23 Things for Research – Thing 23: What have you learned and where do you want to go from here?

Hoorah! I have finished 23 Things, although a little later than planned. As well as the 23 Things programme, I attended a number of other training courses, went on holiday and was generally busy at work, which caused me to fall behind. But I am pleased that I persisted and made it to the last Thing.

Doing the 23 Things programme for a second time was a good way for me to see how far I have come. Comparing myself to the old me four years ago, I have learnt an awful lot. Four years ago, I didn’t know very much about social media and a lot of the Things covered in the programme were new to me. This time round, I was already familiar with a number of the social media websites, although they had changed and developed in that time. And I learnt about some new things too.

Highlights:

Thing 6: Consider your personal brand

Although my personal online brand was something I was aware of, I had never given it much thought. I am not keen on being ultra visible online. Fair enough, if my LinkedIn profile appears in a Google search for future employees to look at but I don’t want to make a special effort to get to the top of Google’s search and have everything about me available for others to see. By searching for myself on Google, I was pleased to see that my professional profiles, like LinkedIn and Twitter, appeared quite high up, although having a common name means people would probably have to specify more details, like my profession, to find me.

Thing 9: Storify and other tools

I’d never heard of Storify before I started 23 Things so I was pleased to learn about a new branch of social media. At first, I couldn’t see the attraction or benefit of Storify. I started off thinking that there is no point in collating lots of different pieces of social media into one place but the more I experimented and thought about, the more it seemed like a good idea. What a novel idea to be able to bring together so many social media branches into one place. I liked what universities had done, for example using Storify to create a story of graduation day, using photos, tweets, etc. I struggled to see how Storify might be popular in a library context but can see its worth in other organisations.

Conclusion:

I am pleased that I participated in 23 Things. I was concerned that perhaps I would not learn anything new having done it before but I learnt two things: 1) Yes, I do know a lot about social media, which shows how much I have learnt since I became a librarian just over four years ago. And I’m proud of that. 2) On the other hand, some of the social media sites I am familiar with but do not often use have changed, so it has been great to update myself. And, inevitably, since I last did 23 Things, there are new social media sites available and new concerns, e.g. personal brand and Creative Commons.

I think that doing 23 Things every few years is a good idea. I have found this to be programme valuable and will keep an eye out for 23 Things in the future.

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23 Things for Research – Thing 22: Google Drive and Dropbox

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Thing 22 looks at sharing documents online. Because I already have a Google account, I am going to explore Google Drive, as opposed to Dropbox.

The only reason I ended up with a Google account is because one of the assessments for my undergraduate degree required us to write an essay using Google Sites. It was decided that the university would set up accounts specifically for this assessment and, because I didn’t use Google for email or anything else that required logging in, it was the only account I ever had with Google. When I gradually started to use Google more, Google Calendar for example, I just continued to use this account that my university set up rather than create my own personal one.

Apart from Google Calendar and Feedly, I don’t use my Google account for much else. I have used Google Drive a few times but only because that’s what my friends prefer to do. I admit, it would have been useful to use Google Drive, or a similar file sharing site, when I was doing group assessments for my MSc but for some reason, none of us thought of it. We would send revised copies of documents back and forth. There was always the problem of someone having a brand new computer with the most recent Windows installed who would save files in a format none of us could read because we still had the older version. This was partly resolved by downloading for free from the university a programme that allowed you to download and read the newer file formats. However, when you edited them and sent them back to your fellow students, they were back in the old file format again. Some of the tutors fell victim to this too, sending articles to read before the next session with very few people able to access them.

If I ever need to share files with colleagues or friends in the future which need editing, then Google Drive will be really useful. Actually, it came in very useful when I was co-organising a friend’s hen do, so I have already seen its potential for larger projects.

23 Things for Research – Thing 21 2013: Using Doodle and other online scheduling tools

Thing 21 moves into the world of using social media to organise and schedule.

I like to think I’m an organised person, even more so when I’m ridiculously busy with little time on my hands. That is when I am my most organised and productive. I have used both Meet-O-Matic and Doodle to organise meeting up with a large group of friends and they have proved very useful. The notion of gathering a poll of days/times people are available is a simple notion and this is reflected in the appearance and usability of Meet-O-Matic and Doodle. There are no fancy frills. Everything is easy to understand and functional. I think Doodle looks more attractive than Meet-O-Matic but I think that’s just because it has a more modern, clean-looking interface.

