Wednesday 25 March 2015

Congress doggerel

For those headed to Canberra for Congress 2015, a little light relief, just 1 minute 25s of your time.

Made with Adobe Voice on iPad

Sunday 22 March 2015

Planning for research at the National Library of Australia

Visiting the library

This week I have the opportunity to visit Canberra for Congress 2015. Not only will I be able to listen to and learn from a great range of speakers, but I will also be in the vicinity of the National Library of Australia and will be able to use the physical resources housed there.
The extensive online eresources provided by the National Library can be accessed by all Australians by applying for a free library cardTrove which "brings together content from libraries, museums, archives and other research organisations" is also provided by the National Library of Australia and is free for anyone to use online.

Finding resources

To prepare for my visit I have searched the online catalogue for materials pertinent to my areas of interest. Resources can be booked in advance and are brought to the reading room for library patrons where they are retained for up to seven days. A maximum of 15 resources can be booked. A current library card is needed to log in and book resources.

My current research is focused on my great-grandparents all of whom were resident in South Australia in the period 1850-1930. My intention is to garner background material about the towns, communities and farmlands where they lived rather than individual facts about particular lives. If I locate information about any one individual or family that will be an added bonus.

I have located 12 likely titles ranging from local histories, commemorative brochures from various centenary celebrations, family histories and a district council compiled report. An unrelated lucky 13th resource I've requested access to, is a newspaper not online that I think has a photo of me in much younger years. The items requested are kept in a list that can be viewed when logged into the NLA's catalogue.

Taking notes

I have clipped the bibliographic details of each requested resource into a separate note on Evernote and then added some keywords underneath to remind myself of the sort of information I am seeking from that particular item. The permanent link is retained in the information about each note. This will keep my mind focused as I try to make the best use of limited time with such a richness of resources. The keywords are not intended to be restrictive and indeed it is possible that I may find none of them in this resource, but they do serve to make me consider the possibilities before viewing the book or item.

Here's a sample from one of my notes. Now when I have the book in hand I'm ready to take notes on my ipad without having to waste any preparatory time. Where permitted digital copies of relevant pages or sections of text can be added to Evernote and then merged to that title's note.

Advantages of this method of note taking:

  • all notes are referenced with source details
  • digital images of text pages from any one source are together
  • tags relating to places and people are added as notes are taken
  • the text and tags of all notes are searchable

What methods do you use to prepare for research when time is limited?

This post first appeared on

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Checking out the app stores

Canberra bound

My pre-planning routine for any travel includes a check of the App stores to see what is available for my mobile devices for the intended destination. I already have Trip-it which provides me with access to my itineraries, accommodation bookings and any other bookings I may have made or added to the event calendar in Trip-it.

So to the destination, in this case Canberra. It is many years since I lived there. What's new and what's about in mobile apps?

First to the App store on my iPad. A featured collection in the Travel category this week in the Australian store is Explore Australia with links to apps for capital cities and states. Canberra reveals only 7 apps in this category.

If I search using the word Canberra, I am presented with more than 30 apps to explore.

Here I choose the free Canberra Map and walksThe Canberra Region visitors guide and the Canberra Travel companion.

Now to Google Play store for my Android phone. Choose Apps, search Canberra

Mobile Canberra looks good
Welcome to Mobile Canberra, an initiative by the ACT Government and the NICTA eGOV Cluster! Mobile Canberra is a powerful platform for showing points of interest and services around Canberra. The app provides access to geolocational Government datasets and services. Current services include bus stops, public toilets, playgrounds, libraries, TAFE campuses, schools, public art, and public furniture.
The Canberra Guide is another useful app.
I won't be using buses or taxis this time, but if I were there are a good range of apps here.

Using the web to locate apps

Sometimes I prefer to find apps via my computer browser, rather than on one of my devices.
Very quick and easy - search Canberra, select More from search results,choose Apps.

The results claim to list more than 48000 so I certainly won't be going past the first few pages of those, but I do like this search because at a glance one can see all the ratings users have given, whether the app is free or not and for which platform the app is made. Further into the results are reviews and articles about the apps.

Now for some wardrobe planning. I suspect my usual daily dress of shorts and tshirts will not be adequate warmth for Canberra at the end of March!

If you are planning to be at AFFHO Congress 2015, news from Pauleen assures us that an app is on the way. 
Update: Get the Android app for Congress here

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Saturday 14 March 2015

Evernote for conferences

Advance preparation for conferences

A simple method to avoid carrying excess paperwork when attending a conference and trying to keep track of sessions, is to centralise any conference administration, notes and papers into Evernote. To this end I download the conference program, save it to Evernote then mark and annotate the sessions I want to attend.

