Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Thing 23: Making it all work together

TweetDeck to rule the social media world.

Thanks to Rudaí23, it has been a great experience learning about some new social media tools and getting to know how to use more familiar ones more effectively.   These tools can be very powerful ways of engaging with our users and marketing our services if used frequently and judiciously.  With that in mind, the easier it is to do so, the more likely it is that we will keep tweeting and posting and updating.

Flipboard is one of the tools that I got to learn about through the course that I really like and is one that I definitely would like to spend more time exploring as is seems to have lots of different, useful aspects to it.  Because, the social media management aspect of it is mobile rather than desktop based, I chose to use another application to keep up to date with my social media accounts.
Hootsuite is the tool that was looked at in the Thing 23 blog but I had already started using TweetDeck to try and manage my social media accounts and I think I will continue to do so.  It seems to have most of the same functionality as Hootsuite. You can schedule Tweets and it is possible to manage multiple Twitter accounts from its interface as well as linking it with Facebook and LinkedIn.

It also easily allows you to set up columns so that you can search by hashtag, list etc.  This was really useful during the Rudaí chat earlier on in the summer when you could follow the discussion quite easily by setting up a column to follow the chat live.
I also really like the layout, I think it is simple and uncluttered while at the same time allowing you a good overview of what is going on with your social media accounts as regards mentions, retweets, follows etc.
Because TweetDeck makes it so straightforward, there really is no excuse for not keeping up to date with social media output!!

Finally, thanks to all the Rudaí23 team who designed, delivered and posted content for the course and were there to support and encourage us during the tough times.  It was not only educational but also interesting and fun and a great way to learn.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Thing 22: Mobile Things

Gum was another mobile app that I had never heard off so was interested to see what it could do.  I tried it on a few books that I have myself and I don’t know what kind of reflection it is on my reading habits but nobody had left any “gums” on my books.  Ok, so not too successful from that point of view.  However, the next day, I was notified of a Gum that someone had added to my book.  So was that a coincidence or was I doing something wrong in not finding original gums.  And the poster disagreed with my review of the book as well!

I can the potential there for public libraries or bookclubs.  If you have a book that people are actively engaging with at one time, then it would be fun and interesting to see what others are saying and build a conversation around a book. 
I think children could really get great fun out of using this app.  They are so used to using their mobile phone to use apps like Snapchat that using Gum could be appealing to them.   The interface is very simple and colourful and leaving a comment is so easy.  And Gum comments can be applied to lots of products so it definitely could be useful as a teaching tool.
Of course, because comments are not moderated, there could be some negatives from this if children are involved.

There are loads of great apps now available to use on your mobile and the lines between what you use for work and what you use in a personal capacity are blurring.  People tweet, instagram, and use facebook personally and professionally.  The main thing is to have fun finding new apps and discovering their potential. 

Thing 20: Presentations

Thing 20: Presenting...

I decided when trying to put together a presentation to use Google Slides as I had never used it before nor to be truthful even heard of it.  

Google really have an amazing suite of products that they have developed for the user.  I found Slides easy to use and it great that you don’t even have to go saving your presentation in a file.  It is all there as you left it the next time you log in.

Presentations are quite difficult to get right.  We all know when we have seen a good one but it is very hard to pull off ourselves.  It is the alchemy of content, speaker, occasion and timing.

With the best will in the world, some people just are not good, engaging speakers while other presenters might have poor content but due to force of personality or charisma can get away with it.
There were some great tips in the blog about doing presentations. 
It is important to know your audience and not get too hung up on the actual slides when giving the presentation.  We have all been at presentations where the speaker has been completely thrown by technical hitches.  Another thing I hate at presentations is when people just read from their slides.  We can all read so reading along with a presentation is just a waste of time.   

Having said all that, standing in a room full of your peers or your managers is a daunting thing and it takes time to feel comfortable giving presentations. It is not something that everybody has a natural talent for but knowing your topic takes some of the stress out of it.  Technical things can always go wrong but if you at least know what you want to say, you should be okay.


Thing 21: Creating Infographics

I have used infographs a little bit in work and do find them useful to use when trying to represent a lot of data in a more visually interesting and easy to digest way. 

Infographics are being increasingly used by companies and newspapers to get information out to the public.  I suppose what they have over Excel or Powerpoint is that they can look a little bit more fun and colourful but also very professional without you having to do a lot of work to make it so.

Piktochart is the infographic web tool that I have used, albeit not the pro version.  While the free version only has a limited number of templates, I find that there  is still enough of a variety of templates to use to adapt to most of the data presentation needs I have.  

