Friday, 27 November 2009

JISC online conference 2009 - Day 3

Day 3 was a bit of washout in conferencing terms for me. My son's nursery had a flood (so literally a washout for them) so I had to be off work. Oh dear that was my full days conferencing gone, no chance of doing it at home with an almost 4 year old around. So we went around Liverpool looking for penguins instead. He was happy because he got to see the "big tree" and the lights as well as getting a couple of rides before home. I was happy because I fitted in a bit of Christmas shopping and got to spend the day with my boy.

So day 4 of conference will be me catching up on day this space

JISC online conference 2009 - Day 2

On day 2 there were no live sessions I wanted to attend so I could concentrate on other presentations. I was only around in the afternoon so focused on the presentation from the University of Bradford, which I found really easy to follow. I liked the fact they had a PowerPoint with audio that I could listen to at my own pace and go back if I missed stuff, which always happens in a live session. They also provided other useful materials to support their presentation. The presentation was by Becka Currant, Neil Currant and Neil McKeown and they talked about Develop Me! This came out of a review of the student experience, so given what LJMU have been going through it seemed really relevant to me. Develop Me! is an integrated package of transition, induction and study skills support for students to complement what they do face to face. There are 5 areas to this:
  • a social network (they used Ning)
  • online skills development resources
  • SaPRA (the university's in-house Skills and Personal Development Activity
  • mobile guides - - they are currently considering a iphone app
  • research into the student experience

They found that early engagement with academic materials helped develop skills. They created learning objects that can be accessed 24/7. Student and staff feedback has been very positive and this year they had around 2000 members in the social network.

As well as the presentation there was a podcast on why use a social network and why Ning, which was really interesting. The social network is designed to create a supportive community, it helps student to see that everyone else is in the same boat and no-one knows all the answers. They can join the social network before arriving at university so are making friends before they get here, that can only help that transition into university life. Ning was identified as a suitable option because it is more flexible than Facebook, it's easier to install 3rd party widgits too, it's more stable and older students were not as comfortable using Facebook because that's where their kids hang out. They wanted something for work stuff that was different to the place for social stuff. This is now managed by the central university web team in conjunction with the student union. They paid to remove adverts from the site and it is moderated. They wouldn't remove negative posts from students, but rather try to act on the bad feedback. However they have had to remove spammers and would remove offensive material.

It's branded to look like part of the university website, which was important to students and links to the student union Facebook page and twitter feeds. Academic groups have been created and some students have created social groups too.

I think we need to get on board with this kind of technology and are in danger of being left behind, if we haven't been already. I hadn't considered Ning before because lots of universities and university libraries use Facebook. Maybe something other than Facebook would serve our purposes better

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

JISC online conference 2009 - day 1

So day one was yesterday and I attended the two live sessions. The first was by Charlie Leadbeater and he talked about the role of innovation education. He said the question you ask largely determines the answer you get. He then asked the audience "where would you look to see what education and learning might become?" there was a wide range of answers from the audience. I personally said nursery school children and some others said similar "my grandchildren", "children's play" so some people think like me, which is reassuring that I'm not completely off the mark. Charlie said that we need to take larger range of questions to get a larger range of answers.

Learning takes place in many different settings, both formal and informal and he showed us a grid of innovation. There are four sections:

    • Formal sustaining - Improve - this is improving what we already have

    • Formal disruptive - Reform - developing new types of schools, focusing on personalised learning, which is learning with and by not to and from

    • Informal sustaining - Supplement - this is social and emotion conditions, the cultures and environments that influence

    • Informal disruptive - Transform - this alternatives to school, its about collaboration, connection - this tends to come from social entrepreneurs

    He asked - What are the keys to transformational innovation in learning?
    How do these areas relate to each other, which should be the driver (the largest)? Where do you invest time and money? It’s about how radical solutions from the informal sector get sustained and mainstreamed.

    The was much discussion on all aspects of how we make this happen in the conference discussion area after the presentation - some of which I haven't had chance to read yet.

