Monday, 21 May 2012

Chartership Portfolio

It's time for the serious business of pulling together all the evidence for my portfolio and writing my evaluative statement. Not so easy as I thought.......! I've done a lot of things over the past couple of years and attended lots of CPD events but matching them to the assessment criteria and keeping it short and punchy is proving a bit tricky. I'm aiming to get it finished this week so watch this space....
Any hints or tips greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Hello again - CPD23 Things Re-Visited

Well here we are again. I actually completed this last time around but as I was a bit rushed with some of it I thought I'd tag along to this re-run and pick up on some of the things I missed or would have liked to look at in more depth.

To anyone new seeing this I recommend you stick with it. not only is it a good opportunity to learn new things and develop your skills, but you also get to make lots of new contacts and broaden your social and professional network. I started as a very reluctant blogger but now find it quite enjoyable. It's also very useful if you are going through the Chartership process as it helps you to reflect on what you've learned and think about how you can use it in your job.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Art of Reflection

Time to reflect on the cpd23 experience.........
It's been a long haul trying to keep up with all the Things and got progressively harder as the weeks went by as the more new things I learned the more time I spent using them. Now that it's finished I can take a breather and think about what I got out of it.

I'd done something similar to this in the past - an online Web 2 learning module put together by work colleagues in Information Services to try and get everyone up to speed with new technologies and encourage us to use them in our job and share ideas with each other. At the time it was great and we all felt we learned a lot and gained from it  though again finding the time to do it was a challenge and some got more involved than others. We learned things like blogging, setting up RSS feeds, creating podcasts, social networking, embedding media, wikis etc.  and throughout the module we were encouraged to blog about our experience and share new discoveries. This was new for all of us and because we were a relatively small group but spread across different campuses it brought us together more and we were able to learn from each other and be supportive. I certainly gained some new skills and ideas from the course which have since become common place in what I do such as using wikis, using Google Reader, embedding media and blogging within our online Community. What was disappointing however was that when the course finished the communication between us dropped and the collaborative blog died a death along with the valuable sharing of ideas and problems. After the buzz we'd experienced from taking part it felt like a  huge let down  when it came to an abrupt end.

Blogging & networking
So when I started cpd 23Things I was curious to see how I'd feel and to see how involved people would become. I quickly realised that there were a lot of online networking opportunities out there that I'd been ignoring and that despite having learned how to blog I hadn't really bothered. I'd seen Twitter and blogs in a rather negative way and looking back at my first blog here I can see that I didn't really see the point of Tweeting or blogging. What I 've discovered is that professionally it's a good way of sharing information, "meeting" new people and learning a lot from them. It's also been a bit of a humbling experience as there's so many people out there with a lot of knowledge and experience and I still don't think I have much to offer myself. So I guess I'm still a bit of a blog "lurker" rather than a sharer but I hope that I'll start to contribute more. I'm also hoping that now the Things are over I won't let it all drop as I'm finding it hard to keep up with blogs, Twitter feeds, new Google + contacts, Linked In and everything else. I've found one of the problems for me was with the huge participation in the programme which meant that I couldn't possibly follow everyone's blog and gave up. It was great to see such a wide variety of people joining in and I started by reading as many blogs as I could but this soon became impossible. This meant I felt that I was missing out on the contact with others that I enjoyed in our smaller in-house programme.

Wordle: cpd23

New Stuff
Some of the Things that I found most valuable were the new technologies as this is something that interests me and I'm always looking out for new ways to store, create and present material. The creative side of me enjoys devising new methods of presenting material to users in more engaging and interesting ways. So hopefully I can use some of what I've learned to spice up my presentations. I must admit I'm struggling a bit with Prezi but I'm determined to go back and have another play with it when I've got more time. It was good to revisit some of the programmes I'd briefly looked at in the past such as Zotero and Jing, and also good to find out about some new ones such as Dropbox and Evernote which I'll likely make use of.

The reflective parts have been a good exercise for me, forcing me to look critically at what I do and what I've learned and how I can put some of what I've learned into practice. As I'm currently working towards Chartership this has fitted in well with what I've needed to do for that and has helped focus me on tasks such as reflecting on events I've been to and thinking how I can use what I've learned to improve the service I offer to students and staff in my role as librarian and trainer. I'd already done PPDP for Chartership so didn't really need to do another PDP but I do think it's a good thing to do in any case as it reminds you what skills you have and what you've done and makes you think about what you would like to improve o or learn in oder to do your job well. it's also useful for job appraisals.  It's prompted me to review my c.v and to look at where I want to go with my career.  It was also interesting to look back at how I got to where I am now and make some sort of sense of my chequered career path. It's probably a bit late for me to progress much further career wise but I think it's important to always try and stay ahead of the game and be on constant watch for new ways to improve the way we work. There's nothing worse than stagnation both in terms of job satisfaction and in providing a good service that's relevant to current needs.

