Sunday, October 15, 2017

Master's Experience #5: Week 7


Last week I was really focused on doing research to complete an outline for one of my final papers. Additionally, I did a discussion post regarding ethics and digital resources/services. 

Monday I had a case study chat with my professor and classmates, then Tuesday I worked on some more Halloween program prep at the library I volunteer at. Once my assignments were completed Wednesday, I spent the rest of the week doing some fun activities (hockey watching, going out with boyfriend). 

I spent the beginning of the week doing a LOT of research and digging through resources about leadership in order to put together a topic for my outline. One night I was up until at least 4am trying to finish digging through some articles and keyword categorizing them to be sure I had appropriate sources for what I am thinking about discussing in my paper. I went through at least two full academic journal publications; every issue from 1998-2017, which was highly time consuming. I also dug through at least 7 other academic journals that only sporadically covered my topic. 

I'm now entering week 8 of class. I have several assignments to complete within the next two weeks, but thankfully I've already spent some time putting together an outline of when to complete things for the week so I stay on top of everything. 

PAGE COUNTS

Week 7: 103

Running Total for the semester: 1076

Monday, October 9, 2017

Master's Experience #4: Week 6

Last week was pretty slow overall as far as school things went.

I was finishing up work on my midterm and gave a presentation on Thursday
Those are really big deals, but I already discussed my midterm during Week 5 and this presentation I've been working on for a pretty long time. I'm really glad its done with and that midterm is done.
The presentation went really well, we stayed within our allotted 10 minutes for the most part, give take 30 seconds. With this presentation over, I only have one more left this semester. Otherwise, everything else is written assignments like weekly discussions and essays/essay preparation.

Last week I did a few hours of volunteering at the library I mentioned previously. There I'm mainly working on preparations for this month's Halloween program for kids. I'm helping out with some pre-setup decoration wise. Every day I go in I get new assignments, so I'm excited to see what I'll be doing this week.

During Week 6 I ended up doing a little less reading since I got a jump on my midterm reading the week before. I don't like waiting until the last minute to do things so I do my best to stay ahead, even if it is just by a day or two. That's my aim for this week, to be done with assignments 2-3 days ahead of time. I'm currently researching in an attempt to pick a topic for my final paper in order to complete the outline I need to turn in.

MUSIC: Last week I was mainly listening to Boys Like Girls while digging through resources and writing my midterm. They've been one of my favorite bands since I was in middle school, so I tend to cycle around back to them every so often. Their first album was the best, the second one was pretty good, and the third one was really enjoyable. If I had to rate them it'd be the first one, then the third, and the second last. Just based on my personal preference regarding the melodies. 

PLANS FOR THIS WEEK: This week I'll be working on a discussion post about ethical concerns in libraries and an outline for my final paper. This final paper is for management (which is ridiculous since we only JUST turned in our midterm paper on Friday, and already have to begin working immediately on preparations for the final. A week break in between would have been fantastic, but that isn't how things work I guess.

During all that I'm going to try to check out a few new albums I haven't had a chance to listen to yet like the one Nickelback released in June of this year, as well as Paramore, Josh Turner, Linkin Park, and R5's latest ones. I'm pretty behind on music right now, as I've been listening more to what I already like and ignoring the radio (I don't like much of what is played on it) so I might dip in to sample some of the current hits just to see what's going on. Still waiting on an official release date for Avril Lavigne's new album that is supposed to come out before the end of this year. I'm always psyched to see what she's been working on since I've been a fan from my elementary school days (enough to have already been lucky enough to see her in concert, with Boys Like Girls as her opener [DOUBLE WIN!]). Just recently picked up Garth Brooks' newest album (from last year) from the library, so I'm also checking that out. Already heard one of the songs from it at his concert I went to a few months back (by total random chance) and really liked it, so I'm excited to see what else was on that album (Gunslinger).

I am already working on registration for next semester, in which I'll be finishing up the last core course I need. After that I'll just be working on specialized requirement sections and choosing electives. I'm also in the middle of getting a volunteer project setup. For that I just need to complete some paperwork.

The end of this week is the home opener for my alma mater's club hockey team, so that will be pretty awesome to finally get back to. My jersey is ready to get back in action and out of the closet. I'm pretty much going to try and just work as hard and fast as I can so I can have a good time when the end of the week finally comes rolling around.

PAGE COUNTS

Week 6: 71

Running Total for the semester: 973


Monday, October 2, 2017

Master's Experience #3: Week 5


MANAGEMENT 

This past week I had to conduct some research "in the field" because of my upcoming Midterm paper for my management class.

