Andrew Eynon’s Library Blog

A blog about librarianship in Further Education

Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

Twitter, what is it good for?

Posted by andrewey on June 8, 2009

The CILIP Cymru conference also included a discussion of the uses of Twitter – the discussion was commented on by a live Twitter feed.

Brian Kelly of UKOLN identified Twitter’s advantages as being the potential for collaboration, as an E-business card and as the modern equivalent of the telegram.

Bob McKee identified Twitter as the equivalent of a pub conversation in that it was informal rather than inconsequential.

It was agreed that Twitter would become devalued if it was simply used as a marketing tool or offering an official ‘spin’ to news items.

I was finally convinced of Twitter’s value, although by the time I’d set up an account the conference was over!

Technology permitting I will send ‘tweets’ from the CoFHE conference in June using the tag #cofhe09 and from Umbrella in July using the tag #umbrella09.

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September FE library update

Posted by andrewey on September 30, 2008

Articles

There were a couple of interesting articles on Web 2.0 in academic libraries published this month:

Sarah Cohen, ‘Taking 2.0 to the faculty‘, C&RL News, September 2008 – about persuading academic staff of the educational value of Web 2.0 tools.

Karen Markey et al, ‘The effectiveness of a web-based board game for teaching undergraduate students information literacy concepts and skills‘, D-Lib Magazine, Vol 14 (9/10) Sept/Oct 2008.

Accessibility

TechDis have published  a ‘Guide to obtaining textbooks in alternative formats‘ – there is also a database of publisher contacts to obtain such titles.

Information Literacy

Some useful sources of information on information skills delivery:

Journal of Information Literacy – full text is freely available, some useful book reviews in the current issue

ALISS (Association of Library & Information Professionals in the Social Sciences) – includes some good links on delivering information skills

The Internet Detective is now available as a Welsh language download to import into your VLE.

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Book review of Nancy Courtney (ed) Library 2.0 and beyond

Posted by andrewey on September 24, 2008

This book contains a collection of articles by academic and public librarians (from the States) on the application of a wide range of Web 2.0 tools. Each article is between 10-16 pages and covers:

  • What is Library 2.0
  • Catalog 2.0 (OPAC 2.0)
  • Being ‘where the user is’ – social networking
  • Folksonomies
  • Wikis for staff communication and internal collaboration
  • Second Life
  • Mobile technologies
  • Podcasting
  • Digital story telling
  • Video games
  • Mashups

The sheer scope of the book is very impressive considering it is only 152 pages long. The introductory chapter consists of a very balanced overview of the various conflicting definitions of Library 2.0 and whether or not the development of Libray 2.0 marks an evolutionary or revolutionary change to library services.

The chapter on wikis includes a useful discussion on how library services can use them for internal communication and internal collaboration.

I’ve been reading this book over a period of time and I came across another recent review which has taken the same approach as I intended – which is to focus on the chapters that stand out the most.

I particularly liked Michael Casey’s chapter on ‘Looking toward Catalog 2.0’ which describes the Web 2.0 features that OPACs should incorporate. As we are about to get an upgrade of our Web OPAC I’ll be interested to see how many of these features will be included:

  • Relevance ranking
  • Clean interface – a simple unclutered search facility like Google
  • Spell checker –  a prompt, as Google’s ‘Did you mean’ does, to make sure your search terms are correct  
  • Faceting – I know there will be some faceting in our upgrade but Michael suggests the ability to filter by age, level of ability, category etc
  • Full text searching
  • Book reviews – links to professional reviews and the facility for readers to add their own reviews
  • Similar searches – like Amazon the  ability to find related titles easily
  • User defined tags – so that readers can create their own tags which reflect personal search terms or popular terms
  • Share facility – the ability to send links to library resources to colleagues or fellow learners
  • RSS feeds – so that learners can set up their own notifications for new material in their chosen subject areas
  • Citation creator – something which already exists in some of our e-journal and e-book databases

Like Reflections from a small college library I also found Chris Kretz’s chapter on podcasting very informative. Chris describes the varied potential uses for a library podcast:

  • Book talks
  • Promote displays/exhibitions
  • Librarian talks
  • Create interactive library exercises
  • Deliver information skills
  • Library news
  • Cover/record live events
  • To share library policies
  • Local history – record oral history 

Chris also covers the legal and practical considerations when podcasting in some detail.

I will review some of the other chapters that I thought stand out in a later post.

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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.

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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.

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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 »

Book review of Meredith Farkas’ Social software in libraries

Posted by andrewey on August 11, 2008

As well as reviewing online sources I’m also going to post book reviews on titles relating to Library 2.0.

Given that I’ve already mentioned the work of Meredith Farkas I thought I would start with her book, Social software in libraries. The book is not about the theory of Library 2.0 but instead offers practical (not just technical) advice on the use of Web 2.0 technologies, with a good range of real world examples. Only in the discussion of libraries as the ‘third place’ (ie as a possible social space away from home and work) does the work touch on definitions of Library 2.0.

The book does however provide an excellent overview of Web 2.0 technologies and explains clearly how these tools can be used in a library context. Despite Meredith’s background as an academic librarian the book contains examples drawn from a variety of sectors (although of course the examples are from North America). More importantly there is a Social software in libraries website to support the book with further case studies.

