Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Things 10 & 11: Traineeships, Qualifications, Mentoring: kerplunk

I'm going to try and combine 2 things in one, as I haven't a huge amount to say about mentoring. Also, since I am Coordinator of the MA Librarianship and MA Information Literacy courses at Sheffield University iSchool (advert! - and the picture shows the church/lecture theatre opposite our department) you are not going to find me saying that qualifications are worthless! I obviously believe that we do a good job at Sheffield, but I am going to talk about my own experience, rather than plugging our courses any more.

I worked for a couple of years as a library assistant before I did my professional qualification. Because I hadn't really worked out what I wanted to do when I graduated (with a degree in German) I left it late and didn't get a traineeship at Sussex University Library, but just an ordinary library assistant post. From the position of not having been a trainee, and from what I hear from students, it is definitely worth going for traineeships. As a non-trainee I did get included in the odd trainees' training session, but I didn't get the variety of work they did.

I don't think any library assistant jobs nowadays are as mind-numbingly boring as what I did for my first year, back in the late 70s. I was part of the 4-person team that was the "Interlibrary loans" section. I think that now this function is carried out by a fraction of a person and computers. However, decades ago, the people who wanted articles and books from elsewhere filled out forms, two of us (or perhaps it was even 3, now I come to think of it) filed forms, and retrieved forms, and copied things out, and went to get books off the shelves to post to people in other libraries. We weren't even allowed to check whether books that other libraries wanted were in Sussex's catalogue because checking our catalogue was professional work and done by the ILL team manager. A secretary typed out all the requests onto some kind of tape and ran the requests through to the British Library.Library automation 6

You can tell how boring it was when I tell you that doing an hour of shelving every day was the high point. I liked the stripey economics book (Samuelson's! I can still remember the author) because it was nice and thick and if you scooped up a load of those you could look like you had cleared a reshelving hod really quickly. I confess now that I did throw a sickie a couple of days (not something I have ever done since, I hasten to add) because I just could not face the tedium of filing forms, writing out address labels and stacking books on a trolley. The only plus point was that after this any library job was going to seem fascinating by comparison.

In my 2nd year, thank goodness, I got transferred to circulation and periodicals and did some more interesting things. I learnt useful skills, like how to smooth out the reader tickets so that when you inserted a reader ticket and a book ticket in the circulation desk thingy, the machine went kerplunk and recorded both tickets. When people complain about computers taking jobs away - well, some of those jobs were pretty dreadful. Bring on the computers, I say.
I should of course add that, for the time, Sussex was well advanced in the automation stakes, and there were some excellent and amusing people working there. Still, I wasn't unhappy to move on to do my postgraduate qualification, because I didn't want to spend the rest of my life smoothing reader tickets and trying to get circulation systems to go kerplunk.

I did my postgraduate study at what was then the Polytechnic of North London. It was in a dreadful building on the Essex Road, and I had to work really, really hard, but the course was excellent. There were lots of options, and as well as a couple of hours of cataloguing and classification every week, and classes on academic libraries etc., I also did a module on Literacy and Popular Culture (my essay was in social comment in the Archers), and one on Music Librarianship, and there was another module in which I did an essay about Jungian archetypes in fairy tales.... We were shown a computer being used for searching and current awareness, which was as whiz-bang as it got (those were the days before screens, when the text got directly typed onto printout with green stripes - yes, really, online was that slow).

I did actually use a lot of the knowledge and skills I learnt on the course, in some case years afterwards (i.e. there were some things which weren't useful immediately, but were useful later on). I was also glad I had taken modules that interested me, not just the ones that seemed more obviously "useful": I ended up with more enthusiasm for the profession and feeling more invigorated by the whole experience. It was easier to get a job in those days - although I think it is still true that it it is also easier to get a job in London than in other parts of the UK - and my first post continued my education on-the-job. It was part of a small team in the Health and Safety Executive, and ideal, since I was doing a bit of everything, and got some beginner's management experience.

To sum up, my qualification was worth it, and I wish I had got myself organised in time to do a traineeship.

