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!


(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.


(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…


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…

PS to ‘Tour de France fever’

So, I made a decision yesterday morning, to go and see the Tour at the bottom of Holme Moss where it meets the Woodhead Pass. And I am so glad I did. It was an amazing day!

We got to our spot at about 11.20am (local time), having cycled up. We knew we couldn’t drive, as the roads were closed, so my partner cycled with his brothers and I parked the car on the Hayfield Road, where the lovely lady who runs the food stall in the layby moved her chairs so I could park. It was already full when I got there at 10.45am! But I got in and continued the cycle with them. 8 miles, it was, but it was almost all up, except for the first run down into Glossop (which I realised I would have to cycle back UP on the way back! :(). Oh well.

There were hundreds of cyclists out on the roads and when we got past the point of no more traffic allowed (just outside Glossop) we were all free to take up the whole road. It was great! I even overtook a few people on some of the steeper sections! When we got to Woodhead, we quickly found an elevated space in a field, from which even the short person (me!) would be able to see the road and, as we were sitting on the edge of a ten foot drop, ensured no big person could stand in front of me and obscure my view (this happens a lot at gigs. I have a management strategy for this eventuality). There to wait for 3 and a half hours…

The caravan came through first, which was great, the only downside being I didnt manage to catch any of the goodies as we were too far from the road. Then we heard the helicopters and the Beebs chopper came into view…then we could hear the roar from further up Holme Moss, which meant the riders were descending…exciting! The first rider (Blel Kadri) appeared, then the chasers a couple of seconds later. Holme Moss had certainly separated the men from the boys! They were strung out in groups. The Sky train came through all together, although we had heard Richie Porte had had an accident at the other side. He and a team mate came through a good few minutes after the rest of them, but when we watched the highlights we found out he’d not only caught them up before they got to Sheffield but he’d also come in with the main bunch, at 21st position, 2 seconds behind the winner, Nibali! What a rider! And he’s only little too!

Anyway. It was a lovely day (apart from the brief shower which descended on us as we were heading back) but the Met Office got it wrong again, telling us it would be rainy all afternoon. In actual fact, the sun shone all day! So, we’d prepared for the wet and cold, not thinking about suntan cream, with the result that my legs now look a little like boiled lobster…thanks Met Office. Dont think I’ll be paying much heed to you in future.

Well, that’s my little postscript! It’s an afternoon I’ll never forget and I got some photos to remember it by too!

Tour de France fever

I realised a while ago that most of my posts have been about libraries, with very little of my other obsessions covered. So, today’s post is going to be about the sport I have taken to over the last few years…

There’s a little bike race coming to the North of England this weekend, which I am a little bit excited about. Those of you who follow me on twitter, or facebook, may already have realised this, what with the inordinate amount of tweets, retweets and shares I have been slathering my pages with recently…I think I have been remarkably restrained but that’s just me…

The original plan was to go to Harrogate on Saturday to see the first stage finish, then cycle up to Woodhead on Sunday (only about 10 miles from our house, but a good bit of ‘up’ involved; down on the way back!) to watch them flit past after coming down Holmes Moss. However, yesterday, not only did I realise the weather is going to be fairly inclement over the weekend (Yorkshire + summer = what do you expect?), but that also that I would be standing around for hours, in the (possibly) wet, without access to any facilities (get the drift?). Ok, I am a seasoned camper, I dont actually need the physical thing, I’m happy with a bush or a tree. BUT (and it’s a big but, no pun intended), this is the Peak District, renowned for the mass clearance of trees during the last few hundred years to allow stock grazing to flourish and rich noblemen to hunt on horses…ergo, nothing to hide behind (or under) for a call of nature…

So. Reflection. ITV are showing the whole of the first three stages in their entirety, live. It’s a no-brainer. I will happily watch the TV coverage, knowing that just a few miles to the North, lots of fairly fit (in more ways than one, with some possible exceptions) young men are tearing round the countryside on one of the most iconic races on the planet, being treated to a good sample of English meteorology, while I stay warm and dry in the house cheering them on!

Who will win, though? My money’s on Cav for the first stage, but after that it’s anyone’s race. Froome will put on a good show, but there are plenty of good GC contenders and only three British riders in the whole Tour. The non-Brits will be looking for a win, after the successive two years going to a Brit, so I think we’re in for exciting times this year. Watch this space…

New Technologies


Browsing around on the home PC, I came across this photo.

I took this in a bike shop in Hastings last year as this is the bike I had when I was 12. I asked for a bike for Christmas and my Birthday (they’re one and the same for me…) and this is what my folks bought me: a Raleigh Saffron. Now, not to sound ungrateful, but what I really had wanted was a ten-speed racer…fast-forward some 30 years and I had a new road bike last year for Christmas and my Birthday. The Saffron in 1982 would’ve probably cost my parents a month’s wages: a Rose Pro WSL Lady cost the best part of £900. http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/bike/rose-pro-wsl-200-2014/aid:666623

And this got me to thinking about new technology. In 1982 I wanted a ten-speed racer and got a three speed shopper. In 1993 we implemented our first library management system that was computerised at Wolverhampton Libraries (the DS system that was the precursor to Talis). Now, most of my job is working online, either through emails, with the LMS or on our VLE!

So,how do we use these new technologies? How can we exploit them to their utmost potential? I wasn’t going to win any races on that Saffron (which, incidentally is still in my Dad’s shed!). I probably wouldn’t have won any on a ten-speed either, but I would have been more than likely to have a go. Giving me 27 gears has driven me to heights on a bike that I would never have aspired to even five years ago. Along with some friends, we’ve covered almost the length of Britain this year alone!

Given that new technologies are the drivers of the changing information environment, where can we go with them? I believe that there isn’t any limit on what we can do with them, except our imagination. And I have an over-active imagination! Watch this space…

Discovery and more…

Earlier in the Summer (and how glorious? Lots of cycling miles done this year!) I attended the InfoLit and Summon Conference, held in Manchester. I found it really inspirational and came away with some great ideas around how discovery tools can make teaching information literacy even easier and more engaging.


As we all know, it’s very easy to lose your students when the material is dry…a few years ago, we experimented with using a different presentation platform for our inductions but it didnt quite work out. So, if using powerpoint is the only way to present your material, how do we engage the students and move away from death by powerpoint? This got me thinking…and it got me thinking about the ‘flipped classroom’.

I really like the idea of turning the traditional ‘teaching’ role on it’s head, where the students are given the material for the class before they come and you effectively do their homework with them. But I realise it wouldnt work for all subjects, only those really where the emphasis is on traditional study skills. But, that got me thinking too…what about games? We all start our learning journey as young children through play, so why should that be any different as adults? And also, our students are coming to us from a world of games (WoW, Angry Birds, CoD etc…). Why not teach them through a medium they are used to and enjoy? Well, when next I have to design any kind of learning resource, there will definitely be an element of ‘play’ about it! Watch this space…