Monday, 27 August 2012

Thing 18: Jing / screen capture / podcasts (making and following them)

Well done all for making it thus far! We now explore some enhanced ways of visualising data with the help of screen capture tools. We will also take a look at podcasting.

1. Jing

Screen capture tools allow you to make a narrated video showing how to do something on a computer. They record your mouse, and everything you click on and show on your screen. Ever had a conversation over the phone with your parents, trying to explain to them how to open the attachment you sent in your last email? (“Double-click on the attachment icon!” – “There isn’t one!”...): this trick could help you solve this kind of situations and, more importantly, some work-related issues like having to explain over and over again to your users how your library systems work.

You can download a free version of Jing at You will get a “Sun Launcher” button on your screen (top centre for Windows, upper right corner for Mac).

Hover over the “sun” and choose Capture. Click and drag to select a portion of your screen., and then release the mouse when you are happy with the image you have selected.

From here, you can do two things: 1) take a screen capture or 2) make a video.

The clever feature in Jing is that you can annotate your capture, by inserting a text box, highlighting part of the image, or adding an arrow. Once you are done, click on the Save button.

If you choose to record a video, Jing will provide you with an icon to check that you are not on mute and then will give you 3 seconds (!) before the recording starts, so make sure you’ve got a microphone and are ready to go. There is a 5-minute time limit – remember to keep your script short, clear and concise. Click Stop when your are done, and Save.

If you are following the cpd23 programme from your work computer only, it is likely that you won’t be allowed to download Jing. In this case, a very good alternative is Screencast-o-matic. Its use and features are marvellously explained in this post, written by The Book Gryphon for the Cam23 2.0 programme.

There is a variety of tools available for screen casting; if you want to explore the topic further, you can also take a look at Camtasia and Lightshot to name just a few.

2. Podcasting

A podcast is an audio file broadcasted via the Internet. What differentiates it from web streaming is the fact that podcasts are usually part of a series, centrally maintained and regularly updated, which also allows for offline use after downloading. You can subscribe to a series so that it automatically downloads on to your computer and MP3 player. To do this, you need to have podcatching software, such as, for example, iTunes.

Podcasts are a good tool to use if you are planning to deliver a series of talks, training updates, or anything that will require delivering your content over time.

An example of podcasting for librarians is the arcadia@cambridge seminars series. Careers services are using podcasting too: see for example the amazing series produced by the Careers Group-University of London, which is open-access and free for anyone to download – a great source of professional development-related information.

How to make podcasts: the best way to get started is to take a look at Podwhating?, a full course on podcasting provided by Edinburgh Napier University. It took place last year and worked more or less like 23 Things, with blog entries for each task; all the content is still there, and the site features also a wonderful page of course materials that you can access for free. I particularly recommend the guides dedicated to installing and using Audacity, the main free software for making podcasts.

What next?

Thing 18 requires a lot of work, especially if you haven’t used these tools before. If you have, let us know what you made of them and how they enhanced your work. If you haven’t, explore them and let us know how you think you could use them. Real examples in the form of screen captures and podcasts are welcome, of course!

NB: Post written by Maria Giovanna De Simone

Monday, 20 August 2012

Thing 17: The Medium is the Message- Prezi and Slideshare

This post was originally published by Ange Fitzpatrick as part of the 2011 programme.

Prezi- I like to move it, move it

driving home by myfear, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  myfear 

Prezi is now a very well known presentation tool and a great alternative to PowerPoint, but like any tool it has to be used well to achieve the best possible results. The unique aspects of Prezi include the ability to zoom, pan and layer levels of information in a way that offers the best viewing experience for the attendee. In an effort to avoid ‘death by PowerPoint’ people often overuse these aspects of the software and the results are as predictable as PowerPoint, albeit with more motion sickness! 

The main thing to bear in mind when experimenting with Prezi is to step away from a linear presentation style, this will allow you to dance around your subject, drawing commonalities and contrasts from different elements of your topic. There are some great online guides which will help you, and I suggest you have a look a these, but there is no better way to get a grip on Prezi than to get your hands dirty.

