Interesting day today, lots seemed to happen – some good, some not so good.

The day started with a lazy morning, although I did manage to get to work for 9am despite not leaving the house until 7.45am. Result!

I hadn’t seen my manager for a while (he’s been on leave and then I was at Warwick yesterday) so caught up on a few things and spoke to him about the progress of the inductions work. Caught up on emails and planned my priorities for the day – although they changed during the course of the day!

I had my appraisal at 11am and was in there until 12.40pm – didn’t seem that long but I always seem to have loads to discuss! Discussed my progress since our last meeting at the end of my probation, and spoke about different areas of work I’ve been doing. We set some personal targets to focus on for the time being, but will also review those and add more specific targets when the new strategic plan is in place.

1pm Departmental strategic plan for next three years was launched and emailed to all staff. I printed a copy to read with my lunch – had a lovely jacket potato in the staff room today (along with a fat free chocolate brownie baked by a colleague!).

1.45pm Returned to office and joined in conversation about the plan (there has been quite a build up to the plan so it was a fairly big deal).

2pm Another important email, this time to all University staff about the financial situation. Until now we’ve been fortunate in that all savings have been made through natural wastage (i.e. retirement, people leaving) but sadly this is no longer the case. Been expecting it for a while really, but still came as a bit of a shock. Obviously it’s still early stages so we don’t know much about what will happen yet, but as you can imagine it was all most people talked about for the afternoon.

3pm onwards I did manage to get a little bit of weeding done and we also tried some furniture rearranging (manager is keen to better utilise space now we’ve withdrawn quite a bit of stock), but then moved everything back when we realised our plans didn’t quite work. Took a (very blurry!) picture of the amusing sight of trying to fit our new books stand into the lift! Finished the afternoon in Teaching Practice with a chat to a colleague about weeding progress. She’s offered to provide some assistance from her team which is great as we should hopefully work through it a lot quicker. Emailed her my spreadsheet of items which haven’t been borrowed much in recent years so they can pull the items off and I can then just review the stock to ensure we’re not withdrawing anything I want to keep.

Colleague kindly offered me a lift part of the way home so got the earlier bus home. Now waiting for a friend to arrive who’s visiting for the weekend. 🙂

WordPress iPhone app is clearly not the way to go, just crashed again whilst trying to publish and now I can’t get to my post!

Anyway, today’s activities:

Similar morning routine to yesterday with more snoozing of the alarm, a whiney attention-seeking Cookie cat, and minus the winter coat (too much hassle!). I’m off to Warwick today so a slightly later start as I don’t need to be there until 10.30am.

Got the 7.44am bus to get to the station. There seem to be plenty of trains to Coventry ( nearest station to Warwick Uni). Bought my ticket at the station and managed to get a direct train which left at 8.45am. Bought a magazine at the station as couldn’t get internet on my phone to read my RSS feeds but then realised 3G was turned off! Turned it back on and all fine now.

Got to Coventry at 9.40ish and managed to navigate to the bus stop (albeit an unconventional route!). Bought a daysaver ticket (blimey they’re expensive now, glad I have my travel card for travel to work). Nice bus driver told me which stop to get off at, didn’t realise how big the campus was – there were loads of different bus stops!

Got to the library at 10.20ish and waited for Katharine. Unsure of timings for rest of day but included:

– tour of Warwick’s library facilities including the Schools collection, Teaching Grid, Research Grid and Learning Grid
– caught up with Katharine on various work-related stuff
– chatted with Chris, the Education librarian, about our roles and the Schools collection in particular
– learnt all about Warwick’s restructuring
– lunched with Katharine, Chris, and Adrienne who will soon be starting a graduate trainee post at Oxford.

As always with visits, there were some great things (I love the Teaching Grid for encouraging innovative teaching methods) and other things I couldn’t get my head around (such as the lack of enquiry service).

I left the campus just before 4pm and got a bus back to Coventry. I just managed to make it in time for the direct train back to Wolverhampton. On the journey I got up to speed on my work emails from the day, and wrote this post.

