Looking Back

Over the course of twelve weeks many topics have been discussed and disembowelled in order to understand them better. I would say now looking back my opinion hasn’t been changed on most topics but the way I think about them has. I think one of the main reasons for this was as each week passed and each week was reflected on I thought about different aspects in terms of what I was doing at the time. I have been working on many different projects and each is completely different to another. This has given me the opportunity `to apply what I’ve learned in a variety of ways. A main topic of interest I have preened over this time has been to understand others and how it is important to work to everyone’s strengths when trying to attain a common goal. There is no point in looking at something and seeing it as merely a problem. It has to be resolved and worked around so the team can keep moving forward. This was certainly applicable to the group situation. To this extent the culture of the group in this case has been extremely important. It is something I wouldn’t have given much consideration before I started reading about it and understanding how it works and how it can be used to benefit everyone involved.
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From the outset I’m not entirely sure what I expected to learn, I have done courses before where theories have been the focus and a specific way of doing things in order to achieve results has been the basis for the classes. Obviously a better understanding is always a goal when you start out a class and probably something I have gleaned from the class was just that in relation to thinking alternatively. It is an important theme in my PLN project to really get under the skin of an people and how they see things differently and understand how they operate. It has been of great importance to relate what I have learned here to my own situation. People have to be clear on what is happening so they can buy into and be involved in the process. This will lead to better workflow and concise parameters to work within when trying to achieve certain goals. Which I’m sure everyone can agree on will be important to success, success in terms of end result but also success in developing working relationships. Furthering on to this point would be to learn more which I think will be hugely beneficial and will come with experience in future situations that arise throughout the rest of the year and beyond that.

The class has been different in terms of work to other classes; it hasn’t been overly intense but instead much more thought provoking. It was good to have time to reflect and develop ideas. Sometimes in college it’s just a matter of getting through the work and you don’t actually take much from it. Now that we are coming to the end it has reaped its rewards. It’s an area I am interested in for obvious reasons but it tackles an important issue in my life right now and has even made me think down the line about next year exploring the idea of what I will do. My interest peaked when I was developing my PLN which opened my mind to what other people do and to try and understand their processes of doing things which I touched on in my first paragraph. In terms of how things could have been better, more time to focus on certain topics but that is something that would make me interested in doing more classes where their goal is to focus on more specific areas. The most enjoyable thing about the class has been the building my blog overall. I have done other blogs but not in this portfolio set-up. Its definitely a hub I can come back to and increase it over time. There is still work to do but it will definitely benefit me its complete and I will look back in a positive fashion.

Margaret Heffernan: Dare to Disagree

Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t those who just follow like sheep and are happy to agree regardless. Also how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree. While a lot of people would agree with this it isnt always put in to practice which can and is detrimental. Part of the problem was that it takes time to transform perception, even if data shows that something is incorrect it isnt always that simple. We not only need to Dare to disagree, but also dare to believe in an alternative view or belief based on data and new information. We must ourselves be open to changing our own views or consider other possibilities.

Link: Margaret Heffernan: Dare to Disagree

Drew Dudley: Everyday Leader

In this talk about leadership Drew Dudley takes a slightly different slant on what it is to be a leader. Instead of holding leaders on some sort of plateau that very few of us will ever successfully reach he breaks it down to everyday tasks. He tries to show how important influence is in everyday life in helping others think and act differently. More importantly, leadership is about getting things done through relationships and interactions with people that are talented and skilled, even when they don’t yet realize it. All too often it’s too easy to get caught up in what the definition is of being a leader and not focusing on what it actually takes and what forms it can take. Leaders come in all different forms and its important to remember that when you find yourself in a situation where you may need to take charge.

Link: Drew Dudley: Everyday Leader

Michael Hyatt: International Leadership Selected Blogs

A Tale of Two Coaches: What Kind Are You?
I really enjoyed this blog post with the simple message being its not what you know but how you express it. There are people with vast amounts of knowledge on a topic but no knowledge on how to go about sharing that. Man management is a skill I would love to develop as I think it is vital to be successful. The best managers can always get the best results out of whoever is around them. This ties in to my literature review where I discovered some really interesting results concerning the type of leader you are.

The One Thing You Must Do to Achieve Break-Through Results
This blog post resonated with me as it deals with invisible barriers. Quite often people over think and find themselves stuck because what they perceive to be the problem is something they have manufactured in their heads. I have found myself daunted by upcoming presentations where I thought what I had done wasn’t good enough and it was all going to come crumbling down once I stood up to talk,only to receive high praise and realise I had manufactured this self doubt. If you can remove these invisible barriers and actually reassess the situation quite often the task at hand is manageable and you can move forward.

Alternative Career Paths

This week was all about asking the question if not a librarian what else can I be? For me though it’s asking a lot more than just that. It’s asking what am I going to do with my life? That is a terrifyingly daunting question for anyone but for me who is so unsure, it leaves me feeling uneasy.