To keep my memories and notes of the event all in one place, I set up some basic templates that I can use again and again. There are templates for individual sessions and for days of the conference as well as a general overall note to help me focus on information I may wish to collect and remember.  Each template is tagged with a tag individual to the conference to be attended.

The general and the individual day templates are in the form of lists and remind me to add photos, contacts and a variety of other materials at the end of each day. This way I can keep track of the who, what, where and when  - particularly with photos or tips and tricks garnered along the way.

The individual session template has the room, location and time, title of session along with the speaker's abstract. I then type my notes from that session directly into Evernote on my ipad while listening to and watching the speaker and their presentation. My handwriting is poor and I find keeping notes on a tablet quick and easy. Any handout given can be scanned to the notebook, I then incorporate it into my session notes so that the material is kept together.

The notebook also contains a guide to using maps to determine travel times to various venues.
An Index is provided for the notebook and individual note links can be added to this as the templates are duplicated and renamed for the days and individual sessions. Using this method one can leave a conference with notes organised and centralised for later review.

My shared notebook for AFFHO Congress 2015  to be held in Canberra at the end of this month, can be viewed and/or saved to your Evernote.
Notes are all tagged AFFHO as are my travel, accomodation and transport details all saved into my version of the notebook. AFFHO is also the tag to use if you are tweeting during Congress.
This notebook can be adapted for any conference that you may attend. I hope you find it useful. What else would you add to a Conference Notebook?

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Monday 9 March 2015

Let them learn!

Ah the angst! You present, you want people to learn what you have to offer but are you really ready to let them learn in the way that best suits them?

You are thrilled to be acknowledged as an expert in your area but worried that someone may steal your ideas. When you present whether to a conference, a meeting or in any circumstance, you are sharing the ideas and the knowledge you have so that others may benefit by learning from you.

Why are you afraid if someone takes photos of your slides? It's the detail and the expertise you have to offer they will benefit from, not your pretty pictures. Oh no! there's no inspiring images, it is all text and screen dumps - ah, that was how the teacher did it back in school all those years ago. Text heavy presentations invite photography. How else will the learner get to note down all those points you've decided are so important they must be listed? Remember the scramble to copy everything from the blackboard (whiteboard) before the end of class back in school or university days.

Have you provided a place where the audience can retrieve the links you've provided? How will  they remember the long name of that fabulous site or organisation you just mentioned,  - snap, a quick photo will do it. Is it really a surprise that the person who has paid to attend your presentation needs more than the memory of your words to take away, to revisit and learn? If they are busy trying to copy everything from your slides, are they getting the best from your talk?

How do you learn best? Are you a visual learner? Does audio suit you better? Have you supplied the attendee with online notes/slides so they can concentrate on your message? Have you given them notes at the beginning of the presentation? Will the presentation that they have paid for, be accessible?

If not - expect participants to take photos, expect folks to use every means at their disposal to capture the information being presented. Why not share? It is sure to generate more interest and if your presentation was sooo.... good, of course you'll do it again and again, and by the next time you'll have new up-to-date information to add - the slides will be outdated or at least outmoded.

Get your Creative Commons licence here Explain it to your audience too so they understand their rights and responsibilities.

Display a QR code that leads to your slides right at the beginning of your presentation and allow time for participants to scan it. Now they will have your slides on their phone or tablet and need not interrupt you or their neighbours by trying to get a shot of every slide.

One day:
  • you will be too old or infirm to present
  • the information you have to share will be outdated - let people make good use of it now.
Check up on what you agreed to do. The audience are clients, are you not bound to provide them with best learning experience possible?

I've written this post in response to so many negative things written about participants by some presenters after RootsTech, a large genealogy conference in the USA.  No, I did not attend - out of my budget range, but I learn so much from the caring souls who share their content online. It seems many conference participants were using their phones to photograph slides - it may be that some presenters had not given their audience a variety of other options to access the content. My genimate Jill has also addressed this issue which has prompted me to revisit this post.

I respect copyright and acknowledge sources but thank the YouTubers, the slidesharers, the Facebookers, the edTechers (yes often teachers) bloggers, webinaries, screencasters, geniesharers and too many more to mention. I've learnt and continue to learn from your visuals, audio and text.

All content, your presentations and mine are built on previous knowledge. Where did we get that from? We read, we learnt, we watched, we absorbed, we processed, we were inspired and sometimes we came up with an original idea. Our knowledge is built on the foundations provided by others. We adapt, add to and remix just as suggested in the creative commons licences. Help others learn with your visuals and text.

Slideshare, Dropbox, Box, Google docs and slides, YouTube, blogs and more. There are dozens of ways you can share your content online. Excellent examples of sharing using both paid and freemium models are Thomas MacEntee, Richard Byrne and Lisa Louise Cooke to name but a few. What are you waiting for? Times have changed!

Creative Commons License
Library Currants by Carmel Galvin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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