These scheduling tools are a quick way for people to show their availability and the results of the poll are clearly displayed for you to see the best day/time to meet up. There’s also the opportunity to link up your calendar, whether Outlook or Google Calendar, to Meet-O-Matic/Doodle. I have not used these scheduling tools in the workplace because I have never really had to organise a meeting but I would happily use them again socially and for work. Indeed, they have been praised by my friends for making the difficult task of finding the best day to meet up easier.

23 Things for Research – Thing 19: Explore reference management tools online

Reference management software would have been really useful at library school if only I understood how they worked. You can enter references manually, you can search from within the reference management software, and you can ‘push’ references from, for example, the library catalogue to your reference management profile. This all sounds great but the difficult thing is personalising it. There are lots of referencing systems out there. My university used Harvard but adapted it for their use, so it was not simply a case of clicking the Harvard option and, voila, your bibliography would be exactly what the university wanted. I ashamedly admit that I created my bibliography and in-text citations manually. I saw this as less time-consuming than spending time getting the settings correct on the reference management software.

Even if I had taken the time to perfect the settings according to my university’s adaptation of Harvard, I would only had to have changed it because they had a major overhaul of their Harvard reference system part way through my degree.

Now that I am a few years older and wiser, I can see the benefits of reference management software more clearly. I have a profile on Refworks, which I used reasonably extensively when I was doing a project on the library’s theses some time ago. Whilst I was doing my library school degree, I attended a session by a member of staff who helped create created Colwiz. He did an excellent job of selling it to me but my relationship with Colwiz did not last long.

I was impressed by the collaboration aspect of Colwiz, that you could share your references with groups – an excellent idea for group assessments. I also liked that you could edit an article you were reading by highlighting important passages and making notes in the margin. This is where Colwiz fell down. After spending at least an hour reading an article for one of my assessments and conscientiously clicking ‘save’ every few minutes, when I returned to said article, it had lost all of my notes and highlighting. I decided at that point that paper was a much more reliable friend. I emailed Colwiz and they apologised, although they were unable to offer a solution or reason. I do hope that the service is much more reliable now.

In terms of my future use, I might need to use a reference management software tool as I work through my CILIP Chartership. I’ve only just begun this process (having waited months for the new guidelines to be released) but fully expect to cite articles, news stories, blog posts, etc. I might also end up teaching reference management software to library users in the future, although this is not for definite yet.

Conclusion:

Having used Refworks, I did not set up new profiles to discover what Zotero and Mendeley, although my friend who is studying for a PhD informs me Mendeley is the best. With Refworks I have imported references, put them into folders, chosen a reference management style (Harvard) and amended it for local use, and exported a bibliography. I have also used their Write ‘n’ Cite extension in Word, which allows you to link to your Refworks profile, choose the relevant reference for your in-text citation, and enters it into your Word document. Very useful.

I was originally afraid of reference management software and am concerned that others will be too. As long as people are taught correctly how to use reference management software, or are brave enough to work through the instructions and video tutorials, they will benefit greatly from something that will make their life easier.

23 Things for Research – Things 17 and 18: Exploring images online and Using Creative Commons and other copyright ‘need-to-know’ issues

Things 17 and 18 asked us to explore using social media to share images online. Although not discussed in the 23 Things blog posts for things 17 and 18, I use Facebook to upload my photos so I can share them with friends. This did cause problems when I wanted to share photos with my parents (who are not on Facebook). I would attach the photos to an email but quickly got fed up of exceeding the file limit.

For that reason I went to Flickr, a place where I could upload photos for free and by using my Yahoo! login details to set up a profile. It was really useful, until I reached the limit of photos I could upload for free. And I wasn’t willing to pay for a premium account just so I could share photos with my parents every few months. Having logged in to Flickr for the first time in a long time, I am told that I have used <1% of my 1 Terabyte’s worth of free photo storage, so it looks as though Flickr have increased their limit since I last used the website.

When I used to use Flickr, it was an excellent way for me to upload photos for free and they teamed up with another website so I could edit them, i.e. brightness, contrast, etc. Although I can’t remember who Flickr used for editing when I used to use the facility, I see that they have teamed up with Aviary now.

The thing is, I discovered that you can get a link from Facebook for your photo albums, which allows those who are not on Facebook to see your photos without having to create their own Facebook account. For this reason, I am not sure why I would go back to using Flickr seeing as I can send my parents a URL for my photos, unless I use Flickr as a way to edit my photos.

Below, you can see one of my photos, a beautiful butterfly resting on some equally beautiful flowers, taken at the Blenheim Palace flower show.

1048957_10151420059566455_1157403637_o by law_trainee

1048957_10151420059566455_1157403637_o, a photo by law_trainee on Flickr.

