I had several reasons for doing the Rudai 23 course. My primary reason was to enhance my CV as I have little professional experience. The fact that Rudai 23 was approved by the Library Association of Ireland (LAI) and that it was both free and self-paced were an added bonus. Additionally the course was a way to develop myself professionally and learn new information. I also thought it sounded interesting, which was my final reason for undertaking it, since I find it difficult to maintain or complete a course or anything else for that matter, if I’m not interested.
On completion of the course I had expected to increase my knowledge of digital resources. However I ended up learning more than I expected and discovered (or re-discovered) many useful sites and tools.
Design and Layout.
The website is very well designed, with seven tabs on the top sidebar, links to the course’s badges on the right-hand sidebar and the Things posts on the left-hand sidebar. Archives and links to the staff are also present on the left-hand side. Overall the website was very user-friendly and accessible. It was also very easy to navigate and find relevant information. Possibly two of the most relevant and helpful tabs for me were “Digital Badges FAQ” and “Frequently Asked Questions”. The former explains the concept of digital badges and how they are used in Rudai 23, while the latter provides answers to the most common questions new participants will have. If a participant has not heard of digital badges or attempted Rudai 23 before (like myself), those two posts are very informative.
Another thing I liked about the website, was its simplicity. The plain white background allows the reader’s eye to focus easily on the text without being bombarded with visual distractions. The use of plain simple English for the posts is a major aid in allowing participants from all backgrounds to comprehend the subject matter. This is especially important for those who don’t have English as their first language.
Concerning the lesson content for the Things, I found them to be of a high standard in terms of accessibility and clarity. Each Thing concentrates on a specific topic which allows them to remain a readable length while still explaining the topic clearly. This allows participants to easily comprehend the content without getting blogged down by the presence of too much detail. It also avoids the danger of information overload, which is more present online than offline. This may be confusing so let me explain by using an example or two. A person browsing their library catalogue for thrillers will have an overabundance of choice leading to information overload, while another person who is in the physical library will have a much smaller selection of thrillers and a corresponding lower risk of information overload.
Additionally the lesson content is broken up into sections with headings, which increases both readability and ease of comprehension. White space between the headings, images and paragraphs also adds to the posts’ readability, as well as making them more appealing visually. The images are a mixture of diagrams and photographs, depending on each individual post’s content. These images offer informative, visual aids to course participants and make the content more engaging.
Finally I found the people behind Rudai 23 were very helpful in offering advice when participants were having difficulty with a Thing. I only really struggled with one Thing, where I had to ask for advice, so perhaps I am not the best judge. They were also welcoming of criticism and suggestions on what participants felt could be done differently, such as more time in-between things to allow people to finish the tasks in time.
What I learnt.
There were some things that surprised me during the course. The first surprise was thing 19 (Podcasts), which because of my disability I believed I won’t be able to understand well. Consequently, up to now I had avoided podcasts until I attempted the lesson for them. Much to my shock and disbelief I discovered that I could definitely follow and understand podcasts quite well. I was also stunned at the sheer variety and quantity of podcasts. In fact due to the overwhelming choice of available podcasts I actually suffered information overload. Advocacy was another topic where I was surprised at the number of resources available to help libraries advocate. This was more difficult than I anticipated, due to the variety of ways one can advocate and the difficulty of devising workable ideas for advocacy and measuring impact.
There were also some topics that I found to be challenging or new. Thing 21 (professional groups) was one challenging topic. It was challenging because of my limited participation in the LAI (Library Association of Ireland). However at the present time it is not possible for me to become more involved in the LAI. The reflective posts were challenging in that I had to consider what I could have done differently and where I could improve. In comparison the Thing concerning the sharing of information was challenging because of the abundance of platforms where research can be shared. Another difficulty concerning sharing information is finding or brainstorming a good topic or idea to research. For Networking (Thing 10), while signing up to social media is easy, actually using it effectively is the real challenge for me and is an area where I struggle. Finally, I found creating an online exhibition using WordPress.com to be the most difficult task to complete- mainly as a result of my inexperience regarding digital exhibitions.
Overall, I found Rudai 23 to be very interesting and informative. While I was already familiar with some of the topics covered in the course, like networking and copyright, I was introduced to free digital resources and tools for those areas that I didn’t know existed. I also discovered where I need to improve in each area covered by Rudai 23.
I would highly recommend the Rudai 23 course to all information professionals and students. The badges earned at the end of each section are indicative of what an individual has learnt for that section. Additionally the badges can be linked to social media sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn where prospective employers can see them and know what you have achieved. While management time is essential for the course, the fact that it is self-paced means that it can be completed at the individual’s own pace. Also, because Rudai 23 is free, there is no need to worry about paying course fees.