Sunday, 8 November 2015


Am I really at the end (almost)?!?

This is another interesting module. A while ago I did think about linking all my social media accounts I use and other online things I'm interested in, putting everything in one place to visit rather than having lots of websites to remember and so, with that intention, I opened an About.Me account.

And I looked at the steps for creating a profile, adding links, etc. and basically stalled. I couldn't see the advantages of spending my time replicating what was already available publically on other sites.

Unlike some people, I don't think I use a vast amount of social media and yet I manage to stay fairly up-to-date with events and news. I have a Twitter account and the things I tweet tend to be mainly book/library/literacy related. My tweets are linked into my Facebook account and I set it up like this as I realised that what I was sharing on Twitter (such as reports and research), I also wanted to share on Facebook. However, my Facebook account is private, set to friends only, as I also post family and work-related news which I wouldn't want out in the public domain - although I'm always aware that ANYTHING put online is never completely private so I'm careful about what I say. In addition, I have a LinkedIn profile - and I soon realised that About.Me wanted the same sort of information, jobs, etc. and I couldn't be bothered replicating it. I suppose I could have left those fields blank but then what would be the point of creating another social media site that was basically empty? And I don't want to share all my social network links in one place because I don't want everyone to have access to all of them ... so, again, what would be the point of putting in a link that was then closed to people.

At the moment I have no problem in keeping up with the social media I currently use. I have set things up so that I get Hotmail alerts from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest whenever I'm mentioned personally. Plus I'm online the majority of days and if I'm not then it's because I choose not to be and am purposefully taking a break from it.

As my desktop is my "weapon of choice" Flipboard wouldn't be any use to me. I may expand on my About.Me account in the future and if I was in any sort of freelance type of work then I would certainly ensure I had a wider social networking profile. But my paid day job doesn't require this, there must be lots of wonderful school librarians out there who are doing amazing jobs without being online or engaging with social networks. What I am thinking of doing (the "next" project maybe), is creating a website where I can link my social media that I'm happy sharing with the public, add links to my blogs, Pinterest, Goodreads sites, etc. plus perhaps use to expand on my more creative activities such as photography and painting. Something that shows the wider aspect of my personality. I'm also aware that I have never created a website before and this is an area of my CPD that I want to explore; I'm hoping to start my Fellowship portfolio soon so it would be a good addition to it.

The only problem will be that the lure of my to-be-read pile is likely to be much stronger ... which is probably why I'm a librarian rather than a web designer!

Thursday, 5 November 2015


Reading this module has made me think about the devices I use and how I use them. Computers and phones are an integral part of my life - personal, professional and work - and, like many people, I could not imagine a world where we didn't have them. They make my life easier but, at the same time, can also make it complicated and add pressure. Take shopping, for example. If I'm really busy, I can order online and have it delivered or pick it up at my convenience. I can find what I want without spending half my weekend trawling round dozens of shops. And yet I can easily spend most of an evening trawling around websites looking for the "perfect" item, convinced I haven't found it yet but it's "out there" somewhere, whereas if I was physically shopping "good enough" would do!

At work I use a PC on my desk. It runs my library management system, I access my school email and relevant documents, as well as my Hotmail and the internet. Thus I am effectively online all the time at work so have no need to use my phone, other than to send/receive the occasional text. Or to take photos (and even then I carry round a compact camera in my bag). I also have a school laptop which I will use if I'm delivering a lesson in the library or a presentation in assembly but most of the time it sits in a cupboard.

The problem with using my phone at work is that students would see this as me doing "personal" stuff, even if I was using it to call book reps or other librarians, etc. and the school has a "no mobile phones" policy so this makes it a bit difficult and obvious when I do use mine.

At home I also have a PC sitting on my desk in the study. This is my preferred machine of use. I like using a big screen, sitting surrounded by my things, documents, files and reports stored electronically or physically within reach, in my own space. It's far more conducive for a working environment although that doesn't stop me getting distracted by social media or online games (why on earth did I ever decided to investigate Bubble Witch???). I use this for EVERYTHING!!!

