Reflecting helps develop skills and review effectiveness, rather than just carry on doing things as I have always done them. It is about questioning, in a positive way, what I do and why I do it and then deciding whether there is a better, or more efficient, way of doing it in the future. We learn by experiences and mistakes. But, unless we question ourselves about what our experiences mean and think actively about them, we won’t make any changes. Self-reflection enables us to move from just experiencing, into understanding. Self-reflection is not about focusing solely on the negative, it:
Reflexivity is a researcher's ongoing critique and critical reflection of his or her own biases. Reflexivity is the process of reflecting on yourself the researcher, to provide more effective and impartial analysis. It involves examining and consciously acknowledging the assumptions and preconceptions you bring into the research and that therefore shape the outcome. None of us are detached, objective observers. We all hold opinions and pre-formulated ideas, based on our experiences and what we have been exposed to in our lives. Our understanding of the world is based on our own patterns of thought and behaviour, our personal values, culture, ethnicity, religion, age, gender and the job we do. The perspective or position of the researcher shapes all research whether that be quantitative or qualitative.
Things 19, 20 & 21 are complete...
And now for Thing 22... The final reflective practice of the course and alas the end of Rudaí 23. I thought I would be delighted 'doing' this final reflection, but now that I am actually doing it I am feeling somewhat lonely. Rudaí 23 has played a significant part in my evening routine over the past few months. I have used tools that I would never have considered using, tools that I hadn't heard of and indeed tools that I use in both my personal and professional life. I am thus both happy and despondent.
The task for Thing 22 is to reflect on Things 19, 20 and 21, so here goes. Podcasts are digital audio files available online. I choose to complete option 2 and produced a short podcast. Option 1 would have been a more engaged option but the fact that I hadn't created a podcast in the past meant that I choose this option. I have listened to a number of podcasts, I particularly enjoy 'Librarians Aloud' as its by librarians for librarians, or indeed for those interested in the profession. I also like the 'Adventures in library instruction' series of podcasts. The tools I used for this task were Audacity for recording and SoundCloud for hosting my recording. Both tools were very user friendly and free and I would definitely use both tool going forward; in fact I plan on recording and making available a series of library instruction podcasts for our library users.
Thing 20 covered library advocacy. We advocate our libraries through our mission statements, strategic plans and other library publications, but we can always do more. Thing 20 aimed to get us thinking about how we can contribute to library advocacy. I found this task both interesting and challenging. Yes, we have a mission statement along with a number of library publications but I must admit that I would have not considered such material advocacy as such. So this task really got me thinking, before the task the main way I considered advocacy was through marketing the library and promoting library activities. I was apprehensive to begin with in following the list of 9 exercises but pleased when I completed all 9 exercises provided. I believe that librarians need educating in the skills of advocacy, as library professionals we value libraries but how is that value measured outside of our sphere. We can measure the impact of our profession through engagement and impact. I hadn't regarded our physical space as a form of advocacy but in hindsight being fortunate enough to have a somewhat flagship building both within the college and beyond is testimony to such.
Thing 20 goes hand-in-hand with Thing 21; professional library associations are key to advocacy; encouraging campaigns, funding and developing national strategies and frameworks. Advocacy is just one of the many benefits of engaging with professional groups and organisation. Professional groups advocate the values and functions of librarians, raising our profile as professionals. They advise, campaign, and provide forums to communicate and collaborate. They provide courses and conferences as well as recognising the pursuit of continued professional development. Professional groups akin to the Library Association of Ireland (LAI) and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) advise, influence and set standards.
It is evident that a group of people have more influence and power than an individual, so if we value our profession we should engage with like minded professionals by joining an associated group. Thing 21 genuinely made me reassess the value of joining professional groups. As an employee I am an institutional member of the LAI and up until now have been happy with the benefits of the membership but after this task I can appreciate the more far reaching benefits of renewing my individual membership.
Some final thoughts...
Rudaí 23 has been a compelling course of discovery from start to finish. The reflective practice tasks really helped me make meaning of the 23 things. It's easy to skim over some tools without truly understanding how to use them. The reflective practice tasks made me think about what I did; evaluating the advantages or disadvantages of the tools, as well as exploring the value of tools relevant to our profession and the impact of library professionals. In the main I have embraced the 23 Things for information skills provided through Rudaí 23.
I would like to thank the Rudaí 23 team for the enlightening course, the positive feedback and ongoing encouragement. Well done all, it’s been a pleasure!
I found the tasks on critical thinking particularly challenging and stimulating. At no time had I considered PIM or indeed advocated Wikipedia, so I am pleased to have been given the opportunity to consider both. Whether we want to or not, we continuously contribute to a growing representation of who we are online, so no matter what we do online it's important that we know what kind of trail we're leaving and what the likely effects are. Librarians are good at sharing information and imparting knowledge, so I was at ease with Thing 17, sharing your work.
