Where next for 23 Things?

For quite a while now I have been wondering whether 23 Things has had its day. With each programme that I run – and I’ve done four now – I feel myself falling out of love with it. Whether it’s that I’ve talked about it too much, or that I’ve reached the limit of where I can develop it, I don’t know, but for me 23 things seems to have run its course.

Then yesterday I attended a talk by Hamish Macleod from the University of Edinburgh. His topic was broadly how we can blend technologies into our teaching practice. Given the announcement earlier this week that Edinburgh was to become the first UK university to join coursera the focus of the talk soon turned to MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses). If you’re not familiar with the concept of MOOCs watch this video:

So, the main features of a MOOC are that it is:

  • a course
  • open
  • participatory
  • distributed
  • a networked, life-long learning opportunity

Now don’t all those things sound like the features of 23 things too?

In a recent talk I described 23 Things as:

  • an online learning programme
  • free
  • self-paced
  • inclusive

So what about the massive part? Well, with over 1000 participants* from around the world, CPD23 is a great example demonstrating that a 23 things programme can be massive too.

In the space of 24 hours I find my disillusion with 23 Things has disappeared. And all it took was to think of the programme in the context of MOOCs. I’m now more enthusiastic about developing the programme than ever. This is not the end, it is a new beginning.

* across the 2011 and 2012 programmes

Building a sense of community

For thing 12 on the 23 Things for Professional Development programme we’ve been asked to consider the role of social media in building up networks and a sense of community. Four questions were posed and here are my responses:

  • what are the advantages to social networking in the context of professional development? – for me the main advantage is that online social networks break down the barriers of time and space. My online networks reach far beyond the face-to-face networks that I belong to which are primarily local.

  • can you think of any disadvantages? – the only disadvantages that spring to mind relate to context and etiquette. In the past I’ve been on both sides when something communicated online has been taken out of context and inadvertently offended someone. It can be really difficult to judge the tone, especially when you’ve never met a person before.

  • has CPD23 helped you to make contact with others that you would not have had contact with normally? – CPD23 has definitely expanded my network. It’s bringing more traffic to my blog. I’ve found new blogs to subscribe to. And I’ve picked up new followers and new people to follow on Twitter.

  • did you already use social media for your career development before starting CPD23? Will you keep using it after the programme has finished? – I consider myself an early adopter and have been messing about with social media for a long time. My standard approach is to start using a tool for myself, either socially or professionally whichever fits best, with a view to assessing whether it would be a useful tool for the library to use. Learning about the tools and how they work is in iteself career development for me. I will definitely continue to do this after CPD23.

  • in your opinion does social networking really help to foster a sense of community? – yes, without a doubt. The professional network that I have built up online, primarily on Twitter, is invaluable.

Career paths

Things 10 and 11 on the CPD23 programme are all about paths into librarianship and progression once you’re there. Two years ago I blogged about my route into librarianship – please go and read that post before continuing here, if only because it’s got my best ever opening line.

So now you’ll know that I fell into the profession. When I set out I didn’t know about the graduate trainee scheme, but I sure wish I had. I first heard about it when I started working at the University of Oxford; each year they have a cohort of around 20 trainees. From the outside it seems like a really valuable experience and a great way to learn some new skills and work out if librarianship is the career for you. While I was at Oxford Laura Wilkinson was responsible for the trainee programme and she set up the graduate trainee blog. In its second year it’s still going strong and is worth a read for an insight into what the trainees get up to.

A Path Through Darkness Often Leads to a by bbsc30, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  bbsc30 



I did a full-time Masters in Information and Library Management at the University of Northumbria. In the last few weeks I’ve learnt that this course is no longer running in this format and can only be done now by distance learning. On the whole I think that this is a good thing. While there were some great benefits of doing the course full-time – it only took a year and had face-to-face lectures through which a community was built up – I feel that I would have got much more out of it had I been working in a library at the same time. Some people on the course did work throughout but I think they would admit that managing the two was often a stretch. By far and away the best part of the course therefore was the placement where we actually got to put into prtactice the theory we had learnt.

Since taking on my first professional post I have toyed with the idea of Chartership. However I just can’t see the benefit for me. It’s a lot of work and these days I rarely see it as a prerequisite for jobs I might apply for. If I were to do any additional qualifications I think it would be in something more practical and useful to my career progression such as teaching or marketing.

Throughout my career I have had what I would consider to be two informal mentors; Andy Priestner and the aforementioned Laura Wilkinson. Whether they are aware of this I’m not sure. I respect both of them professionally and have sought advice from them on a variety of different topics. Where I feel they have helped me most though is as sounding boards. I will often go to them just to bounce ideas around and inevitably come away clear in my mind about how I will progress.