Monday, 26 October 2015

Tell Us What You Think



Congratulations if you have finished all 23 Things! We hope you have enjoyed the course as much as we did. We know it was difficult to keep up with the schedule while navigating your work and personal life so we applaud you for staying with it to the end.

Now that you are finished we would love your feedback. We think we might run our course again in a few years, but there is always a 23 Things course running somewhere in the world. We would love to know how we did, where could we improve, what worked and what didn't. 

Even if you started the course and don't plan to finish it, or you've been following the course but not blogging about it we would love to hear from you.

Please take a few minutes to complete our feedback form. It's completely anonymous so you can be totally honest with us!

Here's the link to the feedback form.

Monday, 19 October 2015

A Follow-up to Video and Mobile Things



I recently had cause to work on a video project. The end result was quite satisfying, but the journey was a bit rough. I thought that I'd share the experience with you, as it is an example of bringing a few of the Things together for a real-world use.

What I wanted to do
The project was to create a video tutorial for setting up a piece of land surveying equipment. The exact details are not that important, but picture a tripod with a very expensive optical instrument on top and you'll get the idea. The issue is that most textbooks make a very poor effort at describing exactly how to do this. It is a very hands-on procedure, and the best way to do it is usually only learned by doing it for yourself. In an effort to help my students to understand the steps in the procedure, I decided to make a recording of me doing the set-up. The plan was to edit it on YouTube, to include annotations, and make it public. It didn't go exactly as planned.

What I did first
I used my iPhone to record a full take of me setting up the equipment (I did the setting up, and a colleague did the camera work). The take included close-ups and wider angle views of what was going on. I then packed all the equipment away and started again. This time I took about half a dozen shorter clips of various close-ups. The plan was to edit these together to make a coherent story of how to carry out the procedure from start to end.

What I did next
I uploaded the video clips to my PC and opened them using Windows Movie Maker. I attempted to piece together the clips in the right order, including making duplicate clips to add-in where certain procedures needed to be shown a second time. I found that the software was not as easy to use as I expected, and after a short while (perhaps an hour or so), I gave up. I went back to the clips on my iPhone and had a play around with the iMovie app that was on there. What I found was a real eye-opener: it was far easier to piece together the edit on the phone than it was on the PC. I was able to add a title and end credits, and use slick looking transitions (such as swipes and cross-fades) between the clips. As I was not interested in adding a voice-over, or using the original recorded audio on the video, I muted all of the clips and added a music soundtrack (available in iMovie). At this stage, I was feeling very pleased with myself!

Where it went wrong
After getting the edit about right, I uploaded the video to YouTube. I did not make it public right away, as I wanted to add annotations to the video. The idea of using annotations rather than a voice-over was that I wanted the video to be easy to use "in the field" by students: I felt that if they could pause the video and read some instructions it might be more usable than listening to instructions. Also, I was conscious that perhaps audio-only instruction may not suit a viewer with hearing difficulties. As there was no voice-over, I could not add automatic subtitles. Instead, I had to go through the video and add annotations manually. This was not a difficult process, but was time consuming. To give this a bit of context, the video is about 5 minutes long, and adding the annotations took about an hour. When I was happy that the annotations and video were working well together, I made the video public. That's where it started to go wrong!

When I viewed the video on YouTube on my phone, I noticed that the annotations did not appear. The video and the music were working, but the written instructions were missing. I did some investigating, and it turns out that there is no way to display annotations on a YouTube video when it is being viewed on a mobile device. This was a big issue, as I had thought that most students would be using their smartphones to view the video while out and about. I quickly took the video out of the public domain.

How I fixed it
I went back to iMovie on my phone. The version that was on there had no annotation, just video and music. I found a setting that allows you to add titles to any video clip, so I went through the entire video and recreated the annotations that I had added on YouTube. This took longer than on my PC, as the screen was smaller and I had to be a bit more careful with my typing. However, after just over an hour, I had annotated the video on the phone. I then uploaded it to YouTube. Because the annotations were part of the video file coming from my phone, I did not have to add any text on YouTube. The video basically came as a finished product off my phone. The annotations were now visible on the video regardless of what device was used to view it. Result!

