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