Monday, 31 October 2011

Reflecting on Reflection on Reflecting on Reflection on Role

(Yes, I hate me too - these blog titles are getting steadily worse)

I'm on the fence about whether to go for breadth or depth when considering this Thing (to reflect back on how CPD23 has integrated into working practice). Essentially, I'm going to re-read each post and make a few notes, then probably just post that!

Professional Networks

I suggested in Thing 1 that I might struggle on keeping up and consistently blogging to a schedule. I haven't done too badly at this; if I hadn't had a month off in August, I would have been pretty much of schedule... I also identified a few aims:
To be better (never was good at setting SMART targets)! To engage to show professional development; to be part of (and contribute towards) something larger; to refresh my ability to write long spiels of random thoughts and make it seem like there was some underlying plan (I'm award-winning in that last area, believe it or not...). One further personal aim: to write a few more straightforward sentences, without using colons and hyphens for awkward pauses or ending a thought on ellipses - that one may take some work...
I've made steps in the contribution and participation areas (though perhaps more through Chartership concerns than CPD), and have developed my writing muscles thorough blogging and, latterly, producing reports and articles for an internal newsletter; my sentence construction, however, is an unwieldy as ever, with whole paragraphs frequently structures as a single sentence with 6-8 sub-clauses, asides and parenthetical comments. You know what, though? F**k it, I like writing like this; it's my style and I'm keeping it! [Professional DL would like to highlight to potential employers that he is entirely malleable to institutional needs]

I have done less well at keeping up with the neighbours. I have read lots of CPD23 articles, but I've not consistently followed anyone's progress through the course (actually, of those I discussed in this Thing only 3 are continuing, and have similarly fallen behind). In some ways I think that's better though: I'm getting a larger variety of viewpoints by dipping in and out of the all-participant RSS feed, which also develops my network of vaguely-recognised infopros at IRL events! At the recent Library Camp I made a quick-and-dirty nameplate which utilised by Dogeared branding, but no-one particularly engaged with this, suggesting that my online branding has been less effective than I hoped; however, I was hardly a social-butterfly on that day (more a grumpy, slightly-misanthropic moth with tinnitus) so perhaps that had something to do with it! Staying with professional events, I still can't shake the feeling that CILIP is a body which lives in a distant castle and takes a tithe of my income in return for some ephemeral promise of protection, in a modern-day echo of the feudal system (this could also be portrayed using a mobster allegory; take your choice). There have been a few events which they have offered, either in 'that London' or locally, which might have been worthwhile, but the costs involved with them, and the lack of guarantee they'd be worthwhile, has meant I've stuck to events like Library Camp, outside the umbrella of CILIP and thus that bit freer.

In terms of social networks, I go through sporadic phases of tweeting still, but mostly I just lurk these days - I can't say hand on heart I feel part of the community. I keep meaning to get back to using LinkedIn more, as the groups have proven pretty good and provide interesting discussions on topics which interest me, but it's always just that bit too far down my list of priorities for me to properly engage. And whilst I had high hopes for Google+ being the ideal platform, combining the desirable features of the other networks, it's potential hasn't followed through as far as I'm concerned - I don't know of anyone who uses it as their primary online network, and it just doesn't seem to get to where I want it to be. In terms of professional networks, I'm still not engaged with LISNPN in any meaningful way (though I do occasionally click through to blogs as I follow their RSS), and haven't really felt the poorer for it; it feels like, as a profession, we do a lot of communicating but don't really achieve either consensus or tangible outcomes.

Finally, I pondered at the time of Thing 4 whether it was worth maintaining RSS feeds from US librarians - I still have these, but can't remember the last time I actually clicked through and read an article; maybe it's time to ditch and switch to more local bloggers (even if this will lead to duplicated coverage of events).

Personal Development

I haven't really focused on improving my reflective practice skills; it's still in the back of my mind, and I can think in this way a little longer than I could before I go sulky and give up, but its never going to come naturally to me. I've got better at reflecting on events, though never quickly enough to make blogging about them worthwhile; I missed the bus on Library Camp for example - though I wrote this up as a report for work, which fulfilled a reflective function... maybe I'm doing better at this than I thought!

I'm grinding along with Chartership activities, slowing gaining experience to tick boxes on my PPDP goals (which are still not in final-draft state, but are pretty close...). It's been a busy last month, but I've gained quite a lot of useful experience inside and outside of work, particularly as I supported a few timetabled information-skills sessions in the last fortnight. I've got another mentor meeting tentatively scheduled for the next few weeks (a date has yet to be locked down; possibly something to correct!) and feel positive about this relationship, as I did before.

Applications and tools

Pushnote and Evernote fulfil much the same function in my book; I've sporadically used Evernote to make notes since Thing x, but it hasn't really integrated my process in terms of professional practice. Pushnote, as I think was the case for pretty much everyone, just didn't do enough or add functionality I really wanted; I recently uninstalled the shortcut from Chrome and do not miss it. I identified in my initial post that Evernote's functionality was limited by constraints on what IS would allow at work; this is slightly circumvented now as Chrome is on pretty much every PC I use day-to-day and there are less restrictions in plug-ins etc (how Chrome got to be installed, against their wishes, we won't dwell on!). My main problem with Evernote is that it allows to to 'clip' and make notes but is sufficiently unobtrusive that I then forget about everything I've captured and go about my business without actually reading this content - this problem is more with me than the software, but as we've established, I externalise my faults!

Google Calendar is really useful for me; I now have four calendars, which allow me to track job applications, professional events, day-to-day engagements and the dog's pills and treatments(!) individually or together. This makes it easy to quickly find details about an event I went to in May or work out why I've booked off a long weekend in mid-November (Skyrim's coming out!). Again, I'd like to emphasise the additional functionality which the Labs plug-ins allow for (though I wish more of Google's API offerings would link up and make a cohesive whole; things in G-world do sometimes feel like a never-ending beta). I'm also not totally convinced about the new style of layouts which pull Google products together, particularly in Blogger and Docs.

I've softened up on my attitude to reference-management software somewhat, but still don't use it myself; a colleague showed me what's probably the best way to handle Refworks, which was to introduce to whilst recognising that it would work for some people and not for others - no hard sell, just a 'this is it, this is what it does, use it or not - your choice'.


So, that covers the majority of the content of Things 1-14; it seems a little pointless to go beyond this point, as I'm unlikely to have changed my viewpoint much in the forthnight since I wrote Thing 15 onwards! I think CPD23 tasks have made a sizeable impact in the areas discussed above, and will continue to resonate in my practice; for example, I've found Jing to be quite useful when dealing with 'live chat' queries on our virtual reference desk, showing rather than explaining. This blog entry took far too long to write, and would probably edit down somewhat if I wasn't keen to get home; I finished work an hour ago, but have a CPD/wait-for-traffic-to-die-down hour most days; another development during this summer of personal growth! On the plus side, this probably can be cut-and-pasted for Thing 23!

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