencast as part of Thing 9 has given me more confidence in being able to use this tool in the future and how we could use screencasts at my library.

This course has given a lift; professionally, through linking up with other like-minded individuals and personally in improving my virtual confidence in joining sites, creating a blog and trying out virtual tools.

Writing reflective blogs has been very beneficial in allowing me to articulating and evaluating the processes. Reflection allows me to see that a mistake isn’t a mistake as long as you can learn something you can take away from the process. ‘Umm-ing’ in screencasts, for example allowed me to get it ‘right’ on the 5th attempt after realising the importance of having a script and practicing prior to pressing the ‘record’ button! Having a quiet room to record in is especially important too as my microphone picked up the tiniest of noises (police sirens are not a good background noise, or children arguing!)

Time

Time!  If only I had more of it!

I have very limited time at work to do anything apart from work; being part-time means that generally fitting everything into my time at work is difficult and trying to promote some of the new tools gained from the Rudai23 course requires time at work.

Arranging time to meet up with work colleagues to try out some of these tools has involved initial booking of a one hour time slot in the next available space, which is in 2 weeks and subject to change. There is some sort of irony in this process, that being short of time to try out new virtual tools, to create the screencasts will in the long run free up staff, giving them more time! Yet to promote these new tools we have limited time available to try them out!

In order to demonstrate screencasts, I will need to prepare for this meeting in my own time, ensuring that our meeting venue highlights the benefits of screen casting to their maximum; I will need to ensure that the meeting takes place in a room where there is good Wi-Fi connectivity (some meeting spots are less consistent), and that the room is sufficiently quiet to test out screencast software. If I can demonstrate how valuable some of these new tools are, I may be able to get more work time to proceed further, with more colleagues ‘on-side’, which can only be a good thing for promoting the use of new tools (and getting colleagues with lovelier voices to do the performing!) which in the long run should save on staff time through having a source of well scripted screencasts available as information for new staff and library users.

All of my Rudai23 course is completed at home, fitting in around work and family commitments. Blog updates are usually after midnight when I can get a bit of ‘me’ thinking time! Whilst sometimes I am too tired to even type, knowing I have a time slot put aside, forces me to be focused and clear in my thoughts and reflections ,even if I do have to return to the blog post afterwards for a bit of an edit! Having the very useful Rudai23 diary on the left-hand side of their blog is a great help in reminding me of what is coming up and to block time in my diary for catching up and making time to attend pre-organised course events such as the initial Google Hangouts and interact through twitter in the most recent Google Hangouts, thus getting the maximum benefits from this wonderfully motivating course.

Half way through and I’m all set and ready: Bring on the final half!

Photo credit: East Runton taken by https://booksandbeatsandbeets.wordpress.com/