Teachmeet Triumph!

UPDATE: 26.6.18 – Part of this post went towards a blog post for our staff blog, to promote the Teachmeet to our wider audience within the SHU academic and professional team.

So, it has come to pass again. I have been remiss in keeping up on my blog, through no real fault of my own though…Life, as usual, has a habit of getting in the way and it’s got in the way quite a lot recently.

There have been a few camping trips (memorably at Easter when we nearly got snowed in at Kielder!) and some weekends away…and a broken hand. This was due to a complete lack of attention when exiting a route, a lack of anything resembling balance and co-ordination, a small red bug and only one hand on the bars…this happened to be the right hand, which promptly decided – without any apparent consultation with my higher faculties (which I give leave to doubt I have, after this debarcle!) – to pull the front brake. This precipitated flight over the handlebars, landing on the path and cartwheeling into a puddle. The visit to Wrexham A&E involved a nurse suggesting knitting might be a more salubrious pastime for someone of my obviously debilitating co-ordination skills, a large bandage and six weeks off my bike…let that be a lesson to you all. Dont let your right hand do your thinking for you!

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(Photo of muddy me, pre-breaking of hand. New helmet was required also. The bike is unscathed. Copyright K Dolman, 2018)

But I am now back at work and back at the Chartership. So having had a few things to pick up on, I decided that one of the things I would like to reflect on was being part of the organising team for our first Teachmeet at SHU.

None of the planning team has ever organised such an event. If you aren’t familiar with the Teachmeet ethos it’s a platform to share ideas and experience, in an informal way, with a few presenters and much audience participation – the idea is about sharing. I have attended quite a few in the last few years and invariably find them fonts of information. Also, I do struggle with formal networking and the Teachmeet ethos is helpful with this as it’s really very informal and so feels a bit more relaxed.

We have been planning the event since just after Xmas. Initially we had to decide on a theme and decided we would look at supporting students who study at a distance. This doesn’t just mean traditional distance learning: it can be commuter students (as I was), placement students, students on practice based learning courses and students who may not fit these models but, for whatever reason, struggle to access their course in the traditional, campus-based way.

My job on the team was admin: I am the only full-time member of the team and so my contact details were given out when we sent out the invites. I was also responsible for feeding information to presenters and delegates and collating all of their info back to the team. This was really quite easy to manage, since we used Eventbrite to manage the bookings (really good: if you are organising anything that you need to book people on to, I recommend using it. It will even allow you to print badges of your delegates, which I didn’t find out about until it was too late!). Now we are post-event, my job is to make sure that the resources are spread more widely. We’ve put all of the information and resources into a Libguide which I’ve shared to LIS networks in the wider profession.

One of the first things we discussed was who we would like to present at the Teachmeet. We didn’t just want it to be Librarians and Academic Skills advisors; we wanted to widen it out to staff and students and their experiences too. We didn’t manage to get any students but we did get one member of staff willing to share her methods of supporting distance learning. She happens to be one of my Radiotherapists and so I was tasked with organising her slot. When we met to discuss it, she kindly volunteered to do it remotely, from home, using the software she uses to video-conference with her students. This is a product called Zoom and it is remarkably easy to use! We had a couple of trial runs and then in the morning we did a test to ensure it was all working. As well as working with Sue on this, I had to make sure that the room we were in was suitable and had all the technology we needed. This was easily achieved by contacting IT and a helpful gentleman sorted out what I needed and showed me how to use it.

The presentation went really well and everyone was impressed with both the technology and how our staff use it. I’ve had lots of requests for more information about it from the delegates and Sue got lots of questions. I was very happy about this as she had kindly volunteered up her time during her busy marking period to do this for us. So I really wanted it to be valuable time for her too. The upshot of this is that I am now being asked to deliver info-lit sessions on her DL courses, as she had a conversation with her team about the fact that I was happy to become involved! So, from September, I will be a part of the DL courses in Radiotherapy and Oncology.

As part of the day I was also responsible for helping with twitter, and we asked one of our skills team, Kirsty, to tweet on the day for us. As we only have one twitter account, and normally our Management Services manage it, I hit upon the idea of asking them if we could take over for the day. I really didn’t expect them to be so happy for us to do it! So Kirsty and I organised this and we had a really good twitter response. I created the hashtag (#SHUTeachmeet) and emailed the networks the day before to try to get the conversation more widely exposed. We did get a few people involved but not many. I’m also trying to keep the conversation going by tweeting a few things to the hashtag (this post will be one of them!).

