Saturday, 10 March 2012

Promoting Your Service Effectively webinar

This was the first time I had done a webinar for real. Having had the trial run on the Friday, I was excited to be particpating in this session and it started inauspiciously with the PC failing to run Blackboard Collaborate, even though it worked on the PC on the Friday. I managed to get another PC to work and got myself set up for the session to start.

In this session, there was no video and the only people allowed to talk were the presenters and moderators, any questions had to be done through the chatroom. This I found strange and whilst I understand that not everyone would have a webcam, I thought the presenters would. It got even more strange when I figured that the moderators were controlling the presentation slides rather than the speaker. 

The session started with Ian Briggs from Walsall College talking about how they use Sharepoint to market their library services. They still have their VLE pages for students to use too and quite a few people wondered whether
  1. this was confusing for the students
  2. if there was a need to use both, as delegates thought there would be a lot of duplication
It was explained that Sharepoint was used to specifically market certain things to students, whereas the VLE contained wider information.

The second session Jane Parker gave an overview of New College Nottingham Learning Centre's Facebook project. Firstly students were asked what social media they would look at and Facebook came out top, which is why it was used. The most illuminating aspect of this project for me was that links are put onto Facebook about things that are subject specific, so if something has happened that students may want to read about (the death of Whitney Houston was used as an example), the Facebook page links to stories about that. I'd never thought about doing that, our Facebook page is used to say what is happening in the LRC but I think we could extend this to promote our electronic resources by linking to information of interest.

The next session was by Hazel Tickle at Wigan & Leigh College, talking about the use of Kindles and iPads. The Kindles are loaned for a week and students need to pay a refundable £5.00 deposit. Kindles are used to promote e-books with a wide variety being available. They can be voice activated and have a screen reader enhancement making them suitable for visually impaired students. I didn't know this and it is something that I will need to follow up in the quest to promote our Kindles more. The iPads can use the Kindle app and ebrary to help promote e-books but they also have educational apps on them. These are loaned out for 1.5 hours at a time to students.

Sadly at this point technical issues got in the way, the next presenter's sound was muffled making it difficult to hear and the final presenter's sound give up completely. It was therefore a rather mixed session. I found it very useful and have got some good ideas from it but it also shows that sometimes technology can be a hindrance rather than a help. There is a wiki page with information about the webinar.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


In preparation for last Monday's (5th March) Promoting Your Service Effectively webinar, I needed some training on how to use Blackboard Collaborate and to find out which of the LRC computers it would work with. As last Friday was a workforce development day at work, my manager organised for our regional RSC to do a webinar as practice and upskilling. I have used Skype before at home, which I guess could be considered similar, I have only had one to one video conversations on there though and never really use any of the other features it has.

After some initial technical hitches (some computers worked with Blackboard Collaborate and others didn't), nearly all of us managed to get signed into the session. Cam Swift (our moderator) took us through the various features and gave us tasks to do to reinforce what we were being taught.

Whilst we didn't have video, Cam did so we could see her. I got the opportunity to chat with my colleagues in either the communal chat room or in a private conversation, use the voting, emoticons and raise hands features and as we were seeing the different features it has, we got to draw over the presentation slides using the whiteboard annotations - everyone seemed to like that idea a lot, it is a good thing that the moderator can switch that part off though, otherwise there might be a lot of defaced presentations.

I very much enjoyed the practice session, I was very excited to be participating in the Monday webinar, whihc will be the next blog post I do.

MyPC User Forum

A few months ago there was an e-mail on the MyPC discussion list asking about user forums in various regions. The North East wasn't mentioned, so I replied asking if there was interest in one, offering a venue to host it etc. From there, I ended up organising one with the aid and assistance of Nick from ITS.

This is what I learned from the day:

Bradford College have moved from walk up bookings to advance bookings, to help with behaviour management. This is interesting as my LRC did that 3 years ago because we had no security having moved into a new building with teething problems. Now we are considering moving back to walk up bookings, as a way to move forward the service provision and free up staff time to do other LRC work. Our security is much better now, we have turnstile access (activiated by College ID cards) and classroom management software to block websites like Facebook at our busiest times. So if we move back to walk up bookings will the behaviour decline I wonder?

Features of MyPC that I would like to utilise that I didn't previously know about (this will require an upgrade - a summer job?).

  • MyPC can be booked using QR codes
  • Heritage can link with MyPC to show / block learners with fines or overdues. This can be done daily via updates for free or if you have the money, there is a live links version updating from Heritage Online.
  • There is a web app to show availability, that can be used on smartphones.
  • We can set locations so that only certain learners can use them (where we have specialist software on the PC) and retain the right to override if all other PCs are in use.

It was a very useful session with some great ideas to consider.

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...