Thing 19 – The legal stuff…

Copyright, creative commons and all things legal have been well presented by Caroline Rowan in her write-up of Rudai23 Thing 19.  It’s a topic that we should all be familiar with, but as librarians even more so, to ensure we offer proper guidance and advice to library users. I’m always appreciative of people who have the ability to explain it so clearly.

Recently (April/May 2016), I completed a 4-week course offered by ALIA and Sydney TAFE on Copyright.  Here is my reflection of the course, after completing it:

curly1 vector

This course was invaluable to me as a new librarian, especially since much of the focus was on Australian copyright. Locating different links and exploring the website for the Copyright Council for Australia was beneficial, most especially access to the Information Fact Sheets for each area of copyright.

It was interesting to learn about copyright period, and how it is applied worldwide.  I learned about take-down requests and the issues that surround them, and enjoyed seeing examples of copyright policies from different libraries. The most valuable part of the course for me was learning about Creative Commons; at last I was able to take time to study the different licences and how they are used and cited.

Finally, Digital Rights Management (DRM) was presented and we were able to see the controversies surrounding this issue.  We were shown all sides of the argument.  It was really enlightening for me, as a new librarian, having not yet had opportunity to work with these issues.  We learned about ‘click-wrap‘ and ‘shrink-wrap’ – “non-negotiable terms that accompany the [boxed] product” (CSO 2011) – pertaining to software and licences, and how libraries are affected by these.

curly1 vector

While on the course we were given the link to this super video explaining Creative Commons from Creative Commons Kiwi…

Having once again gone through the issues pertaining to copyright, I have decided to place a prominent notice on the upper right hand side of my blog, showing that content created by me is covered under the creative commons licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).  Here is a link explaining how to protect your blog with a CC notice.  I’m relieved that I finally got round to doing this. 🙂

Since the start of this blog I have used only Creative Commons or Copyright free (public domain) images, and have endeavoured to credit them correctly.  If you see a discrepancy on my site, please be sure to tell me.

Next…

progress

Progress by Sean MacEntee on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

…moving along to Thing 20, (yeah!!) 😀 on the topic of Presentations.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Featured Image: "Copyright" by Dennis Skley on Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Thing 18: Communicating through photographs

If a story is not about the hearer he [or she] will not listen . . . A great lasting story is about everyone or it will  not last.

John Steinbeck, East of Eden.

For the library sector, communicating through photographs is essentially advocacy. And storytelling. Or am I wrong? And isn’t it so, that each person sees an image in line with his/her background of information, cultural experience and personal understanding? So where one photo will be harmless to some, to others it can be huge controversy or insulting.

Therefore, I would imagine that for a library’s account to be successful on Instagram or  Flickr etc.,  knowledge and sensitivity must be the starting point…know your community, their values, culture, lifestyle, struggles, and so forth, to ensure that no individual or group is made to feel inferior, insulted, intimidated, excluded, etc.

As a volunteer within libraries I’m unable to comment on how effective photography is as a means of impacting users and visits to the library. But as a user of social media and a library/museum/history/info enthusiast, I know how avidly I pursue various accounts, based on what they share.  Flickr is used effectively by libraries to show-case vintage photos, photos of their community activities, to document the history of their area, and more.  Instagram is a wonderful way to highlight displays in libraries and museums, to draw attention to new resources, to notify of, and share, activities within the library  and to be innovative in communication with a bid to draw the local community to the facility and all it has to offer (the recent #liblympics  from @noosalibraryservice was a brilliant example of an advocacy campaign on Instagram).

On a personal level I have used a Flickr account since 2011, and Instagram since December 2014.  I follow libraries and librarians, museums and other interesting (story-telling) accounts.  On Instagram I post photos of my volunteering efforts in libraries and interesting things I encounter along the way. I use Flickr as a cloud storage facility (on a private setting) for my personal photographs, since they offer 1 Terabyte free of charge, but I have made a few public in an album.

Here are some links to a few accounts that I follow, and which I really enjoy:

On Instagram:

Queensland University of Technology

Prince William Public Library, Virginia USA.

The National Portrait Gallery

The New York Public Library

ig-pic-nypl-picture

A happy snap from the New York Public Library’s Instagram account.

The British Library

The Noosa Library Service

Brisbane Libraries

The State Library Queensland

Elissa Malespina (librarian)

Not libraries, but powerful communication through photographs…

@primecollective

@johnstanmeyer

On Flickr:

State Library Queensland

The Library of Congress

The New York Public Library

The National Archives

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Antique Books (Group)

Sylvia Duckworth, educator.

australia-from-nasa

Australia sideways from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

 

Until next time, when we take a look at the legal side of things – copyright!

