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!)

Week #7, Thing #16 Wikis

I have been trying to learn more about wikis and have set a goal for myself to set up a wiki this school year, so I really appreciated this lesson.

I could hardly stop reading the Book Lovers Wiki by Princeton Public Library! It is just fun to see what other people think of different books and now I know it is another good place to get ideas on what to add to our collection. I also checked out CSLA conference wiki and the AP World History wiki for other ideas. I would like to have a wiki similar to the Book Lovers wiki for my student club, The Library Club, as a place for them to post reviews on books they have read. Linked to our school library page it would be a great place to send other students when they were wondering what to read next. I also would like to be able to feel competent enough by the spring to train teachers at my school in how to apply wikis to their class curriculum. That AP World History wiki would be a good example of how it could be used in a classroom to stimulate conversation and communication between students.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Week #6, Thing #15 Perspectives on Lib 2.0

I agree wholeheartedly that the "modern" school library is a place that must keep morphing in order to remain a useful tool students can use in order to become successful. But how practical is this in a California school environment?? It is increasingly difficult to keep up on all of the new software, hardware, online tools and Internet services available to us. That's not even mentioning MP3s, new mobile phone features, and other handhelds that allow for a person to be "plugged in" 24/7. As I think I have mentioned in my previous blog entries, technology is here to stay and I am excited at many of the possibilities for libraries and how technology can be an ally in attracting new users. I do, however, continue to harbor reservationas about how I can keep up on my very limited library budget...it's been about 4-5 years since I have had new computers in my library, even though I have lobbied actively and I am on the site council of my school. For a high school, having computers this old and an Internet connection that is often unreliable has given my library a reputation as the last place you go on campus to get work done. Last year was my first year on this particular campus and I was definitely not prepared for the number of technological road blocks I encountered. If LMTs are expected to train our students in how to use technology WISELY (most of them do not even know what a wiki really is, let alone what its strengths and weaknesses can be) than California needs to support our schools/libraries with funding appropriate to pay for both the books and the technology-related materials for our students in the 21st century and beyond.

I read the article "Away from the Iceburgs" by Rick Anderson of UNR. The iceburgs he says we need to row away from are sensible, though it makes me sad to envision the library of the future without the rows of stacks I love. First, our patrons will come to expect fewer volumes of dusty books and more information options -- computers, digital books, blogs, podcasts -- in order to take in information. Second, it is a daunting task for us to educate our patrons in the use of library services and tech-based services that can help them; as Mr. Anderson writes, "But if our services can’t be used without training, then it’s the services that need to be fixed—not our patrons." and that hits the nail on the head for me. How many times have I approached a student (and often a teacher) who has no idea how to access just our card catalog, even though I have an extensive orientation with every single freshman through their English class? The problem? If they do not USE the library and get PRACTICAL, HANDS-ON experience using the tools, online resources, searching the catalog, etc. then they won't remember. So only about 30% come back within a month and the rest soon forget what I've taught them. Since there is only one of me, it is pretty near impossible for enough classes to be served anyway...but I am working on it. Third, Anderson suggests that we take the services to the patrons instead of relying solely on the "patron comes to us" system of old. This too makes sense and I know more kids would use the lbrary if we had more available through our web site and made it easier to access, but again, the TRAINING is key...more trained librarians = better trained students.

Oh yeah, and having the technology available so that we can provide those services like podcasts and quick-loading catalogs, that's critical isn't it???

I also enjoyed Michael Stephen's "Into a New World of Librarianship" although I have to admit I was blown away by all that "this librarian" can do...does this librarian sleep? I try do emulate these qualities, keeping an eye out for new technologies, trying to spot trends, keep up on my own training to keep up with the kids, but it is a pretty daunting task to do all that and complete the rest of my duties as a teacher, spouse and parent. I guess no one said it would be easy!

Reading the Wikipedia take on Library 2.0 brings it back to a sort-off checklist format that I think might appeal to my "Type A" side. I have printed out the key principles and intend to post them in my office to remind me of what I need to work toward to be and LMT 2.0.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Week #6, Thing #14 Technorati & how tags work

I searched for "School Library 2.0" the three ways, blog, tag, and blog directory and was surprised that my initial search led to a blog of some "swingers"...interesting how that worked. I had much better luck with searching tags and was able to find blog posts from fellow Library 2.0ers. I was also successful finding Library 2.0 when searching by blog directory and actually explored some good-looking blogs and thought-provoking blog entries made by LMTs.

When I explored to find the most popular searches, I was surprised (guess I shouldn't be!) that the most popular searches included the "Johana Cardon sex tape" (I must be really out of it since this is the first I have heard of this Columbian star and her video exploits!) and "Paris Hilton" is also very popular right now...why? I have no idea what keeps her in the news! So I guess this could be very useful for keeping your finger on the pulse of popular culture, but maybe I'd like to keep my finger on the pulse of something else!

My final thoughts for today about tagging are this: I don't think I would send students to tagging sites like without extreme caution. It could easily end up being a waste of their time, and mine, if they were to go without some good advice and guidance from their teachers and librarian. They might also be led to places they really shouldn't be. Is it just me or does it seem like many folks out there overuse and abuse tags to draw people to their blogs? Will you find there is truth in their taggy "advertising"? Much of the time, probably not.

It is unfortunate that blogs are being used so often for pointless communication of mindless crap, but I guess one man's crap is another man's treasure, and I am just one lone little voice in a sea of technorati abusers. Just another 2 cents...

Week #6, Thing #13 Tagging & De.licio.us

Thanks for introducing me to this tool. I enjoyed the tutorial (even though it took almost an hour to view it through my slow home computer! Think I need a new one??) and learned quite a bit.

I especially like the fact that this service could be easily applied to students and teachers who are working collaboratively on projects or ongoing committees. I could see groups like student council/leadership classes and site council using this service to research issues and share findings. But really the application could be used in so many ways if more teachers & administrators (and students and parents) knew about this tool. Wouldn't that be great?? Not to mention just keeping the browser efficient and organized for myself!

I also like the fact that if I am looking for information quickly I can see what sites/articles others have already found on the topic. Another helpful timesaver for busy teachers and librarians.