Designing with minimal design skills: our #CILIPConf19 bursary winner recommends Canva

MmIT is delighted to announce that the bursary to #CILIPConf19 has been won by  Claire Back, Development Manager with Plymouth Libraries. Her role includes responsibility for marketing, communications and outreach. We asked entrants to draft a blog post about their favourite technology, and below we publish Claire’s blog post on her favourite tech tool: Canva.

Designing with little or no design skills using Canva

I’m not a designer, yet every day I have to provide content for the various websites, social media channels and newsletters that make up the digital marketing tools for my organisation. That used to mean struggling with Photoshop or speaking nicely to the corporate design team, but all that has changed since I discovered Canva. www.canva.com

Canva is an online graphic design tool that lets you create professional looking designs even if you have little or no design skills. In this post I’ll just be looking at what’s available for free as so far that’s been enough for my needs, but there are paid options available.

Once you’ve logged in, you can choose to search, or create a design. Canva has pre-set templates for almost everything you might want to design. I only use it for online content, but it is also possible to get print ready files.

Canva is useful when creating content for social media. As people scroll through everything so quickly now, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to grab someone’s attention and a well-placed image can make people take notice. Canva has templates for all the main social media channels and not just posts, it includes headers, event pages, covers and more allowing you to quickly create an image that will work across sites.

Once you’ve decided on a template you can start designing. If you’re happy using the pre-set templates, it’s easy to replace what’s there with your own images and text, download the image and you’re done. However if you have a bit more time, you can spend time exploring all the features. There are hundreds of elements including photos, graphics and backgrounds. Just use the search box to find what you want and add to your design. Adding text is easy and there are lots of different fonts to choose from. You have complete control over colours and placement and the drag and drop format makes it easy to move things around and try things out. Being able to add text and backgrounds using our brand colours is really useful. 

Canva will also let you upload your own images to use in designs and once uploaded they are always there, so you can go back and reuse whenever you like. I like this feature as I try to use our own images when I can.

Once you’re happy with your design you can download in PNG, JPEG, standard and print PDF. Canva also saves your designs so they are always available.

Another feature I like is the ability to create a design with custom dimensions, useful for our website, blogs and email newsletter.

There’s also a Canva app, and although it doesn’t have the full functionality of the website its useful if I’m out and about or don’t want to turn on my laptop. I can quickly make images the right size and post from my phone. I can also access all my previous designs.

Canva will never replace the talent and skills of a real graphic designer, but because of the ease with which I can quickly create professional looking content, it’s become one of my most used tools.

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Essential tools and technologies for the library and information professional Webinar- 12 February 2-3pm

We are proud to announce our latest webinar ‘Essential tools and technologies for the library and information professional’

Register for your free place here: https://bit.ly/2FUpSdU

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What tools and technologies should you be using as a librarian or information professional in 2019? Join the CILIP special interest group MmIT as we host our popular yearly webinar to discuss and shortlist the most relevant tools you can employ as part of your work right now. Webinar Chair Andy Tattersall is joined by three experts to look at tools and technologies new and old as well as answer any questions you may have.

Join the webinar here: https://sheffield.adobeconnect.com/mmit

You can ask questions in advance via the Twitter hashtag #AskMmIT19 – Tweet us directly on @MultiMediaIT

Panelists

Mike Ewan – Teaching Enhancement Advisor at the University of Hull @mike_ewen

Claire Beecroft – University Teacher at the University of Sheffield @beakybeecroft

Luke Burton – Digital Development Manager at Newcastle City Council @biblioluke

Andy Tattersall – Information Specialist at the University of Sheffield @Andy_Tattersall

Joining Details

Join the live session by clicking the link below:

https://sheffield.adobeconnect.com/mmit

The session takes place in an Adobe Connect webinar – headphones and a microphone are advisable, but the microphone is not essential. You can also join using a tablet or smartphone with the Adobe Connect mobile app.

