Thursday, October 05, 2006

Feedback on UC Berkeley webcasts

So I've now watched a couple of the video lectures that I mentioned in my last post. The most interesting video was not the Sergey Brin lecture (he's not such a great speaker) but the Geoffrey Nunberg talk. Dr Nunberg focused on how society has placed 'real world' print models on information on the web. I may not explain it as well as he (he is a good speaker) but it got me thinking about how we, as librarians, try to re-create our inductions and skills sessions as web tutorials almost exactly as we'd do them face to face.

There is a problem with transferring material from face to face lectures to virtual learning environments. Some lecturers/librarians will simply stick up their lecture notes/PPT slides etc. in the same old Times New Roman font and think that this is 'e-learning'. I don't think it is. Students don't want to sit and read a text heavy lecture because that's not what people like to use the net for. They might print off that lecture, so what was the point of putting it online? Is this really utilising the web to it's fullest e-learning potential?

The accessibility of the web has changed the way we use the material published on it and the values that we give it. I happily pay 70p for a print newspaper but wouldn't dream of paying, at point of access, for an online version. I even expect more from the online version - value added, if you like - and the same goes for our online tutorials.

I've just had a quick trawl of a few UK universities' library websites to check out any online inductions/tours/tutorials. I know that there are plenty of techy, interactive tutorials out there but the ones that I looked at were text heavy with no images or any interaction. I did find an audio tour at Southampton and one at Sheffield. Web technology can allow us to really make library inductions user friendly at point of need not at our convenience. Liaise with your academics, respond to their needs and embed training at point of need.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Get Casting !

Podcasts are adding the ‘human touch’ to previously dry corporate information
Information World Review, Oct 2006 issue 228 p18-20.
This is a really interesting article highlighting the value of podcasts in allowing time-poor people to ‘time-shift’ – using previously ‘dead time’ and the value of podcasts over text-based information: “audio conveys personality, passions, interests.”

At the technological end of podcasting, its possible to include music, multiple speakers and scripted programming – all things we need to explore further. Lincolnshire County Council have led the way in using Readspeaker Podcaster to automatically convert text-based news feeds. Clever stuff! As the article notes podcast search engines such as podzinger and podscope are going to increase in importance, and need to develop to allow better resource discovery – searching beyond the podcast metadata to the audio files themselves. On a day to day basis there’s so much scope for using podcasts to improve working life: by recording key meetings / briefings, capturing expert knowledge for wider dissemination, and for encapsulating information that can be assimilated on the move (what better way to be briefed than via your ipod on your 10 min walk to a meeting?)

Ultimately these developments have the potential to fundamentally change the way we do business at the University, in terms of internal communication, publicity and promotion and scholarly communications. Come on Birmingham – get Casting !

Google search video lectures from UC Berkeley

I've just seen this link to 6 videoed lectures on Google etc. on Ben Toth's excellent blog 'Libraries in the NHS'. There's even one with Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google. I've yet to watch them so any feedback on them would be interesting. I'll let you know what I think once I've looked at them properly. Here's the link: