Wednesday, October 26, 2016

And that's a wrap

Today is the day.  The day in which the book is available to the public!

It is funny as a researcher, you are ecstatic that the process is complete, yet a little troubled by the looming question of 'what will you work on next?'

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Third time is the charm

I was recently asked to create an online plagiarism module that would be embedded into course across the institution in D2L.  I first experimented with a PowToon video having had great fun with the software previously.  I was disappointed to discover that there was a recent change to the program when trying to download the completed video - PowToon's required that you allow them access to your YouTube account.  I did not feel comfortable doing that, so I started again.

Take two - I tried the video creation in Camtasia.  I love this program as it is easy to use and creates high quality videos.  The problem that I encountered was in the audio recording.  I only have a very old microphone that creates an odd swirling sound in the playback.

Take three - I rerecorded the video for a final time.  I used Camtasia for the screen capture, but this time I used my iPhone and voice memo app to record my voice.  I started both recordings at the same time, and advanced the slides as I spoke, so that the audio and the video would be easy to sync afterwards.  We had to do some fancy conversions, but managed to create a .wav file from the initial recording and add it as an audio 2 track. Worked like a charm!  Sounds great and it was not all that hard to achieve.  Although, I did need to rely on my husband's expertise to convert the file.  I am not sure I would have been able to figure that one out on my own.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Readability and writing

I learned a really interesting tip last week; you can determine the readability of your writing very simply in MS Word.  Here are the steps to take:

  1. Click on File and then Options
  2. Click on Proofing and then ensure that "readability statistics" is checked off.
  3. The next time that you complete spellcheck on your document, there will be a pop-up window that provides you with these details.
This process can be very complicated if you are writing a literature review as to go through the spellcheck with all of those authors names can be time consuming.

I tried this for one of my daughter's research projects.  The paper landed at 6.2 which is appropriate because she is in grade 6.  One of my papers came in at 14.3 which is a bit lower than I had anticipated but appropriate for what I was working on.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Poll Everywhere

I was at a keynote at the Academic Leadership Workshop (SKPolytech) earlier this spring where the speaker used Poll Everywhere to add interactive elements to her presentation.  I was well aware of this project, as several of my colleagues had been working with the speaker to get this all up and running.

Frankly, I was prepared to be underwhelmed.  I have used clickers before and didn't really imagine that I was in for a "wow, that is so cool" moment, but boy was I wrong.

The live display of data is impressive.  To see the totals move as someone inputs their data is incredibly cool. To have immediate feedback from the audience either through a text or through a website is amazing and also simple (for both the presenter and for the participants).  My favourite feature was the word cloud.  The speaker asked us to describe what Saskatchewan Polytechnic means to us?  It was incredible to watch as the word cloud formed and then dynamically changed as more people contribute their ideas.  In a matter of moments you could see what was resonating with the audience.  And words that you may have anticipated but noticed were missing or not as prevalent is also interesting to observe.

So... I took a huge risk.  Normally copyright librarians are risk adverse, but I definitely do not embrace that sentiment in my teaching.  I had a presentation the very next day and I thought that the word cloud would be the perfect way to determine the temperature of the audience on the issue of copyright compliance.  So I taught myself how to use it!!!!  In about 30 minutes.  The software is highly intuitive and easy to use.  It was also fun.  And I received a lot of very positive, very enthusiastic feedback.  I highly recommend it!

What I learned at SLA

During the first week of May, I attended the SLA conference.  This was fifth time attending this conference and my first time in three years when I wasn't on the conference committee.  I attended the RegLIN session, Virginia Wilson's session on C-EBLIP, Shannon Lucky and Jaclyn McLean's UX session, as well as the Mary Donaldson Memorial Lecture with Lindsay Knight, Joseph Boyden's Keynote and the SLA AGM and Banquet.

Lindsay Knight shared her journey as an Aboriginal Hip Hop artist, mother and scholar.  She also encouraged us to celebrate, support and archive the history of the First Nations and Metis people of our province.

Joseph Boyden's keynote address blew me away.  Starting with an introduction by Eugene Arcand and an honour song performed by the Young Bucks.  My key take-away from his lecture is that "nothing on this land needs us for its survival, but we need everything".  Because of this we have to be aware of the fact that we are taking more from the planet than we need.  A month and a half later I am still thinking about this point and what it means to our planet, the environment, our culture and our very existence.  I had the great privilege of meeting Mr. Boyden after his address.

Virginia Wilson (U of S) shared her experiences with evidence based practice which is used to make the best possible decision.  EBLIP combines evidence, user preferences and professional expertise.  The lack of which can lead to the continuation of the adage "we tried that and it didn't work".  She also introduced the C-EBLIP Research Network (  I am intrigued.  Hopefully I can join the party, the research party that is - sometime soon!

Shannon Lucky and Jaclyn McLean (U of S)  discussed UX which stands user experience which is not about usability, but that all touch points between our community and the library are important.  UX considers users thoughts and feelings as well as interactions.  We need to ensure that what we are offering is useful, desirable, and usable.  From the research that they conducted, they recommend that you test between 4-8 users.  Fix what is broken, improve what needs improving and then test again.  This is an iterative process, and should improve at each step based on the feedback.  They stressed: unobtrusive observation of users using the space, listen to their feedback even in cases where there is nothing that you can do to solve the issue or problem and library websites are not for library staff.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Final Numbers at Submission

Yesterday we submitted the finalized manuscript.  Here are the totals:

  • 592 pages, double spaced, 12-point font with section breaks
  • 136,140 words
  • 44 contributing authors
  • 22 chapters
  • 20 months of work
  • Our Dropbox folder has 402 files in 57 folders
  • I have archived 869 emails since starting at SaskPolytech in August.  I also have emails in my old U of S email account and some in my Gmail. 

Friday, April 29, 2016


So the date that we have been working towards since January of 2015 was April 30, 2016 for submission of the final manuscript.  That is tomorrow.  Yesterday we had to ask for an extension as we have two chapters that have not been quite finalized as of yet.  But we are close, so close.

Currently the project is approximately 540 pages of double spaced content using a 12-point font and a whooping 125,000 words.  The project will have 22 chapters from 44 contributing authors, with one group of three authors submitting two chapters.

I know that the work is not yet done, but I do have a feeling of relief, like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  It is amazing how much of a burden the mental strain is on your body.  I really haven't stopped thinking about the project since I received the first email inquiry.