Tag Archives: social media

The five social media literacies

Beccy Dresden
Senior TEL Designer
Open University

 

 

 

DigPedLab Vancouver 2017 – Day Two

Beccy Dresden was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

Following on from a busy Day One of DigPedLab Vancouver, by Day 2 my jetlag had subsided, and I’d got my bearings in Richmond, so I was ready for some serious learning!

Morning session: media literacies

Our main focus for the Day Two morning Digital Literacies session was reviewing and responding to some of the suggested readings that had been provided.  Bonnie Stewart, Co-ordinator of Adult Teaching University of Prince Edward Island, who was leading the Digital Literacies track, asked us to think about how our chosen article(s) shaped our perspective on what it is to ‘be’ in digital culture. We broke into small groups to do this, and my group spent most of the session analysing the Rheingold (2010) article.

Rheingold focuses on what he calls five social media literacies:

  • attention
  • participation
  • collaboration
  • network awareness
  • critical consumption.

We took one of those each, and I noted the following…

Attention

Rheingold’s starting point is that people in class should be paying him attention! This led us to briefly discuss differences between acceptable behaviour in face-to-face (F2F) educational environments and ‘remote’ behaviours; the latter was of particular interest to me, as Open University students have relatively little F2F contact with their educators, and it’s quite normal for them to have multiple demands on their attention while they are studying.

Participation

The digital literacy aspects of this section were about:

  • how to participate with value
  • being active citizens rather than passive consumers
  • creating vs consuming
  • assumptions about education of citizens, and ‘proper behaviour’
  • moving from the literacy of participation to a literacy of collaboration.

Collaboration

This was the section I looked at, so I didn’t take many notes! The one thing I did write down was ‘negotiating goals – positive or negative’: make of that what you will!

Network awareness

This section tied in quite nicely with Bonnie’s literacy timeline from Day 1. Rheingold’s key points were that:

  • networks essentially amplify and extend our abilities and capacities – for better or worse, and that
  • basically technology itself is an amplifier – going all the way back to the printing press.

We briefly discussed differences between networks and communities (with reference to a recent online debate between Kate Bowles and Stephen Downes), speculating that perhaps communities change, as well as amplify? One member of the group suggested that shared values and beliefs are required for true collaboration – that it’s easy to be communal but harder to be collaborative. Do you agree?

Critical consumption

This section seemed to buy into the cliché that print (offline) resources are innately trustworthy, and online resources innately dubious: as a group we vehemently disagreed with this.

We had a bit of time left, so we also looked briefly at the Tressie McMillan Cottom (2017) article, focusing on one of her six takeaways, ‘master platforms’, and the concept of micro-celebrity.

Master platforms

The article states that ‘social media platforms are designed to facilitate certain kinds of behaviors. Twitter amplifies. Facebook brands. Tumblr remixes. Instagram illustrates’. We agreed that what was important for digital literacy was to think about strategies for dealing with the negative aspects of each platform.

Academic microcelebrity

We identified a tension between the desire to take academia into the public, and achieving effective communication, when ‘lots of academia is deliberately pointless and esoteric’.

We also talked about:

  • gaining currency through identity
  • achieving impact vs social change, and
  • claimed values vs demonstrated behaviours.

After the session, participants shared related resources via our teaching in digital Slack channel – you might like to take a look at the following:

 

New ways of thinking

Emma Fletcher
Technology Enhanced Learning Advisor
York St John University

Highlights of EDUCAUSE 2017

Emma Fletcher was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

As a UCISA bursary award winner, I was able to attend this year’s EDUCAUSE 2017 conference. Some of the highlights included several general sessions as well as break-out sessions and a visit to the exhibition hall.

The general session for the second day of the conference was given by Katherine L Milkman, an expert in behavioral economics, and covered decision biases or choice architecture (which has some similarities with nudge theory). She covered the six principles to promote improved decisions:

  1. Set helpful defaults
  2. Prompt people to plan
  3. Leverage social norms
  4. Create accountability
  5. Capitalise on fresh starts
  6. Allow pre-commitment.

