ALDinHE Conference 2012

Filed Under (Events, Information Literacy, Professional practice) by ronan on 13-04-2012

I attended recently the 9th ALDinHE Conference: University of Leeds “Learning Development in a digital age: emerging literacies and learning spaces”. This is the Assocoation for Leaning Development in Higher Education, its aims are described on its website:  “informed by values of empowerment and partnership, a Learning Development perspective encourages and supports all students to be actively engaged in their own learning and to analyse and assess their own development within experiential and social contexts.”

The conference for which I could only attend one day was at the University of Leeds and was well organised – unfortunately I missed the social events. I did catch the Keynote speaker Helen Beetham who was excellent – I had come across her work in digital literacies in particular a JISC funded project which I rate highly and have returned to on a number of occasions. Helen’s keynote was engaging and well put together deploying a number of devices to put forward a well thought through argument – I was particularly interested in her thoughts about referencing and citation and her assertion that today’s learners are more likely to use Delicious or Mendeley rather than come to terms with the less intuitive Harvard 18th or Chicago 15th. I agree – it is probably the case – I use Mendeley and WorldCat all the time. I was even more surprised that a group like ALDinHE were aware of or interested in what I would have thought were “librarianship” issues. Indeed throughout my short visit to the conference I kept wondering where this group of people fitted into the modern university. They weren’t professional libraians nor could they be labelled “academic staff” whatever that means. I suppose they had some support role – widening participation seemed important judging from the poster session, and encouragingly many of them were keen researchers. It is hoped however that they do not have any role in supporting students with their academic writing because they described their keynote speaker as having been a Principle Researcher!

It was during the keynote that disaster struck! When the keynote was warming up, in fact at the precise moment when we were listening to the “sound of  data” the fire alarm sounded and we evacuated the lecture theatre. What a pity. I got bored and cold standing outside and there was nobody able to give any information so I took the opportunity to visit the Brotherton Library which is always a treat.

I now know that Learning Development is a “thing” but not sure what nor how it fits in with library services.

The ALDinHE website can be found here:

LIRG – Marketing meeting

Filed Under (General, Professional practice, Research) by ronan on 20-01-2012

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Gordon Square, Bloomsbury

On Monday I attended the Library and Information Research Group’s marketing meeting at the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) in London. The area of Bloomsbury, with which I am linked through the Russell family, my great-grand-aunt, Fanny Gallaher, author, was for many years the personal secretary to the Duchess of Bedford aka the “Flying Duchess”, looked as splendid as ever in the winter sunshine. The picture here is of Gordon Square where the ‘Bloomsbury’ group met frequently. I discovered also that poet W B Yates lived at 5 Woburn Walk – a cut-through I use regularly on my way back to Kings Cross.

So what exactly does LIRG do? LIRG seeks to increase peoples awareness and understanding of research that relates to the library and information profession across all sectors by:

Increasing its profile and influencing its direction;
Promoting the dissemination of sound research methodology and results;
Assisting in the development of emerging researchers;
Enabling networking between researchers.

The activities of the Group are co-ordinated by an elected committee of researchers, research students, lecturers and practitioners in the library and information profession. More information about the group can be found through this link LIRG

The group also publishes 3 times a year its journal LIR – Library and Information Research found here LIR

HE Forum Online Session – Quality in VLE – a Delphi Study

Filed Under (Events, Research, VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)) by ronan on 18-01-2012

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Research from the comfort of my desk.

Last week I took part in a live online forum and presented some research that I had carried out on behalf of JISC and MEG (Mixed Economy Group of colleges).

It was a very interesting excercise both in terms of the technology use and the feedback and discussion that followed. This research was carried out in the Summer of 2011 and looked at perceptions about quality issues in virtual learning environments of staff in colleges who offer higer education.

I presented the findings firstly to the funders in Preston to colleagues from MEG and further afield. I also presented a very shortened version to the MEG Committee meeting in London in December 2011.

There has been quite a bit of interest at all dissemination events in the use of the Delphi technique and in particular the use of the Moodle system to manage the roll-out of the Delphi technique.

The reason I used Delphi in this instance was to test its validity in terms of exploring issues of technology – I was particularly keen to see how it might give up – good quality data about future directions in the use of technology within learning environments. On this occasion, perhaps due to the small scale of the study, the dataset did not provide significant indications of current issues or future challenges.

I hope to use the Delphi technique to undertake a much larger piece of research that will look at changing perceptions of knowledge and scholarship within learning environments and education systems.

The link is here if you want to view the whole session.

Honorary Fellowship Award of Bradford College

Filed Under (General, Professional practice) by ronan on 08-01-2012

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Gerry Sutcliffe MP

Gerry Sutcliffe MP (left)

In December I had the privilege to write and officially orate the citation for the presentation of the award of Honorary Fellowship of Bradford College to Member of Parliament for Bradford South Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe MP. The ceremony which was most enjoyable took place at St.George’s Hall, Bradford. The full text of my oration can be found by following this link:


Filed Under (Printing) by ronan on 23-12-2011

Urban Night 3 - Linocut

A very enjoyable exercise – cutting the lino is satisfying and a simple process.

Printing with water-based ink is a little hit and miss but the result here is a fairly good print – about 5cm X 5cm. I only got four good prints from the linocut before it started to get clogged up.

More experiments needed. Now working on producing a small book with typeset in Univers 18pt condensed unto a A3 folded into 8 A5 pages – poems and pictures.









