Thing 21: Infographics

Well, that was fun! ūüėÄ I have always loved looking at the wonderful infographics one can find on Pinterest and elsewhere, but have never sat down to explore methods of making one.¬† Thank you Rudai23 Thing 21, for requiring me to do just that.

I was at a loss to know what topic to cover, not having time to research one.  As I was reading an online newspaper a few days ago, my eye fell on an article The Nobel Prizes in numbers.  Interesting facts that few of us know or recall.

I signed up to a free account on easel.ly.  I found it user-friendly, especially if you are acquainted with desktop publishing. The graphics available on the free account are limited, so I used  images  from Clipartpanda.com. I needed a little extra info which I found on Wikipedia. I have cited my sources on the infographic itself.

Admittedly, it would take some practice to make a really good infographic that is eye-catching and informative.¬† That said, I’m quite happy with my first effort.¬†¬† I used as much as I could from the article, without cluttering the image to death.

nobelprizesinnumbers

On second thoughts, it is a bit cluttered, but hopefully easy to read.  When I signed up to easel.ly I was mailed a link which I thought I would share on this blog: A complete guide to Infographics. There are some great tips which I would have to incorporate the next time.

These, from the writer of Thing 21, Michelle Breen, are just as important to remember:

  • Create an attention grabbing headline for your infographic;
  • Know your audience and tailor the content like you would do in a presentation;
  • Keep it simple – highlight key items in your data rather than displaying everything;
  • Cite the sources of the data used in the infographic and check your facts;
  • Keep it fun by using distinctive colours and illustrations.

Talking about¬†gorgeous infographics‚Ķlook at this: The Benefits of Handwriting vs Typing, via Stephen’s Lighthouse.¬† Oh my! I love it. And then of course, there are the wonderful infographics that are made by the talented Sylvia Duckworth‚Ķthey must adorn many a classroom in schools worldwide. ¬†I also stumbled upon¬†this article claiming to present¬†The 100 Best Infographics.¬† It targets North America, but has some amazing¬†examples, with only a couple that I¬†recognise.

Because of the visual learning experience I would imagine that, depending upon the space available within a library, it would be great to have infographics up on display, covering many different topics, throughout the year. They are adaptable to young and old, informative and decorative. A really valuable form of information presentation.

Until next time, when we discuss ‘mobile things’. ¬†ūüėÄ ¬† Thanks again for stopping by.

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Thing 16: Collaboration tools

Six years ago I was one of three people (two coordinators and the HoD) responsible for drafting weekly class tests for each module on English language training, across different levels.¬† For uniformity purposes collaboration was vital.¬† They contained speaking activities, listening activities, reading extracts, images, clip-art,¬†and questions of varying format. However, collaboration was a nightmare. First, our time was taken up with different tasks in the normal day-to-day running of the ESL department. Second, when we could, we would work on our local PCs, back up on the flash drives, and then go into the local network’s shared drive to¬†back up again and create a master copy. If one worked at home, the documents would be copied from¬†a flash drive to the work PC, overwriting a previous copy, and then again¬†placed on the shared drive, overwriting the master copy. When¬†we all worked on these tests over the weekend, there we would be, on the first day of the week, trying to retrieve and edit the same master documents, but in turn, as only one person could access¬†a particular¬†master copy at a time.¬†

Confusion

Confusion by Stuart Miles courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Needless to say, the entire process was a mental battle, trying to establish which was the latest and final edit! In the end each task often ended up with multiple copies, and all three of us at a loss as to which was the actual copy to use. Not only would we have to ensure that the copy on the shared drive is the correct one, but all our local backups needed overwriting, as well as the documents of the flash drives. We realised that our collaboration was a shambles!  As far as drafting final tests were concerned, it was all best left to one person, we decided.  The downside was that that person was sent multiple emails (leading to new stress)  Cool_sign with questions and suggestions for additions, and telephonic debates on the side.  The whole process was stressful and was repeated weekly.  Somehow we managed to get the tests issued on time every week, but only after many private hours spent by one person, at the weekend.

PC Frustration

Has the above story rung a bell, or revived old unpleasant memories? Made you confused and exhausted? Good! Because it drives home my point on just how wonderful it is to have Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, OneNote and all the other programmes that allow effortless collaboration. ¬†Microsoft’s SkyDrive (now OneDrive) was available from about 2008, but cloud computing was a mystery to most of us, and those who were not techie-minded were adamant – they were not going that route. ¬†Witchcraft

Even our IT department was suspicious of the cloud, and consistently avoided any queries.