In addition, I have a Netbook which I bought because I was fed up lugging my work PC around with me. It's a hybrid with a keyboard and touch screen and I love it, I find it easy to use and very convenient although I wouldn't want to type up any long documents on it or do some serious editing. But I take it to conferences, meetings, on holiday and am happy using it both for work and personal stuff. We have a smart TV screen in the bedroom (I don't watch TV - it's not connected to an aerial) but we like watching DVDs and subscribe to Netflix and, of course, can access the internet via it so I'll occasionally use it to catch up with a programme that somebody has recommended (I'm planning to watch the latest Apprentice episode on iPlayer, the one where they create a children's book). I could do this on my mobile but never have .... the idea of watching something other than a few minutes of YouTube on a small screen does not appeal.

No iPads - yet - although my daughters have them and I'm happy using them when I'm at their homes.

And I have a smart phone - a Samsung. I definitely get online using this more than previously, think part of the reason is because it's easier than it used to be - and also cheaper! So I'll check my email, Facebook, Twitter if I'm out and about - quicker than using my netbook - and will also send replies, responses, post photos, etc. though it's impractical for sending any sort of longer documents and trying to type them would drive me mad. The apps I use are fairly standard - social media ones (and WhatsApp just for family) but I haven't downloaded anything else and don't use half of what's already installed on my phone. However, I'm about to upgrade to a newer model so maybe it's time to try some of them out!

Facilities and IT policies vary enormously between schools and I think this is part of the problem, not to mention the lack of knowledge and skills of the workforce delivering lessons; and there is a danger of a growing divide between the have and have-nots. It's a catch-22 situation though; if you don't have or use any of these facilities/devices/apps, etc. in school, you're not going to spend time creating activities that involve them and yet if you don't use them there will be no incentive to upgrade what you've got or to get on board with learning about them. Schools which invest in mobile devices, which use new IT applications creatively to deliver learning outcomes and teach students to be discerning users of both IT and information will produce people who are comfortable with technology, knowing its advantages and disadvantages. A mobile phone (or other mobile device) does not automatically make the owner a user.

As I have said, I cannot imagine life without computers and the internet. However, I prefer to remain in control and so will purposefully leave my phone behind (or switched off) occasionally. And anyone who has been somewhere without internet access will know how liberating that can be ... although most of my students react with horror when I tell them this ...

Wednesday, 4 November 2015


I would love to be able to post a link to a wonderful Piktochart but I am admitting defeat!

For now ...

I have read the module, followed all the links, dithered over what to create and finally, after a lot of deliberation, decided that I'd like to create a visual representation of the talk I give on "how to choose a book". This is quite an interactive talk with the class where I ask them why they chose the book they're reading and expand on their answers (eg: like the author, one in a series, genre, etc.) - I also usually add a few suggestions of my own.

However, I've not had much success with using Piktochart. No idea if it's my computer, my internet connection or what. But the site keeps freezing, failing to respond and then either reloading or throwing me offline. So I have given up in frustration. Think that's one of the problems regarding the use of technology ... it's wonderful when it works but when it doesn't (and often that's through no fault of yours - only this week I know of a colleague who had planned a series of lessons using online resources only to have the technology fail in the classroom), it can waste so much of your time.

Therefore I'm going to complete the first part of the task for this module "Consider a report or something that you’re producing at work, or for your local community. Do you think an infographic would better represent the data? What impact would this have on your audience?" although I'd much rather do the latter task and create something.

I think that several things I've done could be made into an infographic which would have a more immediate and visual impact. Even presentations where there is a linear relationship could be turned into a poster format, although the information may have to be simplified in order not to overload the viewer. Where I can see a use is to create an infographic AFTER a talk or presentation to reinforce what I've already said, something in an A4 format that you could give to people to take away.

I also think that because we now live in such a visual world that people are used to (and almost expect to see) information delivered in this way. And if you work in an environment that is dominated by PowerPoints then creating something different would immediately draw attention to what you wanted to say.

I'm going to try again but will wait until I have a bit more time and no deadline looming.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015


I don't mind doing presentations ... as long as I've got the time to prepare them and also they're a topic with which I am comfortable and familiar. During the past couple of years, I've gained quite a lot of experience in giving presentations which, I feel, has had a positive impact on my work at school- my presentations have definitely become far more visual than they used to be. As you can imagine, my role as part of the CILIP Presidential Team has meant having to deliver a lot of keynote speeches and presentations, on all sorts of topics! I'm also not very good at saying no, so there have been occasions when I've stepped in at the last moment (sometimes at 24 hours notice)when colleagues have been ill and found myself talking about an unfamiliar topic or to an unknown audience. However, even on these occasions I've done my best to carry out some background research and prepare my talk.