The rights for this photo are automatically set to ‘all rights reserved’, which I am happy with. I had a lot of trouble trying to embed other people’s photos into my blog post. I don’t know whether that was a technical problem and, if so, at which end. Flickr provides a code to embed into your blog but it didn’t seem to work in WordPress. I do not have any reason for creating a Creative Commons license for my photos. I do not photograph professionally and have no intention of taking photos in the hope that a newspaper or advertiser might want to use them. My photos are on Flickr purely as a solution to my struggle of making them accessible to my parents. Of course, I would be pleased if somebody liked one of, or some of, my photos and wished to use them.

Thinking about how sharing photos on social media could help universities/organisations, I am impressed by American universities’ use of instagram to promote their services. I see that they have uploaded photos of events, which would be great for students and staff to look back on and is a good way of archiving what the university has been doing. Unlike Flickr, I cannot see any Creative Commons licenses for the photos that have been uploaded. Some background reading into Instagram’s terms of service shows:

“Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, subject to the Service’s Privacy Policy” (http://instagram.com/legal/terms/ accessed 21/01/2014).

Although, the website that the American universities are using is called Nitrogram, so I don’t know whether there are separate rules concerning ownership of photographs. I will not pretend to understand people’s rights or the terms of use for fear of getting it wrong.

Conclusion:

What I conclude from my investigation into sharing photos on social media websites is that, whether for personal or professional use, you should research the various websites available and look at what each website provides in terms of ownership rights. You wouldn’t want to find that someone who copied, reworked, and distributed your photo was well within their rights without you realising.

23 Things for Research – Thing 16: Sharing Research Online

I have given a fair few presentations in my time but rarely in the workplace. I have often given presentations at university as part of a course, preparing us for the working world but only once in the workplace have I actually had to give a presentation.

I used to be terrified of standing up in front of people to give a presentation but after practicing lots for assessments, I am now only mildly horrified by the idea. So mildly, I have volunteered to partake in user education in the library next term.

I have always used PowerPoint for presentations and tried very hard to stick to the rules of how to create a good PowerPoint presentation. I first heard of Prezi a few years ago and had a fiddle to see what it was like. It was clean, clear, smooth, and slick and I was quite taken by it. I once tried to encourage some fellow students of mine to use Prezi when we were giving a joint presentation for an assessment but they were having none of it, sadly, and I have not had a chance to do a presentation using it since. What I have used Prezi for is revision. You can see here a presentation I created called Working with Information (I did try embedding it into this post but there was something majorly wrong with Prezi and it would not let me do it). I had an exam for my MSC in Information and Library Management on all things IT, the background workings of something I use every day. This subject matter didn’t come easily to me so I had to revise very hard for the exam.

I ended up creating A3 pages of colourful handwritten notes and diagrams to help me remember everything. This Prezi presentation is a representation of all the A3 pages put together into the mindmap I had in my head. It was not supposed to be used or seen by anyone else. It was purely as a way for me to represent my ideas. That is why it makes little sense and does not look all that great. I’m quite concerned at how much I have already forgotten from that course. I should look through my lecture notes to remind myself.

Getting back to Prezi, I found it very easy to use, very intuitive, and an excellent alternative to PowerPoint to play with. It would be nice if I had some presentations to create where I could use real-life content to experiment with.

I decided to use Slideshare to upload my presentation for the purposes of this ‘Thing’. Signing up was easy but uploading my Prezi presentation was not allowed. It turns out they don’t support Prezi. It seems that, as fun as Prezi is, you can’t distribute it via these websites for others to see. You have to stick to giving them a direct link to your presentation on the Prezi website.

In terms of how these presentation-sharing websites could help me, I imagine it would be useful for me if I ever gave presentations in the library for students. They could look back at the presentation and others could learn from the information too. If I ever gave a talk at conference, it would also be helpful to upload the presentation to one of these websites and people would continue to get use from it.

At the moment, I do not have any presentations to give but in the future I will be able to consider sharing my presentations on the internet for others to see.

23 Things for Research – Thing 15: Making and sharing podcasts and videos

I was slightly limited in what I could do for this ‘Thing’, as a result of having no microphone on my computer. This only left me with the option of creating something visual.

I have never created a podcast, nor a video before, so it was fun to experiment with the tools that are available. I tested out screen capturing by using Screencast – O- Matic. I created a video showing library users how to use SOLO, the library catalogue. It was interesting to see how I naturally move the cursor around the screen. When I have watched videos in the past that instruct on how to do something on a computer, everything is really smooth and controlled. My cursor was jumping around the screen a lot as I read information and decided what to do next, which would be distracting for the person watching the video. It became evident that a lot of preparation would be needed in creating an instruction video to ensure the best experience for the learner.

