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Posts Tagged ‘Learning’


Together, Sally Pewhairangi and Megan Ingle are Heroes Mingle! If that looks a little superhero-ish, well, that’s because I think they are. They are doing some excellent work collaborating with each other to facilitate their own professional development.

“Heroes Mingle is our collaborative name. It tells a story about two librarians who do more than dream big. Two librarians who want more from the profession than just turning up to work to do a good job. Two librarians who, just like many other heroic characters aren’t going to wait for someone else to solve our problems; who have the guts to say yes, take a leap of faith; and make something happen.”

Recently they gave a presentation ‘Creating the professional development opportunities you want’ at the Worldwide Virtual Library Conference 2.013. They’re also writing about it. Part one is by Sally, Part two is by Megan.

I watched them do this work from the sides (on Twitter) and was impressed at the momentum they created (facilitated?) in the people who were participating. It’s heartening to remember that there are people doing good work for the future of librarians in New Zealand.

Ngā mihi nui ki a kōrua.

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Tag as in we didn’t have a blogjune tag until I just did it now and in actual fact I’m it because it’s my turn, which I’ve known since exactly yesterday thanks to a small email-related hiccup.

That’s the joy of the digital age. We had a round of emails as to how we might do this over the last week or so with an iterative series of models worked on until we felt we had a robust method of assigning rostered days. A google spreadsheet was generated, and here we are. When I lost track of my commitments the work was there to slot me back in with confidence.

One thing I’m wishing to introduce to environments I work is the concept of shared notetaking using cloudhosted documents instead of minuting. I’ve been playing around with google docs for some time, and saw the process at a dizzying level at Webstock with individual docs to support notes collaboratively created live by a space the size of the Wellington Town Hall full of geeks collated by an interesting group called Waveadept on their site.

The most interesting insight was the realisation I was getting the mnenomic benefits of notetaking without need to type every word, because I was reading other’s notes with an eye to agreeing/supplementing and thus actively engaged with the process. One’s more free to engage in the thinking work of the meeting, but one comes away more engaged in the detail of the discussion. It’s win-win.

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The 2006 LIANZA conference was a “talkin’ bout my g-g-generation” moment for me.

I can remember sitting in the audience with my hand proudly in the air as Stephen Abrams asked audience to respond with their participation in a list of key web technologies.

I can remember seeing a glimpse of the future as Michael Stephens delivered a talk from Illinois using voip (and if memory serves, a webcam) while Brenda Chawner relayed the audience’s responses to him via IM.

I can remember sitting down at the computer centre next to a guy using his PSP to sort the photos from his digital camera before uploading them to his flickr account. I can’t remember what I was doing but it was not quite but almost as 2.0. We spotted each other as like minds and started an enjoyable conversation that’s continued on in a most unhurried manner since. Currently Tim and I are swapping the occasional music videos thanks to youtube and he was recently kind enough to take the time to help me understand twitter a bit more. He’s still ahead of me on the digital front, and I suspect I always will be.

The whole time was heady, but my favourite memory of it was when after I wrote a snotty comment under a pseudonym on the conference blog Brenda thoroughly hacked me and sent a discrete email to my work account giving me a chance to come clean. There’s something about the nature of a geek that we enjoy being deftly caught when we’re being naughty, and if we’re good at it we turn it to inspiration.

And turn it I did. I came clean on the conference blog, put forward my ideas in a constructive fashion, and I’ve been trying to communicate my view of things to the profession ever since. Hence this effort.

I was always pretty much a geek of one sort or another – music, games, computers, books, but this one period of a few days turned me into an evangelist and a gadfly. So I’m wanting to hear from you good folks out there – even though this is a new thing we’ve had some interesting, challenging responses already. What’s made you a person with something to say on these matters that we talk about? What’s inspired you?

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I was at an event on the weekend when I was surprised by this sign.

Slide from Auckland Writers Readers Festival

Slide from Auckland Writers Readers Festival

I thought that cellphones had been around for so long that we all knew the social conventions for turning them off or at least turning them to silent in a public lecture.* I had a bit of a laugh when one of the presenters apologised for having her phone with her on the stage. Her watch was at the shop being repaired so she was using her phone as a timepiece. I use mine as a watch too and I’ve seen other people use their phones as torches.

All of these thoughts went through my head as I took notes – using my cellphone. As I tapped away I wondered what other people thought. Would they think I was texting? Was my habit of putting the phone down after every note reinforcing that? It can’t have looked that dodgy because none of the volunteers asked me to stop. I was a little disappointed by this as I’d psyched myself up for outraged defence. “I’m not texting I’m taking NOTES!”

Honestly, using my cellphone was so much easier than carrying around a notebook and pens. I’ve also started taking my laptop to meetings so I can type my notes up directly rather than trying to decipher my handwriting later. This seems like a logical and sensible timesaving decision. Maybe it’s just local government but this is behaviour outside the box. And yes, I’m deliberately referencing last year’s LIANZA Conference.

I was on the live-blogging team at Conference 2008. It was my first experience of lugging around a laptop and having access to the internet during a session. I found it challenging and an excellent way to take notes. I’m a reflective thinker so I like having good notes to go back to. Some of the comments I heard later surprised me. The one that sticks in my head is that it was appalling that ‘someone’ checked their email during a session. The comment wasn’t about how atrocious it was that the ‘someone’ felt obliged to check in but that they were disrespecting the presenter. The implication was that if the person was taking notes using a pen and paper they wouldn’t be doing anything other than taking notes and paying attention. False. I’ve planned a whole new library programme with pad and pen in a lecture from conceptual idea to implementation when I’ve been bored. (Not a LIANZA session I hasten to add.) Why this assumption that using technology is any different?

Admittedly the back chat channel can become distracting. There’s a greater potential for secret conversations via relatively silent technological means – the buzzing alternative to passing notes in class. But…isn’t that my problem to solve? I’m the learner.

I have to admit that I don’t get it. So what if I’m checking my emails or surfing the internet when I’m at a lecture? So what if I twitter during a presentation? Don’t I have to take responsibility for my own learning?

I’d be really interested to hear your opinion on using laptops, pdas etc in a learning situation.  Do you think they help or hinder?

* There were still a few phones that burbled away cheerfully as their owners made a mad scramble though their pockets, bags and coats trying to locate the dammed thing and turn it off.

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