Other highlights from that day included:

The final session of the third day of the conference was the general session “Developing Students who have Different Kinds of Minds” delivered by Temple Grandin, a professor and author, talking about ‘visual thinkers’ and ‘pattern thinkers’. During the presentation, she talked a lot about her own experiences, thoughts and opinions.  She also discussed education at K12 and how children with different minds can struggle especially with fewer opportunities for hands on learning.


 

 

 

 

Overall, I enjoyed the conference experience although it was, at times, overwhelming due to the sheer scale of it. I personally found the breakout sessions more engaging and useful than the general sessions, although I still have FOMO about the parallel sessions I didn’t get to attend! The conference hashtag was full of reflections and discussions during the conference and is a good place to catch up.

Breaking the ice and digital literacies at DigiPedLab 2017


Beccy Dresden
Senior TEL Designer
The Open University

 

 

 

DigiPedLab Vancouver 2017 – Day 1

Beccy Dresden was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

Breaking the ice

(One minor quibble though: not enough coffee on Day 1!)

At any really cool educational event these days, there has to be Lego, right? Well DigPedLab was no exception. As an icebreaker, each table was given a box of bricks and bits, we were instructed to introduce ourselves to our neighbour and, based on what we said and the available Lego, they had to create an avatar for us. The lovely Greg Chan gave me abundant shiny hair and a dog: what more could I ask for? NB My less-than-beaming smile below is due to horrific jetlag and a dislike of being photographed, not dissatisfaction with my avatar!

 

I can’t resist sharing this one with you too…

A speech and a song

To formally kick off the institute we were treated to an amazing, inspiring speech and a traditional song from a Kwantlen First Nation elder (the institute was sponsored by and held at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Richmond campus, just outside Vancouver).

DigPedLab co-founder Sean Michael Morris then made us laugh by commenting that this event wouldn’t have happened without Trump – the Virginia Institute,  which took place a week or so after Vancouver’s, was meant to ‘bring everyone together in one place’, after three separate DigPedLabs in 2016, but the President’s travel ban made it impossible for some key participants to get to the USA in 2017.

Morning session – Literacies track

Bonnie Stewart kicked off the digital literacies track with a bit of activity: getting us to vote with our feet (Runaround style!) on a digital literacies ‘survey’ and emphasising (with reference to Lisa Simpson) that there were no ‘right’ answers.

 

(Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

These were my favourite questions/answers…

I need to find resources to teach/write with. I do the following:
0=nothing. Last year’s notes are fine.
1=check the library
2=Google stuff
3=crowdsource my digital network

I know what the following mean/do:
command f
404
PLN
swipe right
LMGTFY

When I Google myself I find:
0=Google myself?
1=An ax-murderer with my name
2=Vaguely embarrassing pictures my buddy tagged on FB  3=Traces of my work on the first search return page
4=A fair & cultivated representation of who I am and what I do.

As you can probably imagine, this activity caused lots of laughter and a few revelations.

We then sat down and went round the room briefly introducing ourselves and explaining our experience/interest in digital literacies. The Literacies track had proved extremely popular, so rather than being a small group, there were actually nearly 30 participants for Bonnie to wrangle. Two Brits apart from me – David White from The University of the Arts London, and Penny Andrews, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield (and a brilliant follow on Twitter) – a professor from Puerto Rico, an educator based in the Austrian Alps, and the rest from North America, a mix of librarians, academics, educational project managers, IT folk, and even a practising attorney. This diversity was one of the many things that made DigPedLab so attractive to me: I wanted my western European, middle-class, middle-aged, cis white female perspective to be thoroughly challenged. Over the course of the weekend, it certainly was.

Digital literacies defined?

Having let off some steam and started to get to know one another, the teaching began in earnest. As I write this, I’m looking at Bonnie’s PowerPoint, and wondering what I can possibly say that’s more useful/informative than just sharing her slides verbatim, but I’ll try to limit myself to just a handful, and share my observations/responses to them.

