As mentioned in an earlier post, CILIP recently held an Open Session to enable conversation about the use of Web 2.0. Many others have blogged about the event, but I thought I’d add my thoughts too.

I was particularly pleased that in between enquiries and other work-related tasks, I was still able to follow much of the conversation by using Twitterfall to follow any Tweets tagged with #cilip2. As it was an open session, the tag had been promoted before the event and the use of Twitter/live blogging was encouraged. There were some “official” bloggers including Matthew Mezey who blogged about the session on the Update blog. There were also people in the room who were using Twitter to share discussions from the session. There was no live audio or video feed of the event but Brian Kelly reported on how he has learnt from his attempts and this is maybe something that could happen in future.

It was excellent to be able to participate via Twitter despite the geographical spread and it also enabled me to find more librarians on Twitter. The discussions surrounding professional issues (which I followed and participated in on Twitterfall) started well before the event, and it was great to see such a strong community who are passionate about the future of the profession. Dave Pattern produced a list of all the tweets tagged with #CILIP2 and used these to create a Wordle cloud:

#cilip2 Wordle cloud

#cilip2 Wordle cloud

The actual event centred around the talks from Phil Bradley and Brian Kelly, followed by discussions about how CILIP can utilise and support the use of Web 2.0. I felt honoured to be featured in Brian Kelly’s talk as one of the librarians of the future – he mentioned different Web 2.0 tools I use for professional purposes such as blogging, microblogging and social bookmarking. Both Phil and Brian spoke about how CILIP should be key players in supporting the use of Web 2.0, and I hope CILIP take on board the requests for embracing the technologies. It was also pleasing to hear mention of how CILIP could help explain how and why to use these technologies within libraries and offer support to train staff to enable them to use them in a professional context.

I haven’t heard of any concrete outcomes of the event as yet but the discussion should help shape future CILIP policies hopefully and I think it’s incredibly positive that CILIP are involving members (and non-members) more and hope to see this sort of transparency continues. CILIP are currently involved in a survey on the use of professional networkings and social media websites, I’m hoping this data will also show which areas are currently being used and which could potentially be used.

In related news, I noticed a brief news article in the most recent edition of CILIP’s Library and Information Gazette about the new CILIP communities website which will add social features to the community. It was due to be launched yesterday but wasn’t live when I checked yesterday morning. It seems to be live now however, although I admit I haven’t had much chance to explore it yet. I hope it will be similar in functionality to America’s ALA Connect, which I recently read a review of and sounded great.

Let’s hope this is the start of a more transparent CILIP and a professional body to be really proud of. 🙂

I recently found out about this from a recent post on Phil Bradley’s weblog – a list of top tools for learning voted for by learning professionals (also a list of top tools for learners has been added), compiled by Jane Hart.

Phil’s post inspired me to think about what my current top 10 tools are, which I will shortly be sending to Jane who now accepts entries via Twitter.

My tools aren’t in any particular order, it was hard enough to decide on my top ten let alone rank them!

