Presentation DBS Annual Library Seminar 09/06/17

First up, here are my slides

From attending and listening at the seminar I learnt a lot from the keynote by Andrew Preator relating to critical reflective practice. This was particularly timely as I was presenting with the viewpoint that the PDP portfolios were not  a place for this. But I am not suggesting that critical reflective practice is not to be engaged it, just that it is incompatible with a professional development portfolio. I drew the analogy with assessment of and for learning and how presenting yourself, your digital persona, for career enhancement is different from the kind of experimental, questioning work that critical reflective practice is.

It was nice to see the work that the public library service do, and obviously the DLR Lexicon is awesome, and the regeneration of the concept of the commons of a public non-commercial space is really importseminarDBSant.

I was less happy about the embrace of big data than the second keynote. But that should come as no surprise to those who have read my tweets on IP, infosec, privacy etc.

The lively debate at the end was notable for Jane Burns having a losing proposition to fight- getting rid of the word librarian in a room full of librarians – but she convinced me (not that Helen Fallon wasn’t also excellent) and I noticed that Andrew Preator changed his too

On a personal level it was quite stressful getting the presentation together in such a rush with the data arriving late. The presentation went well though, I did have to go  quickly. I’m now more focused on bringing this work forwards. What I have planned so far is:

  • Attending a seminar exploring the T&L framework for librarians (invite from the Librarian at DIT)
  • Follow up with the HECA Librarians group meeting on Friday, scoping out the mapping exercise for library CPD (Helen/David) I will update this following 16/06
  • This should lead to publishable work late in 2017
  • Possible article (non-peer reviewed) over the summer, a publication is interested

Intellectually I am planning to engage further with queer and feminist radical pedagogies. I have just bought Bell Hooks’ Teaching to Transgress based on Andrew’s presentation. I also realise I need to reconsider digital citizenship (which I view from the perspective of preserving the well being of the subject/teacher in a harsh neoliberal reality) and came upon this article via Catherine Cronin on Twitter. Which is timely.

catherine cronin tweet

I also would like to place the video of Judith Butler somewhere, so here would be good.


The PDF Pilot and this eportfolio

I admit it: this project has not featured a lot of reflection from me, and certainly no deep reflection. I got the impression as the project progressed that this was intended by the NF. I’m not apologetic however. I needed to catalogue this activity for myself. And to see what emerged from it myself, and then to see what could be codified. From the beginning when discussing this with colleagues, and I talked with other groups and gave some support also, that it was crucial that what we produced was useful for us.

In my work I am mindful of the tension between a public portfolio and a reflection which is, by nature, revealing and difficult in public. Jenny Moon discussed at this workshop the concept of learners delivering what was required in reflection. I’m often worried about the “performance” of reflection also. And as I perceive the eporfolio as being a tool for the performance of a digital/online identity in a professional context I don’t think it is an appropriate space for the kind of professional reflective practice that the main workshop activity involved.

This image contains most of the self reflection in this portfolio!

This mirrors the tension in a student’s eportfolio between a portfolio for learning and one for assessment. It is not possible to achieve both aims honestly and this is largely accepted in the field. I was taken by Helen Beetham’s concern that the learner has their working portfolio in a walled garden with a route out. Her work on digital identity in the modern mediated world has been important to me (as has danah boyd’s) and both have influenced how I think about eportfolios for professionals. And as with the statement above about student work I believe that the eportfolio as a professional development tool and as a tool to manage your digital identity is not a suitable place for deep, critical, self-reflection. I think Michael Seery expresses this well. It is however a good place to put your statement of practice, policy, and your ideas based on this self reflection. It is product, rather than process, that a professional CPD focused eportfolio focuses on.

To this end I will be proposing to this group a continuation of the pilot scheme with a real focus on our own ends. I intend to support the group in exporting their portfolio work so far to other domains and possibly systems. Many of us have used domains, as I have here, that echo the aims of the project rather than our identities. And I then intend to collaborate with the group to get a better sense of what the realisable CPD aims of this portfolio can be, taking in not only the teaching world which is the pilot, but also the information professional. This should lead to some publishable work.