Typesetting and Printmaking class

Filed Under (General) by ronan on 28-10-2011

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Into my fourth week of this course and I absolutely love it. Designing, arranging and setting type has such an immediate connection with the words. Having handled books and print all my life and having written quite a bit, for me,  the processes of typesetting and printing now seem to bridge the gap – and uncover the mysteries.
In the language of galley proofs, upper and lower cases, terms such as “out of sorts” reveal a satisfying richness. Bradford College has one of the few remaining printmaking studios where this type of activity can be pursued. Looking forward to next Wednesday evening’s class.

From Lending to Learning – published

Filed Under (Built Learning Environments, General, Information Literacy, Professional practice, Research, Technology Reviews, VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)) by ronan on 29-11-2010

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Ahh – finally… my book which is now available – an extract from the opening pages:

“As I write this introduction a debate on BBC Radio 4 suggests that in order to effect public sector efficiency savings, volunteers should run public libraries along the lines of charity shops. There are regular announcements of this type in the media with yet more initiatives to change public libraries. To breathe new life into them, to put new energy into the service and to take new approaches that range from raising noise levels to the provision of coffee and chat facilities. At the heart of all such announcements lies a very important, yet simple, question: what are public libraries for?

Wander into any one of the hundreds of public libraries in the UK and you will see a range of services there that have evolved in a fairly haphazard way. This is not to say that there is poor quality of service, simply a lack of consistent strategy. One is tempted to ask some very obvious questions. Who looks after the public libraries of this country? Is the power to shape the future of public libraries in the hands of the central government, the regional assemblies, local authorities or made-up agencies, quangos, held together by the short-term thinking of hands-off politicians and civil servants? What are the reasons for keeping an institution such as the public library active over centuries – is it simply tradition? And, looking ahead, what might be the public library needs of our grandchildren?

In the chapters that follow I try to unravel the complexity and distil a logic that might offer a way to view the public library not simply as a national institution steeped in tradition, or as a purposeless place providing little more than popular glossy magazine titles, but as a learning space. Or, more correctly, a space owned by and dedicated to learners.”

Order this title now through your local public library – or buy it yourself, read it and send me your comments.

Rónán O’Beirne From Lending to Learning – The development and extension of public libraries. 2010 Chandos Information Professional Series Chandos Publishing an imprint of Woodhead Publishing Ltd., Cambridge. ISBN 9781843343882.  – 216 pages  234 x 156mm  paperback £45.00 / US$75.00 / €55.00

HEA Event at Newcastle

Filed Under (Events, General, Research) by ronan on 29-11-2010

A little tired and very cold I landed in Newcastle airport from Sri Lanka via Dubai, and took the very efficient and economical (£2.90) metro to Central Station and to my hotel, where after a quick sleep, I made a rendezvous with colleagues who were presenting at the research in HE in FE event the following morning. We visited Chinatown in Newcastle and had a good meal – cash only.

The event the following morning, despite its start being delayed by a fire alarm was another success, and the venue, Newcastle College, was excellent.

Again I was surprised by jusr how much research is actually taking place in FE colleges and by the quality also – always lean and highly focused on teaching and learning.
Looking forward to next workshop which will be in North Wales in December.

Colombo Swimming Club – Sri Lanka

Filed Under (Built Learning Environments, Events, General) by ronan on 29-11-2010

On my final day in Sri Lanka I stayed at the Colombo Swimming Club hotel and availed of their wonderful outdoor pool. Olympic gold medalist David Wilkie learned to swim in this pool. But I suppose of more significance was the fact that scientist, science fiction writer and Sri Lankabhimanya, Sir Arthur C. Clarke CBE FRAS swam laps of this pool on a daily basis during the second half of his life. Apparently he called this pool his “million dollar pool” and according to the hotel website he used the daily swim as a meditation that spawned the plots and characters for his fictional work.

Arthur C Clarke died in Colombo in March 2008 he had lived here since 1956. He obviously grew to love the country…….

The island of Ceylon is a small universe; it contains as many variations of culture, scenery, and climate as some countries a dozen times its size. What you get from it depends on what you bring; if you never stray from your hotel bar or the dusty streets of westernized Colombo, you could perish of fulminating boredom in a week, and it would serve you right. But if you are interested in people, history, nature, and art – the things that really matter – you may find, as I have, that a lifetime is not enough.” (Clarke in The View from Serendip, 1977)

Colombo Public Library

Filed Under (Built Learning Environments, Events, General) by ronan on 16-11-2010

I found time Saturday afternoon to go to a sevens rugby tournament at the headquarters of the SLRU Longden Rd Colombo. It was an incredibly hot day for rugby and the humidity made it even more difficult for the players. Luckily I was in the shade of the stand thanks to our hosts. We sampled the local brew Lion lager (4.8 abv) and enjoyed some good rugby played with real passion – a sin bin in sevens is just two minutes – not really enough time for proper atonement and reflection. Despite the recent flooding that there was on the day we arrived, which made thousands of people homeless, the rugby pitch was rock hard and made for a fast game.

The traffic here today on the Galle rd is very heavy due to the cricket test – Sri Lanka take on the West Indies. I ventured out to see if I could find the National Library of Sri Lanka but gave up – nobody seems to have noticed its fairly recent construction. I discovered later that the national library is part of or housed in the national museum – but the public library is the building I am interested in and I did manage a photo from the car as I passed it by. Fish curries are superb.