I’ve got the house to myself tonight as my boyfriend is going out for dinner with clients, so I think I might nip to Sainsbury’s on my way home and get something nice for tea. Looking forward to an evening with the cats, cross stitch and trashy TV.

For most people, Wednesday is day three of their working week, but my library job is part-time so Wednesday is the first working day of my library week (I spend Monday and Tuesday at home with my boyfriend working with him in his marketing/web design business, Cookies and Java).

Here’s an overview of my day today:

6.20am Alarm goes off. I ignore it a few times by snoozing. I’m terrible at getting up in the morning and have two alarms – one on my phone and one Lumi clock which provides light and is supposed to help you get up easily each morning – not so with me! Try to wake myself up by checking email and Twitter on phone – fail miserably and doze off again.

6.45am Realise I do actually have to get up now. Have a wash and put on some make up to try to make myself look awake.

7.00am Get dressed and do my hair. Decide to aim for 7.14 bus.

7.18am Doesn’t look like I’ll be getting the 7.14 bus today, there’s another one at 7.24. Give cats some fuss and breakfast, pick up lunch and head to bus stop wearing winter coat for first time in ages.

7.24am Bus a few minutes late. Start writing this post.

7.28am Bus arrives, first if three bus journeys begins.

7.30am Check today’s to do list on Remember The Milk. Add some tasks I know I need to do today and plan structure of day. No meetings today although may need to help staff the enquiry desk if colleague is still off sick.

7.36am Stick headphones in to listen to music whilst reading book.

7.52am Get to first bus change. Luckily my next bus was already at the station today.

7.53am Leave bus station, book out again.

8.27am Get to next bus station. Not so lucky here, just missed a bus. Should be another in a few minutes.

8.34am Next bus arrives. Last little bit of bus journey now.

8.40am Get to bus stop, just have to walk last little bit.

8.45am Get to work. Sign in, check post, do timesheet for last week, quick catch up with colleagues. Web stuff – catching up with emails, Twitter, and RSS feeds.

9.15am Check in new books and email lecturer to let them know they have arrived.

9.30am Take new books down to Teaching Practice Collection and catch up with colleague who’s helping me with weeding the collection. She works Mon-Wed so Wed is the only chance we get to catch up. She’s been weeding Maths for the last couple of weeks and had another two trolleys for me to check before they’re withdrawn.

10.00am Back to office. New intercampus shuttle bus timetable is available on website so checked it out. Better for me in the morning (will get me to work at 8.50 instead of 9.00), but not good for late nights as would have to wait over an hour before bus.

10.05am Phone call from colleague about whether or not a Maths book should be in primary or secondary. Maths is the only subject separated by age groups, something else to look at when the weeding has finished.

10.10am Write blurb about myself and resize headshot photo for new internal departmental newsletter which will hopefully be launched on Friday.

10.30am Check out Royal Marsden new online access to procedures and blog about it. Really impressed with browsing functionality, so easy to use. Hope students like it too.

11am Break. Ribena and checking Twitter etc.

11.10am Weeding trolley. Sorting through English at the moment.

11.20am Put my potato in the oven to bake, forgot earlier.

11.30am Lecturer from health (child branch) called to arrange session on literature searching for 3rd year students. Not managed to get a session with this group before so really pleased. Lecturer sounded enthusiastic about my ideas so we scheduled a 3hr session for September. Really looking forward to it, just hope I can swap my induction I had which clashes.

11.50am Back to the weeding after emailing with plea for swap.

13.30pm Lunchtime soon, returning some stock to shelves first and putting rest downstairs to be withdrawn.

14.00pm Lunch

14.30pm Back to Teaching Practice Collection to get the next trolley load for weeding. Almost finished English now, so collected the German too.

14.45pm Work on Inductions project (currently just our campus although hoping to share good practice afterwards). We’re trying to standardise the inductions we offer and ensure students have the opportunity to learn the tasks they need when they start the University such as getting their ID card, setting up and using their IT account, and using OPAC to find books. I’ve adapted most of the powerpoints to fit into our inductions menu which includes these tasks and learning outcomes for each area. Now I need to work on making the material (incl. Powerpoints, Captivate demos, videos, audio files etc.) available in an easy to use format online. Since the introduction of the institutional blending learning strategy all teaching material must be available online so we want to make sure it is easy to use (also has the added advantage of being used as a standalone for latecomers).