The first reading this week Varejs, J. (2009) Careers and Education in Library and Information Science left me a bit bemused. While many of my fellow students are taking the M.L.I.S, I am not. I am doing a MSc in Information systems but I take the point of the readings and offering alternative careers. For me the article outlined the weaknesses of the L.I.S course and in particular how poorly it is viewed within the library community. A line that struck was that a lot of jobs are looking for the skills that are taught but they want someone with a different degree. However those skills were passed off as something you either have or you don’t and the fact you are being taught is neither here nor there. It didn’t have a positive spin at all.
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The second short piece 61 Non-Librarian Jobs for LIS Grads basically pointed out that you that there are options outside of working in a library and that you have to look for jobs that may not be advertised to you but are asking for the skills you have. This is all well and good but to tie into the first article, that in order to get these jobs you need to have other qualifications and that librarian’ constantly have to be improving themselves. To me it stank that your degree is worthless and you have to make it better. Well what’s the point in even doing it in the first place then if you are potentially working outside of the librarian field? The fact there was even an article on the matter was off-putting. What other field has to justify themselves?

While I may agree or disagree with the message I got from this topic is irrelevant, it was just the message it sent that sat uneasily with me. From a personnel point of view as I said I’m not actually doing an L.I.S but my degree doesn’t hold much more weight. I couldn’t honestly say what type of job my degree will get me. It’s all a bit of a mix bagged and while people will sit there and tell me, you can do x,y & z I would have to argue against them. I will have to justify myself getting a job more than anyone else coming off a different degree.

Its a question I am not looking ready to answer because I worry if I even can. I don’t know whats next but it is something I cant ignore for much longer.

Sources:
Mia Breitkopf: 61 Non-Librarian Jobs for LIS Grads

Varejs, J. (2009) Careers and Education in Library and Information Science

To Solve a Problem, Think Like a Mad Child

This week’s selected readings were highly interesting. I started off the Howard and Davis article which looked at how problems are solved. It took ideas, firstly evidence based practice (EBP) which deals with solving a problem with previously thought out solutions. Looking at what is already in place to solve upcoming problems essentially. Secondly was design thinking which brings in the concept of iterations which was an extremely important concept last semester in a class I took called system analysis and design. This idea is to go beyond what we already know and come up with new creative solutions to solve new creative problems. The article continued to try and create a hybrid between these two solution ideologies by taking the best of both.
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This brings me nicely to the second reading Bowler et al, It was quite a long reading but honestly the most interesting and one I know I am going to come back to again and again. It didn’t particularly throw up any new concepts I haven’t come across before but it did amalgamate them in to one piece. The corner stone of the article was user centred design (UCD). This idea is based on creating a solution by involving the user in the process. Quite often the user is ignored even though they are the one who will end up using whatever the product will be. In this article it looked at how the user searches for information. The idea of using social tagging was very interesting and kind of ties in to the crowd sourcing I spoke about last week. By combining the power of a lot of people you can eventually create a solution that benefits the greater majority.

Some of the best solutions are quite often the ones you are not thinking about. It is not always simple. I suppose that’s why people say geniuses tend to be a bit mad. So I am not sure if it is good thing to be sane all of the time. Even in the Bowler et al, article when they looked at participatory web interface design with children you can see the logic behind it. Children think in a completely different fashion to adults and come out with some extraordinarily creative thoughts. When trying to solve a problem or come up with solutions, it is important to think outside the box, or even think like a child or a mad man or a bit of both. While some of the solutions that are thought will be utterly useless by applying the thought process in the Howard and Davis article eventually a solution will created and it could be great.

Sources:
Howard & Davis 2011. Evidence Based Library & Information Practice

Bowler et al, 2011. Issues in User Centred Design in LIS

A Week in the Life

Another week has flown past and you would think getting more work done would lessen the load however it’s not the case. The more I chip away the more leaks that spring out and more work piles up.
I am doing my MSc in information systems which closely liaises with the MLIS course in UCD with many of the classes overlapping. My week is centred around three long gruelling days of lectures on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday with Wednesday and Fridays off. I generally look at this and think I will use my days off to get assignments and other work done. Now that I am in week 7 of my second semester I find the week’s just dissipating before me. I am getting less work done on my days off and the other three days seem to be tiring me out. It is becoming more and more difficult just to keep up.
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I tend to ear mark time slots to get started on one thing and before I know it something more urgent pops up and in turn takes my focus. I am taking 6 classes and as well have my capstone project which is effectively my thesis. Although the capstone is earmarked for the summer months the work has well and truly started so it feels more like 7 classes. I do a wide range of classes from current trend in social media; human computer interaction to research practices and this blog is for contempory issues in professional practice. It being an MSc I am expected to go above and beyond what is asked of me but I am severely lagging behind on this front.

This week I have been transcribing interviews, working on a project which involves analysing online user communities as well as working on the UCD SILS website doing usability testing. Amongst other things I have the monotonous work of doing readings and following blogs for other assignments, not to mention the endless meetings with groups and individuals. I have much more I need to press on with but there are simply not enough hours in the week let alone a day. The question of how will I get through this is constantly floating around in my head.
Just keeping up with what is going on and checking emails and other sources is a chore in itself. Its a constant struggle to cement in my head what exactly I need to do. No matter what the weeks keep rolling on and I don’t feel any closer to finishing my work but I see deadlines starting to pile up.

It’s just a week in my life and they keep getting tougher as they go. There is still a strong belief on my behalf that I will somehow pull it of the bag and get it all done because I have to. I will have an unbelievable sense of accomplishment when I do. Its a long way off yet however.