As regards mentoring, I never had anyone who was in quite that role, but I learnt a tremendous amount from people I worked with on professional committees (see - thing 7) and had good good advice, feedback and encouragement. I was just reading a blog posting from someone saying how she had approached someone to be her mentor, who had gladly accepted: I do think that people respond positively to this kind of approach. If they are busy people, being a mentor through a specific project or phase of your job (i.e. rather than indefinitely) might still be something they were willing to take on.
I know that a mentor is different from a manager - but I did have managers who were also good at mentoring (they aren't all). At the moment I've got the role of mentor to a new lecturer in the iSchool - so this blog post has also been helpful in making me think - how well am I doing that?

Photo of an old Plessey/DS library computer system by qisnovus (under Creative Commons via Flickr), other photos by me. The last photo is of two of our students graduating from the Masters' programmes in January: taking a picture of me taking a picture of them!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Thing 8: Google Calendar

It looks like I haven't been keeping up at all the past couple of weeks, but I did do a post on the main CPD23 blog about being an "older" CPDer (here: so I don't feel so guilty.
I'm going to reflect here on Thing 8 Google Calendar and mention another calendar relevant tool, Doodle. The main way I use Google Calendar currently is for a calendar of events on our Second Life island, Infolit iSchool: the calendar is embedded here: It hasn't got much on it at the moment (one journal club meeting this month, and a journal club meeting + a report back from the IFLA conference in August).
However it will get busier, as in particular a group of educators from Turkey are going to be using a corner of the island for teaching and discussion. In fact they already have a meeting on the island every Wednesday, so that event will be coming on the calendar pretty soon. At the moment it is mainly just me and Marshall Dozier (a friend at Edinburgh University, the lead organiser for Journal Club) who post things to the calendar. Still, even with that simple function, it is definitely useful.

My university uses Google for mail, docs etc. and the calendar, so a number of colleagues do use Google Calendar to arrange meetings and keep their online diary. The iSchool (my department) also has an account, for departmental meetings (teaching committee, staff-student committee etc.) which is also useful. I'm afraid I am not one of the people who maintains a Google diary, though. I prefer keeping a paper diary (this one, my own copy is also pictured on this page) which I carry round with me in the old fashioned way.

At the moment it seems a hassle to me to always to have to look up something online when I want to make an appointment, but I can see that may change in the future. As it is, one very useful tool that gets used in the iSchool is Doodle: We used to waste lots of time emailing people round to set a date for a meeting, and by the time we'd arrived at a date, usually at least one person couldn't make it any more. Now things get sorted out very quickly by setting up a doodle poll and emailing out the link.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Thing 7: 28 years of Real Life networks: was it worth it?

I have spent a lot of time in face to face professional networks. I have never totted up the amount, but just when I was editing the Institute of Information Scientists' monthly newsletter Inform I spent about 20 hours a month, 10 times a year, for 6 years, which I think works out at about one working year of 35 hour weeks. I started doing things on committees in about 1984 (it's so long ago I can't remember). After all that, I would say:
1. It was worth it. I made friends, I got new skills, I gained confidence, I made useful connections, I had fun.
2. It's not worth unless you are having some fun. At least that's the way it works for me. Looking back on it, "Do these people seem like they are having a good time" is one of the criteria for getting involved in a new commitee.
3. You get out what you put in. Trite, but I think it's true. I've made my most meaningful connections when I'm working on something with people, rather than just going along to meetings.
4 If all the people you worked with are retired or dead, nobody remembers you did stuff.

That last point may seem a bit flippant, but I don't feel at all flippant when I look at the first picture, of the UK Online User Group (now UKEIG) Management Committee, in the summer of 1986. I retained the picture's sepia look, as it seemed sort of appropriate. Linda Dorrington, a wonderful information professional, in the centre of the picture, is no longer with us. I hope all the rest are: but I haven't been in touch with Rodney Bennett (back row, left) for years. Christine Baker (middle, far left) is just retiring as administrator of UKeiG; a startled looking Charles Oppenheim, next to her, is retired though still professionally active. The rest of us are still around, but drawing firmly into the retirement zone (I'm far right of the middle row, BTW, and a picture of me this year is here though you will notice I have chosen one where my double chin is hidden by a sprig of cherry blossom).