  1. WordPress – my blogging software of choice which just gets better and better with each update. I love how easy the admin interface is, and how customisable you can make your page with HTML and CSS. The plugins add extra functionality too such as the WPTouch plugin to create a view for iPhone/iPod Touch. I also use WordPress.com for blogging at work which is really easy to set up and administer.
  2. Netvibes – my homepage on all my browsers (I use Chrome, Firefox and Safari at the moment!). It has my key links (I hardly ever use browser bookmarks anymore), my webmail, RSS feeds, and my to-do list. My dashboard to pretty much everything on the web and available wherever I’m accessing the internet.
  3. Remember the Milk – I am a listaholic and am obsessed with organising my life with to-do lists. I use RTM for my to-do list at the moment, largely due to the excellent integration with Netvibes and the superb iPhone/iPod Touch app which is free with a premium RTM account. Toodledo is also excellent but I’m favouring RTM at the moment.
  4. Google Reader – like Phil Bradley, I used to be a fan of Bloglines, but recently changed to Google Reader and am happy with it. Again the big pull is integration with other systems such as Netvibes and my iPod Touch – I have the Feeds app on my iPod Touch which enables me to sync feeds and then read them offline on my commute to work.
  5. Google Search – this is something I hadn’t really thought about until I looked at items others had mentioned. I use Google search numerous times a day, whether it’s for looking up URLs, checking definitions, or trying to find information. I also use Google Scholar sometimes on the enquiry desk, particularly if I’m presented with an unusual enquiry.
  6. Twitter – my microblogging tool of choice and one of the main ways of networking with fellow librarians/information professionals. I also use it to keep in touch with some of my family members and friends, and find it an incredibly useful tool for sharing information. I’ve tried a few different tools for updating Twitter and currently use Tweetie on my iPod, Tweetdeck on my home PC, and Twitterfox/Netvibes on my work PC
  7. Delicious – I’ve been using Delicious to save useful bookmarks for a while now and although I don’t use it to manage my regularly accessed websites, I do use it to store useful sites I may want to refer to again, and use it to gather useful sites for projects/articles. I’ve also started using Delicious to share websites with students (I’ll write more about this in a blog post soon) I’ve recently tried Diigo although I haven’t fully explored that yet, but it looks very promising.
  8. Slideshare – great site for both sharing your own presentations and viewing other’s presentations. I’ve found this particularly useful as it’s being used more widely, and find myself often visiting Slideshare to see presentations of conferences and events I am unable to attend in person. Slideshare has also recently added the facility to upload other documents which I haven’t explored yet but am sure I’ll be experimenting with in future.
  9. Google Docs – I’ve only really used this for my own work at the moment (as opposed to collaborative work), but I hope to use it collaboratively in future. I do find it incredibly useful to be able to work on a document from any PC though, as I frequently lose track of which version I have stored on my USB when I’m working at home, work, and on the enquiry desk. The form element in Google Spreadsheets (which I notice Jane has used for the learners vote) is excellent; I recently used this to gather data from different work colleagues in a quick survey format.
  10. Fireshot – I struggled to choose between Fireshot, the Firefox screencapture tool, and Adobe Captivate, the screen recording software. I chose Fireshot as I use this most often, whether it’s for screenshots in leaflets/guides, on websites, or even to explain things via email. For a free tool it’s great, and combined with Portable Firefox I can use it on any PC.

What are your top ten tools? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, or if you are a learner or learning professional why not vote by following the instructions on the website or sending your top ten by Twitter.

Last week I attended a course at De Montfort University in Leicester titled “Focus on your teaching: revisiting current practice and sharing new ideas. An event for librarians teaching in HE institutions” – catchy title! 😉 In keeping with the wordy title, I will warn you that this blog post is a long post, but is separated into the different presentations. I was intending to live blog the event but the room wasn’t really set up for that.

Teaching is one of the parts of my job as an academic librarian that I most enjoy, and so I was really looking forward to this event. The venue was good, and the food was excellent (for those who judge a course on the quality of it’s buffet this one is definitely up there as one of the best!). Even better was the opportunity to share ideas with other HE librarians, although I wish there had been more opportunity for networking. The day started with an introduction from Jo Webb, who I hadn’t met before and was really inspiring. The morning session was a number of presentations which gave the opportunity for librarians to showcase innovative teaching methods they wanted to share – I’ll go into more detail on each one as I’m sure they will be of interest to others.

Teaching referencing and citation (Amanda Poulton, De Montfort University)

Amanda spoke about how DMU approach their teaching of referencing and citation. She made a clear distinction between plagiarism and bad academic practice, explaining that successful teaching of referencing and citation skills can help prevent bad academic practice. DMU have a number of different referencing styles used for different academic schools; even if they use Harvard, many schools have slight adjustments so there is no standardised referencing style across the University.

DMU have a collaborative approach to teaching referencing skills – the Centre for Learning and Study Support (CLASS) teach writing skills including paraphrasing and summarising, whilst library staff teach students how to create bibliographies and the correct format of in-text citations. The referencing and citation sessions take the form of:

  1. Presentation on principles of referencing (including key elements of a reference for different types of resources)
  2. Contextualised examples
  3. Practical exercise in groups

The need for a subject specific focus and contextualised examples was emphasised throughout (e.g. images for Art and Design students, reports for Education/Health students, DVDs for Performing Arts students etc.). Amanda also spoke about the theoretical context and the advantages of the peer learning approach which can help increase student retention rates and encourage a deep approach to learning.