So rather than walking you through Prezi, I'm going to consider a few general techniques you could use when selling your information and library service. Thinking about how we can exploit the intrinsic qualities of Prezi let’s consider a couple of uses:

Dynamic presentations

The success of this depends on using the functionality of Prezi to tell the story of your argument. Use the fact that you can travel along the canvas with your audience to illustrate the main points of your presentation. Raise a problem, look around it (literally!) , offer solutions and then show the audience how they can take your approach and apply it to their own situations.

Great techniques for this include:
  • Using a circular structure to link solutions to problems, allowing you to visit and revisit areas of the screen as you talk.
  • Zooming in- hiding key points within pictures or other text allows you to expand on arguments without overloading the structure with text.
Linking ideas together

A Voice in the Wilderness: Personalised Library Services in a Virtual Environment- Meg Westbury

Using one large picture as a background allows you to show detail, the whole picture and the relationships between them.
Techniques to bear in mind:

  • Choosing a high-quality, interesting, relevant or relaxing picture to compare or contrast to your subject matter- how about a beach scene to mount your 'Beginners Guide to FRBR'?
  • Regularly zoom back out to reveal the big picture- hint, use invisible frames.
  • Be careful with your colour choices to ensure that your text really stands out against an image heavy background.
Teaching take-aways

Scale of the Solar System Activity- Todd Ensign

Prezi is a great alternative to a hand out, or for getting your message to those who can’t physically attend your talk. If your voice isn’t there to accompany the presentation you will have to be more reliant on text, but you can do this without resorting to those tried, tested and tired PowerPoint bullets!

Try these:

  • Group your presentation/lesson into manageable chunks based on topic or difficulty using frames. Answers or clues can be hidden as text or pictures within the frames.
  • Use arrows to emphasise that the course is moving along, consider zooming out after each few sections so remote users can track their progress- you could also offer a recap here.
Presentation preparation

Not everything is best taught using a projector and a laser pointer, welding, for example, but even if you are not teaching welding you can use Prezi to help bring together your non-projection teaching. Simply use the Prezi as a mindmapping space, the different text colours, frames and arrows allowing you to forge connections between disparate parts of your subject. 

By the way, I was wrong about welding. As 21 pages of 'how-to weld' Prezis proves. Go have fun!

Does Prezi mean the end for my PowerPoints?

Relatively new to prezi is the ability to upload and enhance PowerPoint slides. This gives you an opportunity to remix your existing PowerPoint slides, adding value by connecting them in a way that comes naturally to Prezi, but is impossible to do with PowerPoint.

Over to you...

Take some time to experiment with Prezi and think about what kind of angles it could offer to help you sell your service more effectively. Try creating a take-away teaching course, breathe new life into some PowerPoint slides or create a dynamic induction presentation for new staff or students.

A final but important tip about images. Be sure to use high-quality images- .png or convert to .pdf, try Zamzar for free conversion. You can achieve variety or uniformity by mounting your images on frames or applying washes or treatments like drop shadows- Picnik
will do all this and more, quickly, easily and most importantly: gratis.

Extra Credit:

Prezi For The Win? Ten Top Tips To Make a Good One- Ned Potter Edited 29/09/11: Ned has pointed out that this guide is now out of date. His revised version is here: The ultimate guide to Prezi.
Prezi: The PowerPoint Alternative?- Lora Helvie-Mason, Communication & Higher Education Blog

Slideshare: does exactly what it says what it is on the tin

Got an idea by horrigans, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  horrigans 

Panning back to PowerPoint, let's look at one of its biggest hangouts: Slideshare.The difficulty with Slideshare is pinning down exactly what it is: it's an archive, a ready made audience, an inspiration factory and a place to get yourself noticed. Let's try and untangle this one:

Your personal archive- shared

If you do a lot of teaching the chances are you have a lot of PowerPoints knocking around on your machine, your website, your shared servers, your institutional repository, your cutlery drawer... well maybe not your cutlery drawer, but you get the picture. Slideshare gives you an opportunity to host all of your teaching materials in one place, and makes them available in an easily embeddable format for others wishing to share and promote your work. 

