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.


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.

eportfolios in Weebly

We are changing our supported platform from WordPress to Weebly. I was particularly dissatisfied with WordPress in the classes I didn’t get much time with and from the pilot project. I had originally inherited WP from my brilliant colleague Tricia Harris, now a furniture designer. And garden designer too. This was many years ago and it was chosen for reasons of privacy, extensibility, and portability. These were all valid choices but platforms and web services evolve. WP has got too large, too confusing, and too difficult for the most students. Weebly and Wix are the two most common alternatives so I set about producing a version of the eportfolio in each. My guidelines were

  • it must create a portfolio suitable for use and one that you can take and expand as you grow
  • it must be capable of being the fulcrum in your digital identity
  • it can be used for ELD, MATE, and the NF pilot project

The selection was based on what produced the best results, and seemed easiest to learn. I made a site in Weebly and have chosen this and will roll it out for the CTE/MATE RPD class next week in Cork. It’s that easy. FWIW I hated Wix.

weebly front page for PD

This took me a couple of days at least and was a commitment I think I was loathe to make – changing. The delay in doing it cost me time on this project as I didn’t want to do a site I was going to change.

I now have to update this site in at least two, and realistically 3 to 5 platforms. Which if there is anything I learnt from Helen Barrett it must be that commitment.

I’m delighted I have belatedly begun to be a more capable mentor.

Harvard style

One of the lecturers informed us that the citation style language markup of Harvard style that his faculty recommended had disappeared from the Zotero repository. In dealing with this our old grievances about Harvard style came up again. We, and I in particular, find it irksome that there is no actual standard (unlike APA), and different faculties use different guides. I no longer fully trust the library version either. We decided to take on a project to gather together the variant guidelines, compare them in a grid, and come up with a standard that suits all the faculties as far as possible. We are then going to mark this up in citation style language for upload to the repository named as the Griffith College Harvard style to be used in Zotero and Mendeley.

There are several advantages in this:

  • students lives will be made easier we think
  • it allows us to teach without worrying about different faculties and not meeting their standards for the students
  • it is a more professional approach and look for the entire college across campuses
  • lecturers, particularly new ones, will know where they stand
  • we can do more thorough learning materials safe in the knowledge that we won’t have to add ones for new faculties
  • I can get through some of my cranky personal opinions


My own cranky personal opinions that I refer to mostly revolve around not putting in URLs but rather DOIs which I believe makes more sense. Some other of my suggestions aren’t going to happen (getting rid of place of publication and putting in ISBNs).

Two of us independently came up with the idea of saving APA 6th CSL out, renaming it as Griffith Harvard, and seeing if any of the lecturers noticed.

Using the CSL editor is new learning in my professional digital capacity and this relates to teaching in that we work with students on this topic throughout their time here.


Peer feedback in workshops (and student and lecturer feedback using moodle)


Communicating with colleagues on new service and using Moodle surveys to get a sense of the effectiveness.

New feedback mechanisms on Moodle, using the course review process from the previous iteration of a module to inform the new assessment of it. Also the group moderation mentioned above.

Both of these activities are tied by a feedback process, they relate to previous plans (in the first case improved use of video resources, and in the second more authentic assessment) and implementations of them. The refinement of the workshop also included: more stress on peer reviews, giving the learner more control by asking them what the assessement should look like/focus on, allowing the learners to give summative as well as formative assessment, and responds not only to the previous learners’ experience and the course review but comments and plans made in the peer moderation process. In doing this I am leading the group, often people more experienced than I am, which is fun.

Data mapping at AIRO

This is a real new learning post for me. I attended the data mapping QGIS training in AIRO Maynooth as I do support students doing their business plans in demographic and market information and I felt as time passed that I wasn’t offering the students as good a service as I could. In short: I was lacking professional knowledge. I do work against the notion of the teacher being the source of information but in this case I lacked know how  of how to get that data. I was delighted to take the opportunity to attend training in AIRO. I have admired their work for years and used their web app for mapping data and watched how it developed. I did see its limitations for our students and thought as well that other faculties, in particular media and design, could benefit from a well informed data visualising proselytiser in the library. I think this is the very epitome of how we see ourselves in the profession of librarians as teachers and educators developing.