(Slide courtesy of Bonnie Stewart. Click on image to enlarge)

The cluster at the top left represents the institutional model, whereas the bottom rightish cluster is the present. The idea of education as market is not necessarily progression, and these shifts are only loosely tied. Dealing with data/ information/ knowledge abundance is arguably the biggest challenge for digital literacies to overcome.

 

 

 

Key points to remember in the context of digital literacies:

  • (access to) content does not equal literacy
  • web does not equal digital
  • tech does not equal digital literacy.

The concept of ‘literacy’ is changing, because there’s so much more than literature now, and the goal of education is handling data, rather than just accumulating it.

Bonnie then summarised what she planned for us to explore over the next three days.

 

(Slide courtesy of Bonnie Stewart. Click on image to enlarge)

She gave us a timeline of literacy: from considering it as a threat to the knowledge of classical scholars in 400 BCE, to the control of knowledge via the spread of printing presses throughout Europe in 1500 CE, to the management and synthesis of knowledge we’re dealing with in the present day. A quote from educational researcher Doug Belshaw neatly encapsulated this:

 

 

“Digital literacies are not solely about technical proficiency but about the issues, norms, and habits of mind surrounding technologies used for a particular purpose.”

Or, as I noted it down at the time, thinking about technologies vs being a techie!

Bonnie highlighted more benefits of developing your digital literacy:

  • improving your capacity to analyse a medium’s affordances
  • identifying ‘thinking tools’ to help you manage knowledge abundance – I think this is a particular challenge for those of us working at the interface of education and technology, where abundance can all too easily become overload.

This led us on to thinking about networks…

The power of networks

 (Slide courtesy of Bonnie Stewart. Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

…and another fun stand-up activity about one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many interactions, and how we become network nodes, forming webs of visible (and invisible) connections.

 

(Slide courtesy of Bonnie Stewart. Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

Finally, we discussed the ‘price of admission’ to these networks: public identity. Bonnie’s references here ranged from Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed to Walter Ong’s work on oral traditions vs literate traditions:

  • oral traditions – participatory, situational, social, formulaic, agonistic (conflict based), rhetorical (vs the ‘artificial memory aid’ of writing)
  • literate traditions – interiorised, abstracted, innovative, precise, analytical, indexed.

If I understood correctly, how this relates to social media is that we experience the instant message, the tweet, in an oral way – although they are textual verbal exchanges, they register psychologically as having the temporal immediacy of oral exchange (Ong, 1996). But the flipside of this is that because these ‘speech-based activities’ on social media can be captured as if they were print literature, we end up with a call-out culture that treats flippant remarks like gospel.

 

(Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

The takeaway from this session for me? Digital literacy is about knowing how to manage audience, visibility and publics.

 

Setting the scene for reflections on DigPedLab Vancouver 2017

Beccy Dresden
Senior TEL Designer
The Open University

DigPedLab Vancouver 2017 – Background

Beccy Dresden was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

A bit about me….

I’m Beccy Dresden, a Senior TEL Designer (TEL = technology enhanced learning) at The Open University, where I’ve worked for nearly 18 years. I joined the OU from a professional publishing background, and have supported the development of modules on subjects as diverse as law, languages, social work, and English grammar.

My department – the TEL Design team – works in partnership with academic experts, Learning and Teaching Innovation portfolio colleagues, and students and tutors, to design, produce, support and evaluate OU modules. The team’s work draws on and contributes to the learning, teaching and innovation evidence base of the University, and embodies emerging technologies and research to reinforce the OU’s position as the UK leader in supported online and distance learning. The modules we produce are now digital by default, but we are keen to ensure that the online experience we offer our students is driven by pedagogy, not technology. Within the TEL Design team, my particular areas of interest and scholarship are:

  • the use of social media in HE (both in terms of student-facing content, and as a tool/platform in the continuing professional development (CPD) of academic and professional support staff), and
  • developing digital capabilities (again, in terms of both students and staff at the OU).

Those areas of interest are what led me – via Twitter, Martin Weller, and Lawrie Phipps, among others – to discover Hybrid Pedagogy and their Digital Pedagogy Lab Institutes, or DigPedLab for short.