It is important to make sure that any material added to videos and podcasts does not infringe copyright. I explored Creative Commons Search, where you can find copyright-appropriate images. It was very easy to use, although the quality of images was not always great, perhaps to be expected from freely available material. I also had a play with The Internet Archive’s audio archive, where you are able to freely download music and radio. I searched for “Poirot” and was returned with lots of recordings of Poirot stories. I searched for something a little more modern, “Christ Moyles”, and could listen to lots of past radio shows. An excellent service! And one that could come in very useful when creating videos.

In terms of research, creating podcasts and videos would be a great way to promote your studies. Simply uploading them to YouTube, for example, might well get some views but using your various social media profiles, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, to promote the podcasts/videos further would no doubt increase the number of hits your video gets.

For me, I imagine creating podcasts and videos could be useful in a library environment, especially as people expect information anywhere at any time. If, when the library is closed over Christmas and a student is attempting to do some research, a video covering how to search a database on the library webpage would be really helpful for them. The Bodleian Law Library, for instance, have a video on how to find things on your reading list.

Perhaps I should get thinking on the kind of video that would be useful for our library users.

23 Things for Research – Thing 14: Exploring Wikipedia

I use Wikipedia quite often to find information, even for research. Of course, Wikipedia is not my sole resource when doing research but it’s really helpful in introducing me to a topic in order for me to use other search engines and databases to find more detailed information.

I have never edited a Wikipedia article. I use it to find information on which I am not knowledgeable, not to find errors in topics I am already knowledgeable on. For the purposes of this task, I looked up something which I know a lot about – trampolining. The Wikipedia entry looks accurate to me and the most recent revision is 20th November, yesterday. I think any editing I did here would not be appreciated.

Being able to see the history of the entry’s edits is useful. If you know a topic has been in the news recently, for example, and yet the the entry was lasted edited two years ago, you might like to edit the page to make it more up-to-date, or, if you are not keen on editing, take the information with a pinch of salt.

I think Wikipedia is an extremely valuable resource, although people should be careful about how they use the information and whether it is trustworthy. It’s use in education and research should not be frowned upon too fiercely as it can  be a great help in introducing somebody to a topic they know little about.

23 Things for Research – Thing 13: Finding presentations and podcasts

I haven’t often used social media to view presentations and podcasts for educational reasons. One of my lecturers at university was very tech-savvy and recorded their lectures on their MP3 player and uploaded them to the university’s virtual learning environment. I occasionally visited them if I knew there was something I hadn’t managed to note down from the lecture in its entirety.

I know some people were concerned that uploading lectures and lecture notes to the virtual learning environment would discourage students from turning up to lectures if they could just listen to it freely at any time they wanted, although I am not sure what the impact of this has been.

  • Podcasts

The only podcasts I ever listened to were the ones from the Christ Moyles show on BBC Radio 1. I used to listen to them on the bus to university, which was pretty dangerous. I was prone to laughing out loud and had to stifle it. I used iTunes to download them and listened to them on my iPod. My iPod decided to give up the ghost though so I never listened to podcasts again. I still receive emails from iTunes despite not having a piece of apple for at least four years.

I think that podcasts could be very useful for those in education and research, although I don’t think they were particularly popular when I was studying. For this task, I have signed up to BBC Radio 4’s Comedy of the Week via Yahoo! mail. I did try via Zune and RSS but neither worked, annoyingly.

I won’t be actively searching for any educational podcasts, although I wouldn’t be opposed to listening to a few if they were interesting and of relevance. It is certainly useful, though, to know these are available so I can recommend them to library users.

  • Presentations

I have viewed quite a few presentations online specific to libraries, mostly via Slideshare. This is not because I have gone to this website in search of something but because it is a popular place for people to upload their presentations and it is where I am taken to if I click on someone’s link to see their presentation.

Slideshare has come in very useful when I have been seeking information on a topic. Presentations tend to have a more personal touch to them with real-life views and experiences compared to some more formal methods of providing information, e.g. articles, Wikipedia entries. That makes it easier to relate to and see how things work in practice.

I think there is a downside to looking at people’s presentations though. As we have all been taught, it is bad practice to have long PowerPoint slides with tonnes of information which the presenter regurgitates. It is much better to put key points on the presentation slide and to elaborate vocally. This means that presentations in isolation on websites like Slideshare do not always make sense.

