Thursday, 26 July 2012


Copyright SymbolsIs anything ever really free...? With my copyright head on, I can't just click through terms and conditions with no qualms... so when signing up for a free PBworks account in order to test out wikis, I felt compelled to try and take in some of the T&Cs, wondering what am I really signing up to. If they're providing this for free, is there actually a catch? Who's actually responsible for my data 'in the cloud' - who's keeping it safe and who else can access it? I think all these new resources and tools are great, but does their ease of use inhibit us from actually thinking it all through? For instance, I quickly came across the proviso that the free version of PBworks must be used not for profit - maybe common sense, but really important to know...

I have used the wiki on the Portal and found that fairly intuitive, so was disappointed to find this not so intuitive with PBworks. I seem to have spent ages just trying to add a new page and see a structure to my fledgling wiki. However, I've used the wiki in the Portal pretty successfully, and found that a really useful tool for logging information that our team needs to share but that changes - so stuff it's not worth writing a procedure on but is good to have documented in a share space - more like rolling news or an online noticeboard. For instance there are bits of information about certain publishers and exceptions to the CLA excluded works list which periodically change and it's useful to have the info somewhere for us all to add and refer to.

Having now added my blog to the UK library blogs I feel exposed! It was exposing enough, knowing that other library colleagues might see, but anyone anywhere?! Even though it's unlikely that people will look it feels a big step to actually publish a personal blog. I can see how it would be easier doing it from the point of view of publicising a service. Registering has prompted me to try looking at others blogs again, which has definitely been inspiring... and I resolve to try to be less perturbed by my lack of progress and more positive! 


It seems to me that the value of slideshare is the quality and relevance of the slideshows contained within it. I wonder if the more interesting/engaging presentations have less information in them... therefore making them less useful when discovered in such an arena. I really like the way that most people now use a lot of images and not so much text in presentations, and it seems like good practice is to convey much of the information orally with the slides as simply another input to keep people interested. However this has the disadvantage that when you look at the slideshow in isolation it may not actually tell you very much. So I think the value of accessing presentations via slideshare depends on what the presentation has been designed for and what the user's requirements are. I.e. if it's visually strong and text light then it may not work stand alone, unless it's very conceptual and intended to stimulate ideas perhaps. But it could work well as a refresher for a presentation you attended yourself. So if you missed the presentation, then in this case how much will the slideshow help you?

I think in terms of teaching support materials and online learning the slideshow needs to be able to make sense as standalone materials and then it really does rely on the right mix of text and visuals, so people don't lose interest. I have found it useful to be able to look at people's presentations online after I've been to them in person as part of the process of consolidating learning, so is there an advantage to posting them online rather than them being emailed round? Well I guess not having large files clog up your email... but also looking at the related slideshows could help with expanding learning, even just to the general level of who's talking about what in a certain field, getting to know the big names to watch.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Google docs

Too tired today to try and think of a pun for the title... Following the crash course in productivity tools I thought I'd try and explore Google docs a bit more. I have had to use this for some collaborative work before and as I hadn't had an introduction felt a little nervous - I was unnerved by not having the option of saving but having to trust that it happened automatically. Also I didn't like the fact that there was no organisation, just a long list of documents. I have just discovered that I can put docs into collections, but it annoys me that they still appear in the long list, meaning the sense of overwhelm is not avoided. I think I also remember it being said that you couldn't share files that are in collections?

Finding google forms quite useful and it occurs to me that the job I've recently done of co-ordinating the requests for work shadowing could have been done more easily if I had a form for requesters. This would have saved me time finding out and collating information. So I drafted a form I could try and use if I co-ordinate this again. Having come out of it I now can't work out how to get the url of it to post it here! Also, occurs to me I could use this to get people to sign up for a training session on Moodle I'll be organising and perhaps use the form to ask people in advance what they want to get out of the session.  Hhhm, but what do I think of the caution in Katie Piatt's blog against using it for secure or personal data? Does anything with people's name count? That would rule out both my intended uses! With my counsellor's background I am a bit cautious about anything to do with confidentiality.

