Andrew Eynon’s Library Blog

A blog about librarianship in Further Education

Archive for the ‘Inspiring Learning’ Category

Using social software to support learning in FE and HE

Posted by andrewey on February 27, 2009

Jisc have published some very useful case studies  , and a report, on the use of web 2.0 tools to support teaching and learning in FE and HE. Of the 26 case studies only three are from FE, including the CyMAL Inspiring Learning project that I’m engaged in at Coleg Llandrillo (which is also the only case study included from Wales).

The aspects of the Coleg Llandrillo project which have been highlighted are the use of the Liberaceblog to promote the library service, the use of this blog to promote our research findings, the use of wikis to share and collaboratively produce information and the use of social bookmarking to create virtual reading lists.

The other two FE college projects featured are Stockport College (with the use of Flickr for photosharing by students on a City & Guilds photography course) and Northumberland College (which features the use of wikis in portfolio building).

Posted in FE Libraries, Inspiring Learning | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

‘E-Libraries and Green Libraries’

Posted by andrewey on January 23, 2009

‘E-libraries and Green Libraries: exploring accessibility and sustainability’ is the theme of  the 2009 CoFHE Conference, details of which are now available on the CoFHE Website. The conference is being held from 17 to 19 June 2009 at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

I will be running a workshop or two at the conference on Web 2.0/Library 2.0 in FE – based on our experiences of utilising Web 2.0 tools  in FE as part of a CyMAL funded Inspiring Learning project.

Posted in CoFHE, Inspiring Learning | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Reflections on ‘Sharing made simple’

Posted by andrewey on September 12, 2008

I attended the CyMAL Sharing Made Simple event on Wednesday at University of Wales, Newport. The event was delivered by Brian Kelly of UKOLN - Brian gave a comprehensive overview of Web 2.0 technologies and facilitated group discussions on the opportunities and barriers to introducing Web 2.0 into library, museum and archive services. Brian has also created some very good and very simple hands-on guides to adopting a range of Web 2.0 tools.

There were also a couple of case studies – Paul Bevan from the National Library of Wales gave a very interesting talk about the NLW’s moves to make its collections more accessible through wikipedia and other Web 2.0 technologies. I spoke about our Library 2.0 in FE project and in particular I plugged the Library web quest we have developed to train staff in the use of Web 2.0 tools.

There was a lot of enthusiasm towards adopting Web 2.0 tools and a range of Web 2.0 initiatives were identified as ‘low hanging fruit’ that could be introduced quickly without too much difficulty such as the use of blogs to promote services, creating a presence on social networking sites, social bookmarking to create reading lists, creating/using RSS feeds and even setting up Web 2.0 services such as a Instant Messaging reference service.

The main barrier (other than the standard issues of staff time, cost and software selection) was seen as organisational resistance in terms of issues around ownership, support and control of what would be seen as an offical, but externally hosted, web presence.

The event will be repeated at Bangor University on 24 September and is free to library staff in Wales.

Posted in Inspiring Learning, Library 2.0 | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

What’s he blogging about?

Posted by andrewey on September 9, 2008

I thought I would clarify the purpose of this blog after reflecting on my first couple of months or so of posts. According to my blog statistics the ‘About’ page is the second most viewed post on this blog – on it I state that I will be posting my findings on the Library/Web 2.0 CyMAL Inspiring Learning project I’m engaged in. This probably needs some expansion as in fact my blog is being used to evaluate different types of blog post and how those posts are received. I would group my posts so far into the following types:

1. News items – originally regarded as one of the primary functions of a blog but I’ve only used this blog to pass on information I have come across (or I’m privy to) which may be of interest to other (FE) librarians.

2. Reflective journal – the original function of this blog was as a reflective account of the Library Web 2.0 Quest that the Coleg Llandrillo staff are currently engaged in. 

