Tag Archives: learning objects

Library 2.0 – really?

Trust is the Key to Web 2.0 by kid.mercury via flickr CC

Over the past year I have heard about the Arizona State University library’s (ASU) creative use of YouTube for their library minute initiative, but hadn’t had a look until today.  For the uninitiated, the library has put together about 30 short videos (they are literally a minute) on a range of topics – for instance, today I watched:

  • Using the Academic Search Premier database
  • Fun & games in the library
  • Meet your subject librarian
  • Top 5 resources for online students
  • Information about open access & why it is important to the library
All of these topics are presented by the same librarian and are a mash-up of live footage of the presenter, video footage, cartoons, photographs, animation and music.  They are very impressive – short and snappy, designed to be easy to watch and get a message across within the limited time a university student may be prepared to give to hearing about library services.  The current thinking in marketing academic library services is to meet the students where they are – and they are looking at YouTube (and Facebook, Foursquare & Twitter).
Now that I’m thinking about these issues from a learning perspective, I found this experience somewhat frustrating and raising more questions than it really answered. On the one hand, the ASU library minute videos and the other ‘library 2.0’ ways they have of communicating with their users and community certainly tick boxes.   Their facebook page in particular creates community, links back to the library website and/or blog and out to the YouTube channel and is a conversation, as library staff respond to comments left by (presumably?) students. In Groundswell, the authors stress throughout the entire book the importance of social media being a conversation.  The book is aimed at a commercial market, but there is much to learn in there for libraries.
On the other hand, while each of the five videos I looked at today have healthy statistics in terms of number of views (all over 1000, some over 3000 views) I can’t help wondering how many of those views might be other librarians from around the world checking out what ASU is doing in this area.  I’m sure the university itself has access to analytics that enable it to know where the ‘hits’ on the YouTube channel are coming from, but as an outsider, it’s hard to tell.
A quick and dirty search on both Google and in some scholarly databases failed to turn up much actual evidence that any of this library 2.0 marketing works. I found many blog posts that question the value of library 2.0, or its implementation, or whether the term itself is accurate. Most tellingly, over on Agnostic, maybe, Andy asked back in February 2010:
How much is Library 2.0 really driven by the user experience? I imagine the library-patron relationship less like a ‘horse and cart’ and more like a planet-moon relationship. (If information was the sun, patrons are the Earth and libraries are the Moon. We are roughly in sync with our patrons, sometimes ahead or behind, and sometimes in the way.) … [sometimes there is] little or no user feedback indicating such a tool or service was desired in the first place
In the case of the ASU videos, the university’s own evaluation of the library minute concept, presented as a poster at Educause 2010 reveals a large number of ‘other library’ users and the fact that 32% of undergraduate students at the university were aware of the videos. This would appear to confirm that the videos are meeting the needs of libraries and librarians but still leaves me wondering about the users. Do they even want to know this stuff?
I have blogged here before about the tendency of librarians (and I suspect, any given group of professionals) to talk amongst ourselves about our services, programs and ideas. Admittedly my ‘literature search’ was rough but I would really like to see some research into whether providing (great quality) videos, links and feedback on facebook has an impact on our users and their perception or use of the library services.
References
Ganster, L., & Schumacher, B. (2009). Expanding Beyond our Library Walls: Building an Active Online Community through Facebook. Journal of Web Librarianship, 3(2), 111-128. doi:10.1080/19322900902820929
Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell : winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Harvard Business Press. Boston.

New shiny in the workplace

iCat not included with purchase of iPad from icanhazcheezeburger.com

We haz an iPad in our team and we are downloading your apps…

The Outreach teams at MPOW have been given an iPad to use in our work.  We have to share it, but it’s a pretty damn exciting piece of equipment to be allowed to play with, particularly as buying my own is not about to happen anytime soon.  It’s early days, no one has taken it out of the cupboard (except I suspect the team leaders have possibly been playing with it – just a bit) and while I’d love to make full use of it, I want my time with it to be productive and useful.

I can think of a dozen things straight away that I could use an iPad for in the workplace – but they mostly relate to the way I organise my day, do my job and communicate with people rather than the way the team might use it. The thing with an iPad or other mobile device is that they are designed to be personal – to provide you with access to the functionality you need to get on with the things you do. Figuring out how to share it and still have it be a productive and useful tool is important.

So, library peeps, I am crowdsourcing. Are you in an outreach/liaison position? It could be any type of library – doesn’t have to be an academic focus. Do you use an iPad as part of your work day? What apps do you find useful, what functionality is important, HOW do you use it in your work day?  Remembering that we can’t use it to keep track of email, tweet on the run or check the time of the next bus because we’re sharing it, what CAN we use it for?

Some of my ideas so far:

  • I do library tours with groups of international students – would be handy to have the iPad with me so I can also follow along with the virtual tour at the same time – point out that they can book rooms then show them immediately on the library website where they can book rooms
  • Collaborative work with another team member creating a document on the run in a meeting room or other space that is not our desktop
  • Note taking in a meeting with a School or academic
  • Access to cloud services such as dropbox when away from my desk
I’m sure there are lots of other things we could be doing with it – so far my list isn’t really anything I couldn’t do with a laptop – although taking a laptop on a library tour would be a bit tricky.
Any ideas shared in the comments would be gratefully accepted 🙂

Telling stories

Yes folks, it’s another creative, collaborative, fun learning challenge from my libraryland PLN.  This time it’s story telling. #Octshowntell is designed to get us thinking about and using Web 2.0 storytelling tools.