I also had a tiny experiment with google presentations. It was a joy to discover another option. In my self employed capacity I have been planning a presentation using my home PC's antique version of PowerPoint, then trying to do it in open office as I was worried about not being able to open it at the training venue, then realising I probably couldn't open it there if they don't have open office installed. So the potential to access my presentation at a different venue without having to know what software they may have on their computers was a welcome relief. I found the presentation tool fairly easy to use but was perturbed by the fact I couldn't see an option for printing the presentation with my notes included, this would make it actually pretty difficult to use the presentation as you can only see a tiny portion of the notes on the screen. As ever, I can't tell if this is me being inexperienced or whether this is a limitation.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Killing three birds with one Prezi

After an absence of a whopping six months I am attempting to return to this blog! I'm not sure if anyone else will ever see it, but it will at least get me to reflect on some of my development activities in a focused way. With the introduction of the CPD hour, my desire to recommence the 23 things programme and being asked to do an introduction to digitisation for the graduate trainees, I thought I would kill all those birds with one stone by trying out Prezi!

For my first experience of using Prezi I certainly found it time consuming, and it did take me quite a while to get used to the different way of using it. I'm still not sure how some of the things I've seen are achieved and this probably means I need to spend more time, look at the help guides or talk to other people. I am noticing that my learning style can be to be impatient and insular! On the upside I'm fairly pleased with what I produced. I love the fact that Prezi already has its own bank of images to select from. I had already started thinking a bit more out of the box in terms of what images to use for presentations following week 3 but this presentation cemented that. Still not totally sure whether I needed to use any acknowledgements with the Prezzi images I used though?

What I especially liked about using Prezi is that it got me out of my linear logical mindset and into a more visual creative space. Last year when devising a PowerPoint on digitisation I tried to get all the slides to summarise the main points in words, which actually made the presentation a bit dull. Whereas this time I used many more images and minimal wording on the screen just as prompts and fleshed everything out verbally in the presentation. I really quite like the look and feel of the presentation which was achieved with minimal expertise just using Prezi's own image bank and a template. I tried to use a template organogram type thing they had but basically had to deconstruct it to get it to fit my purpose, so some of it was quite fiddly. I would benefit from enhancing my knowledge on how to manipulate images in other programmes, as I had screen shots I wanted to use but couldn't work out how to upload them as images without the whole word doc appearing.

I have tried to refresh my memory on inserting images from creative commons - to no avail as the urls aren't working. So you will have to imagine a picture of a bird at the top and I will have to investigate further!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

The hare and the snail

Okay, so I have only just worked out that I can save my post and publish it later, doh, which will save me feeling like I have to have enough time get it right before I publish and can more easily add stuff as I go along.

I have been one of those people who has refrained from using images for fear of breaching copyright - feeling I would have no defense given that my job involves a degree of copyright knowledge. So, it was great for me to see more about how to use images for free and I love the idea that people are sharing all this stuff. I feel a bit embarassed to say that I had heard of creative commons but never made use of it. I have been really impressed by seeing how images can be used to liven up presentations, specifically in Emily's Law for the Terrified session and feel a bit sheepish about using so much text in our Digitisation presentation earlier in the year. Though a quick flickr search made me think we'd have to be really imaginative to find ways of illustrating digitisation... but I guess that is the point, to get into a more creative headspace about what could be a dry issue.

So I had a go at finding more interesting images, as it just seemed easier to begin with. My search for monsters made out of ceramics and wool didn't bring up much so I searched for a related group and found quite an interesting one containing sculptures of monster/fantasy creatures by artists. However, the images were are 'all rights reserved'. Found this one under creative commons though. This 'monster inside' somehow reminds me of how my little shrunken brain sometimes feels when I'm attempting these 23 things!

The Monster Inside - part of Contemplation
image courtesy of gydnew

I found it rather tricky inserting these images. Though I tried several images I was not able to insert a link either long or short to the image using the icon in blogger. I had to get help and copy and paste the html, which seemed to work, but wasn't the intuitive route I expected to be able to use.