Dropbox was around soon after, but again, not widely used.  Google Drive was only created in 2012, long after I left the ELT department. Had we have had those programmes and their current features, oh, our lives would have been made so much easier.

collaboration

Collaboration by Urs Steiner on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

So averse was I to creating backups of backups of backups, that as soon as I began my course¬†in 2010, I immediately turned to SkyDrive and Amazon Drive. When Google Drive arrived, it quickly became the popular choice.¬† Today, documents can be created within these drives, shared, commented on, and collaborated on. ¬†google docsNo constant backing up and transporting of flash drives. It is safe‚Ķin the cloud. ūüėÄ ¬†(Indeed, the onus is on the creator of the document to keep a back-up of his/her documents on site, but at least the documents and files on the cloud are not on a device that may drop, become damaged, corrupted, be mislaid, or anything else.) ¬†Truly wonderful. And now I can just about hear all those questions and comments regarding security and the cloud?!¬† Haha, well after 6 years of using it privately, I would never, ever, NOT EVER, look back!

Bullseye

 

Win target by Stuart Miles courtesy of freedigitalpotos.net

 

Earlier this year, as an intern in the school library, ¬†I was tasked with designing reading badges.¬† These were digital images created with an online badge maker.¬† To share them with the librarian would have resulted in countless emails containing rather large image files.¬† Instead, I stored them on Google Drive, and shared each grade’s folder with her, automatically sharing the documents within. All she needed to do was to click on the link, open the folder, edit and/or save the file on her computer for printing.¬† No pain. No flash drives. No back and forth emailing. The folders were downloaded onto her PC, organised according to grades, ¬† all ready to go.

Today, in the library where I volunteer, no-one seems to be using  collaboration tools.  It may be that their needs are different, but I have on multiple occasions wished I could give someone access to a document or form that I have created for the library, instead of having to email it as an attachment.

My favourite ¬†is¬†Microsoft’s¬†OneNote, which I use to take¬†notes for both professional and private use, and create documents with¬†to share with friends or family. It is user friendly, has multiple features, available on all devices, also allowing collaboration between different users. ¬†The writer of¬†Rudai 23 Thing 16¬† has provided a super explanation of Google Drive and Doodle as collaboration tools. (I have made my entry into Thing 16’s¬†¬†Google Drive document, by the way. )

Cloud computing. heart Cloud collaboration. heart My personal thanks to the founders  and developers of these software.

Thing 17 will be a reflective practice blog entry. Until then…cheers. ūüėÄ

Images: 
Featured image: collaboration by Laura Billings on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Gifs from giphy.com; clipart from wpclipart.com.

Image of Google docs by Steven Combs on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Ruda√≠ 23 – Thing 7: Podcasts

Podcasting

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

What is a Podcast? Think iPod and Broadcast….you get Podcast. These are MP3  recording files that can be streamed or downloaded via the internet. Each mobile phone has a recording device, and most have a built-in app for listening to podcasts, such as the Podcasts app which is default on all iPhones. There is Stitcher, for Desktop, Apple and Android systems, and software like Audacity and Soundcloud to record with.

Why are Podcasts important? According to Williams & Sawyer (2013), who wrote the book Using Information Technology, podcasts are an expression of personalised media. Today there is virtually a podcast on any topic.

A few days before I read through the Ruda√≠ 23 Thing 7 write-up about Podcasting, I spent some time thinking about what I would do with a podcast. The idea of making one for librarians came to mind. So I was thrilled to discover the link in Thing 7’s write-up, to Steve Thomas’ Circulating Ideas podcast for librarians. ūüėĬ† What a treasure trove! Food for librarians.¬†Here is a link to his¬†interview with public librarians attending the PLA 2016 Conference in Denver, Colorado. Bonus: at the end of this particular episode, Steve gives a talk on the ‘how to’ of Podcasting. Thanks Steve!

Dolphin-03

I took my time about getting to Thing 7. I had decided to challenge myself and record a Podcast. But with the challenge came procrastination. Well, besides the fact that it is Eid and the entire family is at home (making it rather difficult to get any serious writing done), I don’t relish the sound of my own voice. And it‚Äôs the Tour-de-France! And Wimbledon! Aaaah, choices, time, priorities‚Ķ. I know that I am going to record, re-record, RE-record‚Ķetc., so I’m trying to find the moment when it’s going to (sort of) go smoothly. ūüėČ

Anonymous_a_man_singing

How can libraries incorporate podcasts? I’d love to hear suggestions from librarians who read this, or from anyone with great ideas. One use I thought of, was to record stories from folk in the community, and to post them on a page affiliated to the library website. These could be stories of survival, historic times, how tos (from experts), mothering, business tips, etc. Whatever the community has to offer, really. Thing 7’s writer, Emmet Keoghan, provides a link to a site that is an example of this. Personally, I’m sad that I did not think of recording my parents when they spoke of days gone by in the town where I grew up, or of their young days. These are stories that belong to the community really; conversations that we should foster. In current times we are connected by various devices and apps, but we are often disconnected from each other. Libraries can bring a whole community together, building a sense of belonging.