I realised as the day developed that I would firstly need to keep this up as a practice and that I already learnt what would be of use to my business students in the first hour.

But then we learnt to calibrate maps to different points on the globe, get the census divisions, join data sets, apply them to spacial parameters, map them, select colour heats and schemes, edit legends, overlay visualisations dynamically…

thumbnail_Dublin CIty Unemployment

…and many more things than I can possibly expect to become expert in. I look forward to working with this and developing it. I think it is an area we can really help students stand out in.

As always it’s interesting to be the student. Perhaps it was due to it being a corporate training event but a big pack of take home always makes students feel like they have received their dollar’s worth. I’ve always resisted that and to some extent we worked through a workbook which we then took home. I see how this is useful in the context of a single day as deeper learning is more difficult and being able to replicate exactly what you did in class with notes is most likely very useful. This approach is always going to lead to parts of the day where you are held up dealing with details that you assume which makes you lose track sometimes, lose concentration.

Reading lists/ bibliographies


Using Mendeley,Mendeley web, and Word for a reading list – we have tended to support Zotero. Digital capacity, professional skills

I realised that in order to support students better I had really better learn to use Mendeley for a good sized project. Just “learning” it makes no sense if I want to get an idea of the challenges that a student might face. I made the foolish decision to do this with a document due in to QQI very soon. I think the decision was time based: I wanted to support Mendeley for the students as soon as possible. This compromised my support work for the faculty on this occasion.

In general though I appreciate having decided to support Mendeley after the amount of effort sunk into Zotero. I think it expresses my confidence in my colleague Dimphne who now supports this that I wholly trust her in this and am supporting her efforts by helping the minority of students who have a strong preference for Mendeley.

I also attended webinars on Mendeley and supporting researchers before doing this.

Informal, non-accredited

Various activities on 29th of March


Wrote catalogue notes for exhibition on migrants for the library- this is a first for us and we will be joining it to an online exhibition. Need to learn Omeka.


Koha email list – learning how to do acquisitions. I began the list and it hasn’t been used much. I hope to kickstart it and lead the community a little bit.

Began using the Outlook/Office 365 project management tool for the Delegated Authority  project


What is professional development?

I was nominated to represent the group in the project and suggest a definition of professional develooment. Here are some starts and what I sent in.

Striving to improve myself in my profession, seeking to improve my profession.

Seeking recognition for the change and development I have undergone and that the profession does. Seeking to keep up to date with changes as far as possible.

This sounded better last night.


Professional development means me striving to improve myself in my professional life. It also indicates a goal of me striving to improve my profession and its recognition. It also means recognition and validation of that development externally. I believe it also should include seeking such improvement in those around me and in recognising that and using it to manage, measure, and reward performance in an organisational environment.

On a basic level professional development includes updating skills and upskilling, but it should also seek to interrogate and inform the professional, ethical, and philosophical standards.

Marc and related training

Today I taught two of my colleagues how to use marc ftp server, to bulk download records for ebooks.

Then how to use MarcEdit to batch process these (join, mnemonic, edit for 856 field url, process) then upload, stage, and add to koha catalogue.

It’s quite technical and very library. It’s interesting to consider this as teaching as I normally wouldn’t. For me training is teaching. If we think that teaching relates to learning in that the learner does the learning it becomes a part of their identity for me this really fits this. This kind of detailed technical knowhow is a real part of building the identity of a librarian. We need to feel comfortable, or at least many of us do, in this kind of data and metadata related detail for our professional identities.

PDF Pilot, workshop in Griffith Library

The HECA librarians were chosen as one of the pilot groups in the national forum professional development framework pilot scheme. We are blogging our PD activities during the course of the pilot in WordPress blogs/eportfolios. Being librarians we decided to use WordPress “categories” to clasify each post/activity to  the typology of professional development for each post.

typology pd

And we decided to use tags to mark each post to the domains


We chose to do this in a group collaboration meeting as we thought that each type of activity would have a discreet typology, but that it may map onto several domains. In this, our second meeting that I attended, I mentored as I am familiar with WordPress. But primarily it was a collaboration and we worked as a group to make decisions. As we always say at these things it’s so inspiring to meet each other and any occasion that allows us to do it is great.

As an aside the food in the students’ training restaurant was sublime.