Posts Tagged ‘ Information Commons ’

Spring 2013 Reflection 1

When asked why I came to Butler, I often jokingly respond that it was because of Excel. Whenever I have to make a big decision, like where am I going to spend four years of my life during undergrad, I make a table. I think of all the factors that are important to me—location, cost of living, retention rate, number of nearby churches—and I utilize the comparison to make a decision. I said all that to point out how ingrained technology is into my life. I’ve always been a somewhat geeky person. If I want to learn how to use a program, either I point and click until I understand everything or I find an instructional that helps walk me through it.

Working at Information Commons has given me the opportunity to do everything I love. I work with and learn new technologies every day. I am constantly teaching others and building instructional resources. But most of all, working at Information Commons has taught me how to truly be a leader. All of these skills are things that I will keep with me the rest of my life. Information Commons has been a high point of my experience at Butler and will always be what I credit as my first real professional experience. But what have I left behind me as a legacy? What have I contributed to the program that has poured so much into me? Now that’s a harder question to answer.

My hope is that my biggest contribution to Information Commons has been that I have been an example of leadership and mentoring. My first semester here was really tough because I came on to the job as an Associate, and most of the time felt like I had no idea what I was doing. That year and the next, I tried my best to model my actions and leadership after Kristen Allen. Kristen was the backbone of the program, and I wanted to make sure that her hard work did not go to waste and her vision continued after she was gone. Now, I hope that others can say the same of me.

My goal during my time here has been to be the best Associate I can be. I want to be an example of a trustworthy person. I want the new Assistants to see my work ethics and drive and understand that is what we want them to model after. I have tried to be a role model in leadership. I want model to others that leaders are still expected to follow the same rules as those who follow them. I want my team to understand that we work together; they don’t work for me. And I want to implement streamline processes and keep things organized so that anyone who comes in after me can easily understand and pick up a project where I left off.

One of the things I am most proud of and excited about is that Julianne has allowed the associates to help build and change the program. I had the opportunity to play an integral role in the creation of the new Specialist position. I have been involved in changing and implementing new policies that help keep the students accountable to the program and help us accomplish our vision. And most of all, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to lead independently. Instead of just fulfilling a list of job expectations, I’ve branched out and created new responsibilities and opportunities for myself.

Coming into the job, I was pretty confident in my ability to lead by example. What I soon realized I was clueless about was how to be a true leader, because a true leader isn’t just an example, but has followers. Now, I feel that I have developed into becoming a leader through mentorship. It’s a learning process I’m still working on, but I now understand that just being the example isn’t enough. If I want others to follow my example, I need to mentor them by learning their strengths and weaknesses, helping them discover their fit in the program, making them feel important and necessary, and inspiring them to have continual growth. Part of mentoring is addressing weaknesses, and that’s the one area I still struggle with. I want to focus on people’s strengths all the time, but sometimes that creates problem areas that later become a big hindrance.  My goal this semester is to learn how to help people with their weaknesses and still make their overall experience positive.

So what is my legacy? If I had to leave advice for future Information Commons students, this is what I would tell them:

  1. Be the initiator. If you don’t understand exactly what you are supposed to do, ask. If you think of a new project that would benefit the program, suggest it. If you want to become a leader in the program, display those characteristics now. If you feel that the program could be more effective in one area, bring that to the attention of your supervisors and then help implement the change. The Information Commons program isn’t bounded by a job description and set list of services. We are constantly changing, seeking improvements, and growing. But that process can only happen if you take the initiative and become the change.
  2. Expect to grow. Information Commons is a professional development program and therefore will challenge you to develop your abilities. If you feel overwhelmed at first by the magnitude of what we do, welcome to the club. We are all still learning and growing as the program continues to expand. While you may be the resident expert in one thing, most likely there will need to ask for help with something else. Use each opportunity to learn from those around you and always be willing to grow.
  3. Be a leader. No matter what your title is or how long you have been in the program, be a leader. Rise above the expectations and be willing to take on responsibility. Hold yourself to a high standard, but don’t expect others to do more than you are willing to do. Be understanding. Be a peacemaker. Be willing to apologize. Be the example. Learn how to mentor someone and then help them reach their full potential. Always look for the good in every situation and person. Always put the person before the problem, the program, or the position. Seek advice if you are struggling or at a loss. Information Commons has great potential, but the only way we can see the vision become a reality is by leading the way.