About DigPedLab Institutes

Ever since I applied for the UCISA bursary back in April, I’ve struggled to explain clearly and concisely to people quite what a DigPedLab Institute is – even those working in the ed tech sector have given me slightly puzzled looks – and each institute is slightly different, so it’s not even a single thing. To focus on the one I attended, in the organisers’ words:

DPL Vancouver is a three-day institute that explores the role and application of digital technology in teaching. Three tracks offer intensive peer-driven learning with and discussion of open education, new media, and critical digital pedagogy.

Participants choose between one of three tracks and work collaboratively in small workshop-style classes. Each track is open to all backgrounds and skill levels. Each day of the institute begins with discussion that will play into the day’s work. A continental breakfast will be provided before sessions begin mid-morning, followed by lunch. Afternoons will be split into multiple sessions and will include keynote presentations, workshops, and other activities. Each day will end before dinner. The learning community we create together will be welcoming to a wide range of skill levels and interests.”

The tracks on offer in Vancouver were:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I chose Digital Literacies led by Bonnie Stewart.  This track was described as:

“focused on the development of participatory, networked literacies that enable collaboration, contribution, and critical sense-making within information abundance. It fosters a critical orientation toward tools, portfolios, and digital presence within networks. Participants will discuss and experiment with various technological tools from the chalkboard to moveable chairs, computers, mobile devices, social media platforms, and learning management systems. Individual sessions and workshops will focus on teaching philosophies, discernment practices for using digital tools in courses, emergent learning, digital composition, and discussions of the impact of the digital on traditional and critical pedagogies.”

Apart from wanting to be taught by Bonnie, whom I have long admired for her clear-sighted and thoughtful-yet-practical approach to complex digital pedagogy issues, I thought that learning about new critical perspectives for evaluating digital tools and approaches would be invaluable for me and my department.

My further blogs are really just an overview of an intense, inspiring, and challenging weekend that – nearly five months later – is still affecting how I approach my work and my social (media) interactions every day.

Is end-user training for Windows 10 needed?

Gareth Johns
IT Skills Development Advisor
Cardiff Metropolitan University

The autumn IT training schedule at Cardiff Met includes a Working with Windows 10 course. It doesn’t need to. We have never run training sessions for operating systems before, so why should Windows 10 be any different?

In many ways there isn’t any need for Windows 10 training; it is easy and intuitive to use. Unlike its predecessor, Windows 8, the Windows 10 user experience is good. The attempt to unify tablet and desktop UIs has largely been abandoned – there are no more hidden menus, windows are back to being windows that can be moved and resized and, most importantly, the Start menu is back.

win10-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Windows 10 Start menu at Cardiff Met

 

The Windows 10 Start menu does look different to the Windows 7 version, it incorporates live tiles for example, but it will be familiar to a Windows 7 user. The Start menu “skills” (perhaps muscle memory would be a better description) developed when using Windows 7 will be transferable to Windows 10. The same applies throughout the operating system. Windows Explorer is now File Explorer. Windows Favorites have been replaced with Quick Access. They look and behave differently, but they feel the same.

So why are we running a Windows 10 course? Firstly, there are some features of Windows 10 that will help users work a bit more efficiently that are not easy to discover. Jump Lists, for example. Jump Lists provide shortcuts to recent documents and sometimes also include other actions associated with that program (e.g. Internet Explorer includes Open New Tab). Jump Lists are accessed by right-clicking on a tile on the Start menu or Taskbar and can save users a few seconds when opening documents (the cumulative effect of which is considerable). But few users are aware that they exist, our training course will remedy that.

Secondly the course will give Cardiff Met staff time to acclimatise to, and build confidence in, the new OS. Frequently we use new software similarly to the old version. We proceed in the way we also have, because we don’t have time to step back to see if there is a better way to do it. The Working with Windows 10 course will hopefully give staff the time they need, with help available if they have any questions.

win10-2

 

 

 

 

OneDrive for Business is part of the Windows 10 upgrade at Cardiff Met

The third reason for developing a course is that our Windows 10 software “build” includes new software and services, so the training is not just about Windows 10. We are offering Skype for Business for the first time, Office 2013 has become Office 2016 and, crucially, OneDrive for Business replaces SharePoint My Sites. Our training course includes all these elements and allows staff to see how these new services work together in the Windows 10 environment.