Wrap up
So there you go: a combination of video and mobile apps for a real-world application. What did I learn? 1. That my phone is an excellent piece of hardware for capturing video, and it has excellent software for editing movies. 2. That YouTube has a serious limitation regarding annotations. Sum up: Apple 1, Google 0

If you want to see the end result (and I realise that the exact content may not seem very relevant to you), have a look at the video below.


(Photo from unsplashed.com)

This "Follow-up" Thing was written by Wayne Gibbons, Lecturer in Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Galway, Ireland. 


Friday, 16 October 2015

Application for Completion Certificate

Application for Completion Certificates closed on the 30th of November 2015. This blog will remain live with all of the modules available if you wish to complete our course in your own time or with colleagues.
All of the Rudai 23 team are very active on twitter and Linkedin if you need to get in touch with us. You will find links to our bios on our home page,

Monday, 12 October 2015

Thing 23: Making It All Work Together

https://www.flickr.com/photos/intersectionconsulting


Welcome to the final thing in our 23 Things course! Can you believe that you're on the last one? I would like to take this opportunity to say congratulations for reaching the end! Hopefully it also means the beginning of a new venture for some of you also.

We have looked at such a wide array of tools over the last few months that you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. Are you wondering how to stay on top of all this new information that is suddenly flooding your twitter feed? Do you keep forgetting to check in what's happening on LinkedIn? Or perhaps you're feeling inspired to venture into the world of social media marketing.

In this blog post we are going to look at some social media management tools that will hopefully help you to keep in touch with the social media networks of your choice in a time-efficient manner. We will also look at ways that you can share content via your social media channels and increase your online presence.

Social media management can mean more than one thing. It can be simply the act of having all your news feeds sent to one handy location so that you can read them all in one place. It can also mean using a tool to aggregate and track content for the purposes of sharing it through your own or your institution’s social media accounts.

You will be pleased to know that we have already looked at a tool that allows you to view all your social media news feeds in one place in Thing 8 Curation Tools 

Flipboard


With Flipboard you can integrate your own social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+ into your Flipboard feed. The images below demonstrate how to link your social media accounts to your Flipboard account so that they appear in your Flipboard feed. This can only be done through the Flipboard mobile app however, not the desktop site.



Once you have added the accounts of your choice they will then appear on your Flipboard homepage as a topic. You can flip the content from your feeds into magazines as you would anything else on Flipboard or share your items to other social media accounts.

Because Flipboard is a public platform there are certain restrictions to some of the content that is viewable from tools such as Facebook. 

Hootsuite


Hootsuite is a powerful social media management tool that allows you to track several social media accounts from one place. Hootsuite can integrate with Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Wordpress and Instagram.  It includes features such as cross posting from one account to another, posting to more than one account at a time, keyword searches, and scheduled posts. These features are useful if you plan to manage more than one social media tool as part of a social media campaign. I often use Hootsuite when I am at a conference to track the hashtag for the day or when I am taking part in a twitter chat. 

The free version of Hootsuite allows you to add three social networks to your feed and if you chose to upgrade to the paid version you can add up to fifty social networks. To add a social network click on your profile picture and then click on 'add social network' on the bottom left of the page. You will then be prompted to input your log-in and password for that account. 

The image below shows my Hootsuite dashboard. I currently have three twitter accounts that I am managing- the Rudai23 account, my own personal account and a literacy account on it. As you can see each account is separated by tabs. You can then separate each account into streams of your choice. In the Rudai 23 tab I have chosen the home feed, a feed for any tweets that we are mentioned in and a feed for the hashtag for #rudai23.


I can add a stream for each element in my twitter account, the home feed; messages; mentions; etc without it eating into my limit of '3 social networks for free' . With Facebook or LinkedIn however, each element is considered one social network. For example if I choose to add my Facebook home-feed and a facebook group feed perhaps, that is considered two social networks. This is the only drawback to the free version.

