Creating my own space in the digital realm

I started this blog before deciding to go back to grad school for Library Science. I didn’t post much, because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. Now that I’m in school I have a good use for the blog.

I started school in January of 2014, so ideally I would have posted weekly about my experiences in the one course I’m taking, Reference (Z501). I didn’t. So now that the semester is almost over, I’m going to look back at what I learned and post as much as I can.

The first thing I discovered is that I really like the whole reference thing. I love looking things up! The best thing about having a smart phone is the ability to find answers anytime you want them. For the most part, a smart phone is used to find trivial information like which actor was in what movie, and which members of The Doors are still living. If you’re like me, and you’re compelled to make the effort to find this information, you’re probably a reference librarian wannabe.

Here’s what I hope to do with this blog before the summer academic session begins:

  1. Do a few posts about the assignments I completed in 501
  2. Post some of the resources given to us by the professor (in an easier to use format)
  3. Post the two informal papers that I had to write for class
  4. Maybe talk about the three guest lectures we had

In the summer, I’ll be taking two classes and one workshop. On Mondays and Wednesdays I’m in Z503, Representation and Organization. Tuesdays and Thursdays is Z604, Topics in Library and Information Science. The topic I’m taking is Information Use Through Social Media. The workshop is Z603, Workshop in Library and Information. I’ll be taking the one on Podcasting. So posts about those classes should be coming your way.

This blog won’t be about me trying to look like some kind of scholar. I don’t think I’m the scholarly type. I just want to optimize my learning by sharing it with others. Here we go!

degree collage

 

 

I work for IT Training at Indiana University. We teach workshops in the classroom and online, and we create training materials for various entities within the university. I came into the job expecting to work mainly on creating content for online learning associated with Oncourse, IU’s course management system. I was asked if I’d be interested in instructing and assisting workshops. I said I would be, so I “auditioned” for an instructor role by teaching a sample PowerPoint workshop. I choose PowerPoint because that’s the software I’ve used the most in the last 5 years or so.

My sample class was okay, but not the greatest. I was under confident because I wasn’t familiar enough with the materials. If I had been able to create my own class I might have done better, but instructing for IT Training requires that you use the materials that they have developed. They’re good materials, created by very knowledgeable people, but they’re not written in a way that resonates with me. So I ended up teaching a few workshops and having mediocre to terrible experiences. I concluded that I just don’t enjoy teaching. Luckily, last fall, I was put on a project that took me out of the classroom. I was helping to develop some materials for a live workshop and I got to make six training videos for IU’s new business intelligence system. I am good at making videos. It’s my thing, so I was in my comfort zone. The problem I have now is that if I want to continue working here I’ll have to take some classroom assignments. I’m slated to assist a number of workshops this summer, which isn’t too bad, except classroom assistants have a tough job. While the instructor has a definite plan in front of him/her for teaching the class, the assistant has to deal with every bizarre situation the students can get into.

That wouldn’t be so bad, if every student followed along with the instructor, but there are some who work ahead, click things they weren’t supposed to click, and just get themselves into messes that the assistant cannot get them out of. In those situations, you can only do your best.

In the meantime, I’ve been charged with transforming the materials for an in-person workshop into video format (much like the offerings on lynda.com). This is a proof-of-concept project to see if this kind of training can work. I am sure that it will work.

I’m taking our Photoshop CS6: The Basics materials and breaking the three-hour workshop into several short videos. Ideally, each video would be about five minutes, but it won’t always work out that way as I’m trying to find natural stopping points for each section of instruction. Some are just move involved that others. I’m really enjoying this task because as I said, this is my thing. I’m also finding that I’m really learning the workshop. I feel like I could teach the first section with confidence, and I might even enjoy doing it. So here’s what dawned on me.

The best way for me to learn these workshops is to turn them into videos. I started this one by writing scripts for the voiceover. I stuck to the materials (deviating a couple of times to accommodate the video viewing audience). When you write a script based on existing steps and instructions you have to learn. I know this stuff now. I own it! I have learned how I learn.

What I want to do now is make videos for all of the workshops I’m assisting this summer, even if the boss doesn’t want them. I don’t really have time to do this, but man would it make me super smart!
Maybe I’ll try doing one for Excel: The Basics. I really have a fear of Excel. Then again, InDesign gives me fits as well.

We’ll see what happens.

Screen shot of Photoshop video

A screenshot of Part 1 of my Photoshop Basics video series.

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I discovered this thing called “Content Curation” several months ago and I jumped in head first. I’m on Scoop.it!, Pearltrees, Pinterest, and I was on Snip.it until they got bought by Yahoo! and closed up shop.

This is what I do. When I hear about a new online service and it interests me, I give it a try. You might say that I’m using too many different curation sites. I’m inclined to agree, but I’ve got to say that I find value in each of the three tools that I’m using.

So I want to answer some questions for myself:
Is this just a time consuming hobby?
Am I really helping other people navigate this sea of information that is the Internet?
Is content curation an activity that can lead me to a new career?

I’m going to try and work that out via a series of posts to this blog. We’ll see how it turns out.

Scoopit! profile

My Scoopit!

Pinterest profile

My Pinterest pins

mypearls

My Pearltrees

*By superstar, I think I mean someone who is fairly proficient.

