SMILE project outputs

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Study Methods and Information Literacy Exemplars (SMILE) was a one year project funded by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) under its e-Learning Capital programme and in particular their Re-purposing & re-use of digital university-level content & evaluation (RePRODUCE) strand.

The project outputs are:

  • A final report
  • Module material available at SMILE Moodle site.  The guest account is: Username: guest1 Password: guest
  • Module material on JORUM

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Occassional update May 26th 2009

Well, nearly a year ago to the day I started the Project Management of SMILE. Today is my last working day on the project. The materials have been loaded on JORUM and will soon be available on the CILIP CSG ILG site too.  The designated Academic Liaison Librarian has been sent the files and supporting documentation and I am creating a final archive. And it feels very odd, like waving off a small and nervous child at the school gates for the first time, hoping the world will treat it kindly and understand its foibles and shortcomings. After all, it does try really hard to please and do the right thing. So if you should meet SMILE, repurpose and reuse to your heart’s content, I am sure you will improve on the novice RLO it is, but don’t forget where it all started, and thank JISC for the funding, Imperial College London and Loughborough University for the input and University of Worcester for putting it all together and making it available.

I start work on a scoping project for SMILE@Work next week, which hopefully will take information literacy to the workplace. I am really looking forward to the new challenge and working with a different group of people. I shall probably post on here from time to time, but am more prolific as  SmilyLibrarian these days.

Thanks for the input and the opportunities, it’s been fun, bye little SMILE, be good, and don’t forget where you came from!

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Ada Lovelace Day

Well, today is Ada Lovelace Day and I am writing a blog entry in support of women in technology. When I first started as a baby programmer it was 25 years ago! There were hardly any women in the department, and I was not taken very seriously for quite some time. While that meant I got probably more help than my male contemporaries, whether I wanted it or not, it also meant promotion was harder to get and when I spoke in meetings there were those tumbleweed moments as people looked round the room to see where that noise came from. Then one of the men would say the same thing and the world would start up again! I loved being in IT though, really loved it. And things did change and I was accepted for who I was and what I could do. Fast forward 5 years and I was off work for a few weeks with a fairly serious problem. On my return my (male, much older) boss said he was glad to see me back because there was a job needed doing and only I could do it! Hurrah, I thought, recognition at last. Yes, said he, John’s wife has had a baby and I want YOU to buy the present. Grrrr. Fast forward 15 years and I was a consultant on some pretty major Government projects, I managed teams, designed systems  and built the Unix servers they would run on, then implementing the projects. I was an equal in hours of work, commitment, ability and the stress busting shenanigans that went on in the fairly high flying mainly male team. In fact there were less than 2% females in the whole of the IT departments. I found out all my male colleagues had got a pay rise, a month before, but none of the females had. I went to the boss’s office (male, older, “I rule by fear” etc) and demanded my pay rise. I was just waiting to see if you had the same guts (except he used a different word) as the guys said he – I got my pay rise and then some.

Then I moved into Librarianship, went grey and got older, and that combination seemed to really ratchett up the invisible/inaudible lever in some circles. I guess what I am saying is women in any career probably still have to be brighter, tougher and more committed than their male colleagues in some organisations, but they can get the recognition in the end. Although I have watched with interest and some despair the level of slaries drop in IT as the gender balance has changed. There has been some good research done on that. If you are interested you should look it up. I am off to raise a coffee cup to Ada, the woman who inspired me to go into what was then Computing, and doesn’t receive the recognition she deserved, and to Lynne Lindsay, my first female IT boss who is always remembered by me and who we lost too young. She got on with it, and proved you don’t have to be loud and agressive to achieve excellence and innovate in technology.

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Update 4th March 2009

Well, the reports have all been submitted, bar some detail I am waiting for from other people. The final meeting has been attended and all that is left is to package everything up for lodging in Jorum and the website. I don’t think I shall be updating this blog very often from now on, but I (or my successor) will post changes and updates that may be of interest to those using the resource.

It has been fun and thanks for reading.

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Update 4th February 2009

Well, the main news is our draft Final report, the Critical Friends report (thank you so much Lyn Greaves at TVU) and a draft E-learning Completion report have all been submitted. A bid has gone to JISC for more funding for SMILE@Work. I t would enable the project to be fully implemented but having read the comments in the jiscbid threads on Twitter I would never try to influence anybody with sob stories (or scented paper). I wish I had read these earlier, but I confess I wasn’t really aware of the awesome power of twittering until people were being rude about it. For example the “security breaches” earlier this year. Then I noticed Stephen Fry was a heavy user of Twitter, and, like so many people, I enjoy listening to Mr Fry and his wicked sense of humour. So I took a look and I searched for our topic. Next thing you know, the project has a user (Smilylibrarian, what else?), is following a few people, and, more surprisingly, has its own followers. Trouble is, it is supposed to be for the project but I am the only one to post to it. The question is, do I open it up for others on the team, or do I keep it as a selfish pleasure just passing on the baton when my time at the Project ends? Let me know what you think, or twitter us!