We look forward to meeting you online soon! If you have trouble joining and the guidance below doesn’t help contact us at scharr-tel@sheffield.ac.uk

Troubleshooting:

If you have never attended an Adobe Connect session, a quick start guide can be found at: http://www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/products/adobeconnect/pdfs/VQS_Guide_for_Participants.pdf

Adobe Connect provides an online connection test for troubleshooting connection problems. This tests the four key components for a successful Adobe Connect experience:

  • Flash Player version
  • Network connectivity to the Adobe Connect Server
  • Available bandwidth
  • Acrobat Connect Meeting Add-in version

You can access this test at the following URL:

https://admin.acrobat.com/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htm

Recording, slides and tweets from #MmITvideo

MmIT’s webinar on Using video in your library and information service was held on 12 December 2018 and attracted a audience of over 50.  MmIT Chair Andy Tattersall chaired the webinar and we were delighted to have three speakers from a range of professional library sessions who provided practical and inspiring introductions to a range of video-related tools:

  • Kim Donovan from @SPHLibrary introduced the Actionbound  scavenger hunt app, which allows the creator to upload video for information and/or to set tasks which involve students/users uploading their own video.
  • MmIT Committee member Christina Harbour from @AngliaRuskin discussed Powtoon  (which enables even beginners to create engaging, animated videos)  and provided tips and hints on creating video using an iPad.
  • Claire Sewell  from @theUL at Cambridge University provided overviews of Lumen5  (A.I. powered video creation platform that turns blog posts into engaging videos) and Screencastify (a browser extension that can be used as a live demo tool or to record a screen demo).

Via Twitter we had a recommendation from Cate Newell for Biteable, which is similar to Powtoon, for induction videos as it is free and easy to use and upload to YouTube.

Making time for an #HourOfCode

MmIT Committee member Antony Groves writes:

Time is relative; there may be fifty-two weeks in the calendar year but in the Social Media Year there are hundreds of Weeks, each with their own hashtag. In October we saw National Libraries WeekOpen Access WeekNational Work Life WeekDyslexia Awareness Week and International OCD Awareness Week to name a few. The subject of this post will be December’s Computer Science Education Week, specifically the Hour of Code during it.

At the University of Sussex Library, as part of this week, we will be running an Hour of Code event – one of the thousand happening across the UK. The Hour of Code website explains that these events “started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code”, to show that anybody can learn the basics”. Here you can sign up to host an hour, which we are doing, following in the steps of Imperial College London.

Our Hour of Code event on December 4th is part of a workshop series we are running this term to help students develop their digital skills, aligned to the Jisc Digital Capabilities Framework. The first element of this framework is ‘ICT Proficiency’, described in part as “an understanding of basic concepts in computing, coding, and information processing”. We hope that the Hour of Code event will give participants the opportunity to gain this understanding.

In the same way that participants are not required to have any prior knowledge of coding, neither are those running the workshops. Information is provided on how to teach an hour and lesson plans are available for different levels of student using different types of technology, which you can browse at https://code.org/learn:

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If you don’t have the time or resources for a lesson, self-led tutorials are also available, and students can use their own devices. Simply select the appropriate filters on the side of the page:

Over the summer we ran a ‘Library Code Camp’ giving staff the time and space to participate in a self-led online coding course of their choosing. Feedback was extremely positive and this approach could equally work for students. All that would be needed is a room for an hour, with someone to introduce the session and direct participants to the self-led tutorials.

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If you can’t fit another hour into the first week of December or don’t feel that there’s enough time to prepare; it is possible to run your Hour of Code event at any point throughout the year with the blessing of the organisers.

Time is, after all, relative.

 

MmIT Webinar – 12th December: Using video in your library and information service

Video is an extremely useful technology for any library or information service. You can use video to help promote your service and your work, deliver teaching and training and help communicate with wider audiences. There are misconceptions that you need lots of money and time to make effective videos, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Whatever sector you work in we are certain that this webinar will show you how you can apply video in your role. Join the Cilip Special Interest Group Multimedia and Information Technology Group (MmiT) for a one hour webinar to explore some useful tools for making videos and animations to help you make effective use of video technology.

Hashtag for the event #MmITvideo @MultiMediaIT

Register for the event here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/using-video-in-your-library-and-information-service-tickets-52661074692

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We have three expert speakers for the event.

Claire Sewell (University of Cambridge)

Claire is Research Support Skills Coordinator in the Office of Scholarly Communication in Cambridge where she oversees the professional development of library staff in areas such as copyright, Open Access and research data management. Focusing on the rapidly developing area of scholarly communication Claire develops training initiatives in order to ensure that library staff are best placed to support the research community. As part of her role she also manages the Research Support Ambassador Programme which enhances staff training skills so that they can provide frontline support.