Delivering library skills for law students via a VLE (Angela Donaldson, Nottingham Trent University)

Angela spoke about a self-paced tutorial on Nottingham Trent’s VLE which she has designed for first year law undergraduates. This replaces a physical workbook which was marked by lecturers. She has structured the content into a large number of small areas to enable students to drop into the content rather than having fewer larger sections.

The tutorial content will be available to all law students (as well as any students taking a law module), but the target audience is first year students who will be required to complete the online self-assessment at some point during their first year. Students can take the test as many times as they want and can complete at any point in the year. It will be introduced to students at an introductory lecture alongside the library induction, and Angela will hold 1 or 2 workshops which students can sign up to if they are interested. If they do not complete the assessment, this will be taken into account when deciding their mark for the year.

An information evaluation framework for online learners (Kaye Towlson, De Montfort University)

Kaye spoke about her work on a project with academics to develop a framework for evaluating information sources. Students were asked to find information about a certain topic, and add 5 relevant references to a wiki. They attended a session on information evaluation as a skill for life using examples such as choosing which University to apply to, which house to buy etc. This including information about the 5Ws (who, what, where, when and why) and the 4Cs (consideration, comparison, confidence and commitment) to help students evaluate information sources. They were then asked to develop the wiki and write an article based on the wiki material. These articles were then evaluated by peers. Anecdotal evidence revealed an improvement in the quality of material posted, so the 5Ws were used to develop an Information Source Evaluation Matrix (ISEM).

In order to assess the ISEM, they ran workshops (with student incentives) where students were asked to complete a self-assessment questionnaire of their evaluation skills, then had a refresher of the 5Ws, were introduced to the ISEM, asked to use the ISEM to evaluate subject specific material, and then complete another self-assessment questionnaire. Use of the ISEM was positively received by both undergraduate and postgraduate workshops; all engaged with the matrix, its purpose and its application. Students were asked for feedback on the ISEM, and some suggestions for improvement included different weightings (e.g. is the who sometimes more important than the when?), use of colour coding, and inclusion of space for annotations and a citation. They are hoping to make some minor improvements and then make the ISEM available on the VLE.

We received paper copies of the ISEM but it’s not something I can easily share (it’s a complex table), although I imagine Kaye would be willing to share if you would like to see a copy.

Evaluating the impact of technologies on transitions into HE (Richard Hall, De Montfort University)

Richard gave a brief introduction to the work he is involved in with e-learning at DMU including the Connecting Transitions and Independent Learning (CoTIL) project which looks at social tools that can be used at level 1 to aid the transition from FE to HE. Richard focused on the work they have been doing on a mentoring project, where level 2 students provide support for level 1 students using whatever tools they wish. You can see the slides for more details but the data is currently still being analysed. The mentor feedback has been analysed and show frustrations similar to some of those experienced by academic and library staff utilising social tools, mainly that no one wants to be the first to comment on any form of communication and that the mentors felt that they were continually having to prompt mentees into participating.

The CoTIL project is part of the HEA e-learning Research Observatory and it will certainly be interesting to see the findings of the projects involved in this. You can see more information on the work being done into e-learning at DMU at their Learning Exchanges website.

Using Captivate for Information Skills Tutorials (Emma Butler and Catherine Varney, Derby University)

Emma and Catherine spoke about Derby University’s work on providing library tutorials using Adobe Captivate. I was particularly interested in this talk as we have been using Captivate at University of Wolverhampton although currently its use is only from interested librarians who are self-taught and there are no generic tutorials for all students as yet, but it is something I imagine we will investigate further in future.

