Monday, December 10, 2007

Week 7, Thing #17, Sandbox

Wow! This is really easy to use. Things have really come a long way from the days (not so long ago) when "they" wanted you to learn html just to post a web page. Tools are definitely more user friendly now.

There are so many ways to use wikis that I don't know where to start the list. Book reviews, class assignments, library procedures, lesson plans--these are just a few ideas to start with. There were some great curriculum connection ideas in the California Curriculum Connections wiki. Just reading it inspires you to pick one idea and start there. It is more empowering than the feeling of being overwhelmed that I have experienced some other weeks. For some reason, these seem doable. Maybe it is because the ideas come from others in the trenches.

That said, I would still like to learn how to create and manage a wiki. I guess I'll have to figure that one out.

Week 7, Thing #16, Wikis

Ah, finally we get to wikis. Of course, I've had experience with kids using wikipedia--who hasn't?--but I have been looking forward to exploring the many different ways people use wikis in the school and library worlds.

It doesn't take long to start thinking of ways to use wikis. In the library, book reviews seem to be a common use. I can see y students wanting to do this to recommend the books they love. In the classroom, some teachers use it for group projects. They are a good tool to use to build a virtual community of people around any common interest. Some teachers seem use them as guides and resources for their students. In our school, teachers use their web pages for this. Is the advantage of using a wiki that students can interact with it? That didn't seem to be built into some of these pages.

I especially liked some of the other uses for wikis that I discovered. I had never thought of putting our procedures manual in a format like this. Yet, doing so would make it both accessible and easy to update. I loved the collection of library best practices. Just think--if you needed to guide a group through developing a selection process or a challenged book policy, here are excellent resources already gathered for you to use. The same thing applies with lesson plans. I know I usually have to search for ideas and lesson plans for teaching library skills and reading genres. There are a million lesson plan sites, but most of them have few or no resources for us. A wiki where we could look for and share ideas would be great! I can also see how doing a wiki for an event like the CSLA convention would be great. It goes beyond merely posting information on a website because you can use it to build an interactive community.

The one thing I didn't learn from this exploration is how to start my own wiki. What is the best software to use? How do you keep track of contributions and edit it? I know those features should be built in, but I'd like to see how it works. I know there are also issues with what the district filtering software will allow. I think it is worth pursuing the answers to these questions, though, because this format seems so useful in so many ways. I will be looking into just how to use it.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Week 6, Thing 15, Part 2

As I went about my work today, the ideas I had read about for this assignment were still rattling around in my head. I realized that I had focused my comments on the changes that libraries will be going through in the next few years. I really had not touched on the issue of how web 2.0 technologies will impact the student and how that will be integrated into the library's mission. And so....a second post to address this side of the issue.

When you come down to it, the place where web 2.0 technologies can have their biggest impact on education is in the area of student engagement. What these tools are creating, and the question they are calling, is the means for students to be actively engaged in their own learning. The model of the lecturing teacher and the silent student is going away. Students want to be involved in creating their own meaning in their education. They don't want to sit and listen to someone; they want to be active participants. Web 2.0 technologies give them the opportunity to take what they have learned, process it in an interactive way and demonstrate that learning in a multitude of ways. Not only can libraries be leaders in helping students to find the information they need to participate in this process, they should be equipped to allow students to interact with that information and produce a variety of products to show that learning. The focus in learning shifts from memorizing known facts to learning facts, then thinking about those facts in creative ways in order to construct new meaning. This is the kind of thinking that will be called for in the 21st century workplace. It is important that libraries be part of bringing this kind of learning into today's classrooms.

One last thought about accepting learning produced with web 2.0 technologies. I do not think that teachers should accept sloppy work. Kids generally like using these technologies, but that doesn't mean that they should just be able to throw anything together and have it accepted by the teacher. The same kinds of standards and expectations for judging work quality should still be in place for these kind of assignments. It is the job of the teacher to articulate the expectations and acceptable standards, just as they do with other projects. Just letting kids play around on the computer is not a learning outcome. Web 2.0 technologies should not be an excuse for sloppy teaching practice. Rather, they should enhance the regular expectations by expanding the ways that learning can be expressed.