It's a small point, but really worth mentioning. This is not your institutional repository, this is on the open web and can be discovered by a much wider and variable audience. If someone is looking for an inspirational teaching presentation they can cite in an article or use as a great example they are not going to come looking for your work. Put it where it can be easily found. 

Can you think of materials you have produced which could gain a new audience on Slideshare?

Inspiration for you

Okay, so presentations vary from awesome inspiration to terrible, terrible warnings, but if you are a visual person you might find that browsing a handful of good presentations on Slideshare will equal an hour reading how to guides.  From individual presentations to browsing the channels e.g. Pew Internet and American Life Project, The White House, or the Economist Intelligence Unit, there is a wide range of excellent slide sets available for you to learn from.

Browse Slideshare in search of the good, the bad and the ugly. Can you find anything that you could draw inspiration from?

Shareable teaching products, okay, predictable, but what else? What was that about getting noticed?

At a very basic level Silideshare is just a way to host PowerPoint presentations and .pdfs. The reason that it mostly contains presentations is only because we have a pretty fixed mindset regarding what PowerPoint can do. If you stop thinking about a room sized audience and start thinking about a panel. One of the most interesting new uses is to sell not just your service but your self. Have a look at this great CV
Do you think this could replace (in certain circumstances) your paper CV or resume?

Monday, 13 August 2012

Thing 16: Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published

This post was originally published by Lauren Smith as part of the 2011 programme.

Apologies in advance to international CPD23-ers; this is a fairly UK-centric post, but I hope that those from countries where advocacy has more of a history will be able to provide some useful thoughts and resources to the rest of us!

Advocacy and speaking up for the profession

Advocacy for libraries has probably been around for as long as libraries have, but recently it's taken a big step-up in the UK. During These Economic Times it's increasingly important for people working in library and information roles to be able to explain and express the value of their service – what it does that benefits users, how it can help non-users, how it can add value to the organisation it's in, and so on, in order to serve as many people as possible, meet their needs as well as possible and crucially, to ensure that we've got enough of a budget to do all the things we need to do. Stakeholders need to understand exactly what it is we do and why what we do is important – they're the ones holding the purse-strings.

Perhaps the highest profile advocacy taking place at the moment is public libraries campaigning; there's a busy #savelibraries hashtag on twitter and organisations like Voices for the Library, CILIP, Campaign for the Book, Unison and the Women's Institute are all fighting drastic cuts to public library services across the UK. Unfortunately it's very hard for public library staff to campaign for their own sector without risking their jobs, so it's very important for people outside of public libraries (and within, where possible) to shout about the role of public libraries and talk about why they're more relevant than ever.

Annie Mauger's address to the WI by ijclark on Flickr

A lot of the advocacy for public libraries has involved activities that not all of us would be comfortable doing: banner-waving; shouting; marching on parliament; speaking to local and national politicians; giving interviews for tv, radio and newspapers; helping lawyers put together arguments for legal's certainly not part of any job description for a librarian I've come across! However, this kind of thing is far more along the lines of activism than advocacy, and shouldn't put people off getting involved with advocacy. If promoting/advocating for your own service isn't in job descriptions yet, it a) blinking well should be and b) probably will be soon...! CILIP have put together some advocacy resources for different sectors including special library and information services, schools and further education. There's also a campaigning toolkit on their website. The American Library Association has absolutely tons of advocacy resources that I recommend having a scout around. Some fantastic advocacy came out of the LIS New Professionals Network Advocacy Challenge including jigaws, knitting patterns, and the That's Not Online! Project. It'd be great to see more of that kind of thing. The Lib Code is an advocacy campaign from the Philippines I stumbled across on Tumblr when I was looking for images for this post – they've only very recently had a soft launch, and I think it'll be worth keeping an eye on what they're doing.

The Lib Code [2011] from UP LISSA on Vimeo.

