Sunday, 31 January 2016

Making It All Work Together - The End

It is a shame to finish on such a negative post as this one, but it is very difficult to find anything positive to say about these products. Hopefully you will look at the apps I enjoyed and concentrate on those which where the majority. If my lack of engagement with them fails the course then that is how it should be as I simply cannot think of a way of setting up any of them in the way required without also setting up fake accounts for all the relevant social media too which I don't have time for and I am definitely not sharing my details with any of them.

I do not link social media accounts, I have diigo, twitter, Access-It, pinterest and I also belong to a Yahoo group for work and that is it. I do not wish to link them as it would be like mixing cheese and cement - not necessary and not productive. If I want students to pick up links then I put them on the student portal so they know exactly where to go and look. In addition where I live the internet is not like it is in most of the UK, I have a limited allowance per month and so am much more careful about how I use the internet for downloading or streaming at home.

I do not have or want Flipboard it seems to be another way of not working but seeing the same content on yet another app - a mix of fb, tumblr and twitter. I use FB for personal stuff - and if you run a business or have a real need to contact colleagues or clients then a totally separate account should be used as I have done in the past. I spend considerable time and effort trying to educated our students about the importance of keeping their personal details confidential and it seems contradictory if I then have a FB account that shares details of my life with that of work contacts some of whom can be total strangers.

Pinterest is useful to keep visual records of websites or items connected with home or work, again it is advisable to keep the two separate as the details are likely to need to be quite different - that is what I have found. I am also planning for the future when I leave this job I want to be able to leave all these things in place for my successor. I am about to sign up for another year and may decide to do one more year after that, but it is surprising how quickly the time flies.

I think this adequately describes Hootsuite, from their own website:

Save time finding content to post

Finding content to share on social media takes time. Hootsuite's publishing features automatically discovers, schedules, and posts content for you, freeing up more time to engage with customers.
So as a user you are allowing a computer to generate text to put on your social media site? Really? If I am going to post content on a website as a Librarian, then I am going to write it and check that it is suitable. 

Buffer, in the words of its owners: 
Social media management for marketers and agencies
I fit neither of these categories and never will, I have done lots of jobs during my working life but I will never be in marketing or work for an agency. Sometimes you just know these things.

I feel like I am on the wrong planet with this assignment as there is nothing whatever that attracts me or suggests I should in any way buy into this. It is a bit like the Emperor's new clothes, one day everyone will wake up and realise that the time spent using this myriad of social networking apps could far more profitably be spent working and producing real products or information.

I do not have a problem keeping up with my social media as I use so few, I also do not feel as if I am missing out or that my students are. We want them to use their time efficiently and not spend half the day tracking across half a dozen social medial apps to read the same thing written in more or less the same words. The Yahoo group I belong to is fantastically important and supportive as well as being the source of a huge amount of information which is contributed to by all its users -  this is probably the one I spend the most time on, but that is reasonable as it is the one I get the real benefit for work from.


I have created the presentation and got hold of the link - this looks very cumbersome but if that is what it is supposed to be then so it is. The subject is something I collect enthusiastically - 1930s crime fiction. With only 6 slides it means I have been very careful to restrict it to just a very superficial look at the subject but it includes information anyone just getting started may find useful.

I know how to produce presentations but actually don't do it very often, so this was an interesting exercise for me. I changed the text colour from black to white which improve its readability. That much text is a little wordy and if I was giving it as a real presentation then I would cut it by half and increase the size of the type - it is important not to just read the text when giving presentations as that is very boring for the audience.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Mobile Things

I wanted to write about Pinterest as I love it and could sit creating boards all day given the time! Unfortunately I have already written about it so it will have to be something else. As one or two of the other things have been written up rather more briefly than you might want I thought I would expand this one to compensate for it, so there are three and they are: Access-It, our Library Management system's mobile app, the Kindle app and Pressreader.