The upshot of hijacking the twitter feed has been that our Management Services asked for volunteers to form a ‘social media group’ which met for the first time in early June. I have volunteered to represent our team as this is something I used to do at MMU and also I have a great interest in social media. It may all change after the next restructure, but we are making a start at reappraising our game plan: looking at examples of good practice and trying not to be too dry in what we do.

Back to the Teachmeet though: the day was a complete success! We all really enjoyed it and the conversations were really good. Lots of good practice was shared: one of the great things was a structured table discussion after lunch where the planning team took a table each and directed discussions about how we support our learners and what approaches we take. These ranged from very simple resources-in-module-sites type approaches, to more extreme online methods of support, such as video conferencing. These have been collated and added to the Teachmeet Libguide in the sharing platter.

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(Photo of table discussion – me attempting to hide behind the water bottle, not successfully! Lots of good discussion going on.)

All in all, a great day. We had a fantastic experience both organising and executing it and we already have plans to run another one. We have a debrief session coming up, where, hopefully we will be beginning to think about where to go next. For me, this was a chance to utilise some dormant skills (organisation of resources, staff and management skills) and to help to facilitate sharing information on a subject that, with the fees conversation still ongoing and looking to stay that way, will no doubt become more of the norm for participating in HE. Watch this space…

 

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Reflections of a conference-goer part deux!

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(Little me, in the middle of the photo, standing next to David in his blue shirt!)

The other thing that happened recently is that I presented, with my line manager Alison, at the Northern Collaboration event on using TEL in our work (conference abstract: parallel session 3). There’s a few tweets about our presentation which can be found here and here: and the picture above, with little me in it, is kindly taken from the NC twitter feed.

Our presentation was on the use of Articulate Storyline to develop an online teaching tool for referencing. Our presentation was good, and we had quite a few attendees and questions too! (All a bit daunting, but we got there!). In the course of the previous presentation though, we found that some Universities have done with Articulate as they don’t find it useful. I must admit, learning to use it was a little arduous, but once you master the basics, it really is quite intuitive. And I am certainly not going down the road of one librarian and learning how to programme to do this sort of thing! 😦

The day was really good though: as well as presenting, there were many opportunities for collaboration and knowledge-exchange, as well as catching up with old friends and making new ones. I also bumped into the Mentor Co-ordinator for the NW and spoke with her about becoming a mentor once I am fully chartered myself. This stems from a desire to do some staff development which I always enjoyed as part of my management role. As I don’t line manage anyone any more, this seems like a good way of keeping my skills up to date, without the nasty PDR and sickness monitoring etc that comes with being a manager…I suppose it’s a bit like being a Grannie – you get to do the nice things and give them back when they do something icky…

The other upshot of the day is that I am now going on a knowledge exchange to MMU (you cant keep me away! :)) about reading for pleasure outside the academic texts. This has come from attending one workshop with a staff member from MMU who talked about their project working with Manchester Public Libraries to promote their collection and to get students to read for pleasure and mental wellbeing. Well, this struck a chord right away, what with me leading our bookgroup this year and the work I have been doing with our student wellbeing service in providing access to their books via the library catalogue! So Gopal has kindly invited me for a jolly over on the 15th November to speak with likeminded colleagues about this. It also gives me a chance to catch up with the MMU lot! I’m really looking forward to talking about something that is very close to my heart – the therapeutic benefit of reading for pleasure on mental wellbeing. More will definitely be coming on this subject so watch this space…

Update: 29.11.17: I went along to the knowledge exchange with Gopal – I had two hours to talk about how they are promoting reading for pleasure and to talk about my reading group. My reflection on this is contained in the blog post ‘Reading for Pleasure: it’s not just about academic books!’.

Shut up and write!

So, for many reasons my Chartership has had to take a bit of a back seat – mainly because of the manic teaching workload, but also because I suffered from Fresher’s Flu which then turned into Bronchitis, meaning I ended up having a week off at the busiest time of year. That’s never happened before and I don’t intend it to happen again, so next summer I will be dosing myself with zinc and Echinacea! Along with a few personal issues, this has meant that I’ve had to devote more time to work than I anticipated.

My last meeting with my mentor was very productive though, and she suggested I allocate ‘shut up and write’ time in my diary – which I intend to do as soon as I have time! 🙂

I’m really very nearly there, though. I need to redo my PKSB, and finish my reflective statement, then put the portfolio together. I’ve actually got enough evidence to support my application, so don’t need to do anything other than the three steps outlined, but these seem to be the hardest bit for me to do! (Particularly the evaluative reflection…). I’m also struggling to decide what to use – I need some evidence of positive feedback and have a few good emails from students/staff; I also need a lot to show development over the past year and that is going to be harder to cherry-pick.