‚ÄúTo be a librarian is not to be neutral, or passive, or waiting for a question. It is to be a radical positive change agent within your community.‚ÄĚ

R. David Lankes

In libraries they can be used for book reviews, author interviews, guides to using sources, and I’m sure much more. Here is a¬†site with ideas for podcasting¬†aimed at teachers, but since librarians can be seen as teachers/facilitators, we can use and adapt these suggestions too.

Podcasts are great for commuting. Plug in the headset and engage your mind while you drive, ride the bus or train. Here is a site I found for 6 Career-boosting Podcasts To Listen To, or how about 51 Smart Podcasts That Will Make Your Commute Way Better. My all-time favourite list that I discovered while doing an online course is the College InfoGeek’s 21 Educational Podcasts that’ll make you smarter.¬† ¬†Ooooh, and this‚Ķ

13 Podcasts...

Remember to subscribe to your favourite podcast by way of the RSS feed.

RSS
RSS feed

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Jin Tan on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Overdrive, the popular provider for e-books and audio books to public libraries and schools have a podcast blog, Professional Book Nerds, where they discuss new books, interview authors and do book recommendations.

I also found myself wondering about the legal side of things and discovered an article from creative commons.org, the Podcast Legal Guide.

And so, to my (8 minute) contribution folks. (Umm, please forgive the hiccups during the reading. ūüôā ) ¬†I read an excerpt from one of my favourite authors (on librarianship) – R David Lankes‘ book for librarians and their communities, called‚Ķ

Expect More by David Lankes

              Image from Goodreads.com

It was hard to choose which excerpt to read from. ¬†I chose a section about ‘walled gardens’ (he uses a classic example – Facebook) from Chapter 5, and then a piece about librarians from Chapter 7. ūüôā Thank you David, for permission to read.

I actually found a great App for the iPhone, called OPINION.  Super easy to download and use.  It also allows simple editing of a recording.  I uploaded my recording really fast to my Dropbox account, and from there I uploaded it to my Soundcloud account. Voila!

Hoping you’re inspired to search out some podcasts, or to get PODCASTING!

My thanks for stopping by. ūüôā Have a great day.

Clipart of person recording from http://publicdomainvectors.org/en/public-domain/
Dolphin clapping gif from gifanimations.com (public domain)

Reference sources

Lankes, R. David. 2012. Expect more: demanding better libraries for today's complex world. https://rilandpub.wordpress.com/

Williams, BK & Sawyer, SC. 2013. Using information technology: a practical introduction to computers & communications. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Thing 4: Pssst! It’s that ‘G’ word…

Google logo for blogs

Google logo for blogs, by SEO on Flickr, under a creative commons (BY-SA 2.0) licence.

 

As librarians we‚Äôre into communication and collaboration, the topic of Thing 4.  Google is the focus of this topic, but in my opinion, as educators and librarians, we are obliged to know the benefits of the commonly used communication/collaboration applications out there.   In this way we will be able to speak about them with authority, and assist others when the need arises, to make a choice or to set up their accounts.

From personal experience, making use of different services, if possible, makes for more efficient working environments.  Cloud computing has been a favourite of mine over the past 5 years, as it has kept me sane. Seriously.

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Flickr photo Descending Clouds, by Gary Hayes, under creative commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) licence. 

I understand that there are people asking valid privacy questions regarding the ‘cloud’, but after spending years backing up stuff, first on floppy disks, then on CDs, then external hard drives and memory sticks, and backups of backups, it’s such a relief to pop a doc into a folder on your desktop and to know that it’s taken care of – probably for good. It’ll be there whenever and where-ever needed! (Unless of course, a disaster strikes at the location of the storage warehouse, but hey, it’s their job to make backups, right?) :p  Yes, I know, I know‚Ķit’s right and proper to still keep a backup yourself. ūüôā

Not having to remember what to back up, or having to lug those devices around and, most of all, not having to guard them so that they don’t get damaged, is such a bonus. When my hard drive went on my laptop a few years ago, I lost a couple of unimportant documents and a few of our latest photos, but nothing serious.  My habit of placing everything in a cloud drive paid off.  When the new drive was installed, it was merely a case of carry on as before, after installing the desktop folders which sync automatically.