On paper the idea of Personal Information Management (PIM) seems like something that could really benefit my life. However, I really didn’t think I could fully engage with any of the tools I experimented with for this task. However, the more I thought about PIM the more I thought about using Evernote, it would mean less paper in my life and the search functionally seems very good; the more you add the more useful the tool would be. PIM is about finding, keeping, organizing, and maintaining information, it’s about managing privacy and the flow of information something that information professional do continually in their professional roles; I now need to do the same with my personal information.
My opinion of Wikipedia has changed since doing thing 15. I had never thought of editing a Wikipedia entry and to be honest I tend to avoid Wikipedia at all cost, that is until I completed the task. As an information professional I consider myself dependable in judging the relevance of information sources, considering; authority, accuracy and objectivity. I use the CRAAP Test for my own research purposes and when delivering information skills sessions in evaluating information. I would always discredit Wikipedia but from now on I will be advising students to use it as a general reference and I realise it is a great source for information, as with all information it is up to the reader/user to think critically about all the information they find and use. I really enjoyed using the ‘Citation Hunt’ tool to edit a citation and can see me using the tool in the future.
Overall, I consider myself careful about my digital footprint. I always think before I post a personal picture or information. I would never click on an email where I do not know the sender. My online banking is only performed over a secure network. As with several previous ‘Things’ my eyes have been opened much wider since this task. I will be taking added precautions to consciously reduce my digital footprint going forward. The terms and conditions are not something I would usually read in the main for apps or downloads, so no, I seldom give informed consent, especially as far as social media is concerned. I must add this to my new to do list, especially with the latest Facebook controversy. I am guilty of using a derivation of passwords. Unfortunately, I cannot see myself changing this behaviour, since so much of my daily routines performed online requiring passwords, it would be impossible to be too obscure with them.
Librarians offer people the ability to discover information, we are good at resource sharing and we work together to advance library services. Thing 17 gave me the opportunity to update and share work on ResearchGate, a tool for sharing research work, it helps get your research ‘out there’ as well as offering a place to network with peers. I didn’t try SlideShare, this is on my ‘to do’ list, to upload a presentation to share across my social networks, I have a LinkedIn account so it should be fairly straightforward.
For professional growth we need to get out of our comfort zone, and into our growth zone. I think I have achieved this with the tasks included in the critical thinking section, I have experimented with several new tools and tried something that I would never have considered doing only for Rudaĺ 23.
Reflecting on Things 10, 11 and 12 in anticipation of earning the online networker badge will hopefully be straightforward enough as I frequently use these three ‘Things’.
I felt these three task were easy to complete, but it’s only easy when you know how! As previously indicated, for thing 10 I use Facebook and Twitter personally as well as professionally. My professional brand exists in the form of my LinkedIn profile, which I was happy to take the opportunity to update somewhat in conjunction with this task. As it happens I could spend more time updating my profile and should do, it’s on my to-do list! Collaborative tools made me feel at ease as I have used a number of them to collaborate. As with many of the tools, its deciding which is better, easier, faster; for me that was Teamwork.
Am I an online networker? Yes, I would put myself in this category. I promote my brand as well as communicate and collaborate online. I use Twitter to network professionally, communicating with colleagues and other like-minded professionals. I am conscious of my online presence and aware of how I conduct myself professionally online through my LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. I am confident that that there is a coherent connection between the two tools.
The tools for thing 12 focused on communicating and collaborating with others. I have used Teamwork, Google Hangouts, Skype for Business and Adobe Connect to collaborate with colleagues, in the past, based at other campus libraries as well as remote partners in other institutions and organisations. The joy of collaboration is many heads make light work, which I feel allows for seamless communication remotely. Teamwork is my preferred tool for this task. I am confident that I present an online persona that I am happy for other professionals to see.
I was comfortable using the majority of the tools mentioned in these three things. Although I did not take a look at Slack or Trello; I may in the future. I can confidentially declare I am in comfortable when communicating and collaborating remotely, or not.
Reflecting is about creating awareness, if you want to know if something is fit for purpose reflect on it. For Thing 9 we were asked to complete the tasks in Things 3, 7 and 8 and show a good understanding of the topics. I have completed the three ‘Things’ and believe I have accomplished a decent knowledge of the topics.