3. Book reviews – the college library staff are keen to promote virtual reading groups and to post book reviews (and have discussions) on the books read. My book reviews have been more specifically aimed at being a literature review of Library/Web 2.0.

4. Testing Web 2.0 tools – ‘playing’ with web 2.0 tools is I think one of the key learning experiences in terms of developing Library 2.0 (or specifically Librarian 2.0). It was commented externally that my screencast post was simply ‘look here’s what I can do with a Web 2.0 tool’ – in fact that was partly its purpose but it was meant to be ‘look here’s what anyone can do with this Web 2.0 tool’.

5. Applying Web 2.0 tools – at the end of the day it is what you do with the Web 2.0 tool that matters, so I hope to blog about practical application of Web 2.0 tools such as my ‘Ten uses for a FE library service blog‘ post.

6. Reviewing best practice - I’ve tried to refer to and comment on best practice in Library 2.0. However, as a source of information on best practice I’ve preferred the use of wikis (see the Library 2.0 in FE and Library 2.0 in Wales wikis I’ve started).

7. Staff development - I would like to promote staff development in the area of Web 2.0 by blogging about events and training issues/skills in relation to Librarian 2.0. This has been supplemented by the Library Web Quest created by a colleague at Coleg Llandrillo.

8. Scholarly activity - another key aim of the blog was to engage with current thinking on Library 2.0 by commenting on various theories of Library/Librarian 2.0. Within FE there is a difficulty with engaging with scholarly activity in its more traditional forms in terms of published academic research. Instead scholarly activity in FE has been more loosely defined – see Rob Jones (2006) ‘Scholarly activity on the context of HE in FE‘ and John Widdows (2003) ‘HE in FE and scholarly activity: a discussion paper, which makes blogs a good way for FE teaching staff to engage in such activities.

9. To blog on contentious issues – this is more challenging in that I wanted the blog to remain relatively impartial although I’m keen to develop a coherent stand on what Library 2.0 is. I will steer clear of genuinely controversial issues (whilst doing the project) but I did put in the post about library fines to test the water in terms of trying to find out which contentious issues librarians will comment upon.

10. Professional activity - by this I mean how Web 2.0 can support traditional library activities such as Reader Development or Information Literacy. This also ties in neatly with the Applications of ICT in Libraries course that I deliver.

11. Reviewing and promoting events - the blog seemed an ideal way of commenting on and widening the discussion in relation to ideas that I pick up from events/conferences that I attend.

12. Share research findings – the primary aim of this blog, although as yet other than the survey of teaching staff post the project has only generated anecdotal evidence, although the great advantage of the ILFA framework, that we are using to evaluate the project, is that it is very good at capturing and coding this anecdotal evidence.

Posted in Inspiring Learning, Library 2.0 | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Library Web Quest wiki

Posted by andrewey on September 5, 2008

As part of our Inspiring Learning project Coleg Llandrillo library staff developed and piloted an online tutorial (using a combination of the library service’s blog, a wiki and our Moodle VLE) to train library staff in the use of Web 2.0 tools. The tutorial is based loosely on PLCMC’s established Learning 2.0 programme and having been piloted the content is now freely accessible as a self-contained wiki.

I will be attending two CyMAL Social Web events delivered by Brian Kelly of UKOLN to talk about our Inspiring Learning Web 2.0 project and to promote the Library Web Quest wiki.  These events take place at University of Wales, Newport on 10 September and Bangor University on 24 September and are free to library staff in Wales – see links for more details.

We found that the web quest worked well with an administrator to support staff undertaking the quest and to monitor their reflective blogs. However, most staff completed the web quest simply by supporting each other and by sharing their reflective blogs.