The course also addresses one of our long-standing goals, sharing IT “Best Practice” with existing staff. Our IT induction programme achieves this for new starters; we advise them where to store documents, alert them to issues around account security and share practical tips for managing email. But up until now there has been no avenue for sharing this advice with existing staff – Working with Windows 10 allows us to do that. Hopefully staff will view the software upgrade as an opportunity to adopt Best Practice, and will finally find time to move their documents from hard drives to OneDrives!

The training will be available as an e-learning module, created using the excellent Adapt Builder and as a face-to-face course. Staff will be required to complete one form of training as part of their upgrade to Windows 10.

If you are interested in finding out how the training is received, I’ll be running a webinar for the community towards the end of the year, keep an eye on the Events page for details. In the meantime if you have any thoughts or comments, please share them below or catch me on Twitter @GarethPJohns

Digital transformation in action

Sara Somerville

 

Sara Somerville
Information Solutions Manager
University of Glasgow

 

AIIMing to get the best out of an amazing opportunity

As an information professional working in an IT department and providing document management solutions and services across the university, I have always found AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) the best professional fit for my mix of skills. The one-day AIIM UK roadshow) (held in London every year) always proves illuminating. It offers a great selection of practical case studies and keynotes, alongside an exhibition comprising a wide range of enterprise content and document management technology vendors. Finding out about UCISA’s bursary scheme last year opened up the amazing possibility of being funded to attend the much bigger AIIM International conference held over three days in the US.  I was absolutely delighted when I heard that my application was successful!

This year the AIIM conference is being held in New Orleans from 26-28 April, with the added bonus of being sandwiched in between the two weekends of the Jazz festival. The title of this year’s conference is ‘Digital Transformation in Action,’ and the themes centre around automating business processes, protecting and securing information with governance, and gaining insight to better engage customers and employees. As with the UK event, there is a good mix of keynotes, panel Q&As, round table discussions, and real-life case studies, alongside the exhibition by technology vendors.

Like many other institutions, my university is addressing issues around information governance and management at an enterprise level, including the retention and deletion of data across business systems. With the provision of a wide range of on- and off-site services, and the increase in the use of personal mobile devices, the current challenge for the university is ensuring its data is stored in the right way while remaining accessible over the longer term.  I’m hoping the conference will provide some new and interesting insights into tackling these issues, and give me additional skills and knowledge to enhance my current involvement in improvement projects regarding corporate business process.

In particular I’m looking forward to hearing the keynotes from Erik Qualman  (author of ‘What Happens in Vegas Stays on YouTube’) and the futurist Jacob Morgan (author of ‘The Future of Work’). Erik is a social media expert who believes that privacy is dead, and who provides new rules for building our digital reputations, while Jacob works with the world’s most forward-thinking companies to explore how the workplace is changing and how it might look in the future.

From the sessions, I’m hoping to get answers about the consumerization of IT from Goodbye Applets, Hello HTML5 Document Viewing and Information Management is Hard. Guess What? Your Customers Don’t Care.  And I hope to hear about agile approaches to keeping up with the fast pace of change in technology from How Do You Disrupt a Disrupter?

Even before leaving the UK I have already learned from the conference agenda what the ‘SMAC stack’ is (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud Services), so I can’t wait to dive further in.

I will be tweeting from the conference (you can follow me @InfoSherlockUK for updates), and please do tweet me questions to ask on your behalf. I will also be posting on the UCISA blog.

Benefits of receiving a UCISA bursary

Vicky Wilkie DSC_0007

 

 

Victoria Wilkie
IT Support Specialist
University of York

 

 

 

 

 

Six months ago I was awarded funding from UCISA to attend the CILIP conference in Liverpool. At the time I was on secondment to the IT support office at the University of York, but my previous (and now current) position was as a senior library assistant at the University Library. I was particularly interested in finding out how the two teams could work more closely together, and also how I could support colleagues in doing this. One key area I looked at when I returned from the conference was ways of merging best practice from both teams and integrating these systems to assist staff with the changes. Lending Services already had a wiki where they stored and updated information for staff. I worked with colleagues in the IT support office to develop an ITSO wiki that could be used by library and IT staff in the day to day running of the merged desk.