Marking meeting today, for the taught module, it will be interesting to see what the results are and how they compare to previous years. Although it will be hard to prove whether any noticeable changes are directly related to SMILE or not.

I have just noticed problems previewing this post so must check if the blog is ok from elsewhere.

Recently learnt about the UKAN project at Tees, which looks very interesting. There are a lot of us looking at these issues, and obviously not just in the UK. Now we just need to keep it all joined up!

Off to check on the technical glitches now.

Keep checking the information on travel etc and if you have a spare space heater or fingerless gloves let me know!

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Fortnightly Update 21st January 2009

Well, this week has certainly been one where global events overshadow anything happening on the  SMILE project. It was heartening to see that Mr Obama has already created employment and opened up the way to new opportunities. Apparently demand for lookalikes is expanding rapidly. Which is, actually, a bit like SMILE. More academics are expressing an interest in a SMILE which blends with their course, with examples and case studies directly relevant to their subject. The core content will remain unchanged, with relevant resources and materials identified by the Academic Liaison Librarians  and embedded as required. It is good to know that SMILE will continue to be used and become embedded in the teaching at the University. But isn’t it funny how attached one becomes to one’s work sometimes? I feel quite protective of the package, and find it quite hard to hear people discussing the changes they will make to it as soon as they get their sticky paws on it! On the other hand, hopefully SMILE@Work will be taking its place in my affections by then! I feel like a foster-librarian, nurturing the projects until a permanent home can be found for them.

Talking of SMILE@Work, the initial scoping and investigation has now officially received funding from the University, so as soon as the plethora of reports for the end of SMILE are done, we can start work on that.

And talking of plethora of reports, I am finding it quite confusing working out what changes have been made to the templates and pulling everything together. There seem to be far more reports than the 2 we actually need to produce, but I think my vision is blurring with the speed the deadlines are approaching! I have noticed something about myself and the way i work as well. I always think I hate the writing up part, but actually, and secretly, I think I enjoy it – no, really! I get immense satisfaction from getting all my information in a row and putting it into place. I can put my head down and really get on with it (if undisturbed), whereas, whilst I LOVE looking for content, I am very easily distracted and shoot off at all sorts of tangents.

Mind you, I find some very interesting, but not necessarily relevant, bits and bobs that way. For example, I participate in an online forum to do with a well know game of strategy, tactics and downright Macchiavellian chicanery. The participants on the forum discuss all sorts of things as well as the game, and one of them sent this link to a book cover archive in. I love it, and can get lost in time browsing through it, then linking off to Amazon to look at the books themselves. We also discussed on line privacy and security and why people don’t show themselves in their avatars.  A whole new field of research there I think. But it did raise a thought on Information literacy for me. Do people trust web utterances from an avatar they find attractive/relate to without applying the same “filters” they would in real life? And why do people create Avatars that are so different from their real selves? But it isn’t strictly related to the project, or the game for that matter. And, yes, I am now semi-hooked on the game too. And no, I am not going to tell you the game, or my name in it! You might flame me, or cata my village!

See, I’ve done it again. Sidetracked myself. Time for my more disciplined side to take over, and write some report content. Next posting will be in two weeks when hopefully the draft reports will be submitted.

Here’s a final though I would like some input on though. After the project Final Report has been submitted, what should happen to the blog? Should it be passed on with the content, or should it become the SMILE@Work and anything else I can think of to talk about blog?

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Fortnightly Update 8th January 2009

Happy New Year! Hope, if you had a holiday, it was a good one.

The year finished on a good note for us. We ran the focus groups as part of the evaluation of the project, and the results were very positive. I particularly liked the student who said they would not recommend it to anyone. This doesn’t seem like a very positive result, but when asked to clarify they said they felt SMILE gave them the edge over their colleagues when preparing coursework. Sneaky, but complimentary. Everyone felt it would be something they kept coming back to after the taught module finished, to refresh and support their research skills. They all made the valid point that it will be les than useless if it is not kept up to date and relevant, so the exit strategy and future-proofing will be our next step. Severl also thought it would be a useful resource in the workplace, because they thought people are drowned in information at work, and waste a lot of time looking for the “right” piece. That was re-assuring in light of the fact we are hoping to develop SMILE@Work, having secured a grant from the University of Worcester for the initial investigation and small pilot. We are also applying for more funding elsewhere.

My long paper and poster on SMILE have been accepted for this years LILAC conference in Cardiff. So now I am wavering between excitement and panic. Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking etc etc! It is at the end of March, so not far off, and perilously close to several important project report deadlines, so no pressure!. By the way, big thanks to one of our JISC RePRODUCE “critical friends” , Lyn Greaves at Thames Valley. She has heroically taken on the report due at the end of January, with input from myself and Peter reed at Edge Hill.

With all the real work building to a crescendo, I haven’t had much time for playing, or, as I prefer to call it, researching on the Web. But I did find the I Want To… blog, which helps you find all sorts of Web2.0 applications, and links to blogs and much much more.  So enjoy, and see you in two weeks!

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