Tag Archives: moodle

Sharing stories

Telling and creating stories as part of #octshowntell has been the fun, creative and almost easy part.  However, as @restructuregirl has pointed out, sharing our collective storytelling has turned out to be harder than we thought.

YouTube groups were considered and then found to be no longer supported or available.  Setting up a group within vimeo caused headaches for the creator and difficulties for the rest of us in finding it.  These technical difficulties aside, the other problem with groups in video based cloud services is that you can only post, well, videos.  Those of us creating stories using other formats can’t post our stories to these groups anyway.

Enter the idea for a google sites project.  Easy to set up, quick to add things, accepts flash so that we can embed storybirds that can’t be embedded in lots of other places (like here on my wordpress.com blog), even looks a bit fancy thanks to easy to use templates and drag ‘n drop formatting.  However, once I had set up the google site I came across the problem I have also had at MPOW with my library website – other people can’t edit or add to the site unless they are first added as owners.

This is a straightforward problem on the surface, just email an invitation to the person you would like to add, they establish a google account and then they are away.  Of course, as my PLN is largely a twitter based group, I don’t actually have email addresses for most of the people participating in #octshowntell and while I’m a big fan of google sites, they are not yet so advanced that you can send out invitations via twitter handle!

What I love about these group collaborative learning projects I have been involved with is the opportunity to learn by doing and to learn by playing.  Michael Stephens from Dominican University in Illinois uses learning by playing as a recurring theme in both his teaching and presentations.  Sophie McDonald from UTS Library in Sydney also presented on this at the recent ALIA conference in Brisbane, talking about Transforming information literacy through play. I love the idea that playing is learning and counts as professional development at the same time! Most of the 2.0 technologies that I use I have learned how to use by sitting down and playing with them – learning as I go, asking the twitterverse for advice when needed, using YouTube to find more information and a demonstration.

I have been passing on my knowledge to other staff at MPOW and was thrilled to have an older, self acknowledged luddite teacher tell me the other day that he’s excited by the tools and possibilities the college moodle is opening up to he and his students and that perhaps he is ‘never too old to learn’.  Music to the ears of one so recently committed to a profession of lifelong learners.

image: Stories by _Ricky via flickr
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Updating my CV

I was doing some updating of my ALIA PD points today and it startled me to see that I have pretty much already accumulated the points I need for the 2011 year (it’s a financial year thing).  I only joined the scheme in April 2010, realising that all the reading and learning I had been doing for my new job since starting here in February could also be counted as PD points.  It then occurred to me that  it’s probably time to update my CV with some of this learning and achievement and professional progress.

So this is a relective and slightly self indulgent post, a pause to look at what I’ve learned and managed to achieve since starting at MPOW (my first professional position and first full time job in 18 years) back in February 2010.  I’m pretty pleased with this list.  I have:

  • joined the ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee (NGAC)
  • learned how to participate in teleconferences
  • developed a web site using Google sites and written and uploaded all the content myself
  • developed and written library and academic skills modules for the college moodle
  • implemented a monthly student newsletter (college wide, not just library news) that I now co-ordinate & edit
  • learned how to conduct information literacy workshops (and learned that it’s different each and every time)
  • learned how to use prezi (thanks @misssophiemac)
  • learned how to use flickr (thanks @restructuregirl)
  • learned how to use twitter (thanks tweeps!)
  • established a Facebook presence for both the library and MPOW generally
  • learned about Orkut as a social networking site
  • participated in a blogging project (#blogeverydayinjune)
  • written my first collaborative document as part of an NGAC task
  • been to UTS to hear Heidi Julien talk about information literacy
  • been to the ALIA Biennial conference in Brisbane and met lots of new people
  • learned how to use the Libraries Australia database
  • written my first article for InCite (as yet unpublished)
  • discovered what a ‘personal learning network‘ is and how to develop and contribute to one
  • participated in discussions about my experiences as a student as part of research into LIS education
  • started planning for the library to move to another building and co-locate (finally!) with the computer lab

Some of this has been ‘just part of the job’ and some has been personal professional development that may or may not cross over into ‘the job’ but I believe (and fortunately, so does my employer) that it is all part of being an active participant in a learning profession and that ultimately that has benefits and payoffs for the employer beyond the ‘things that get done on the job’.

