Archive for the ‘training courses’ Category

We are all different

April 25, 2009

Right-handed or left-handed? Have you worked for the university for 10 years or more, or less? Are you a morning or night person? This activity illustrates how we are all different and was part of a mandatory Equality and Diversity training course I attended at the university this last week.

The half day’s training had varied activities including a presentation, group discussion, watching a DVD clip, and some short quizzes to test what we had learnt. The DVD clip was thought-provoking and was about a non-disabled person attending a job interview and how he was treated disfavourably by disabled people he came across during this day.  This turns the more familiar scenario on its head of how disabled people can sometimes be treated disfavourably by society.

We also learnt about disability and completed an exercise suggesting how adjustments can be made to help disabled people.

A very interesting and useful day’s training on equality and diversity and some ideas I can take back to my workplace.

Career Development Group talk

March 19, 2008

I attended a Career Development Group (CDG) AGM and talk last week. The event kicked off with a brief summary of the centenary of the CDG.

 The main speaker, Rowena Macrae – Gibson, current CDG President, wasn’t able to come as the high winds and delayed trains had meant she had had to return to London. Thankfully, she had passed the presentation slides to 2 members of our CDG, who made an excellent job of presenting her 10 top tips for CDG.

There was plenty of ideas here and covered a range of topics such as further professional reading; networking and even volunteering. Volunteering is a good way of gaining experience in library and information work, in particular after qualifying, before getting that elusive first job. One point that came across very strongly was the need to go outside your comfort zone and try out new skills; an example of this could be looking for an opportunity to be a treasurer of a committee, if you are currently lacking budgeting and financial skills.

 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is also about giving something back to the profession and one way of doing this could be to mentor someone, once you have chartered. One of the most useful slides I found was skills for all which covered anything from time management to design and marketing skills – I must make sure I get a copy of this!

Afterwards there was ample opportunity to circulate and network with other people attending the event. One person I spoke to works for a local mining insitute and talking to her, I learnt about the varied stock she manages of rare books and other old material. One of the challenges she faces is how to learn more about copyright when dealing with some of this material. I suggested that she contact the lis-link discussion list about copyright as sometimes there are very knowledgeable people on copyright, who contribute to this list.

 Overall, a useful training day with plenty of ideas to ponder over and some to implement. All I need to do now is get cracking!

Blogs, wikis and social networking

January 26, 2008

What is the point of Web 2.0? A poor example of Web 2.0 is students boozing and bareing their bottoms on Facebook. Maybe Facebook has no place on university campuses! 

I joined Facebook to try it out but feel disappointed and bored with all the trivia: do I care if someone ‘superpokes’ me? Uploading photos with the intention of making them available to family and friends on the web is fair enough. But all this trivia! As for second life, where you can do anything from running your own virtual business or using a library catalogue – I believe life is too short for Second Life! 

Blogs, wikis and social networking was the subject of a workshop I attended this week. Some of the websites we looked at I think I will use, such as Flickr (a photo sharing website) and Furl (a book marking website).  

Tim Berners Lee, a physicist and founder of the World Wide Web, originally intended the web to be used as a tool for collaborative working. We learnt about how wikis can be used for participants at a conference to get to know each other a bit in advance of the conference and how they can post their impressions of the conference afterwards and post photographs. Furthermore, project wikis can be used for collaborative working where all the team members can contribute to and edit the content.  

So, what use can academic libraries make of Web 2.0? In the workshop, I looked at examples of a library news blog at the University of Bath, a library blog for students with postings about library services at Perth College and even a link from Facebook to the library catalogue and subject resources at the Wolverhampton Learning Centres.

There are also security, privacy and ethical issues to consider with Web 2.0. Too many sites allow full access by default, whereas they should be tied down to privacy by default.

Word 2003-2007 training

January 22, 2008

I recently attended an in-house training course on the differences between Word 2003 and Word 2007. At present the newer version of Word is only available to students at our organisation and is currently available to staff only through our remote service, Desktop Anywhere. However, we still need to have the skills to support students using Word 2007 at the help desk.