15.15pm Brainstorm with colleague also working on inductions project.

15.30pm Respond to some of the day’s emails and check web stuff – Twitter etc.

16.00pm Contact web administrator with ideas for inductions project. Want to ensure we stick to corporate style and that it’s as future-proof as possible.

16.15pm Back to weeding. Finished English, now starting German.

17.40pm Respond to more emails before heading home. Later finish than usual today as I was in the right frame of mind for the weeding so carried on a bit longer.

18.15pm On second leg of journey home, writing post and finalising arrangements for Warwick visit tomorrow by text, looking forward to seeing their library and School resources Collection.

18.30pm Finish blog post and almost publish but then WordPress iPhone app crashed and I lost half of the day!

18.54pm (now!) Finishing post again, hope it saves this time!

Should be home in a few minutes. Evening will likely consist of evening meal followed by cross stitching in front of the TV with my boyfriend and our cats, Cookie and Java (they don’t cross stitch but sometimes try to help!).

Tomorrow is likely to be less structured due to Warwick visit and there may be crossover as I’m visiting Katharine Widdows who is also blogging Library Day in the Life.

19.28pm update (at home): Even after rewriting the post, it has taken me over half an hour to actually publish this via numerous hurdles such as crashing iPhone applications, forgotten web account passwords, and random pasting as white text rather than black. I’m keeping everything crossed this posts this time!

This week I’ll be taking part in the Library Day in the Life project, which I followed last year and intended to join in but didn’t get round to posting. It’s a simple idea – people who work in libraries simply record their daily activities for a week and share these at the end of each day, usually via their blog. They add their name to the list held on the wiki so that others can read their blog posts, and they tag all posts, photos, videos etc. with the librarydayinthelife tag. I found it really interesting reading about what different librarians do in their roles and how their day is structured, so I thought this time I’d join in and share my own experiences.

The current project takes place this week and many librarians across the world are participating, you can see a full list at the Library Day in the life wiki.

As I’m part time and currently working in a library for three days a week, I’ll be blogging my activities this week on Wed-Fri. Hopefully the posts will provide an insight into my job role and give an idea of the sort of work I do. I may try to take some photos if I can too.

If you also work in a library and would like to join in, simply follow these instructions, taken from the wiki homepage:

  1. Create a PB Wiki account (it’s free)!
  2. Add your name, your job title (so we can see what you do at a glance) and a link to your blog.
  3. Start blogging.
  4. Tag your posts with librarydayinthelife.
  5. After your first blog post come back and edit this page to change your blog link to a link to your tagged posts.
  6. Add your Flickr photos or videos to the Group on Flickr

I’m looking forward to reading this week’s posts from fellow UK library bloggers including Emma Cragg at Digitalist, Katharine Widdows at When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Librarian, David Viner, and Clari Gosling.

At the New Professionals Conference I presented at last week, I spoke to CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) representatives who mentioned the CILIP Network of Expertise and Interests. Seeing as I was talking about online networking, they seemed surprised (and I was fairly embarrassed) that I hadn’t heard of it before. I asked others on Twitter last week and was relieved to find that it wasn’t just me who wasn’t aware of the network. I decided to register, and thought I’d share a brief review of the service.

The network is not part of the Communities area of the CILIP website, and is not attached to the CILIP Communities login. This surprised me, and I was a little disappointed to have to wait a day to be verified before I could take a look at the network, despite being a CILIP member and already registered on the CILIP Communities website. Having said that, one thing I was pleased about was that registration is open to anyone, even if they are not a CILIP member (although obviously it must be approved before being accepted). On the flip side I see the argument that there needs to be incentives to CILIP membership, but for this particular purpose I feel the network offers more value if it is open to all (UPDATE: unfortunately, this is no longer the case – the network is only open to CILIP members, which is a shame but I can see the reasoning.).

