…here a MOOC, there a MOOC, everywhere a MOOC MOOC! That’s what it seems like at the moment anyway – everyone seems to be talking about MOOCs at the moment.

I was invited to give a presentation about MOOCs at Internet Librarian International 2013 Conference earlier this month. Since it might not be a familiar term to everyone, let’s backtrack a bit and cover some of the basics.

What on earth is a MOOC?

A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. The name is fairly explanatory but it’s useful to break that down a bit. In order to be classed as a MOOC, a course needs to be:

  • Online
  • Open to anyone to join
  • Able to handle a large number of participants

Most MOOCs are free for participants, though I’m hesitant to say they have to be free to be classed as a MOOC as there are likely to be some exceptions (though is it still open to all if there is a cost involved in addition to the cost of online access?).

Could you give me some examples of MOOCs?

Many MOOCs use a platform to deliver their material and this also helps participants to find them. Probably the most well known platform for MOOCs is Coursera, which has a number of universities signed up to provide courses. There’s also EdX (supported by Google), iversity, OpenupEd, and recently launched FutureLearn which is UK based (though also has international partners). Some providers opt to use their own system, or their own installation of another platform such as Blackboard CourseSites.

Who participates in MOOCs?

Well, they’re open to anyone, though in my experience it tends to be those looking for extra CPD opportunities and generally those who already have an educational background (i.e. have studied for a degree). Of course the nature of MOOCs means that they could be taken by those who may be interested in a subject but for whatever reason don’t want to (or can’t) study a traditional course in the subject, hence widening participation to education.

I’ve participated in a 23 Things course, is that a MOOC?

It could be, yes. In the case of 23 Things for Professional Development (CPD23) it was massive (though not as massive as some courses – I recently took one that had over 200,000 participants enrolled!), open, and online, and people completed the course at the same time (as cohorts) so I would class it as a MOOC.

So MOOCs have been growing with more platforms being launched and more institutions signing up to deliver them. I’ve been interested in them for a little while, partly to support my development, and partly because I was curious as to how they would work and how librarians could support them. I signed up for Coursera and have now completed two courses with them. I was invited to share my experiences as a learner at the Internet Librarian International pre-conference workshop and found it really useful to evaluate my experiences and think about what I’ve learnt from them and how I could apply this. In a nutshell, though I successfully completed both my courses, I much preferred one of them. The main reasons for this were:

  • I found the topic fascinating
  • I was able to apply what I had learnt in practice in work and social situations
  • The reading materials were provided as part of the course, and easily accessible
  • The combination of lectures, readings, documentaries and assignments helped to cement my new knowledge

A copy of my slides is embedded below – the first few slides are about my background to provide the context for the learner’s perspective (and the cat slide is *totally* relevant as I talked about how naturally curious I am!):

The discussions we had during the workshop were really interesting – we considered how libraries (predominantly academic) could support MOOCs, particularly for those whose institutions had already signed up to provide MOOCs or were planning to. We heard from Gavin Beattie from King’s College London who launch their first course on FutureLearn in January, and the group included people from a number of different organisations who were planning to provide MOOCs in future. Many of the ideas from the discussions were similar to the ways we can support other activities such as information literacy and mobile technologies in libraries, with suggestions such as:

  • Providing information to academics so they are aware how the library can help them with their MOOC
  • Getting involved with MOOC discussions with colleagues across your institution
  • Discussing ideas with other librarians and share best practice across the sector

It seems the skills required for these activities are essential for today’s librarians. I’m sure we’ll be hearing about MOOCs and libraries in future events, it certainly seemed to be a hot topic at Internet Librarian International, both in the pre-conference workshop and at the main conference (if the tweets are anything to go by anyway!).

Is your library involved in supporting MOOCs? Is there anything else we should be doing to support our institutions as they provide MOOCs?

I recently received a Innergie 3 in 1 Magic Cable Trio to review, and was looking forward to testing it out. Anyone who has seen me at a meeting or event will know I always have a charger with me and am usually found by a socket or frantically looking for one. I tend to have Apple devices with me for short trips, so one charging cable is usually sufficient (though I do sometimes use a Belkin double adapter so I can charge both at the same time if necessary). For longer trips though I have other devices with me so need more cables (e.g. Kindle charging cable). I was really pleased to hear about this 3 in 1 USB charging cable which could be used to charge a number of different devices just from the one cable. You can only charge one at a time, though that’s what I was expecting (some reviews have mentioned the fact you can only charge one thing at once but I don’t see that as too much of a problem). However, for me there is one big problem…

20130311-074937.jpg

It’s just not long enough. I’m not going to go down the whole ‘size doesn’t matter’ argument because in this case it really does. This charger is only useful if you want your device *right* next to the plug socket. It’s unlikely you’d be able to practically use it whilst being plugged in as it’s just too close.

20130311-075338.jpg

For suspended sockets it wouldn’t even reach the floor. You can’t use it on a train as it won’t reach the tiny distance from the socket on the side of the table to the top of the table.

20130311-074733.jpg

The connectors cover a wide range of devices, and it does work – I’ve used it to charge my iPad and my Kindle and both worked fine. The three connectors are for Apple devices (old version, not Lightning Connector), Mini USB and Micro USB. You have to be careful to ensure the connectors are all pushed in flush for the electricity to flow, but the device seems robust in this way so I don’t foresee any problems unless it is used excessively. I like the way all connectors stay attached even if not in use – much preferable to multiple separate connectors which can be easy to lose.

I just can’t ever imagine myself using this though, not unless I also had a longer USB to USB connector which sort of defeats the object of only having to carry one cable. On the packaging it said the cable was 20cm in length, but I find that misleading as that’s from the very edges of the connectors either side. So I’m afraid I don’t recommend this cable – great idea, just not well executed in my opinion.