The book is very readable and offers a concise explanation of the technologies in a style easily accessible to a non-technical audience. The book contains 320 pages divided into 16 chapters – usually with a single chapter devoted to each specific Web 2.0 technology (except for blogs which get two chapters owing to their prevalence). There are chapters on Mobile technology, video gaming and screencasts (a Web 2.0 tool I’m currently testing), as well as chapters on standard Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, social networks etc.

I would highly recommend this title, it is a shame that the cover price of $39.50 is not reflected in the price of the book in the UK (which is usually around £39.50).

Other titles I intend to review are:

Please recommend (or review) any good titles on Library 2.0 or Web 2.0 using the comments facility.

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Ten uses for a FE library service blog

Posted by andrewey on August 1, 2008

Blogs are one of the most versatile Web 2.0 tools that you can deploy in your library service. Here are ten simple uses for a blog that any FE library service could utilise. Not only are these functions simple to set up but they are also free!

1 Marketing – blogs are a great way to promote the library service and raise awareness of what you are doing. Blogs are particularly useful in that they make good RSS feeds in to other applications such as your College VLE, Athens homepage etc which further raises the profile of the service.

2 Virtual suggestion box – blogs are an excellent way to generate feedback on the library service and it enables you to publicise what you are doing about any issues raised.

3 Current awareness services/ Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) services – this is a popular use of blogs in HE where a faculty/subject librarian sets up a blog to raise awareness of resources in a particular subject area. Examples of subject blogs from HE include the Open University, University College London and Birbeck, University of London. In FE you can just do this on the one blog with categories for each subject area (as we have done at Coleg Llandrillo).

4 Reader Development activities – this could include virtual reading groups, book reviews and links to national promotions.

5 Book requests – blogs offer a simple means for staff and, particularly, learners to make stock requests to the library.

6 As a discussion forum – particularly with staff/learners at other institutions. On our blog there was a discussion about whether or not wikis are legitimate sources for students to cite in references – the debate was started by a librarian from another college.

7 Promote/host staff or student work – our blog has featured photographs taken by teaching staff (and library staff)

8 Reflective journal – a good educational use but also a useful way for library staff to feedback on training they have undertaken (see my Web Quest posts)

9 Reference service – many libraries are using Instant Messaging for this, but where this software is restricted, as is often the case in FE, blogs make a good alternative. We have added an ‘Ask a librarian’ page to our blog.

10 News items – (the main function of a blog) a way of keeping library users up to date. Blogs are very useful for posting ad hoc arrangements eg vacation opening hours and the like. These can be posted quickly and are readily accessible off campus (and via RSS feeds).

As part of our Inspiring Learning Web 2.0 project I will evaluate how effective each of these uses has been in the case of our library blog. I will post my findings (on this blog) towards the end of the 2008/9 academic year.

If you are using library blogs in other ways please leave a comment.

Posted in FE Libraries, Library 2.0 | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

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 »

Making the transition to Librarian 2.0 continued

Posted by andrewey on July 23, 2008

A fourth driver for the transition to Librarian 2.0, that I should have included, is peer pressure. This need not be a negative factor (ie feeling obliged to adopt new technologies simply because others are) but instead it is more often the case that we benefit from the experience of colleagues in other institutions in their experimentation with new technology.

For example, it is noticeable that four Welsh colleges library services (out of 25) have blogs and that three of these were set up within a short space of time of each other this academic year. Although this is a small number it would appear to be (at least in percentage terms) much higher than the adoption of blogs in English colleges. Also in Wales, the JISC RSC also has a blog – primarily as a source of information for FE colleges and again this was seen as a model of good practice for college library services to follow.

The main constraint on the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies (and staff transition to Librarian 2.0) is not, unlike most new technology, cost as most Web 2.0 applications are free. The main barrier is perceived to be the impact on staff time (see the debate on David Lee King’s blog). I would agree that in reality this is something of a misnomer as most of the uses of web 2.0 technologies do replace existing activities eg marketing, creating subject guides, selective dissemination of information (SDI) services etc.

Furthermore, other trends in the library sector will, or have, reduced the time spent on traditional activities eg cataloguing replaced by downloading records, counter duties replaced by RFID or other self-circulation technology, EDI reducing the time spent ordering material and shelf ready stock reducing processing time.

The first step is therefore to integrate the use of web 2.0 technologies into existing duties (where appropriate) to replace/complement existing activities. This could entail minor activities such as encouraging all staff to add useful websites they come across to the relevant Del.icio.us account.

Secondly, develop new ways of supporting our users using web 2.0 technologies (utilising the time savings inherent in other new library developments, highlighted above). This second step may take some time to reach, particularly for FE library services where staffing levels tend to be much lower than in HE. A third step would be the creation of a developmental (or explicit Librarian 2.0) role to fully utilise the benefits of web 2.0 technolgies. I think we can assume that the third step is highly unlikely in an FE library service, however, there is no reason why any library service should not be looking at the possible benefits to the service of engaging in step one. By (all) staff engaging in this first step the transition to Library 2.0 (and Librarian 2.0) will be well under way.

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