Thing 17: Reflective Practice

photoI first saw the Rudai23 things blog through another participant’s blog whom I was already following. Aside from looking fun and interesting I thought it would be a great way to really push myself to learn about all of the Web 2.0 tools that can enhance learning, professional development and personal organisation / current awareness. I spend 90% of my time at work keeping lawyers abreast of the developments in their industry so why should I not strategically plan how to do the same for myself? Additionally I thought it would be a great way to ease me in to the routine of learning and evaluating right before starting my masters next week (eek!).

My main concern initially was the practicality of whether or not I had time to commit to this; one of my pet hates is people committing to something without being realistic about what is involved and then flaking out halfway through. My reasoning here was that if I’m going to learn how to fit a master’s degree around my full time job then I should be able to time manage this relatively small to medium personal side project. Another preconception I was fostering before beginning the course was the worry that I would be held back by my questionable state of affairs regarding technology and money (or lack of) in order to complete all tasks but the course has been constructed to allow pretty much any one with access to a computer to participate so that this really hasn’t been an issue. The only time I have been slightly let down was my inability to participate in the Google hangout. I don’t have broadband at home and rely on coming into work early to use the computers in my pre-work “breakfast power hour”. I do have an I phone to my advantage though and have found it an invaluable device throughout the process; it means that I can maximise my efficiency and work on tasks en route each day. As a person who spends roughly two hours every day commuting it’s crucial for me to use this time effectively.

I feel really positive about the time management skills I have honed and have found a routine that works for me which allows me to incorporate spending time each week on the “thing” at hand. There have been some things that I’ve felt very confident with; as a product of the social media generation, I have been reminded throughout both my educational and professional career how important building a good professional brand is. Recruiters and employers alike have advocated the integral nature of, not only to having a “clean” profile but also one that demonstrates your interests in the profession. I’ve found that my increasing interaction with online professional networks and my gradual cultivation of my professional brand has now left me in a position where despite my status as a (for now) unqualified information worker in an assistant role, I still feel that I have valuable opinions that are worth sharing across professional networks. To put it plainly, my participation in this course has really boosted my confidence.

In the weeks where we’ve explored things like library advocacy and membership to professional bodies / attending professional events my perspective has changed. For the handful of events I’ve attended prior to now, though I’ve enjoyed them and done my best to reflect proactively and learn from the experience, I’ve always had the sneaking feeling at the back of my mind that I’m not a fully fledged professional yet and therefore I’m cheating by being there. I’ve worried about my cover being blown and that people will find out I’m not a “real” information professional and the game will be over! Being a part of the Rudai 23 community has made me realise not only how friendly librarians are but what a diverse bunch we are;  different job roles and different levels of experience make for the most interesting conversations! As a newbie I may lack the experience that many others possess but sometimes a fresh perspective can be just as valuable. In future I hope to remember this and remind myself if I’m ever feeling a little vulnerable in a professional context: it’s so much better to put yourself out there for the gains rather than justify keeping your mouth shut for fear you’ll look weak.

Specifically I’ve enjoyed learning about some quite technical things which I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to do without being prompted; the creation of your own augmented reality campaign is something I’ve been massively inspired by and i’m waiting for the perfect opportunity to put it into practice. The screencast software was a great thing to get to grips with too and whilst I doubt it will prove relevent in my job, it’s great to know it’s out there as you never know what you might be doing in the future. Podcasts have opened up a whole new world to me; I was aware of its existance but I’ve now been exposed to one more way to digest specialised and interesting content. Cumulatively one of the biggest benefits of learning about some of these platforms is that in addition to the learning process of the course, I feel like I’ve done a “digital audit” of my general online life and I’ve done a spring clean – I’ve got rid of the services / accounts that I feel no longer serve me and I’ve consolidated my favourite online content (whilst simultaneously discovering new stuff to) into an organised format that works for me.light at the end of the tunnel

I’ve identified that one of my downfalls is paying attention to liscencing terms regarding images. I hope I don’t make too many enemies out of admitting this (I know it’s a hot topic amongst librarians) but I’m still relatively new to being conscientious about what images I use and exactly how I accredit them. It’s duly noted as something to work on and I’m sure I’ll learn all of the intracies with my masters in Information Management.

In broader terms I think I’ve realised throughout the hours I’ve put into this course that the more you put into something the more you get out. There have been certain tasks where I haven’t put too much time into it and I’m the first to admit it, I can at least counteract the negativity of that by saying that this has been an active choice – time is a valuable resource and we should be mindful how we use it. Everyone has constraints and the more we’re aware of that the more we can mindfully choose how we distribute what we do have. For the “things” that I was already very familiar with (like Twitter, Facebook, Goggle) I put more time into the reflection and the blog post than I did the actual exploring of the platform but still I didn’t over-do it. For the weeks where everything was new to me I was far more generous with my time, I wanted to make the most of the opportunity I had (“opportunity” being 260 other librarians all pushing their oars in the same direction paddling unified into the current of th unknown!”).

I’d like to add that this very “thing”, thing 17 has actually been one of the tasks I’ve put the most effort into. Stephanie’s detailed evaluation of how refelction is a strategic self improvement proccess really motivated me to use this opportunity to assess my learning on a deeper level. I think this can be applied to anything we learn in life. I’ll round this off with a lovely little anecdote about a TED talk I listened to the other day; It was John Green talking about his novel Paper Towns (which I believe is being made into a movie right now). I certainly wasn’t drawn to the podcast because of the author or the book; I’ve never read any of his books but it was the title that hooked me “John Green: The Nerd’s Guide to Learning Everything”. Ok so spoiler alert – listening to this podcast will not teach you how to learn everything i’m afraid. Instead Green gives a brief introduction to the origin of the title of his book. He talks about a map that The General Drafting Company of New York made in 1937. He aludes to a trick that mapmakers use in order to identify breach of copyright – he explains that they make up the name of a place which doesn’t exist and if they see it on another map they know that person has copied their map. The Gernal Drafting Company used this on their 1937 map of New York and created a fake town called Agloe. Decades later a guy caled Rand McNally makes a map with Agloe and it seems he’s caught red handed. But it turns out that what had happened is that so many people had seen this famous map and visited this spot that Agloe manifested itself as a real place, an actual town – businesses, shops and cafes sprung up around this once fictional coordinate that it turned from being fictitious to reality. After musing a while about his own experiences of learning Green argues that cartography is like learning; we sail to a land and absorb it and then we’re curious about what is over the next small part of ocean so we sail over there and add this new place to the map and progressively we start building our own map of knowledge. I used to think at school that there was a capacity of information in the world, that one day If I worked hard enough I would know everything there was to know and I guess if I tie this to the map metaphore, I thought that the map was already in place and that all I had to do was visit everywhere eventually. But knowledge is a beautiful yet slippery thing and as John Green metaphorically says (yes, if you’ve made it this far I promise the map metaphors will be over soon) we are all cartographers of our own unique learning maps.

Well Rudai23- thanks – I’ve really enjoyed the journey.

(You can watch the full talk here).

 

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