Creating, producing and marketing a podcast for information professionals: a complete idiots guide

The success of Jo Wood’s podcast inspired the Sound and Vision theme of the latest MmIT Journal. So it gives me great pleasure to introduce it as a featured article on our blog. It has also got relevance to our next theme which will explore technology, diversity and professional development. Give it a listen and be inspired by the stories that people tell her. Continue reading “Creating, producing and marketing a podcast for information professionals: a complete idiots guide”

Following the success of the learning technologist, is it time for a research equivalent?

Andy Tattersall

With so many scholarly communications tools and technologies now available, how do academics decide which are most appropriate for their research? Andy Tattersall suggests it might be time for a research equivalent of the learning technologist, a role that has helped drive innovations in teaching underpinned by technologies. The research technologist would be embedded within the university department, make recommendations on appropriate online tools, provide technical assistance and also offer guidance on accompanying issues of ethics or compliance. With the right ongoing support, academics can improve the communication, dissemination and impact of their research.

The research cycle is changing rapidly and a lot of that change is due to the proliferation of technologies and websites that support the research process. Many of the most useful tools have been captured by Jerome Bosman and Bianca Kramer in their excellent 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communications. Whilst this work is a great help to those aware of it, the reality is a majority of academics are either unaware of or unwilling to engage with the myriad tools and technologies at their disposal (beyond social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, ResearchGate, etc.). There are several reasons for this: workload and deadline pressures; fear of technology; ethical implications around their use and their application, especially when it comes to third party software; or too much choice.

The usefulness of these tools has been recognised by major publishers, who have made certain strategic investments in order to create their own research cycle workflows. So if the likes of Elsevier are looking to use these tools to change the research ecosystem, this should be of great interest to anyone who publishes with them, right? But with so many tools available, how do academics navigate their way through them? How do they make the connection between technology and useful application? And who helps them charter these scary, unpredictable waters?

Image credit: A Multitasking Busy Guy by uberof202 ff. This work is licensed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Lecturers and teachers have their pedagogy, what do researchers have?

If we look at applications of technology and social media in teaching, we can see more clearly how things have been implemented. Post-2004 and the advent of Web 2.0 there was an increased uptake of technology in the teaching community. The advent of virtual learning environments aided this, with the ability to employ discussion forums, blogs, video and, more recently, social media. Of course research has also taken advantage of these tools but the difference with teaching is that it was often led and facilitated by the learning technologist. This group of centralised, university-educated professionals help drive teaching innovations that are underpinned by technology – the clue is in their job title. The technology itself does not drive the teaching innovation but can help initiate and improve on it. By championing technologies with teaching staff, technologists have helped refresh higher education, making it more fit for the 21st century. They have helped shape learning and teaching through approaches such as blended and flipped classes, video and screen capture, fresh forms of assessment, use of mobiles, and social media. In many cases the innovation is led by the lecturer but, like research, in most cases it requires a good degree of guidance to get them there.

The research technologist

Whether we call it a research technologist or digital academic specialist, this role would not be too different from its learning technologist counterpart. It would support research and its dissemination in the use of video, animation, infographics, social media, online discussion, mobile device use, and social networks, to name just a few technologies. The learning technologist applies pedagogical reasoning for their technology choices, and the research equivalent would need to assess the same considerations. Not only that but good communication skills, information literacy, and an understanding of data protection, ethics, and what constitutes a good technology – and how it can be applied to a specific research setting in a sustainable and timely manner – are all essential. For example, the use of video to disseminate research around speech therapy would potentially be more useful than an infographic. In the same way, an infographic published in a blog post might be a better way of conveying the results of a public health project.

The reason why in-house support could benefit the practice and dissemination of research is that researchers are very pressured for time, and often don’t know what they need regarding research technologies and especially dissemination. Secondly, when they do know what they want, they often need it “as soon as possible”. These two problems are more solvable within the department, especially as researchers often don’t know where to go for specific help. The research technologist would be a designated, focused role, embedded within the department. They’d be a signpost to new ways of working, problem solving and, most importantly, be able to consider all issues of ethics and/or compliance when passing on advice. They’d become the “go-to” person for anyone wanting to use technology as part of their research.

More than just using technology

The issue of employing more technology in your research comes with various challenges. For example, with research that is sensitive, controversial or otherwise likely to attract negative attention, using social media does come with many issues. Instructing researchers to use Twitter to communicate their research is all well and good until they receive negative comments, especially abusive and threatening ones. Something like Twitter requires a technical explanation (e.g. how to use the block function or employ a dashboard like Tweetdeck) but also advice around negative comments, how, if and when to respond, when to block, and, in some cases, when to report to the platform, your institution or the authorities. Another example might be the copyright issues around ResearchGate or YouTube. Unless time is spent helping researchers understand how to use these tools and what the accompanying major issues are, those researchers will remain reluctant to use them at all. Additionally, the more those who use them have bad experiences, often through no fault of their own, the more likely others will see good reason to navigate around such opportunities. One bad experience on social media could put a researcher off using it for good. With the right ongoing support, these technologies can, in an impact-driven environment, help communicate and disseminate your research to wider audiences.

