How many things? Only 23.











Well now, I’m almost done here, just two more things to go. Here’s one I should have done a few weeks ago, but was a little bit busy at the time.

Thing 17 is all about presenting, looking in particular at Prezi, but also Slideshare for tried (tired?) and tested Powerpoint slides.

Let’s start with the positives, cos I’m feeling relatively happy. I’ve been using Slideshare for a wee while (a year or so?) and it’s been useful to have somewhere in the public domain where I can place public talks I’ve given to groups of people, or talks at conferences etc. I also found out that it can be used to host documents as well, which I did for my sample business case for requesting a social media presence. I like being able to see how many people have viewed or downloaded my presentations in Slideshare.

One of the few downsides is that in order for someone to print or download a presentation in Slideshare they need to have an account. My line manager has cottoned on to the fact that I have an account and now sends me emails asking me to download and email him this or that presentation or print this or that one for him. Not a problem for me, but a bit of a barrier for the general user, especially if I’m off on my hols for two weeks! Another slight downside is mainly a problem within where I work as I can’t upload into Slideshare, so I have to email myself the .ppt to home and upload it from there, which is not really a problem as I also have to email it home if I want to put it on a memory stick to take to the conference/workshop anyway…

If you take a look at any of my presentations you’ll see they’re all a bit dull, and a bit samey. They break most of the presentation/powerpoint ‘rules’. And most are on the same sort of topic (CyMAL, libraries in Wales). I’m not sure if we have a Very Fixed rule in work on .ppt but we do have a template we’re meant to use. I try to liven it up with videos and images where possible, and I hope my presentation style is such that people aren’t bored in my talks. (Although seeing students texting or checking their smartphones during a lecture is very disconcerting. Am I (a) that boring, or (b) are they that important that they have to check for messages every 5 minutes? Wouldn’t have happened in my student days, I can tell you, not least because we used pen and paper to communicate … )

I’ve been wanting to liven my talks up for a while and have seen Prezi in action during the last couple of years, so Thing 17 was a great opportunity to finally make myself give it a whirl. But oh dear me what a disappointment! Although to be fair, it’s not really all Prezi’s fault. For some unknown and inexplicable reason, Prezi LOOKS like it’s working on my computer in work, but is infact, not working at all. It merilly let me do hours of work on my presentation but failed to point out that it wasn’t actually saving it! So, I go home at the weekend, all excited about showing my partner my new Prezi, and we log-in, and there’s nothing there! Oh the disappointment. And frustration. later, after repeating the work, it happens again so I ring the IT people in work but as it’s a 3rd party application they can’t (won’t) support it (ie won’t investigate what the problem is). I look at online forums (fora), and others seem to have the same problem – it cannot save. The suggestion of copy & paste into another tab just does not work. Prezi offers no explanation of why it’s not saving some prezis. We noticed at home that the version I was viewing in work was different from the one we accessed at home. Why? Is this a browser thing?

Anyway, I tried, I failed, but I had a bit of fun in the process. I think Prezi will be useful to get away from a boring linear talk and to present ideas more graphically. However, unless I’m allowed to do them all at home, and if I can ensure that I don’t give myself motion sickness in the making (playground roundabouts, lifts in buildings and being swung around in a ceilidh all give me sea sickness), then I will return to Prezi.

I looked at a couple of the resume (CVs) in Slideshare, and they looked fun. Nice idea.

Oh, as an aside – the name. I was chatting to a fellow librarian at a conference and I mentioned that I liked so-and-so’s Prezi – they thought I was just being uber-cool in calling the presentation a “prezi”. And at home my partner said ‘Shall we look at the prezis now?’ and I immediately thought we’d got presents for each other. What a disappointment. (Especially as my Prezi wasn’t there – see above.)



This week’s thing (well, strictly speaking, the thing from a few weeks ago, thing 19), focuses on integrating what we’ve been learning in 23Things and if we’ve been able to integrate this into our work or professional lives.

Stand out things that I have definitely learnt and integrated into my work are: Scoop.it magazine for gathering and re-publishing news on a topic (thing 4) and screencasts (thing 18). With both of those I have now started using them in work. My scoop.it is on e-books and libraries and I am trying to promote that and also wrote a blog post on my use of Scoop.it on my main library work blog.

Learning how to do a screencast was great and perfectly timed with a presentation I was able to deliver via a screencast, saving 9 hours on a train! My screencast is on social media and organisations and I was asked to focus on two particular things. If you’re interested you can watch it here. I also blogged about this in my work blog, trying to raise the profile of this really useful software.

Things I would like to integrate but haven’t found the time yet include citation tools for keeping references of research reports etc (thing 14) , and streamlining my RSS feeds and making a public page for those (thing 4).

And there are some things which I haven’t completed yet but could well become useful to me (filesharing – thing 13 and Prezi – thing 17). I’ve been asked to deliver my usual lecture to the post-graduates in the Department of Information Studies at Aberystwyth University – it would be great to see if I could wow them with a Prezi!

So I feel I’ve gained a few new skills, and updated existing ones (such as blogging, brands, advocacy, networking etc).