Likewise, web 2.0 technologies can expand the way kids interact with reading for pleasure in the library. The library can be a place where kids share ideas, thoughts and feelings about what they have read. Web 2.0 technologies can provide the platform for doing this. Again, student engagement is the key goal. I am looking forward to the next couple of weeks of the tutorial because I think some of the upcoming tools may be useful in this way.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Week 6, Thing #15, Future of Libraries

These articles are interesting perspectives on the future of libraries. I like to read this kind of stuff because I think it is all too easy to get busy in our own spaces and not put up our heads and notice what is going on in the outside world. With the web, that world is getting really big and the danger of being left behind and considered irrelevant is very large. I may not use all the ideas that I read about, but keeping my own knowledge of what is out there current is a necessity.

There were several themes in these articles that are important ideas for any 21st century library. One is that the role of being a gatekeeper of information, the guardian of knowledge and the collector of books is going away. This may not be true in special libraries whose purpose is to collect and preserve certain items, but it certainly is in school libraries. I find I chose to emphasize use of the resources of the library over worrying about keeping things where they belong and limiting use of those resources. I agree with Anderson when he says that it is not about teaching skills as much as it is about working to remove barriers to student access to information. As user interface becomes simpler, patrons really don't need to understand how something works. They just need to be encouraged to use it.

Another area that is being revolutionized is service. The old style of library was you come into my space, use my resources the way I allowed you to and followed my rules. Now, patrons want access to information and, increasingly, I am interested in giving it to them in the space and form they want it in. For instance, I love the idea of giving them access to the collections of the nearly public and other school libraries. I like shifting to the idea of having a 24/7 web presence to help with homework and questions after hours. Although school libraries do have the advantage of having a 'captive' patron base (the teacher brings the class, so they have to be there), I have to be sure that the service I give them is so useful that they think to come back on their own the next time. Service is the top item I offer to the teaching staff as well. I try to have enough knowledge about different sources of information that when they need something, they ask me and I not only get what they ask for, but show them some other way of getting or using that information. Like us, teachers are busy in their classrooms and are not always aware of new ways of finding or using information. I try to teach new things to the adults as well as the students.

Finally, I liked the article by Schultz discussing the evolution of libraries from collections to service centers and finally to experiences. I believe she has captured where we are going. It is not that we will totally leave all of our old functions behind. I still want to be the place where kids come to ask me for book recommendations and discuss what they are reading with each other (although I agree with Anderson that the goal of having the definitive print collection is passe). But the library has evolved into a service based place and we are definitely experimenting with becoming an experience. The web 2.0 tools will give us ways to extend this into cyberspace. I want to do both--give kids a place to find and use ideas virtually and in real time, face to face. Community gathered is still an essential part of the human experience and I hope the library will find a way to facilitate that need for our school.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Week 6, Thing #14, Technorati

I spent some time taking a look at Technorati tonight. This site helps you organize, tag and keep track of blogs that are talking about things that interest you. There are really two different uses for this kind of site. One would be to help you keep up with your own interests, such as new developments in the library world. The other would be to see what is drawing the attention of other people. This is yet another example of how people are now using the internet to keep up with popular culture rather than older media forms like the newspaper and the television.

It is striking to me how ubiquitous youTube is becoming, even on sites like this one. Almost any search I did came up with youTube results in them. I also thought it was interesting that at one point while on Technorati's home page, a family member came into the room and I put the laptop aside for a moment. I noticed, though, that the screen kept changing as new blog entries were posted. There are so many! No wonder you need a tool like this to organize them.

