Monday, 20 August 2012

Thing 12...and a little bit of catching up to do!

Hummmm, it appears I'm a little behind on this blog now...let's see if I can't get through a few 'things' in this post and get back on track!

Thing 12 'Social Media'
I suppose I have troughs and waves with social media and social networking. Sometimes I have plenty I want to say and comment on, sometimes I'm content just to read other people's contributions and sometimes I feel so overwhelmed and exhausted by the sheer amount of information out there I don't even want to look. I know I've made connections using Twitter I would never have made through networking in person, and I have certainly read really useful articles, papers and blog posts through links people have posted on Twitter, that I would not have come across without it. But I still think that I could get more out by putting more in both in terms of sharing and in making more connections. And this very belated blog post is an example of when so much change in my life had kept me away from the social web sphere for a while, and now I can feel that I am less confident contributing online than I have been in the past, so it's definitely one of those things you have to keep up as a discipline, as any other CPD activity I imagine!

Thing 13 'Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox'
ooooo I love Dropbox! I have used it extensively in the past for sharing files between computers, in shared folders for project work with colleagues and for sharing files between work and home.
Google Docs I have used to share resources I've created with students, in particular when I've needed to quickly and easily create help-sheets I've uploaded them to Google Docs and shared the link online. Quite often this hasn't been necessary because I've been teaching groups in collaboration with an academic on a particular module, so documents could be shared on their blackboard site. I created a FAQs sheet for Harvard referencing which I put the link to in my email signature, which turned out to be a very effective way of getting people to at least open the document!
I have never created a Wiki, or used one through work, and I'll own that I've never really considered how they could be useful in a professional capacity. Having said that, I haven't really worked collaboratively on a sizeable project yet, so this one may come in useful in the future...

Thing 14 'Zotero'
I'll come back to this in another post. I have just had a session on using Endnote, which I found very interesting as it seemed much more useful and applicable to me than RefWorks which I was using in my previous employment, so I've gone from a position of avoiding bibliographic management software to thinking perhaps it might be useful after all. Time to play!

Thing 15 'Attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events'
One of the best things I've done so far in my professional career is attend LILAC (Librarian's Information Literacy Annual Conference) 2012. The conference was well organised, included a wide range of talks providing plenty of scope for focussing on particular interests or hearing about new things. The keynote speakers were engaging and relevant. There were plenty of opportunities for networking, including the conference dinner, and most importantly, the food was good!
So what did I get from attending?
  • Energy and inspiration
  • Lots of new ideas
  • Networking both in person and on twitter
  • Useful research papers to look up and read
  • A sense of common problems throughout the profession, as well as common goals and ways of working - really helps you feel less isolated!
I also gained experience of other people's presentation styles, which has helped me in developing my own presentation style, and also provided an insight into when PowerPoint slides work and when they don't. I have drawn on all these experience recently when presenting my Master's dissertation research at an AULIC conference in Bristol, which was a fantastic opportunity to present my own work to a small(ish) and friendly group of interested folk. I'd certainly encourage people to take part in conferences and take the opportunity to present if you can - it's such a good way of communicating with colleagues, gaining fresh insights and building confidence in your own work, ideas and projects. Plus if you can get your employer to support you (and I'm talking financially here) that's even better! For myself, I'm finding presenting to be more and more a key element of my professional work, not just a CPD exercise, so the more practice you get at it, the more comfortable you are presenting to large groups of people and talking confidently.

Right, well that's a few 'things' done at least. Better crack on with the next...

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