I use cloud services from Amazon, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive and Flickr. Oh and iCloud, since I‚Äôm an avid Apple fan.  Because of my love-hate relationship with Google, I purposely avoided Gmail and Google Drive, until a few months ago when I began as an intern librarian at an international school. School-wide they used Google Education Apps ‚Äď everyone communicated and collaborated (with parents too) using Google tools.  I saw the benefits first hand and realised that vast amounts of time and paper were saved while increasing cooperation and efficiency.  At the time I proposed to learn more about Google’s capabilities, but it didn’t happen then.  After 4 months at the school I sought out an internship at a different library.  What I did do though was to follow a few very talented and skilled people on Twitter, who are Google certified teachers, to be able to learn from them. Here are two: Alice Keeler and Catlin Tucker.

So, if it sounds like I’m selling something‚ĶI am ‚Äď the Cloud! Not necessarily only Google.  Although Thing 4 focuses on the Google ecosystem (as I‚Äôve heard it referred to) and make no mistake, it is impressive, personally I favour MS Office and its related apps. Here’s a shout-out to  OneNote logoMS OneNote‚Ķa note-taking, collaborative app that I have used for years (sadly not to its fullest potential); I use it all the time, across all my devices with great success.  I‚Äôve heard it said that Google’s equivalent, Google Keep, is not quite up to the same standard.

Flickr photo shared by Microbiologybytes, under creative commons (BY-SA 2.0) licence.

Consequently, when I looked at Thing 4, my initial reaction was “Oh no, why the emphasis on Google!”

Oh no

Flickr photo, ‘Oh no’, by Courtney McGough, under creative commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) licence.  


However, I explored and worked through the tasks.  Reclaiming my Gmail account, setting up two-step authentication, checking the privacy settings, and setting up a profile took the greater part of 2 hours since it was all new to me.  But admittedly, once that’s done the hard part is over. I am really impressed with the functionality of Gmail. ūüôā It is a great email app.  Exploring the tools took another hour, after which I chose a few that I would use regularly, to link to my account:

  • Google translate: living in a country where Arabic is the first language, I often have to translate something, and this works really well for me. We’ve been expats for so long, I sometimes need Google translate to find words in my other mother tongue, Afrikaans. (I grew up speaking English to my mom and Afrikaans most often to my dad and other relatives.)
  • Google calendar: is really efficient, and just recently became even more so with this feature.
  • Google maps: saves my life regularly on the roads here in Doha, with infrastructure development taking place on an ongoing basis. Now that I have set up my Google account I can personalize the map app.
  • G+: a social app, similar to Facebook. Google-plus-iconSince I’ve only just set up my profile, I can’t comment on it, but it is nice to know of another manner in which like-minded professionals can connect and communicate around similar interests. I‚Äôm not on Facebook because I choose not to be at the present time, due to time constraints, but G+ appears to be more focused towards interests. I chose to follow an animal lovers group and a Smartphone Photography group for now. Will aim to search for Rudai23, and a couple of library accounts soon. A G+ account is also needed to be able to communicate using‚Ķ
  • Google Hangouts: Hangouts_IconGoogle’s chat function, either via messenger or video.  I’ve seen it used in a conference setting and it worked well.  Yesterday, I tried a hangout with my daughter in Australia.  After initial PC sound battles, it was quite effective.  Google hangouts allows up to 10 people simultaneously on video chats and many more on messenger.
  • Google Drive: offers an impressive 15 GB cloud storage to subscribers.  It is shared across Drive, Gmail and Google Photos, a mobile feature that some like and others are sceptical of. According to Ruda√≠23 writer, Stephanie Ronan, Google Photos organises, categorises and even animates some images. Not sure I’ll be testing this photo app, though, as I’m happy with Flickr.

This last week I experienced the joy of using the cloud. I had a large volume of library signs and a Powerpoint presentation to deliver to the library where I volunteer.  I had designed these documents at home. Instead of emailing them, I was able to download them from my cloud storage, onto the desktop at work.  Here I could edit them, resize them for printing, and collaborate with fellow librarians on their design.  This method minimizes the correspondence by email.  We all know that emailing large attachments can be problematic, so downloading from the cloud is truly the way to go.  Sharing a link to the document by email or messenger is also a way to share, and this is used especially when you are not personally going to be at the point of download.

As an example, here is a link to the reading badges on my Google drive, for Grade 5s, that I created using online SaaS, for a school‚Äôs reading ‘Across the Genres’ programme.  (If you‚Äôre a teacher and you‚Äôd like to use these, they can be downloaded with my compliments. ūüôā )

That’s my take on thing 4’s communication and collaboration tools.

Till next time, and thanks for reading this far. ūüėÄ