Social Media Blackout

At Information Commons, we are asked to complete reflections periodically throughout the semester. The second reflection this year asked us to read an article on a social media blackout and then experience a time of unplugging ourselves.


Read this article about how Harrisburg University challenged their students to unplug from social media. First, reflect on how you think a social media withdrawal would affect your daily routine. Then, actually complete a self-imposed “unplugging” from one or more social media networks that you typically use. Fully disengage from your iPhone, Facebook, Twitter, or other social tools. How long were you able to stay unplugged? What was easiest and hardest about disengaging? What did you learn in the process? What alternatives to completely unplugging might be a good suggestion for your peers as they learn to balance social engagement in online and real-world environments.


When I was a teenager, my youth group at church would do a media fast every year. We would dedicate anywhere from one to three weeks of time where we unplugged from all media types, including internet, television, gaming systems, and phones. Our decision was that instead of dedicating time to do these recreational things that often consume our waking hours, we instead were going to dedicate time to reading our Bibles and praying. So ever since I was in seventh grade, I have gone through a social media “blackout” once every year. I can’t say that our media fasts were life altering in the sense that I never re-acquired my social media “addictions”. Usually, as soon as the fast was over, I would go back to my normal media use. But it has given me a new perspective on how I spend my time.

I wasn’t born in a time where instant entertainment was the norm. Yet by the time I had reached middle school–the prime of social awareness–the new millennium had ushered in it’s barrage of entertainment and social outlets. For the majority of my “social life”, as I shall call it, I have owned a cell phone, had access to high-speed internet at home, and been a member of at least one social media group. And just like every other human being who hasn’t grown up in complete solitude, I have soaked in the society around me. Social media and instant entertainment have become expectations of life for me. Not that I allow them to consume or define who I am, but I am constantly connected to the world outside of my four walls in some media-related way.

Realizing that makes me both cautious and grateful. Cautious because I don’t want entertainment to become an addiction that I put before the important things in my life. Grateful because it has allowed me to add to my learning, keep connections that would otherwise not be possible, and engage with the world at large. On a large scale, I feel that social media is beneficial for my life. On a small scale, I can see it’s negative affects and what I need to change about my habits.

For this reflection, I decided to unplug for just one day. The day I chose happened to be really busy, so it wasn’t that hard to do. Most of the day I was either in class, working, getting ready for church, in church, or with friends. I found that having a busy schedule translated into less time thinking about missing social media, but I still had my moments where I almost got onto Facebook or Twitter until I remember I was unplugging. I have to admit, after sitting in a car for 45 minutes and then realizing it was fifteen minutes after midnight (thus the end of my blackout), I promptly checked my Facebook.

The one thing I am always reminded of when I unplug is how much social media and entertainment permeate my life. I often get into the habit of checking my Facebook page as I stroll to class, spending time on Pinterest when I have an hour break, or reading posts from the blogs I follow when I’m waiting for something. There are few other things in my life that I dedicate so much free time to beside my social media craving. And now it makes me wonder, what if my every free moment was filled with a craving to pray or read the Bible? What if I used my times of wait to meet someone new I’m standing next to or catch up with an old friend. What if I used Facebook as a way to develop connections with people instead of just using it as my personal news channel for what’s going on in other people’s lives. Social media has made parts of my life so un-interactive. And what would happen if I changed that?