Posted in Inspiring Learning, Library Web Quest | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Using screencasts in Information Literacy

Posted by andrewey on August 14, 2008

There seems to be a great deal of scope for video material to be used to support the delivery of information literacy/skills within FE – as a backup to face-to-face support/sessions. As noted in an earlier post, there is little on YouTube on information literacy. The time commitment involved in producing videos has meant that we were only actively considering making an induction video. However, in looking at the development of Web 2.0 tools I have come across a quick and simple means of producing information literacy videos (relating to the use of online resources) - screencasts. This medium is already widely used – and there are examples of FE library services using it eg Carnegie College (Dunfermline).

In essence this involves the use of screencapture or screenshots to create a video. This can be done far cheaper, simpler and quicker than producing a film. This method still allows for the addition of an audio track (although this is not essential) but does not require any filming as such. This can result in fairly sophisticated videos being produced using screen capture or using screenshots as stop frame animation. In their simplest form the videos are akin to an automated Powerpoint presentation with an audio commentary.

Although sophisticated packages are available to capture images of keystrokes and produce professional looking videos I’ve been using the Microsoft Movie Maker software which is bundled free with Windows XP and Vista. The software is very simple to use – I’d made my first video within an hour of opening the software. The version with Vista does seem to produce better quality videos and includes more features (such as the ability to zoom in on an image). 

For the screenshots I used Paint Shop Pro simply so that I could capture parts of the screen and save the images in a variety of file types (png seemed the best for quality and file size). Again screenshots can be made using Windows (Prt Sc/Alt Prt Sc) without specialist software and Microsoft Picture Manager can be used to crop the captured screenshots (and save them as jpeg or png filetypes). If you want to add audio, all you need is a microphone because Movie Maker includes the facility to record the narration. I used a digital voice recorder, as we have one in the library to record our focus groups, which allows you to record segments of audio which is easier to sync with the images.  There is also the facility to add titles before, after or superimposed on any image.

As a Web 2.0 tool the screencasts can be shared (via YouTube or similar) and commented upon. They are highly accessible given the ubiquity of YouTube - you can also access the videos on mobile technologies. The quality of the video material when it has been compressed on YouTube is not as suitable for demonstration purposes to a group but it is perfectly adequate for individuals to follow. There is also scope for colleges to share the Movie Maker project files so that videos can be customised and produced very quickly (particularly given the relatively small range of online resources that most FE colleges subscribe to). File sizes are manageable- the high quality version of a four minute video is around 10 to 12Mb so can be held on a VLE and accessed easily.

 Here is my first attempt at creating a screencast video with audio (and only the second time I’d used the software). The whole process took no more time than if I’d have produced a written guide including screenshots.

The library service is producing similar videos on our key online resources:

  • Athens authentication system
  • Talis Prism library catalogue
  • Infotrac – online journals and newspapers
  • Dawson Era – E-books database
  • MyILibrary – E-books database

When the videos are finished I will post a link to their permanent home. If you can recommend a reasonably priced screencasting software package which can follow the pointer/cursor and allow for the addition of a separate audio track and/or you have used screencasting successfully in your library please leave a comment.

Posted in Information Literacy, Inspiring Learning | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Building FE Library 2.0

Posted by andrewey on August 7, 2008

In an earlier post I said I would return to the points raised in Meredith Farkas’ presentation Building Academic Library 2.0 to discuss the issues involved in implementing Library 2.0 and applying these to a FE context. So what does Meredith suggest implementing Library 2.0 entails (which she does from the perspective of service delivery rather than from a purely technical angle)?

1 Firstly, you need to know your users. This is particularly difficult in FE where our learners are so varied both in terms of educational needs (from adults with learning difficulties through to postgraduates) and in terms of demographics. To do this Meredith says you need to ask your users what they value rather than what you value ie to avoid reverting to the ‘librarian knows best’ stereotype of Library 1.0.

2 You need to question everything ie in terms of re-examining the tenets of library work. I think there is a need to re-evaluate our priorities (as an FE library service) to move away from traditional concerns to recognising the challenges of making our services better suited to supporting the needs of learners and to embracing new technologies as a way of better engaging with our users.