    Later in the day there was a presentation from Rhona Sharpe and Helen Beetham about responding to learners. Some of the things they found which may be quite surprise given all the hype about digital natives were:

    • Students are often surprised by the amount of technology use expected of them when they arrive at F&HE colleges

    • actually have few (or no) expectations

    • are familiar with but don’t use (as in survey)

    • appreciate online resources (this crops up a lot), because strategies they have developed from school, social, leisure technology use often aren’t appropriate to f/he.

    • are guided by tutors in what they use
    They outlined a developmental model as one way of understanding how effective e-learners can be developed. They defined effective e-learners as those who are using technology in positive ways to support their learning. They asked the questions What practices do learners need in the digital age? and what are the challenges for learners? One of things that I got from this was we need to enable learners to learn across contexts and apply skills across contexts

    JISC online conference 2009 - first impressions

    I have to say first off I am exhausted. Online conferencing is much more tiring than normal face to face conferences. I don't know whether it's because there is a lot of sitting with headphones on, staring at a netbook screen or whether it's the wealth of information to read through. Whatever it is I'm shattered and it's only day 2 of 4.

    That said I am getting lots from the conference and have enjoyed my first experience of using Eluminate to listen to presentations and actively engage in discussion (and voting). However like some other delegates I have found the on-going discussion a bit distracting at times and it's just not the same watching someone sitting at their PC talking to you as it is in person. The two keynote sessions were very good yesterday. I do think I missed some bits but having Charlie's slides to refer back to after helped a great deal.

    I don't want to make this a massive post to read so will split it up as seems appropriate.

    I haven't been into the social area of Eluminate but have popped into the coffee bar and left a post in there. I'm not as active in the discussions as some others but this is my first time and I am getting to grips with it all. Also I am of the opinion if you don't have anything useful to say, don't say anything at all.

    Right onto the first presentation.....

    Tuesday, 10 November 2009

    PPRG Annual Conference - Evaluation

    The hotel was lovely, the food gorgeous (at least 4lbs put on) and the facilities great (pool was fab).

    I liked that the conference programme was split into short sections with breaks in between, this gave you time to stretch your legs and regroup before the next person was speaking. Given that most people cannot maintain their concentration for long periods, I thought this was really helpful - I wish other conference organisers would take note.

    Perhaps more practical sessions or sessions that used group work would be an improvement, I've been to this conference before I remember working in small groups more - nothing too scary but something like the layout session we did on the Saturday morning.

    The library debate was probably my least favourite bit but others probably enjoyed it more - I didn't feel I had anything to contribute and it felt like a long session (it was longer than the speaker sessions had been) - just a personal preference.

    All in all a good and enjoyable conference, which I hope to be able to attend again next year.

    PPRG Annual Conference - Day three

    Day three began with a session by Paul Fella on Impact and how to acheive it. Before he started he said he'd be providing us with a CD-ROM with the presentation and his transcript on so we didn't need to take notes. At first I thought great, I can concentrate on what he's saying without madly scribbling (or typing) but after a while I decided taking notes helps me to concentrate, so I took to tweeting instead. It was a very visual presentation outlining some of the basics of design. Very interesting and we were going to put some of this into practice in the session after break.

    So after coffee and more gingerbread if you had the capacity (think I forgot to mention that we'd been provided with the famous Grasmere gingerbread at break times) it was time for some hands on. I really enjoyed the practical session and wished that there has been more of this the day before (not that I hadn't enjoyed the day before, it's just that hands on breaks things up a bit). We had to design a magazine page using the techniques we'd been talking about, using images, headings, sub headings and text. Jacqueline and I worked together and after much deliberating were happy with our end result. Paul came round and said ours looked very funky which we took to be a good sign. One thing that would have made the session better would have been to see other people's work at the end and if Paul could have pointed out good bits and bits he'd change, that would have helped us. As it was we think we did a good effort but came away not being sure.

    After lunch we all went out separate ways after a very enjoyable conference. Will do an evaluation post as I very quickly filled in my evaluation sheet and kind of wished I'd had more time for reflection because I would probably have written more.

    PPRG Annual Conference - Dinner and quiz

    After the library discussion there was time for another quick swim before dinner. Jacqueline was very impressed with the hot tub - it's just not really my thing, I think it's the proximity of strangers that puts me off.

