Is being out of office your job?

I experienced an ‘oh yeah’ moment while I was checking out apps to use to remain connected and manage my workflow better.  I mention this in the positive sense – it’s not that I am complaining about being connected or the range of things I need to do, but rather it’s because I want to  make my work more interesting AND engaging; I want to be connected;  I do NOT subscribe to the “I’m traveling and will have limited access to email” kind of message that I often come across.

Out of Office” – probably the most common auto reply in the world, so popular there are even tutorials on how to write one. But times are changing and the term is gradually losing its meaning. From telling people that you would not be working, Out of Office is becoming where more and more where work really happens. There are many professions where being out of the office is your job. And, although his quote was in response to some companies moving away from remote workforces we get the feeling that the world is moving towards more flexible work styles, not away from it.

Working as I do in online learning environments, I get very frustrated by examples of distance education that are locked into the “out of office” mentality. Consultation times for 1/2 an hour at designated times each week? Phone calls made and received only when you are at your office desk? Invitations to join social media groups left languishing for a week or two – oh because you didn’t log into the account?

As a member of the international Advisory Board, I’ve started my reading and research involvement with the next Horizon Report K-12 2013 edition. If anything, the regular releases of the Horizon Report have proven that the predictions are not fantasy – but a real litmus for where learning and teaching is going. If you haven’t already done so, read the NMC Horizon Report 2012 K-12 edition, and grab the app while you are at it.

Let’s face it – when students can talk with an astronaut currently circling the earth, or follow his twitter feed of photos and more,  the goal posts for connectedness can definitely be considered to have changed.Check out Okanagan students chat with Commander Hadfield. What a great series of questions. Jump to the video and experience history! What’s also cool is that this event was made possible by ham radio operators. Yep! Twelve minutes – an event of a lifetime.

HatfiledIf we are genuinely aiming to prepare teachers and information professionals to engage in the kind of environment that  represents the best practices of connected learning and communication, the old models of being ‘out of office’ just have no traction – except when you are on annual leave!

Then it’s fine to turn off your mobile device, and drop off the grid.

Image: Podio connections

Why digital citizenship is important

Are you busy preparing new content and learning experiences for your students?  If you are, never miss the opportunity to include digital citizenship in relation to online environments.

This video cleverly highlights the scary truth about how much personal information is available about those who are not careful. A fun way to make a point!

Open Access – the good, the bad and the ugly

Open Access has become a major theme of interest within the research community and those interested in dissemination of information and knowledge.

In the debate around Open Access, the sadness around the loss of  Internet activist and programming star Aaron Swartz highlights that we have much to learn, and little time to learn it. Computer hacking Swartz was a vocal open-access campaigner, and died at the age of 26. Swartz was integral in creating RSS, and created a company that later merged with popular internet destination Reddit. However, more recently he was investigated for hacking JSTOR, the subscription-based journal service, and extracting its database with the intention for public release. For more on Swartz – and the impact of his work on free-data, and the world he leaves behind – read Lawrence Lessig’s piece “Prosecutor as Bully.” BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow also has a must-read tribute to Swartz, including information on the organization, DemandProgress, Swartz helped establish.

But what exactly is Open Access?    In this video  Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen take us through the world of open access publishing and explain just what it’s all about.

Historically, the two main types of obstacles to information discovery have been barriers of awareness, which encompass all the information we can’t access because we simply don’t know about its existence in the first place, and barriers of accessibility, which refer to the information we do know is out there but remains outside of our practical, infrastructural or legal reach. What the digital convergence has done is solve the latter, by bringing much previously inaccessible information into the public domain, made the former worse in the process, by increasing the net amount of information available to us and thus creating a wealth of information we can’t humanly be aware of due to our cognitive and temporal limitations, and added a third barrier — a barrier of motivation.

Open Access publishing is aiming to bridge the gap in higher education areas. Good research should have no boundaries. Here in Australia the Australian Research Council (ARC) is the largest funder of basic science and humanities research in Australia. So when the ARC talks, academics listen. The ARC has introduced a new open access policy for ARC funded research which takes effect from 1 January 2013. According to this new policy the ARC requires that any publications arising from an ARC supported research project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a twelve (12) month period from the date of publication.

