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Archive for the ‘Communications Tools’ Category

NN/LM Ending Support for Internet Explorer 8

Due to recent software updates on nnlm.gov, Internet Explorer 8 is no longer supported. Some read-only sections of nnlm.gov will continue to be available via IE8. However, anyone using IE8 will probably not be able to submit assignments in online courses utilizing the NN/LM Moodle framework, and may not even be able to access and log into Moodle courses. Other nnlm.gov services that require data to be posted to the server are also likely to fail. In addition, DOCLINE will not support IE8 after the end of 2014. Please visit the NN/LM System Requirements page to see a complete list of supported browsers. For best usability, NLM recommends that libraries should begin talking to their local IT departments about upgrading their browsers to at least Internet Explorer 10.

Starting January 12, 2016, Microsoft will drop support, including security updates, for older Internet Explorer browser versions. Only the most recent version of IE for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates. Microsoft’s Stay up-to-date with Internet Explorer blog page provides a good explanation of why IE users should upgrade to the most current version.

Logic Models for Library Assessment Planning

The Engaged Librarian: Crafting an Effective Assessment Plan to Determine the Impact of a Key Strategic Library Initiative, by Sarah Murphy at The Ohio State University (OSU), was presented during the 2014 Library Assessment Conference, held earlier this month in Seattle, WA. The presentation provided an overview to the use of a logic model as part of library strategic planning. The project incorporated the theory of change methodology with logic models and used the Kellogg Foundation Logic Model as a template. They storyboarded data within a data dashboard that was both aligned with and broken down by the applicable OSU strategic vision goals. Ms. Murphy reported that the benefits of using a logic model approach included having a flexible but structured way to do library assessment planning, having a collaborative and inclusive approach, creating a project focus, being able to assess linear and iterative programs and services, and the ability to communicate program accomplishments in interesting ways. During the question and answer session they noted they are also Tableau fans and like to create data structures in their dashboard to avoid information silos.

To learn more about logic models and data dashboards, check out the freely available NN/LM Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) Evaluation Guides, especially Planning Outcomes-Based Outreach Projects. Also available is a recording of the one-hour presentation Data Dashboards: Monitoring Progress toward Program Outcomes, part of the NN/LM PSR Midday at the Oasis webinar series.

Visualization Literacy

With an increase of technology tools available for data reporting and visualization sometimes it’s challenging to know how to best use them to clearly communicate the intended meaning of the data. The concept of visualization literacy and a broader theme of visual literacy are often not included as part of the instructions guiding people in the steps to create their own visualization design. A recent entry by Andrew Kirk on the blog of Seeing Data, a research project in the United Kingdom studying how people understand big data visualizations shown in the media, offers a great review of 8 Articles Discussing Visual and Visualization Literacy that are freely available and well worth a read to better understand both visual and visualization literacy. Their featured articles include resources ranging from the importance of Visual Literacy in an Age of Data to How to Be an Educated Consumer of Infographics, and Seeing Data has asked that you share additional ones with them via blog comments or their Twitter social media account @SeeingData.

NLM Mourns William G. Harless, PhD, Creator of the First Natural Language Computer Patient Simulation Model

William G. Harless, President and CEO of Interactive Drama Inc. and former National Library of Medicine employee and contractor, passed away this past May. Dr. Harless’ contributions to the NLM were many, including the creation of the first voice-activated interactive video patient simulation model in the mid-1980s. As Director of NLM’s Technological Innovations in Medical Education (TIME) Project, he received the 1986 NLM Regents Award for Scholarship or Technical Achievement and an award in the category of Best Educational Achievement at the University of Nebraska, both for the development of his model which combined voice recognition, interactive video, and computer technologies.

Bill Harless held a PhD degree in psychology and learning theory. He also had held faculty positions at five major universities and the Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities, where accredited doctorate degrees are awarded from a multidisciplinary, experientially based curriculum. He developed the first natural language computer patient simulation model at the University of Illinois School of Medicine in Chicago in the early 1960s. Dr. Harless published over 50 articles on natural language interactive simulation as a learning strategy and was a recognized expert in the field. In 1991, he was awarded a patent for his voice-controlled video simulation model. He was awarded a second patent in 1996 for his dynamic prompting system. In 2005, a third patent was awarded on a method of distributing his model over a computer network, and in 2010 he was awarded a patent for his method for analyzing natural language text to yield a meaningful response to a free-speech inquiry.

How to Use Hashtags to Increase Social Media Presence

If you have determined that the use of social media channels is appropriate for your organization, you will quickly encounter hashtags, which are user-controlled categories prefaced with a pound sign. Hashtags were once limited to Twitter but are now used on most social media sites, including Facebook and Google+. Conversational, concise, and consistent use of up to two hashtags per social media message can result in double the amount of user engagement compared to messages without them. For more statistics specific to Twitter and user engagement, Buffer’s blog provides an excellent overview.