I think initiating a campus-wide social media blackout would be a great experience for everyone. No matter how hard it may be for some people to pull the plug, in the end I think everyone would learn something from it. But I have also begun to understand the importance of having personal media blackouts throughout my day, every day. I’ve never been someone who is attached to my phone, in fact, I often leave it places and have several missed calls and texts. But my computer almost never leaves my side when I’m at home or in my apartment. This week, I started to realize how distracting my computer is for me during homework or study times. So, I started using computer time as a reward for finishing homework. Once I complete a reading or problem set, I reward myself by checking Facebook or pinning for a few minutes. I think a similar plan like this would be beneficial for a lot of college students to adapt. Make yourself unplug during the times you need to be focused and see how much more productive you can be.

Elevator Speech

It is great to meet you, my name is Erica Gilliland, and I am a junior Mathematics and Actuarial Science major at Butler University. I’m looking for a position that will allow me to use my research and communication skills. Over the past few years, I have been strengthening these skills through my work at Information Commons, where we provide students, staff and faculty with research assistance and academic technology training and support. Eventually, I would like to translate the job skills I have learned into a pure mathematics environment where I can be more specifically involved in research and teaching. I will be attending graduate school after graduation and working towards my doctorate.

Resizing Images using Microsoft Office PowerPoint

After I created the Microsoft Office Picture Manager Quick Guide, my advisor showed me how to resize images from within PowerPoint. Since the professor we created the guides for wants to resize images in PowerPoint, we thought this would be the best option. Some professors have Microsoft Office 2010, while others are still on 2007, so I developed a guide for both versions.

Compressing Images using PowerPoint 2007 (PDF)

Compressing Images using PowerPoint 2010 (PDF)

Resizing Images using Microsoft Office Picture Manager

A professor came into our office this year asking for help with resizing images in her PowerPoint presentations to make the file smaller. Microsoft Office Picture manager was the first tool I thought of, so I developed a Quick Guide to help walk her through the steps.

Resizing Images in Microsoft Office Picture Manager (PDF)

2011 Information Commons Retreat

My goal this year at Information Commons is to create a more efficient team organization. Last semester was my first time working with IC assistants in a team setting, and I ran into a lot of bumps along the way. I’m a visual person, so I like to have written out instructions and I communicate best through emails and words in general. So that was the main way I organized my team. We usually didn’t work together, so I sent out emails and communicated with them mainly through the blog. What I found out was that not everyone stayed organized and up-to-date this way. Often, I wasn’t sure where my team members were on a project because they didn’t leave detailed updates. And sometimes I didn’t hear from them at all. So this year, I want to create a solid communication system that consists of weekly email updates, tasks on the blog, but most of all, face-to-face interactions. Also, I want to utilize the strengths of individual team members more. Last semester I tended to give just anyone a project without considering their strengths or weaknesses. Now I want to develop specific projects targeted to individual team members strengths.

I think I can contribute to the growth of Information Commons as a whole by concentrating on my strengths and abilities. I enjoy going into the classroom and teaching, so volunteering my time to do as many training sessions as I can will help us expand our outreach as well as provide me with a professional development opportunity. My ability to develop a system of organization could be useful when planning campus wide events or even just in organizing the team structures. I’m a details person, so when it comes to planning or structure, I think I could be a great resource for figuring out the smaller but important details that make things work. All together, I think the best way I can better Information Commons is by taking my job here seriously. Unlike many jobs that college students have, Information Commons isn’t just a way to earn extra cash. I want to take advantage of the professional development opportunities I have and appreciate all the resources that Information Commons gives to me. In return, I will be offering my best work to the program and promoting it’s growth.

Before we had the whole life values session, I was kind of confused about why it was included in our retreat. But after Julianne talked about everything, I was so thankful that she had the vision to talk to us about it. Managing my priorities (I don’t believe you can manage time…but priorities you can), has been something I’ve struggled with since I’ve come to college. Having the freedom to do what I want when I want was a blessing and a curse. I have made closer friends in college than I did in High School and I’ve been able to get involved with some really amazing things. But at times, it’s hard for me to have self-discipline and finish what needs to get done. At times I feel really bad about my lack of organization in my personal life, yet doing the activity with the wheel made me realize that slowly I’m learning to keep things more in balance. Yes, I’m still working on the uneven places on my wheel, but overall, it made me realize that I’ve started to create a balance in my life.

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