Finding the lecture theatre…an exercise in following instructions!

So, we are finally at the end of the first full week of the new academic year. It’s been an interesting week, full of new faces and shiny shoes and, of course, the inevitable directionally-challenged students.

Our campus is small. It’s leafy and friendly and we see the same faces day in, day out. The Library is centrally placed in the campus, right next to the (almost) new Heart of the Campus building (the clue is in the name, right?). We’re busy, open 24/7/365 and we provide lots of signposting and friendly signage to help new students navigate their way around. But, inevitably, we still get the odd few who don’t follow instructions, read emails, are just a bit dopey from the late night they had ‘studying’ *cough*.

The Library building also houses one of the campus’s lecture theatres. However, confusingly students cant access it from the library itself. We have a huge sign out the front of the building directing students up the hill towards main building and then round the back of the library, to the lecture theatre entrance. Easy enough, you would think…until someone leans on the sign and covers it up…

We have had so many students this week, either coming into the library and wandering round until some kindly soul asks them what they are looking for and points them in the correct direction (which even then they get wrong). Or they are found wandering around the back of our offices which means we have to bang on the windows to get them to go the right way – very annoying when you are trying to work! Although, it is quite fun to watch them realise they cant get out and try to scramble up the very steep bank outside! The squirrels find it highly amusing too…

I’ve got so fed up though this year, that I asked our management services team to do something about it. That something became a tweet and a blog post…https://blogs.shu.ac.uk/lsss/2017/09/28/finding-mary-badland-lecture-theatre/

So, has it done the trick…well, we had some this morning, but we let them off because it was very early (before 10am) and they are, after all, students. Only time will tell if it has been a success…watch this space…

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In the Summertime, when the weather is fine…and other TEL adventures!

Margate in the sun

So, over the past few weeks I’ve had a bit of a hiatus as I’ve been away on holiday, as you can see from the photo above. It was so lovely to see one of the places I love best and have some incredibly happy memories from, come back to life after quite a long time in the doldrums. The regeneration of the SE coast seems to be going well and to see so many people enjoying the lovely weather and each others’ company brought back many happy memories of my childhood, youth and young womanhood that I was blown sideways a few times. Goes to show what you can do when you put your mind to it…

However, it was back to work and the work still progresses as we are currently working on preparing teaching materials for the new Academic Year…particularly as we have changed our teaching offer to the faculty and are now working towards a more ‘flipped classroom’ model. I piloted this with two of my departments last year, with some success. Having the academics on board and reinforcing the need to do the prep work also helped!

My pilot involved turning our one hour introductory information skills lecture for the first year undergrads into two short videos that they needed to watch before coming to the sessions. On the whole, the students did this work and for this year I have suggested to my Radiotherapy lead that we include this in the induction sessions (waiting for a response, still). The technology I used to create the videos is called Camtasia, and I have to admit I struggled a little with it…however, that said, it does create very polished videos! Last year I merely sent the videos out as an mp4 link, but this year – after a bit of faff that included the dialogue going missing in transit –  we’ve uploaded it to youtube. So I am a youtube star! (Well, a little fame and all that…). You can view it in all its Brummie-sounding glory here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpFHkG0VT7

So next week I am going to be using another TEL platform called Adobe Spark to create a couple of very quick videos for referencing and evaluating information. I’ve just come from a quick update with a colleague on how to use it and have to say that it is remarkably easier to use than Camtasia, and, as it isn’t a licensed product (yet…), I don’t have to use a special machine. I can simply find somewhere quiet to go and record it! 🙂

I’m really looking forward to doing these now, after putting it off and procrastinating because I thought I would have to fight with Camtasia again. Now that I have mastered the technology (I am as a god!), I just need some elocution lessons to sort the accent out. 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!

#ocTEL
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…

Reflective Practice Pt 1

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m working towards my Chartership and it’s now well underway! Allez! as we say in cycling!
I’ve just started to look at writing my reflective statement and, oh boy, this is going to be a toughie! My mentor has suggested that I look at portfolios on the VLE, but I havent quite got that far…I’m still in denial, I think!