When preparing for my research period, I found this to be a really useful source regarding the "Participant Observation Method" that I was supposed to employ:

Participant Observation as a Data Collection Method

While my location for research isn't as exotic as the ones that field work is typically used for among anthropologists, I still found this to be really helpful in figuring out exactly what I was supposed to be doing. It helped me create some foundation questions regarding what I thought I should try to find answers to and what would be especially important to pay attention to.

For the Midterm, I have to write a 10 page paper (not including the reference page) regarding my observations of a library manager and analysis on those observations in relations to models of manager roles we have covered in class, that I also have to do additional research on.

Thanks to that project (and another one coming up in one of my core classes), I am now volunteering at a public library and in just 2 days I have learned a ton of on site information. I've already helped set up and aid with youth programs, learned how to man the reference desk, set up patrons on the computers, how books and other material ordering for the library is done, what a manager does, and was given a run down of the circulation system (locating patrons using their Texas ID when they don't have their library cards, how to put items on hold for patrons, and how to check in returned items). I have been surprised by how much experience I've already been able to gain in just two days of observation and volunteering.


REFERENCE

In the past several weeks, this course has had me evaluating different types of resources. These are the ones I've done so far:

  • Dictionary
  • Encyclopedias 
  • Bibliographies & Catalogs
  • Indexes/Abstracts
  • Search Engines
  • Directories
  • Serials

Last week I was also doing a lot of catch up reading for this class in order to do a reading assignment. I've already ranked my assignments and put the ones that were most needed to be finished immediately as my top priorities and have settled this back until closer to the deadline. That may seem slightly ineffective, but for me it isn't, because I feel I have a better grasp on a topic when I cram read a bunch of things about it in one go, than spreading it around over several days and weeks. It sticks in my memory better so I can think about what I have read a lot more critically than if I let it sit.

UPDATE: As of 2 nights ago, that reading assignment is done, so all my focus can go to this week's presentation and midterm...largely the midterm because I'm pretty set with my work on the presentation and its only 10 minutes divided over 3 total people in my group.

The challenge for this week will be getting all my work done while having a cold, since I suddenly got sick after not having been sick in a pretty long while.

PAGE COUNTS

Week 5: 364

Running Total for the Semester: 902

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Master's Experience #2: Week 4 - Nvivo and Prezi

Back to the Grad School Grind Stone!


What I worked on this week:

Software
This week I had to learn how to use a quantitative data analysis software called Nvivo for a major group project involving job descriptions. That was pretty peculiar, since I've never had to use anything like that before. Whenever I've had to do "research analysis" it meant finding literary criticism, or analyzing a text all by myself. You read and reread and if you notice patterns of word usage you have to count them yourself. This software allows you to make a coding scheme out of 3-4 pieces of "data" (an article or document) and it will evaluate any others you add in. It will also count the most frequently used words and allows you to put them into graphic organizers (Word Trees, Word Clouds, charts, tables). I honestly don't think I will ever use this software again unless it is required for a future class, and there is no free student version anyway, so we had to use a 14 day trial of it to complete the assignment. It was an incredibly frustrating program and overall I just didn't find it to be new user friendly. Usually I can sit down with something new for about 2-3 hours and I'll have down all the basic functions rather well. With additional regular practice, I can effectively remember what I did and reapply it without many issues. This software was just a pain. Right when I thought I was getting it down, it decided to not do what I needed. I was trying and trying and it just wasn't plugging in the coding the way it needed to (so I did end up doing a lot of manual analysis, just because I find it so much more effective). I honestly hope I never have to use Nvivo again. Watching a lecture, a few tutorials, and a PowerPoint were not enough to really get me able to use this software to its full capabilities. I dedicated lots of time to it and full concentration and it still jsut didn't lend itself to be a great program I would recommend to people. It is probably best for uniform text formats (headings that share the exact same wording), because if there is any variation, it throws things off and won't complete successful queries.

Presentation
The same class I was using Nvivo for, I am doing a presentation in (hence why I have to use Nvivo in the first place for data collection). So this is my first time using and creating a Prezi. I have always been really partial to PowerPoint, basically since elementary school when I first learned how to use it (I was the kind of nerd child who would randomly make PowerPoints about anything I wanted to...dinosaurs, Disney movies, whatever, during computer use time when I was done with work. Sadly, USB drives were not a common tool at that point so those files have been lost for a very long time). I've had Prezis used in some class presentations during my time in Undergrad, but I've never made one, so this is a pretty interesting experience. I can't say that I hate Prezi, but I don't find it as user friendly for certain things the way PowerPoint was, like making charts easily. It kind of forces you to be innovative if you don't want to pay a premium fee (and I NEVER want to pay premium frees). I'd make Prezis again with no complaint if they were required of me or if I was tasked to give a Prezi presentation anywhere for whatever reason, maybe for a job.