How has it changed me?
I'm much more aware of my online presence now and not so scared of putting myself out there and making new contacts. I've become a more confident blogger and hope to be able to share thoughts, news and ideas with others in the same way that I've benefited from what they have to say. It's also made me more aware of wider issues in the information world and has given me some good leads to follow up in areas that I'm interested in such as information literacy and inclusion. I know that it would be good for me to get more involved in events and in promoting what we as librarians do but as yet I still don't have the confidence to put myself forward and am not good at organising things. This makes me a little sad as I see it as a personal failing.

What am I now using?
  • Twitter
  • Google Calendar ( for promoting student events /workshops on our VLE)
  • Google Docs (for collaborating with colleagues on projects)
  • Evernote (for making quick note of websites, articles etc. I want to revisit)
  • Dropbox (for saving docs I'm working on to open up on different computers)
  • Linked In
  • Jing (although I'd already used this)
  • Google + (as a substitute for Facebook for more professional contacts)
  • Prezi - not sure yet
  • Audacity ??
  • Screencasts (did one of these using Camtasia for a lecture)

What wasn't so useful?

  • Pushnote (don't see any need for it)
  • Zotero and Mendeley (use EndNote so don't really need them but will keep awareness)
  • Information about training and routes into librarianship as I'm already there. Probably very useful for those who aren't though. Doubt if my blog comments on this were read by anyone though. Along the same lines volunteering and mentoring weren't personally of much interest to me although I can see the benfit of this information for others. In a programme like this it's almost impossible to have things that will interest everyone and I think the wide range allowed for at least something to interest everyone albeit different for each person.

What now?
  • Have another look at my online image/branding and make it more professional, deciding what I want to or should allow people to know about me.
  • Finish sprucing up my c.v
  • Keep blogging
  • contribute more to online discussions and comment on other people's blogs
  • Try out some of the new ideas, technologies and integrate them into my work
  • Keep evaluating what I do and looking at ways to improve/progress
  • Take the plunge and give a presentation???
  • Try to keep up with all the networks/contacts I've made
6 words to describe the 23 Things
The Huge Inspirational Network Generating Success

Monday, 24 October 2011

Catching up in no particular order..

Have just realised that cpd23 has come to an end and I'm still trailing behind. So, time to tie up a few loose ends and then reflect on the whole process and what I got out of it.

First then - Thing 21

The last job application I did was for my present job, in 2006, so when I started preparing for Chartership I decided it was time to review my CV and look at my current skills and experience. I have to admit that in the past my job applications were rather informal and mainly consisted of an application form in which I tried to match my experience and skills to the job description, so my CV hadn't needed to be updated. It was only when my children were looking for advice on how to create their own CVs that I realised how unprofessional mine was and so I started looking at online advice and examples of other people's CVs.

I think what's important is to be able to take a step back and look at what you've done, what you've got out of it, how you've contributed, and how you've developed your skills and competencies through what you've experienced. Then you need to focus on how these new skills could be useful in other situations and jobs. Transferable skills is what its all about. And having self confidence. You've got more to offer than you think so don't be shy in promoting yourself.

Wish I could practice what I preach! I have to admit that I'm rubbish at interviews and all the wonderful stuff about myself that I'd planned to demonstrate all gets forgotten and I'm a blabbering idiot. Oh well, it can't be all bad - I did succeed in getting this job, having walked out of the interview wanting to crawl under the nearest stone. Best piece of feedback I got was that although my knowledge was lacking in certain areas I mangaged to think on my feet and come up with something plausible! I think that's another way of saying I somehow managed to blag it!

I don't know if I'll be going for any other jobs as I quite like the one I've got but this has kick-started me into doing an audit of my skills and a major re-vamp of my CV. So at least I'll be prepared if that dream opportunity comes my way.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Catching Up

Nearly there!! I've decided to leave Thing 19 till the end and to reflect on everything I've done once I've finished.
As for Thing 22 - I haven't done any volunteering as part of my career so can't really comment on it except that to me it seems to be a great way of getting experience and adding to your CV while waiting for the right opportunity for a paid job to come along. As long as volunteers don't replace existing staff as a cost cutting exercise then I don't see them as devaluing professionalism as the volunteer is learning from the professional and it gives permanent staff an opportunity to exercise their training and mentoring skills.
Thing 20 I'll look at tomorrow hopefully. My Cv is in dire need of revising and though I'm not currently seeking another job it does pay to be prepared.