Probably the most valuable part of all of this to me has been the professional networking through twitter, NGAC and the conference.  I had an example of this just today in a focus group discussion for the LIS research project – I was delighted to find another participant was someone I had met at the conference.  Connecting and reconnecting is what helps build the profession.  I’m not sure where all that will take me in the longer term career sense but I’m sure it’s going to be positive.

image: Ecliptic Star Trails by makelessnoise via flickr

Library day in the life #5

I’ve only just caught up with this project… slow but accurate.  Remembering that MPOW is a very small private higher education college where I do lots of things seemingly unrelated to librarianship (and I’m the Records Manager as well), here is a snapshot of yesterday:

9am: arrive, sort out the papers (put out today’s, put yesterday’s aside for one of our English language classes to go through)

9.15: sit down to deal with email, process book returns and check a few books out to students

9.30: have a discussion with Student Services manager re the proofreading of our latest prospectus, collect her comments and prepare them for a meeting with the marketing manager later in the day

9.45: send the final draft of the new student newsletter (organisation, not just library) to Student Services manager for comment and distribution to students if ok

10.00: meet with one of our program directors to discuss ongoing problems with getting the student management system to accomodate the peculiarities of his particular group of students.

10.30: Sit with IT manager to attempt to learn how to process those students onto the new student management system.  Fail, as the software proprietors haven’t made the changes we asked for, so we can’t do anything.

10.45: Go on a hunt through the Records Management database AND the physical records for a document I’m pretty sure I haven’t been given but need to check anyway.

11.00: Coffee and a quick read through the papers – Wednesday is Higher Education supplement day in The Australian so I spend half an hour reading this.  At some point today I put out a call on Twitter for access to an article I am looking for and (of course) I get instant response and the article is in my inbox before I can say ‘Thanks’.

11.30: Finally get to start working on the Academic Skills course in the College Moodle.

1.00: It’s raining so I don’t go out for lunch, instead stay at my desk and chat with staff as they come in and out of the library, upload some Xtranormal videos to YouTube for use in the Moodle course (this seems to take forever)

2.00: Meeting with the Marketing Manager to give her my final proof reading results for prospectus.  We spend an hour going over it again together making sure it is absolutely right as it goes to print at the end of the week.

3.00: Respond to a request from a lecturer for a desk copy of a text – email publisher, help a couple of students find the book they are after, check out a few books to them.

3.15: Work through a bit more of the National Code of Practice (ESOS Act 2000, a requirement for all organisations that provide services to overseas students in Australia).

4.00 Work interrupted as my computer suddenly announces it needs to have  Bex and a good lie down.  I restart it instead.

4.15: Back to the Moodle

5.00: Home!

Family librarian – again

Tonight Miss 16 rang wanting a lesson in Harvard style referencing – over the phone no less.  Even more than I love being a librarian, I love that I have a child who is ‘nerdy’ enough to be appreciative of the fact that I’m a librarian! It makes me feel, well, kinda cool.  I have knowledge and skills that she finds valuable – as I have blogged about before.

Of course, now that I’m off the phone, I’ve thought of a dozen different ways I could have said things – each one better and brighter than the one before.  It makes me think seriously about the referencing module of my information literacy/academic skills courses that are taking shape on the moodle at MPOW.  I think there’ll be some tweaking and rewriting later this week.

A mini evidence based practice ephiphany in my own household! Did I mention I love being a librarian?

A bevy of browsers

My browser of choice, both at work and at home is Google Chrome.  It’s fast, light, has some nifty features and I LOVE that the URL address line is also the search box – that still thrills me every time I use it, it’s so sensible!

Of course, I can’t use it for everything can I? Log into my Centrelink account? Not on Chrome.  Use Zotero? Um, no, that’s a Firefox plug-in.  Fill in PD points on the ALIA website? Ah.. no, you’ll need Firefox for that too.  Work on the Moodle lessons for Academic Skills? Nope, that works best in IE, although if you want to use Firefox you can. I only discovered the Moodle problem today – it was just not behaving normally and I thought I’d somehow changed the settings within the program and couldn’t change them back and was tearing my hair out – bless our IT guy’s little cotton socks….

So, of necessity here at MPOW, I have 3 browsers installed and have to use them interchangeably, depending on what I am doing that day.  I don’t like Firefox (too sloooooow), so I am hoping the new ALIA PD scheme page won’t be so dependent on it and I have found acceptable alternatives to Zotero so I can probably ditch Firefox completely.  Windows 7 has restored some of my faith in Microsoft, but I’d still rather not use IE.

Not being an IT person myself, I don’t get it – I’m sure there are explanations, but they won’t help, I still won’t really get it.  I just want to be able to get on with my job.

image: 763 – Computer Packet Pattern by Patrick Hoesly via flickr

Miss, how do I cite a YouTube video?

I’m currently writing the Plagiarism and Referencing part of my online library modules for our Moodle here at MPOW.  Delivering information literacy instruction entirely online is a challenge, I would far rather be in front of the students talking to and working with them, particularly bearing in mind the ESL status of our students.  I am mindful of the need to keep my online lessons engaging and interesting so use a variey of learning objects to really mix up the delivery. I am grateful to Jo at Macaronic for introducing me to Xtranormal – a simple video making tool that allows me to introduce each new topic using the words that I want to use, delivered in a way that is slightly quirky and hopefully engaging for students.