The role I am fortunate to have, information specialist, is akin to a learning technologist but I work more closely with researchers these days. My role was established a decade ago to look at how technologies can be leveraged to support my department. That extended to research and teaching staff, students and our own academic library. In that time I put my department on the path to their first MOOCs in 2013, edited a book on altmetrics, and championed Google Apps, as well as the use of video and social media on campus. Whilst I have seen the creation of new roles around learning technology, marketing and impact, there remain areas of support that fall between the cracks. This is where I pick up much of my work, supporting research and teaching colleagues around the use of video, infographics, social media and the many less attractive associated issues, like copyright, security, ethics, and the negative impact on productivity. I work closely with the centralised departments, which benefits all parties involved, and carry out some teaching, marking and write the occasional paper. In effect I am a hybrid model that is, hopefully, better able to understand the needs of all involved, including the centralised departments that work so hard to support researchers.

For teaching, which has always required librarians, IT technicians, and marketing experts, the learning technologist does not replace these roles, but complements them. The establishment of learning technologists within departments has helped bring teaching forward to take advantage of new technologies. For the same to happen within research it needs institutions to consider the learning technologist and explore whether there is value in developing an in-house research equivalent, a kind of “Swiss Army knife” professional, who can exploit the burgeoning number of opportunities afforded by the many new technologies out there.

Originally published in the LSE Impact Blog and republished under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

Connectivity and the 21st century

Our newest committee member, Robert Cunningham, has written a concise and informative report on Nick Woolley’s fascinating talk at the MmIT AGM event at CILIP in London on 17th December. Thank you to Nick for his lecture, and thank you to Robert for this report. Read Catherine Dhanjal’s report about Andy Tattersall’s talk here.


“Connectivity and the 21st century: the power of digital technology to connect knowledge and communities”

by Robert Cunningham

Nick Woolley, Head of Academic Library Services at Northumbria University, was the second of our guest speakers at the 2013 AGM.

The theme for Nick’s presentation was the importance of linking the physical library and its resources with digital technology.  Nick began his presentation by giving an overview of the use of technology at Northumbria University, including their new “Digital First Strategy”.  Although Nick is a strong proponent of digital technologies, he reminded delegates that physical library resources are resurgent: although e-readers have been on the market for half a decade already, they are yet to defeat print books in many people’s choice of reading material.

However, Nick argued that a library’s physical resources are not limited to traditional print books and journals. Instead, it is important to remember that the physical spaces in the library building are still in high demand as students increasingly want to collaborate with each other using mobile technologies.  As a consequence, Nick underlined the importance of connecting the physical and digital libraries by wowing delegates with real-life examples.  The AGM was especially impressed by Nick’s demonstration of NFC (Near Field Communication for those who aren’t sure) in which he tapped his smartphone against a university library book fitted with an RFID tag. To exclamations in the room, the book and smartphone communicated with each other in a conversation that could revolutionise library transactions.

Even more futuristic than NFC, Nick also discussed the possibilities provided by wearable technology (e.g. clothing and jewellery) as well as augmented reality.  He prophesied that the latter in particular is exciting for libraries as it could allow directional information to be overlaid into your field of vision when strolling around the library shelves.

Like the other guest speakers at December’s AGM, Nick’s underlying theme was – quite coincidentally – that technology should be used not for the sake of it, but instead to underpin and enhance sound pedagogy.  He said that the “digital divide” between physical and electronic information is becoming less apparent because the library is already digital and that technology should be used to connect the two.  By doing this, technology can become an enabler; giving new possibilities for the data libraries collect in demonstrating value and informing student progression and retention. However, technology should be servant not master: the important thing is to choose suitable technologies and exploit them to their fullest potential.

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No LIS is an Island – MMIT Group AGM December 2013

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.

Individual Solutions

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.

Raising Awareness

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.

Trend Spotting

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:

  • MOOCs
  • Altmetrics
  • Augmented reality
  • Crowdsourcing of knowledge.

Andy can be contacted at:    He is also MMIT Group’s Secretary.

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MmIT Journal August issue now available

MmIT journal August 2010 now available

Multimedia Information & Technology vol 36 no 3 is now available featuring a new landscape layout and we would welcome feedback on the new design. Our cover photograph shows the new ‘totem pole’ at John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester, which references the library’s collections of rare books, manuscripts and archives.