However, as well as my blog, which is a great place to organise my thoughts (and espouse on topics that I am interested in/have a vague knowledge of/get right up my nose!) I’ve started keeping a reflective ‘diary’, in the form of some word documents in a folder. Not the best way of organising my material so I am going to do a bit of digging around to find out if there is a better way to do this! I work with a few folk who are really into Web 2.0 and, while I’m no Luddite myself (wouldn’t be doing this if I was!), they have their fingers more on the pulse than me…

This week has also seen me putting together my presentation for the CILIP Changes to Chartership event, at Edge Hill University, that I have been asked to speak at! First time I’ve been head-hunted for a particular event and I feel incredibly privileged and grateful to be doing it. I was suggested by one of our senior managers as a speaker as I initially looked at Chartering under the old regs and, for reasons unknown, never got off the ground with it. So, I’m going to speak a bit about me, why I’m doing it and the things I like/dislike about the Chartership process. My presentation is still a work in progress but, when I’ve done it, I will use it as an opportunity for reflection on how the event went. I’ll publish the presentation at that point, but it wont be surprising that there’s a little narrative running through it (guess, I dare you!).

So, reflective writing…at the minute, my writing is confined to specific instances, rather than a holistic reflection of my role/development etc…I’ve had a few ‘learning experiences’ recently and have been noting these down as instances to reflect on.

Recently I had one student, not from our Uni, being incredibly rude to me, even though I wasn’t in the wrong. When I offered to pass her on to a colleague who would tell her exactly the same thing I had, she hung up on me and didn’t call back. It’s the old library adage; users will ask many times of different staff members the same question in the hope that someone will tell them what they want to hear rather than the truth!

My learning I’ve taken from the above? I wont bother arguing the toss with someone in future who isn’t willing to listen, I will just offer to pass straight over to another colleague or to the duty manager to reinforce the message to the user!

So, off now to do some investigating into reflective organisation. I’m now going across the office to bug our resident Web 2.0 expert! Watch this space…

(What) to blog, or not to blog, that is the question…

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I am currently working towards Chartering and a part of the portfolio is a reflection of where you are at the beginning of the process and where you are at the end…now, I found out I’m not very good at this type of study while I was doing my teaching portfolio. I can write descriptively, but not particularly analytically. Part of the reason for this blog is to set down my thoughts on issues that affect/stimulate/annoy me, and to reflect on them – as I used to in my diary as a younger person (but without the wistful sentiments about a certain rock god, music and boys in general! )

So to help me with this, I’ve decided to start a reflective journal, as well as this blog. However, I immediately hit a stumbling block: what to transfer to my blog? If the idea is to be able to organise my thoughts for my blog, and to use that as a tool for reflection, what should I blog and what should I avoid?

The impetus for this musing was one of the issues I tackled in my reflective journal last week: a sensitive issue regarding a member of staff who I manage…so, having made the decision to stay away from such sensitive material, is this defeating the idea of my blog? Given that my posts go straight to my twitter and FB feeds, I think I must be very careful of what I transfer to my blog.

…and, as usual, this has sent me off on the tangent of how we teach information literacy to our students! We teach them how to construct effective search strategies, but it has only become apparent recently (after some high-profile cases in the media) that we need also to teach them how to use social media responsibly.

…and, also as usual, this task has fallen on the library profession (because we are innately responsible or because we are at the cutting edge in technology terms?). As mentioned before, we have problems getting our students engaged in social media for study, but we can turn it on its head and show them how to behave sensibly online. Recent research suggests that potential employers now look at our online presence before they even meet us and so giving a good impression very important.

BUT…this then leads to debate about freedom of speech, prejudice, etc. Should we really be so wary of stating our beliefs for fear of such reprisals? My initial answer is no, but I believe we can be honest about our values without compromising our online presence…something that’s just a bit alien to me is tact (on occasion!) but I know I can be true to myself and my values and opinions in a way that isn’t offensive and wont compromise my future career! Watch this space…