In most cases, this open-access publishing will occur through electronic institutional repositories – university websites where one can freely download researchers’ articles. Search engines such as Google Scholar will automatically index these articles and link them to related research. The resulting stream of freely available research will be a boon for our society and economy. But it’s not perfect, just a step in the right direction, as publishers also get ‘a say’ in what happens with published information.

Check the ARC Open Access Policy for more information. While  the ARC policy will shift some power away from the publishers by putting institutional repositories centre stage, there is a counter-flow that is not in the same spirit of Open Access. Just because public domain content is online and indexed, doesn’t mean that it’s useful.

Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers

The gold open-access model has given rise to a great many new online publishers. Many of these publishers are corrupt and exist only to make money off the author processing charges that are billed to authors upon acceptance of their scientific manuscripts.

Scholarly Open Access showcased the Beall List of Predatory Publishers 2013. The first includes questionable, scholarly open-access publishers. Each of these publishers has a portfolio that ranges from just a few to hundreds of individual journal titles. The second list includes individual journals that do not publish under the platform of any publisher — they are essentially independent, questionable journals.

In both cases, the recommendation is that researchers, scientists, and academics avoid doing business with these publishers and journals. Likewise, students should exercise some caution when reading and referencing these articles in their own academic learning.

Follow Scholarly Open Access for more insights into the contentious field of Open Access publishing.

Image cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by kevin dooley

Effortless video meetings at

Lately I’ve been very busy – who isn’t these days?  My kind of busy has meant less blogging and more collaborative planning and conversations.

I’m always on the lookout for  flexible options for conversation spaces that are hassle free, and don’t need complex logins or software downloads. Free is also good (while it lasts!)

So effortless video meetings have become a must – and now I think having my own meeting space is also a must! I’ve tried out the new browser-based tool at with a small group of people a few times, and have been very happy with the ease of communication. Works across a range of devices – nice!

New features are promised, but for now the standard features work ‘out of the box’ with the click of a button.

Better still, I have my own vanity meeting room, making it drop-dead easy to invite people to a meeting. Better still, I can find and retrieve past chat logs and files, all in one place.  Apparently I can schedule new meetings and manage all my upcoming meetings, but I’ll be honest – I  haven’t tried this out yet.

Overall, this is better than Google Hangout – simply because so many people still get confused by the whole Google+ meeting thing – and it’s free versus video group meetings in  Skype. Other stuff is more expensive again.

Give it a go and see what you think!

Educators as content curators

Just this weekend I’ve finished writing a lead article for my SLANZA friends in NZ for their Collected Magazine. School librarians everywhere are interested in the same things, so I was pleasee to be able to contribute to an issue focused on Content Curation.

This is such a topical area of relevance to teachers and school librarians alike. What is critical for us, however, is that we cast our ‘information literacy’ lens over the whole activity of ‘curation’.

There is a great deal of  rich content available for students and teachers that is collaboratively built and shared, including blogs, wikis, images, videos, places, events, music, books and more. Searching for content requires wise information literacy strategies and tools (embedded in the curriculum learning processes) to avoid being lost in the information labyrinth. Content curation is also  about  organizing, filtering and “making sense of” information on the web and sharing the very best pieces of content that has been selected for a specific purpose or need. It comes down to organizing your sources, knowing which of them are  trust worthy, and seeing patterns. So for teachers and librarians it comes down to  keeping up the pace in adopting these strategies and using tools to publish curated content in the sense of ‘reporting’ what is happening or what is relevant and new on a topic of research or interest.

Right on time to match the thinking time were  two very different but interesting items which arrived in my Facebook and RSS feeds. You’ll want to visit both!

There’s a great set three sketchs about Curators and the Curated from the FueledbyCoffee blog, as a result of a recent conference. So many ideas juxtaposed in the sketches.

There’s also a different but interesting set of ideas presented in this slideshare presentation about Re-Envisioning Pedagogy:Educators as Curators.

Clearly content curation is a topical issue!