3 Make material more accessible. As Meredith points out, this does not have to be a technological solution. In north Wales we have an interlending scheme LINC y Gogledd which currently links 5 local authority public library services, two FE colleges and Bangor University. This scheme enables personal borrowing, ie our learners can borrow directly from the university, as well as inter library loans. You are able to search the catalogues of 6 of the library services from a single URL. With the development of CatCymru you will soon be able to search all the library catalogues in Wales using a single (federated) search engine.

4 Move the library ‘website’ to spaces where our users are eg Facebook or other social networks. The rise of library blogs, wikis and pages on social networking sites etc suggests this is well under way in some library sectors although not very well advanced in FE I suspect. In FE our main priority is probably to ensure a high profile for the library service on the college’s VLE and website.

5 We need to consider the technology have nots – an important issue in FE where many learners may not have access to a PC at home. Again there is scope to work with public libraries here to promote their free internet access to encourage greater social inclusion. In addition, technology should not be used for its own sake – we need to consider what advantages Web 2.0 tools offer over conventional forms of delivering/supporting our service.

6 Build a learning culture amongst all library staff. This is particularly important when implementing web 2.0 tools so provide all staff with hands on experience of using these tools (as with our library Web Quest) and give them permission and time to try out new technologies.

7 Share information. As Meredith highlights, we are not, in the main, subject experts so make use of the expertise of teaching staff (and learners) in collaborative exercises, for which Web 2.0 tools are ideally suited, such as creating subject blogs or wikis.

8 Finally, good ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. The challenge is to create mechanisms to capture them – which is an area of the use of Web 2.0 technologies I intend to investigate as part of our Inspiring Learning project. The corollary of this challenge, as Meredith highlights, is the ability to be responsive and innovative. Here FE may be at an advantage, because we are probably more used to a culture of (rapid) change than some other library sectors. Certainly FE library services seem to have more autonomy to implement change quickly, compared to the more rigid structures prevalent in other library sectors.

Posted in Inspiring Learning, Library 2.0 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

How FE libraries can support the use of Web 2.0 technologies in teaching

Posted by andrewey on July 25, 2008

As a consequence of our Web 2.0 in FE project, the college’s ILT Champion surveyed college (teaching) staff about which Web 2.0 technologies they were using, why and how. The survey was conducted via e-mail over three days at the end of April this year. The number of responses (28) was high given the short turn around and is a higher response than usual to ILT surveys of this kind. The responses were mainly in relation to the use of such technologies in teaching, but also included mention of personal use by staff.

The main reason cited for using Web 2.0 technologies was that they provided functionality not available on college networked software. Staff also cited the freedom from ‘network control’ as being another motivator for using these technologies. Only a couple of staff cited their use for collaborative creation/user feedback – which are of course the defining features of Web 2.0 technologies.

The main purposes of using Web 2.0 technologies were:

  • Lesson content
  • Galleries of student work
  • Communication
  • Learning activities
  • File sharing
  • Virtual meetings

A small number of ILT Champions in other Welsh colleges were also surveyed. Web 2.0 applications, although outside college control, are increasingly seen as having a positive impact in terms of developing generic IT/Web based skills which benefit learning in general and, in particular, enhance the use of college Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs).  Until recently many colleges have been blocking access to many Web 2.0 sites because their use was seen as social/recreational rather than educational. Colleges are, however, encouraging the use of Web 2.0 technologies (such as blogs, chat rooms and instant messaging) within existing VLEs. This ensures an element of control and enables teaching staff to be better supported in the use of such technologies (rather than using unsupported third party software).

