16 September 2012

Thing 18: Jing / screen capture / podcasts (making and following them)

This Thing:

We have been doing screencasts for a while now and use Screencast-o-matic. It has completely hit the spot in terms of being easy to learn, quick to get going & simple to share once done. We even added subtitles. I can't recommend it enough therefore if you just need to do it with no frills.

Personally, I find it easiest to write out almost a script to have in front of me. I also accept it's not going to be perfect. I genuinely believe anything over 2 minutes is too long - no time can be wasted on intros, you have to jump right in and be as quick as you can. They can always be re-watched...

The issues we hit were
  • Media complaining about the quality and other aspects, compared with more professional tools. Basically, they expected us to be using Camtastia or similar. However, we don't HAVE copies of a posher tool nor do we have the time to learn it. The quality is definitely sufficient to tell someone how to do something and that is all we need. (Media were only involved at all as they said we have to host the videos on "estream").
  • Backing them up. We tend to link back to the website but really we ought to download them just in case it went pear-shaped. We are supposed to put them on our institutional "estream" so this would achieve this.
  • Finding a place to do them. We have an open plan office so to do one you need to book a room, use a laptop, find headphones, get it all set up to work etc. It's a huge faff! This is particularly annoying as I'd love to be able to do a quick screencast sometimes to answer a question - so many of our queries are about accessing online resources and it would be ideal for that.
  • We already have a whole swathe to update this summer as interfaces change. This isn't a huge problem - I was able to reuse the "script" from before so it didn't take as long as the first time to do.

Hate listening to podcasts & don't make them. That sounds terribly churlish but I felt the screencasts were enough for one year! Also I prefer a visual medium - I'm not sure I have anything to pontificate on that would fit an audio format?

14 September 2012

Thing 17: The Medium is the Message- Prezi and Slideshare

Link to the Thing

I've had so many false starts with Prezi I've lost count. I'm not a fan of its zoominess but I'm not letting that be a barrier to using it as I assume I can control it how I wish. I think it looks good and I'm a big fan of mind mapping so having a nonlinear approach suits my way of thinking. At our SALT Learning & Teaching Conference this year I was so impressed when one of the student presentations was done with Prezi, completely showing up the other academics' fusty old powerpoints! (Not a comment on their content - by its very nature, Prezi makes any PPT look pretty fusty....)

But it's just been too hard! Hard to get my head round it, hard to find my way around, feeling you need to use it well or not at all, feeling it always needs more time than I have to get to grips with it... I've been really trying to improve my presentations but I have focused on the content and planning so much I have less time for design. I think that is probably the right approach but I'm determined to master Prezi sooner rather than later... I looked at it again today but, even though I have watched the intro guides, I'm still a little lost on where to start. I do have an expectation that things will be easy to use, probably unrealistically so.

One big drawback: we are using clickers in most of our classes and of course that relies on Powerpoint interaction so I can see that being a reason not to use Prezis, although you could break up a class into different presentation formats if you were really keen.

I have used Slideshare a little and it performs a wonderful service in making things available. I have very little stuff that is for external viewers rather than our own staff and students but if I do, it will go up there. Here's my profile:

13 September 2012

Thing 16: Advocacy for the profession and Getting Published

This thing makes me feel a little uncomfortable, as I know I haven't been as active as I should in advocacy and activism. I know a little about Voices for Libraries - enough to know I agree with it wholeheartedly - but  I do other stuff (Amnesty) in the very small amount of time I devote to such things. I think you have to find your own balance in life with these things and I'm not going to get stressed about it.

I work in an academic library and I do try to push and promote our services whenever I can, but this is usually only on a one-to-one basis. I think we seriously need to be bigging ourselves up on campus but there's only so much a pleb like me can do - it really needs a strategic lead & message. Demonstrating value / impact is key to this and I am desperate for time to catch up with all the research on this that's been going on. There must be a good message we can distil from it and use.

Getting published is a real ambition of mine and something I need to focus my efforts on in the next few years. This isn't just a vanity thing - I'd love to know I'd done something interesting enough to write about! I feel a real barrier of not knowing where to start or what to do - a publishing mentor would be very useful at this point I guess. When I think about publishing, I'm thinking of an academic journal - part of the point for me is to go through the process and get the research experience.