A Little Bit of What You Fancy…2

So, I am very, very excited. As I mentioned before, I’ve been attending the Occupational Therapy book group this academic year and, although the turnout hasn’t been brilliant, it’s been a fantastic insight into what my OTs think, do, work with, are up against, ad infinitum…However, due to how our courses work, the current lead is now on placement and will be leaving at the end of this academic year. Boo…

But, the other day, I got a message from the lead, asking me if I would be willing to take over facilitating the book group. WOW! was my immediate reaction (one of the lecturers had asked her to ask me if I’d be willing). I’m incredibly humbled and thrilled to have been asked, but had reservations about whether it would fit into my remit or not…So I answered that I would be privileged to take over, but would have to discuss with my manager about time, relevance, etc.

My manager was likewise thrilled and asked me a few questions about how much time it would take etc. As it’s already established, it shouldn’t be too much trouble to hand over and after that it is simply about doing the admin and promotion (which I have in the bag as our management services team agreed to tweet/disseminate through our comms channels at my instigation a couple of months ago…). So I have the go-ahead to try it for this year.

Immediately, though, my librarian head kicked in and I began thinking of how I could support this. I searched for some information on running a successful book group and found a very interesting Radio 4 site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/book-club/running-a-club/ which I am going to investigate before I begin. There’s lots of other stuff on the web, but it is mainly about target audiences and the idea for us is that we open it out to people who aren’t necessarily Health and Wellbeing folk, but who are interested in reading as therapy and mental health issues…quite difficult. I think the first thing I need to do is to either find the remit (which the handover with the current lead may contain) or to write one…(poss with help!).

Anyway…it’s all quite exciting and I talked with my manager about how it reaffirms our role in the University, how it can help me create greater links within my faculty area (they’re good, but could do with being better) and how it also links us in with the wider profession (coming from a Public Library background I have much experience with Reader Development activities – I can bring in my previous experience of working with reading groups in my branch library days!). But first, have to get a meeting together with the lead…hopefully the Chinese curse doesn’t hold true – May you live in interesting times – because it is getting very interesting around here, with the new Uni strategy and my extra-curricular activities! Watch this space…

Reflection on ‘Collaborative Approaches to IL’

I recently attended a conference entitled ‘Collaborative Approaches to Information Literacy’ hosted at MMU by the CILIP Information Literacy Group. The day comprised five presentations/workshops from librarians and practitioners working in IL. Below are some musings on some of the issues that I found particularly interesting/stimulating/worth pilfering.

What happens when your degree doesn’t make you fit for the workplace? An interesting story was told regarding an English Graduate who was going for media jobs. Are we teaching students to get a job or expand their knowledge? For me, we should be doing both, really and this is where IL comes into its own as it is a transferable skill that feeds into the workplace.

UoM talked about ‘clarity’; making students aware of what we already do, what their skills are and how they can transfer these into their wider life. Their ethos is to facilitate students into being what employers want, rather than just telling them what employers expect. They realised students waited until crisis point before asking for help and so their strategy is based around developing student skills to help them support themselves: essentially being independent learners.

They talked about the value to the session is in using prior knowledge (what do they already know) and exploring what happens after (where do they go with it?). Their focus is on positives: not about where the gaps in student skills are are but about positive improvement; no levelling – they wanted to open out to learning that might happen, rather than pedagogical learning. Also considered in the strategy is to promote the positives of referencing – it’s badged as joining a tradition hundreds of years old; the correspondence of the learned population was merely them holding up their research in the light of other’s findings. Essentially a form of gossip as it showed whom they had been ‘talking to’! Ergo, non-negative badging…

After the degree? We teach IL using Uni resources, but what happens when students go into the workplace and don’t have access to subscribed resources? ‘Outduction’ at UoD (Buxton) are sessions on how to use the knowledge and skills they have developed in three years at Uni, turning them into real world skills. Edge Hill’s ‘Steps to Success’ programme includes session on how to find information in the workplace, covering things such as how to adapt to the information environment in the workplace, finding and recognising credible information and accessing resources as an EHU alumni. The programme also includes sessions on how to promote yourself online and report and presentation writing skills.

So, there’s some very innovative work in IL out there. I like the idea of an ‘exit session’ like the outducting of UoD. I’d be interested in taking something like that on, to build on my experience of teaching on the basic skills sessions in my PGCE, as they are very similar in application. I’m resolved to looking into this in more detail, possibly contacting the folk at UoD to ask some more questions and then mention it at my next review to see if it would be feasible to pursue. Watch this space…

Reflective Practice, cont…

I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough today, in my block on how to go about writing my reflective statement. I’m really quite pleased by this and now feel a bit more confident about tackling it!

I’ve identified, using the PKSB, approximately four or five areas that I would like to concentrate on, and will critically reflect on where I am currently in these areas. One of the areas I feel I would like to develop is my management skills: while I have many years of managing small to medium sized teams, I feel I need to expand on these skills as they have taken a bit of a back seat in my current role. I still manage a small team but am only directly responsible for one member of staff. I dont do any recruitment and selection, sickness monitoring or behaviour monitoring, all of which I have done in previous roles. Likewise, my input into library strategy has been woefully neglected, whereas when I managed the Local Studies and Heritage Libraries I was in there at strategic level (almost).

So, this is another area I want to develop. How will I go about it? I intend to mention this at my yearly review and see what my manager can come up with. A training course? Attending a meeting? Sitting in on interviews? Not sure…all I know is that this is the way to go.