 The trainer took us through the different features and commands on the ribbon. Some features were new to me and I had never explored much before, like tables. One useful thing we looked at was headings and creating a page of contents – this would be useful to students when writing dissertations. We also learnt how you can edit a word in a heading and then change this word in the page of contents automatically. This saves time and ensures you don’t miss anything.

 One alternative way this training could have been carried out would have been to have a long document for course participants to work through and to perform certain tasks using different commands.  Then information may have been retained better.

However, a useful half day’s training. I just need to practise a bit more now and then hopefully be in a better position to support our learners with Word 2007.

Information Literacy workshop

July 24, 2007

I have finally got round to writing another blog entry after being on holiday for two weeks. I should have really escaped to warmer climes with all this abysmal rainy weather we are having, but no we had some time off work and had a visitor staying with us from Denmark, and there was plenty to show him round the town and area.  

Anyway, here I am back to my blogging. While we are busy at work, preparing for student inductions in September, my thoughts turn to a workshop I attended back in April on information literacy. The workshop was well attended by both librarians and very usefully academics, who could offer a different perspective on information literacy.  

The first session was run by Professor Christine Bruce from Brisbane in Australia on the Six Frames for Information Literacy. The 6 frames are content, competency, learning to learn, personal relevance, social impact and the relational frame. After trying to get to grips with the 6 frames, we were asked to each identify our preferred frame. I learnt that personal relevance and competency were my preferred frames.  

Then in groups we were asked to think of and talk of a case study and apply one of the frames to this and comment on how this affected the students, academics, librarians and the institution itself. I learnt that many of us felt that personal relevance was most important to students, ie. They won’t do something if they don’t have to, and that the social frame is important to the organization.

All in all, this session was a bit too theoretical and some in our group were tempted to veer away from the discussion and talk about other things. It was still a good opportunity, however, to network and share ideas.  

The next session was on ‘Applying the theory: a practical toolkit to deliver information literacy’. This toolkit was a set of resources which are associated with a recognized information literacy programme. The importance of liaising with academics was emphasized again and getting them familiar and confident in using the toolkit.

The SCONUL Seven Pillars Model for information literacy was used as a framework, out of which can be drawn skills levels that learners at different stages of their university career would realistically be expected to reach.  

The next session was given by a lecturer in Environmental Science talking about ‘Embedding Information Literacy into the Curriculum’. It was encouraging to see a relatively young lecturer being so enthusiastic and dynamic about using information skills and making them relevant to students in their course work and assignments. She also liaises closely with library staff in this and even attends the information skills sessions for students herself. 

Examples she gave of this approach were students going on a treasure hunt in the library; developing a learning log; developing a search strategy and mind map coupled with compiling a list of references.  

The thought did cross my mind about whether her approach was exceptional or not, and whether other lecturers, who had been in this profession a long time, would adopt such relatively new and innovative ways of teaching. This is the challenge that Liaison librarians have of trying to get the most stubborn and cynical lecturers on board and make them realize that we librarians do have some useful skills and ideas to offer!

The last session was run by Professor Sally Brown of Leeds Metropolitan University. This session I by far enjoyed the most as the trainer was dynamic and had an unusual training style of interspersing her research on assessment with getting us all to close our eyes for a few moments and thinking of good and bad examples of our own learning experiences. It was near the end of the training day – I could have fallen asleep but didn’t because the rapid pace of the session kept me awake! 

She got us thinking about the characteristics and range of students we now get at our universities; about non-traditional entrants into university and the risk of them dropping out. One reason for this, but by no means the only one, can be if they feel they are not being supported enough, for example, if they are not given the right and appropriate encouragement from lecturer and if the lecturer’s approach to assessment does not suit them.   

We were given too astonishing (but somewhat scarily recognizable!) accounts of how some students approach reading and writing in order to reach the attained goal – passing the assignment. Taking drastic shortcuts was an understatement! She talked about the importance of giving students guidance on information literacy.

I learnt that lecturers could best benefit their diverse student group by steering clear of just traditional assessment methods and use more imaginative ways, such as poster presentations, blogs and diaries. Finally, I learnt about the importance of lecturers giving students timely and appropriate feedback. 