Getting published

In addition to all the skills you pick up when engaging in advocacy (public speaking, constructing arguments, communicating with different stakeholders, using social media effectively, designing online and print materials etc.), there is the opportunity to write and get published. Keeping a blog about your work lets people know that you're active and people will think of you if they need information, or someone to write an article. For example, the posts I've written for the Voices site and things I've published on my own blog have led to requests for articles from places such as False Economy, Living Streets and Public Library Journal. It's also worth pitching article ideas to places like The Guardian's Comment is Free – they're keen to hear from people who specialise in particular subjects, and have commissioned pieces by me, Ian Clark and Simon Barron when we've approached them. Emma Cragg and Katie Birkwood approached Guardian Careers, who published their piece on what it takes to be a 21st century librarian. Publishing within library-related publications helps to keep library and information people up to date with what's going on, and publishing outside of library publications helps to get your message out of the accursed echo-chamber. Both can be very useful, and help to boost your skills and experience.

Library Love by justgrimes on Flickr
Things to Do

There's plenty you can do to incorporate advocacy into your day-to-day life; the hardest part is working out how. For this Thing:
  • Consider why it's important to advocate for the section of library and information sector that you work for or want to work in.
  • Have a think about what advocacy you've been involved in. Give examples so we can pool resources and inspire others to do the same. Or, give an example of some advocacy that you think has been particularly effective – library-related or otherwise.
  • If you haven't been involved in advocacy, reflect on what your skills are (or which you want to develop), what you're most passionate about and think about what you might be able to do.
  • If you're passionate about public libraries and want to help – let Voices for the Library know! We're keen to get more people involved with things like asking organisations and well-known figures for supporting statements, securing sponsorship, liaising with other campaigning bodies and representing us at events.
  • If you've got any potential content for That's Not Online! let Jacqueline know.
  • Think about where advocacy fits in with professionalism – maybe comment on Johanna's blog post about Activism, Advocacy and Professional Identity or if you can get hold of any, look at some job descriptions and identify where you think the advocacy might fit within the requirements of the roles.

  • Publication challenge! A prize for anyone who gets a piece of library advocacy published.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Thing 15: Attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events

This Thing is all about events—conferences, seminars, training days, unconferences, teachmeets, or anything else vaguely organised that brings people together with a more-or-less strongly defined goal of teaching, training, or sharing ideas. We’ll look at why and how best to attend, speak at, and organise events, and hopefully by the end of the Thing you’ll be motivated to get more involved in this important part of professional life.

We’ll start with the easiest of the three facets: attending events.

Hopefully it’s fairly obvious why you might want to attend events. They’re a way to learn about something that you need, or would like, to know about, and/or an opportunity to meet people it would be good to know.

Perhaps, in these straightened times, it’s worth noting that a good event will be more than the sum of its parts: you’ll come away feeling more inspired, motivated, or capable than the event the advertising blurb promised. I’ve rarely regretted going to anything, however irrelevant to my work it might have seemed at the time. I’ve definitely regretted not going to things though - it’s best to take the plunge whenever you can.

And there’s a huge range of librarianly activity going on out there - from 20-people TeachMeets to the thousands-strong ALA annual conferece. There’s sure to be something that suits you.

1. Money
I’m not going to hide the fact that many events cost money, and that some of them cost a lot of money. Most employers have restrictions on what, if anything, they will pay towards conference attendance, so it can seem impossibly daunting to try and get to some events.

There are channels that can help out, though. Your local professional body (I’m coming from the perspective of a CILIP member, but I hope it’s more-or-less the same elsewhere) may be able to help. The CILIP special interest groups and regional branches have some funds of money to help with training, development and conference attendance. Large conferences themselves will often offer bursaries to help people attend. Some of these can seem very specific in focus, or as though they’re designed for the sort of high flyer that you might not imagine yourself to be, but the awarding bodies will want *someone* to get them - so do apply. You might be surprised. (And having taken part in cpd23 will be excellent testimony to your ongoing commitment to your development.)