Jenny Moon: reflection

It was a great privilege to get this opportunity, hosted by l2l in DIT Bolton St. to attend a workshop with Jenny Moon. She, in a way, started out this teaching and reflection thing for me c.13 years ago via a workshop I attended in Griffith College arranged by Dr. Fiona O’Riordan then working part time in lecturer support. I was looking for a real insight into how much, if at all I had grown. I also retain few specific memories of the actual workshop! Plus I have always struggled with reflection and self-awareness.

It was interesting for me to see how she introduced the concept of reflection and the specific focuses she brought. And also the literature that she conspicuously didn’t refer to. And again, as with all the “structured non-accredited” that we have here, it’s always a pleasure to see how another person teaches, to be a student again.

The largest part of the workshop was the case study on four successive iterations of a reflection. I enjoyed it, and was interested in how it revealed the process of self-examination and how self-examination can lead to compassion when continued, rather than mere empathy. Though I think I was the only person who saw it quite in that light at the workshop. For example others took the case study as ending up with the subject of the examination being placed in the centre, whereas for me, the author (doctor) was at the centre but having reevaluated their experience and empathising with the patient they were able to relate the patient’s experience to their own autobiography. This to me is more realistic, empathetic, and capable of producing compassion than an elision of the author for a not possible patient or student centred approach. This is, in part, why I have appreciated the experience of being a student several times during this project: it helps me empathise and relate my students’ experience with my own.

Of less interest and impact to me was the element Jenny felt was most important, and that we should take away and use: the epistimology of thought and learning section. I suppose we should have been an ideal audience for this being librarians and currently quite obsessed with fake news, media literacy, criticality etc. I need to take a further look at these materials to see what insight I can gain. I have a huge bias against psychological “types” I admit. And the process of categorising brief statements into different levels of critical perception seemed quite arbitrary and, divorced of concept, not hugely useful to me. I don’t think you can make a deep distinction based on keywords popping out of sentances. It needs much more and deeper investigation.

I will do this however, as I will review the case study that she did as I may use it with my RPD group next year.


Data protection 23-25th of May


The “cyber” attack insurance speech


More data protection, this was much better though perhaps I didn’t learn as much as I could. It wasn’t focused on education enough for me.


Marie Murphy on data protection. This was great. Not only for the informative expert talk but also for the group discussions and questions which teased out the implications in education (and libraries) a lot more than the previous talks did.

Large documents in Word

Large documents in Word. I was mainly at this to ensure a uniformity in document production in the college, that is it was assumed and I assumed that there would be nothing I didn’t know here. I wanted to learn a uniformity of approach to help me insist on it for those handing documents to me. As it happened I learned a couple of things and it was very useful, but more importantly I got another chance to observe teaching in action.

Again (as with the QGIS) there were detailed notes and files for working on. We did this in a training lab and I was very impressed at the pacing. I wasn’t waiting too long at any point or left behind, it started and finished on time with little time wasted. This is respectful of the professional cadre of people there and was appreciated. It should be noted that there was a “difficult” student there and the lab tech spent most (if not all after the student arrived late) of their time supporting them. This left the trainer time to deal with everyone else without being derailed by the disruptive influence. I really think any hands on session has to assume that there will be difficult students there requiring most of our attention and that we need teaching support for that. I’ve volunteered to do this for colleagues in the past.

First Aid Training 17/05


Full day first aid training. Always interesting to be a student in a formal setting. It reminded me that the democratic classroom I try to create is inherently problematized by the formal classroom setting. I asked to go to the bathroom!

I also didn’t like the rhythm of the day being dictated by a video, the prioritisation of a kind of rote learning, and the assessment instrument. The nature of a FETAC PHECC qualification is quite prescriptive, industrial, punch card (with no hanging chads), and box ticking. Hence the multiple choice. I also found the huge use of “mnemonic” acronyms irritating. Firstly it turns out I don’t particularly find them helpful, secondly it distracts from what I think should be the content and a better way of explaining them. Thirdly it also confuses as non-obvious, or not particularly appropriate terms are chosen to create the acronym – the cart is driving the horse.