It wasn’t completely clear to me before being verified (which took about 24hrs) what the network was for or how it worked – CILIP referred to it as a sort of LinkedIn but it doesn’t have many of the same features that LinkedIn does. On the initial registration email it mentions matching members so I did wonder if it recommended other members with similar interests to yourself (like online dating might do but obviously for a different purpose!) but it doesn’t seem to do that.

Now I’m logged in I have found the aim of the network:

The CILIP membership is rich in skill and experience. This site is for members to make connections, share experiences and learn from each other.

Here’s a screenshot of the service once you have registered and logged in (I have just used my own profile as I appreciate it is a private area, when you log in there is an alphabetical list of entries similar to mine):

CILIP Network of Expertise and Interests

CILIP Network of Expertise and Interests

You can browse all members alphabetically (at present there are 119 members), or you can use the search functionality to find people. One feature which I really feel it’s crying out for is the ability to list people with a certain interest (these are selected from a list when you apply for membership so there should be consistency). These interests are included in the main entry on the home page, and are listed on each profile (see mine below for an example):

CILIP Network of Expertise and Interests - my profile

CILIP Network of Expertise and Interests - my profile

I wish these were links to take you to a list of everyone who has included that interest, it’s certainly what I was expecting (maybe I’m too used to tagging technologies!). I couldn’t find an easy way to list people by their interests and this is something fairly basic which I really think the network should be able to do.

There doesn’t seem to be any way to create groups either, and it seems the only way to contact people is by email, there is no way to send a message within the network.

It has potential to be a useful service and is good to be able to find other members with similar interests, but it is fairly long winded to use and the information is minimal. It’s more like a directory listing than a network really as it doesn’t encourage communication on the network platform.

I know I’m coming across a little critical, and I do think there are a lot of enhancements which are necessary before it is a viable alternative for LinkedIn (and as Owen Stephens pointed out on Twitter, one of the great advantages of LinkedIn is that different professions are all represented therefore providing links outside the library profession as well as within it). However, it’s great to see CILIP trying these new ideas, and acting on developing new networking methods as they mentioned mention in their recent Draft Council Paper on the use of Web 2.0.

One thing I am confused by however is the lack of publicity about this service. I don’t know if it’s a deliberate thing to soft launch to try the service with small numbers, but it seems to have been around for a while, and I wonder why it wasn’t mentioned amongst the #cilip2 discussions earlier this year. The CILIP representative I spoke to last week wanted to promote the service, so hopefully I’ve helped raise the profile a little (I know quite a few others on Twitter have joined since I mentioned it last week).

If you’re interested in finding out more, why not apply online and let me know what you think – do you see yourself using the network?

UPDATE: I wrote most of this post last week, but since then the page has been updated. Discussion forums have been activated along with a note that the network is hoped to be incorporated into CILIP Communities shortly. I’ll keep the blog updated with any new developments.

I thought it would be useful to share my experiences as a speaker at the New Professionals Conference last week. The talks were by new professionals, all of whom were first time speakers, and I was lucky enough to be one of them.

I was pleased that my proposal had been accepted (apparently there had been 28 proposals and 10 were chosen to speak), but I was incredibly nervous about talking at the conference. I was even more nervous when I found out the week before the event that there were 90 delegates; I had only expected it to be a small event (as had the organisers who were pleasantly surprised by how many delegates they had!). Some of the organising committee met us the evening before for dinner, and I soon realised that many of the speakers were as apprehensive as I was – we were all in it together.

The venue was London Metropolitan University, and those of us who had arrived the day before were escorted from the hotel to the event (which was a relief – navigating the tube isn’t so tricky when there’s a group of you!). The speakers had the opportunity to set up before the delegates arrived and it was good to have chance to ensure our presentations displayed as planned as well as get a feel for the room and the microphones. A couple of people’s presentations didn’t display as expected despite saving in the correct format, so I linked my laptop to the projector and some of us used that instead – I knew it was a good idea to bring my proper laptop!

