Ballybane Library in Galway City hosted the Western Regional Section of the LAI’s annual winter networking event, on the morning of November 20. The event was lively and very well attended and featured the launch of the online learning programme Rudai 23.
WRSLAI Chairperson Stephanie Ronan welcomed the group and then jumped right into a discussion with Rudai 23 participants Siobhan Carroll and Maud Conry, both Library Assistants from NUI Galway. Siobhan and Maud recently completed the Visual Communicator Badge, the first of a sequence of five available via the Rudai 23 CPD project (this is Rudai 23’s second iteration). Participants were awarded a badge after completing a sequence of ‘Things’, or online lessons that focus primarily on useful online tools and technologies, and writing up a reflective post about their experience in doing so.
Siobhan and Maud talked about the blogs that they created for the project. Siobhan started off by talking us through her blog, which she created as part of the first of Rudai 23’s ‘Things’. Called Art and Art History (at arthistoryandart.blogspot.com), the blog is intended as a showcase for Siobhan’s interest in art and art history, and began with a post about a recent Vermeer exhibition. Siobhan has since detoured into talking about the images, videos and more that she has created as she has gone through the Rudai 23 Things. She noted that her favourite tools so far have been Powtoon and Screencast-o-matic. Here is the Powtoon Siobhan made
Maud then told us about her experience in getting the Badge. She noted that, while Siobhan had had a certain amount of experience with a few of the apps used, she was coming at them completely new. She did find the pace of the Things somewhat challenging, but kept focused, and wound up enjoying it. She particularly enjoyed Photofunia, and everyone in the audience quite liked the photo she made with that (see it here scroll down about halfway). Maud’s blog, about movies, is available at lovethecinema.blogspot.ie.
Niamh O’Donovan, Rudai 23 project manager, then took us through the ins and outs of digital badging, and what approach the Rudai 23 team have taken with them. Niamh described digital badges as an online method of validating and awarding achievements in education. The key word with badges is ‘open,’ that is, they are created by means of an open standard, and anyone can create and award them. What’s important is that the criteria for being awarded a badge is attached as metadata to the badge, as well as links to evidence of work completed. These are what make the badge valuable, helping them to demonstrate the gaining of a particular skill.
Niamh noted that the badges approach was taken after feedback from the first iteration of Rudai 23, after which participants said that it was tough trying to get through 23 Things to get their certification. The badges help break the course down into parts that participants can pick and choose among. Niamh also took us through the process of deciding on a badge provider (Mozilla’s Open Badges), getting funding to pay for them (many thanks to the LAI), and designing the badges (via tools like Canva, DesignApp, and IconsDB).
The final segment of the morning was an excellent workshop by Michelle Breen from the University of Limerick. Michelle came prepared to help everyone create a social media strategy, working from her own experience in doing so after having taken a course about it. With a structured brainstorming worksheet, Michelle asked us to think about specific audience segments that we would want to reach with social media, what social media platforms those specific audiences tend to use, and what kind of messages or content they would be interested in engaging with.
A lively discussion ensued throughout the exercise, with plenty of sharing of experiences from people coming from different library sectors. Michelle offered potential solutions to people concerned about a lack of support from different levels of management. She also answered questions such as how to keep up with content on platforms that are very popular with younger users, in particular — Snapchat being the central example — but where the content itself is ephemeral, i.e. disappears after no more than 24 hours! A great deal was learned from Michelle’s advice and by the experiences of different people in the audience. Watch out for the UL Library’s Elf on the Shelf social media campaign, coming up in advance of Christmas!
Plenty of food for thought from librarian colleagues across the west of Ireland to chew on as we get set for the chilly season. The WRSLAI’s next event will be its Annual General Meeting, in the New Year.
Happy holidays everyone!
Kristopher Meen, Academic Librarian, NUI Galway.