How will this help me in my current role? Well, an awareness of organisational practices and values is always valuable. In terms of strategic planning, I have to set the team goals every year and this feeds up the chain. Obviously if I get the chance to sit in on a strategy meeting (which I hope I could!) discretion will be required regarding any sensitive issues that may be discussed.

Anyway. I’m feeling much more positive about the whole thing today! Who knows what masterpiece will come out of this! Watch this space…

#chartership – update

On Friday last, I had a very interesting conversation with a colleague who gave me some very good advice concerning my lack of skill in the reflective practice business of chartership. She’s recently become a Fellow and said that she found this a great aid to organising her thoughts and reflections. She told me (and it is common sense, really) to ask other colleagues, with whom I have worked on projects (including herself) about the impact my involvement has had. So, I’m thinking about the work I did for the consolidation and asking those colleagues whom it affected, and my work with e-journal purchases and investigation.

The more she spoke, the more I thought ‘hang on, this is probably what I would be telling someone if the roles were reversed’…and realised that the problem with my reflection is that I dont apply the techniques to myself…do as I say, not as I do, kind of thing. Probably comes from being a mother! I do know where my ‘do-er’ aptitude comes from: dancing. As a child I learned by doing the steps/poses, not by being told how to do them, this being a physical, rather than mental, exercise. Ergo, kinesthetic, pragmatic learner…

So what? I ask myself, in the true style of reflection…in future (as with this post!), I will endeavour to coach myself, as I have learned to coach others, and apply a little thought rather than jumping in with both feet, before I pursue any activity. For me, this will be breaking the habit of a lifetime, but, hey-ho, let’s try! It’ll be interesting to find out what I learn about myself along the way. Watch this space…

MOOC(ing) Around Again!

I’m doing a MOOC again, this time about Technology Enhanced Learning. I have to admit, we don’t do a lot of this at my institution; the focus is still on face-to-face or traditional lab learning. However, some colleagues have made inroads into webinar teaching, with varying results.
My impression of TEL is that it is very subjective to the area of study. For example, our A&D students (unless they are doing GD or some such course) probably won’t be using much in the way of technology as most of their stuff is still in printed form (I know this because, as manager of the serials collection they cause me some considerable headaches!). Whereas our tech students in Computing or Science, say, do engage more with the use of technology for learning.
So saying, I’m part of the Social Media Team and we are very aware that our students don’t use these platforms for studying. They will tweet if it’s too noisy in a study area, but generally if they have an information query they will come to the helpdesk to speak to someone. I’ve encountered very few information enquiries via twitter or FB, and these tend to be from overseas or distance students who are using these communication channels generally to be pointed in the direction of the relevant subject librarian.
One of the reflective questions this week is ‘[Am I] leaning towards one approach in particular on ocTEL, and if so why might that be? Perhaps you are employing strategies from more than one approach?’. The approaches to learning under discussion are ‘deep’, ‘strategic’ and ‘surface’.
I’ve always been a strategic learner: maximum gain for minimum effort. So, I use knowledge already acquired and assimilate this into a strategy for expanding on this learning without too much effort! Ergo, this blog post! I know quite a bit about social media and learning and so I am reflecting on this bit of TEL; the use of social media as a learning tool (discussed a bit further down in the post The Joy of Facebook).
For the purposes of this MOOC, my approach is mostly strategic, with a bit of surface thrown in, as I havent got too much time to devote to it. Plus, I wont be graded on it, so I am not too worried about being top of the class, as that isn’t the point.
As to social media being a valid learning tool…well, again, I suppose this is completely subjective and moves into the area we will be exploring in more depth next week. Watch this space…

Pick your own: Literature reviewing tools – www.InfoToday.eu

Pick your own: Literature reviewing tools – www.InfoToday.eu.

Just got this through on an email and was very interested in this article, particularly as I haven’t had the opportunity to do much research recently.

I was interested in it because we have a particular driver at the minute in how we can better support our researchers (not previously having been a research-intensive Uni). However, for REF 2020 we have a priority to be a top 50 Research Uni and to do this we have a Uni-wide strategy to strengthen our support and interaction with research.

Now, I am quite organised but while doing my MA project I found that all the organisational skills in the world won’t help you if you don’t have some sort of management tool, and at the time the only one open to me was Endnote. Not to dismiss it’s usefulness but I personally didn’t find it particularly intuitive (which is a shame as it’s the one we use here!). So I was interested in this article as it covers some other tools that might be more to my liking and also that I could possibly be promoting to our researchers.

Anyway, I will be sure to be trying some out in the future, so please, watch this space…

The Joy of Facebook…

This is going to be a really quick post, due to the fact that I am preparing for my interview on Thursday and so should be reading rather than playing on social media. But that’s just it. Social Media is as much a learning tool as anything else. If we look at it in the terms of a classroom it goes something like this: you post stuff (you are telling the digital world something you have knowledge of…albeit possibly only a little and maybe second hand); other people comment on it (classroom discussion of the topic in hand, maybe increasing your knowledge thereby); you reply (question and answer sessions); you ask for opinion (homework, possibly?); other people post stuff and you engage in the same process in reverse (you are the learner). If you follow the right people, subscribe to the right groups, get in on the right conversations you can learn a lot from something that doesn’t seem at all like a learning process!

I mention this because we have tried to engage our learners using social media, but it seems that they don’t use it for learning, perhaps for the very reason stated in the last sentence. But I strongly believe that we can work with this and, even if we only use it for very specific issues (such as finding that naughty journal that should be on the shelf but isn’t!) that’s still valid learning engagement.

Anyway, it’s turned into a not-so-short post, so here’s what I was actually doing on FB. I think you might like it! (Oh, and you can find me on FB by following the link at the side of this page).