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Claudio.Ar

Doing social media ~ experience the space

Since some time in July  I have been wrangling with the multiple dimensions of social media as they impact on the spaces of information professionals. I chose that word deliberately, because doing social media so it matters is at the heart of the what it means to be a socially networked information professional. It’s only by becoming active in social media spaces that you can really hope to be able to determine the best  social networking strategies for your library services.

You cannot read and write about social networking in order to learn social media strategy without engaging in the full dimensions of it. It is only through engagement that practice turns theory into understanding.

I always felt that had to be the case, but my recent teaching in INF206 Social Networking for Information Professionals has brought that message home to me loud and clear.

I have had the outstanding opportunity to engage with a group of information professionals scattered across Australia who are working in as diverse a range of libraries as you could ask. The services their institutions provide are, in some cases, second to none, and I was delighted to see that during the course of our study program some of the students were able to step up to join committees  formulating and/or delivering social networked services.

Tweeting for Trove, Australia’s national online resource of books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archives ?

How good is that!

What is unquestionably the case for anyone wishing to delve into the spaces of social media is that engagement is participation! How else can you determine what, how, when, or why you might adopt a particular tool or strategy for your organisation?

There is no single “right” social media service that will fit every library. Comparing social media sites is part of the research, as is determining what kind of social media your library is interested in. Given that social media sites come and go, side-by-side comparison charts will not give you all the answers. Interaction and conversation with others active in social media will be an essential part of your litmus test while you keep your library’s objectives in mind.

My main message is that a participatory culture is unavoidably participatory!  I have discoved that students in a program about social networking,  who do not actively embrace experimenting and exploring, inevitably have gaps and weaknesses in applying social networking to the provision of library services. But by jumping in and giving it a go, fluency begins to emerge, and the transformation is quite exilerating!  Library 2.0 is vibrant, viral, communicates, promotes, and engages with it’s ‘people’.

It’s like learning a new language and going on a trip to a new country – you can get by with a tourist translation or develop fluency that allows you to become immersed and enjoy every aspect of the new cultural experience.

I know which option I prefer!

Top Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photoshared by Έλενα Λαγαρία
Bottom Image: cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery

New content and better access = content curation

It seems that the latest buzzword around the web is ‘content curation’. There are literally millions of posts about this already, and new tools and new marketing strategies are being deployed to meet this new demand.  Even the kids are curating, and in so doing are learning that Curation is the new search tool.

Take a look at Content Curation, Social Media and Beyond. This is a quick showcase of a Scoop.It tool ( a tool I also use) on the topic of this post – using this newish aggregation tool to gather and share information in a way that is not social bookmarking, but is in keeping with a new wave of content curation developments.

Content Curation: Definition and Generation, raises a few essential points:

Finding the best content. Content Curation works only if the person who publishes the curated content knows extraordinary well his industry target too.

Adding value. It is imperative to provide comments and perspectives that add value to the curated content.

Crediting. It is critical to properly credit, providing clear links to additional sources that underlie the final content.

So in a way, a content curator is continually asked to assume stewardship responsibility for digital content in ever increasing number, size, and diversity of type.

Just as I rely on information discovery to push my own thinking, I also rely on content curators to add value and credibility to the information that they share with me.

I can only manage my information and my knowledge work online by accepting that information seeking means being involved in personalized and collaborative information aggregation and knowledge sharing.

Content curation is part of an overall strategy to tame information chaos. For me, it’s all about knowing, learning, sharing and teaching, all in one!   In addition, by providing a social infrastructure which facilitates sharing, the human aspects of the scholarly knowledge cycle may be accelerated and time-to-discovery reduced.

In a socially connected world, it’s amazing what a difference a few months can make. Joyce Valenza‘s post A few good scoops for us shows the transformation taking place in the world of ScoopIt. Grab yourself the links…they will help your own learning journey.

When I started up Digital Citizenship in Schools and Social Networking for Information Professionals this whole curation buzz was just emerging – and that was just a few months ago!

Authority will become the next sought-after currency for the App-Generation.

So I believe that  libraries and educational organisations should consider being involved in spreading their message far and wide, sharing best practice in standards and development, and offering advice for others.  Socially powered content curation is probably here to stay.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by César Poyatos