DNzC79VVoAACtEF On a happier note, I have a new mountain bike and this weekend we got muddy together for the first time…(as the picture above shows!). Don’t let the shoes fool you – I had to take off my wet, muddy, smelly riding shoes before I did anything else!

So taking some time out for leisure activities this weekend was very therapeutic, particularly in view that I will be going into hibernation very shortly and will emerge, sometime in March, white and wobbly, but hopefully a fully Chartered Librarian! Watch this space…

New University Strategy…

 

https://staff.shu.ac.uk/universitystrategy/

We had a new VC early last year and, as a new broom sweeps clean(er), he has worked with the management team to propose a new University Strategy, which focuses on three key areas: https://staff.shu.ac.uk/Documents/Strategy%20-%20final.pdf

Leading Locally and Engaging Globally

Shaping Futures

Creating Knowledge

There’s a top ten priorities for the next 6-12 months that I have identified some areas that I will be specifically involved with:

5 Drive long term improvements in the educational health of the region by working with partners to improve attainment and aspiration from early years through to further and higher education.

  • Engaging with college visits – tours of the library; pre-arrival information
  • sheffield College induction 1st November 2016

6 Strengthen our leadership role in the region by:

c. Creating a high quality and efficient Degree Apprenticeship portfolio, embedding the University’s position as the leading Degree Apprenticeship provider.

  • Engage with new apprenticeships in terms of providing resources, skills training and support for students and staff – this may mean a reappraisal of our skills offer, as these students will have different needs, backgrounds, level of skills and knowledge.

7 Develop as a globally connected and influential university by integrating an international perspective into the curriculum and wider student experience, and strengthening our international partnerships.

  • Develop and deliver webinars for DL students – this has been discussed at the meetings I have had with course leads re the new skills offer. Need to take up early Sem 1 17/18

Other priorities I can have no direct input although my role will support the wider university context in terms of student satisfaction. I will endeavour to engage with these wherever possible – the VC is running a series of road shows that I unfortunately cant physically attend but one of them is being videoed so I will watch that when it becomes available. I’ve attached the top ten priorities annotated document to this post.

I think the strategy will be of benefit to the University, however I have experienced much in nearly 30 years of working for Public Sector (including the Compulsory Competitive Tendering introduced in the late ’80s which was the effective death-knell for community services) and I am always slightly cynical about the reasons for this type of sweeping strategy. Obviously the new VC wants to make the job his own and stamp his mark. It will also inevitably mean a restructure at some point in the future – impact on job roles, security and longevity unavoidable, methinks…As to my role, hoping that getting my Chartership will help if I have to reapply for my job…

A quick update and all that…

So, having had a bit of time off over the last few weeks, little progression has been made with the Chartership. I did have a meeting with my mentor last week, which was productive. The outcome being that I now need to focus on beginning to write my evaluative statement and also to update my CV. I’ve decided, for the obvious reason, to begin with the CV (that being far the easiest task to accomplish…).

However, a couple of interesting things have happened to me along the way (in the last few days). Firstly, my manager has asked me to work with her to submit a paper for the Northern Collaboration Conference in York in September: https://northerncollaboration.org.uk/content/2017-call-papers#overlay-context=content/welcome

The conference title is ‘Digital Transformation – responding to the challenge in academic libraries’ and the focus of our paper is how we have used TEL to help our students with referencing. Last summer, we produced an online resource aimed at teaching students how to reference, which they could tap into at point of need and become independent learners: http://library.shu.ac.uk/introreferencing/story. We’ve got a meeting this afternoon to thrash out the preliminary 300 word abstract, and we’re going to focus on how we promoted the resource to the staff and students and the necessity of producing it in the first place. It also involved a certain amount of staff training as we developed it in an application called ‘Storyline’. It’s actually quite easy to use, once you know how! I’m really looking forward to doing this, even though there’s a good chance I may have submitted my Chartership by then, but I can at least reflect on how the process of developing the proposal etc has gone. My first ever conference presentation! 🙂

