Thursday, 20 June 2013

Using Social Media in Higher Education

Yesterday, I joined some of my colleagues from the University of Southampton Libraries to attend a training event organised by the Higher Education Academy. The title of the training was 'Using Social Media in Higher Education' and the programme consisted of an introduction to social networking, top social media mistakes, creating engaging content and then a focus on several key social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The event was geared towards library staff, however anyone needing to incorporate social media into their working lives would have found some of the tips and instructions appealing. As a social media addict, I believed I was a bit of an expert when it comes to social media and social networking - I mean I know what a 'Dweet' is for goodness sake. What more could there be to learn?? Well the stats alone came as quite a surprise and have helped to perhaps put into perspective quite how ingrained social media has become in our lives (and how not embracing it could leave you languishing in the dark ages). 

This YouTube video about the social media revolution was something I was particularly struck by:

This helped to put things into perspective and undoubtedly furthers the cause to fully embrace social media - especially within an educational environment where students seek to actively get involved on networks and will predominantly be 'Digital Natives,' (someone having grown up with social media and completely comfortable using it).

So what else did I learn that is worth sharing?

  • It is time to get down with Google+ (apparently it is the second biggest social network in the world)
  • Create a professional profile, including a sensible profile picture (does it matter that my current profile pic on Facebook is the log lady from Twin Peaks??)
  • 'Content is King' - this was heavily stressed throughout the session. Your content should be interesting, engaging and relevant. 
  • Don't ignore comments on social media - engage with your followers and don't delete negative comments!
  • Tweet at least once a day (weekends get the most traffic and you can use a something like Hootsuite to schedule posts) and use Facebook every other day.
  • Keep it short. Posts on both Twitter and Facebook with fewer characters have much more engagement. 

I think whilst all these points are relevant and are worth paying attention to, for me the overarching message of the day was to engage and participate as much as possible. There are many 'lurkers' on social networks and this is fine - you will still get something from just observing, but true engagement with social media occurs when you take part. I am still trying to develop myself in this area, but certainly the more I blog, tweet and comment on social media sites, the more I feel connected to like-minded people and part of a community which is really what I understand social media to be about.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

A Belated 23 Things Post

No one likes a show-off.....

Well I got to the end of 23 Things and was most pleased to be crowned the winner of best blog at the 23 Things celebration! This was a lovely surprise and the perfect ending to a most enjoyable programme. I'm still slightly embarrassed by my rather lacklustre acceptance speech which was a result of being completely unprepared for my victory. Still, I came away with some certificates, a cinema voucher and chocolates so altogether a good haul which made it even more worthwhile participating. After some thought, I have decided to keep this blog open and use it as a space to record any other CPD activities I find myself taking part in. One of my main decisions has revolved around whether to change the name of my blog now that my identity has been revealed and that it is clear that Sarah Lund does not actually work in a library in the South of England. However I have decided to keep it going in order to reflect my obsession with all things Scandinavian and because I have managed to attract blog views from visitors mistakenly assuming they have found a blog about The Killing. So watch this space and know that this is not the last you will see from Lund in the Library!!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Thing 22 - Reflections

'23 Things' finished! Time to go back to crime-fighting.....

Well I have reached the end of 23 Things and my overall feeling is one of satisfaction. I will try and explain in this, my final post, simply how I found the experience, what I enjoyed, and what I disliked. To begin with however I will provide a few statistics that you may find interesting. My 23 Things consisted of:

  • 23 Posts
  • 1103 blog views (as of 21/4)
  • Most commented on post: 'Thing 15: Library Thing'
  • Most viewed post: Thing 1: 'Lund does Blogging,' followed by 'Thing 13: Reflections.' 

I am quite surprised at how many page views I have, and although in the blogging world this is comparatively a tiny amount, I am still quietly impressed that I have so many people visiting my blog. I do fear however that people have found it accidentally whilst looking for information on Sarah Lund of The Killing fame!

The post for which I received the most comments was the post I probably most enjoyed writing so I was pleased to get some recognition for this. I also found this post satisfying as I was able to impart some of my knowledge and help others display the Library Thing widget. This is significant I think as really this is what blogging is about: collaboration and community. If people can learn something from my blog and I from theirs then I think this is testament to the whole exercise being a great success.