Of course one good thing is that if you hang around long enough then the people who who you organised events with, and drew up guidelines with, and washed up cups with, and wrangled with for hours about whether or not the association should change its name or not (oh the time I've wasted doing that)- at least some of them get to be gurus and chief librarians, which can be useful.
However, it's not something where you can rest on your laurels. I probably did most for the Institute of Information Scientists (on the right is an article about the silver jubilee of the IIS Scottish Branch in 1995, I was Branch Chair at the time). I got a tremendous amount out of my IIS activities (see 1. above), and got my Fellowship for "Services to the IIS": that is something I am really proud of.

However the IIS is an ex-association, following the merger of the IIS and the Library Association to form CILIP. I still hope I made a contribution to the profession, and the benefits I got out of all this are still there, but the fact remains that the number of people who knew what the IIS (membership circ 3000) was are proportionally few, and dwindling all the time.

In terms of "advice" one point I am coming round to in a rambling sort of way is to say that if one of your goals is "visibility" and "contacts" then you have to work out who you want to be visible to, and who you want to connect with, because you can't do it with everyone (unless you have clones). Before I left my last job at the British Library (Head of the Business Information Service) I was starting to get involved with the local branch of the British Institute of Management. This was very interesting, getting to know a new set of people, and definitely CPD for me as a manager. However, it gave me zero additional visibility with information professionals.

Similarly, I made a decision to get more involved in international groups (as I got to know more people outside the UK) and less involved in UK groups (the third picture is of an IFLA Information Literacy Section committee meeting, which I'm a member of, in Puerto Rico last year). I also started going to more education and research conferences, because now I'm an educator and researcher.

However, from a UK LIS perspective it looks like I dropped out of professional involvement altogether. I've maintained visibility in particular through my blog, and I do go/get invited to UK events still, and can keep in touch via my students and through social media. Still, one of the things I'm pondering through this CPD blog is whether I want to re-engage a bit more face to face with UK LIS groups (and if so, how, as the international/education/research stuff is important to my work now). Realistically, it makes more sense to concentrate on virtual involvement (which is so much more extensive nowadays), but thinking back to my happiest professional-involvement days has made me nostalgic, not a mood I normally cultivate.

So this may be another piece of advice: when you are where you thought you wanted to be - take time to reflect. Are you happy with the networks you are in? Or have you lost the elements that made you want to get involved in face to face professional networks to start with? I hasten to add that, as you can judge from the above picture, the IFLA section meets my criterion of "these people have a good time". However, the problem of international networking is that you don't meet face to face very often.

I thought I would end this by listing the groups where I've been on committees. I put this in, then I took it out, and then I put it back in again. After all, it shows that you can be on numerous committees, and survive.

- Member of the Committee of the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA) Information Literacy section (2009 - )
- Member of the Committee of the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA) Management and Marketing section (2001- 9)
- Executive Committee Member of the European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) (1992-1997, Alternate Member 1999-2002 )
- Chair of the European Chapter of the American Society for Information Science (1999-2000)

- Member of the committee of the CILIP Community Services Group Information Literacy Group
(2004-7 )
- Member of the Recruitment and Retention Panel of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (2002-2007)
- Member of the Executive group on Information Literacy of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (2003-4 )

Institute of Information Scientists (IIS)
- Member, IIS Council (1988-1994)
- Chair of IIS Scottish Branch Committee 1994-96 (Committee Member from 1992-1999)
- Chair of the IIS Marketing Coordination Group (1987-1990)
- Editor of the monthly newsletter (Jan 1992- Dec 1997)
- IIS representative to the Scottish Library and Information Council (1994- 2000)
- Member of IIS Publications Committee (1985-1989, 1992-1998 )
- Member of IIS External Affairs Committee (1987- 1996)

- Member of the Society of College, National and University Libraries Working Group on Information Literacy (2004-2010 )
- Treasurer / Committee Member, Business Information Network (1990-1992)
- Member, Library Association Standing Committee on Business Information (1988-1992)
- Member & Officer on the Management Committee of the UK Online User Group (now UKeiG) - in the 80s (from 1985) and early 90s - I chaired the Subcommittee on Education and Training at one point
- Member of the City Information Group committee - 1990-92, as far as I can remember