Hootsuite Dashboard 

Advantages to Hootsuite


While Flipboard is visually more appealing for browsing your social media newsfeeds, Hootsuite goes one step further and allows you to read and share content and also write original content. The scheduling option means that you can prepare a day's worth of posts to be published at regular intervals of your choice. Unlike Flipboard, your Hootsuite dashboard is only viewable by you.
If you are planning to enter the world of social media marketing in order to raise the profile of your library or institution then a tool like Hootsuite will definitely make it more manageable.

Creating and Managing Content


If you plan to increase the amount of content that you share on your social media accounts in order to raise your profile or connect with a wider audience online then there are tools to help you source and organize your content.

Google Alerts


Google alerts  is a useful tool for sourcing articles online that are related to topics of your choice. It is very straightforward to use and you can set up alerts for any keyword search of your choice. Google will then deliver articles related to your searches straight to your email inbox.




Buffer


Buffer is a useful tool for sharing content that you discover on the internet to social media platforms.  It integrates with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. Similar to Hootsuite, Buffer allows you schedule a list of posts to be published at intervals of your choice.

Buffer also integrates with most web browsers so that you can install a 'buffer button' on your bookmarks bar. This makes saving to buffer possible with just one click. If you use Feedly you can share blog posts to Buffer from within the Feedly app.  Buffer also has an excellent mobile app that makes scheduling and managing content while on-the-go effortless.

Unlike Hootsuite you cannot view any of your feeds, it is purely for the purpose of scheduling new content that you wish to share with your followers.

An example of sharing via Buffer


Your Task for Thing 23 Is


Try integrating one or more of your social media accounts into your Flipboard feed.

or

Set up a Hootsuite account and add one or more of your social media accounts to your dashboard.

or

Try linking your Buffer account with one of your social media accounts and scheduling a post.

Write a reflective blog post about your experience with social media management. Do you use any other social media management tools? Do you find it difficult to keep up with all your social media accounts?

And most importantly!


Give your self a big pat on the back for completing 23 modules. We are very aware of the commitment required to complete the tasks, write the reflective posts and keep up with your other work and life commitments as well. If you have reached this point of the course should be extremely proud of yourself!



Thing 23 was written by Niamh O'Donovan, Library Assistant with Galway Public Libraries, Ireland.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Thing 22: Mobile Things



We have come a long way. From the days when a mobile computer looked like this, and when a phone only did one thing (remember actually calling people to talk?), to a time when we don't even consider it to be ground-breaking anymore to have an internet enabled, wireless mini-computer in our hand. Like most technologies, mobile devices have become smaller, more clever, and importantly, more affordable. In this Thing, I will share my thoughts on what I consider to be very useful tools for your mobile device, whether that is a smartphone or a tablet.

The Office of Communications (OFCOM) recently described the United Kingdom as a "smartphone society", where smartphones are now the most popular devices for going online, overtaking laptops which had been the most popular means up until 2014.

90% of people aged between 16 and 24 years  and 50% of people aged between 55 and 64 years own and use smartphones in the UK today. 


So with all of this technology not just being "out there", but actually being used, it makes sense to look at how we can use and tap into this technology in libraries. The good news here is that a lot of the tools that you have seen so far in Rudai23 already have mobile counterparts. You might wonder then, if you already know about these tools, why look at the mobile device versions? Why not just stick to using the versions you can get on your laptop/desktop? Well it comes down to one simple reason: convenience.

Your mobile device is probably something that you have to hand most of the time. Got a few spare minutes, or are a bit bored at yet another meeting? Whip out your smartphone and check out the latest tweets from @Rudai23. Far more discreet that bringing your desktop computer with you to the meeting. Found an interesting early edition of a rare book? Take a quick snap of it with the camera that is built into your device and let everyone know about it by sharing on instagram/facebook/twitter/flickr, or even all four of them at the same time. Far more convenient that taking out your digital camera, grabbing the snap, digging out the download cable, transferring the photo file to your computer and then uploading it to the various services. The end result is the same, but your mobile device will get you there more efficiently and conveniently.

