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.