21 June 2012

'Managing your online presence' : Promoting Digital Literacy

I've just uploaded my presentation from the Welsh HE librarians conference at Gregynog to Slideshare (tweaked slightly as the original was mostly images):

It's really a pitch to get librarians thinking about students' social media awareness and whether this could be part of our remit. I think it should! It's digital literacy and, if you consider what a great source of current awareness and resources it can be, it's an information literacy issue too.

I had already been thinking about this before the whole Liam Stacey/Twitter incident but when that news story broke it really brought it home to me how much we could do to help students think about their social media use. We have only really just started thinking about this at Swansea Uni and, as you can see from the presentation, our attempts to do something about it have been a bit two steps forward, one step back... Still, to continue a dodgy metaphor, it does feel like it's an idea with legs!

There was lots of positive reaction on the day - for which I was very grateful! I'd love to hear opinions / experiences from anyone doing or thinking of doing anything similar?

PS There's a link at the end to our teaching resources, shared under Creative Commons. We will be adding to these as we develop more stuff.

19 June 2012

Thing 9: Evernote

The latest thing is preaching to the converted for me as I'm a big fan of Evernote. Having said that, I can see I'm not nearly using it to its full advantage as I rarely clip or store things, I mostly use it for writing my own notes. It has replaced a notebook for me (apart from when I'm in meetings and have no computer) to store my thoughts, plans, research etc. Why I love it:

  • I can access it anywhere: from home, on the desk, on my mobile. Very quick & easy to look something up. A little bit trickier to edit and write notes via the web interface but I have it installed on my office PC which is where I usually do most of my work.
  • Requires no additional software to open e.g. you don't need Word.
  • I like the organization of it: notes filed in notebooks or tagged or very easy to cross-search all your notes.
  • Easy to share something: usually I use the Email option to send some notes to somebody else. I'm not very public with my Evernote as it's all my informal notes rather than polished documents.
The only bad side to Evernote is that its updates have a bit of a heavyweight installation (everything needs to be closed) but then again that's nothing compared to Windows Updates which grind my computer to a halt and ask me 20 times a day if I want to restart now (NO!) and then do it anyway when I'm not looking...

Not many excuses for a photo of pretty elephants but Evernote is one!
Photo courtesy of  Photo Catcher on Flickr under Creative Commons licence

Example things I use Evernote for: keeping all my cataloguing notes together; writing up meetings or events for my own reflection; researching ideas on a topic e.g. how to spice up inductions; keeping everything on a topic together (so I may copy in emails as well as notes).

I agree that it's more flexible than Google Docs - I tend only to use Google Docs for drafting "official" documents where I need to collaborate or make them public. However sometimes I do get myself in a tizzy with stuff in both places.

18 June 2012

Thing 8: Google Calendar

Image by Santa Rose OLD SKOOL on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licence

I have been using Google Calendar for personal reminders and this has worked really well: I've set up birthdays, contract or insurance renewals and any other reminders so that it emails me automatically a set number of days beforehand. Hopefully this means I remember to buy the present and post the card or hunt around for a better deal in time! I don't use it for appointments or events however - I still use my paper diary for those but I can feel the time coming (especially now I have an android phone) when I may make the big changeover.

At work we use Microsoft Exchange so there really isn't much scope to be using anything else. Most of us share our calendar within our team, for example, and room books are on there for teaching sessions. We're starting to use the option to send out invitations a bit more to streamline meetings or teaching. I don't like Exchange - in particular I don't like the clunky webmail and especially I don't like hitting my mailbox limit when someone sends me a whopper attachment. These are things that should be things of the past (cf. Gmail!).

We are hoping to find a better way of displaying our library opening hours and Google Calendar has been suggested for this. I have had a look around but I can't really see how we can do it without some development work using the API and that means involving more people and there's an issue of time and money. Just trying to use it straight, I couldn't get round weirdness in the display from our 24 hour opening hours or closing at 2am for example. I think when the idea of developing something has been mentioned, the answer has been we ought to use Exchange as it's already in-house but I'm not sure how that works? It's an ongoing task to try and find out.... Anyway, here are my links so far from looking at this.

I know I'm doing a very speedy catchup on my Things as I have got so behind. Thing 8 = ticked!

Thing 7: real-life networks

This is where I fall down badly at the moment but, in my defence, I used to do a lot better... After I got my first library job I joined CILIP and the excellent CDG Wales. I became Treasurer and really enjoyed the involvement, if not so much the paperwork, accounts and quarterly tax returns! That still remains virtually my only professional experience of handling money and budgets and accounts so it was extremely valuable and something I'd whole-heartedly recommend. I resigned when I went off on maternity leave and I'm sad to say I have not rejoined CILIP or CDG Wales since returning. No reflection on them - just on my own priorities and lack of time. Where once I used to do work stuff, I now volunteer with the Troserch Woods Society - our local community woodland association. I'm currently setting up some social media for them and also sorting out their archive of paperwork.