2. Making the most
Obviously, when you get to an event you want to make the most of the time and money that you’re devoting to it. My best advice is to (try to) relax and enjoy yourself. Don’t view it like a day at school where you have to write down as much as possible in your colour-coordinated folders. Try to take in the big picture of the sessions you attend, and, above all, talk to people. It’s not easy, but remember that they’re probably there to try and meet people to, so by striking up a conversation you’re helping them out, too! And do ask questions of the speakers: when I speak to an audience I like to hear their questions. If nothing else, it shows that they have at least been listening, and that my paper interested them enough to respond.

Jo Alcock wrote a great post about preparing for a major conference, which is definitely worth a read:


The next step up from just attending an event is to get more formally involved and to speak at it. Speaking to an audience has several benefits for your professional development and your career. By taking the time and trouble to prepare a paper you’re showing that you’re committed enough to want to share your ideas and successes with the rest of the profession. There’s a lot to be said for overtly demonstrating a generous attitude. More selfishly, you’ll be raising your profile. People will be more likely to remember you in the future, whether that’s at a job interview, when looking for committee members, or when looking for someone to write an article or case study.

1. What to speak about
You may well be wondering what on earth you could speak about. I’m strongly of the opinion that if you’re working in a professional way - evaluating your services and modifying them in the hopes of improving them, you’ve probably got something to speak to others about. Nevermind the fact that you may have done research (for an MA or other reasons), or that you may work in a library or with a collection that are interesting in their own rights.

2. Applying
There are conferences and events on every conceivable subject. Some of them invite speakers based on proposed topics, and who the organisers know in the field. Others invite applications from anyone who’s interested. Some informal events will accept talks from all comers - a great way to ease yourself in gently! Keep your eyes peeled on mailing lists, Twitter and in publications, to see what’s what. I can’t do better in giving advice on writing proposals than this post from Ned Potter:
3. Presentation tips
There are whole courses out there on public speaking and how to present to an audience, and this post would go on forever if I were to list lots of good advice here. Remember that your audience is there because they want to hear something interesting, not because they want to rubbish the speaker, and you’re more than half-way to success. Then read these two perspectives on how to present, and you’ll see that there’s no ‘right’ way to do it, and you can go with whatever suits you:
This post from Ned Potter is humorously dogmatic, but it does highlight some of the errors commonly made, so you should flick through it and make some mental notes:
And from my own dogmatic perspective, I’d advise that everyone using a powerpoint presentation learn how to embed fonts in the file. This means that even if the computer used for the presentation doesn’t have the fonts you used to make the slides, the right fonts will still be shown, thus reducing the risk of your slides looking funny and poorly designed when you stand up to speak. Here’s a how-to:


Last, and definitely not least, is organising an event. This is the ultimate events-based way give yourself sleepless nights, hectic days, and to contribute to the profession.

Events come in various flavours. There are some that happen regularly, probably organised by a committee of people from an established organisation. Under this heading I’d put IFLA ALA, SLA and CILIP major conferences, as well as smaller organisations’ annual events. If you volunteer for the appropriate committees then you’ll have opportunities to help with those. Larger conferences also recruit volunteers to help as stewards and back-room people.

But there’s room to organise your own thing, as well. Informal events like TeachMeets and LibraryCamp are created by groups of people who just happen to meet and decide that it’s a good idea. There’s no recipe, I’m afraid for how to bring together such people - I’d advise just talking to all and sundry about this great idea you’ve had for an event, and hopefully some of them will volunteer to help out!

What to do for this thing
Don’t worry - we’re not now asking you to organise a conference. Instead, think about your experiences attending/speaking and/or organising professional events.
  • What worked and what didn’t work?
  • What advice would you give to others, based on your experiences?
  • And think about what you’d like to do in the future:
    • Are there conferences you’d like to attend?
    • Are there topics you think you could talk about?
    • Is there a training/networking/sharing need in your area/sector that you could help to meet by organising something?
    • If you have a burning idea for a great event, now would probably be a good time to talk about it!
Right. That’s the end of my talk. Any questions?