Weeks 1 to 4 – Semester 2 – Year 2

This semester I’m finally at the point where I’m studying modules I’ve picked rather than just the core ones. Read on for an update on my progress with Archives and Records Management and Business Intelligence.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Archives and Records Management
Areas we’ve covered so far in this module include records management principles, collection policies and appraisal, and archival description and arrangement. We had a guest speaker in the form of a records manager, and annoyingly I can’t find his name in my notes, but his work and how he got to where he is now as a records manager was very interesting. We’ve looked at how records and archives can differ and how records management can be a completely different process to maintaining an archive and what can and does go into various archives. And of course looked at cross overs between these two as well. We’ve been given handouts to analyse, including job descriptions and information on specific collections.

I’ve started working on the first part of my assignment for this project. This has involved me visiting Sheffield Hallam Archives (which took a little bit longer to arrange than I’d hoped since my email got lost in their enquiry management system – an issue I know all too well from the world of libraries – and of course restrictions in opening times and staff availability). But I got there in the end, had a look round their collection, and might have actually changed my initial idea in what I was going to look at purely based on the availability and organisation of the material and width and breadth of certain collections.

I’ll report back on this when I’ve done more of the assignment – or when it’s finished!

Business Intelligence
In this module we’ve covered company information, competitive intelligence, market information, information visualisation and infographics.

There’s a “flipped classroom” learning approach (or something like that) for this module, which means most of the time there are video lectures to watch in your own time and then the actual contact time is supposed to be the practical part of the week’s learning.

I’m enjoying the content, but a factor of this and other modules I’ve studied on this course is a reliance on the individuals technological know how. Last session we were told to use some infographics software in preparation for our first assignment, which is creating an Infographic, (suggestions being Piktochart, which I now love, Easelly, and Canva has been mentioned to me along with other ways of creating infographics). And I’m pretty certain I’ve got to grips with the basics of Piktochart, but other than some suggested Youtube videos I didn’t go to this practical session and really get shown how to use the software and where all the functions/features are. With all the different software obviously you couldn’t do this for each one, but I think more instruction would have been beneficial. In my head it’s kind of like learning to use the base levels of Excel and then you only get to know about easier, better functions when someone shares their knowledge with you. I feel like this is how it is with this software. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to find out how to “send something to back” in Piktochart. Could someone not have saved me some time and just ran through all the basics?

I also feel the same about our introduction to Mintel. Briefly, Mintel is a market research company that presents loads of information and statistics about different areas. Everything from food and drink, to lifestyle, clothing and loads of other businesses. I’d never used or seen Mintel before and I was surprised by how nice it looked (I thought it was going to be very corporate and sensible and grey and dull), but we’ve not really been shown how to use Mintel. Where relevant information is, how to use it and more importantly WHY is it important? Some of it might be obvious (there are headings like ‘Overview’ etc.) and I could probably ramble on about why it’s such a good thing, but I’d really like to be, as much as possible, explicitly told why we are using something and why it is good.

There’s been too much of me just clicking around randomly on links assuming things and hoping for the best rather than well thought out instruction.

If I go for a job that needs this kind of knowledge I want to confidently be able to say “I can use Mintel” and feel like I do know and that I haven’t just fumbled together my own information. We have 2 assignments where we need to use it so familiarity and learning the website and the functions myself will come into play, but still. I could sit at home and play about on Mintel. I don’t need to travel to Sheffield to do this.

I’m aware even after writing this that some of the more instructional aspects might be included in the many videos we have to watch for this module (or they might not). Sadly, I’m still not on board with video lectures and my concentration isn’t always the best when it comes to these. And when there’s so many my brain is very much ‘get this done, watch it, watch the next, keep going, it’s nearly over’.

My views 

What I’ve found with both these modules is that they move a lot slower than previous core modules I’ve studied. There’s not been the fast paced atmosphere of other lessons and activities. And maybe this is me just being a jerk, but in both modules we’re given tasks that I feel could be completed in about half an hour yet sometimes these are dragged out to the full length of the class (1.5 or 2 hours). There’s lots of this “get in to groups and discuss x” or “get into pairs and do y” and that can last for the whole lecture… And even though this semester has been better than most in terms of doing this, I dunno, there’s still people who really don’t want to talk or engage in these settings and I’ve completely given up trying to lead these conversations because doing this repeatedly can just be plain exhausting.

Like I said I’d prefer more explicit instruction for some areas and before you all clamber on top of me screaming ‘Spoon-feeding! Spoon-feeding! Spoon-feeding!’ lets break this down. Why are babies spoon fed? Because they’ve never eaten before, haven’t used utensils before, are still working on their motor neuron skills. All NEW things to a baby. And I’d probably assume most babies progress from spoon feeding once they have LEARNT how to do this themselves.

So am I asking someone to show me how to do something new for the very first time?
Yes.
Yes I am.
And show me how to do it well.

I think I’m getting a bit worn out with this and because training seems to be such a vacant area from much of my work life. I mean my feelings on training are a whole other blog post so I won’t bother going into it here. And of course I can teach myself things, but isn’t it always better for someone with more experience, education, qualifications even, to teach you/train you how to do something new if they’re available and if they can?

I’ve only got 5 weeks left until the Easter break and then after that 3 weeks until my final term of my course is over! Not that I’m counting or anything.

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