There were three sections of three presentations centred around a theme, as well as the first speaker, Katie Hill, who had her own special section on the consumer generation at the beginning of the day. My presentation wasn’t until the afternoon in the section around marketing ourselves; there were also sections on meeting the challenges and career profiles.

The presentations were as follows:

The New Generation:
“The Consumer Generation and How it is Changing the Library and Information Profession”: Katie Hill, Serials and E-resources Assistant, University of York

Meeting the Challenges:
“Why Are We Still Defined by Our Building?”: Ned Potter, Digitisation Coordinator, University of Leeds
“Attracting Young People into the Profession”: Sarah Newbutt, Assistant Librarian, The Grammar School at Leeds
“Gaining Skills in the Social Aspects of Libraries”: Lydia Mayor, Knowledge Advisor: Research and Training Support, Eversheds
Followed by panel discussion chaired by Christopher Rhodes, New Professionals Co-ordinator, Career Development Group

Marketing Ourselves:
“Unleashing the Potential: New Professionals in the Workplace”: Emma Illingworth & Sarah Ison, Assistant Information Advisers, University of Brighton
“Beyond the Counter: What Skills Can New Professionals Offer in the Public Library Sector”: Kath Aitken, Reader Development and Stock Management Librarian, Derbyshire County Council
“Market Yourself Using Online Tools”: Joanne Alcock, Resources Librarian, University of Wolverhampton
Followed by panel discussion chaired by Dave Percival, Vice-Chair, Diversity Group

Career Profiles:
“From Old School to New Profession”: Hazel James, Librarian, Dame Alice Owens Secondary School, Hertfordshire.
“New Technologies, New Professionals”: Nicolás Robinson, Graduate Trainee, EC3: Science and Scientific Communication Evaluation, University of Granada, Spain.
“Wanted: New Professionals for Public Library Service”: Anne Sherman, Literature & Reading Development Officer, Cheshire East Council
Followed by panel discussion chaired by Sylvia James,Treasurer & Board Liaison to the First Five Years Council of the Special Libraries Association

Laura, one of the delegates, has written a fantastic summary of each of the talks over on her blog (part 1, part 2, part 3). The summaries cover a lot more than I can remember – I made some notes but missed some, especially those in my own section as I was sat in the panel with my back to the screen! There are also some write ups on the day from Kathy Ennis (CILIP) and Lizzie Russell (Sue Hill Recruitment).

It was a fantastic event (I may be biased but I really enjoyed the other talks!), and it was great to see so many new professionals passionate and enthusiastic about the library profession. I really liked the structure of the event; the panel discussions with involvement from the audience were really interesting. There was plenty of opportunity for networking too, with breaks throughout the day and a long enough lunch to eat as well as network. As well as new professionals, some delegates had been in the profession for longer, and representatives from CILIP and Sue Hill Recruitment were also there. There seemed to be quite a mix of sectors from delegates and speakers; academic, public, school and corporate librarians.

I actually really enjoyed presenting for the conference, it was a little overwhelming at first but after a minute or so I realised it really wasn’t that scary. There is quite a lot of interest in online networking at the moment and I had a number of people speak to me after the presentation, as well as contact me privately since the day. It’s great to think that I may have inspired someone to start using these tools and makes all the effort and nerves worthwhile. I’ve been asked to speak at the CILIP Graduate Day in September and hope to be able to share my experiences there too.

Overall, I’m really glad I chose to take Meredith Farkas’ advice to try new things, and at least now I’ve lost my speaker’s virginity maybe next time it won’t be so scary! 🙂

On Monday, I gave a presentation on networking and marketing yourself using online tools at the New Professionals Conference in London. It was the first time I’d spoken at a conference and I really enjoyed the day; it was great to discuss my interests (i.e. new technologies) with other new professionals. I’ll write a more detailed post about the day itself soon.

I chose to talk about online networking and personal marketing as I thought it would be particularly relevant to new professionals,  and I could share my own experiences. My presentation introduced professional networking and then went on to discuss three web tools which can be used for professional networking; blogging, microblogging and social networking. I introduced each tool and how it can be used for professional networking, and shared my own experiences of them using the Joeyanne Libraryanne blog, Twitter and Facebook as examples. I concluded with 10 top tips to get the most out of using online networking tools for professional purposes.