At Derby University they have a two year project to rejuvenate their Electronic Library provision (e.g. simplify web navigation, encourage use of online resources, improve support of online resources and develop student skills). They established three working groups for the project which were open to all library staff; the subject approach group, the navigation group (physical and virtual navigation), and the information skills group. Emma and Catherine were both part of the information skills group whose remit was to make the Electronic Library more relevant to their students. This included developing and enhancing student skills, improving 24/7 support of electronic resources, ensuring consistency with HE practice and exploiting the use of new technologies. One of the main areas of focus were Captivate tutorials (for anyone who is unaware of Captivate, it is screen capture software which you can add captions and voiceover to).

The group decided to try using Captivate to augment and supplement their face-to-face sessions. From the beginning of the project, the group realised the importance of providing a consistent message, and developed sets of standards, including:

  • Recording standards
  • Standard slides (start slide, how to use slide, and end slide is always the same)
  • Navigation route standards (standard way of getting to electronic resources, also reflected in print guides)
  • Style standards (font, colour, size etc.)
  • Language standards (e.g. use of consistent terms – OPAC or Library Catalogue? Periodicals or Journals? Click on or Select? Also used male and female voices on alternate slides to keep interest)

They produced 2 tutorials and then evaluated them using Surveymonkey online questionnaire. The feedback from this survey helped shape the standards (e.g. they found that black text on white background was too much of a contrast so now use blue text on a while background).

Now that the standards are finalised, the group rolled out their findings and guidelines to library staff (subject librarians), and offered support in producing the tutorials. Subject librarians will take responsibility for producing their own guides but the group will offer assistance where necessary. The group also held sessions to introduce the academic staff to the tutorials to raise awareness and promote the resources. They are encouraging liaison with subject librarians for suggestions of further tutorials.

It was really interesting to hear about the experiences of Derby University, and particularly about the standards developed – its certainly something I am hoping to produce for my place of work with regards Captivate tutorials as well as any other information guides (e.g. consistent use of language and style in leaflets and on website).

Tour of De Montfort University Kimberlin Library and Eric Wood Learning Zone

At lunchtime, there was an optional tour of De Montford Kimberlin library and the Eric Wood Learning Zone adjacent to the library. This was especially useful for me, as we are currently fact finding for our new Learning Centre which is currently in the design stages. Interestingly, many of the ideas we are hoping to implement have already been implemented at DMU so it was a really interesting and worthwhile tour. I found a presentation on Slideshare which has some great photos and stats of the new areas at DMU:

Afternoon workshop (Chris Powis, Northampton University)

The afternoon session was very interesting, Chris began by presenting about students of today and how we need to approach our teaching so that they will get the most out of it. He talked about how librarians are tool/search focused but most students are result/content focused. I think this is a really important point – it’s no good setting a task for students to construct how they would go about a search without getting them to do the search as students are motivated to get the result. In today’s world most of us learn by making mistakes so we might perform a search, realise the results are not what we had hoped to get, and then adjust accordingly. The ultimate goal for a student is to get to the content (e.g. the journal article), they’re generally not too bothered how they got there (which keywords or database was used). A quote Chris used to emphasise this point, which I really liked, was:

“Librarians love to search, everyone else likes to find”
Eric Lease Morgan, Notre Dame University

Chris also highlighted the importance of the learner when teaching; sessions should be designed with the learner in mind. Obviously it is necessary to take into account the needs of the lecturer and yourself, but the primary focus of the session should be the learners themselves.

The afternoon activity got us to think about how we could make a session more interesting and innovative whilst taking into account all we’d learnt from the day. My group spent most of our time discussing different ideas and didn’t get very far on planning our ideal teaching session, but our main idea was to challenge the prejudice that many academics have towards Google and Wikipedia. I have to admit that there are times when I use Google Scholar over our paid-for services (e.g. if I don’t know a subject very well or if a student is after an article they know partial details of), and with our article linker it really can be an excellent service and helps students get to the full text of scholarly articles. OK so it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of an in-depth information enquiry on a specialised database, but for first year students who just need to get hold of an article, I think it can be a really useful tool and something we shouldn’t be so scared of.

The event was certainly useful, it made me think about my teaching and how I can make it more interesting and relevant for my students. The main lessons I took from the day were to focus on the learner and their needs in the first instance and to ensure that any examples are subject specific for the particular group of students – all subject disciplines have very different needs.