Thanks for stopping by. 😀

Featured image:
Storytelling by Daniele Rossi on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Thing 17: Reflective Practice

For Thing 17 we are encouraged to apply the “Cobbs Cycle of Reflective Practice”.  The process is outlined in the diagram below (taken from the Rudai 23, Thing 17 article):

gibbs-diagram
Gibbs, G. (1998) Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford.

Today, my reflective thinking post will be on the course in general, thus far.

Description

I decided that I needed to tackle a course on  technology…something that would challenge me.  I remembered seeing Tweets about “23 Things” and so I explored the various options. Although Rudai23 was no longer active or monitored, the activities for each Thing and the length of the course felt right to me. I threw down the gauntlet to myself as it were, and picked up the challenge.

Feelings?

At the time I was excited to begin this course.  I felt as if I was losing touch regarding technology and the skills required.  Some forms of tech I had not, at that point, ever used. The niggling urge to try them out was always there, but never the time. This course would require action.  Besides that, I had let my blogging slide into neglect, and kept hearing people banging on about how important a blog was as a CPD record.  It annoyed me, since I did not enjoy blogging, but wanted to ensure that one day, one day, when hopefully we could escape from this ‘land of sand’, I would be an employable candidate. So, with the added requirement of writing a blog post, I realised there can be no excuses…I would have to write.

blogging

 

 

 

Evaluation

I have had to dig deep. I confronted insecurity in tackling technology that I had not used before; faced my fear of ‘being visible’ (blogging publicly) since I don’t have the gift of the gab; also of linking my social media accounts for branding purposes.  I realised that I suffered from ‘imposter syndrome’.  Something kept whispering ‘you’re not a real librarian’, ‘you’ve used distance study’, ‘you’re out of touch’.  I had to actively work at quashing those thoughts.  Feeling very vulnerable, I only experienced kindness online.  I’m thankful for the librarians who commented and encouraged. With each Thing‘s activity, I my confidence grew. Exploring the topics gave me more insight. Finally, tackling the activity and writing up the blog post afterward, was hugely satisfying. I am just over halfway through the course now, and feeling more equipped with knowledge and experience. 😀

Analysis

Before beginning I didn’t fully think the course through.  I merely jumped in.  While that is a good thing in some ways (because in too much thought I may have decided to shelve it), I have also found it tough to stay on schedule.  Working as a volunteer, running a household, trying to remain up to speed with professional development, strength training, reading and other commitments, alongside weekly blogging, is a serious challenge to one who isn’t a natural writer. Also, doing this kind of programme solo is not desirable – it would have been valuable to share with someone along the way, to discuss various elements and to compare notes.  (The administrators of Rudai23 encouraged me and invited contact if I needed to, but that would be a lot to ask of people who are probably as pressured as the rest of us and who have in fact moved on from this course.)

Some of the activities sounded as if they would be a walk in the park, but in reality were tough and a time challenge. For example, screencasting in Thing 9. That taught me a lesson in three Ps…preparation, perseverance and patience. 😀  I eagerly anticipated experiencing the Augmented Reality in Thing 14, when, obligingly, Pokémon Go was launched just a few weeks earlier and it was on everyone’s lips. My desire to explore new things, had me looking at different AR Apps and in so doing I discovered AR I hadn’t known about and found some ideas for library advocacy, which was to follow in Thing 15.

So, I see a pattern emerging…these tasks and skills are interwoven and can be combined to equip one for more effective service to users and stakeholders within all kinds of libraries.

Conclusion

What else could I have done? Read!…more blogs linked to the Rudai23 things course…more articles on technology…more research. I could have given each activity more thought in respect of application to libraries. I could also have actively tried to form a local group to do this course together with.

Action plan

  1. Short term: to not quit, but to finish strong.
  2. Medium term: to read more on professional writing.
  3. Long term: to begin another 23 Things course in 2017, hopefully as part of a group… 23 Research Data (RD) Things. 😀 (If anyone is interested in doing this course next year, please drop me a line below, so that we can connect.