I think the issue of intellectual copyright is actually really interesting and have often wondered how far you can actually copyright an idea... given that it's possible for others to have the same idea independently. Who owns ideas any way and what about collective consciousness? However, when it comes to pictures that someone has taken time and effort to create I think it's right that they should have some ownership, so I think it's great now that people are able to share stuff and have some say about how it's used if they want to. 

I am finding it a bit of a challenge to keep up with several new things each week even working at getting one week's things done in two weeks, so was relieved that this week was relatively light on things. No chance of me getting caught up in the catch up week though. I will just smooch along as all you hares leave me in a cloud of dust... ah I have remembered the parable incorrectly, it's the hare and the tortoise not the hare and the snail. Oh well.

Courtesy of tamburix

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Blimey... and monsters

Having thought that RSS feeds would be more my thing I have struggled to find pages that I want feeds from. The websites I am interested in, to remind me when my favourite bands and comedians are gigging, do not seem to have RSS feed options. Perhaps I need to spend more time looking for sites... Or perhaps my interests are too obscure!
Any way I managed to find a couple of things and after a little initial confusion found adding the feeds not so difficult. I didn't see the RSS feed icon I was expecting for subscribing to the 23 things blog and had to do it a different way - is this to do with browsers? It is really useful to have the feed to 23 things blog so I can see each week as a separate entry rather than interminably scrolling up and down trying to find the start of a week.
My brain is currently a bit overloaded but I was determined to try the cool extra thing. And it paid off because now I have an alert called 'making monsters out of wool and ceramics' which actually lead me to a site which has really lovely and odd creatures made out of recycled materials.

I am finding it a bit frustrating doing everything in a rush as I would love to be able to explore the functionality of these things a bit more, but hopefully getting the basics will encourage me to come back and explore more later. I guess the benefits so far are that I have found some interesting stuff I wouldn't have necessarily looked for and I have a way of keeping up with news which might be more effective than what I currently do. I often berate myself for not watching the news enough, but if I simply change igoogle to my home page it will come to me every day.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Going Google eyed

I am well and truly going Google eyed (Google-i-ed, i-google... has someone else beat me to that pun already?) Yes, all this web stuff does have the potential to make me goggled eyed, but it's somewhat more fun to get that way trying to pick out backgrounds themes on i-google than from squinting at spreadsheets. I enjoyed trying to customize my i-google page, though ultimately got somewhat annoyed that I couldn't find a theme that truly represented me! I don't expect much... Also I was a bit purturbed to find that i-google is not asking me to log in, it just knows who I am. No doubt there is a way I can fix this if I have time to investigate.

I've never used i-google, though I do remember having pageflakes demonstrated. What I found really interesting was that trying to choose relevant gadgets made me question, what information do I really want most? It was kind of like a mental exercise in prioritising my whole life (I haven't got there yet). I realised here is a tool where I can choose what I want to have in the forefront of my consciousness - or brought to the forefront of my consciousness. Let's say something like knitting is really important to me, but I never seem to find the time to do it or think about it - I can remind myself to do this, to focus on what's really important in my life, by using something like i-google. I like this idea. Also, sadly I rarely have time to use the internet for pleasure - yet I know there's lots of interesting stuff out there and if I could make it 'come to me' rather than me 'going to it' then I might be more likely to have my life enriched with all the stuff out there that could encourage me to indulge my interests and be creative.

So far, as far as I've got with this is to have chosen a veggie cookery magazine and children's book of the day. I kept rather little of what google selected for me and found that searching for gadgets involved being discerning about how useful they each were. But perhaps I haven't put enough time into it to find the right ones yet. I suspect that RSS feeds may actually be easier to tailor to what I'm interested in. However I do like the tool nature of some of these things like 'artist a day' and 'phases of the moon' - things I wouldn't think to look up but are quite interesting to have presented to me.