Access-It. I use this all the time when I am buying stock for our library as it prevents me from buying copies of books I already have, in my previous job I knew which books we had and which we didn't and very rarely made a mistake - lucky as the mobile app I had then never worked properly. However, in this job I just cannot do that. So I use Access-it. It is of course useful as more than an aide-memoire for me and I try to persuade the students to use it, especially the senior students who need to get into good bibliographic and referencing habits. This is gradually working but it is like painting the Fourth Bridge as I am sure anyone knows who is involved with students. Every year you have to repeat much of the same things. Don't use Wikipedia as an academic source, there are search engines beyond Google, use Google but intelligently etc, etc, So Access-It like other LMSs allows its users to gather bibliographic data to include in their EPQs, and other work that needs to be submitted and of course prepares them for university life and the extra demands that makes. A lot of our students use smart phones as their preferred device at school and so the ability to use the OPAC almost to the same level of sophistication as on a laptop is very useful. In some ways the search functions are better on mobile devices than they are on laptops as there is less space and so the layouts are refined and carefully designed.

The Kindle app, I love this, I can have access to an enormous selection of books on almost any subject, and if I need it right away - no waiting at all - I order, it pay for it and there it is. I have a Kindle which is my preferred way to read now, more than print books although I still buy print books as I love to have them around and one of the disappointments in my job is the lack of enthusiasm for e-Books and I realise I can't use Kindle books for the Library as Amazon just do not allow it - so, so annoying, but that does not stop me having books on the Kindle, so if as at the moment I have to read a stack of books for a competition the College is participating in then it is so much more convenient to have them all on my Kindle instead of a great big heavy pile to carry around. Then there are the special offers which make building a decent collection less expensive, it also allows me to read books before deciding whether or not to stock them. I could be using a Kobo but the range of books is just not up there with Amazon and I appreciate there are issues with them not paying tax, but until people stop buying coffee from Starbucks I will continue to use Amazon as my chances of changing their policies by no longer buying their books are too remote to consider.

Finally there is Pressreader, this is an app - paid for that gives the whole College community to some 3000+ publications in up to 60 languages. I work at an international school in South East Asia and we have students from many countries and a significant percentage have English as an additional language, many of our students speak three or more languages and so having an app that allow them not only to retain their home language but to improve it has got to be a good thing. It also helps them to stay in touch with what s happening in their home countries. The flip side of this coin is the ability of the MFL department to use Pressreader to support students learning new languages including expat students who are learning Bahasa Malay, Mandarin, Spanish and French, (not necessarily all at the same time). Buying print magazines from the UK and having them shipped out is expensive and can be very slow, too. So how much better to have access online especially as they retain this access for seven days after leaving the College campus. I am constantly trying to persuade more students to use this app and when they do try it many thoroughly enjoy it, it is also very popular with our large number of expat teachers who also want to keep up to date with current affairs, their local papers from home but many want the sports and other leisure magazines.

The only problem with these online apps is getting students and staff to use them regularly, e-books are not very highly regarded here for a reason I do not understand other than students prefer print books. Maybe it is a fear of the unknown, but I am hoping to introduce them later this year when we also introduce a bring your own device policy which will mean students have to have at least a tablet and maybe they will enjoy using those for reading more than their smart phones, we will see. Pressreader is gradually becoming increasing widely used and access it is also picking up in usage. The aim is to get the students as enthusiastic about computers and tablets as I am.

The Legal Side of Things

British Museum Reading Room - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The URL for both of these pictures is:

I chose these images as I love the Reading room at the British Library, however, when it comes to concerns then yes, I do have a few. This is the area about which I know little and realise that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing so where ever possible I do not use other people's images unless I feel fairly confident that they are available to anyone or that the use is not going to get me into bother. This got much more difficult a couple of years ago when I started an ill-fated online business which it was necessary to use images to decorate documents that I then sold and finding images for those was not at all easy.