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thing 6: Online networks

This is rather a long post in which I chunter through some of the networks I belong to, though (apart from Second Life) I wouldn't say I really "network" professionally on any of them. Some of them (e.g. are more like calling cards or CVs.
The online networks which were mentioned in the main CPD23 blog post were Facebook, Linked-In, Librarians as Teachers Network, and CILIP communities, plus the New Professionals network. I belonged to all except the last one already, plus some more. I thought I would review what I was doing with at least some of them.
As I will probably discuss at more length in another post, one issue is that I already know a lot of people professionally, because I've been around a long time and done a lot of things.
Also if I do get another job (and I may stay where I am til I retire, now) then it won't be on the basis of a profile on Linked-In. Therefore some of the motivations I might have had earlier in my career don't apply so much. Also, when your interests change and increase, then the number of online networks you are potentially interested in are really too many to keep track of regularly. I think I need to monitor them better than I do, and I'm pondering where: possibly via the page on my Netvibes site.

Linked In
I really only joined Linked-In because people kept inviting me to connect, and I have mostly use it reactively to respond to invitations. There are 8 Sheila Webbers on Linked In, and I have the most connections. I have joined a few groups, and been in a couple of useful conversations as a result, but there also seem to be a good number of spammy conversations on some of the groups. I just reviewed my profile to change the picture and add a bit more information. I also investigated a few more groups that I thought might have interesting discussions, so I may be a bit more active there.

I keep my profile private to my friends, and almost all my friends are people who I know in the physical world. In fact most of them are also people I've got to know professionally, but then I've been working a long time and that's mostly where I've made friends. I'm not a Facebook addict, but I do mostly check it at least daily at the moment. My groups are a mixture of personal interests (like Thorntons chocolate) and professional groups.
My main "serious" involvement is with the Facebook groups for our cohorts of students in the iSchool at Sheffield University; I try to pick up on questions that I should respond to. I also have contributed a bit to the iSchool's page. A couple of my students have done small scale research studies into use of Facebook recently: I would never make use of Facebook for study mandatory (because some students don't want to use Facebook, and that is their right). However, it seems (from a study one of the third years did this semester) that explaining the potential of Facebook to support (in particular) group work, would be worth doing. I used to use Facebook to publicise events: I need to get back into doing that. There seem to be about 27 "Sheila Webber"s on Facebook.

Librarians as Teachers network
I joined this last year sometime, when Teachmeets started happening. I was aiming to have a Teachmeet at Sheffield, then interest seemed to die down, but I'm planning to revive the idea if the librarians here are interested as well (possibly in the autumn semester now, to get students involved). I hadn't looked at the site for a while. It doesn't seem extremely active, but when there are discussions, they are interesting, so I ought to be monitoring it more thoroughly.

I hadn't looked at CILIP Communities in a while, either, and had forgotten what my password was. My Information Literacy Weblog is one of the "selected" ones, so I'm present in the site, even if I don't actually go there.... I used to be very, very active in one of the forerunners to CILIP (i.e. the Institute of Information Scientists), and then a bit in CILIP itself, but lately I haven't been engaged much at all, as I switched focus to international organisations & academic networks. I've been thinking I might aim to get a bit more involved again, but probably in face to face events, rather than via CILIP Communities.

There are various sites for academics, and is the dominant one at the moment. As with Linked In, I really only caved in and joined it when I kept getting invitations. However, I think that this is the site which I ought to be doing more to maintain, because research is an important aspect to my job. Therefore I have just spent a couple of hours putting in more details of my papers (I still haven't listed all of them) and making a few more contacts: my profile is here

I have joined loads of networking sites e.g. the Technology-Enhanced Professional Learning and the ARVEL SIG nings. These are interesting, but keeping tabs on all of them is difficult. The Centre for Information Literacy Research and Information Literacy in Second Life nings are rather an embarrassment, as they are both ones I started, and which have members, but I have been very poor at updating and monitoring them recently. I need to decide whether I'm going to keep these going, with or without other people's help.

As I already mentioned in a previous post, the online network I'm probably most active in professionally is the network of educators and librarians in Second Life. I'm Sheila Yoshikawa in the transcripts you can see on the Virtual Worlds Educators Roundtable site. Also the Journal Club that Marshall Dozier and I run in Second Life is a sort of online network, I suppose. I find these 3D virtual networks more enjoyable and meaningful than most of the 2D ones, really, and I have made friends and professional contacts through them.

