Saturday, 11 March 2017

Making better use of e-resources

At the beginning of the year, or possibly late last year, an e-mail came through from Credo Reference informing me that some e-books had been discontinued and that I should look at replacing them with other e-books that are available. I had actually forgotten that we could choose the 100 e-books we use from the 821 listed.

As we have had recent in year budget cuts, this seemed a very appropriate time to review what titles were live, review them and look into any other way we could better use this resource to help promote its use. I think Credo Reference is a very good value product with excellent high quality information and the fantastic features of topic pages and mind maps, so it would be a real shame if I ended up having to make the decision to let the subscription lapse because I needed my budget for something else. I have therefore set about trying to make Credo Reference the most relevant it can be to our learners and increasing its visibility.

Initially I downloaded a spreadsheet of all the titles we have access to, which enabled me to choose the most relevant 100. I used the following process:
  • Marked off all the titles I considered relevant to our learners, this ended up being just over 300, so I had a way to go to get it down to 100.
  • I then labelled these up as to where they were published, whilst the country of publication doesn't always matter, I knew in some cases in was very important that I have UK based information.
  • Next I cross referenced them against our other e-books and discounted any we already had from another source.  
  • I then graded them 1 - 3 or discounted them on 2nd look based on year of publication (which again isn't always important and in some cases is very important), country of publication and content (having now looked beyond the title).
  • This gave me 93 grade 1 titles. To find the remainder, I asked my colleague to look at my 2s and 3s to see if she would upgrade any of them to a 1. This gave me the final 7 to reach my 100 target.
Whilst looking through the titles, I came across Key Concepts in Health Psychology which is a very popular book in our LRC, therefore I immediately added this to the list available to use, this was a really good find. Having chosen my 100, I then set about changing the selections to reflect this. The majority of the titles chosen ended up being published in the UK and I believe that there is a relevant title for every course taught at my College.

My next task was to upload the MARC records to our LMS, Heritage. Previously we had never done this and relied on learners looking at the actual database so that they could use the full functionality of it. However in retrospect, I think this was an error in judgment, we should maybe have concentrated on providing access to the titles and encouraged use of the other features through information skills sessions, enquiries handling and promotional activities.

Within a fortnight of uploading the MARC records (and 1 of those weeks was half term), we had an enquiry that was satisfied by a title from Credo Reference. This was an enquiry about kidneys and one of the Harvard Medical School titles (ironic I know, it's US published) came up on our catalogue search and was exactly what the learner was looking for.

In addition to the titles being changed, I also looked into where the topic pages pull their information from and have made it more UK specific, this was evidenced in preparation for a recent LRC staff development session on enquiries that my colleague and I did, where she discovered that Credo Reference has a UK Welfare State topic page and EBSCO's Discovery Research Starters doesn't. In the actual enquiries session, Credo Reference was promoted to the LRC staff as a good place to start enquiries because of the topic pages (and mind maps), potentially better than EBSCO's Discovery because I have made it more UK based than US based. In the subsequent practice enquiries (based on real ones we've had this academic year) done in the session, another Credo Reference title was found on the LRC catalogue to successfully answer the enquiry, this time it was The International Encyclopedia of Depression (again ironically US published).

I have now signed up for a Credo webinar to see if I can find out about anymore features I can make use of. I am looking forward to seeing if the user statistics have increased because of these changes and the immediate impact has encouraged me to link the Issues Series title to their Issues Online counterparts through Heritage and start uploading the MARC records of the Britannica E-stax titles that we have.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Online course

I have recently done my first fully online course, this post is going to reflect on the structure and what I liked / disliked about the course rather than the content. 

The course consisted of 3 units that were subdivided into 3 - 5 sections and made up of text, video and interactive activities. The assessments were free text questions relating to the content immediately previous. Along the way there were revision questions usually a choose the correct option(s) type and free text boxes to record your examples. There was also a notes section, for any notes you wanted to record.

I quickly found that I prefered to make handwritten notes, so that I had them visible alongside the course information rather than having multiple windows open or flipping between the notes and content on screen.

The size of the units and sections varied greatly, ranging from bitesize to overwhelming. I would have prefered more bitesize sections even though this would mean more of them, as the largest sections were off-putting.

I did like the way the sections were set out though, they were clear and easy to use. There were a variety of tasks, different ways to provide the information and revision questions, all which I found useful and engaging. The parts where I had to add my own examples, I quickly started to ignore, as I discovered that I didn't need to fill them in to progress.

The assessment questions were all in the same format and this was disappointing given the different variety of tasks on offer in the actual course. I thought that some of the questions could have been multi choice like the revision questions, or the own examples sections could have been used as part of the assessments (this would make me do them!). 

Sometimes the assessment questions weren't all that clear either, some answers required examples but didn't say so. This led to me having to resubmit some of the assessments. One of my assessment questions was missed out of the unit too. I only discovered this when I was reviewing my answers and found I hadn't answered one. I then wondered how I'd missed it because the course was set up to move on only after you had answered the assessment questions.