    Before dinner there were the PPRG Marketing Excellence awards, with gold going to Hertfordshire Libraries, silver to CILT Resources Library and bronze to Newcastle libraries. I was also very chuffed, if somewhat embarrassed when my marketing tip was draw out of the hat and I won the book Bite-sized marketing: realistic solutions for the overworked librarian. Picture evidence of this on flickr as well as other photos from the conference.

    The conference dinner was lovely, as the meal had been the night before. We had a large proportion of men at our table, which we thought boded well for the quiz, as we all know men know everything - it was not to be. We seem to excel at recognising tunes played in the style of Les Dawson and didn't do too bad at history but as for the rest it's better not to say. We weren't last which was something - I can take little or no credit as I was rubbish. I'm never very good at quizzes but this was particularly hard. 10 rounds later, yes 10 rounds, we retired to the bar for another well earned drink and some more networking.

    Saturday, 7 November 2009

    PPRG Annual Conference - Day 2 afternoon

    Lunch was again lovely with another “pot licking” dessert (we didn’t, we just wanted to). Sharon Tuersley, who I mentioned earlier kicked off the afternoon and got us all up on our feet to do a bit of post-lunch exercise so we didn’t slump from too much food (very good idea). You couldn’t possibly of slept whilst she was on though, because she’s very good presenter and very easy to listen to. Sharon is from Warwick University and they have developed a very strong library brand over the last couple of years. There was major remodelling at Warwick which facilitated the creation of the brand. I mentioned in my previous post about a clear message and making that part of everything you do and Warwick’s message is “Connecting you with information, support and your community”. They ran an “it’s my library” campaign, which included snazzy bags with great imagery on the front and back up text on the back. I thought it was a great way to get users to take ownership of their space and hopefully then to respect it.

    So how did they get there well they have a marketing advisory group, they did the branding in stages, they communicated well with other colleagues outside the advisory group and they provided support for staff in using the new brand. They have a library style guide (very glossy – nice) but not just that which reinforced what I’d heard earlier about supporting staff using the brand to get them on side, so they take ownership of the brand. This is your internal branding which allows staff to see where they fit into the grand scheme delivering the brand and creates a strong brand culture. It should provide inspiration to increase productivity and clarifies what is on brand and off brand.I like their small concertina leaflets and the Warwick library rocks rock. They also provided students with a card holder to put the leaflet in but that had space for your library card etc. Some of you may have seen their picks of the trick or treat stall – Sharon said this was a light bulb moment. A student who came to their staff at arrivals weekend said all you need is a pumpkin (in reference to the mass of orange on the stall) – so they very quickly set up their trick or treat idea. Students answered questions about the library for treats and the trick if they got it wrong was another question. As well as showing the human/fun face of the library but also gave insight into what students had and hadn’t picked up about the library service – could inform future campaigns. Their stall at arrivals weekend looked really professional (we need to get a table cloth for our welcome week events) and they said even though they clearly had their library branding all over it students came to talk to them. In the past we’ve deliberately not stood under a sign that said LIBRARY as we are in direct competition with pubs, clubs and societies etc. – but maybe arrivals weekend is a different set up to welcome week – I do not know. This year we did have Library and Student support on our new publicity behind us on the stall but I don’t know if it made a difference – something to think about.

    This was followed by a library discussion - check out the tweets from PPRG on Twitter.

    PPRG Annual Conference – Day Two - Morning

    Up bright and early (well early) for day two and sat in bed finishing the blog post from yesterday. Need to go somewhere where I can connect to the wireless so I can post it. Loving my new Samsung N110 which is getting its first outing for this conference. It’s very comfortable to use and incredibly lightweight so am very impressed so far. I also am finding that the shift key is where I’m expecting so I don’t keep hit page up by accident (something I do on the EEEPC when touch typing). Hope the battery life lives up to its claims so I can continue to use it throughout the day. Hoping for an interesting day....

    ..... much later. Well day two was interesting. I started the day off with a swim – very nice pool in this hotel. It was lovely and quiet at 7am and set me up for the day. Breakfast followed which was much needed and very tasty. After breakfast it was straight into the sessions, the first being Mark Young talking about Human-centred design. So what is human-centred design? Well it’s not just about giving users what they want, because users aren’t designers. But having said that it also isn’t about designing them out of the equation either. Users need to be integrated throughout the whole process. Mark said there are 3 areas of human-centred design (it’s not all about chairs), physical, psychological and organisational. We need to integrate the human into the system design and operation to achieve the desired level of output. He looked at a couple of case studies, the PalmPilot and the Fender strat – both of which were good examples of human-centred design.