To be honest, I was at first unsure whether to post this new activity here or on my personal blog but in the end I have decided that it’s a professional activity based around learning & using new tools, so it belongs here – even if the content of my storytelling isn’t work based (and so far it’s not).

My first effort is here then.  I’ve used xtranormal because I’m familiar with it but I’ll use something outside my comfort zone before this 4 weeks is up, I promise!  I’ve already started playing with Storybird and doing some collaboration with some small members of my extended family as a way of creating a connection with them and am keen to have a look at animoto as well.

image: Get Your Learn On by Hryck via flickr

Multiskilling

Here at MPOW it’s nothing to get involved in projects that are technically a little (or even a lot) outside one’s area of expertise and professional knowledge.  I’ve blogged before about this so it’s nothing new.

The particular ‘things’ that are taking up my time at the moment include teaching academic skills as our usual tutor is off on maternity leave, helping to put together an application to run a Masters of Professional Accounting at MPOW, worrying about the specific language and cultural issues that our students face and how to best put together assistance for them, training teaching staff in the use of the student management database system and trying to find a way to fit some sort of infolit training into our students’ very packed timetables.

Top of my worry list is the academic skills stuff.  One of my (many, I’ll admit) soapboxes is the absence of teaching pedagogy in our training as librarians.  Infolit I’m reasonably comfortable with, I teach that to my own kids all the time but academic skills is a different thing, particularly here when it is often combined with some English language difficulties as well.  In addition, our academic skills program seems to be largely contained in people’s heads so I’m trying to get it out onto paper and into some sort of formalised course structure (or at least some lesson plans!).  This caused my first headache – I had absolutely no idea how to start going about doing this.  I’ve since read and read and read and feel like I have done enough reading to award myself a GradDipEd but was still a bit lost.  Until……

I tweeted the other day about my joy at finding the UTAS Teaching & Learning site:

Just found this wonderful UTAS site – has answered most of my questions, could be pedagogy love http://bit.ly/9KjfAL

I feel like I’m on a roll now (well I was until the MPA application stuff came up and took up most of my week)- this site tells me what I need to know, as opposed to what I need to be teaching others – and this is what I was having trouble finding.  Tick that box.

The other major issue filling up my ‘thinking’ time is the lack of information and evidence based practice (or even questions and thoughts!) relating to organisations like MPOW.  We are small and highly specialised so while I have learnt SO MUCH from my colleagues/tweetmates in the academic world little of it actually fits well with what goes on here.  Similarly, although we share many characteristics with Specials, I don’t have a special library – I have students with academic needs.

I know there are other private higher education organisations out there but by the very nature of the private, for profit-ness of these organisations, we don’t collaborate or share ideas.  A project I would love to get my teeth into is whether in fact the libraries and information centres from these organisations could do some collaborating or idea sharing without jeopardising any commercial-in-confidence stuff and bringing the wrath of investors down on our collective heads. Sort of like CAUL for minnows…

This turned out to be a bit deeper than I thought it would be for a Friday afternoon post – particularly after the brain-frying, depression-inducing, mind-numbing and painful processes of proofing, correcting and assembling I’ve been doing this week!

image: Be Prepared by Mykl Roventine via flickr

Getting paid to have fun

This past couple of weeks has seen me working on a website for the library, within the Google Aps domain that we hold at MPOW.  Google Sites is a wiki based ‘put the modules together’ platform and really easy to use (once you get the basics sorted out in your head!)  While there are all sorts of limitations with this structure, it has been an ideal solution for me – the library desperately needed a web presence and our resident IT support (yes, there’s only one of him) is run off his feet with day to day stuff.  With Google Sites, I have been able to construct a web site on my own that does the job and gets the information about the library services out there into the student’s preferred domain (and looks a bit snappy too).

Along the way, I have been able to play with lots of different learning objects – with varying forms of success.  I have used Jing to create short video screen captures of different Google search functions (namely Wonder Wheel and Timeline) and link to these from my web site.  In anticipation of a new intake of students in a few weeks, I have spent today putting together a short virtual library tour using Window’s Photo Story software (that I then uploaded to YouTube because Google sites has an automatic YouTube plug in and I don’t need to worry about html code embedding).  Photo Story is a really simple little piece of software I came across while doing my practicum at TAFE last year (I did a virtual tour of the library as one of my projects).  It doesn’t need any special equipment other than a camera and a microphone, so I whipped out the trusty iPhone, snapped a few pics of the library and surrounds, uploaded them to the computer, donned the headset/mic and away I went.  Photo Story strings your pictures together in a kind of power point display, adds your narration and some funky background music and you have  a little video without having worked with any kids or dogs.

While this ends up sounding like an infomercial for Google, the fact is that they are out there providing simple, low cost solutions to technology issues.  MPOW has limited budget and resources, Google Aps allows us significantly improved collaboration and the ability to provide services to our customers (both staff and students).

image from Flickr Creative Commons user dullhunk