After this experience, would I do another online course? I'm not sure. I would have to really look closely at how it was set up before making that choice. It was a different experience rather than a good or bad one. It has made me reflect on what I liked about the course and what I didn't, so in the future I have a good base to make a decision over whether other online courses would be suitable for me or not.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Spring cleaning my logins

Image result for google login image 

I thought it was time to spring clean my logins, I have been suffering from technology overload and figured it would do me good to prune. I am not someone who signs up for everything but being aware of digital footprints and what people can find out about you, I thought I should close any unused accounts I have. Whilst about it, I figured I could make sure I know my passwords rather relying on the remember me facilities websites have.

In my mind this would take me about an hour, afterall I thought I wouldn't have that many logins to deal with and that I would end up with about 15 - 20. After 3 hours, I'm nearly there and I have over 50 logins, admittedly a few are the same but I've separated them for ease, things like Blogger and Google Drive, Skype and Hotmail. I've closed about 5 and I've finally figured out why my Google Drive and Hotmail have different passwords. I know that might seem obvious because they are different companies but I set my Google account up a long time ago with my Hotmail e-mail, so at some point I think they were the same. I've later changed passwords and they've ended up different. My logins can be broadly broken down into the following categories:

Social media / Apps / Cloud services 22 logins
Shops 12
Entertainment 9
Financial 6
Personal interests 4

All of these logins are personal ones, some I do use at work such as Dropbox and Evernote. I had considered setting up new ones at work for these, as though, I use them mainly to remind myself of things and know that I can share with my colleagues if I need to, I chose to use my personal account rather than adding to the long list of work logins. I also haven't included any logins from work that I might use at home like e-mail, Blackboard or Athens.

I have in my e-mail, a registrations folder to remind me of what I already have accounts for, this helped me greatly in both finding out what I had subscribed to and what my passwords might be, as I sometimes send myself an e-mail containing my password (yes I know that this could be a security risk). The interesting thing about this folder is that it didn't have any e-mails relating to the websites I log into regularly like Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Google Drive etc. These websites are the ones that I usually have set on the remember me option, so this tested my knowledge. I went to them individually, took out the password and re-entered it to see if I knew what it was. I surprised myself by still knowing them, The only one I use regularly that I couldn't remember was for Channel 4's On Demand (or All4 as they have recently changed it to). This amused me because I logged into it last Friday inputting both the username and password and 3 days later I've forgotten it!

As previously mentioned I'm not someone who signs up for everything, I therefore figure that my list of logins is small compared to other peoples. I think that I have probably forgot a few as well, although I didn't find evidence of a YouTube or a Spotify account, I have a vague recollection that I do have accounts for them. Are there anymore lurking around that I have forgotten about I wonder?

I do feel better for sorting them out, I've exorcised my technology overload. However, I am totally shocked by how many personal logins I have and never realised how many I use.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Catching up

Totally remiss of me but I haven't done any reflecting on the CPD I've done for ages. I am now trying to catch up, so in this post I intend to write a paragraph (minimum) on the CPD I have done over the last few months:


Initially this training was meant for a colleague to go to so that there are a few of us trained in Athens admin. However, after the interface was changed I felt like I was a beginner again with it and was struggling to manage it. I decided that I would go to the training as I had many questions on how to do things. 
As it was awhile ago when I did this training, I can't remember what questions I had. They must've been resolved as I am managing well with it for now. The main thing that I remember learning is that I can correct any errors in the bulk upload file and resubmit it without having to leave the page i'm on. This is fabulous because I can quickly see where the errors are, fix them and resubmit the file. This has saved me loads of time.

How to build resilience in the workplace

I wasn't sure what to expect on this, our Workforce Development Manager had mentioned that the session was on and would be useful for my staff and I. So I made sure we all booked on and went along to see what I could learn. Building resilience is a way of trying to achieve good physical and emotional health, in this case within the workplace. It focussed on positively handling conflict, being positive about yourself including readjusting any self-sabotaging beliefs we have, dealing with manipulative behaviour, avoiding burnout and stress management. This was a lot to take in all at once and I think that to help me build my resilience, I should evaluate where I am at with each area and try to improve my resilience in my weakest areas.

ARLG Members Day

This year's theme was accessibility something that I have been looking at improving at work over the last year and am continuing to work on. This session gave me so many new things to think about. Some of the things that were mentioned, we already do or have but I need to train myself and my staff about them and then promote what is available. I need to implement any quick changes that can be done. Investigate new apps / services etc that I heard about and train, promote and advertise where appropriate, and finally make a wish list of big things that I would like, in case money is available for implementation.

Safer staff recruitment

This looked at the process of staff recruitment and how safeguarding should be built into it at every stage. In a way this was timely and in another way it was too late. I am currently recruiting a new LRC Assistant and the job has gone out to advertisement now, so all the processes involved before this stage have been reliant on Human Resources and my subconscious for safeguarding issues. I can now though apply this new knowledge to the remaining processes starting with reviewing interview questions.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

ARLG Conference 2014: The Final Frontier - to boldly go where you've never been before

There was so much packed into the 3 days, that I can't hope to cover all that I went to, so I am going to pick out the things I took from it the most, in no particular order:

That it doesn't cost a huge amount of money to make your library and it's services more accessible than they currently are. My plan  - to assess where we are at and find ways to improve it, using some of the ideas and resources mentioned by Virginia Power in her Inclusive Practice session. They are JISC TechDis' Online Accessibility Self Evaluation Service (OASES), the MLA Accessibility Toolkit, which I do have in paper format at work and is still available online from the National Archive (Disability Portfolio Guide) and to start making screencasts of how to use the accessibility resources we have.