At times this has meant I've had to move outside my comfort zone, speaking on a less familiar subject or talking to a very different audience from the ones I'm used to - remember - as a school librarian, I'm usually found talking to teenagers or other school librarians and, occasionally, teachers. My first presentation as VP was at the CILIP Scotland Member's Day and I was extremely nervous ... not so much because of what I was talking about but because I was aware that I was representing the organisation, that this talk was going to be very public and I had the CEO in the front row!

I tend to use PowerPoint for my presentations. I like the look of Prezzi and have used it myself but it takes me much longer to create anything; possibly if I used it more I would get quicker but I think part of the reason is because of the many options it allows you. I've also watched Prezzi talks where I've ended up feeling a bit seasick due to the enthusiasm of the speaker to whiz around the board in all manner of directions so am wary not to impose that experience on my audiences. For me, PowerPoint is quick, easy and I've never had any IT problems using it. I also tend to create fairly simple slides using graphics without too many gimmicks - I think over use of these can detract from what you are talking about.

Regarding the process I use for creating a presentation, I've had a think about this and realise that the following are the steps I tend to take:
  • Research topic and make notes (usually more than I need or will use but I prefer to read around the subject and have too much information than not enough).
  • I then think about the structure of my talk, the points I want to cover and the order I want to say things in, and write this down in simple headings.
  • Next step is to create my PowerPoint using these each of these headings for a slide with relevant images. I try and use copyright-free images or my own. At this stage, I sometimes break down one point into two or three as I'm trying to convey too much information on one slide. I may also swap slides around if they don't feel in a logical order.
  • I write up my notes for each slide as I go along.
  • During this stage I sometimes find that I need further information or statistics to back up facts which means more research but this is specific rather than general.
  • Once I am happy with the structure of the presentation and the slides, I practise it out loud as though speaking to an audience. If it's a subject that I'm VERY familiar with then I may just use bullet points for the notes but, as a rule, I prefer to have fairly full notes especially if it's a situation where I may be a bit nervous as this means I can read from them comfortable in the knowledge that I won't forget anything!
For the purpose of this module, I am using a PowerPoint created for use with Year 9 students doing an AQA HPQ Level 2 project and the topic is how to give presentations.

Sunday, 18 October 2015


An interesting module (especially the history of copyright) and one I am most definitely not an expert in! I have a basic understanding regarding copyright in schools but if I'm unsure then I'll check out the Copyright Licensing Agency schools page or the CILIP website which also has some useful information about the wider remit of copyright.

I do think schools have more flexibility regarding the use of materials for educational purposes. That said, it's a nightmare trying to get students and staff to attribute correctly and the former just do not understand the concept of plagiarism very well at all. I always attribute any work I use ... referencing in text, using bibliographies, crediting images so try and lead by example. I also deliver sessions on these skills but I am certainly not responsible for the work produced by 1200 students. Not sure how you'd check it for copyright legislation without looking at each piece which would be impossible. I'm also not sure who is responsible for ensuring the school adheres to copyright law, I suspect it may be the bursar but I know that even the reprographics department doesn't check what it is asked to photocopy to make sure it's legal.

The other aspect of this module was regarding ownership of work I've produced. Most of what I create is done in my own time; some of these resources are specifically for use within school, either promotional material for the library or for lessons, so I guess legally they belong to the school. Other material has been created for personal projects that are not connected with the school but I have adapted and used them within the library. I consider these to belong to me and am "allowing" the school to use them free ...improving the service and providing added-value!

As directed, I have explored Creative Commons and Public Domain images online. I signed up to a CC website only to be met with two choices - download my own photos or pay to download one on the site - neither of which I wanted to do! Thus I then searched for copyright-free images and have downloaded one as requested, details are: Canary Wharf 02

Sunday, 11 October 2015


I love taking and using photos. In fact, when I bought my first digital SLR (a Sony A100 - the first SLR Sony made - it's now been replaced with a Sony A58), I signed for up for an evening class "Get your camera off of auto" as I realised I wasn't using even half the features on it. From there, I took an A Level in photography and since then have found myself delivering extra-curricular photography sessions at school!