Another very recent cause for concern has been a thread on an internet group I belong to - this does not affect me personally, but it would have been nice to know the rights and wrongs. It concerned the use of downloaded TV programmes being used in CCA time (after school activities) and whether this was allowable or not as it was not strictly and only for education but could be described as leisure even though they were to be shown in a school by a teacher or librarian. Even the experts consulted did not really seem to have a definitive answer and therein lies the problem. If is very difficult to get a really certain answer on so many things to do with copyright. Sometimes, of course it is very straightforward, a picture on Google images covered with the copyright owners name and yes you know that needs to be paid for. However, in between things that are shown as free or having creative commons licenses and these have various levels of 'free' and those that are obviously being charged for is a whole grey area where it is not clear. I can steer clear of anything I am unsure about but that is far less easy when it comes to the students - if they ask my opinion they do not want me to tell them not to use pictures it could be vital they do.

Getting back to the question which I realise I have somewhat side stepped, I don't really have concerns for the material in this course. The writing has been done without using other people's thoughts, writing, etc, it is all my opinions and these are the first two pictures I have used. I would have give them both much longer citations except that was what was available. I don't use any of the apps you mention in the second option - I prefer to keep photos I take out of the public domain, especially if they include pictures of students so I currently use Google Photos.

Not sure if this answers the question but I hope so. I think what it does do is remind me that one of the things I should purchase next time I am in the UK is a book on copyright!

Friday, 8 January 2016

Creating Info Graphics

I produced a very useable infographic as my departmental annual report. This was a bit of a risk as I was fairly certain that our board members being middle aged or older business men may not have had a lot of experience of them. However, I was also told that they never read more than the front page and so however much effort was put in they would not read it all.

This was not a quick or easy option - first I had to learn how to use the infographics app, which was admittedly very easy albeit a bit fiddly. However it is the kind of thing I enjoy so it was not a chore. I collected together all the photos - my library had been open for a year when this report was compiled so it was easy to write - showing the journey from empty room with furniture still wrapped in plastic when I arrived here to vibrant hub of learning, reading and information that it is now.

After much adaptation, reformatting, changing things and rewriting of the text I was happy with it and sent it off. Unfortunately I heard no more but I assume it was all right or they would have complained.

I love some of the infographics I have come across and I love how creative people are with them. They can be very useful for planning linear events, especially perhaps if it is something you need to bid for funding as it is so much more attractive than the average powerpoint slide show. I think if things get very complicated then there is little to beat Excel but for most presentations infographics are very accessible - although it would be easy to have too much of them and whilst they are all different there is a come look and feel to all of them, despite the users best efforts to change them and so I suspect that after two or three years they will go the same way as all these things and be discarded for something new and even more technical - maybe animated infographics that you have to work hard to corral!

I will definitely use infographics again - just waiting for the right reason and then will get back to it. The fact that the app is online also helps to keep by rather over stuffed laptop emptier.

I would put my report up here but that would not be permitted.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Thing 17: Reflective Practice

Reflective Practices

These reflective posts are by far and away the most difficult. In fact this one has almost got me to abandon this course, but I am not going to let it finish me. I understand that reflection is a good thing, but it is time consuming. Some of the course has been really useful but some of it is far less so, but looking at it positively I now know there are some kinds of apps I am not interested in using and if anyone ever suggests it I can say I have reflected and suggest they get someone else!

I am almost entirely with Edwards and Thomas on this one. "Many practitioners believe ‘learning by doing’ is the most beneficial approach, without any need for self reflection (Edwards and Thomas, 2010)"

I don't find reflection a positive experience in fact if anything by the time I have finished exposing all my weaknesses I feel so fed up I don't want to continue - hence the long gap since I last did anything on this course. Yes I can look at something I have done to see if there is a reason to repeat and usually when I do anything the first time I will know I can improve it but to write down all my failings does not help me to improve whatever the thing is. I just do the changes/rewrite or whatever I feel is required. I realise there are people out there (the majority) who can do these things and they see lots of positives but I don't. So, as I do want to finish this course this is as far as this is going or I won't.

