Maren Deepwell in conversation with… Rosie Hare
Maren: Tell us about what you are currently working on?
Rosie: On the VLE/learning technology side of things, we’re looking at accessibility and mapping our current VLE to the WCAG 2.0 criteria to ensure that we have a clear idea of where we need to make improvements and specify which aspects aren’t 100% accessible in our accessibility statement. We have a new learning technologist in post who started with us in September, so it’s been a busy first few months while they get settled in and learn the role.
My role also oversees the development of the library at The Northern School of Art and a big part of my role in 2020 will be preparing the library for our first Master’s courses that start this September. Ensuring all the budgeting planning is done for the new resources and liaising with academic staff to ensure we’re purchasing everything they need to support the new courses. We’re also hoping to develop an information literacy offer for MA students that will be able to support them to be able to make the most of their research tim
Maren: What influences your work?
Rosie: I suppose it depends on which area of my work I’m focusing on. Because I now oversee both the library and learning technology at my current workplace, I have to keep an eye on quite a lot of things in order to make sure I’m up to date with what’s happening. Our institution is also FE and HE, so I need to know about both sectors and keep abreast of what’s going on with the policy landscape and the external context. When it comes to practical things and learning about the wider context of the sectors I work in, I’m mostly influenced by people I respect and admire in both the library and learning technology professions. I’ve managed to build some excellent networks over the years and have found that being able to ask people and have conversations around how things are done at another place helps me think about how different approaches might work at my workplace.
Being part of an institution that is fully committed to widening participation in Higher Education is very powerful and something I am grateful to be a part of, especially since I am from the local area and have benefited from other local institutions myself. I fully believe in the transformational and emancipatory powers of Further and Higher Education. I also think that the fact that creative education is being squeezed or cut from a lot of state-funded schools is a very deliberate political act from successive governments, which disproportionately affects those from poorer backgrounds who otherwise can’t access private opportunities for creative education. Being surrounded by creative educators who have worked tirelessly over the years to provide an excellent and distinctive educational offer in the Teesside area – often with the odds stacked against them – is very inspirational. I love working in education and learning from others who teach in the FE and HE sectors. I have learned a lot from the people I currently work with and continue to learn from them every day.
Maren: Current recommended reading?
Rosie: I usually have a couple of different books on the go when it comes to professional reading. I’m currently revisiting some of the chapters from the 2nd Edition of The Handbook of Art and Design Librarianship. I also recently read Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks and Thick by Tressie MacMillan Cottom. I also regularly visit blogs from people like Donna Lanclos, Lawrie Phipps, Andrew Preater, Sheila MacNeil and various other library and learning technology professionals. I’m absolutely rubbish at reading fiction and hardly ever commit to reading it. How bad is that for someone who works in libraries?!
Maren: How do you make your to-do lists.. analogue or digital or both?
Rosie: Mostly digital. I use a combination of Outlook tasks, Trello and we’re currently experimenting with Microsoft Teams at our workplace. I do always carry a paper notebook with me as well, though, in case I don’t have access to any tech and need to quickly make a note of something.
Maren: On work travel, you are never without..?
Rosie: My phone and some ear buds. Spotify playlists are a must for long journeys!
Maren: Which learning technology makes the biggest difference to your work (and why)?
Rosie: Does a phone count?! Pretty sure it’s my iPhone, as I use it for everything! I use an app called TaskTask to add stuff to my Outlook tasks while I’m on the go, I can access my calendar and emails (which is a lifesaver when you work across two campuses), access OneDrive and check up on Twitter if there’s a conference going on. Over the next year I want to do more work around students accessing library resources through their phones and perhaps running some workshops for both staff and students to show them how to get the best out of our resources in the classroom and on the go.
Maren: Who are your learning technology heroes?
Rosie: There are a lot! I’ve worked with some great people over the years and have met many others at different conferences and events. I do have a Twitter list called ‘Library and EdTech heroes’, so it’s probably the people who are on there! That’s usually the first place I check when I log into Twitter during the week to see what people are saying or to see what events people are attending so I can follow the hashtags.
Maren: If you had learning technology superpowers for a day, what would you change?
Rosie: No more vendors?! Ha! (OK…maybe that’s a bit too harsh, but I am certainly not a fan of predatory EdTech vendors and have come across a few pushy ones in my time). I would love to see proper resourcing for learning technology, particularly in Further Education and small HE institutions, and the chance for teaching staff to be able to experiment and attend staff development events for free/low cost. I’d also love to have the power to change people’s mindsets so that they didn’t approach things with a ‘deficit model’ of thinking, which I think just alienates the staff that we’re supposed to be supporting. Our education sectors are also very metric-driven and data-driven, but I would love it if staff in colleges and universities had more time to be able to experiment, make mistakes and learn from each other in a supportive, nurturing way. So…perhaps my superpower would be to get rid of a lot of the work around collecting data and metrics in favour of freeing up time and space for people. Sounds nerdy and corny, but that’s what I’d do!
Maren: What are your favourite hashtags?
Rosie: The ones I tend to keep an eye on the most, from a professional point of view, are #altc, #lthechat, #uklibchat, #critlib and whatever conference hashtags are floating around at the time. I don’t always tweet a lot or have the time to fully participate in chats that happen on an evening, but will often lurk or read them the following day to catch up. It’s such a good form of free CPD, though!
Maren: What’s the best way for someone to learn more about what you do?
Rosie: I love chatting to people, so people can always send me a Twitter DM or contact me through LinkedIn. Since I’ve been in my current role, I’ve also been a fan of arranging phone calls with people – especially other librarians in similar types of small institutions. This has been invaluable for sharing practice and building connections when I don’t necessarily have the time or resources to get out to a lot of conferences and external events. So, I’m always happy to arrange phone calls with people if they wanted to ask me anything or find out more about my work! I also blog – although I haven’t been too regular with that lately.
Maren: Thanks for taking the time to join me, Rosie, #altc!