The use of reflective practice in libraries should be encouraged by managers.  Each member of staff, each professional, given a chance to revisit their learning; their experiences; their interaction, with users and with each other; their attitude, aptitude and approach to new technologies.  How could this be instituted? How do you ensure library staff are exercising reflective thinking?  By providing forms to complete? By asking for feedback from each person? How often? Monthly, quarterly, annually?  Not everyone will be interested in maintaining a continuous professional development (CPD) blog. So how?

reflecting

Reflecting by Gisela Giardino on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In my previous life  😉  as ELT coordinator, the Head of Department was of the opinion that regular observation of teachers was vital to maintain standards of professionalism.  Random, drop-in observations, was the method used.  Not popular, I know, but to measure someone’s actual ability/performance on the job, it is effective. In an office the manager doesn’t always notify people that s/he’s planning to walk the floor.  They often just pitch up to take a look at what’s happening.  I’m unsure of how it works in a factory, but I’m almost certain  workers are not pre-warned that managers observe from a window/platform above, they just do.  In our ESL department the teachers were aware, from the start, that we used this method of observation.

These observations ensured that teachers remained on top of their lesson planning and that weekly lesson plans were drafted, helping the department to run smoothly when someone called in ill or went on leave. They served to keep the lessons varied and interesting.  There is nothing worse than sitting in a language class for 6 hours of a very hot desert day, having a teacher drone on about grammar, writing, spelling and comprehension.  Equally so, lessons that were planned were more interactive, making the task more enjoyable for both teachers and students. Lastly, professional feedback was the outcome, since teachers had the chance to respond in writing to remarks on the observation report. feedback-commentsReflective thinking! From it came growth. Our ESL department was so effective, that it became popular locally and we were bursting at the seams.

Feedback by Ewan McIntosh on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

So, in my experience, the outcome of reflective thinking, especially when it involves accountability to someone else, is professional growth. Yesterday’s #auslibchat on Twitter was about professional development, mentors and mentees. One outcome of the discussion was the need for mentors, and for all of us, in fact, to come alongside the other. So perhaps we can each find someone that we can do some mutual reflective thinking with…regularly…so we can challenge our growth and professionalism as librarians.

Here’s to Thing 18 – communicating through photographs. 😀

dog-waiting

Dog waiting by Samuel Yoo on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Cheers! Thanks for stopping by.

Thing 10 – Live streaming is interesting but not always pretty…

Periscope

PERISCOPE  by Ognjen Odobasic on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The idea of broadcasting live is probably intimidating to most.  Then there are those special types, who are confident and know just how, what and when …and then you get those who throw caution to the wind and decide … what the heck…I’m going to give this a bash.  smiley_026   Yesterday I fell into the latter category, I’m afraid, to meet my commitment to Rudai23, Thing 10.

At first I was only going to watch a live event and write about it.  But then I decided first-hand experience is probably best.  Since it is summer in Doha and many are on long leave, there’s not much happening in the library world to live broadcast.  So I decided to record a tour of the Museum of Islamic Art’s library, where I volunteer.  It was an experience I shan’t forget.

I chose Twitter’s Periscope app because I felt that having the video disappear after 24 hours is probably not a bad idea…for me. 😀  But I understand how some people, wanting a longer effect from their effort, would rather go for Facebook Live, where the video is then placed on the person’s (or page’s) timeline. I had thought of what to say beforehand, so that I could concentrate on my camera skills, to ensure I don’t make the potential viewers quite dizzy in the head. When it came to being ready to press the ‘go live’ button…I found to my horror that it had already gone live a few seconds ago.  I must have inadvertently pressed the button while trying to type the video’s title in the strong wind, because I was outdoors for a courtyard-view of the city.  That totally threw me, and I lost the thread of my ‘script’…I did the tour, ended it, only to view it and find that I had, after all, made everyone dizzy.

 see no evil

{I knew I’d get to use that little guy somewhere this week… 🙂  }

Given the option to delete, I never thought twice and got rid of the offending piece; I decided it was a practice run… let’s do the real thing. *laughs out loud*  The 2nd time was slightly better, but the near 40 degrees / 80% humidity outside made me thoroughly hot and bothered (not a good move, but wanted to show the awesome view), while the stress of the actual task made me breathless.  :p  While recording, concentrating on filming and using the right words simultaneously helped me to forget that this was ‘live’. Only once it came to the end and I had to wrap up, did I again get that “OMG! This is live” sensation, and although I’d practised an opening and a closing, the words escaped me and, well, yes…you get what you get.  LOL.

One it was posted ‘out there’, I noticed that there were live viewers and even a few comments. 😀

It was quite thrilling in the end, and I can imagine that if it is a skill one could hone, it could really be fun to use in a library situation, to engage more with the community.

