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.