Right now I'm going to cut a corner: If you own a smartphone or other mobile device, to go to the application store for your device (either the App Store, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, Windows Phone Store, BlackBerry World.....or others depending on what device you own) and have a look to see if you can find an application for some of the tools you found useful in Rudai23. For example, you might look for some or all of the Google Apps (e.g. Blogger, email, calendar, Google Drive, Google Slides, Hangouts, etc.), Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Prezi, LinkedIn......and there are many more. The chances are that if you think some tool is interesting enough that it should have a mobile app, then someone has already thought of that and made one. Have a good browse, and come back when you're ready.....


When you checked out your app store, you probably noticed the scale of the number of apps available. There are hundreds of thousands of apps out there, in varying degrees of quality, of course. For that reason, I am not going to attempt some kind of mega-review here. The best way to find apps that are useful to you is to simply download a few and try them out. However, I will take this opportunity to tell you about one new app and one piece of mobile hardware that you might find interesting.

Gumit


The app I'd like to share with you is called "Gum". The app performs a very simple core function:  it allows users to scan a barcode (it can be any barcode on any product), add a comment to the scan, and then share the scan back to the Gum database. This means that anyone who has the app and scans the barcode will see your comment. The website for Gum can be found at this link, and it is a great place to look if you want to know more. To read about how this could be used in the context of a library, have a look at this blog post by The Library Voice. I think you will find it interesting reading.


One thing to consider with this app is that it does not seem to be curated or edited in any way by the developer. Nobody seems to be monitoring the comments, so for example there is potential for age inappropriate comments to get published. 

Gum is available for free from the Apple App Store. We have been in touch with the developers, and we were told that an Android version is in the pipeline but that they are focusing on iOS until the app has become well established.

Beacons 


Imagine you are a library user and as you walk into the children's library you get a notification to your smartphone informing you about the events that are on in the library that day. Story time is at 11:30am, then there is a music workshop at 12:30pm, and the local Coder Dojo are doing a demonstration at 3pm. All of that arrives with a (hopefully quiet) beep and a notification flashing up on your phone. How cool would that be? Well, the good news is, the technology is already out there to do just that.
Essentially the hardware is a small bluetooth transmitter called a beacon which transmits messages to any device that is enabled to recieve bluetooth messages from beacon devices.  Library's can use it to send messages about overdue books, requests or library events and borrower gets the notification via bluetooth to their phone. 

It is almost effortless on the part of the library (the notifications do have to be entered into the transmission details) and completely effortless on the part of the borrower. There is, however, a cost associated with purchasing the transmitters. A basic set up with 5 or 6 transmitters would cost about €150, so they are probably not something that you personally will want to go out and buy. However, they have some very strong use-cases in libraries, as you can read in this article in the Library Journal. If you can see potential in this technology, maybe it is something you ask for the next time budgets are up for discussion.

Your task for this Thing


Option 1: If you own an iPhone or iPad. Download the Gum app and give it a trial run.  Scan the barcode of the book you are reading at the moment, or the last book you read, and leave a mini-review for others to read. If you have a copy of The Fault in our Stars by John Green (ISBN 978-0-141-34565-9) or Game of Thrones  by George R.R Martin (ISBN 978-0-00-754823-1) try scanning the barcode and see what happens.

Option 2: Write a review for any mobile app that you like, although it should be an app that you have not already written about on Rudai23. If you are already using the app for work, let us know how and why you are using it. If you are not yet actively using the app, maybe explain why you think it has potential and how you might use it in the future.

Option 3: If you don't own a smartphone or tablet. You might be interested to know that there is another online course similar to Rudai23 which focuses entirely on mobile Things. It is called "23 Mobile Things", and you can find out more about it at this website. Take a look at the course and some of the blog posts.

Write a reflective blog post on your experience with one of these three options. How do you feel about using your mobile phone for work purposes? Do you have a beacon in your library or do you think it is too much like marketing and an invasion of privacy? Would you find the 23 Mobile Things course useful?