How did I get here?

No, I'm not suffering from temporary memory loss or Alzheimer's - I do know where I am, just musing about what got me into my current career in librarianship.
I came to it fairly late in life, though there's still plenty of life in me yet - I hope! But the point is that It's a career that can be taken up at any stage of life and having travelled down very different paths to get there. So here's my story....

The first sign for me that librarianship was ever an option was during my school years when a neighbour got me a saturday job in the local library. This was a job I really enjoyed despite being in an era when computers hadn't even been thought of and books were issued using little cards that were filed in date order. The main clientele in this small South London library were old ladies who liked to come in for a chat and ask for recommendations on the latest romance novels but there was still plenty of variety and it was a relaxed, friendly atmosphere to work in.

The second thing that should have alerted me to my future career was a rather pointless attempt at a careers interview by one of the teachers at my school who basically asked me what I liked and what I was good at. She picked on my love of reading and suggested librarianship. At 18 I had no idea what I wanted to do other than learn languages and travel the world and so I went on to do a degree in French.

After graduating I still had no idea what I wanted to do but still wanted to travel and with some romantic notion that I'd make a good foreign diplomat I joined the Civil Service where I remained for many years. I never did get to travel further than France in my job - c'est la vie!

After having children I decided to go for a more family-friendly career and took a TEFL course at Brighton. This helped me to get a job as a teacher of EFL and later as a French teacher as well. For a variety of reasons I decided to give this up after 8 years and took a casual job as a tourist information adviser which was great fun. While doing this I saw a job advert fo an academic librarian. This gave me the idea that I could combine my teaching skills and information skills into a career in academic librarianship and I looked into the qualifications needed.

I took the MA Information Studies course at Brighton part time while still working ,and after finishing the taught part of the MA I applied for and got the job of Assistant Information Adviser at the University of Brighton in 2006. This meant that I had to complete my research while getting to grips with a new job. This was difficult and challenging at times but I did make it and got my degree in 2007.

I work part time at Eastbourne, which is a very relaxed campus, and I support the School of Health Professions. My work is incredibly varied and includes managing the library budget for the School, handling enquiries, ordering resources and providing support and training for staff and students, and attending School Boards. I'm also involved in creating and maintaining resources and contributing to various service projects. There's always plenty to do and not enough hours to do all that I'd like to achieve but I enjoy the variety and the challenges.
I'm now working on my Chartership portfolio which I hope to complete soon. I don't know if I'll progress further in my career at this stage, but if an opportunity arises.......

Recording myself - Thing 18

I've used Jing and quite like it for its simplicity. It's really easy to use and because it's compatible with Camtasia you can combine it with that for more sophisticated editing. We use Camtasia at work but I don't have it at home so Jing is handy for trying out things.  Because you can only record for a max 5mins it forces you to be short and snappy and avoids overlong videos. It's also handy for capturing screenshots.
Using a combination of Jing, Camtasia Relay and Camtasia Studio I've produced a couple of instructional videos for the library on how to search the catalogue and how to search for online journals. We've been working on a series of short 2 min "How to" videos  as well as some longer ones on things like searching databases. These will all be made available to students via our library website as an alternative to printed documents.
I've also recently used Camtasia Relay to record a lecture on literature searching for Health students which has been posted on their VLE for them to watch and refer to in place of the usual lecture. Screencasts are a good way of making info accessible to distance learners and are also helpful for dyslexic students who might not be able to take in all the information in one go.

 I haven't yet used Audacity but can see that it would be a really useful tool for creating podcasts. This is something that's been on my "to do" list for sometime but I've kept on a back burner for several reasons. Firstly that I haven't yet had a need to create podcasts, secondly because like everything else I don't have the time and quiet space in which to try it out, and most importantly because I hate the sound of my voice! It's bad enough hearing my voice on Camtasia screencasts but at least they have visuals to distract the listener. I'm not a fan of listening to podcasts myself as I prefer to receive information visually so I guess their effectiveness is influenced by what type of learner you are. I've always found audio tours of museums etc. quite useful as you can link what you hear to what you see, but I have to admit to losing concentration easily when solely listening to something unless it really grips me. I will try creating something however so that i acn at least tick it off my "to do" list if nothing else!