My reflection on Thing 3 is available in my Thing 6 reflection. I don’t know what I found harder reflecting on Thing 7 or doing Thing 7. Working in an academic library I found it challenging to complete the task of creating an online exhibition. The main reason for this was because digital exhibition allows institutions to put a collection or selection of material in the spotlight. If you search for visual exhibitions online, they are mainly historical, or heritage related. Our academic library does not house valuable manuscripts or cultural collections to promote, so after overlooking Thing 7 for some time I decided to choose a topic that I spend a vast amount of time seeking to promote; information literacy!
The exhibition aspires to attract students and other library users to be aware of our extensive collection of information literacy resources and consequently access and utilize them. In terms of accessibility the online exhibition will hopefully reach audiences that a counterpart physical exhibition could never achieve. OK it’s not a special collection; but information literacy is special to me!
Thing 8 was fun. I have used several tools to create infographics, for this task I choose Venngage. This tool is easy to use, free, fast and eye-catching. It’s also easy to be visual with other tool likes Canva and Piktochart which I use habitually for promotional purposes. I choose Venngage as I hadn't used this user-friendly infographic maker prior to the task so I thought I would challenge myself with a new tool that aids the creation of visually attractive infographics without being a graphic designer.
In evaluation I liked all three tasks. Thing 3; well where would we be without Google Images? Thing 8 showed me a new tool to create something that I am used of doing. Although I found Thing 7 challenging to begin with once I had chosen my topic the actual establishment of the online exhibition was straightforward, and I can definitely see its value.
In this critical reflection I will apply Gibbs’ 1988 reflective cycle. I believe Gibbs' reflective cycle is very useful in inspiring thinking on the different stages of my experience, helping me learn from my experiences.
The task is to write a reflective practice post concerning my experiences thus far with Rudaí 23, namely Things 3 to 5.
I used each of the tools from Things 3 to 5 prior to commencing Rudaí 23 so was confident that I could complete the tasks without difficulty.
I felt relatively at ease in advance of doing the three tasks. I felt proficient in the tools and impending tasks. I am constantly looking for images that are labelled for reuse for promotional material and social media so using Google images for Thing 3 was unproblematic. As a librarian I am aware of copyright and copyright restrictions and Creative Commons licenses; although an overview of the same is always good. In saying that I could have gone outside of my comfort zone for this task, in fact I rarely used the photo sharing website Flickr. Thing 4 was always going to be fun, I love PhotoFunia, which I based my Thing 4 on, but I also use Quik to create short videos to promote our library, so I was comfortable with this ‘Thing’. Thing 5 was all about video presentations and again I am au fait with video presentations, having created video screen captures with PowToon. I love PowToon, it’s so easy to use, it's more than a standard presentation which make it more fun and engaging for the viewer, a great way to share information.
The overall experience I had with Things 3 to 5 was positive. I felt the Things were all user-friendly, practical and Things 4 and 5 are very attention-grabbing. I did tend to rush in with my ‘Things’, I think that was because they felt familiar and comfortable. I perhaps need to go back over the advice given by the Rudaí 23 contributors; and restrain myself from starting any story or information sharing presentation without planning it first! Thus, it could be said that my time management fell short; more time should have been spent planning what I wanted to share rather than, essentially, trying to get the task done. Nevertheless, I believe that I completed the tasks to a respectable standard and know that I will continue to use all the tools I engaged with in Things 3 to 5. In fact, I am currently in the process of creating a learning object using PowToon for an assessment that I need to submit shortly.
The tasks were relevant and applicable to me as an information professional. All the tools can be used in my day-to-day job to communicate visually with library users, whether that be staff, students, external members or the public. I would have no hesitation in recommending any of the tools I used to complete the tasks, I liked them all and they’re all free; well the basics are anyway! PhotoFunia is such fun, the only downside I have with this online picture editing tool is that you cannot go back and edit an image that you have generated, if you wish to make changes you need to start again. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take long to regenerate an animated and fun image. I like the fact that PowToon continuously updates its props, characters and media.
I really enjoyed the three tasks. The fact that I had used all three tools in the past may not have benefited me as the three posts that formed part of the task we excellent. I will continue to use Google Images, PowToon and PhotoFunia in my professional role as well as for personal social communications. Communicating visually is easy when you have free, easy to use tools to steer you.
My aim is to be better organized to deal with taking on the next ‘Things’ for Rudaí 23. I intend to plan in advance, instead of hurrying to get the task finished as I admit I may have done thus far. The experience so far has made me realise that I am confident in using a variety of visual communicator tools and can adapt to the tool at hand, particularly if I take the time to read the entire post before beginning a new task…or ‘Thing’!
Gibbs G., 1988. Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit. Oxford Polytechnic: Oxford.
WRSLAI, 2018. Rudaí 23 [online] Available at http://rudai23.blogspot.ie.
Comment, Like, Tweet, Share!