09 August 2013

Ask.fm for enquiry service and classroom interaction

While I was reading the tragic news on bullying on ask.fm, it occurred to me that the site might be used as a virtual enquiry desk - for healthy communication with library users. It certainly has all the necessary basic functionality:
  • optional registration (questions can be posted very quickly, without a prolonged registration and login)
  • immediate notification of the posted question by email (currently the notification emails from ask.fm don't reach my college email boxes; I have raised the question with my IT colleagues)
  • RSS output (a widget can be created to display the questions and answers on the library webpage)
  • a widget - a bit too inflexible to my mind, but very easy to use - for embedding the query box anywhere on the internet.

I imagine, this may be handy for teaching too: learners can post their questions and comments; the tutor then will respond to them or ignore as appropriate.

05 August 2013

In students' eyes, there is nothing unusual about utilising Twitter for learning

Three years ago, I invited James Cunliffe, a photography tutor from the same college I work for, to write a guest post (http://nwhc-librarian.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/facebook-in-fe-tutor-on-pros-and-cons.html) on his use of Facebook for teaching. That was the time of confusion: after consulting with tutors and managers, Facebook was blocked on on-campus PCs and tutors were told they could not communicate to learners on Facebook. Neither awareness campaign, nor training preceded the consultation, so the terrified voices - Facebook is evil! - were the loudest. Photography tutors’ experiment of using Facebook has survived and developed into the best example of utilising social media in our college I am aware of. Three years later, I learnt that something new and equally exciting has appeared – James and his colleagues have adopted Twitter for their practice. Here is what he told me recently:

James Cunliffe photoTwitter can be time consuming. Have you heard about the fear of missing out? There is always something out there, which you want to gather and share. In the beginning I was checking Twitter every day, posting, re-tweeting… I was doing it on the train during my 20-minutes journey. Recently, I’ve deliberately stepped back a bit and take it more casually now.

My colleagues, Andy and Hazel, are helping to look after the NWHC Photography Twitter feed (@nwhcphotography). For now, we don’t have any special arrangements who is going to reply or re-tweet. Perhaps, we will develop a strategy in that respect eventually.