As an information specialist at the University of Sheffield, Andy Tattersall’s role is to investigate perpetually changing technology, to ascertain its implications and to find ways for academics to use it without it distracting them from their academic focus. A tough challenge.
In his address at the Multimedia Information & Technology AGM at Cilip in December, we found out how Andy focuses on helping those who will consider using technology and looks for opportunities to help them to become more efficient.
Essential to working successfully in a LIS role is the ability to make connections outside their field and to be good at working, emphasises Andy. He’s involved in many groups across the university from marketing to learning and technology – concentrating on taking technology and making it understandable.
Solving Genuine Challenges
Identifying organisational problems and where technology can help overcome these helps to embed technology within the university.
Finding accommodation for meetings can be a problem. Using technology can also help to overcome transport problems and to overcome challenges posed by bad weather such as snow. As a result of Andy’s efforts, a senior lecturer is now using Google Hangouts with her PhD students, for example.
Using tools such as Google Drive and Chromebooks are helping to ensure that students and professors have vital documents such as PhDs, medical data or dissertations securely backed up.
Devising individual solutions to individual problems is also essential in helping academics with issues such as:
- Information overload
- Lack of interest in technology
- Bad experiences of technology
- Attention deficit
- Being scared to fail
- Being too busy to get to grips with technology
- Misunderstanding technology.
Disseminating information about the possibilities of technology is another core part of the role. At ScHARR, Andy and his colleagues run regular ScHARR Bitesize sessions – 20 minute slots where they ‘show and tell’ new technology. They’ve run 75 sessions to date, helping people to be enthusiastic learners.
Spotting trends is also essential and Andy highlighted gamification and the greater use of mobile technology as two which are key. Trends to watch in 2014 include:
- Augmented reality
- Crowdsourcing of knowledge.
Andy can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org He is also MMIT Group’s Secretary.
If you’re interested in finding out more about MMIT Group, visit: http://www.cilip.org.uk/multimedia-information-and-technology-group/about-mmit-special-interest-group