Engaging educators using open resources and using social media to promote the library

Vicky Wilkie DSC_0007

 

 

 

 

Victoria Wilkie
IT Support Specialist
University of York

CILIP 2015: connect, debate and innovate

vicky-wilkieMy first post focused on how I was going to record the conference and what the overall themes were. For this post I have chosen to focus on the two key breakout sessions that I felt really ran with those themes and showed what information professionals could achieve when they worked together and engaged with their users.

Not just for Christmas: using online courses to engage educators with open resources Regent’s University London

In December 2014, Regent’s University London offered an open online course, The Twelve Apps of Christmas. The aim of the course was to introduce a diverse range of free applications, over a twelve day period, that would allow staff to use resources that would have potential for use in teaching.

The first thing that struck me about this presentation was the enthusiasm that both presenters, Andy Horton and Chris Rowell had, and continue to have, for this project. They both really wanted to design something that would benefit their staff and in turn their users. They also both came from different teams, Chris as Deputy Learning Technology Manager and Andy as Deputy Library Manager. By working together they were able to utilize each other’s skills and create a course that was tailored to their users and became a huge success.

Chris and Andy looked at the people the course was aimed at, and saw that they were mainly academic staff. These were people with: i) a limited amount of time and ii) would not be able to attend group sessions. They took these two points and looked at how they could develop a course that would suit these requirements. What they came up with only required ten minutes a day and was geared towards staff using their own devices. There would be no point in teaching them how to use an app on a device they may not use. I believe this was the real success behind the course. You need to get to know your users and tailor things to their needs. There is no point in designing an amazing course if people don’t have the time to do it.

Social media was also an important tool that they implemented as part of the course. It provided a space for the participants to discuss the apps on the course, how they used them and suggest other apps that people could use. It also gave Chris and Andy instant access to feedback about the course. This feedback could then be used to improve future courses.

Using social media wasn’t a requirement of the course but it was a key part of helping users feel a sense of community. They had somewhere to go where they could ask questions and share ideas. Even if they did not want to actively participate in discussions users could still view them and take away ideas.

When they initially developed the project they did not think the uptake for the course would be high. However they were wrong and through the combination of factors making the course accessible they actually had over 400 participants from around the world. Each of these participants brought their own views and idea to the course adding to the wealth of knowledge already available. The success also meant that they had to dedicate a lot of time to the project however the long term benefits definitely outweighed any negatives.

I believe the real key to the success of this course was the fact that they made sure they tailored it to their users’ needs. By doing this they maximised the amount of users that were able to take part in the course. The use of social media meant that the positivity surrounding the course could be passed on to others.

By looking at the amount of time tutors had and designing the course so that they could use their own devices they maximised the amount of people wanting to do it. It is all well and good creating an amazing course but if your users don’t have the time or the devices to do it then the work will have been wasted.

The main points I took away from this presentation were:

  • Through collaboration we can achieve great things
  • Work with colleagues in different areas and utilize their skills sets
  • Get to know your users and respond to their needs and circumstances
  • Use social media to get feedback from your users
  • Celebrate successes and share them with the community.

vicky_wilkie2With power comes great responsibility – how librarians can harness the power of social media for the benefit of its users

As I said in my previous post this would be the first conference where I had actively tweeted however it was not the first time I had used social media to engage with users. As a graduate trainee at the University of Northampton one of my duties was to update the Facebook page for the library. If I’m honest I wasn’t really sure what I was doing (it was five years ago) and I didn’t really make a success out of it.

An important point to think about when using social media is who your target audience is and how many people can actually see what you have posted. One of the points from the presentation, given by Leo Appleton and Andy Tattersall, was that it takes skill to run a good Twitter feed. You need to make sure that what you are posting is relevant to the people reading it and that you can actually keep your users engaged.

It is also very important to think about response times. Users can upload feedback instantly but they also want an instant reply. If you can’t do this you need to explain why and show that you are listening to their feedback. Not doing so risks a negative message being passed on to a much larger audience before you have had time to deal with it.

A key question that came up throughout the conference was ‘how do we get feedback from our students without constantly sending them surveys?’ If you over survey users they will not send feedback. Social media is a solution to this as the users come to you with the feedback. You can get instant feedback on new projects you are trying as well as monitoring it for longer term feedback.

Social media can help you communicate with a vast number of people including, future students, employees and investors. It is important to make sure that you know the kinds of messages that you want to send to these people and that you keep this message focused.

The main points I took away from this presentation were:

  • Be prepared to fail but use this failure to educate others
  • Make sure you have open communication with your users and listen to what they are saying
  • Respond in a timely fashion and if you can’t explain why
  • Use social media as a way to get and act on user feedback
  • Celebrate your successes with your users

Summary

The second day of this conference was as brilliant as the first. I got to see how many of the themes could actually be put into practice in the workplace. We can get feedback from our users through social media but we also have to be prepared to fail sometimes. Rather than letting this put us off using these technologies we need to use these failures to our advantage.

Communicate with other sectors and users to get feedback and work this in to future projects. Make sure you take the time to really get to know your users and what they actually have the time and resources to do. We need to embrace the diversity in our sector and use it to our and our users’ advantage.

 

 

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