This has become too much of a dull list, so I'll stop. Apart from having done some useful maintenance work at and Linked In, I have decided that I must at least have a favourites folder for my networks, so I can remember which ones I've joined.
Photos by Sheila Webber: Circles in the sand, Great Keppel Island, 2004; Street art on mobile phons, Ljubljana, 2006; Wild rose circle, Sheffield, 2004; Meeting on Worcester University island, Second Life, 2012.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Thing 5: Reflective practice

I'm not managing very well to keep up with CPD23 (work! family!) but as I've almost finshed marking my portion of some reflective e-portfolios it seemed like a good time to blog about reflective practice. The first year students have to reflect on how their concept of Information Management has evolved through the module (that I co-teach). In case you are interested the criteria we mark to are: "Narrative clearly expresses how the student’s understanding of Information Management has evolved"; "Statements made in the narrative are substantiated by evidence"; "Presentation and organisation of portfolio"; "Quality, quantity and scope of evidence"; and "Spelling, grammar, syntax and reflective style."

We have a few assignments that are mainly about reflection, and also students always have to hand in a short individual reflection when they do any group work (that is actually a University requirement). Therefore one of the things we have to do is support the students in learning how to write reflectively, which is a hard thing to do (I mean writing reflectively is hard, but teaching it is hard too!).
At the Second Life educator's meeting last week this came up during our discussion, and a number of us agreed that a reaction from some students in the US as well as in the UK is (at least at the first year level) that it is challenging and they don't like it. So we know we have to get people into the habit of reflective writing, and provide guidance, we can't expect people just to do it (though of course there are also some people who do just do it).

My colleague Barbara Sen sets a reflective journal assignment as part of the Management module on our MA Librarianship course. The main post on reflective practice on the CPD23 blog has some excellent advice & readings, but I will add Barbara's powerpoint that she gave at LILAC last year Reflection: improving information literacy practice. Learning from the past, developing for the future, becoming a reflective practitioner and also the article (not open access, I think) Sen, B. (2010) "Reflective writing: a management skill", Library Management, 31 (1/2), 79 - 93.

Anyway all this is not saying much about my own reflective practice, except that since I am supposed to be teaching other people about it, I have to know what it is.  In terms of my teaching, I do always think about what I might have done differently and what I might do better next time. I don't think I ever do anything exactly the same twice running, because you can always see room for improvement: and of course every learner is different too.
It's probably best when I'm teaching collaboratively with someone I trust, because then you chew things over as you go along and get a different perspective, but with encouragement and you share the OMG moments as well. Obviously I aim to get the learners' perspective too. I suppose the most challenging reflective part is balancing these different perspectives with the desired outcomes for the session, class and programme to decide what to do next.

I think what I'm less good at is reflecting on my practice more broadly and worrying away at the bigger issues there. Also, I don't do that much reflective writing, although I do try to note down "improvements for next time" in teaching. One of the reasons I joined in with CPD23 was to do a bit more of this, including some things I might have got complacent about.
Being reflective about not keeping up with CPD23: at the end of the day I'm following CPD23 for my own benefit, and I can't see any point in beating myself up over not having "kept up to date" so far. The online presence and networks parts are issues where I do want to do something (to summarise, I have a lot of online presence, but it needs tidying up a bit). SoI think my "action" will still be to blog and take action when I feel alert and with some time to do something about it, rather than trying to get through the posts as quickly as possible.
The first photo was taken at the Creating Knowledge conference in Copenhagen in 2006 (it's not my handwriting, it must have been a break out group I was in). The second one is me reflected in a sculpture in Kristianstad when I was at another conference. I chose it over some more picturesque reflection pictures, because it had the "different perspective" in it. As you might guess, I just did a quick search through my photographs on "reflect".

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thing 4: Why Twitter isn't my idea of fun

I realise that Twitter is useful. I know there are some times when Twitter is the best place to go for infomation. I recognise that some people really enjoy Twitter. But, personally, I just don't find Twitter fun, and for that reason I don't think I'm ever going to be a major Twitter user.
I signed up in 2008, when I was giving a seminar about Web 2.0 at an ARLIS conference, and so, ahem, I needed to try out all the things I was going to talk about. I'm @sheilayoshikawa (using my Second Life name, because that seemed like a good idea at the time).