Tagging is just an extension of what librarians have been doing forever--organizing. The advantage: tags make it easy to put same subjects together. The disadvantage: without a standard format, some things that should be together may not be due to variation in tags. It is not hard to be consistent with your own labeling system. It can be challenging to be consistent with other people's unless you study the norms of others and conform to them. Overall, I'd say tagging is worth the effort. It makes finding your information easier.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Week 6, Thing #13,

I've had a bit of a detour here due to family illness and the holiday but now I am determined to finish this tutorial by Christmas. This week, I'll be looking at It seems like a lot of people are sold on it, so I am looking forward to it.

I had some trouble find the tutorial because the link didn't work for me, but finally listened to it. I used the Library 2.0 account to explore the site and follow some of the links. I see how the tagging works and think that knowing how many people have linked to a particular site would be helpful. I find that if I use my own tags that make sense to me, it isn't to hard to keep track of what gets categorized. It probably makes a difference how often you intend to use the site. If your use is frequent, the use would become nearly intuitive. If not, you would have to keep track of how you kept track of things in the past.

I decided not to create my own account at this point for two reasons. One is that I don't feel the need to access my bookmarks on multiple computers at this time. I have my work system set up for work and my home system set up for home use and interests. I don't tend to overlap them all that much. The second is the same old problem of deciding how much time to put into a new tool. There are so many possibilities! I feel like I will end up picking the one or two most useful ones at the end of this course and investing time in them. At this point, I don't see my teachers using a resource page I create with this tool. I'm still trying to get them to use the resources on my web page for classes! So....good tool for future use, but not yet.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Week 5, thing #12, Rollyo

I used Rollyo to create a list of websites called Saturday Adventures. I included the sites I usually use to come up with outdoor activities to do on weekends. At first, I was confused because I expected the tool to just make a list of my websites, much like I do on my library website. But his tool is actually about creating a search engine to look through those sites for specific information. What I learned is that you want to be very speicific about the sites you include on your list. Sites like "National Park Service" will yield way too many results if you are only interested in things to do in the Bay Area.

I can see this tool being useful for teachers who want kids to only use specific sites to search for information. Again, you would have to test it out once you have created a list to make sure the results are not too narrow or too broad.

The link to my search engine "My Saturday Adventures" is

Week 5, Thing #11, Award Winners & Nings

I decided to explore Library Thing since it is a site that I have heard about but haven't used yet. I like the idea of being able to catalog my home book collection. We have been talking about it because we do have quite a few books (occupational hazard, right?)! I guess the information from Amazon is accurate enough. I would have to play with it more to be sure.

As far as work applications go, I can see using this site to help generate displays in the library. I see some people have figured out how to get images of book covers onto their blogs. Do they use the pictures from this site? The site seems easy to navigate and contains lots of useful information.

I am less convinced about the social networking part of the site. I can see the appeal for some people, but I am not much of one for sharing my thoughts on books. I know that sounds funny, coming from someone who is always talking books and trying to convince kids to read. I can see how this site facilitates those kinds of activities. Speaking on a purely personal level, though, I have to admit that I don't really even like book clubs. I guess I just like processing what I've read privately. There are people, including kids, who draw meaning from these kinds of exchanges. This site allows both personal exchanges and the chance to network with others who have common interests, so I can see using something like this in the library to reach those users.

I looked at Nings, but didn't join one. I guess I feel like I am already on information overload and don't need another forum to deal with right now. It is good to know it is there for later, though.

Week 5, Thing #10, Image Generators

The application that came to mind for this one was to create a friendlier reminder sign for my students. During the school day, we restrict our library computer use to schoolwork only. By using a cartoon reminder, I thought that the sign would get noticed more without it seeming to be too heavy handed. See what you think.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Week 4, Thing #8 and Thing #9, RSS Feeds and Newsreaders

This week's experience was about RSS news feeds and readers. I didn't know what an RSS was, but once I learned about them, I started to notice the logo everywhere. I set up an account with Bloglines. At first I was confused because I thought that if I subscribed to several feeds, somehow that would show up on my email account or something. Finally, I realized I would still have to visit the Bloglines site, but all my subscriptions would be gathered in that one spot. I see from looking at Google reader that if you use Google a lot, it is easy to get to their reader from their main site.

