online tools

Coming up: online marketing workshops for New Zealand and Australia libraries!

I'm absolutely thrilled to say I'm working with PiCS again, this time to deliver online training. With PiCS I've previously run marketing training in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and an emerging technologies in Auckland, and they always go all out to put on the best possible day.

If all goes to plan I'll be back in Oz in 2018 to deliver some face-to-face workshops on Presentation Skills (aimed specifically at information professionals), and in the meantime we're collaborating on three workshops online: Marketing your library (running across March, April and May), Digital Marketing and Online Tools (running in June) and Social Media: Next Steps (running across July and August).

It's all quite complicated because of running them at different times for different time-zones. Each course takes place in two sessions - 2 hours one week, then 2 hours the next week at the same time. There are New Zealand versions and Australia versions... Here are the details:

For me and Viv at PiCS trying to work out timings here has been brain-meltingly complicated, not least because in the case of the New Zealand timings I'm actually delivering them at 10pm the previous day, UK-time, for them to run at 9am Auckland time! The Australian ones are slightly more straightforward, with the training happening at 6am for me...

Anyhow, I'm really looking forward to this. All the courses are tailored for the online environment and I promise we won't be in the standard 'death by webinar' mode here: these are interactive, participatory, and hands-on workshops: you'll be DOING as well as watching and listening. It's going to be ace.

For info on the content and booking etc see the individual workshop pages linked above - for the rest of this post I'm going to use a Q&A format to explain some more about how these sessions will work.

How long are the workshops?

Each session is 2 hours long - any more than that is too much screen time in my experience. There'll be a 5 minute break in the middle, and pratical exercises throughout so it's by no means listening to me for 2 hours. Then there's a week off and a second session of 2 hours, and in between there might be some activities to explore and report back on. So in total each set of workshops will take 4 hours.

Will I be able to ask questions and interact with fellow attendees?

Yes absolutely. I use two screens, one of which has the discussion window open the whole time - so I can pick up questions as they come in rather than needing a section of the training where a moderator coordinates the questions. You can also talk to each other in the discussion. And you can message me in the session if you want to ask a non-public question.

Could I attend all three courses or is there overlap in content?

All three courses are about communciation so certain themes run through each, but none of the fundamental content is the same and none of the tasks and exercises are the same.

I came to your LIANZA marketing workshop on marketing - should I still sign up for the online version?

The workshop at LIANZA was a super-condensed version of the workshop, crammed into 1.5 hours and needing to work for 130 people! Places on these new sessions are limited to small numbers, and over more than twice the time, so the marketing one does contain a lot of material that wasn't included at LIANZA. I've also added a few new sections to the training since late 2015. However there is some overlap! So you'll hear a few things you heard previously. But I'd say there's enough new and additonal content to make it worthwhile.

I came to your Digital Marketing & Online Training full day in Auckland - should I still sign up to the online version?

I'd say 'no'. Although there's new content since the Auckland workshop, a lot of it will cover similar topics so you'll find yourself repeating exercises. Of course you're more than welcome to attend anyway! But I'd recommend attending one or both of the other two workshops (Marketing your library service, and Social Media: Next Steps) instead.

I came to your Marketing Your Library full day in Brisbane / Sydney / Melbourne - should I still sign up for the online version?

The workshop does have some new sections in since the sessions I ran in Australia but a lot of the content is similar, so I'd recommend signing up for one of the other two online workshops instead.

Can I see just the workshops listed for my time zone?

Yes you can!

Or there's more details including links to booking below:

I have more questions!

No problem, either leave them in a comment, or send me an email.

I look forward to seeing some of you online!

Just Do It (yourself)... free tools to empower

The Internet has bought much darkness and much light to the world, but one of things I really like about it is how it can increasingly empower you to make things happen for yourself. Whereas previously you had to wait for other people to create stuff, either because they were more qualified or had purchased expensive software and hardware, nowadays you can get access to a whole host of free programmes which require very little expertise, and allow you to take the initiative. Here's some of them that I've used.

I want to create a network

There are various ways to share space online. Creating a wiki or a network is so quick now, you can do one for any occasion, even if it is merely disposable (just be sure to delete it if you've taken a decent name, so someone else can have it!). As most people know, NING used to the king of free networks and has now started to charge. There are a lot of comparisons available online (just search for 'NING alternatives' - or this is a good roundup) and I've sifted through most of them - in the end, the site I've found which most closely recreates NING's best features and which appears to have a sustainable free model is SPRUZ.

Networks are so easy to create, you can make one for a one-off event and use it as a way of keeping (and disseminating) all the information about the day together, of communicating with attendees, and of following up and interacting afterwards.

I want to make a video

Have you ever tried using Windows Movie Maker, the thing that comes free with your PC? It's ridiculously easy to use, and you can get surprisingly good results with it and just your camera (assuming it has video built in) or even your phone. [Sorry Mac users, I've never tried your equivalent so can't vouch for its simplicity...] Or why not use the also-ridiculously-easy-to-use text to movie animation tool, Xtranormal?

Youtube Search Stories is really good as an educational or presentation tool, too - this one took me literally 3 minutes from start to upload:

I want to make a poster

If you want to create graphic design stuff from scratch, then download GIMP - it's a free art programme which is crammed full of features and doesn't have a learning curve of two years like Photoshop does. Or you can use a free online programme to make the job easier for you, such as Glogster. All their featured examples seem to be expressions of teen angst (or romance, in the loosest possible sense of the word) but it's very easy to use to create much more professional looking online, interactive displays. Also don't forget Photofunia, which I use a lot - it takes your pictures and crops/fits them into all sorts of real-world settings - fun for putting your head on others' bodies, but there's all sorts of potential for re-contextualising your logo or avatar in an arresting way:

thewikiman logo as pavement art

I want to create a presentation

Having been massively off PowerPoint I'm now coming round to it again because of the joys of zen-style slide decks; however, many free online options allow you to do something completely different and arguably more interesting. Check out Prezi, or Vuvox. I reckon Ahead has perhaps the most potential out of all of them.

I want to create a magazine or journal

Issuu is a great place to start with this - it takes your documents and turns them into 3D page-turning online magazines. Check out this Seattle Library related example. Imagine the difference in time, effort and resources between creating a regular magazine using old media, and creating one using issuu!

I want to create a podcast

Recording audio really doesn't have to be complicated - it is within the grasp of all Information Professionals. Audacity is a free programme which has all sorts of features you can add if you want to but, equally, will just record you speaking into your laptop's inbuilt mic if that's all you want to do. (I know of at least one successful podcast that began using an in-built mic...) You don't need expensive microphones, or expensive software, or sound-technician expertise to make your own podcasts, and registering them with iTunes is pretty simple too.

I've only written here about tools I've got some experience with - for a more comprehensive list of, effectively, everything you could ever need, see The Open Thinking Wiki (cheers for the link Bobbi!) or Phil Bradley's absolutely awesome list of web 2.0 tools, arranged by category.

That's it for now. I've got less and less time in the evenings to write these but will try and keep a trickle going until I get a little bit more control over my time management and can start producing them more regularly again!

- thewikiman

p.s I feel very patronising trying to offer people advice about stuff. What tools to use is one thing, but how to approach your profession is quite another... that said, I've had a lot of really great things by just doing them myself. What is remarkable is how much making things happen facilitates more things happening to you! If you see what I mean. So the other point of this post, apart from listing the free tools, is to say this: if you find yourself in two minds as to whether the useful thing you've just thought of is something you could attempt to do yourself, or leave for someone else to do - choose doing it yourself! It's more fun, and more rewarding, and often fairly simple to achieve.