Promote and encourage better use of e-books - Elaine Mulholland sent lists of relevant e-books (from the JISC e-books for FE) with live links to each curriculum area in her College, to raise awareness and encourage use. This, I think, is an excellent idea and as the JISC e-books for FE original agreement is about to expire, I feel that promoting what we still have available is very important. We have 3 different e-book providers and a 4th imminent (i.e. when I get my new budget), so it's a good opportunity to drill down into what we have and see if there are any gaps in the resources.

A task that I keep mentioning and never actually do anything about (I mentioned it at my last performance Review too, so I need to do it!) - better use of social media. We have a Facebook and Twitter account and are guilty of sporadically using it. My plan of campaign is to start with Georgina Cronin and Meg Westbury's idea of a social media policy and build from there. My initial thoughts are in addition to keeping people upto date with changes in opening times, events and any database downtime we are informed about, is to incorporate stuff that ties in with our displays and maybe current events. I know that in order for this to work I will need some way of scheduling updates - Hootsuite springs to mind, as I already have used it (not to full effect though) - I will need to train myself how to use it more efficiently and then train my staff.

I would also like to make a glossary of library terms, as suggested by Kirsty Carver and Sophie North in their Culturally Aware Library session. Whilst we do not have the same extent of diversity as Bradford University, we do have learners from different countries and as importantly we have a population who, in many cases, have never been into a library before. Therefore a glossary could be of benefit to a great many of our learners.

I have set a target for all of these goals to be achieved or at least worked towards (as I know some will take some time to put in place) within the next year.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

RSC Northern's e-Fest 14 - an e-Ventful Tale

Guess what? As usual I've left this too long from the event to writing it up. Bad practice I know, and not what I was taught whilst doing my Chartership. So first of all any action plan I have should start with must reflect sooner on training rather than later.

What can I remember about the e-Fest?

I can remember tweeting all day rather than taking notes. This is a first for me and something I would like to continue doing. What I haven't done is collected the tweets together so let me put that as another point on the action plan.

I am a digital native apparently, this came as a surprise. I'm not saying i'm no good at it and I'm not scared of it, I just don't find it as intuitive or as easy to use as (some) other people - especially those who are younger. I do though make the Internet my first port of call when I want to find out something which is what supposedly makes me a digital native. I'm still not convinced!

Minecraft - using it as an educational tool. I tried to do a bit of homework before this session, I'd heard of Minecraft but never seen or played it, so I decided to take a demo of it and get a feel for what it is about. I was so inept I drowned myself 3 times in about an hour of play :( Anyway as an educational tool, I can see the benefits of Minecraft, build something collaboratively, project management, teamwork, decision making etc it is all there and in a fun way.

Sensory Pods - definitely the most fun thing of the day. An immersive learning experience where you have smell, sound, climate and movement to accompany the topic you are learning about or you can go in and chill out, which makes it ideal for learners with special needs, as it is a safe haven for them. This is todays version of Star Trek's holodeck, we are not quite as advanced as in Star Trek but we are getting there.

Monday, 19 May 2014

CoLRiC Roadshow, Durham - my top 5 most interesting points

Last week, I attended the CoLRiC Roadshow event in Durham. To help get me back into blogging, I am writing this post about it. Also to help me get back into blogging, i'm going to try to keep it fairly short by writing the top 5 things I took from it. These are in no particular order:
  1. I enjoyed using the Socrative app, which is an online and mobile student response system app. I was pleasantly surprised that when I downloaded it onto my phone, I didn't have to put in my e-mail and password. It only asked for a room number, which is provided by the person taking the session.
  2. Dundee and Angus College have front facing IT Technicians. This is very refreshing and sadly for most of us probably a pipedream.
  3. In order to survive the LRC / library service needs to make itself essential to the College. To do this you need to identify what the College needs and then provide this service. Where I work the first service that springs to mind as being essential is our assignment submission service. This service allows students to hand in their work at a central location. I will be looking at the other services we provide to see if anymore are essential and also thinking about what else is needed that we could provide.
  4. The Six Book Challenge can now be ran from September. The Reading Agency has moved up the timescale for when the packs are available to accommodate the academic year, as there are so many Colleges taking part now and some would like the full year to do it in. Whilst my College hasn't yet started running the Challenge, I am now going to give it another push and see if we can get a group going in September.
  5. LRC induction done as a gameshow complete with compare and scoreboard using the Cephalonia method of learning - looks and sounds great. Done in a lecture theatre, so it reaches many students at once. I really like the idea and would love to give it a go.

Making better use of e-resources

At the beginning of the year, or possibly late last year, an e-mail came through from Credo Reference informing me that some e-books had bee...