The other thing that happened is slightly related to the OT reading group (see previous post: https://kdolman.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/a-little-bit-of-what-you-fancy-2/). One of the lecturers asked me to join our internal social media platform, Yammer. Well, being me, I immediately did, what with being nosey and a librarian and also a social media addict. It’s very similar to LinkedIn – not may folk on there yet, but it offers opportunities for group working and interaction that mere email doesn’t. I need to play with it a bit more, but I see it as another way of getting myself embedded within my faculty, making myself more visible and also letting my faculty staff get to know the ‘softer’ side of me, outside of the librarian image they may have (those who follow me on Twitter definitely wont have any misconceptions! https://twitter.com/Podling). So I’m going to spend some time engaging with this today, before the meeting this afternoon. I’ve also tried to get my colleagues on board as I think it would be a good way to bond as a team and also break the ‘silo’ working we have, being at two different campuses (campi?). Watch this space…

Techno-whizzy and team planning…

So, yesterday, we had our team away day…teaching planning and what to stop, start and continue doing as a team. Some really good ideas came out of that session – not least about how we continue to support referencing…Our team padlet here: https://padlet.com/shu1/stopstartcontinue1

The second part of the day was ‘Show and Tell’ (or as I, in my semi-senile state termed ‘Bring and Buy’! :)). I made a contribution, talking about the Universal Design for Learning that I heard about at the Staffordshire University Teachmeet in December (http://libguides.staffs.ac.uk/teachmeets/dec2016) (UDL, Carol Keddie, DMU: http://libguides.staffs.ac.uk/ld.php?content_id=27652396).

The third, and the most interesting (for me!) part of the day was learning about two new pieces of software that we can use to make our teaching more fun. The first was Piktochart, which allows you to make infographics – useful for our SSCs and staff meetings (particularly for getting large amounts of data across in smaller, more accessible formats – teaching stats, for instance). My piktochart is a practice one, on the theme of cycling the Alpe d’Huez! https://magic.piktochart.com/output/20074562-practice-piktochart

The second piece of software was Adobe Spark (not to be confused with our internal messaging service, Spark!). This allows you to create videos in a simple format, which is useful if you find Camtasia particularly cumbersome (as do I…). My video is a very short one on climbing and health: https://spark.adobe.com/video/1QKE28o7LjDGB

As someone who doesn’t find making videos particularly easy, Adobe Spark is definitely something that I will use in future, as I found it very easy and user-friendly (apart from the image that kept turning itself around!). I’ll definitely be using it for quick hits, such as if I am asked for anything for a DL course, etc…

So, having dipped my toe into the waters of new tech, I am feeling very enthusiastic about my new skills. Future development within the team will enable me to utilise them, although I have to get through Sem 2 first, before I have time to think about particular instances where I can apply these new skills. Watch this space…

A little bit of what you fancy…

Well, having got this Chartership off the ground for round 3, I’m not doing very well with keeping my blog updated, am I?!! 😦 So, here’s what I have been up to over the past two months, bar holidays, Christmas, Birthday and life!

I decided that one course of action – having inherited new subjects last year – would be to better understand the areas I support and get better links with the department and, fundamentally, the students. So, I saw that the OTs have a book group, hosted in the library, which I promptly invited myself along to (being a great reader!). The book group looks at both fiction and non-fiction, through a mental health lens (so either the content is MH related, or we look at books as therapy). I’ve read some very strange stuff, in consequence, which is what I want to talk about here.

Our current text for January is ‘The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tartt and considers PTSD in relation to the main character, Theo, losing both his parents at a quite young age. He staggers about in society, moving from place to place and is almost like a piece of flotsam, at the mercy of the state, institutions (like school) and people; his best friend Boris, for example. Initially, I felt quite sorry for him, but as the book has progressed, I’ve just now got an apathy to see what exactly is going to happen. Is this a bad thing? He doesn’t wallow in self-pity, but he also doesn’t really help himself either. As well as the PTSD (or in consequence of it) he is a drug-addict, semi-alcoholic and clinically depressed. On one level the book is a commentary on the system and how it can not help, sometimes, but on the other it’s just a little bit depressing.

The previous book I didn’t even finish – Paulo Coehlo’s ‘The Pilgrimage’ – because the main character irritated me so much! How, I wonder, is it that we can engage so with some texts, while others leave us so unconnected? There’s a wealth of literature out there (I know, I have a lit degree!) about author assumption, but I think we engage because it is familiar, and if it isn’t then we don’t (hence my disillusionment with Theo – I want to shake him up!).

So, as well as having read some interesting/not so interesting books, I have also met more of the team and the students, which has really helped. And hearing their stories about how they use reading as therapy with their clients is really great. It also prompts me to make a case for libraries and the value they hold for the population as a whole – MH issues aren’t the sole province of the disadvantaged – however, there’s a section of society for whom literature isn’t immediately accessible and this is what libraries do…

More to come on this subject…watch this space…