Wednesday 28 May 2014

USTLG event - Promoting the role of libraries, library services and librarians #USTLG

The University Science and Technology Librarians' group (USTLG) meeting event was held at Heriot-Watt University on Friday 16th May 2014. One of our Subject Librarians, Kirsty Thomson, who is an active member of the group, offered to host it and helped with the organisation. 
The welcome and introduction was by the Director of Information Services here at Heriot Watt, Mike Roch. He talked about the University, about the IS Directorate and the importance of librarians in navigating information and the internet.  He emphasised that there is a need to add value, engage users and find out what students and staff need.  
Carole Rhodes, the Chair of the USTLG, welcomed everyone and gave some background information about the group which was useful as there were a number of new participants.  
The first presentation was by Sarah Kelly, Subject Librarian, Heriot-Watt University and entitled "Using print and digital media to promote library services".  The presentation was based on the 'Power Hours' Workshop programme that has been developed to provide training for students.  The programme has been developed over 5 years and has used a variety of documents and methods for producing the marketing materials. To begin with there posters, booklets and the website and then in 2010/2011 materials were developed for plasma screens.  The materials included quotes from participants and tag lines and were aligned with the SCONUL pillars.  the number of presenters of sessions increased and included staff outwith the Library.  
There was also a gradual move away from fun titles in order to make the publicity more descriptive.  In 2012/2013 the Library was merged with IT to become Information Services.  the workshops were renamed as Power Hours and rebranded to become more professional.  The topics were divided into themes.  Librarians worked with media services to produce A0 posters, A3 posters and material for the digital display.  
Other promotional materials include the website, IS blog, twitter and the University newsletter.  The purpose was to increase visibility by raising the profile and reaching science and technology subject students.
Some of the challenges that Sarah outlined are that marketing requires resources especially financial.  A marketing budget can sometimes be seen as an 'add on activity' and it is not necessarily the case that students get all the information they need online.
Printed materials are useful for handing out but when changes happen such as cancelled sessions or change of presenter or content then difficulties can arise. Lots of channels mean lots of changes. 
Future plans are to delegate tasks, introduce power bytes, promote sessions through Vision (VLE), have calendars in Vision (VLE) to pop up on student dashboard.  Increase presence on digital displays, create 'you said we did' posters and promote the facts and figures about the sessions.  

The next session was by Lisa Haddow, University of Stirling "Research bites - trying to engage with reticent researchers".  The programme is a digital literacy programme for researchers.  The challenges in engaging researchers are that they are busy people, isolated people and the hardest group to reach.  The librarians work closely with the researcher development team and forum. 
The research bite sessions take place over lunch and are short sessions and provide an opportunity for networking.  They have tried holding the sessions at different times of year to give flexibility and encourage attendance.  During Summer 2014 there will be 12 discrete sessions.  Participants will sign up through VLE and the sessions will be advertised through the blog and university web pages.  
In the future the aim is for the initiative to be self sustaining, offer peer to peer support, more/better coverage, and use better branding.  

(I made a note here, from a question that was asked I think, about the trend for library support to be more directed towards research than teaching - will have to explore this further).   

The next sessions was by Sarah George, University of Bradford
Marketing to our non-users".  
It was a very upbeat and engaging presentation so I made quick notes.
How do you know who logs into and uses electronic resources?
Why would you need a library? Single text book, subject-specific needs
Bad experience?
Customer journey mapping - break points
Comments as to why students don't libraries
Why don't staff use the library?
Do they know they can?
Administrators / professional staff
Convince staff that you are useful and they will tell others
Book issues correlated degree classifications
No correlation with visits

Tips for engaging non users
Appear in unexpected locations e.g. Library and Careers on location
Teaching - do it at point of need, type of need, give me 10 minutes..., use evidence, resource specific enquiries.  Liaison - go to meetings, get on mailing lists.
Assessment - second marking, get your own assessment
Find a bandwagon - Jump on university policies - we can help with that e.g. Plagiarism
Bombard the marketing department
Engage the gate-keepers
Don't wait to be asked
Look for unclaimed territory
You're doing a great job : shout about it 

Lunchtime - the lunch was sponsored by RSC-CICAG
Quick lunch and then gave a quick tour of our library to two people who couldn't go on the official tour.

The presentation after lunch was by Professor Jeremy Frey, University of Southampton, School of Chemistry
RSC-CICAG.  "The future of experimental data: Libraries and Laboratory Notebooks".
As an academic his social media profile - Google scholar, LinkedIn, website of School
One of the Uni of Southampton important projects is about data management.  There are implications concerning ownership of data. Promote Open Data Institute - try to make as much data open as possible.
Laboratory notebooks in the digital era. Data curation in the chemical sciences. Access to the data is crucial.
It is data that librarians are going to be looking after - how will this be managed so it is curated and can be found at a later date?
Intelligent Open Access to Data - the data has to be intelligible, show your workings so that others can see how you got there. The narrative is important - why did you do those steps? What was innovative?
The processes and methods are as important as the data.  None of these lessons are different, it is the digital that has made it different when sharing information.  
The Trove Software
As students/researchers are collecting data they should have in mind how it is going to be disseminated. You are recording it for someone else to use.