A while ago I came MinXuan Lee's Slideshare on How Twitter Changed my Life where she lists 5 stages of Twitter acceptance: Denial; Presence (actually getting an account); Dumping (using Twitter to tweet blogposts and point to press releases); Conversing ("I don't always post useful stuff but I do use Twitter to have authentic 1x1 conversations"); and Microblogging ("I'm using Twitter publish useful things that people read and converse 1x1 authentically"). I'm not sure how I'd distinguish an authentic one-to-one conversation from any old one-to-one conversation, but otherwise this seems helpful.

I'd found a number of useful twitterstreams for the ARLIS seminar, so I knew at once that Twitter wasn't useless, but I remained at the state of "Presence" for year or more, with just a few tweets saying things like "here's another tweet from me I'm not sure why I'm bothering". A few people started following me, which I found slightly baffling, and I started following other people.

Then I realised that it would be useful to alert people to my Information Literacy Weblog blog posts via Twitter. I used an app (Twitterfeed, I think) to automate a feed from my blogto Twitter, adding the hashtag #infolit to each one as well. This brought me into the "dumping" stage. However, I would argue that this is more meaningful than the word "dumping" imples, as people who are interested in information literacy and who like Twitter find this a good way to follow my posts. It means I make more effort to make it very clear what a blog post is about in the title and first few words and if I'm conference blogging I put the hashtag in the title or first few words so I don't have to do an additional tweet.

In terms of tweeting, I do some conference tweeting (although I mostly concentrate on liveblogging), and my other tweets are still very "now and then" - the odd extra tweet about information literacy and occasionally a more personal tweet. One thing is that I think if people are following me they must be doing it because of a professional interest in information literacy, so they probably don't want too much personal stuff.

However, the bigger reason is that I just don't really enjoy tweeting that much. I don't think this is because I don't "understand" twitter, or because I haven't found the right people to follow. I can see that some people are getting a lot out of Twitter; sharing ideas, sharing events, bantering, making friends etc. When I dip into Twitter (I don't monitor it all the time) I spot useful links and some useful news. I recently put a Twitter feed from #infolit onto my blog, and (since my infolit blog is my home page) that has been the most useful thing, and I follow up tweets from there quite a lot.
I've also found Twitter uniquely useful. For example, I'm a Flickr addict, and when I started to get a weird error message, searching Twitter meant I found out at once that everyone was getting this and it wasn't that Flickr had banned me. I liked getting the key soundbites from the LILAC conference via Twitter.

However, if I followed twitter all the time, I think I'd be a wreck. I get depressed about all this information that I ought to know about already and don't. I find my competitive streak rising to the surface as I start to try and compose tweets that are going to get retweeted. Although I have some people that are already friends on Twitter, there are also loads of friends who aren't, and somehow seeing tweets from some of my friends makes me feel totally inadequate in keeping up with friends generally. This is not fun, and with all the social media I do use a lot, there is an element of enjoyment. One thing is that I really like a visual aspect, which is why Flickr appeals.

Perhaps if I changed my devices of choice, and my habits, or had a personality transplant and went for some therapy, I might start to find Twitter fun. But I think it's more likely I will continue to use Twitter on a more pragmatic kind of basis. Meanwhile, I appreciate all the tweeting done by people that enjoy it more than I do. I wonder whether any other people feel the same about Twitter?

Pictures are of an unidentified bird (Tallinn, 2011),  ducklings (Blackheath, 2012) and a fine gantry of malt whisky (Aberdeen, 2011)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thing 4: Storify

I'm not keeping up with my cpd23 work at the moment, as I've too much to do at work, and also had to pay an unexpected visit to my mum, who wasn't feeling too good (she's 90). However, I spotted something I haven't tried out yet as part of Thing 4, so I spent a little recreational time this morning trying it out and working out whether I might use it.
This is Storify which makes it easy to pull together postings from various social media and add some headings and text. I was a bit disappointed that you couldn't edit the layout more, but now looking at other people's stories (some just one tweet long!) I realise I was thinking too much about "information" and not enough about "story". Still, here's my first attempt, on Information Overload. I've embedded it in slideshow format as that seemed a bit more manageable, this is the actual link:

I mostly thought about how I might use this in teaching. Even though my story is too much of a "resource" I think it it still could be a valid way to pull together some opinions and information, as a bundle of material to stimulate discussion in a class. I like the visual element.
I think it would be even better as something to use with students, getting them to tell their own stories with Storify about (for example) information overload. We have a first year class where sometimes we get students to find Flickr images to do with "research" as a way of getting into conversation, and using Storify might be an even better way to get people to reflect on what a particular concept meant to them. You could also pick a controversial event and pull together a story which illustrated the different ways in which people dealt with it, and the information literacy implications. The only issue (as with all these tools) is that you are telling students to sign up to something, i.e. give up some of their personal data to a 3rd party, which always gives ethical pause, but this application doesn't seem too intrusive.
I had some minor gripes, apart from the restrictive layout e.g. it seemed like you couldn't check what the links on a Twitter post were without actually leaping out to Twitter (which I wanted todo before I added a tweet).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Professional development in SL

One of the most regular professional events I attend is the Virtual Worlds Educators Roundtable (VWER) that takes place every Thursday at 7.30pm UK time in the virtual world Second Life (SL). It lasts an hour, and usually looks like this, with us sitting round and discussing education in text chat. It's a magic table,: as soon as a new person sits down it generates an extra chair, and you can expand the table a click.

Most of the people are from the USA (e.g. California, Montana), including Grizzla from Gwinnett College, whose students interacted with my students in SL last semester. A couple of other people are from the UK too. I'm the one with teal blue hair and a maxi dress. This week's topic was "What will YOU do in Virtual Worlds this summer (or winter)?" and people talked about some of their plans and projects, then the conversation deviated into whether people actually HAD a summer break and what encouraged or prevented people from getting things done. We also got into talking about students and what we experience of how they really react to using new technology, with useful books and websites mentioned along the way. Since some of us are regular attenders or know each other from other SL activities there was also some moaning about our workloads etc, some feeble joking and a lot of typing errors (nowadays I never seem to spell "the" correctly first time round).

As I said at the start, this is one of the most regular "development" type events I attend, which is why I'm mentioning it on the blog, as I thought I'd try and note things I'd call "development". Although we are in SL, people talk about other issues to do with teaching, as well. People are pretty honest about their experiences, and although some of the conversations seem to come round again and again, it's also one of the reassuring parts of the VWER meetings; you feel you can relax, and if you do a little bit of wandering off the point it isn't dreadful. It's interesting to meet with people dealing with education systems in different countries, and learn where their experience is the same and where it's different (a lot of the time it's pretty similar).

SL seems to have got rather unfashionable (despite the fact that virtual worlds keep popping up in Horizon reports) but it really has been somewhere where I've been able to discuss and reflect on my teaching, in particular.Also, I do like the quirky visual side of things e.g. seeing what Grizzla will be this week (this time a yellow crash test dummy).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hello to CPD23

I'm going to be following the 23 Things for Professional development course over the next weeks. I decided I needed to set up a new blog for this, as I like to keep my main (information literacy) blog very focused on information literacy, and none of my other blogs quite fit this kind of thing either.
This is just an introductory & hello posting, and I will think about my blogging in my next post (probably done at the weekend). I teach in the iSchool at the University of Sheffield; currently I coordinate the MA Librarianship and the MA Information Literacy programmes, and this semester I've been teaching mainly in the "Information Literacy Research", "Educational Informatics" and "Inquiry in Information Management" modules. Also I'm catertaker-coordinator for the "Library services for children and young people" module this year, as my colleague Briony is on maternity leave. As next week is the last teaching week there is a lot to do around assignments as well at the moment.

Before Sheffield, I taught at Strathclyde University, and before that I had various posts at the British Library in London: the last one was Head of the Business Information Service. I started out at the BL marketing their online service, BLAISE (which was actually the first online service in the UK; that was a long time ago...). Before THAT I worked for a year as an assistant librarian at the Health and Safety Executive, and going right back I was a library assistant at Sussex University Library in the days when library cards had punch holes in them and the card readers went kerplunk when you put in the cards.

As well as the postings about the weekly Thing I am planning to have some general posts about my professional development, but I will have to see how it goes. 

The first picture is of a present from a Chinese student  (the Monkey King), on my office shelves, the second is me in 1986 (argh, so young). In some ways it was easier to identify what my development needs would be, back then, and I'm hoping to reflect on what development means to me at this stage of my career.