For this task, I searched Slideshare for “library serials” and was brought to the presentation RDA and Serials, a very current topic of interest.

In conclusion, I think that people sharing their presentations online is hugely valuable and I have found them useful in the past. The downside is that brief presentations make little sense without the presenter elaborating on what they mean.

I also looked at the University of Oxford’s YouTube channel as something that is a little more interactive than simply a slideshow. I am pleased to see the video at the top of the page is currently Inside the Bodleian: Building a 21st Century Library.

I have seen some of the University’s YouTube videos before and have found them to be very interesting and informative. I particularly liked the video Oxford University – how to apply – undergraduate admissions, which talks people through how they decide which college to go to. I think the animations are excellent and the video is welcoming and friendly. I’d like to know who created it.

I find that YouTube is excellent at sucking you in and wasting hours of your time, however. After watching one video, you are shown others that might be of interest and there are extra videos along the right of the web page to entice you. If you are excellent at resisting these and concentrating purely on the educational and informative videos available, YouTube will be great.

Conclusion

Although I have used these various websites and tools before, I have not really considered them on an educational/research level. This ‘Thing’ has shown me the potential value that these tools can have and I will bear that in mind for myself in the future and for readers in the library.

23 Things for Research – Things 10, 11, and 12

I am playing catch up at the moment with this blog post one week late. I’m doing two other professional development courses alongside this, which is proving to be quite busy!

  • Thing 10: Facebook

I am a keen user of Facebook. I signed up in 2007 and have seen it go through many changes. Facebook is for my personal use, not professional, although I ‘like’ the odd library page here and there.

I think Facebook is hugely useful on a personal level but I am not sure whether it is useful as a way to promote yourself profesionally. I think that it is a good way for organisations to promote themselves to users of Facebook, however. Our library has a Facebook page, for example, as do many other libraries, in the hope that library users will see useful information relevant to them.

Using Facebook for personal reasons allows me to keep up to date with friends. It’s a great place to invite people to parties too and to share what you are up to, from the every day occurances to sharing something special, like graduating. I know a lot of people worry about privacy, including my mum. The media publishes how unsafe Facebook is and how every personal detail is made available for the public to see. What some people, like my mum, don’t understand is that you can alter your privacy settings so that your profile is completely locked down to people you are not friends with. There is a useful button which allows you to view your page as somebody else, including those you are not friends with. All you can see of my profile as an outsider is my gender, name, and cover photo (which cannot be made private for some reason. At least, I haven’t figured out how to).

You can also customsie what people see. If you’re afraid to ‘unfriend’ somebody because you’re worried it will cause more hassle than not, you can limit what they see on your profile and what you see of their’s.

Conclusion:

Great for personal use, probably not so useful professionally.

  • Things 11 and 12: LinkedIn and Academia.edu

I have a LinkedIn profile, not an Academia.edu profile. My LinkedIn profile was, like a number of my social media profiles, set up as a result of the 23 Things programme I did a few years ago.

I have mixed feelings about LinkedIn. I like to keep it up-to-date because I know that if a potential employer looked at it, they might not be impressed if they saw it had been abandoned with no current information. I try to be detailed in my job description so people can clearly see the skills that I have and I add professional development details to my profile too.

I do wonder at the value of LinkedIn for librarians though. I know somebody who works in IT who had recruitment agents contacting them constantly trying to find them job after they created a LinkedIn profile. I don’t believe librarianship works in the same way. I certainly have never had anybody contact me out of the blue to tell me they have a job opportunity they’d like me to consider.

I think that LinkedIn is a professional place for librarians to put their CV for others to see what they do, not as a recruitment tool. I think that it is another way for librarians to make themselves known via social media to show that they are serious about their profession.

Conclusion

A good tool for professional use but not necessarily as a recuitment tool.

  • Overview: comparing Facebook and LinkedIn

This section asks whether LinkedIn is a suitable alternative to Facebook for professional activities. Based on the way I use the two websites, Facebook is best for personal use and LinkedIn is best for professional. If you search for LinkedIn on Google, its strap line reads “manage your professional identity, build and engage with your professional network.” LinkedIn has been created for use as a professional. Facebook is definitely geared towards personal use and descibes itself as being used to connect friends and family. The fact that websites advertise themselves as such influences their appearance and functionality, which is further reflected in the way that people utilise them. Although I have a few present and past work colleagues as friends on Facebook, I am not going to use it to promote myself professionally, especially as there’s six years worth of my personal life on there.