Next there was a presentation by Lynne Robinson from University of Sunderland. 
"How we put the FUN into library services". 
She explained about the marketing toolkit and how they like to involve all staff in their marketing campaigns.  They have details on their website of their Customer Service offers - Quality Promises.  The quality themes are customer care, customer support, communication etc.
I really liked these and the way they are displayed on the website.
They have timetabled staff training so that everyone is involved and informed.  The aim is to show value and impact.  
The posters that they have designed and produced are great as are their library bags.  They also have postcards with contact information, a Christmas campaign and prize draw, competitions to get feedback about learning spaces, feedback using visual tools and sharing with customers.
It was a very good presentation with lots of great ideas.

The last presentation was by Maren Schroeder Kingston University "Facilitating an enhanced library experience through social media". 
She showed examples of the blogs that they use.  Blogs are used as a stepping stone for help and advice
They use their twitter feed to link to blogs and have an elevator pitch to promote the blog.  Librarians create the content from feedback at the service desk.  They blog 3-6 times per week with a round up on a Friday which includes weekly statistics.  
They use various means to get academics to know about the blogs and then ask them to forward links onto to students.  they are looking at embedding twitter feed in VLE. 

There were discussion groups after the presentations but unfortunately I had to leave to finish off some other work.  it was an interesting and informative day and there are plenty of ideas to investigate.
The presentations can be found here

Friday 16 May 2014

Approaches to Learning #ocTEL

Approaches to Learning

OcTEL week 2 task is to consider three approaches to learning
Deep, Surface or Strategic
If I had to review my own approach to learning on the basis of these category titles then I would say I had a strategic approach with a good deal of surface activity.

But when I looked at the descriptions in the categories then this is not the case.

I am strategic as I look at how to get the best possible result and I manage my time and effort effectively.  This is influenced by two factors – one, that I have a lot of activities, work and learning to fit into the time and only a finite amount of effort and resource.
Secondly, and possibly a 'failing' here on my part is that I see work and learning as merged and often interchangeable.  For work, I'm solution focused so my usual way of learning is also solution or result focused.
As far as a surface learning approach is concerned, I may self-assess myself as such but the rest of the criteria doesn't fit.
So the deep learning approach – I like to understand ideas for myself, relate ideas to previous knowledge and experience (consciously and subconsciously) and become actively interested in the course content.

As far as considering these approaches to learners – in my experience, it is important that learners/students, especially if they are new to online learning and an online course, know what the course requirements are. It's essential that there is a structure and framework which clarifies what the course is about and the learning expectations.
Then the considerations of outcomes – is it essential to achieve a grade or qualification? If so then tailor the learning to take this into account. Make sure that the components of the course relate to each other, that they are not unrelated and try to find the links.
Learners are more likely to disengage if they can't see the connections when learning online.
However one of the great advantages of online learning is that you can push the boundaries, that you can explore more resources and more channels of communication and more opportunities to interact and create collaboratively.
That learners can become actively interested in the course content and develop it to match their own approach to learning.

Tuesday 6 May 2014

ocTEL activity: Reflecting on strategies for Learning Technology #ocTEL

A reflection on Learning Technology Strategies:

A: If you have your own example, reflect on these questions:
  • Did you contribute to the strategy, if so, in what capacity?
    I have contributed to Learning Technology Strategies as a Learning Technologist and as a Manager
  • Is the main focus of the strategy on Learning Technology, or if not, what is its main focus?
    Focus of the strategy should be on the learning and it depends whether the learning technology or eLearning strategy is part of a Teaching and Learning strategy or a stand alone document.  It also depends whether it is a strategy for a department, directorate or service as this has often been the case in my experience.
  • How often is it reviewed and is it flexible enough to adapt as things change?
    Strategies tend to be for 3 year periods but that is too long if you want your strategy to remain relevant.  So you've either got to shorten the lifetime of the strategy or make it a dynamic live document that you can review and adapt as you go along.
  • Does the strategy impact on your practice and if so, how? If not, why?
    I think that the strategies that I'm involved with now impact more on practice as there is more emphasis on delivering an enhanced student experience.
  • Finally, if you were to provide input to a new version, what, if any, changes would you make to it?
    More flexibility, more dynamic, more customer focused, more service delivery focused, more blended learning, more opportunities to evolve to meet demands.

Monday 5 May 2014

ocTEL Just dipping in....... #ocTEL

Lunchtime at work and just dipping in to see what's happening with ocTEL.  ocTEL is an online course, a MOOC, being run by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT).  This is the second running of the course (I did participate last time) and it consists of six weeks activities plus an induction week. 

I'm not sure what the recommended time is to spend on the course activities each week is - I suspect about 5 hours but it is very flexible.  There is also a 'If you only do one thing....... suggestion which helps if you are undecided what to do each week or feel overwhelmed with the many possibilities.

Anyhow as I'm short of time / too busy at work I'm going to spend half an hour a day skimming across the surface and see what happens.  As usual when participating in a MOOC, I turn off any automatic notifications or membership of lists so that there is hardly anything coming through and then gradually turn them back on as required and as the course progresses.  That initial enthusiasm when everyone contributes frequently and slightly manically, is too much for me. This may sound a little non-participatory but with MOOCs you have to find your own way of working and filtering and make a conscious choice about how it is going to work for you.  I always follow the hashtag on twitter so if there is something urgent or in fact very interesting, I'll pick it up from there.

So straight to week 1 - Concepts and Strategies for Learning Technology.
A badge - a Check-in Badge.  Great - I'm definitely one of those people motivated by badges - easily pleased or perhaps I like learning in small achievable chunks.  I hope that is not true most of the time in my work but for this purpose, that's fine.

You also get a badge for completing the 'if you only do one thing....' and for participating in the webinar.  So that's two more targets for this week - and the half hour is gone - until tomorrow.