In summary, an extremely useful training day which got me thinking about many of the issues raised. I learnt that information literacy is not just learning for students but also for the employees of an institution, academics and staff. I now have a better understanding of how some academics manage to embed information literacy into their course programme and how important it is for them to liaise with library staff and utilize their skills. Finally, I learnt much more about assessment and how this needs to fit a more diverse student population than ever before.

Cascading day

May 28, 2007

I recently attended a cascading day in our team at the end of May, which consisted of presentations and some discussion with the intention of passing on our pearls of wisdom to each other!

The first session was on International students. At this university one in 9 students is international and they pay more than twice the tuition fees of a ‘home’ student. For this reason, the university has a duty of care and an ‘enhanced duty of care’ to its international students. “C” went on to talk about guidance tutoring, the Chinese learning environment, and good practice.

What I learnt from this is that all of us who work in the university library have an obligation to make a special effort, be sensitive and responsive to any language difficulties and be patient and give additional support if their IT skills are not so good.

The next session was mine on ‘Diagnostic testing’. My presentation was a tad short at just under 15 minutes, but this ensured I held the attention of those listening! This covered the reason why we use it; what it is and some examples of good questioning technique. What I did learn from the ensuing discussion was that PDPs (Personal Development Portfolios) are political: the institution may consider them a useful indicator of a student’s development; whereas the student themselves may have other ideas!

A session on ‘Delivering Library Inductions via Streaming Media’ followed. I was a bit jealous of the presentation slides as I thought the template was better than the one I used! I learnt quite a lot from this session as the topic was new to me. “S” talked about what streaming video is and gave an example of www.youtube.com A case study was presented: CAETE at the University of Colorado where lectures are recorded for distance learning students using Tegrity software (which apparently, is similar to Microsoft Producer).

The methodology was to choose two different courses for delivering a pilot library induction for Engineering and for Telecommunications students. The satisfaction responses indicate that the results were the same for ‘live’ induction and for streaming video sessions. There are both advantages and disadvantages of both systems, but video streaming is something our team could consider to supplement our face to face induction sessions.

The next session started with a summary of ‘what is a normal student’? This opened up my eyes to what definitions fit the concept of diversity, the most obvious of which are international, disabled, single parent, but the definition was a lot wider than this. “J” asked each one of us to talk about our school/college/employment experience/professional development/major life events – presumably to illustrate how different we all are. I didn’t get so much out of this session other than to have a nosey into people’s lives!

By this time (phew) you must be exhausted by reading all this, we had a very welcome interlude, a welcoming lunch and a short trip outside into the sunshine.

The afternoon kicked off with a session on ‘E-learning programmes – designing and evaluating.’ I was a little sleepy after lunch, but it was a useful session which consolidated what I already knew on e-learning.

The most uplifting and dynamic session of the day was the penultimate one on ‘Interactive Whiteboards.’ I was impressed by the demonstration as I’m not as offay with the technology as the presenter was! I can see how our inductions can sometimes be a bit dry and static and how this technology could make our induction sessions more interactive and fun for our students. For example, the traditional problems of whiteboard demonstration ensued, when volunteers started to spell words incorrectly and when some hand-writing looked like that of a three year old!

The last session was a photo presentation of different examples of interactive technology for collaborative learning at two different universities in the West Midlands. This was quite interesting to see how other university libraries address this need for collaborative learning and some lively discussion came out of this.

All in all, a useful day’s training but somewhat exhausting. Lots of food for thought to take away with us. The sessions I got the most out of were the ones on streaming media and interactive whiteboards as these introduced me to technologies I was not so familiar with. But I could see how both could be used to make induction sessions more dynamic and engaging for students and hopefully create an atmosphere in which students want to learn about what the library has to offer!

Windmill for Skills Workshop

May 20, 2007

I attended a CDG workshop recently at the end of April about skills. The trainer “Claire” outlined her varied career history from college to industry, from university to consultancy. She challenged us to start thinking about the skills we need to acquire in our profession and to get us thinking beyond our daily job to broader skills.

 She introduced us to a Business Excellence Model which describes a useful framework of 4 P’s:

  1. Product
  2. Process
  3. Partnership
  4. People

She used the analogy of a ‘windmill’ (hence the title of the workshop) to illustrate the 4 P’s in this framework. It was explained that skills are what drives the processes in an organisation, and without this, the organisation would end up with a deskilled workforce, it could lose its customer base, and staff would not be able to learn new skills.