Collaboration Tools

Here is my text from the google Doc:

I am very very late to this Thing, it is now 3/1/2016. I have used Google Drive for years and find it useful and only use Google Docs and Sheets from necessity (it is a work thing) as there are too many features they don’t have - the only I miss most is the ability to see non-printing characters. Why won’t Google add this on? Fortunately you can create docs in Word and then open them in Docs. Docs is good for one thing - genre bookmarks, very good and easy, although again the lack of being able to see non printing characters can leave you wondering what you have done to make something look as it does. (WCBW). That is it for this one. I will copy this into the blog so that it shows I have done it.

I don't use a lot of collaborative tools, Docs is used around the College, for many things I also use it for the various aspects of a competition I am involved in running. You could classify Google Sheets in the complex finance system we have, not sure it is really collaborative as I use it to get expenditure signed off, so more a process than a collaboration. However, everything has to be printed for submission. Have not used slides yet as PP seems more than adequate. I did try to use forms but it did not really come off - ran out of time to get the forms filled in. We do not currently have sufficient tech to make this work and I think it is better if people fill them in on paper and hand them in before the lesson finishes or they don't get done. If students were prepared to use them forms might be useful for book reviews. Again if we had more tech available for students to use - especially the younger ones then it would be interesting to use more online docs instead of them writing everything longhand.  That could be a useful way to introduce them to the skills they will need as they move up the school. Might try and introduce some.

Communicating through photographs

Not at all sure how I would be able to use these apps - photos of children are always problematic with child protection considerations etc. So it would be a matter of using these apps for pictures of displays - which I would much rather use Pinterest for. I do not personally like either of them. It says you can share your photosI have not signed up for accounts for either as I do not see a use for them and there are enough unused accounts on the internet without me adding any more. Although there appears to be a privacy setting on Flickr I am not sure it is trust worthy - other users seem to find it unreliable. So I think I will stick with Photos on Google, which is the default app. This is another one where you can share in a controlled way but don't have to share and as we are a Google school it makes more sense to use that. If I want images I use google and select creative commons option, it is also much easier to find who to attribute the photos to. I have checked the photos and the one below seems useful as it gives an idea for a display but frankly Pinterest does this far better as the board system allows searching to be done far more effectively.

©Pesky Librarians (no date shown)

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Advocacy for Librarians

This is definitely not easy. For personal reasons I do not campaign for Libraries. I have a different priority and I do not think that there is an endless pot of money and my other priority matters more - to me. I think that money could be saved from other sources but it is not for me to point the finger and specify where that money comes from as its target matters to someone. I think Libraries are more important than a lot of things, but if I campaign for Libraries then maybe my higher priority will suffer as I think it could be one of those either or decisions. So I shall continue to sit silently. There are lots of others willing to join the fray. Good luck to them. Up to a point.

How effective are they? How many libraries have been saved? Both as a number and as a % of those that were ear-marked for closure? How many were saved only to be run by volunteers? How many of those will still be a library in any useful sense of the word in five years? If they closed, why? Lack of tenacity on the part of the volunteers? No new stock so users stop using? The authorities slip in and close them when interest has waned? That will be the only way to measure the success of these campaigns.

Augmented Reality

Aurasma - what serendipitous timing! We have just started using this to produce book reviews at the school where I work. It is part of the Learning and Teaching Committee work, I am a member. I can testify it can all be done on mobile phones and iPads. However, it can be does not mean it should be. If you use a mobile phone for the video bit then you need to stabilise it or it looks amateurish - like a moving selfie. It depends who your anticipated audience is, if it is just students then the amateurish look is OK, however, if it is also a part of your marketing tools either for the Library or the wider institution then quality matters. I will have to see if I can get you access to this as it is a school thing I may not be able to due to Child Protection rules. Otherwise I will try and put a couple together. Unfortunately I can't get into Aurasma studio at present. Bloody internet I suppose.

However, it is free, it is easy to use both for originating content and for viewing that content. I think one of the things that does need doing - an idea for someone's MA dissertation perhaps? Is to see how effective all these apps are in increasing the number of loans on a title and on which titles are borrowed. Or are there other factors which are far more important? Such as peer recommendations? Anyway just a thought.