MMIT Group members and subscribers can view the journal online at


We have been able to keep to the new 36-page length and this issue carries a special focus on public libraries covering use of wireless; the London Libraries Consortium; and local studies and social media at Solihull.  Other features include archiving at the Aston Martin Heritage Trust; QR codes in higher education; Royal Horticultural Society’s online image library; improving access to cultural content through a knowledge transfer partnership between Bridgeman Art Library and the London College of Communication.

Kate Lomax’s ‘Best of the Blog’ covers the future of the library profession, Google Wave, and web video developments.

Reviews feature Kevin Curran on Library Mashups; Christine Urquhart on Envisioning future academic library services; Andy Tattersall finds out why Information is Beautiful; Michael Upshall explores Content Licensing; and Ken Cheetham reports on his product review of Xtreme web Designer 5.

The news section covers the MMIT Group survey; interactive whiteboards to bring Shakespeare’s plays to life using Manga; collaboration on bibliometrics; new Bamboo notebooks; free multi-language keyboard; a new version of Animate Pro; the Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia joining Credo; and voice control software for graphic design applications.

Kevin Curran’s technology roundup is wide ranging, covering items from use of photos to promote library events to mobile devices in a library context.

The November issue will include a special focus on academic libraries, contact the editor to offer news or feature ideas.

Comments or contributions are welcomed. Please contact the Managing Editor, Catherine Dhanjal with article or news suggestions, or images of multimedia in use.  If you have any problems logging-in, or would like to join the Group or subscribe, please contact Catherine.   Tel: +44 (0)1883 650434

Multimedia Information & Technology vol 36 no 2 (May 2010) is now available

Multimedia Information & Technology vol 36 no 2 (May 2010) is now available

Multimedia Information & Technology vol 36 no 2 is now available at

The May issue features a special focus on technology in schools covering interactive devices in primary schools using music; interactive handhelds and learner response systems in secondary schools; technology and learning difficulties; and ICT in primary education.  Other features include roving reference library services in higher education; digital signage; and Google Wave.  Kate Lomax’s ‘Best of the Blog’ concentrates on the recent Public Library Modernisation review.

Chris Leftley reviews Digital Information: Order or Anarchy;  Kevin Curran critiques Bite-Sized Marketing; Ken Cheetham gives his views on Mastering Photographic Composition; and Antony Brewerton reviews The Gold Diggers film.

The news section covers the Pingar search platform for dynamic searches; the latest version of Camtasia’s screen recording tool; I am learning’s use of online games; video-linked musical workshops for remote schools; a new digital publishing research project; World Maths Day; making YouTube secure for classroom use; how Soundbooth Plus transforms ICT resources into language labs; and a new author hotline website. The BFI’s new COI collection, Police and Thieves, and Design for Today, are showcased.

Kevin Curran’s technology round-up includes thoughts on credibility of websites; an update on Google Books; how best to ensure secure passwords; software to set up meetings easily; a free tools to create worksheets and lesson pages and to publish them online; plus Text 2.0 – the way that tablet PCs will use interactive eye-tracking technology.

The August issue will include a special focus on public libraries.

Comments or contributions are welcome. Please contact the Managing Editor, Catherine Dhanjal with article or news suggestions, or images of multimedia in use.  We are interested in your article suggestions for projects where you have used technology in a research/library/information setting. If you have any difficulties with online access, please contact me. If you do not currently subscribe, contact for subscription information.

More on Margaret Hodges & public libraries on Newsnight

Newsnight features 15 minutes on public libraries ahead of the parliamentary report on public libraries

Following on from Kate’s excellent overview of the Newsnight programme (15 March) which featured a segment on libraries (‘Are public libraries now an ethos in search of a purpose?’), a few notes below on the technology aspects which were briefly discussed:

Information is now being plumbed into people’s homes through web and services such as Amazon. 70% of households now online, helping to reduce the need to visit libraries.

Alan Gibbons (writer) said that we need libraries now more than ever to cover new and old reading technologies, as a large % of people can’t afford to buy books. He said that libraries don’t reflect the 24 hour culture that we now live in and that the recent parliamentary committee on libraries identified poor leadership of libraries as the problem for the decline in borrower numbers/usage of public libraries

Margaret Hodge talked of the ‘challenge of digitisation’ and was keen to mention ebooks. She claimed that only 12 library authorities are thinking of how to provide ebooks on loan to the public but these stats are a little suspect as in London Libraries Consortium alone 10 authorities offer ebooks…

She gave a teaser on next week’s report saying that maybe library authorities should merge instead of having 151 separate ones. Also hinted at encouraging partnerships between libraries and adult ed, universities, post offices etc

The programme’s available on bbciplayer – section starts approx 21.24 minutes in 🙂

Catherine Dhanjal