It’s a great way of reaching out to users to promote a special service or event happening in the library.  Different librarians could share the task of promoting the same event to make it even more interesting. The library’s Instagram or Twitter account could advertise the live broadcast beforehand.  Also, it must be useful to be able to share live events with folk who cannot attend. The importance would then be to alert everyone of the intention to broadcast, beforehand, so that they can make plans to fit the viewing into their schedule.  It is obvious why marketers would use this method of reaching potential customers. I’ve since discovered that the Periscope subscriber can decide to choose (in the settings) whether to delete in 24 hours or not, so that is an option.

An article comparing Periscope, Facebook live and YouTube Mobile Live was helpful with planning.  Facebook live was in the news a lot just recently with a tragic incident in the USA being broadcast live. There has been a lot of debate on the pros and cons following that incident. Mediashift investigates its uses, and touches on some of the controversy in its article Facebook Live Grew Up Quickly. Here’s How Broadcasters Are Jumping In. Facebook also recently increased the time period of live streaming to four hours. This article explains.

I’d love to know your thoughts on live broadcasting.  🙂  As always, thanks for stopping by.

Next, moving on to Thing 11…another reflection post.  Woohoo! I’m progressing.

Running track

Image by PhotoKanok on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

Gif smiley image from GifAnimations.com

Thing 9: Screencast video

Sssshhhh screencasting

Shhhh by Betsy Weber  on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Oh gosh!! Rudaí23 Thing 9 was a particular challenge.  As one of those individuals who seeks tutorials on YouTube for much, I am especially appreciative of the amazing folk who take the time to teach others – even the most basic concepts of computing are needed by some.  Because this is something that I imagined I would enjoy doing, I’ve always wanted to try a screencast (audio visual recording of a process on the screen) to see how it is done.

Little did I imagine how tricky!  What I thought would take 3 mins, actually took +- 9. Apart from the fact that I once again had to listen to my own voice over and over (and over, and over…. does this give a hint of how many times I discarded and restarted…? :/ ), each time I began recording either the doorbell rang, the dog barked, or the A/C rattled in the background, until I was totally exasperated. What’s the saying…

Keep calm and carry on

Anyway…after 3, or was it 4? hours, I decided I was going to do the very last take. EVER!
Apart from the frog in the throat, and the mixed up vocab, I decided to use it, and here it is Rudaí23…my effort at screencasting. LOL!

onenote app for iphone

 

 

Opening a new Notebook in MS OneNote 

by

LibSandy

 

I used Screencast-o-matic, which was really user friendly.  I downloaded the audio file onto my PC, which I then uploaded into my YouTube channel (can’t believe I have succumbed to opening a YouTube channel! 😉 ). I decided to tackle annotations, because living in an environment where most use English as a second language, I know how important it is to get the message across clearly. I was totally amused at some of the auto annotations; it gave me a much-needed giggle.  After roughly 30 mins of editing the annotations were acceptable.

Once I had calmed down and published the video, I began to realise, once again, just how valuable a tool this is. Visual and auditory learners benefit much from this form of learning, and if it were incorporated more into teaching it might serve a dual purpose and make the teacher less…ho-hum. This article says it all.

Of course, if there are teacher librarians having a week like mine, where they struggle to meet the demands of domestic bliss with professional devoir, let alone development, this is the go-to tool, isn’t it?

screencast infographic

Narrated slide show = Screencast by Wesley Fryer  on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A ready store of these in hand, on any given topic  is just the thing (yes, it would take time to put together – say over the year you do one every so often). In a really fraught week you could pop one on for that 20 min time slot that you are allocated to try and impart some media literacy into the always-tired-not-another-library-lesson minds. Or what about those times when the class pours in and the teacher goes…”Didn’t I book this with you? I was sure I had.” (Yeah, right!)  Librarian to the rescue…(remember above meme)…librarians are never supposed to show botheration.

I guess the more you do this kind of thing, the easier it would get.  I did write the script beforehand, but it’s hard to read while working your mouse over the screen.  That means you’ve got to know your subject and be sure of where to move the cursor, what to show and what to say. Oh, and hopefully you have a speedy internet service if you’re going to hop between windows and websites. It must be soul-destroying with a slow connection, and then having to edit out all the dead sections.  Another tip: get your vocab sorted. 🙂  No stepping into the pitfall of using one term for a thing, and then another for the same thing further on. (I think I was guilty here…but hoping whoever would want to use my video will get the idea. Lol.)

