UoL Library Blog

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Opportunities in Difficult Times: UKOLN social networking event

Posted by gazjjohnson on 23 February, 2011

On Tuesday I went down to the Museum Studies dept to speak at a UKOLN event, aimed mostly at the museums and curation sector – so it was nice to go and talk with a different group of folks for a change.  It was also nice to finally make it into one of the few depts where I’ve not done a personal appearance in the past three years at Leicester (think there are still a few more left though).

The day opened by Ross Parry from Leicester giving a welcome and overview of the work and research of the Dept of Museum Studies, which was interesting background material.  Following that we went around the room to gauge the level of experience with social networking which was from a few folks dipping their toes in through to some wanting to do a whole lot more with it.

Ann Chapman then opened up with her first talk – What Web 2 can do for you, which gave a clear overview of Web 2 environment; which for a fair number of people in the room seemed to be right up their street.  While a lot of the material was familiar to me, it was interesting to see them presented in the span of children to OAPs; rather than my usual focus on like-minded professional engagers.  She spent a bit of time talking about character based tweeting as a way of engaging new groups, a serious aim or a more fun option.

We moved on a group exercise looking at generating a business case for a Web 2 resource.  The group I worked with discussed using LibraryThing as a way to get around catalogue software restrictions…I’m sorry, I mean enhance the  accessibility of reading list resources.  A lot of our conversation circled around the idea of how to overcome the barriers that might stop us stone cold dead in the water, but not letting them be the major driver.  We also discussed how important it was to have an aim and objective and an exit strategy, and how to deal with feature creep (as senior managers add new objects to a project in progress).

Next up Ann came back to talk about some tips for getting Web 2 right.  Following on from the business case she talked about the planning you need to do to convince senior management and IT about what you want to do, how you’re going to achieve it and whom will be doing the work, let alone where this fits into your policy.  Some good advice on using the resources followed – obvious if you’ve been working with these for a bit, but much needed for new folks – thinking about spam, thinking about regularity of posts etc.

After lunch Ross Parry came back to talk about distance learning courses in the Museum Studies dept and their use of social networking,  He started off giving an overview of the school and how they have developed over the 50 years of the school, culminating with the Digital Heritage course.  He talked about keeping the print resources that they have developed over the years with the DL reader in mind, whom will likely be time poor and want everything to engage with right there at the point of need.

He talked about technologies and wanting to find an area of co-currated space for the students and staff to use and interact with.  At the same time they were thinking about building relationships with individuals, groups and the sector as a whole through this interaction.  They mounted a blog (Common Room) that was accessed via BlackBoard to give the students a feeling of trust and security, as well as a University feel.  He makes use of Skype video chat for interaction, that really helps the interaction with student.  The DL Curriculum Shell is the way they think about the whole set of environments and student interaction.

Next up I gave a talk expanding on some of the professional experiences I’ve had over the years using social networking environments within Higher Education libraries.  after this there was chance in groups to have a look at some of these social tools, although in my group we spent most of the time having an extended Q&A and demonstration of resources from me than working through the worksheet (sorry Ann, but I think my lot found that useful!).

Finally Ann capped off the day drawing together the various themes – making a case, taking those first steps, ideas for practical experimentation and overcoming obstacles.  A brief discussion followed and then we closed for the day.  I really enjoyed the discussion I had with the various delegates, and as always it’s a sheer pleasure to help out UKOLN whom do offer such an excellent range of expertise and training events across the sectors.

The event programme and presentations can be found here.

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