Friday, 2 September 2011

Thing #16 registering completion of programme

Reflection on 23 things
I found 23 things to be a very enjoyable programme which suited my learning style. Activities and tasks to complete within a time frame gave me the structure that I needed to explore web 2.0 applications, as well as the network of colleagues on the programme. However it seems that "thingers" lost impetus when "things" were no longer issued on a regular basis. If the programme were to run again I think it's important to release the "things" on a structured regular basis (every fortnight or ten days - perhaps a calendar function could be used for the cohort?).
Although all of these web 2.0 applications are freely available I needed this type of structured programme to explore, investigate and reflect. Structured activities and reflection as with all good teaching practice encourages deeper learning as well as the "little and often" burst of learning - reflecting best practice in how we ideally would like to deliver our own training to students.
The programme contained a good range of tasks - some were easier than others depending on levels of expertise and prior knowledge. There also seemed a sense of progression in that the tasks seemed to increase in complexity and difficulty towards the end of the programme - or perhaps that was me struggling. Most of the activities and applications were new to me and I was able to make quite a few of the applications part of my professional practice. Some of the applications were great in that they had more impact on my personal life.

Some professional highlights:
Delicious (even though it's been around for a while, it's still not used widely )
RSS feeds.
I suspect that these both make the most sense to me as they are both directly connected to managing information . I seem to have been stressing managing information more and more in my information skills sessions (which might be indirectly due to exploring these applications... or could just be a theme/trend that I have adopted.) However when I talk about them to students they are usually unaware of what these do. I've used Delicious to collate websites and government papers for a media industry module and also to collate some websites useful for a dissertation support session.
Letter James - great for my blog for when I can't face trailing through copyright free images - I'm also using Flicker for these and my own photos.
Some personal highlights
Flicker - I had just bought a better camera, so it was really useful for that, although I did discover that the image resolution was a bit too high for Flicker.

Library thing - I'd been using it with my blog but had worked out how to get two feeds off it. I'd always meant to keep a record of my reading, so this seems to do the job at the moment (however as it's public I don't always put everything up there - only the books I'm not embarrassed about showing.

Facebook - I knew it would be addictive - and it was (that's why I hadn't done it - unfortunately I now had "permission" to do it!). In retrospect it would have been good to make a facebook site for the library refurbishment for students to see as it evolves.

Creating a website - opportunity to re-present my MA dissertaion

    Were the programme to run again it might be useful to
    • Use those that have completed this round to act as mentors for the next group
    • Place more emphasis on reflection on the taks - not jsut description.
    • Make it manditory to comment on people's postings (otherwise you just feel as if you are talking to yourself and there's little sense of support. - I still have questions posted that I want to know the answers to (perhaps thje mentors could play a role here?). I really enjoyed it when people posted comments.
    • Continue the programme? e.g. qr codes, google + , slide share. envivo.... etc
    • Perhaps use Twitter to create the support environment - good opportunity to get familiar with it and use it in a constructive and long-term way.
    Other problems:
    Blogger was often unstable and "lost" work - perhaps suggest that it's good to write it in word and copy into blogger.
    Support - I tended to just look to one or two people's posts for support, ideas and tips
    Difficulties in downloading software (no administrator rights) particularly Audacity, whcich created futher barriers.
    Too many user names and passwords - I became very confused and tangled with the amount of Usernames and passwords that we needed - I think I now have at least three google accounts.

    In conclusion: I learned lots of new applications, I included lots of applications in my professional and public practice. I have confidence in using these web 2.0 applications and I have confidence in talking to others about them, even offering to show otehrs how to use them. In terms of my own professional development, this has been a total success that I would like to build on and develop further.

    Thing #15.3 LinkedIn

    I joined Linked in a couple of weeks ago as a student invited me. I had always intended to join as I perceive it to be a professional social network rather than just a social network. It has the sense of being a little more selective than facebook  - but that's probably because it doesn't do very much apart from connect people ("professionals") and show their twitter feeds.
    What was interesting for me was that most of my Music Business lecturers and media lecturers are on there already - I still get a bit of a buzz when I'm invited to connect to them though.
    So I'm already automatically separating Facebook as friends and Linked in as professional....
    I've even added a personal photo to my profile (very unusual for me)

    Thing #15.2 - Tweeting

    I've added a tweet button to this blog just to prove I've done it - Ellie kindly and successfully gave us a training session on it last year (and I did manage to remember my twitter account for once- although not the password!). I wonder if its a marmite thing as I didn't go back to it after last year. - I guess I think of it as another distraction rather than a preofessional tool - although that's jsut my mind set as I know my colleagues are using it professionally. Perhaps it's easier or more immediate with a smart phone? I know that people who don't have time to blog, preder the immediacy of tweeting. I also know of people who add another dimension to their everyday activity by tweeting - e.g. tweeting whilst watching eurovision or reading the tweets about Eurovision but not actually watching it.
    I can see it would be useful to add tweets from companies, universities, publishers etc. to a twitter feed on the blogs - but I think I would have to create a separate tweet account for the music blog  as I've been messing around a bit here - perhaps that doesn't matter?
    I looked at the tweets on the University of Sussex pages and a lot of it didn't make much sense to me apart from the notifications about events and problems. however it does seem to have a sense of immediacy about it and it's yet another medium that we can use for communication.