Writing assignments
This is pretty much standard fare and there is no need to bore anyone with details about them.


Page Count for Week 4: 190

Running Total for the Semester: 538

Monday, September 18, 2017

My Graduate School Master's Experience #1

Howdy everyone,

The last two months have been insane. I have gone out of town twice already. The first time was for vacation and the other was for business.

For those who don't know, I was accepted to the University of North Texas (UNT), which is located in Denton, Texas. Denton is about 40-50 minutes from Dallas and from Fort Worth, which would be about 36-40 miles away from each, depending of course on the awful DFW metroplex traffic.

I am enrolled in the Master's of Library and Information Science (MLIS) and I got a scholarship through the university.

Since this program will be taking up a large amount of my time and it seems highly encouraged by the overall LIS (Library and Info. Science) online community to blog about the experience, I figured this would be a new installment of the posts I do. I did say I wanted to have a free-for-all to post about whatever I'm interested in, so this is part of what you all will be getting now.

Here is the basic sum of what classes I'm taking this semester and what my course load is like:


TONS OF GROUP WORK

Anyone who knows me, knows that group work was a complete thorn in my side during my undergrad career and I've grown a particular disdain for it. However, LIS programs and the profession rely heavily on group work and teamwork, so I'm having to completely re-evaluate my perspective on the concept. I have 3 courses, which is 9 credit hours and therefore Full-Time, and in all 3, I have a group to work with. All of which have different people, so yay for meeting new people almost instantaneously. I'm not opposed to group work, and I'm hoping this will be a good experience (all indicators so far point to nothing but positives). This may be the point where group work gets turned around for me.

MY CLASSES

INFO 5000: Information & Knowledge Professions
INFO 5300: Management of Information Agencies
INFO 5600: Information Access & Knowledge Inquiry

I know that you can't really tell a whole lot about these classes by the course name, because they are rather vague overall as far as trying to guess coursework. I already ran myself in mental circles trying to figure out exactly what I'd be doing in some of these before the semester actually started. My one source of comfort was that 5000 and 5600 are core courses, so no matter what, I HAVE to take them. Therefore it isn't on me if they ended up being weird or ridiculously full of things I don't know about. 5300 was recommended by my advisor so I could only hope for the best, but the title implies that it should be largely useful.

COURSE LOAD

Three classes may not seem like a lot, but when it comes to grad school, nobody is kidding around. I have at least one assignment a week per class. Thankfully for some classes I can get ahead, which I often choose to do, but usually only by one week. I enjoy staying on mark with the syllabus and course calendars so I only get my assignments done ahead so I can be sure they're correct and I don't fall behind. I end up checking over them at least 3 times before submitting them, usually on the actual due date or just slightly before it. I enjoy having things completed with enough time to let them sit before I re-evaluate my work. The main thing about my classes is that they come with intensive and extensive reading.

Just to put that into perspective, I get 3 reading lists every week, 1 for each class. These lists can range from 4 readings to about 40 PER LIST. This isn't even a joke; my first week in 5000 the reading list for the first module was 35 readings. 35 readings for one class ALONE. These readings range from being 2 pages long to 55 pages long. I haven't even gotten through EVERY reading on that list yet, because thankfully I can choose between some to read for the assignment and some to skim or just leave alone. However, since I am rather OCD about my studies and education I'm going to end up reading all of the texts on every list whenever I get the chance. So once I finish the main assignments for the week I plan to read as many additional texts I haven't read yet, as time allows.

In case that didn't tell you enough of how much reading I have, I've decided to provide the page count. In just my first 2 weeks, I read 245 pages. This comprises of articles from all 3 classes and the number of pages I read from my textbooks, but not the entire list of textbook chapters and reading lists that were suggested for those 2 weeks. It is THAT intense. With that many pages I could have finished a full book. Not a super huge one, but still, a full book. Since this does not even touch half of what I was given to read, that means I have a lot more to read just to catch up because of my own personal need to complete assigned reading lists.

If nothing else, I think it may just be interesting to see how many pages I end up reading every week for my classes throughout this entire semester.The reading is divided over textbook chapters and just scholarly articles found in the university databases, required and additional ones I read to complete assignments more thoroughly. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that means that in addition to core reading, I also have to do extra research outside of class and read even more than I already have to start with.

UP TO DATE TALLY:

I just got through week 3 of class, so here is my page tally for the week!

Week 3 Page Count: 103 (ONE class); the other two had readings, but not any for pressing assignments due, so I will catch up on those this coming week once I complete my due immediately assignments.

Current Semester Total: 348 pages