Something wiki this way comes

Ok, so how did it get to be Week 9 all of a sudden? It’s certainly been interesting. This was the week of THE VIDEO. We had agreed that Helen, Emma and I would be filmed on Tuesday and much of Monday morning was spent going over ideas and deciding who would talk aout what. Monday was also the day Prof Helle Porsdam was leaving, so rather sad. We had a farewell lunch at Wolfson, so in the afternoon I worked in my room.

I really wish I had discovered how great a work environment it was during the day earlier. I already knew it was a good place to work in the evening but for some reason it never dawned on me how peaceful it would be during the day. I felt I was really starting to get an idea of how the wiki would look, especially as we had agreed earlier in the day what our achievable deliverables for content were, which gave me a much more solid base to work on. I am keeping the content very straightforward as it is intended as a starting point, not a polished finished product.

I really hope that when I hand it over it can be maintained as a place anybody can find information about the New Curriculum and also locate, review, deposit and discuss resources supporting the delivery of information literacy in Universities and hopefully beyond. I will post the link next week when I hand over at the end of the project and my contract.

We filmed on Tuesday. Each of us will have about a minute of footage at the end of the process. I had no idea how long that takes to actually produce. I also had no idea that I would lose the ability to pronounce the words Curriculum, Information and Literacy. A bit of a drawback under the circumstances. Joe Mills was really patient and hopefully he got enough to make something decent from my output. I am sure everybody else was much more coherent. It is intended to link to the film from the wiki.

I can’t believe the project has gone so fast and that I have now left Cambridge and will work my last week from home. I am glad to be back but I will miss Cambridge, I would be very strange if I didn’t. So, on to the next week and the delivery of deliverables. No pressure there then.

Fellow Fellows

Week 8 began with a two day Et in Arcadia Ego conference which brought together many of the past and present Arcadia Fellows. The title was inspired by the painting of the same name, and we were likened to those who lived carefree in Arcadia, protected from the harsh realities of life to pursue our interests.

Interestingly, that didn’t seem to be the experience most of the Fellows remembered. Many of them regaled us with tales of tight deadlines, high stress levels and unrealistic expectations of themselves. However, they all, without exception, said it has been an amazing and life changing experience. They had returned to their work with a new perspective and drive to achieve.

Listening to the varied topics and different outcomes from their research was fascinating. It made me feel a bit better about what I am doing. I couldn’t quite stifle the voice at the back of my head shouting “You haven’t finished yet, you only have 3 weeks left. You shouldn’t be here! Get some work done”. Which of course meant that when I did get back to the work I got total brain freeze. That’s when having supportive colleagues who understand exactly what you’re going through really shines through. It doesn’t mean my stress levels are entirely under control or that i am full of confidence about my output, but it does mean that I have recognised I have done a lot in 8 weeks and I do have something to show for it. As Prof. John Naughton our Academic Advisor says, sometimes the drive for perfection gets in the way of producing something good. (I just hope it will be good because I am now sure it won’t be perfect). I have learnt a lot from my research and from the modelling, I just need to pull that together for my reports and the wiki. That’s begun, and is taking shape gradually, and at the end of Week 10 I shall post the link. And sleep. In the meantime I have work to do so enough reflection, time for action.

Jolly Fellow

As week 7 ended so December began. The countdown to Christmas is well and truly on the way in the shops and the advertising media. This year that countdown coincides with the countdown to the end of the project, and the dreaded deadlines. I spent some of the week writing up the results of my interviews at Worcester and starting to map them onto the organisation.

For the mapping I am using two tools, one is diagram.ly which is free, online, very simple to use and clear, the other is a (relatively inexpensive) paid app on the iPad, called iThoughtsHD. The latter is also simple to use, and I have created several different organisation which I can then save in PDF format. Examples of all the maps will be on the Wiki when it is released.

Speaking of wikis, I have set one up using the free pbworks option, and Helen and I are working out how best to set it up for future use. As soon as we have it available we will open it to the wider community.

You may have noticed a theme developing, most tools etc. that  I am using are free. This is deliberate because I want to be able to offer some idea of what’s available to surmount the “we can’t afford to do that” barrier that often crops up when we want to do some initial fact finding so we can back up a proposal for future developments. I have also tried to use resources I am not familiar with. I am working on the premis that if I can get them to work with my low level of skills then anybody should be able to.

As we head into Week 8 I am looking forward to completing the mapping of my first Case Study and loading it up to the Wiki, and then cracking on with the second. A two day Arcadia Conference is also part of the plan, it’s in Unconference style so should be interesting. I am really looking forward to hearing about people’s experiences and not fixating on the fact that our deadline is approaching. Honestly. Oh, and the Jolly Fellow thing? Well, it is nearly Christmas.

Talkative Fellow

WEEK 6 was a week of talking to people, in relaxed surroundings with coffee and cake as required. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it, and in many ways it was. There is something about talking to interesting people who do a job they love (within reason) that is very rewarding. The fact I was talking to them about a subject that I love too made it even better. That is not to say it was easy. I found it very demanding, especially as I was gathering data, not just having a conversation and discussing ideas.