    Human-centred design involves a number of different methods for engaging your users in the process, from the traditional interviews, questionnaires and observation to task analysis, error identification, performance times and interface design. Mark also told us about a Design Museum exhibition, which was a public engagement project “to enhance the appreciation of ergonomics in society amongst researchers and the general public” and they applied the principles of human-centred design to the exhibition. The exhibition aimed to give a broader picture of human-centred design and not just focus on the physical which is most people’s experience of it (the chairs thing again).

    So in summary human-centred design is observational design, evidence-based design and a philosophy of designing with users and designing with users in mind.

    After coffee it Elizabeth Buchanan Elford’s turn who was talking about libraries: marketing and advocacy. Elizabeth talked about social networking and gave a good example of how social networking has benefitted a campaign – the Barack Obama presidential campaign which really took off – the Yes We Can speech. She said you need to decide what you message is and make sure that is in everything that you do so I guess for us that would be information; help; support – that is on all our new publicity so may we should be making more of this – this thought came back to me again in the afternoon session with Sharon Tuersley from Warwick, but more on that later. There are good examples of big companies and organisations who have embraced social networking as a way to engage with their customers – we need to be doing this, we need to tap into this market – I worry that we are being left behind and spending too long deliberating it. The presentation ended with the Did you Know? Version 3.0 video on YouTube, which I think I’ve seen bits of but I certainly hadn’t seen it all. Makes you think.

    Another quick break then it was Judy Goodson from Staffordshire Library & Information service which underwent a major rebranding exercise. They used a really strong non-stereotypical imagery in some of their posters. They created bookmarks and flyers, radio jingles and junior learner packs amongst other things. They engaged their staff in customer service training, focusing not just on “library stuff” but retail concepts, which we seem to be more readily applying to our services. The main thing I took away from this presentation was the need for branding guidelines, and training staff to use these guidelines, but without stifling creativity. If staff are comfortable with what they can and can’t do they feel more able to work creatively within the brand. And then it was time for lunch. I was impressed with the battery life on my little device at this point but I did plug it in for a bit over lunch just to make sure it made it through the afternoon.

    Friday, 6 November 2009

    PPRG 2009- Annual conference Day One

    Jacqueline and I arrived in at a rather wet Ambleside to Low Wood hotel, which is very nice hotel, complete with fluffy dog on the bed (named Sam). We are here for the PPRG (Publicity & Public Relations Group) Annual Conference in our capacity as part of the marketing team in L&SS, at LJMU.

    After checking in a quick cup of tea it was time for the first session, which was by Sarah Godowski. It was quite public library orientated but she did make some good points. She said there may be a need to change perceptions of what you offer and what you are about. You need to choose one thing that you want to get right, try not to get bogged down in all the stuff that you do but focus on one area and market that well. Whatever you do needs to be consistent and well thought out.

    There is a need to find a balance between truth and imagination and fact and impression. We must examine where we sit and what we offer. Brands that work convey optimism and confidence. She also talked about marketing campaigns that don’t directly relate to the product e.g. Rocky bars – this conveys something about you character rather than just your product. Your product is important but your character is also important – it’s how people perceive you.
    We need to learn from retail. Shops market to customers and libraries need to do the same.After a short break it was time for the drinks reception (very nice) followed by dinner (also very nice). Dinner started with melon and strawberries in vanilla and mint sauce – not one of my favourites but very beautifully presented and then vanilla/mint combination was lovely. This was followed by roast pork, potatoes and vegetables – all very nicely cooked and didn’t spoil my slimming world regime too much. The same cannot be said for dessert which was white chocolate and raspberry crème brulee – not sure how many syns in that but it was divine. I thought Jacqueline was going to lick the pot out it was so good :) Good company on our table and conversation ranged from cross country running to how good we are a quizzes (there is always a quiz on the Friday night at these conferences), oh and we did talk a bit about marketing ideas too.