What are some of the ways to show that hashtags increase user engagement with your organization’s message? Look for performance indicators of reposts (the use of ‘Share’ on Facebook or retweets on Twitter), replies (comments under the message from Facebook followers, replies to the tweet from Twitter users), the number of clicks to any links included in your message (ideally to your organization’s website and resources), and hashtag usage frequency. For tips on how to track these performance indicators and additional statistics regarding hashtag creation and use, check out this helpful infographic.

Evaluating Social Media Activities

For public sector and nonprofit organizations, social media can be a cost effective way to engage with users and supporters. However, social media is not without its cost, particularly in terms of staff time. So organizations have an interest in assessing the value of their social media activities.

One great resource for social media evaluation is Paine’s book, Measure What Matters. The book contains detailed guidance for evaluating social media use by different types of organizations. A great supplement to Paine’s book is The Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide, by Idealware, which has worksheets that will help plan social media strategies and implement recommendations in Measure What Matters.

Below are the key elements of Paine’s evaluation framework:

  • Begin with a solid social media plan that identifies specific goals and objectives. As with any project, you need a plan for social media that links strategies to the organizational mission and includes objectives with targets and key performance indicators. Objectives for social media in the public sector often belong in one of two categories: helping users find information they need; or building user awareness, engagement, or loyalty. (The Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide provides a list of potential objectives on page 52.)
  • Define your target audience: Organizations often have many stakeholder groups, so it’s important to identify the groups most attuned to social media. On page 54 of The Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide, there is a worksheet for narrowing down stakeholder audiences to those most receptive to social media activities.
  • Pick your metrics: Metrics such as views, followers, and measures of engagement with online content will help monitor your reach. Conversions, defined as the actions you want your social media followers to complete, might include becoming members of your organization or actively recommending your organization to colleagues or friends.
  • Identify a source for benchmarks. Benchmarks provide a basis for comparison to assess progress. Organizations often use their own histories as benchmarks, comparing progress against baseline measures. You also may have access to data from a competing or peer organization that you can use for comparison.
  • Pick a measurement tool: Paine’s book describes different measurement methods for evaluating social media, such as content analysis, web analytics, or surveys.

For more information, check out the resources mentioned in this blog post:

  • Katie Delahaye Paine, Measure What Matters: Online Tools For Understanding Customers, Social Media, Engagement, and Key Relationships. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2011.
  • Idealware. The Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide, 2013.

New SurveyMonkey Mobile App Available!

SurveyMonkey recently launched a mobile app for the iPad and iPhone, providing the ability to create, send, and monitor surveys from a phone or tablet device. The app is free, although you need a SurveyMonkey account to use it. With the new app, there’s no longer a need to rely on a computer to design and manage surveys. The app also allows convenient viewing of data from any location with Internet access. Another notable benefit is that the analytic reports are optimized for mobile devices and are easy to read on small screens. Although there is not yet an Android app, all SurveyMonkey pages and surveys are optimized for any mobile device, so surveys are easy to take regardless of the operating system used.

Maximizing Questionnaire Response Rates

The American Medical Association has specific recommendations for its authors about questionnaire response rates included in the JAMA Instructions for Authors. One of the guidelines is that survey studies should have sufficient response rates (generally at least 60%) and appropriate characterization of nonresponders to ensure that nonresponse bias does not threaten the validity of the findings. However, response rates to questionnaires have been declining over the past 20 years, as reported by the Pew Research Center in The Problem of Declining Response Rates. Fortunately, suggestions about increasing questionnaire response rates are available in two recent AEA365 blog posts that are open access:

Additional useful advice, such as making questionnaires short, personalizing your mailings, and sending full reminder packs to nonrespondents, is included in this open access article: Sahlqvist S, et al., “Effect of questionnaire length, personalisation and reminder type on response rate to a complex postal survey: randomised controlled trial.” BMC Medical Research Methodology 2011, 11:62.

Free Images for Evaluation Reports!

The current trend in evaluation reporting is toward fewer words and more images. There are a number of companies that offer high-quality, royalty free photographs at minimal cost. Stockfresh, for example, charges as little as $1 per image. However, no-cost is even better than low-cost. Freelancers Union, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting freelance workers, recently published a list of the best websites for no-cost images. If you are looking for free images for your presentations or reports, check out their article, which also describes the difference between public domain, royalty-free and Creative Commons-licensed images.

PubMed Commons: A New Forum for Scientific Discourse

PubMed Commons HomepageNCBI has released PubMed Commons, currently in pilot phase, which is a system that enables researchers to share their opinions about scientific publications. Researchers can comment on any publication indexed by PubMed, and read the comments of others. PubMed Commons is a forum for open and constructive criticism and discussion of scientific issues. It will thrive with high quality interchange from the scientific community. PubMed Commons is currently in a closed pilot testing phase, which means that only invited participants can add and view comments in PubMed.

For the current pilot testing phase there is a limited facility for joining that may work for you. Several organizations have provided lists of approved author e-mail addresses. If you are included on the list, you can request an invitation to join. Additional options for joining will be provided in future releases.

For additional information, visit the NCBI Insights blog.