UPDATE: I’ve had a response to my review from the company:

Our main goal is to deliver a cable that can truly transfer 2.1 Amp. That is also a requirement for the MFi (Made For iPod/iPad/iPhone) certification from Apple. Due to the 3 connectors included, this is the maximum length of the cable to reach this high performance. Another benefit is of course that it is a very compact cable, that does not clutter in your bag.

For consumers who like the idea of the Magic Cable with multiple tips, but do wish to have a longer version, we recommend the Magic Cable Duo. That cable has one connector less (mini USB), but that made it possible to increase the length to 79cm.

WARNING: long blog post!

I’ve been promising a number of people a blog post on how I archive tweets. I set archives up for lots of reasons – often for an event I am attending to record tweets to refer to at a later date, or sometimes for projects I am involved in to keep a record of conversations. There are a number of different methods of archiving tweets, some of which are outlined below.

NB: This post covers archiving tweets made using a specific hashtag from all users, not archiving personal tweets.

  1. TAGS (Twitter Archiving Google Spreadsheet)
  2. Twubs
  3. Eventifier
  4. Tweet Archivist
  5. TweetDoc

There is also HootSuite (with Pro subscription), but I’m just focusing on the free options in this post.

My preferred tool at the moment is TAGS, but in order to try some other options out, I set up archives each of the five services for the CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group conference which took place on 10th-11th September 2012. The conference has an official hashtag of #cig12, though we noticed some people are using #cig2012. Unfortunately, during the CIG conference, another event began which was using #cig2012 as their hashtag so we also collected their tweets! With the exception of TAGS (which was set up on 5th Sept) and TweetDoc (which collects tweets after the event), all the archives were set up on 9th September.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tuff-Luv Spark Kindle Cover with Light - by joeyanne, on Flickr

Tuff-Luv Spark Kindle Cover with Light - by joeyanne, on Flickr

It’s coming up to the holiday season, and I know a number of people are considering getting a Kindle. There have been quite a few questions on Twitter and interesting conversations with both Kindle owners and those thinking of getting one. I noticed however that some features of the Kindle that I mentioned were unknown to some other Kindle owners, so I thought I’d share a few tips about the way I use my Kindle that you might not know about.

Read the rest of this entry »

Last week at Internet Librarian International 2011 I gave a presentation on productivity for librarians. I’m a fan of the GTD (Getting Things Done) methodology and like to utilise online software to help organise my work and increase my productivity. I thought I’d give a brief overview of some of the tips I’ve picked up along the way as well as sharing some of my favourite productivity tools. Read the rest of this entry »

Found out about a great resource today which you can use to get an iPhone version of your blog (found via Ned Potter).

Bloapp is a tool you can use to create a customisable mobile version of your blog (great for institutional blogs although the customisation is a little limited). I followed Ned’s instructions to create a mobile version of the Joeyanne Libraryanne blog as shown below:

Joeyanne Libraryanne on Bloapp

Joeyanne Libraryanne on Bloapp

If you’d like to read my blog this way, you can download the Bloapp app to your iPhone (it’s free) and then scan in the QR code below.

Scan from within Bloapp to add Joeyanne Libraryanne

Scan from within Bloapp to add Joeyanne Libraryanne

It’s a really easy tool to use – I’d recommend giving it a go as it really does take about 30 mins – 1 hour (depending how much customisation you need). Great idea for library blogs – though of course it will depend on Bloapp’s success as to whether people use it. If you want to create your own for your blog or your library’s blog, follow Ned’s comprehensive guide.

an SMS message from the catalog

from misterbisson on Flickr

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was invited to present a session at the 2011 Colleges of Further and Higher Education (CoFHE) conference last month (Staying positive in difficult times: Maintaining quality services). My session focused on mobile technologies. I probably spend about half, if not more, of my online time on mobile devices – usually on iPhone or iPad. I use a lot of different apps for various different purposes – document creation and editing, emailing, blogging, photo management, planning travel, time management and more. But how can we utilise these technologies in libraries? Many of our users (and staff) already have mobile devices, so it’s useful to consider how we can use these to support the library service.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mobile text polling with PollEverywhere

Mobile text polling with PollEverywhere

I am delighted to be speaking at the 2011 CoFHE Conference next month on mobile technologies in libraries. My interest in mobile technologies largely stems from my own experimentation with various different mobile apps and thinking about how they can be applied to a library setting. I’ve blogged previously about some mobile library apps (and played with many more on my iPhone/iPad), discussed some of the potential uses of QR codes in the library (which have been popping up in lots of places since I blogged about them), and talked about the way I supported enquiries using mobile devices. Over the past few months I’ve been collecting various emails, blog posts and articles on mobile technology use in libraries to share during my presentation, but I’d like to open it up further to get some more practical examples to share during my presentation.

So, what cool stuff have you been doing in your library with mobile technologies? Or what would you like to try? Do you have any links to blog posts or articles about innovative things libraries are doing with mobile technologies? Please add your comment below or tweet @joeyanne using #cofhemobapps. Looking forward to hearing from you!

 

I’m organising CILIP West Midlands Members’ Day and AGM 2011 at the moment, and during the day I’d like to take the opportunity to get people’s opinions on what the focus should be for the branch over the next 12 months. As marketing officer on the committee, I’d particularly like to find out what people’s needs and expectations of the branch are. What support would people like from the branch? What sort of events would they like us to run? Where in the region would they like events/networking opportunities? How would they like to communicate with the branch? It would also be good to get views on the discussions about the future of branches and groups (read Emma Illingworth’s blog post for an excellent overview of the recent meeting about this), though that may be a bit ambitious!

Read the rest of this entry »