Social media

One of the main things I took away from the conference was how useful a resource social media can be. This usefulness took place on two levels; the first was with our interactions with users. At York we are fortunate enough to already have a communications team that look after our social media accounts. They take the time to interact with our users, but also with other universities and related services. They make sure that enquiries are answered, but they also keep the interactions fresh, funny, and relevant, which has resulted in some very positive feedback. In order to complement and promote the work our comms team are already doing, I took inspiration from one of the conference talks to focus on informing our users about the different methods of social media we use to interact with them, and how this might assist them with their studies.

The second level focused on how useful social media can be to professionals wanting to share and research new ideas in the field. During the conference, I used Twitter to disseminate my ideas and engage in debates around the subjects that were raised. I started following a range of different people in the sector, and saw the issues that were impacting on them and their users. One real benefit of social media was that it allowed me to follow themes and ideas at conferences that I was not able to attend, and find out issues that were impacting service desks from different counties as well as from a range of different sectors, from Twitter users around the world.

Collaboration

Andy Horton and Chris Rowell’s talk ‘The Twelve Apps of Christmas’ was especially interesting to me, given that I knew one of my tasks upon returning to the library would be helping with the integration of basic IT support at the library helpdesk. Their enthusiasm really inspired me, and made me assess the different training we could give to staff to help them integrate the new processes. Although we have only just started with this, the overall feedback from staff has been very positive, and we are keen to take this on board to find more ways of updating and improving training, and ensuring that it is as efficient as possible to help staff develop their skills. Collaboration was something I was very interested in, and I was surprised to see how much collaboration was already taking place, especially between library and IT departments. What I took away from the conference was that collaboration is the way forward for service desks; we strengthen each department by working together, and it was wonderful to see how many other places are already doing this.

The final major point that I took from the conference, and that has really impacted on my approach to work, was the idea that we need to celebrate our successes more. As a service desk sector, we have a tendency to focus on what we could have done better and how we can constantly improve. Whilst it is very important to ensure that we continue to progress services, it is also important to focus on what we have done well and where we are really standing out. Since returning to the library, I have worked hard to highlight times when I think that staff have been doing an exceptional, job as this motivates and encourages the whole team.

To sum up, going to the conference allowed me to look at my colleagues and really appreciate the successes we have. Looking at it from an organisational point of view, it made me assess the ways in which our different teams could work more closely together to ensure that our users get what they really need. In terms of the sector, it made me more aware of what my colleagues around the world are doing. It allowed me to share ideas with other people who are working in libraries and IT. It also made me look at the different types of service desks in education. Before  the conference, I had a tendency to focus on HE desks, but since then I have been in contact with colleagues who work in public libraries and FE colleges, looking at what they are doing and how we can work more closely together to improve the sector.

 

Heading to Velocity

Giuseppe Sollazzo

 

 

 

 

Giuseppe Sollazzo
Senior Systems Analyst
St George’s, University of London

 

 

 

This blog is the first in a series about my participation in the O’Reilly Velocity Conference in Amsterdam, funded by a UCISA bursary.

My job is to lead a team of systems analysts who take care of the ongoing maintenance and development of our infrastructure. I have a genuine passion for my job; knowing we provide services that benefit future doctors and health professionals in training gives me a positive attitude. As I believe that expanding my horizons is vital in keeping my interest and skills alive, I also have a number of other activities outside of my 9-5 work, most notably as an Open Data activist. I have been a ministerial advisor for Cabinet Office on Openness and Transparency Policy for the past two years.

Until 2012, the academic IT community had a yearly meetup at dev8d, a Jisc-sponsored three day conference. This event gathered developers, systems administrators, devops, digital librarians and support staff in a feast of sessions about development, new services, maintenance of systems, performances, and the future-proofing of everything “digital” in academic environments. The resulting networking and experience swapping had a lasting effect on the quality of academic outcomes.

However, in the subsequent difficult financial climate, events like dev8d have become rare (with dev8d itself being cancelled). In a situation of budget cuts and increased pressure from students and staff, the IT community has had to find alternative ways to get that same level of training and thinking about the future that came from such events. In this context, receiving funding from UCISA in order to sponsor attendance to a conference that my institution could not otherwise afford was welcome news.

My choice of event is O’Reilly Velocity in Amsterdam at the end of October. Velocity is an important conference – it also happens in New York, Santa Clara and Beijing – and it provides forward-looking sessions about performance and optimisation in systems and web operations. The sessions are often very practical, providing attendees with clear, pragmatic, and effective ideas on how to improve services. Engineers, developers and technology leaders share the challenges their businesses are facing and provide insight on technologies, best practices, and solutions that they have successfully employed to address those challenges.

In the situation I have described, it is evident why a focus on performance and optimisation is important for academic IT services, and specifically for my institution: with our 300 servers and 30,000 accounts to take care of, this is an important consideration.

With access to funding becoming increasingly competitive, as is student and researcher recruitment, it becomes our primary goal to provide systems that are effective, secure, scalable, fast, and at the same time manageable by constrained staff numbers.

The sessions I plan to attend focus on a single goal; understanding how to improve services and ensure our users are satisfied and engaged with our systems. Some examples of sessions I intend to follow include:

I will be reporting from the conference floor both on Twitter (from my account @puntofisso) and this blog. Stay tuned!

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.

 

 

Guided social learning

julie120Julie Adams
Academic Skills Tutor
Staffordshire University
UCISA DSDG (User Skills Group)

 

 

Learning Technologies 2015: Day 2 – Collaborative learning for the networked age

Jane Hart from the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies led the most interactive of all the sessions I attended. She began by getting us to work with our neighbours by sharing useful apps/resources from our mobile devices. We then moved on to look at QR codes – scanning some Jane provided us with, then creating our own and uploading them to a hashtag (#gslqr). Finally Jane displayed the stream of these on screen allowing us to explore some of those created. In the final exercise, Jane set up a Padlet for us to add comments to, on how we could use these tools or guided social learning in our organisations.

I have to admit to being surprised that the delegates I was sitting by were not at all familiar with QR codes, having never scanned one before let alone thought of creating one. I have used QR codes quite a lot previously, so was able to help them with this. I was also one of the few who had used Padlet before. Maybe in HE we are ahead of some organisations in using these types of tools to support learning.

I think that getting us to co-operate, share and help one another was part of the point of the exercise, rather than showing us the tools themselves, as Jane went on to talk about some of her work in helping teams develop skills and confidence in using technologies through the use of a learning guide. She outlined a project she had worked on with a team of trainers from Pfizer in India who wanted to know more about using iPads in training.

The key features that helped make this a successful social learning course were that participants were quick to comment on each other’s work, congratulated others on their achievements and helped and supported each other with problems. There was also a continuous flow of conversation.

Jane has written more about this training on her blog –  and the manager of the group, Sunder Ramachandran, has also written about his experiences.

A few relevant things to note from what Jane said:

  • An activity itself does not equal learning – we need a goal. This is an obvious point, but worth keeping in mind when introducing new technologies.
  • Sometimes there is a temptation to use tools/technology just because they ‘are there’, rather than because they are the best thing for that particular job.
  • Other success factors for social learning include respect for others’ views, the group wanting to learn and having a learning champion to help encourage and keep learners on track.

I know there have been a number of staff development courses run in HE that follow a similar theme to this, and encourage staff to learn more about social media – especially the variations on ‘23 Things’ that started in libraries but spread to other staff groups too. Although setting up such courses does take some planning and commitment, most people who participate find them beneficial. I have looked at running something along the lines of ‘23 Things’ previously, but never actually done it. This session make me seriously think of trying to get this done – maybe at a scaled-down version looking at a few key technologies and tools.

Learning Technologies 2015