Thing 21: Mobile Things was written by Wayne Gibbons, Lecturer in Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Galway, Ireland. 


Thursday, 1 October 2015

Thing 21: Creating Infographics

We have all heard the phrase, ‘a picture says a thousand words’ and I’ll wager that we have all been struck by an image that we have seen that conveys and explains something complex in a very easy way. That’s infographics.

From libraryconnect.elsevier.com
Graphs, pictures, diagrams and even timelines are infographics and more and more frequently they are being used as a marketing tool on-line and in the media. They are a useful way to convey data in an easily readable and digestible format that is also visually pleasing.

Infographics have evolved over time to become not only an efficient way to convey information but also as an art form. Often the design and layout of an infographic is just as important to message being conveyed as the content or data within.

International campaigns such as UNESCO International Literacy Day use infographics to highlight important world issues.

Many conferences today offer the opportunity to present at poster sessions and an infographic is the perfect way to present you project or idea to a large audience in a short time-frame.

Creating infographics is a skill however that takes a bit of practice. We are lucky that as Information Professionals, we already have the data and the skills to categorise it and make it easy to follow. All that is left to do is to work a bit of magic to make the data come alive visually.


Thankfully there are a few free online tools available to us to make the last part a bit easier. In this post I am going to recommend two: Easel.ly and Piktochart


Easel.ly and Piktochart 

 Both web tools are very similar so it will be down to personal preference as to which one you chose to use. Both provide the option to create for free and also to upgrade to a pro account.

I use the free version of Easel.ly which allows me to download my creations as a jpg or a PDF.  The free version of Piktochart only allows users to download their creations as jpgs, you have to upgrade to download as PDFs

I have a paid subscription to Piktochart and that allows me to use many more features including a wide array of themes and fonts. I can export the images that I create without the dreaded watermarks that are a feature of many trial or ‘standard’ free packages.


Example of a good infograph. Source Flickr.com

 How to produce a ‘good’ infographic

 A good infographic should stand out because of its simplicity and its ability to communicate a simple message in a very clear way. Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating infographs:

 Infographics are better when they are simple so resist the urge to load up your poster or image with additional information that would be better in a separate infographic

  • Create an attention grabbing headline for your infographic
  • Know your audience and tailor the content like you would do in a presentation
  • Keep it simple - highlight key items in your data rather than displaying everything
  • Cite the sources of the data used in the infographic and check your facts
  • Keep it fun by using distinctive colours and illustrations


How to recognise a ‘bad’ infograph 
Example of a bad infograph. Source Wikipedia.org

  •  A cluttered layout with very little space
  • Clashing colours 
  • No obvious 'flow' to the order of the information or text
  • Too much text, and too much information appearing on one infograph 
Here is a link to a handy do-it-yourself on Infographics originally shared by The Daring Librarian. 



Many of us write reports that we know could be presented in a more appealing way. Using infographics as part of your presentation or to highlight some incredible achievement in your library could be the key to getting much needed funding at budget time.

Whether you are an experimenter, an educator, a connector, a creator or a beacon, why not try using some infographics next time you know your report needs some more vibrancy. Your readers will welcome the change and you will be proud to have used one of these new tools in your work. Demonstrating your proficiency with the latest technologies can often be the thing that gets you noticed at work.


 Your Tasks for Thing 21 Are:


Consider a report or something that you’re producing at work, or for your local community. Do you think an infographic would better represent the data? What impact would this have on your audience?

or

Try creating your own infograph using the free templates that come with one of the web tools mentioned. Pick an easy topic such as the stats from your blog or something fun like what you would do if you won the lottery.

Write a blog entry describing whether these new tools for presenting data are any more useful than the traditional combination of Excel and Powerpoint. Have you seen infographs used in an interesting way in libraries?

Take a look at our Pinterest board for Thing 21 Infographs for more ideas and futher reading.


Thing 21 Infographs was written by Michelle Breen, Librarian at University of Limerick, Ireland.

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