Obviously I have the same set of questions to ask each person(which will be included in our Wiki), but the difficulty is where those questions lead. The people kind enough to take part in the one to one sessions included a Director of Quality and Education Development, an Academic Liaison Librarian, a Student Achievement Officer, a Student Transition and Progression Officer, a Careers Adviser and a Course Leader. I learnt a great deal about the different perceptions of Information Literacy across the spectrum of delivery, and the amount of informal support, help and teaching that takes place.

The questions I thought would be a simple Yes or No often weren’t, and there was much consideration as to whether topics were covered formally or informally, if at all, and when students should be referred to a different area. It also opened up discussion about individual interpretation of topics such as ethics of information, managing information and the social dimension of information which highlighted a potential issue with terminology. I certainly learnt not to make assumptions.

Now I am taking all the data and mapping it on to the structure of the institution. I hope to do that separately for informal and formal delivery. I am thinking of doing it for mandatory and optional sessions too but I have the feeling the mandatory map might be a bit sparse. I am very grateful to the people who met me and spent their precious time talking to me and answering questions. I should say they all had one thing in common, they don’t have enough resources or time to do everything they want to do so have to make difficult but informed decisions as to what is and is not achievable without compromising the intended outcome. I feel their pain.

What do you mean we’re halfway through?

That was week 5 that was. WEEK 5. Halfway point. Time to reflect, retrench, reconsider and definitely not panic. Usually I am a glass half-full sort of person, but the halfway point of a project always gives me a small pang of sorrow. Especially if it is a project I am truly engaged by, like this one.

The halfway point has focussed my mind more closely on what I can actually achieve, and it was good to talk to Helen on Monday and realise we both felt the same way about that. We are both perfectionists who like to see things through to a polished conclusion. This time we have had to recognise that isn’t going to be possible. In discussion with Prof. John Naughton we rationalised what we can and cannot realistically achieve and what we trust will be the best set of outcomes.

We can’t create a complete entity and hand it over to the world fully formed like Athena springing from Zeus’s brow. Rather, we can provide a starting point, with documents, templates and examples of resources in support of the implementation of the New Curriculum. These will form some of the contents of a wiki which we will create and hand over to the care of John, to allow practitioners to access the resources, discuss the issues and collaborate in provision.  The end of the first half of the project means the start of the second half, where we can put what we are discovering into use and create something that can continue after we have moved on to our next challenges.

After our meeting on Tuesday things felt a lot more positive and achievable, which meant I could enjoy Wednesday’s Guest Night at Wolfson College in a slightly more relaxed frame of mind. It was a fantastic experience and if you have never been to one and get the chance, take it. Listening to the conversation around the table was an education in itself. Everything from 19th Century German and English commercial law to taking fabulous photos using a phone. I sat in the middle of it all feeling like a cross between Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax at the theatre in that I didn’t understand it all but it was a great show and the “people watching” was world class.

Now it is onward and upward. The end is in sight, but so is the beginning of the next phase, so I suppose I am still a glass half-full kind of person. Which reminds me, if anybody knows of another project and needs a librarian to get involved, I may be available after Christmas so do get in touch.

Fellow Travellers

Four weeks gone, and at last I felt like I was making some progress. The support from the idea from Sarah (Oxford) and Judith (Keene) at University of Worcester was definitely encouraging, so I started the week slightly more optimistically than I had the previous week. On Tuesday I travelled to York to meet with the new Director of ICT and Library, Debbi Boden. Debbi was one of three Programme Directors of the SMILE project, which I had project managed, so it was good to have a chance to work with her again.  In the end I had two meetings with her, to discuss how what I want to do as part of my project would mesh with and help inform her plans for the future provision at York St John.

I had arranged to meet with Claire (McCluskey) and Helen (West) on the Wednesday afternoon after my second meeting with Debbi. Again, I was pleased and impressed bythe enthusiasm for the Curriculum that I was getting from the librarians I was talking to. They have all seemed to completely embrace the idea of an Information Literacy curriculum and a whole University approach to delivery. However, the enormity of what I am trying to achieve and the timescale in which to achieve it became very evident as we talked. A FAQ from everybody has been “and then what?” which I can’t answer. Well, after the initial shock that this is a ten week project that’s what everybody asks.

I then travelled from York to Sheffield ready for the New Curriculum for Information Literacy event organised by Lyn Parker and hosted by the Information School at University of Sheffield. Here I must post a warning, if you visit Sheffield do not stay at the Holiday Inn Express, the wifi access I bought expired by morning and the room blocked all phone and 3g signal. Thank goodness for the lovely people who work in Reception at the Information School who made me very welcome although I was two hours early, and found me a comfy spot and coffee. Thank goodness also for Eduroam which meant I could reconnect with the world – oh and get some work done of course.

I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the team and talking about why we are doing what we are, and how we hope to achieve it. The workshop session that followed threw up some interesting ideas and discussions too, and also gave me some food for thought about issues and how to surmount them.

Friday was a day of reflection, consideration, concern, oh  and Shininess. Did I mention that my Arcadia iPad arrived at Sheffield care of Helen? It is now called Precioussss and gives me access to a whole new way of working. Much of the weekend was taken up with finding suitable apps, installing them and testing them. Definitely NOT playing, not at all. Serious research of course. I spent a large part of the time like THIS