Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Week #9, Thing #23 Summary of Thoughts on this Program

Well, this has been a very good program and it was very worthwhile. My own schedule was my biggest challenge. I started off quickly with the first lessons in April or May, and I thought I would have plenty of time during the summer to complete the program easily. But this summer turned out to be a real bear -- First, we hosted a student from Germany for a month, showing him all over California. Then we started an addition of a family room over our garage. Throw in teaching summer school, coaching a team, a cruise to Alaska and a few camping trips with family and the summer was gone! So I have spent the last few days "cramming" in the last few lessons. Many times I considered just giving it up for now, but I am glad I persevered because I was exposed to so many new sites, services, tools and ideas that have given me new inspiration as I begin this new school year.

My favorite lessons were on podcasts and wikis. This is the stuff I am really interested in applying to my own library web site this school year and that I have been trying to learn more about, so for me that was right on target.

Because of the way my schedule turned out to be so much more crazy than expected, I really liked the flexibility of this program -- we could cater it to our own lives. There were a few times that I became really frustrated with trying to upload or import something that just wouldn't take. I was able to leave it for a while and come back at a time when I could be more patient to work my way through it -- very valuable to me because I DID figure it out eventually.

I don't know of anything that could be done to administer this program differently; it worked well for me and I feel as though I have learned quire a lot and now I know where to go for more information about these topics. Maybe you could add a 24-hour telephone help line?? If you offered another "self discovery" program such as this one, I would probably participate. You can't beat the price and it is inspiring to read over 100 "handles" on the list of librarians who participated in this program.

In a word or phrase, this program was... an inspiring opportunity for librarians to serve students better by learning to use technology in California's school libraries. Thank you for all of the hard work and creativity that went into developing the lessons!

Week #9, Thing #22 eBooks & audiobooks

I was completely unaware of the Gutenberg Project and it seems like such a useful resources for schools! There are so many items available and it could be such a support to people to have constant access to the book of their choice, in print or in audio versions. The downside is that even though there are many books to choose from, many of the books currently considered "required reading" by English departements in public schools are not yet available. Still, this is a great (and very affordable) option. I listened to a bit of Jane Austen from a LibriVox recording as part of this exercise. I also liked the "best places to get free books" list under the Discovery Resources.

The World eBook Fair was another site I had no idea was out there, but could be so useful to the staff and students of my school. Many students at my school like to purchase their own copies of books inprint but don't like waiting for the books to arrive. This would be a great help to them, to have the eBook available as an inexpensive download immediately. $8.95 a year??? What a bargain!! Especially when you compare that to what we pay for oue NetFlix subscriptions, right? The exercise is encouraging to me; I want to buy headphones to loan out to students who may not have them and advertise these links on my web page. I just need some time to get all of this done; this year I will try my best to find that time!

Week #9, Thing #21 Podcasts

Podcasts have a lot to offer libraries and librarians. For this lesson, I explored and listened to some library-related podcasts. One was "BookVoyages" which has many episodes on the subject of children's literature and related topics. Another one was LibVibe, with more episodes on varying library-related matters. Overall this is a good way of gleening information, especially if you are accustomed to listening to talk radio or if you are an auditory learner.

I think podcasts are an opportunity to add a little technololgy to the library or to other curricular areas with little effort or special equipment or training. A few headphones and you're in business. It is good to increase communications and make lessons available to students and teachers 24/7. I also like the sound of a friendly voice, and appropriate emotion added to exciting topics, like good books!

In my library (which is a joint-use facility between our high school and the county public library system) I would like to see podcasts available on basic library lessons such as using the county catalog, caring for school textbooks, how to request a books, or even a quick library tour of what services we have to offer for new students. I have subscribed to a couple of podcasts today that will remind me of topics to apply to my own library in the future.

Week #9, Thing #20 YouTube

YouTube is a fun site and has now become synonymous with pop culture in the U.S. and all over the world. I rarely find time to browse YouTube because I am quite busy at work and when I get home I have a tediously slow Internet connection. STill, whenever I have had the opportunity, I always find the site full of engagingly giggly gems and tidbits that are highly entertaining and that I just want to share. How do people find the time to come up with this stuff??

I watched several videos -- "Introduction to the Book," "Adventures of Super Librarian," UHF Conan the Librarian," March of the Librarians" and more. All were humorous and enjoyable and chosen because librarians are often misunderstood in our society and have too many stereotypical characteristics that are fun to see parodied.

My main problem with YouTube is that my school and district's technology staff will not allow YouTube to be accessed through the school's network. I have used TeacherTube items at school, but there is not the selection of topics that can be found on YouTube as of yet. I would like to link from my school library blog (eventually) so students could access some of the videos I have found so entertaining. I think "seeing is believing" and "a picture is worth a thousand words." Students love to learn when humor is involved, so this is a great way to make a connection with them and teach a lesson or two in the process.

Week #8, Thing #19 Library Thing

This is a great little tool for folks who have their own personal libraries. I was surprised at how easy it was to set up an account and get right to business, cataloging my favorie books (just a few, of course!). I put about 6 or 7 on my list, made a little profile for myself, added 3 or 4 reviews and browsed other recommendations.

Thw feature that really appeals to me is the "Library Thing Recommendation Machine" that allows you to look at lists of similar titles. I like to create promotional lists for my library that will always give students good ideas for what to read next, so having quick access to lists like these, as well as reviews about the books, is valuable indeed. The tags are also helpful to lead me toward other good titles my students would enjoy reading (and me too!). Thanks for introducing me to Library Thing :-)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Week # 8, Thing #18 Online Productivity Tools

Okay, I had an open mind when first using the online word processer. I was thinking that it could be really handy and was very excited about posting the document I was working on (my new contract for my school's library service class). So I worked on it for like 45 minutes and then when I went to save it, guess what?? The first time it didn't work -- Internal server error. So I tried again and lost the entire document!!! ARRRGGGGHHH!!! So, at this point I am not a big fan of the ZOHO Writer. But I WAS able to go back, retrieve the file from my home Word program, save it again to ZOHO and finally publish it to my blog, so now you can all have a look. I guess this is a pretty neat service.

But I just went and looked for my document that was supposed to be posted to by blog and it is not there...hmmmm. Where did it go I wonder??

Week #7, Thing #17 Learning 2.0 Sandbox Wiki

I had fun looking around the different categories here. So many great ideas to share with teachers about how they could apply wikis in their own classrooms and create a learning experience that continues outside of the school day and outside of the classroom! I can see the use of a class wiki really working effectively, especially with high school aged students. There were several great ideas for using blogs, image generators, etc. too, so I am going to bookmark this link for the future.

I even added my own entry to the wiki list of ideas! (#43. Check it out!)