I still don't use half the features on the camera but I feel I have a bit more knowledge to help me take better photos and an idea of what to do when things go wrong with light, exposure, noise, etc.

Having taken one of those tests to determine what sort of learner I am, it was no surprise to be told I was a "visual mathematician" .... I like images but also order! Lists rather than mind-maps! Which means I would rather communicate with images and my presentations have become pictures more than words. The advantage of this is that, unless you are there or have my notes, they don't mean very much - definitely a barrier to plagiarism.

So I use images constantly in my job ... often my own but if not then I'll use copyright free or give credit to the owner. We live in a very visual world and when I now see a presentation without images and with a lot of text, it doesn't seem to hold the same interest. Certainly my students would quickly switch off if I just presented slides of text to them; I am quite sneaky at using an image to catch their attention and then relaying the appropriate fact or point. So I can completely see how sites such as Flickr or Instagram could be used within an educational context but if I can't find a photo I can use then I'll take my own.

Regarding putting my own images online, I post personal ones on Facebook (holidays, family, etc.) and professional ones on Twitter ... often these will be images of books, signs, photos from book launches or conferences. My Twitter account is open and in the public arena; my Facebook account is friends and family only - hence the difference in the images I share.

I was quite interested in this module and decided to sign up for Flickr. But I'm not sure why it wants so much personal information. Why does Flickr need my mobile number? They could send me an email verifying the account rather than a text. I am getting more and more wary of websites than insist you supply all manner of personal information to sign up; after all, I can purchase all sorts of things as a guest at other websites without giving this information thus I didn't complete the registration process.

I also think that it's wise to restrict the number of social media sites you use, unless you happen to work in this arena. Using Instagram as a means of publicity entails regular input, much the same was as Twitter and whilst I use social media, I don't want to spend my time checking out numerous sites, updating them, worrying about "being forgotten", etc.!

My world as a school librarian revolves around physical books and real-time contact with the students; I would much rather talk to a student and take them around my shelves suggesting books - you cannot beat the personal interaction for creating readers - than post a photo of a book online in the chance of somebody seeing it and seeking it out to read.

Monday, 28 September 2015


Rather than rewrite one of my previous blogs, I've decided to consider how I use reflective practice in my library and professional arena.

I must admit that most days are a whirlwind of activities and trying to keep on top of tasks whilst organising the next event, so there isn't a lot of time for reflection. I also think that being a solo librarian doesn't help; it's easier to reflect on something when you can discuss it with others.

But I can totally appreciate how reflection helps to inform the way you do things, to think about the benefits (both to you and the students), to consider better ways of working, to look more deeply at the task itself and the outcome. In school we use WWW (what went well) and EBI (even better if) with the students so I am already used to this type of thinking and it's only a short step to applying this to what I do.

I do try and be as reflective as possible, both for in-house and external activities. This means I am always revising my lessons, rearranging the library, doing things differently the next time - which can make life busy at times! Thus when I have a lesson to deliver on a familiar topic (that I may have given several times in the past), it's not a matter of simple printing it out or using the same presentation, I like to revisit it using any additional knowledge gained and past experiences to see if it can be improved. There is also an almost instantaneous reflection after the lesson, a quick discussion with the teacher to assess its success (or otherwise) and that will then inform any changes such as obtaining additional resources, using a different level of resources, revising their tasks, rearranging the lesson structure, etc.

One of the things that has made me more reflective is being a CILIP mentor. Mentees' portfolios need to be evaluative so I have had to think reflectively about my own performance as a librarian to guide them in their writing - I have used WWW and EBI with them to help in this. I have also just revalidated and, again, that has made me contemplate my own CPD, why I undertook it, what impact it has had, and whether it would input into any additional activities.

Another area where I have been using reflective practice is with joint ventures such as the Pupil Library Assistant Award. Last year was the inaugural award and, whilst it was extremely successful, the judging panel held an evaluative meeting after the event to reflect on how we could improve it and whether we needed to make any changes.

I'm hoping to register for Fellowship soon so this will help to ensure I continue to reflect on my professional activities.