Tweets @ces43

Christina Harbour (Anglia Ruskin University) MmIT Committee member

Christina has worked in libraries since 2003 and received her MA in Information & Library Management from John Moores University in 2007. Christinia’s library experience consists of working in the NHS and academic libraries. From 2006-2012 Christina worked as an Academic Liaison Librarian at Writtle College managing library resources for animal, equine, sport, agriculture and business subjects. This involved collection development, user education and liaising with lecturers.

Christina has since moved over Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford campus to take up the post of Subject Librarian for Business, Health & Education. As we speak I am currently on secondment working as a Project Manager to implement the Reading Lists software from Talis Aspire.

Christina is a member of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals as well as a CILIP mentor. Christina also works on a freelance basis, recently providing content provision to the JISC Intute service.

Tweets @tinalpool

Kim Donovan (University of Brighton)

Kim Donovan is the Information Adviser for St Peter’s House Library, University of Brighton. In this role, she co-ordinates library support for City Campus and the Schools of Art, Humanities and Media. Teaching Information Literacy is a big part of this role, and Kim is interested in experimenting with new technologies with the aim of enhancing student engagement.

Chairing the webinar

Andy Tattersall (University of Sheffield) Chair of MmIT 

Andy Tattersall is an Information Specialist at The School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) and writes, teaches and gives talks about digital academia, technology, scholarly communications, open research, web and information science, apps, altmetrics and social media. In particular, their application for research, teaching, learning, knowledge management and collaboration. Andy received a Senate Award from The University of Sheffield’ for his pioneering work on MOOCs in 2013 and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Andy was named in Jisc’s Top 10 Social Media Superstars for 2017. He is also Chair for The Library and Information Association – Multi Media and Information Technology Committee. Andy edited a book on Altmetrics for Facet Publishing which is aimed at researchers and librarians.

Tweets @Andy_Tattersall

Joining Details

Join the live session by clicking the link below:

https://sheffield.adobeconnect.com/mmit

The session takes place in an Adobe Connect webinar – headphones and a microphone are advisable, but the microphone is not essential. You can also join using a tablet or smartphone with the Adobe Connect mobile app.

We look forward to meeting you online soon! If you have trouble joining and the guidance below doesn’t help contact us at scharr-tel@sheffield.ac.uk

Troubleshooting:

If you have never attended an Adobe Connect session, a quick start guide can be found at: http://www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/products/adobeconnect/pdfs/VQS_Guide_for_Participants.pdf

Adobe Connect provides an online connection test for troubleshooting connection problems. This tests the four key components for a successful Adobe Connect experience:

  • Flash Player version
  • Network connectivity to the Adobe Connect Server
  • Available bandwidth
  • Acrobat Connect Meeting Add-in version

You can access this test at the following URL:

https://admin.acrobat.com/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htm

 

Tech tools for (academic) writing #AcWriMo

November brings academic writing month #AcWriMo as researchers commit to making time to write regularly.   MmIT members would like to suggest a range of digital tools and social spaces are used to encourage other writers and share good practice.  Many of these have applicability beyond academic writing so we hope that you will find them useful.

  • Pat Thomson (University of Nottingham) has written many thought-provoking posts about academic writing on her blog  and also curates useful resources on her Wakelet account.

Keeping focused on your writing:

  • The Yesterbox technique aims to prevent email getting in the way of writing.
  • The Forest App can help cut down on web distraction.
  • The 30:30 App for managing time and increasing productivity.

Mindmap tools (also known as concept mapping tools) help writers formulate a writing plan and sketch out ideas:

Productivity podcasts

Writing clear, understandable text:

  • plain English text checker to make sure your text is easy to read/understand if you are seeking to write for a wider audience.  It can also be used for leaflets, website text, video scripts etc
  •  Paste your text into the Read-o-Meter and it will estimate how long it will take for someone to read it.  A helpful way to encourage clear, readable writing.

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Save the date: MmIT’s #MindfulTech19

Is it too early for New Year Resolutions? Worried about technology taking over your life? Then start the year with CILIP MmIT as we consider Mindful Technology for our January 2019 half day of talks incorporating our 2018 AGM. Four speakers will consider how to manage technology rather than let it manage you, including discussion of mindful technology and how to beat digital distractions.

Date: Wednesday 9 January 2019 1-4.30pm

Venue: CILIP, 7 Ridgmount Street, London WC1E 7AE

Free to attend; bookings now open https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mmit-2018-agm-and-free-talks-on-mindful-technology-and-beating-digital-distractions-tickets-51333887038