Wednesday 22 August 2018

Less is More: Introducing Research in 3 Minutes Videos

I'm now well into the third year of my job and finally starting to feel somewhat settled. I've done a lot of face to face training in the last couple of years but it can often be hard for staff to get away from the demands of their day jobs to attend sessions - however much they might want to! As a result I've been experimenting with more online training and I'll be sharing this on the blog over the coming months. 

At least locally there seem to be two main problems with learning about scholarly communication and research support: a lack of time to learn about something that may not be directly relevant to their role and not understanding the terminology (and therefore not knowing if particular training sessions are relevant). To help with this I've put together a series of short videos covering Research in 3 Minutes. Each video looks at a research support topic such as peer review, metrics and predatory publishers (click the image below for more). 

The videos themselves were easy to put together using a site called Lumen5. This was something I saw mentioned on Twitter as a way to create short videos easily so having little or no design competency I thought I would give it a try. Designed as a way to make blog posts and other content more visual, the site takes text and automatically turns it into the videos you can see above. It also automatically selects CC0 images for each slide although the algorithm which does this didn't always get things right! This can all be changed along with moving the text between slides, highlighting certain words and selecting the (copyright free) music. I just used a free version which allows you to have forty slides and this was plenty.

Some top tips for creating videos like this:

  • keep them short and sweet. Keeping the videos to roughly three minutes each allowed me to get my point across without going overboard
  • plan out what you want to say beforehand. The site allows you to copy and paste text from a word file and I found this to be the easiest method to make sure I stayed within my slide/word limit
  • always check your finished video, even if you have taken the time to prepare the text. Some things worked well in the Word document but didn't have the right flow in the video
  • the site offers both still images and video and I recommend trying to mix these up. Having both keeps the video fresh but having too many videos followed by a static image can be a little distracting
  • I used the same music on each slide for consistency but looking back I would change this. If someone was to watch more than one or even the whole sequence it can get pretty annoying! 
The videos were a nice distraction from some of my more intense work over the last few months and are helping to build up a solid bank of online training materials. I hope to release more in the future so watch this space! 

Monday 13 August 2018

New Skills, New Challenges: CPD in the Information Profession

Readers of this blog will know that I have always been interested in professional development for library staff. Recently I was asked to put together a special virtual online edition of the New Review of Academic Librarianship looking at the way CPD has evolved over the years, as reported in the literature. The result can now be found online here with all articles made openly available for a limited time. As part of this exercise I also wrote an introductory editorial on New Skills, New Challenges: CPD in the Information Profession which can be found with the articlesBut don't worry if you don't get a chance to read it now - there is also a version of my editorial available in the Cambridge repository. Currently under an embargo it will be available to read early next year. 

Putting together this editorial was an interesting exercise. I've never been a big fan of literature reviews and even choosing publications from a defined list was hard. It was also difficult to get the balance and tone of the actual editorial right but I think I managed it in the end. It really helped me to focus and gave me a new perspective on some of the other writing projects I'm working on.

I've written a lot in the past about librarians getting involved in the publication process and I can recommend literature reviews as a route to try. They are often more helpful to readers than the original articles as all the hard work has been done for them!