    Thursday, 1 September 2011

    Thing #15.1 - social media facebook

    I knew it would happen I'm now addicted to Facebook. I was the last person on earth to join as I suspected that I would be on there permanently.
    my facebook friend Ovi says
    "it's not more addictive than e-mail, I promise
    you just have to keep it in line
    and it helps when you've got too much spare time and your eyes are crying from too much reading books and doing important stuff
    as in you can watch pictures and see what some long lost friend has been up to in the last 5 years"
    I set up my account with the intention of just creating a professional  site - But the first thing I did was find a friend and from then onwards the ball started rolling. I'm now friends with all of the estates staff at Harrow and it keeps growing. Very frustratrating though is my sister-in-law who has blocked her site so I can't even request to be her friend . I can see the addiction when people ask to be your friend. It's just too easy... I've even been chatting with a friend online and switching to another friend - could we use this facility to support students perhaps? "Join me on facebook and I can help you" (professional persona I think).
    I liked the Westminster site which seems quite active at the moment because of clearing - I even answered a question that had been posted there. There does seem to be an official site and an unofficial one. (guess which has the most users?!)
    Just having a chat with an ex-student who says that everyone is moving to google+ - so I think we should look at that as a possibility.
    I wonder if it would be problematic having a facebook account for the library as we are four sites?  I think several people would have to be on it (facebook rota?!) - however I wonder if it might work better than ask a librarian? as you are tapping into an instant pool - it seems to be an environment that the students are in and now it's much more common for businesses and institutions to have a facebook page it's less of an "us" and "them" situation - but perhaps this is the reason that people keep moving to the next thing (e.g. google +) ?

    Thing #14 - creating a podcast

    This is my first podcast.
    Yes  - I finally managed it !. I feel as if I have achieved quite a lot (overcome serveral barrieres e.g. administrator rights, different google passwords, loging in in firefox as you can't upload to google docs in the version of explorer we have.I had problems saving it as an MP3 file as it was asking for another add-on. So I'm hoping that this will work.
    I'm not at all sure that it sounds like me though.
    When I'm feeling braver I'll add it to my music blog for the start of term.
    Now I have audacity on my computer I might have a go at doing a bit more - it was really easy to use and I even had a go at editing the end of it.

    Wednesday, 24 August 2011

    Thing #13 - create your own website using google apps

    What a labour of love this became.....I decided to turn my MA dissertation into a web site. No idea why apart from when this "thing" cropped up it co-incided with me thinking about how I could retrieve an electronic copy of my dissertation.
    Let that be a lesson - you constantly need to update the work you have created - order for the technology you are working with to cope with the files you have created.

    Retrieving my dissertation from an ancient Mac Classic was the hardest thing I had to do (not me really but Kevin's know-how and a portable 3.5 inch disc drive). Plus re-creating the bibliography using ref works - the launch of the new version of refworks was an ideal opportunity to try to do what students have to do and create a bibliography from a variety of sources - some sources worked better with refworks than others.

    I was also thinking about what students might want to do with a google site - I know that they are using them in schools such as MAD to create an electronic portfolio - but I wondered if it would work for a piece of written work.
    I'm quite pleased with the end results - I think it works quite well as a web site. Although I had all the content which I cut and paste into the document, I've spent quite a lot of time "tweaking" it and trying to change it (whilst trying to keep the integrity and flow of the thesis) to reflect that it is now a web site - so I've begun including Hypertext links and images (not readily available when I  wrote it!..  yes of course there were pictures then, just not online..!)

    I especially liked the create a contents list feature (a bit Wikipedia) and addded it to each page; it was very effective and easy to do - making navigation really simple.Although I aborted my first attempt at a website (and still have to work out how to delete it...anyone?) - This second attempt was much smoother and easy to revisit and re-edit.
    I'm still having a few problems - namely with the navigation menu - two of my later pages aren't in quite the same format although they work with and link to the home page. I've also got a problem with analytics - I can't quite work out how to add them to the site as I think the template is muddying the HTML. Because of the subject matter I wanted the site to be available to everyone and was interested in the number of hits I got.
    The search feature is fantastic - but it's a shame you can only see where your key words are - you can't go directly to that section

    Although I didn't explore all of the functions and ad-ons, I quickly got to the stage of its limitations e.g. it works well, you can quickly create something that looks half-way decent - but sometimes you might want to take it a bit fuirther and learn a bit more. Perhaps we could conside using it to create/present our annual reports to teh school?
    Top tip - never have a different google account for blogger and then for google site - it seems to confuse blogger - this is the third time I''ve edited this post!

    Tuesday, 10 May 2011

    Thing #12: Online applications

    "share your ideas" by Britta Bohlinger taken from flickr
    For thing #12 we've been asked to use Google docs for sharing documents.I've already been using google docs for a while with lesser or greater success depending on the task. The academic liaison team have their own profile pages created in google docs which I've been using to share and direct people to presentations, documents and delicious tags - I was pleasantly surprised at how easily it copes with powerpoint presentations - both uploading and displaying them.
    I've also been using spreadsheets in google docs to share our list of books for deletion in preparation for our library refurbishment and to track the progress of the project. Where I think google docs becomes more problematic is when you are writing directly into to google docs (e.g. a word document), it can be incredibly slow and frustrating to respond - the solution seems to write in word and cut and paste or upload again into google docs.
    So sharing is good - working directly in google docs is not so good.
    Who knows what Alfresco will prove to be like and whether it will replace google docs?