I found there is quite a variety of information available in this format. Again, as with other parts of technology, the biggest challenge is figuring out how much is useful and at what point things just become overwhelming. You could decide to limit your subscriptions to just things pertaining to work, or personal interests, or a particular subject. I do find that reading blogs is not very interesting to me. I guess I would rather just have a conversation with someone. I miss the back and forth exchange of ideas when I am reading it in isolation and responding in a vacuum. So while you can get some ideas from library blobs, I don't think I would genereally subscribe to them (at least I haven't found one I would add yet). Still, it is good to keep looking at things and to know the tools to use when you find something you want to keep track of.

I don't think I was too surprised at the variety of subjects available. Like all of technology, at first you discover the service, then it doesn't take too long to be surprised when someone doesn't use the service. I thought organizations like sports teams might do some of this but I think they must still primarily use email to communicate with their fans. One other thing to consider when choosing subscriptions, too, is to consider the reliability of the source. For example, I subscribed to one of the catagories in the Reader's Club, but then realized that I need to check out who is writing the reviews before using their advice to buy library books. I didn't find any standout unusual sites to write about this time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Week 3, Thing #7

Reading through some of the other blogs, one of the writers raised a question about the amount of time technology takes. It really is a mixed bag, isn't it? On the one hand, technology enables us to do so many things that weren't even possible a short time ago. Is anyone else old enough to remember Dick Tracy and his 2 way wrist TV? Or Maxwell Smart and the phone he had in his shoe? Now, I see kids in real life talking on their cell phones every day. My children, who live halfway around the world, are almost as accessible by phone and email as if they lived down the street. I can communicate and get information in a fraction of the time it used to take. It really is a whole new world.

On the other hand, there are so many possibilities that it can be overwhelming. Even just the few things we have already learned for this class simulate all kinds of ideas of ways I could use them in my library. Start a blog! Put photos on my website! Make posters and bookmarks! The problem is: what things am I doing now that I am willing to give up in order to add these new projects? I know we often think of technology as being a time saver, but in reality, the new things we do tend to soak up plenty of time. It becomes a priority and time management question. There are lots of good things to do. What are the best?

This is the question each of us must answer. Seeing technology as a supplier of tools to accomplish our goals rather than having our activities driven by the possibilities raised by technology is the key to choosing where to best spend our time. It is a question each of us must answer, and re-answer, as we examine our practice and priorities. It is good to be aware of the possibilities that technology provides us. It is even better to chose wisely which will serve your goals for your library and your students.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Week 3, Thing #6, Creating a Magazine Cover

Tomorrow is my daughter's birthday, so I took a picture from her summer travels and made a magazine cover with it. I can see a lot of uses for the mash-ups and tools in this section. A few ideas are posters advertising books, trading cards with different fiction genres on them, and recognition items to encourage reading. It was easy to do and fun.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Week 3, Thing #5, Images

I explored Flickr and took some pictures of my library so I could learn how to upload them. I liked using Flickr. It seems like an easy tool to use to manage and organize photos. I can see how useful it would be to be able to use photos in blogs. Now, I'd like to figure out how to put them in my website as well. That may take working with the tech team since they manage the school's web presence. The picture at the right is a view of the library from the circulation desk. Now, I am going to try to insert a second photo of the reading area in the back of the library and a third of the teaching area.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Week 2, Thing #3, Avatar

This process is interesting because you can't really get an exact representation of yourself, but this is an example of the kind of thing kids will spend a lot of time doing. They are used to investing time in customizing their ipods, computers, etc. I have more of the mindset of taking something out of the box and just using it, no customizing necessary. This was good practice in learning how to do something that I normally would chose not to spend time on.

Week 2, Thing #3, Setting Up A Blog

This wasn't too hard, although it is a challenge remembering all the user names and passwords I have, and which ones go together. The days of having one bank account, one credit card and one email address are long gone. I'm looking forward to learning the Web 2.0 stuff and seeing how I like recording my progress this way.