Given where I am in my career, and my current job, these ‘learning something specific’ things have been the most useful for me. Some of the more ‘early career’ considerations are slightly less useful, in terms of learning, in that it’s been a wee while since I started in librarianship, although it has been nice to reflect on these matters.



Well, isn’t 23Things fabulous? I needed to make my first ever screencast, and that very week the thing to learn was … screencaptures! Prior to this I had seen a couple of screencasts in the making, and also taken part in a RSC Wales lunchtime bytes webinar on making them, but hadn’t made one myself.

Both Thing18 and the webinar focus on Jing, but Thing18 also mentioned a few others including Screencast-o-matic. The downside of Jing (and some others?) is that it requires downloading and installing, which is not possible where I work. Screencast-o-matic is not only free but also allows you to make your screencast directly, with no installation required (although you can install a version if you wish).

So, the exciting thing is that I made a trial screencast of only 30 seconds, and then I made a full feature length (15mins!) screencast! And I’ll tell you for why. Links are at the bottom of this post – either read the whole thing or skip to the bottom!

The request

I was contacted a few weeks ago by colleagues who run a knowledge information management course for my organisation. The forthcoming module was on communication and they were covering social media and asked if I would be able to give a 15 minute presentation on this, in Cardiff. Now, here’s the thing. I live in Aberystwyth which is 4.5 hours from Cardiff by train – so I would be spending 9 hours on a train (well, 4 trains), for a 15 minute talk! I suggested that this wouldn’t be the most effective use of my time or very sensible and so offered them a screencast instead (at which point I’d never done one before but I sounded confident in the email…!) They agreed and told me the two learning outcomes they wanted me to cover in the 15 minutes.

So then I set to learning how to make one.

Trials & tribulations

The path to making a screencast doesn’t always run smoothly. Screencast-o-Matic requires Java plugins, which aren’t installed on the work desktop so I had to use our non-networked laptop with WiFi. The WiFi kept dropping so I would be in the middle of recording my screencast flicking from website to website and then would have to re-enter the WiFi password every so often. I prefer using Firefox and set up all my websites I was going to visit (Twitter, my blog etc), as tabs in Firefox, only to find that Java plugins had been disabled for that browser on that laptop and I couldn’t find out how to enable them – I looked everywhere! So then I had to open up IE (groan) (but luckily we had two browsers on the laptop), and open up all the tabs again. Oh, I’d also had to send myself an email to my ‘home’ email with my powerpoint slides which I was using as a base for the talk, because we can’t use USB pens in work to transfer files (and I haven’t investigated online storage – I know, that was Thing 13 which I haven’t completed yet).

Anyway, the actual process of making the screencast was fantastically easy and very exciting. I recorded one version just using the inbuilt microphone of the laptop, but my line manager got very excited about it all and the next day brought in a headphone set with microphone and I recorded a second version of my talk. The quality of that version was much better so I would recommend using an external headphone/mic set if you’ve got one.

Having taken part in a webinar on screencasts I knew it was all in the planning. So I had a rough narrative and had already set up my powerpoint slides as a guide. I’m not someone who likes to read a script word for word so each version I made was slightly different in narrative, and in some places you can tell I’ve wandered slightly off track, but it’s not bad!

I haven’t experimented with all the functionality of Screencast-0-matic such as captions and notes, but maybe will do that when I do another one.

Saving the files was relatively easy. I initially saved the talk as an .avi file onto the laptop. However, as I wanted to have an online version I then had to upload my final version into Vimeo as you can’t upload a video into Screencast-o-Matic if you saved it locally and finished the session (closed everything down) and didn’t upload into Screencast-o-matic at that point. I think you can both save it locally and upload it within one session, but not if you have left their website or turned your computer off. I think you also need to create a free account if you want to upload to their site.

From what I recall Screencast-o-matic.com doesn’t have a search facility so you can’t try and find your screencast, you have to use the url link they email you.

I know my presentation screencast is long, but that was the length of the slot they wanted me to do. Luckily 15 mins is also the maximum length of screencast you can do with Screencast-o-matic.com so it was ideal.

Top tips

1. Have either a rough outline of your talk, or a full narrative if you prefer that.
2. Use an external mic/headphone set to record your voice, but don’t have the mic too near to your mouth.
3. Try to keep your screencast to under 5 mins – we have short attention spans theses days, and it also makes it quicker to upload!
4. Check you have all the technical requirements on the computer of choice before starting.
5. Best not to do it when on WiFi unless the connection is very stable and doesn’t keep dropping.

The evidence

Ok, as a reward for reading right to the end (you didn’t skip bits did you?), here’s the 30 second one which I uploaded directly into Screencast-o-matic. And here’s the 15 minute talk on social media and organisations which I uploaded into Vimeo. Feedback welcome.

As you can tell I’m very excited by this and am planning what I can do for my next screencast!

Update – the training session has just taken place and the organiser has emailed to say “feedback was very positive” and “the screencast worked very well as a media channel and think it inspired the trainer to use it for future events”.  Yay!



et cetera