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Rudai 23 ~ Thing 13 ~ Online Networker ~ Reflective Practice

 

This post will cover Things 10, 11 and 12, all focussing on professional online networking. Thing 10 dealt with networking tools, and of those suggested I chose to concentrate on Twitter. I had set up Twitter accounts previously, for my businesses; rather than make another I chose to adapt one to fit. I changed the name to match this blog and set up ‘Lists’ for libraries and academia. My previous usage of Twitter had been infrequent and random, as it never felt useful. I realised after spending time on this task that the fault lay with me rather than Twitter! Once I had it set up to be more user friendly, to access accounts which are relevant to my interests, and began being more organised, it has become a tool which provides information and ideas that I can engage with. The task required us to find and follow a hashtag, so naturally I chose #rudai23, and to tweet using our choice. So far my use of Twitter hasn’t grown particularly, but I can now see the benefit of being part of the conversation, and will attempt to take part in twitter chats such as #uklibchat and #r23chat.

Thing 11 dealt with ‘Your Professional Brand’. Again, this is something that I have addressed in the past with my jewellery and holiday cottage businesses, but not in my life as a librarian; mainly because the last time I was a librarian, CD Roms were only just commonly used! This time I chose to set up a LinkedIn account; once again this is something I used to have, but I decided that in my previous roles it was unnecessary and a distraction. However, as I will be once more working in libraries in the new year I decided to set up my account and prime it, ready for action in January. It didn’t take me long to set up the account, and to fill in basic details. However, as officially I don’t yet have a job title or employer, I haven’t yet written my ‘keyword driven headline’, and I am unsure how specific to be in terms of how much detail to add regarding the last few years of self-employment, and what I want my ‘personal brand’ to be. Time will tell. I have, though, already connected with a few people relevant to my work, and can definitely see how adding information regarding skills and interests will expand a network relatively quickly.

Finally, Thing 12 discussed collaborative tools. Again, my experience of these is limited, due to being self-employed; however I do have some past experience of Google Drive from my time as a primary school governor. The head of the school I was at was very IT oriented and tried very hard to get all the governors to adapt to the new world and collaborate on policy documents, reports and results through this method, with some success. At the time the system was relatively new, but it certainly proved to me how easy it was to work with people from a distance, which was extremely useful in a situation where the group members were rarely physically in the same room. As I do not yet know which collaborative tools are used in my new workplace, I am loathe to sign up to any of the others listed in the post for Thing 12, but I am sure whichever it turns out to be it will be heavily used! I began this second part of the course a little skeptical of the notion of networking and branding,  and it’s place in library work. However, I realise that most of that skepticism was based on lack of experience and fear of having a discoverable profile, and that such things are generally regarded as positive in the digital age.

Rudai 23 ~ Thing 6 ~ Reflective Practice

This post will be a summary of ideas which relate to the module ‘Visual Communicator’: image banks; communicating visually; video presentations; and infographics. To be quite clear, before starting the Rudai 23 course I hadn’t had any cause to use any of these applications, and was barely aware of some of them. I had accessed Flickr previously, but in practical terms, that was the extent of it. I was intrigued, and to some degree apprehensive, as I couldn’t really see how I could make the various tasks relevant to me.

Beginning with Thing 3 ~ Image Banks ~ was a fun introduction, and one which I was slightly familiar with. I was, however, unaware of how easy both Flickr and Pixabay have made it for users to access pictures which can be used without license. Learning more about Creative Commons in itself made the task worthwhile, and figuring out how to access, store and use the pictures was extremely useful.

I particularly enjoyed Thing 4 ~ Communicating Visually ~; I can see how many hours could be wasted playing around and manipulating stock photos and turning them into useful learning or teaching tools. However completing Thing 5 ~ Video Presentations ~ was for me something akin to torture. As I explained in my blog post at the time, I have a personal dislike for instructional videos which means I actively avoid using them, so having to create my own was… less than enjoyable! But I was definitely able to see the potential in terms of engaging users, in particular younger users, and the ease with which a video could be created makes it a handy tool. As the instructions suggested, having a story set out before beginning, and even a script if you’re doing you own voiceover, is essential, but other than that the process is actually quite painless.

Each of these activities was, at the time I completed them, simply a theoretical exercise. However, shortly afterwards I was lucky enough to get a job interview. As the job was in an academic library, and as part of the interview process involved bringing along a selection of materials you might use in the job, I decided to go through the first 3 tasks again, as well as Thing 8 – Infographics, and produce items which I could take along. This time, having a specific user and topic in mind, I found it much easier to create both photos (using the Photofunia app) and an instructional video (using Powtoons). The materials I produced were well received (the member of teaching staff on the panel was particularly interested in the Powtoons video) and the benefits of using these tools in a real environment became evident to me. My efforts were still fairly basic, but I am now able to see just how useful all the modules of this section have been, and am looking forward to using them more.

