blogging

Running sessions on Web 2.0 tools for researchers

Edit: This post has been sitting, completed and tagged, in my drafts folder for over a month - it was meant as a direct follow up to a previous post (linked below) but then the gender and digital idenity thing came up (which is now EVERYWHERE in the media - glad the issue is getting proper coverage) and after that my second daughter was born, so it all got pushed back... Anyhow, here it is. I recently ran a suite of 3 workshops, collectively entitled Becoming a Networked Researcher. I've put all the presentation materials elsewhere on the blog, so check them out if you're interested. This post covers the approach, what worked, what didn't, and general stuff about librarians getting involved with running researcher events that cover new online tools.

a tangled web

It's definitely time to do this

I've been wanting to do workshops like these for years... I run workshops for information professionals so I know how valuable it can be to learn about these tools - and blogs like the LSE Impact Blog show that in Higher Education generally, more and more people are finding Web 2.0 essential. As info pros a lot of us have this knowledge, so why not share it with an academic community who will be grateful for it and will benefit from it?

Previously some people may have thought I was something of a stuck record on this topic - just banging on about Twitter because it was what I knew about, when actually the Library should be focusing more on the traditional things we do with Researchers. (No one directly said this to me so I may well just be projecting!) But the thing about stuff like this is it opens doors - it positions the library or librarian as expert, and gains us respect. It means researchers become more open to the other things we have to offer.

Anyhow, demand for these sessions was huge. We're going to be running them twice a year from now on as once isn't enough. So if you have expertise in this area, try and make something happen!

What to cover?

I'd previously run an 'Enhancing your online reputation' workshop for academics which mainly covered blogs and twitter only, due to time constraints - I still see these as the big two. They're arguably the two most important platforms or tools, and they're definitely the right foundations on which to build a useful presence.

I also ran a taster session on online tools for academics which covered no less than 9 different things - interestingly, lots of them put in their feedback forms that of all the tools we covered, they'd want more training on Prezi. So I put Prezi into the collaboration and dissemination session, but actually it needs its own bespoke training really - it's too big to cover as part of something else.

I put in Academia.edu because I think it's actually quite useful, I put in LinkedIn because everyone else TELLS me it's useful, I put in Slideshare because I think it's the great underrated secret weapon of communicating ideas. I left out ResearchGate because I'd heard they're pretty aggressive in emailing people once they sign up, in a way which is annoying.

Anyhow, the Blogging session and Twitter session were much more successful than the other session, so I'd advise starting with these, and adding more if there's demand.

What worked

  • Collaborating with RDT. The Researcher Development Team are nothing to do with the library, but thankfully they're open to collaboration. I managed to meet up with Russell Grant, who runs a couple of social media courses anyway, and suggest the suite described above to build on what he'd already done - in theory, an academic could have attended his two workshops and then my three workshops and they'd have all worked together, building knowledge and understanding. I really like working with departments outside the library generally - not least because then the events aren't 'Library events' that no one shows up for, they're University events which happen to be delivered by a librarian
  • They What, Why, Examples, How method. I try do this in most of my training. You have to introduce a tool and tell an audience what it is - but it's vital to then go on to why they might want to use it before you go into the detail of how it works... With relevant examples if at all possible. Lots of the feedback suggests people really value this approach.
  • Enthusiasm. I'm really enthusiastic about these topics, and that always helps...

What didn't

  • Doing the workshops with only one-day gaps between them - I felt like it completely defined my week and didn't leave much room for anything else
  • Not enough example - I tried to put loads in (academic examples specifically) but I could always use more
  • The Collaboration and Dissemination session tried to fit too much into the time. We're splitting it up in future (see below)
  • I can't make LinkedIn sound exciting... I know it's important. Everyone says it's important, researchers particularly. But I can't seem to convey its value well
  • Some logisitical stuff to do with rooms and timing, with which I won't bore you now...

Future plans

We're running a tweaked programme in the next academic year, and it's going to be different in a few ways.