For example the SAMPLE acronym is one I failed to remember in the test.  – (Google snippet here) “SAMPLE” is a first aid mnemonic acronym used for a person’s medical assessment. … The questions that are asked to the patient include Signs & Symptoms, Allergies, Medications, Past medical history, Last oral intake, and Events leading up to present injury.

Past medical history (Past? Really? Should be medical history), Last oral intake? Signs are not symptoms and it should therefore be SSAMMOE. Better still the group should be educated in the reasoning and role play a scenario Wouldn’t it be interesting to then follow that through with potential problems from the kinds of information given and the deficits?

As the day featured so much content delivered on screen I found my attention wandering. It’s a simple lesson to learn but one that we need reminding of until we restlessly root out the content delivery mode of education from the classroom. It’s lazy and unengaging. It’s required by licensing and awarding bodies however. Often the old school professional bodies were obsessed by information and less with suitability of the graduate as a person. I do know this has changed but I am reminded of things like the Law Society’s tedious rote learning examinations that they are now reconsidering.

I did  learn quite a bit though. For a start I had always thought my partner had a high breathing rate – she breathes at twice the rate I do – whereas I in fact am an outlier: I breathe at rest 7 times a minute. This is not normal (it doesn’t mean I’m super fit unfortunately). I also really relished the chance to learn and relearn some skills and also to discuss issues that have occurred while administering first aid to help me problem solve in the future. The trainer is also going to have hour long monthly sessions on topics which I really look forward to.

Brookfield’s becoming a critically reflective teacher


My copy of the new edition of Brookfield’s becoming a critically reflective teacher arrives. I actually read the introduction with mounting excitement and a sense of possibilities. These really are areas that I want(ed) to examine with groups I work with.


I was particularly struck by his insight into power and discourse in teaching. Applying this thinking to reflective practice, reflection, and portfolios is a topic that has long tempted me and one which I think I will not be able to resist after this.

I fully admit to not having read this before, despite using his “four lenses”. As usual it was really instructive to go back to the original text. Not to be all old fashioned librarian on it, but I learn more and more, every year, how important a commitment to scholarship is.

Reflective practice, reading and learning

I spent several days reviewing my course notes, learning materials, videos for Reflective Practice and Professional Development including further reading. I also reread old chapters and rewatched videos to decide whether to keep them or change and also as it had been some time since I had read some of the materials.

I felt pretty confident of delivering a good experience to the group in Cork and was happy to have changed to Weebly in the knowledge that they should have a working portfolio that they could update at the end of the session.

Copyright law

Sometimes I love my job. So much I take it home with me. I am expected to know about intellectual property. Mostly keeping up to date with this involves reading short sections of text books, law articles, or sometimes case law and legislation. Very rarely does it involve reading comics and listening to music*. This is not a good thing as listening to music and reading comics are activities I can really buy into!

I think this blog doesn’t often deal with the amount of reading that I do, and I can guess a few reasons for this, but at least there are some representatives. This book, though written by lawyers, brilliantly focuses on morality and creativity. Concepts that are frankly absent from IP law. Though there is discussion of creators, rights holders are the focus. It’s about the money, not the sustainability of artistry and creativity, the productivity of the creative sector, and creative innovation. Due to the absence of these concepts from courts of law we have deliberate stagnation of creativity and a culture obsessed with retro.  While the tone of this book is not entirely to my taste, and the female author is objectified and sexualised in the illustrations gratuitously I think, I really enjoy this and recommend it to all fellow librarians that have professional and teaching responsibilities in IP that also love music, history, and comics.

That’s a surprisingly large audience I think!

*I have insisted that a sampler be brought into the classroom for law intellectual property classes, and I have tried to get comics as learning materials whenever possible because: reasons.

Style guide for college


Perparing style guide for college communications. This project (a draft was completed for submission to the QAES in early May) involved a large amount of time looking at the professional communications of other colleges to get an idea of what the de facto standards for orthography were, keeping these logged, and then checking style guides to see if there was a consensus to this.


This isn’t new to me, but this context extended it. I think I have learned something about limiting jobs and turning down things I can’t do or shouldn’t do. Rather than just accepting that I will do the best job I can and that someone should do something I know I should suggest the organisation does the best job it can and select the team appropriately.