I have added both the presentation and conference paper to my Slideshare account, and they are also embedded below (easiest to view if you use the fullscreen option). Please let me know what you think, is there anything I’ve overlooked?

Last week I attended the University of Wolverhampton’s e-learning celebration 2009. I blogged about the previous event in 2007, which I really enjoyed.

This year’s event had a number of themes around the concept of blended learning including collaborative work, content, ePDP, formative assessment, and e-submission and feedback.. The presentations were primarily from current University projects, many of which are coming to a close. It was interesting to hear about the work going on in the academic schools on e-learning, although it was a little disheartening to learn about some of them as I had no idea they were going on and feel our department could have offered support for some of them. Nevertheless, a lot was covered in just one morning, and it was really good to find out about some of the initiatives going on around the university.

Supporting Creative Practice in Virtual Worlds

Denise Doyle was first and spoke about her project on supporting practice in virtual worlds. Denise has been using Second Life for two years to support her teaching within the School of Art and Design. She has used it to hold in world seminars, although found more staff presence is necessary than would be in a traditional classroom environment. The island on Second Life owned by the school has also been used to host exhibitions of student work, with the advantage that the space can be developed in a creative way. Denise’s current project is coming to an end, but she would like to research further into how Second Life can be used in collaborative practice to reduce issues such as geographical location and to share areas of work with other practitioners around the world.

“I wish we’d had these”: video podcasts for the dance studio

Dennie Wilson and Ben Andrews spoke next about video podcasts they developed for use with dance students. They created a series of 7 podcasts and hosted them on a webfolio which was also used to enable communication about the podcasts via the e-portfolio. The podcasts featured current and alumni students; beginning with instructional podcasts, gradually becoming more conceptual. The school also had 25 video iPods which could be borrowed to access the podcasts. Students found the podcasts useful, and those who created them wished they had been available whilst they were studying the module.

The use of Facebook as a tool for collaborative learning…. and infinity!

Dean-David Holyoake spoke next about his use of Facebook with paediatric students. Dean-David and his colleague John Thain built a community on Facebook for one of their module groups. The group was closed access (i.e. only those on the module could join) and was voluntary. A few students joined in the first week, and within three weeks all 20+ students in the group had joined the Facebook group. The group was mainly used as a supportive learning community with little input from Dean-David or John. The group gossiped, shared experiences and resources, and built an online support system.

E-Evolve and Enhancing Employability

Rob  Edwards was next who spoke briefly about the E-evolve project (Enhancing Employability and Vocational Opportunities by Learning in Virtual Learning Environments). The idea of the project was to create a repository, on the institutional VLE, storing useful resources and links relating to developing skills to enhance employability. Resources include powerpoint presentations, Adobe Presenter video lectures, Word documents, and self-test quizzes. The resources are available for anyone in the University to use, and currently has around 1500 subscribers who have accessed the content.

Facilitating Experiential Learning of Study Skills in Sports Students

Mark Groves and Julian Smith talked about their project which aimed to improve study skills support to Year 1 sports students. They adapted the core sports module (250 students) and replaced what used to be a study skills lecture in a traditional style to a blended learning approach whereby they would first have a subject specific lecture, and then be expected to use the VLE to learn about the week’s skill (including information skills which were created by library staff) and complete a related task. They would then need to bring their completed task to the following lecture where they received feedback in small groups in the form of a tutorial. They found that the students engaged with the learning far more when using the blended learning approach, and as a result pass grades for the module increased.

Screen capture tutorials: teaching music technology software

Rebecca Summers from the music department demonstrated her screen capture tutorials for using music software which she know uses in her lectures instead of demoing at the front of the room whilst students try to follow. Rebecca used iShowU ($10 on Mac) to record the videos, and took just one take – she didn’t write a script or plan the video too meticulously, just did it as she would in a lecture situation. Students preferred learning in this was as they can work at their own pace, and it also leaves the lecturer free during the lecture to help on a 1:1 basis without holding the rest of the group back. 67% of the students also looked back at the videos in their own time, which is another key advantage over a traditional lecture.