  • It'll be run twice, once in the Spring and once in the Summer - the Autumn term is just too crazy for everyone concerned
  • It'll have one session per week. Last time round I did all three sessions in a week and I'm not sure that really benefited the participants much - it just made me feel like I was having a crazy week
  • There'll be a blogging session as before, a Twitter session as before, but the Collaboration and Dissemination session we're splitting up into two. We're doing a Prezi session, and then a 'social networks for researchers' session - I've asked a colleague from the Researcher Development Team if he can do the latter, because I think he'd be better at it than me
  • I'm splitting the blogging and Twitter sessions into a 'PhD and Masters researchers' session and an 'academics' session - there's 90% crossover between those two groups, but the other 10% I found it frustrating only giving examples that worked fully for one or other group. Seeing as the sessions were over-subscribed anyhow, we may as well provide targeted workshops for each group
  • So what this means is, in consecutive weeks we're offering an Introduction to Social Media (talk, given by my colleague Russell Grant), Enhacing your Online Reputation (workshop by Russell), Blogs (workshops, by me - one for postgrads and one for academics), Twitter (workshop, by me - workshops, by me - one for postgrads and one for academics), Social Networks For Researchers (workshop, by Rusell) and Prezi (workshop, by me). All one and a half hours except the Prezi one which needs to be 3hrs - I've tried teaching Prezi in less but it doesn't really work... .

Exciting stuff!

Becoming a Networked Researcher: a suite useful of presentations

Web 2.0 tools have finally moved firmly beyond the 'potential fad' stage, to gaining widespread acceptance as valuable weapons in the Researcher's arsenal. Statistics about social media are almost meaningless because a: there's so many of them and b: the information becomes outdated quickly, but at the time of writing it's thought that around 70% of academics use social media for personal use, and in my view we've most definitely reached the tipping point where social media's utility for professional use is properly understood. This is directly linked to the 'impact agenda' - the research shows that blogging about and tweeting about research results in more citations for that research, and pretty much everyone wants more citations. But becoming a networked researcher is about more than the REF-related bottom line, it's about being part of a mutually beneficial, supportive, and intellectually engaging community.

With all that in mind, I ran a suite of hands-on workshops at my institution, the University of York, on behalf of the Researcher Development Team. The suite was entitled 'Becoming a Networked Researcher' and it covered firstly blogs and blogging, then collaboration and dissemination, and finally Twitter. Rather than divide these up into three blog posts I thought the most useful thing to do would be to have them all here - so below you'll find various links to, or embedded versions of, presentations and handouts for the course. I've tried to make it so they work without me there to talk over the top of them...

The workshops themselves were really enjoyable and the researchers themselves very enthusiastic and engaged - a whole bunch of blogs and twitter accounts have already sprang up since they ran!  But I'd like to improve them for next time around (we'll be running them twice a year from now on); whether you're a Masters / PhD researcher, an academic, or an information professional reading this, I'd be interested in your views on how useful these materials are, and any advice or tips or, particularly, examples, I should be referring to in future sessions.

The workshop materials

The three parts of the suite were designed to work together and separately - if you're only interested in one aspect of becoming a networked researcher, you don't need to look at the materials from the other sessions.

Part 1: Blogs and Blogging

Blogs and Blogging was the most successful session. The advice here is slightly York-centric in that we all have Google accounts, so we all automatically have Blogger blogs; if you're reading this at another insitution it's definitely worth considering Wordpress.com as your blogging platform. Better still, Wordpress.org, although that requires some technical knowledge.

Here's the Prezi presentation:

And here's the handout which goes with it:

Blogs for researchers: workshop handout by University of York Information

 

Part 2: Dissemination and Collaboration

I've decided against embedding the materials for this one - there was a lot more group and collaborative work and the session was slightly shorter, so my presentation doesn't cover as much ground. But you can view the Dissemination and Collaboration Prezi here (the handout doesn't really add anything); it covers LinkedIn, Academia.edu, Prezi itself, and Slideshare.

Interestingly, I really struggled to convince people as to the value of LinkedIn. I'm suspect of the value of LinkedIn myself, but I've heard countless researchers talk about how important it is, so I flagged it up as a key resource anyway...

 

Part 3: Twitter for Researchers

I really enjoyed this as I think Twitter is such a vital tool for modern scholarship and communication - you can see the Slides from the session here:

 

And the handout is here:

Twitter for academics: workshop handout by University of York Information

Any questions, comments or queries, leave them below.