Because of  limited resources and being reluctant to re-invent the wheel anyway, I went trawling through YouTube looking for a suitable video that someone else might have prepared earlier.  I admit to being  fairly critical of most of the videos I find – there’s usually something about most of them that are not quite right for my purposes.  Either they are too complex for my ESL students,too American, too institution specific or just plain old too long.  Too long is a real issue – not only are my students Gen Y 18-21 year olds with short attention spans and more mobile devices to distract them than the average modern tweeting librarian – but they are learning in their second (or third) language and a long video simply puts them off.  Australian content is also an issue.  I’m not an accent snob, I’m happy to use a US video if it is appropriate, but I would rather use one with Australian voices if possible, after all, our students have come here to learn both Accounting AND something about the Australian culture and way of life.

To cut an increasingly long story short, I found an appropriate video, used my newly found embedding-in-html-code skills to include it in my lesson and bob was theoretically my uncle.  Huzzah!  It then occurred to me that I had absolutely no idea how to correctly cite a video from YouTube in my references.  Nothing in my 9 year long undergraduate slog had prepared me for citing a video – I’d never used one in any sort of assignment or paper.  Google to the rescue!  I threw ‘citing youtube videos’ into search and of all things, up popped a post from our very own 30-day-blogger moonflowerdragon on this very topic.

Gotta love this online community.

image: 8.00am class by Robert S. Donovan via flickr

Peer pressure

OK, so there’s some challenge out there to blog every day in June.  Seems like everyone’s doing it, so why not?

Not sure if these few lines count as a blog post, but I’m busy writing a glossary of library terms for my moodle project so it will just have to do for today!

Happy 1st day of winter all.

image: Free Colorful Rainbow to chase away Winter Blues by Pink Sherbet Photography via flickr

To market, to market

Today I’ve been focussing on marketing.  A few weeks ago I developed a library user survey for the students using Survey Monkey. Due to a whole lot of technical issues we only managed to send the link out to our students today so I’ve yet to see how useful that is going to be.  I am bribing encouraging them to participate with a draw for an iTunes voucher so I have my fingers crossed for at least SOME responses!  The survey isn’t aiming for any in depth statistical information – I’m looking to elicit some feedback on services they may like to see the library offer (because at present we don’t offer very many, believe me) before I go putting together a business case to spend yet more money!

I’ve also plastered the library and computer lab with posters of my latest idea, the Website of the Week or WOW.  You can see an example here (sorry if it looks a bit truncated, I cut off the identifying MPOW stuff from the bottom).  The idea for this came from a webinar I attended last week, from Library Journal and Polaris Library Systems called Gadgets and Tools and Apps, Oh My! I found out about so many cool and useful websites that I just had to share them as many are relevant and useful for the students here.  This week’s WOW is forvo, an online pronunciation tool – perfect for our 100% international student body.

The WOW posters join other ‘What’s new?’ and ‘Did you know’ posters on the library door and walls – in an attempt to keep the library and its services front and centre in the minds of  students (and staff!).

I’m still waiting for the library’s online presence to get up and running – I’ll have my own course in the Moodle LMS when it gets up and running, but I’m also still hoping for a web page….

If I build it, will they come?

I am heartened by the fact that other staff at MPOW seem to think that student patronage of the library has increased tenfold since it has been staffed full time (about 6 weeks now).  I like to think that the fact that I am bombarding the students with messages, information, classes and emails is helping.  If I bang on about the Facebook page long enough surely some of them will take notice?

Collection development has been my focus this past week – taking a break from lesson planning and writing of objectives.  Collection development is tricky without a budget of course – but I am slowly building an argument for aforementioned budget and a workable, measurable collection development policy is an essential part of that argument.  There is a collection development policy in place, but I want to take the library in a slightly different direction so a rewrite has been called for.  It happens that collection development is something I have had some experience with so I am reasonably pleased with my efforts thus far.

I’m also joining the team of staff developing our online course management system, using Moodle as the platform – the idea (well, my idea anyway) being that the library and associated ideas of information management and resource discovery are included in the system as it is built from the ground up.

The library here is isolated from the computers – partly because of space restrictions but I think also because it just didn’t occur to anyone to put them together.  So, students can either look at books OR search google – they can’t do both easily.  Co-locating the library and the computer lab is a high priority for me, reinforced by some reading I did today on user behaviour in digital information seeking.  Essentially, this JSIC/OCLC study points out what we already know anecdotally – users see libraries as being about books – and my library is reinforcing that stereotype by keeping the books separate to the information source they prefer to use.