Designing a student support website

Jon Rhodes from the School of Art and Design spoke briefly about the student support website that will act as a supplementary service to the face to face support provided by the Centre of Learning Development. Unfortunately the site is not live yet, although a lot of work has gone on including the main design elements and ensuring the website is easy to use in different format, which is particularly relevant as many of the potential users (e.g. dyslexic, visually impaired) may require elements such as different background colours and varying text sizes.

“Help is never more than a click away” (blogging to aid transition to HE)

Catherine Lamond from the School of Education shared their experience of using blogging as a tool to aid transition to HE for students on the foundation degree, many of whom also work full or part time. The blogs were launched at the pre-induction session which gave students a voice to air any concerns they had before the course started and during the first few weeks. Tutors and others in the cohort were encouraged to comment on blog posts, and they found that students got a confident boost, particularly if a tutor commented on their blog.

Academic Skills Development Arena

Nicki Walsh, shared the Academic Skills Development Arena (ASDA!) that she had created for students to improve all areas of academic skills. In the past students had been given a link to a Word document with links on, but they found that this was not very easy to use, so Nicki developed an area on the VLE which links to useful web resources as well as some images, text, and activities designed by Nicki. She is hoping to develop this further adding more materials to be used as part of modules and also as a stand-alone training guide.

An evaluation of Learner Response Systems in HE

Diana Bannister and Andy Hutchinson from education partnerships gave an overview of their work in the evaluation of Learner Response Systems (LRSs) in Higher Education. Turning Point is used throughout the university for different uses, and Diana and Andy furthered the research they had already completed into the use of LRSs in schools, the REVEAL project. They emphasised the importance of sharing good practice across the university.

Delivering student feedback: the role of podcasting

Steve Cooper from the music department knew that student’s weren’t making the most out of their written assignment feedback and were only really using it to check what grade they received. He decided to use podcasts to give feedback and bury the grade in the podcast to ensue students listened to the feedback. Steve used Audacity (also recommended at the CoFHE Conference talk on podcasting), and a relatively decent microphone to ensure the feedback was clear. He didn’t edit the files, and left them with the natural style and tone as if it was part of a conversation. Each track was around 3 minutes in length, and Steve found he could grade and give feedback on around 6 an hour (i.e quicker than written feedback). He identified the files by student number on his staff web space. Feedback from students showed that 70% felt it was more constructive; they felt it was more personal, like a tutorial session, and the use of tone for criticism made it easier for Steve to give constructive criticism. He found there was a collective motivation to getting the feedback and felt that students engaged with it far moe than they would written feedback. Most of the students also kept copies of the files on their computers to refer back to when working on a new piece. The issue of auditing came from the audience, but Steve confirmed that a CD of the feedback had been satisfactory as an alternative to written feedback sheets.

iTunesU and Podcasting

Laurie Roberts, Liaison Librarian at QMU, explained the use of podcasting at QMU and introduced iTunesU (iTunes University) – watch introductory video for an overview.

You can download a copy of Laurie’s presentation, which includes relevant links as well as her notes.

As part of Laurie’s job role, she has the task to investigate use of Web 2.0 technologies and how they can be used to support the library services. Laurie therefore “plays” with web 2.0 technologies, explores potential use for library, and attends courses to discover new tools and share good practice. Currently, QMU are using a library blog, Flickr account (to share photos of the library and any events they hold), Facebook page, YouTube videos, Twitter, and Meebo (for virtual enquiries) to communicate with their users and support the library service.

The focus of this particular presentation was podcasting and iTunesU, so Laurie began with an introduction to podcasting and some recommendations such as purchasing a decent headphone/microphone and using software such as Audacity to edit any mistakes.