Adobe Illustrator CS6 is an awesome tool for making vector graphics. It is probably the vector creation software of choice for most graphic designers and other professionals who create graphics for a living. Like all Adobe products, it’s packed with features, and comes with a steep learning curve.  I learned how to use Illustrator at a rudimentary level in two Indiana University IT Training Workshop, “Illustrator CS6: The Basics,” and “Adobe CS6: Pen Tool Basics.”  Now that I’m somewhat comfortable with the software, I practice on my own. My skills are improving a little, but if I’m going to become really good at Illustrator, I have to seek out some more training resources. (See the post I wrote  for the IU IT Training Tips Blog about taking the skills you learn in a workshop to the next level).

Random Illustrator objects.

Random Illustrator objects.

There are a lot of Illustrator tutorials out there.  I’ll share some of them with you now.

  1. Learn Illustrator CS6 on AdobeTV – 21 videos, most under 3 minutes. This is a basics series for those getting started with Illustrator. 
  2. Check the Adobe Illustrator Blog for more tutorials and tips.
  3. Vector Tuts+ has a lot of content including tutorials, articles, tips, and resources. Premium members can access features such as online courses and an ebook library.
  4. Astute Graphics’ blog has a quite a few free tutorials, tips, and tricks.
  5. Chris Spooner’s Spoon Graphics offers free Illustrator and Photoshop tutorials.  You can find more content on his Facebook  page too.
  6. An excellent source for technology training is lynda.com. Most lynda content is available  to paying subscribers only, but if you’re serious about learning, it’s probably worth the expense.

I think those are enough resources to get you (and me) started. I’m collecting Illustrator tutorial resources on Pearltrees, check there once in a while to see if anything new shows up.

Veering off Course

I’m so conflicted! I’m on the proverbial road to finding out what I’m supposed to do with my work life, and there have been a few bumps along the way, but I’ve stayed the course. Now I feel like I’m starting to veer off the road, and onto the shoulder. I need to pull over and do some thinking. You see, I just passed an exit that might take me to the place I really want to be.  That place is the land of content curation.

I’ve been getting  into the curation thing for the better part of a year now, and I’ve got to say, it ‘s really “my thing.”  I thought social media was going to be “my thing,”  but I think it’s the curation component of social media that jazzes me. So what does that mean for this blog that was supposed to be about eLearning, and Instructional Design? Surely the topics can intersect.

This blog could turn into an unfocused, hodgy-podgy mess!

Maybe  this learning experience is just that. Me learning about the things that interest me, and then writing about them.

So far, I don’t think anyone is reading this blog, so I’ve got nothing to worry about. Even if someone were reading, I wouldn’t have anything to worry about. It’s just another blog after all.

So it’s decided. This blog is about my interest in a diverse array of digital content types, and that frees up the other blog to be about personal stuff, and my writing.

Sound good? It sounds good to me!

In part one I talked about my current career/job situation, and what it’s like trying to move into a new career when you have two degrees in modern dance. In this post I’ll try and figure out what this blog is really going to be about. I’m working things out as I go along, and since there’s a chance that no one is reading this, I reserve the right to make this a meandering, stumbling process.

I’ll begin with the question of grad school. There’s a program here at IU, and I could get 50% off of the cost of tuition with my husband’s benefits. I still have time to apply if I want to start in fall 2013. I’d have to order transcripts and get letters of recommendation. I could do that. Do I have time to take classes and work enough hours to pay the bills? I’m not sure that I do. So the other option might be to just do a learn on my own, learn at work kind of thing.

The learning on my own route is where the blog comes in. How can I learn on my own, let me make a list.

1. Find articles on eLearning, Instructional Design, etc. and read them

2. Write posts about the more interesting or in-depth articles

3. Write about what I learn from the projects I do at work

4. Learn about learning models like ADDIE and SAM and write about them

5. Create my own projects and post them here

That sounds like a plan! Now I’ve got to follow through on it.

Time will tell.

The thing is, I’m not sure about writing this blog. It seemed like a great idea when I first thought of it, but now I’m not sure how to start, or where to go with it once I do get started.

When it comes down to it, this blog is about me trying to figure out what my career is really supposed to be. You’d think I would have figured this out 15 or 20 years ago, but 15 or 20 years ago I was getting degrees in modern dance. I did not pursue a career in dance. I did end up in the IT department at Indiana University, first as an administrative assistant, and then as someone who produced podcasts about IT support at IU.

My main podcast, called The IT Help Podcast, had a pretty big following (if the podcast portal stats were to be believed). Unfortunately, the people above me didn’t think it was a service worth keeping around, and so after a few re-orgs, I was downsized. I’ve told this story before-looks like I’m telling it again.

Anyway, fast forward to now. I’m still working in the IT department at Indiana University, but now I’m in the group that I’ve always wanted to be in, IT Training. I’m doing the kind of work that I like to do and that I’m well suited to, but I’m a part-timer with no benefits. I need to look for a better job-hopefully one in Instructional Technology or Instructional Design. I applied for a position at IU, but my application didn’t even make it past HR, because I didn’t meet the education requirements. I need a different degree!

So that’s the situation that led to the creation of this blog.

I don’t like to write overlong posts, so I’m going to break this one up. Stay tuned for the next chapter of my little story. I’ll be talking about getting a degree (or not), becoming a thought leader, tweeting, curating, and other fascinating topics.