Is it the end of an era for librarian blogging?

traffic lights  

Update: the day after posting this, I'm adding a little disclaimer: I am NOT saying blogging is finished! I'm saying a specific era is possibly coming to an end. And I still think blogging is, for information professionals, still extremely useful, very rewarding, and a great thing to do. Okay, glad that's sorted.

Recently Andy Woodworth blogged about how he wasn't blogging that much any more, and today @tinamreynolds sparked a debate on Twitter about whether the library bloggging community was slowing down, and if so, why?

I've definitely noticed this. There was a set of around 10 blogs that diverted into an 'Essentials' folder in my Google Reader which I read all the time, and there was at least 30 more that I regularly caught up with. But hardly any of the bloggers in question are producing regular articles in 2013. I don't really use a Reader any more - I just pick stuff up via Twitter. I don't blog nearly as much as I used to - and when I do it tends to be about things which happened ages ago (my last post, published late last week, was about an event which happened in February, 3 months back).

Lack of time is the biggest reason given for not blogging these days, and that makes a lot of sense. But I think it might be a changing of the guard, rather than an overall slow-down - a bunch of new professionals becoming older professionals, and newer ones attacking the biblioblogosphere with a fervor in their place. If we interact online in loosely defined sets (in my case, it's largely 'the people who were new professionals in 2009 when I went to the new professionals conference') then it stands to reason that there would be a collective ebb and flow in our activity. As we get up the career ladder we become busier and have less time to blog, and we're on similar cycles of activity, commitments, and enthusiasm...

I really, really enjoyed being part of a thriving, dynamic online community of info-pro bloggers. But I don't miss it now it's gone.

For me though it's not just lack of time - it's lack of energy for the profession itself. I think I'd make time if it was all as important to me as it used to be. Which isn't to say it's not important - I'm quite passionate about libraries, and still very passionate about librarians and our community. But I said a LOT of things on this blog in the first 3 years or so I wrote it, and that level of momentum - that fire - wasn't really sustainable. There are librarians whose CPD is seemingly never subject to atrophy - I admire that, but don't aspire towards it, weirdly.

I just don't have that much to say anymore. I used to write posts like this one, about the state of play - I used to love it when lots of people commented and we had a big debate about stuff. But now when I write things on here it tends to be more focused and specific: the last four posts have been about an online tool, a marketing idea, an event, and a presentation. These kinds of posts don't get as many views as the old debate type posts, but the blog gets more views overall because there's now so much of it for Google to find!

So if you blog, do you blog less now than you used to? Is it the end of an era for librarian blogging? And if so, to what do you attribute this - is it just lack of time, or are there other reasons too?

p.s just as I was about to hit publish on this, I saw this tweet from @barlowjk which sums up one of the problems very nicely - we have finite mental real estate! And SO much stuff filling it up these days...

 

 

Bloggers! Be aware of this new (?) comment-spam technique...

I get a lot of spam comments on this blog - Askimet protects me from around 2000 a month. (The most recent was from 'Luxury Car Makers' who attempted to leave a comment on a post I wrote ages ago entitled 'Why the BL e-books announcement is really important' and which consisted just of 'I hate Lady Gaga'. #fail) But a new one on me has just occurred, twice in two days, so here's a warning in case they try it on you. Some spam, yo

The comment consists of effusive praise, stuff about how well written the post is and how astute it was etc, written in decent English. There are no links in the comment at all and - this is where it differs to previous spam I've had - no link attached the name, either. Most spam comments either try and get you to go to websites by clicking on a link within their comment or by clicking on their name - in the same way that if I commented on your blog, your readers would be able to click 'thewikiman' next to my comment and get back to this site. So these new comments have no such link - hence Askimet not flagging them as Spam, and them making their way through to my comment approval queue.

On this blog, if you've commented before (and enter your details the same way again) your comment is automatically approved, but if you're a first-time commenter I have to approve it. So the only agenda I can think of for this new type of spam is to flatter the user into approving the first one, and THEN commenting about a gazillion more times with proper spam, full of links to dodge stuff, before the blog author can do anything to screen them.

So, just a quick warning in case it happens to you - make sure you don't approve that first flattering comment!

- thewikiman

 

everything you've ever wanted to know about library blogs and blogging!

A comprehensive guide to platforms, features, best practice and A WHOLE LOT MORE for library bloggers...