At QMU, physiotherapy lecturers use video podcasts to teach anatomy – students can watch these at their own pace either on a PC or on their own mp3 players, iPods etc. The students appeared to engage more in this style learning and were able to prepare themselves for practical sessions by watching the podcasts and reading the recommended resources. There are around 50 videos on the examination and assessment for physiotherapists, and Laurie found that other academic schools were also using video podcasts to support learning.

Laurie decided to investigate the possibility of adding this material to a central store so that this material could be used by different students (e.g. nursing students may find the physiotherapist podcasts useful). After attending a seminar at the Apple Training Suite in London about iTunesU, Laurie decided it may be a useful service for QMU to use, and contacted academic departments to see if they would be interested in adding videos/podcasts for students to use. The emphasis is that “content is king” and it must be an institutional effort incorporating lecturers, IT, legal, marketing etc.

In order to set up an iTunesU account, there are quite a few hoops to jump through and the process takes quite a while. iTunes like you to have 300 items before going live, and ensure that you keep it up-to-date so that the page isn’t stagnant. You can have a public page (i.e. open to anyone), a private page (apparently works with Shibboleth or other authentication methods), or a combination of the two. QMU have 16 subject categories and are now organising the 400 items they currently have before launching the site. The front page can also be customised so designers are working on building an institutional page.

QMU are hoping to record some lectures to add these to iTunesU, possibly by using Echo 360 ( which I hadn’t heard of before but have since watched a great video from University of Birmingham). They are also hoping to record some student and staff views about the University to add to the iTunesU page, marketed as “Life at QMU”. I asked about library material and at the moment there are no plans to add library videos/podcasts, although they may consider it in future. They currently have library videos produced using Microsoft Photo Story 3, which could probably be re-used or adapted and added to iTunesU.

University of Warwick was recommended as a good example of an iTunesU page; Cambridge and Oxford also have a presence on there (as do Open University and Coventry University I have just found).

QMU have iTunes software on 10 of their PCs in the LRC, which are wiped each night to clear the iTunes libraries. I wonder how other institutions offer iTunes to students without having the issues of different music libraries, is there is a way to enable viewing of iTunesU material without having to edit the iTunes library? I guess syncing is an issue, would be good if you could just do it one way to add a video/podcast to a device but not alter anything else on there.

I’m really glad I managed to attend this session, it covered a lot of information about iTunesU which I didn’t realise but also some advice from lessons they have learnt at QMU which I will take back to my place of work. A presence on iTunesU is a big commitment; it needs to be an institutional decision and requires co-ordination of many departments. In terms of mobile learning though I think it could really help developments in education.

Interestingly, I updated my iPod Touch software to OS 3.0 when I got back from the conference, and noticed the iTunesU is now available directly from the iPhone/iPod Touch. I was really pleased to see this as I think the iPhone/iPod Touch can be a great tool in education; hopefully developments such as this will really help mobile learning gain popularity.

Encompass: Workforce Diversity

Ayub Khan, Head of Libraries (Strategy) at Warwickshire County Libraries, introduced the Encompass scheme, to encourage BME graduates to libraries.

Encompass is a three way partnership between CILIP, PATH (a skills development agency) and employers. Employers are asked to convert existing post or create new one on a 3 year contract basis whereby the trainee would be in the workplace 4 days a week and spend 1 day each week studying. The aim is for the trainee to have completed a CILIP-accredited postgraduate qualification in Librarianship and gain their Chartership by the end of the three years.

Benefits for employer

  • Employer saves money in staff costs, national insurance – could save a threatened post.
  • Also promote creativity and innovation through diversity
  • Contributes to diversity and equality agenda of institution

Support for trainee

  • Mentoring and support from PATH National
  • Place provided on part time or distance learning CILIP-accredited course
  • CPD opportunities provided by PATH
  • Free CILIP membership
  • Networking opportunities through CILIP and PATH

Outcome for trainee

  • Masters in LIS
  • Network of contacts
  • Increased employability

You can see more information on the Encompass website, including an Encompass toolkit, a standalone document with guidance and advice that can be used by anyone to encourage BME graduates to the profession. You may also wish to download a copy of Ayub’s powerpoint presentation.