The Web 2.0 technologies used (and their purpose) were as follows:

YouTube

Distributing student work

Obtaining feedback – which was seen as a positive functionality, in a commercial/marketing sense, for students studying media, design etc

Demonstration – eg engineering activities, dance/drama techniques, biomechanics in sport, learning languages etc

Information  - eg on tourism, sport, history, psychologists etc

Social networking sites (mainly Facebook)

Graphic design – creating skins on Bebo

Improve ICT skills/knowledge – a couple of staff made the point that it is the mature students who want to know more about Web 2.0 technologies (presumably the younger students already know). Whereas some (college) library services have dismissed Web 2.0 technologies as being the preserve of young students who are only interested in their social uses. 

Keep in contact with alumni

Communication – within a student group and between former and current learners

Second Life

For E-commerce

As an example of emerging technologies

As a virtual classroom

However, Second Life was the Web 2.0 resource that staff were most concerned about, with regard to the presence of ‘inappropriate material’

Podcasting

For information/course content

For teaching audio production

Social bookmarking (Del.icio.us)

To access bookmarks across PCs

Wikis

Collaborative creation by a group of students

Blogs

To produce assignments

Opportunities for the library service

The responses lend themselves to library involvement in supporting the use of Web 2.0 technologies by teaching staff in a variety of ways:

Supporting the use of Web 2.0 technologies as information sources

The library staff can provide Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) services to alert staff to new resources to support their vocational/subject area. We are using the library blog and subject specific Del.icio.us accounts to this end. Alternatively library staff can support teaching staff in setting up their own SDI/alerting services using RSS feeds/newsreaders (it was noticeable that only one respondent said they used RSS feeds in teaching).

Promoting emerging technologies 

It would appear that the use of Web 2.0 technologies in teaching is still limited to a relatively small number of applications. By experimenting with Web 2.0 technologies, in a library context, then library staff are ideally suited to raise awareness of those technologies (and their potential use for collaborative creation and obtaining user feedback) amongst teaching staff.

Staff training

A number of respondents specifically asked whether the college would be providing staff training on the use of these technologies. In response, the library staff have run staff development sessions on Web 2.0 technologies raising awareness of the technologies and promoting the library’s own Web 2.0 developments. Consequently, for September, we are already being asked to provide similar training to students.

Posted in Inspiring Learning, Library 2.0, Using Web 2.0 in teaching | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Inspiring Learning Web 2.0/Library 2.0 project

Posted by andrewey on July 22, 2008

The CyMAL Web 2.0 project I am currently engaged in uses the Museums Libraries & Archives (MLA) Inspiring Learning For All Framework (ILFA). This framework enables library and museums services to evaluate their service (or aspects of it) against a series of criteria. There is an institutional set of criteria but the criteria that I will be using are the Generic Learning Outcomes (GLO) and Generic Social Outcomes (GSO) parts of the framework.

The ILFA framework is common to England and Wales (although in Wales it is simply known as Inspiring Learning). The GLO framework offers a way of recording the generic (or soft) learning outcomes that users get through their interaction with a library/museum service. The GSO framework extends this to social outcomes – particularly user/community engagement.

Project aims

Appoint a Web 2.0 Librarian on secondment (part-time 0.5 post) to develop and promote the use of Web 2.0 technologies in the library and to support academic staff and learners in the use of these technologies

To examine the issues affecting FE library services in the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies and the transition to Library 2.0

To train all Coleg Llandrillo library staff in the use of Web 2.0 technologies. The online Library Web Quest we are piloting can be rolled out to library staff across Wales (in any sector)

To undertake a study of the current use of Web 2.0 technologies by teaching staff and to identify roles for library staff in supporting this usage

To run training sessions for college staff and learners in the use of Web 2.0 technologies

To experiment with Web 2.0 technologies to identify their potential use by (FE) libraries or their use in teaching and learning

To undertake focus groups with selected groups of teaching staff and learners to evaluate the success of these initiatives (which will be mapped to the ILFA GLO and GSO framework)

To disseminate our findings to the FE library sector - using this blog, by holding dissemination events and feedback via the fforwm LRM network and other professional networks (eg CoFHE)

Posted in FE Libraries, Inspiring Learning | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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