Having said that, this month is turning out to be my real-life network month: I went to Gregynog, our famous Welsh HE librarians conference, and then this week I am also going to my first ALIS Wales meeting in Cardiff. I shall try and make these excursions a bit more regular!

PS This book looks very useful!

Tardy Thing 6: Online Networks

Image by Patrick Hoesly on Flickr, courtesy of Creative Commons
I'm very grateful for online networks as I really don't get out much these days.... Having travelled a lot in my last job - and also now having small kids - I don't enjoy days out as much as I used to. I also don't feel the need with so much online - conference tweets + presentations + reflective blog posts.

I don't really think of LinkedIn as an online network, more of an encyclopedia of people. I do 'get it' more than I used to but it seems a very static thing, rather than active connections. Maybe I should do more with Groups? I'm resisting treating it like trading cards and collecting people other than those I really do know well. I've tried to add more to my profile, but it's still a work in progress. I found it very useful to look at the sample profiles on this Thing and I hope to incorporate some of their ideas.

I've been on Facebook a long time now and wouldn't be without it for keeping up with far-flung family and friends. I have it locked down and I don't friend anyone I don't know reasonably well in real life but I do take a chance sometimes on people I know a little at work. It's then a refreshing surprise when you find you have more in common than you thought, and that then feeds back into work in a positive way. So I think it's worth taking a few cautious chances there.

I haven't really done much with LISNPN: I don't feel like a new professional (2004 was probably when I called myself that) and I kind of like the idea that there's all this youthful enthusiasm going on there without feeling the need to join in!

Improving my teaching is something I really want to work on next (academic) year so I think I will have a proper look at Librarians as Teachers later in the summer. I'll be hoping for tips and resources I can use and perhaps a sounding board for ideas.

I'm no longer a member of CILIP so I'm not really minded to try the Communities. I guess I feel that I have Twitter as my main online community - that's where I get to meet new people and join in conversations. I don't really feel a need to add to that at the moment. It's all about keeping it manageable...that's where I struggle!

14 June 2012

Belated Thing 5: Reflective Practice

Image by Kevin Dooley on Flickr, used under CC licence

Nooooooo I can't believe I'm so behind already! It's been a busy few weeks what with being off for half term, going to a brilliant librarian wedding in Nottingham, the Gower Folk Festival and then a very long day trip to Gregynog to give a presentation. Unfortunately preparing said presentation hung over all the preceding fun stuff and took up way too much time! Anyway it's all done and dusted now...

In fact it's a useful event to discuss for this Thing. Ever since doing my chartership, I have tried hard to reflect on stuff: it really reinforced the value of it for me. I tend to write notes (using Evernote) on events or training, then add some ideas I want to follow up to my ever-expanding list (I use Remember the Milk). So after Gregnog, I scribbled down what I got out of attending as well as quickly writing up the notes I'd jotted down on the day. What emerged for me in particular was how the little incidental comments that people made were often as useful as the main event. Just catching someone saying what they were doing or a tool they'd found useful. Then I also focussed on the good and bad things about my presentation: how I should have done things differently, things I hadn't thought of that came up in discussion, bits of it that didn't quite work or come out right etc.

I do find a blog has limitations for reflecting as I often find my completely honest thoughts aren't always suitable for broadcasting and it's often the outrageous ones that I want to remember the most as a spur to action! However a blog invites shared experiences and alternative viewpoints which can send my reflection in new directions. So clearly I need private notes AND public thoughts for best results!

7 June 2012

Best source of free images? My top 2 sites.

Having wrestled with producing a conference presentation today, I found myself up against the clock trying to find suitable - and fun - images. I resist all most temptations to fly in the face of copyright so that means Google Image search is a no-go. In the past I've seen many sites recommended and have amassed a collection of bookmarks but, these days, when it comes down to it I'm just using these two. Mainly because I am most confident I understand their licence terms and I find they do the job:

Pros: Images are free to use, including commercial use, and require no attribution. The least fuss option!
Cons: The site kept bombing out on me a bit today with intensive use but if you are patient, it seemed to work again. Also, not the widest selection of images - have to be creative with search terms. Some produce weird results!

Do a search from the main page, then I usually opt for "Commercial" license.
Pros: I like the interface, searches well and you can scan results quickly; better standard of images than Morguefile.
Cons: you need to attribute. I don't mind this on presentations or blog posts but it can be messier on publicity materials. I've also had them subsequently re-used without attribution.

As an example, here are some ones I amassed when planning our "Managing your online presence" session for students. Aside from a couple of genericky ones, most of them are to illustrate what you wouldn't want a potential employer to find if they search for you on social media (the drunk dancing bunny-man is my favourite). I'm hoping to share all our materials on this and had the idea of using Pinterest to group the images as they aren't mine to share but could be helpful to locate. I've been really enjoying using Pinterest for arty stuff but this is my first time using it for work.

Do you have a favourite source of images? Let me know in the comments if so - tips gratefully received!