Another success for me was not just helping people out 'virtually' but actually in person. Some of my colleagues and I set aside some time each week to work through the things together and I think this was helpful for all of us involved. Although many of the things weren't new to me, I found myself learning new skills in demonstrating some of the things to my colleagues, so in this respect I have found 23 Things immensely satisfying. I have also had a chance to explore in more depth some of the 'things' I have sporadically used over the years, and has actually encouraged me to start using them again having previously written them off (for example Delicious and Flickr spring to mind).

So, before this turns into an Essay (which it could, only it is Sunday night and I should have finished this last week!), I will now highlight may favourite and least favourite aspects of 23 Things:

  • Favourite 'thing' overall: Twitter. 

This was quite hard to call, as there were many 'things' that I enjoyed, but Twitter is truly something I use everyday. Although I am by no means a prolific 'tweeter' myself, I do check it regularly and follow a number of feeds that truly keep me in touch not only with the world around me, but also some of the things that are most important to me professionally and personally. Twitter is a wonderful tool, and once you get your head around it, is very simple to use. I can't recommend it highly enough.

  • Least favourite 'thing': Netvibes.

Ugly looking, clunky and with a distracting number of tacky widgets. It was a shame this was one of the first 'things' we were introduced to as I think it may have put a lot of people off. Looking at reviews of it however I seem to find myself in a minority with my dislike of it. It has also been touted as a worthy replacement to Google Reader. With this, I disagree and shall say no more than that!

  • What 'thing' am I most likely to use at work? Probably Thing 1: Blogging itself.

This question highlights one issue I have with 23 Things in general and that is it is clearly predominantly designed for Librarians and Information professionals. In my working life as a Library Assistant I see no need for many of the things, and bibliographic software and Slideshare perhaps stand out the most here. That is not to say that being aware of many of the 'things' isn't valuable and by virtue of the fact that I work in an academic library and face a wide variety of enquiries everyday, knowing about many of the 'things' is actually quite important. I would like to think that I can in fact incorporate many into my working life, but I may only be able to do this by actively making these a part of my job. So for instance I have been actively involved in setting up and contributing to the WSA library blog, and also have access to the library's twitter feed and facebook page (mwahahaha the power!!), but I got involved in these because I put myself forward and really find that I get increased job satisfaction through these.

So to conclude, I have very much enjoyed 23 Things and although it has been a bit of a struggle at times to fit it all in, I do feel satisfied with the amount of work I have put in and the knowledge I have gained in doing so. Thank you organisers of 23 Things for all your hard work and guidance. Also, please be aware that it is my birthday this Friday - a day before the prize giving if I am not mistaken ;-)

Thing 21: Google Drive

So with technology moving so fast, it is often hard to keep up with which inventions are having the most impact on me. One development however that stands out for me is undoubtedly Cloud computing. The idea that you no longer have to save everything to portable hardware devices and can access your files from any computer (with Internet access), and from anywhere in the world, is quite outstanding. For someone that constantly loses small things like memory sticks and has always therefore been at risk of losing hours of work in the process, cloud storage has become a dream come true.

'Clouds' by mnsc on Flickr

When I first discovered cloud storage, Google Drive didn't exist (it wasn't released in fact until April 2012), so I chose one of the popular models of the time which was Dropbox. I found it very straightforward to set up and upload files, and download versions on my laptop, desktop, tablet and smartphone. Dropbox has been truly indispensable over the years, especially when I have been studying. I don't tend to use it so much to store photos (especially since iCloud has come about), but overall, Dropbox is an essential part of my technological life.

So over to Google Drive. Could it replace my beloved Dropbox?

Well one thing stands out immediately: You get more free space (5GB) than with Dropbox which is only free for the first 2GB (although you can gain extra space through referrals).  Another added bonus is that you can create files directly in Google Drive. In addition to creating documents, spreadsheets, forms, drawings and presentations, there are many more apps available in the Chrome store which will allow you to create further features such as mind-maps, videos and diagrams.

On balance, there is more you can do with Google Drive, and when you have a Google accounts for other things, then it makes sense to integrate your cloud storage with Google as well. However, after Google decided to do away with Google Reader, which must have been one of the most popular RSS readers around, I'm not sure I have total faith that Google Drive will be around indefinitely. In fact, after discussing this very fact with my husband he pointed me in the direction of the following article on the Guardian website which discusses the lifespan of Google services and APIs. It makes for interesting reading and has encouraged me to for now, stick with Dropbox which I have been happily using for a number of years....