At the beginning of the workshop, the participants were asked to stand on an imaginary line between 1 and 10 according to how aware they were of the skills they need to acquire. Needless to say, most people congregated down the lower end showing they had little knowledge of the skills they need to acquire. Hence the need for this workshop.

 After the presentation, we were each given a paper windmill on which to write the 4 P’s on each blade. I realised that I wasn’t very good at putting together a paper windmill! Thankfully, we were asked to swop ours with one belonging to someone else – so I gave my tatty one away to get a better one back!

 We broke up into 4 groups and circulated to cover all 4 scenarios/case studies of the workshop.  Each case study represented one of the 4 P’s and outlined a situation where you had to consider which skills you would need to make it work well.  One example, which represented Partnerships, was a Polish Information Day and the skills needed by library staff to make such an event work.

 Our group thought of these ideas: to try and find out who was head of the Polish community, so research skills and networking skills; talking and listening to people; planning and organisational skills; marketing and publicity skills. Events which could be laid on include dances, national costume, food etc.

After feedback on this group work, we reconvened to stand on the line again of knowledge of the skills we need. This time, many more people congregated near the upper end, near the 9’s and 10’s showing that the workshop had met its objectives. To reinforce what we had learnt, we were asked to write 2 skills on the back of each blade of the windmill. What was a bit scarey was that we had to write 2 of these skills on the back of a self -addressed postcard, which was going to be posted to us 6 weeks after this training session, to remind us of what skills we should have been developing.

Overall, a thought-provoking and imaginatively designed workshop which encouraged us to think about broader skills beyond our daily job. A tasty buffet (I felt rather greedy as I’d already had lunch) rounded off the afternoon and an opportunity to network with other participants from other information sectors.

A design course, but without the software

May 12, 2007

I recently attended a ‘How to Design Attention-Grabbing Brochures and Newsletters’ course at the end of April. An earlier rise than usual, I had a brisk walk down to the training venue. I was hoping to pick up some useful tips and ideas of how to improve my design work. Before attending this course, my previous experience of design work had been to use clipart in Word!! But as I was soon to discover this course was about good design principles, but had nothing to do with software.

Our trainer was an American from Wisconsin, (I’ll call him Gerry) who had flown over first class on his frequent flyer miles. At first, I noticed his ‘funny’ American accent, but after about an hour or so, this didn’t matter any more.

The first part of the day covered the planning stage of the design process, most of which was not new to me.  After breaking for lunch and a delicious Panini in a nearby pub, the afternoon got down to the nitty gritty. The trainer, Gerry, covered with us other aspects of the design process, including how to create an image; type and the difference in readability between serif and sans serif font; design space such as white space and sidebars and layout.

 

Gerry had plenty of examples of leaflets, magazines and adverts to show us, some of which were good examples of design and some bad! When there was a fire alarm test, that temporarily knocked out the power supply and Gerry’s Powerpoint presentation, Gerry ably showed us how a trainer needs to be flexible, and how you need to have something up your sleeve when technology lets you down!

 

There was one group activity, which involved three different groups thinking up a snappy headline for three different gadgets, based on FAB analysis ( Feature – Advantage – Benefit). I think the snappiest headline that one group devised for ear plugs for an MP3 player was ‘Orchestra in your ears’ and the headline for a digital camera was ‘Powerful petit performer’ (which may be more suitable for a car!)

 

The course participants came from a very diverse range of organizations, including schools, libraries, GP surgeries, an insurance company, and so I thought it was a shame that there wasn’t more group work – where we could have benefited from each other’s experience.

 

The last aspect of design work covered was the importance of colour and how colour can enhance a publication. It was also interesting to learn how different colours mean different things in different cultures. For example, in the UK, the colour black is worn at funerals, in Japan it is white and in South Africa it is red! I learnt that the colour blue is the least offensive colour and this made me realize why in the library where I work, we often use blue for our publicity posters, so that it is fitting for a diverse international student group.

 

A brisk walk back home, it had been a useful training day and I hope that I can take ideas from this course and apply them to my own projects I will work on.