All images in this post were created using Photofunia, and below are my Infographic & Powtoons video:

Rudai 23 ~ Thing 5 ~ Video Presentations

Video Presentations. Not something I have any familiarity with. Again. But I had a quick play around, and produced one on Powtoons and one on Screencast-o-matic. I will confess, before I go any further, that I am not a fan of instructional videos; really, I can’t bear them. I will do anything to avoid watching one. But I realise that this is possibly not something to be proud of, or to shout about. I will continue to prefer reading ‘how to’ items, but I accept that I am probably in the minority…

I  have posted my second video first. I found Screencast-o-matic clear, concise and easy to use; not very exciting perhaps, but that isn’t really the issue here, is it?

Powtoons, on the other hand, I really did not like. It was too fiddly, too much like a story; however, I imagine with a specific reason to produce one I may feel differently. Certainly I can see how they would appeal to some users. I also had issues exporting the video, as after deliberately selecting the free tools, it then told me I had used some ‘locked’ items. So, don’t be too disappointed, but I’m afraid I can’t show you my masterpiece!

 

Rudai 23 ~ Thing 4 ~ Communicating Visually

Yet more new things for me to learn! I’ve not had any reason over the last few years to produce posters or images to convey a message – well, I possibly have, but I’d not thought about it, so for this task I fell back to my go-to topic, Cornish Folklore. In case you’re wondering, it was the topic for my MA dissertation, hence the interest.

First up was Photofunia, an app with a bank of images which you can alter either with your own picture or text. It’s simple to use, although limited by the range of images available for your use, but I can see how it could be a quick way to produce something with immediate impact. These are 3 of mine:

 

 

After messing about with pictures for a while I moved on to Quik, a video-editing app which allows you to combine several photographs together into a short film. I tried a couple; they’re fairly random but it gives an idea of what is available.

 

Quik Folklore 2

Quick – Folklore 1

 

What I did notice was that 2 of my saved images from Photofunia wouldn’t work in the Quik app; there was no explanation as to why, but once I’d realised that that was the case I could work around it. I still personally have no reason to use these, but I can certainly see the use!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rudai 23 ~ Thing 3 ~ Image Banks

I’ve been a member of Flickr for years, but never really paid it much attention, and I’d never come across Pixabay, so getting started on Rudai 23’s Thing 3 project was a real eye-opener.

As Flickr is the platform I’m familiar with, I started there. The idea of Creative Commons is also, I’m sorry to say, a new one to me. But what a fabulous invention! To be able to search such a vast selection of images only for those you are able to use is fantastic for freeing up time. I decided to use the same search term, ‘mythology Cornwall’ on both platforms so that I could compare the results; Flickr’s ‘any license’ selection had surprisingly few (to my mind at least):

But once I’d found a few results I then followed the instructions to create a gallery; again, something I hadn’t investigated before. I must say that I love this feature for saving images which may be useful in future:

What I did find slightly irritating is that the app (iOS, used on an iPad) doesn’t seem to give you the option to view galleries, but that is a minor niggle.

Having played with Flickr I moved on to Pixabay, and typed in the same search; the results here were fewer, and whilst there was an option to ‘like’ the images, there was no facility to store them in a gallery of any sort:

Admittedly this is early days for me and searching image banks, but I love how simple both sources are to use, and how easy they make it for you to be certain that your use of the images is legal. That said, I’ll probably stick with Flickr – I do like to pretend that I’m organised!

A time for (brief) introductions

Meanwhile, back in the world of libraries and information management…

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was a librarian. A university librarian, then a further education college Assistant Learning Resource Centre Manager; they are, essentially, the same thing. I had degree in English Literature from Middlesex Poly (I told you it was a long time ago!) and an MA in Information and Library Management from the University of Northumbria. Then I left it all behind to bring up my children.

And while I did that, I trained as a yoga teacher.  I missed academia so I did a second MA, this time in English Literature at Exeter University. Then I taught myself jewellery making, and I began a business making and selling jewellery, and running holiday cottages.

But now my children are grown, and my time will be more my own. I plan to take a PhD, but I also love the idea of getting back into library work in some way. And so I’m taking an online course ~ Rudai 23 ~ to help with that, and this blog is stage one.

I’m not sure yet what you can expect to see here, so be prepared for a random selection of thoughts relating to libraries, information, studying, literature, folklore, storytelling… and who knows what else!

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Oh, and if you’re wondering about the blog title… When I was trying to come up with a name, the first thing that leapt into my head was a line from a song. So let’s just call it a blend of “…too much information…”,   PhD ideas on literature and folklore, and the fact that I am a Northumbrian lass in Cornwall, and something about it reminds me of home!