And if you are very adventurous or very creative, you can do a complete  infograph from scratch.  Lots of the pictures and symbols are a bit Americanised but at least there are lots of choices.  It also allows great freedom when it comes to colours, fonts and the movement of the boxes in the templates so you can really create what you want to with a little bit of imagination. 

Infographs can also be inserted into Facebook or Twitter feeds as well so that can be a good way of getting information across to your intended audience.

Below is an infograph inspired by the Rugby World Cup.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Thing 19: The Legal Side of Things

Legally Blonde...

A very interesting and informative blog which gave a great synopsis of the issues surrounding copyright and the ever evolving challenges facing legislators and producers and users of content. 
Although from working in libraries I was aware of the issues surrounding the copyright of printed material, I had not given much thought to copyright as it relates to images and photographs.  I haven’t used many images in my blog posts, mainly because of the difficulty of getting them to work.  At the time, that was very frustrating buy maybe on reflection, it’s been a good thing as I haven’t been unknowingly infringing on the creators rights. I realise I simply do not know enough about how to attribute correctly and would have been wary of doing using too many images or graphics.  The onus is on me though to go and properly inform myself and the Rudaí blog has given me some great places to start. 

The whole area of intellectual property rights is another area that I need to learn more about.  We sign away all kinds of things in contracts without thinking how they could apply in real world situations.  While understandable that an employer would have intellectual ownership of content created during work, it’s easy to see all kinds of grey areas and potential problems that could arise.

Again, knowing your rights and also your responsibilities is paramount.  As they say, ignorance is no defence.    Sharing content is great to but you do need to think about making sure your your own contributions are acknowledged.   

Hope I have attributed my image below correctly.  I will need to work like that little bee to get up to speed on copyright issues. 

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Friday, 16 October 2015

Thing 18: Communicating Through Photographs

Flickr and Instagram

Of all the Web 2.0 tools, Flicker and Instagram have the most immediate appeal to me.   Who doesn’t like looking at photographs especially when some of the photographs are as interesting and professional as anything you might see in a coffee table art book?

Flickr has an awesome catalogue of pictures and is doing something really important by hosting so many images.  It will be an amazing record of our planet and how our lives are lived.

For a long time, I had Instagram pegged as the go to app of the terminally vain and vacuous or for young kids, mainly girls, who were experimenting with their image but I have seen the light.
So yes while, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian might be fighting it out to have the most Instagram followers by virtue of how much skin they are willing to expose, there are lots of really interesting Instagram feeds out there to balance the scale.

I like the layout of Instagram a lot.  It is really clean and uncluttered looking.  It lets the pictures speak for themselves.   And the comments in the side are fairly contained and not too distracting. 
Instagram is a great way to document a library event.  The visual always appeals to people and it’s a great way of communicating and showcasing what the library has to offer.
As long as the photographs are good and visually interesting, it looks great.  Instagram also allows you to use lots of text with the post if that was something that was needed.   People are even writing short stories around their Instagram pictures. 

My library does not have an Instagram account yet but definitely something to think about for the future as it seems to be one of the social media tools whose influence is growing.   

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Thing 17: Reflective Practice

Learning from doing.

Reflective Practice is not something that I have up until now being consciously doing as part of my working life.
The Rudai blog has been great at making me think about using tools or platforms that I might not have been otherwise aware of before now and reflective practice is another concept that could prove really useful. 

I have never kept a work journal nor am I particularly good about keeping notes when I attend workshops or, as I have already confessed in one of the earlier blogs, conferences.  I just never seem to get around to organising notes or reflecting back too deeply on what I have learned.  A mistake I know!

There is a lot to gain from writing notes or a journal when you do certain things.  If you take the time to reflect on what went well, what worked, what got a good response and also the things that did not work so well, then you can make positive changes for the next time you have to do it and keep reflecting and keep refining.   This type of reflection would be particularly useful after giving classes or tours or even after a session on the Reference Desk.   There is huge value in writing down our thoughts and clearly articulating them to ourselves.  The very act of writing our thoughts in a journal should make us more aware of what we are doing and means that our thoughts have much more of a chance of enduring and therefore making an impact on future actions than if we just think them in our heads.  And it should not be only about changing things.   It is also important to keep track of what worked and what went well.

Reflective practice requires us to use our critical thinking skills on ourselves and our actions and sometimes that can prove challenging and maybe a little bit uncomfortable if we have to reflect on things that did not go the way we wanted.  It is important that we value the time spent thinking about work and use it positively because it is all about learning and, ultimately, hopefully improving how we approach certain tasks and taking some out of the stress out of our working lives.