The totally awesome Kathy Schrock has penned this great article – Screencasting and Screen Recording in the Classroom.  I couldn’t explore all the links, since I just didn’t have the time, but the one on “It’s like writing a play” (also from the TechSmith blog) is spot on!  I just need WAY more practice. Challenge accepted!   This method of demonstrating can be used to great effect in all libraries – screencasts linked to the website or embedded in Libguides to show users how to negotiate the catalogue, or how to access various databases, for instance. Any experienced librarians out there that can tell me how they use screencasting? I’d love you to leave a comment below.

For an example of good screencasting I found this:  how to find Creative Commons images with Google. The video is dated 2011, but the info is valuable.

Thanks for stopping by folks.  Thing 10 is coming up and I find myself looking for that monkey emoticon …

see no evil

Till next time. Cheers.

Meme created with ImgFlip Meme Generator
OneNote image via Flickr by Alan Parkinson (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Thing 6: Reflections thus far – Rudai23

Reading blogs this last month has been fun. Usually I’ll tell myself that I don’t have time, but after beginning Rudai23  I’ve made time, and in so doing I’ve proven to myself that I can, after all, spend time reading people’s blogs and not just techie sites and the news. It has been an entertaining, insightful, educational and sometimes emotional experience.

officeconference-room-workspace-picjumbo-com
Office desk (Public domain image from Picjumbo)

I summoned up the courage to comment on some blogs, even if it was just to thank them for sharing. It’s amazing how eloquent some folk are, and how willingly they share professional advice.  I have also begun to follow a few more librarians’ blogs, managed to gain 3 followers to mine and have responded to one very kind comment on one of my posts, for which I was very grateful.

 

Keeping a diary for years, where I only wrote for my personal reflection and for therapeutic reasons was, to me, a safe option.  pen_&_paper_1

Now, blogging for public view I find to be quite daunting.  My efforts left me feeling as if I’d written a few university assignments, actually. :p  I know I’m not a natural writer, so it takes many drafts before I’m satisfied enough (well sort of) to publish a post.

computer_face

Fortunately, completing the Copyright course through ALIA, just as I began with 23 Things, proved to be fortuitous, in that using images from online sources was less scary as I was able to search for permissible ones, understand the licences more thoroughly, and cite them correctly.

Working with WordPress has been a mission of sorts.  I realise that I should do a few tutorials, even though I’ve used it for a couple of years already, but time is so limited. So I plod on and hold thumbs that the post looks decent when I’m done.  I’ve pulled my hair out trying to tweak the appearance of the blog.  Perhaps it’s me, or (at the risk of sounding as if I’m blaming my tools) it could be my old laptop, but I find WordPress doesn’t always ‘play along’ and do what I think it should.  Grrrr!

Because I have  been very interested in online tools over the last few years, and have been using a few of them for just as long, a lot of the first few Things’ content was not new to me.  But even so, there were aspects that I learned for the first time, like muting a twitter hashtag or account, or  how to use a Twitter chat app.  I explored Google more fully, and opened a G+ account and began to use Google calendar.  I discovered that one can make a professional URL on LinkedIn, and I appreciated the tips for a professional LinkedIn profile.  Facebook was a challenge since I have a personal dislike for the service, but I propose to use it to my advantage this time round. And now, after exploring the site and all the settings, at least I know that if I were asked by a member of the public for help in setting up an account, I would be confident to do so. happy_2

The module on personal branding, Thing 3, was fun to engage with, but I have felt uncomfortable with placing emphasis on myself.  The write-ups for each Thing are about my experiences, and so invariably the content has too many ‘I’s.  However, I am eager to build a professional brand as I believe it contributes positively to one’s chances for employment…so here’s to brands. 😀

beautiful-peacock-portrait-picjumbo-com
Peacock  (Public domain image from Picjumbo)

These are my reflections until this point.  I look forward to continuing and learning more about online tools. If you’re doing the Rudai 23 Things course, please be sure to connect with me on Twitter, using #2016Rudai23. Alternatively, leave a message here.

Cheers!

Clipart from Clipartheaven.com, with thanks. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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’re 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.

4502026170_4bf31f04e6_z

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…it’s right and proper to still keep a backup yourself. 🙂

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’m 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 – 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…I am – the Cloud! Not necessarily only Google.  Although Thing 4 focuses on the Google ecosystem (as I’ve 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…a 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’ve 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. 🙂 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’m 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…
  • 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 Rudaí23 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’s reading ‘Across the Genres’ programme.  (If you’re a teacher and you’d like to use these, they can be downloaded with my compliments. 🙂 )

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

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