Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Week 9, Thing #23, Final Thoughts

Well, I've finally gotten here after too many delays and side trips. I really appreciate the tutorial nature of this activity that allowed my participation to be flexible. I also liked having discovery exercises to work with the tools we were learning about and the fact that all the resources are on line. It makes the program super simple to use and the experience user friendly. Thanks to those who put School Library Learning 2.0 together. It was great!

The tools I liked the best and anticipate using include blogging, Flickr, image generators, possibly Rollyo, wikis, Library Thing, e books and podcasts. I see how tagging can really help with organizing. I think knowing some of these tools will help me make the move to putting more of my information on line where it will be accessible to me and to others.

I can see how many of the social tools could be used to increase student engagement in projects. I also now have a better working knowledge of some of the information sources, like RSS feeds, that are available on line. Students will (and already do) prefer to get information from the web. It is helpful to know what resources are available to them.

I appreciated the week that we got to read and assess some librarians' thoughts about the direction libraries are going. I thought that the emphasis on service and the library experience over creating the definitive book collection is good to keep in mind as we develop library programs for the 21st century.

Thank you, School Library Learning 2.0 team, for the opportunity to learn these things!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Week 9, Thing #22, E books & Audio Books

I feel like I already know about e books and audio books. I started a collection of audio books when I came to this library 5 years ago, and I have been adding to that collction ever since. It is used primarily by Special Ed teachers and students, but I have them out on display in the library and they do circulate to the whole school. Kids will occasionally check them out and so do parents, particularly before vacations. They like to have them in the car during road trips. I have one teacher who also is a good customer of these books. She brings her reluctant readers and helps them pick out an ebook and a matching print book. She claims it helps them with reading when they can read and listen to the text simultaneously. I think it is a great format for a variety of kids. I have also just ordered some MP3 books and am anxious to see how those are received. I haven't done as much with e books, but will be keeping an eye on adding some of them to the collection as well.

What I learned from this exercise is how much free stuff is out there! I had no idea. There are kinds of places to look for materials. I liked the idea from LibriBox about creating a collection from the public domain using volunteers. I also noticed that Library Thing is among the many sites with free books available. I will have to keep using these sites to build up my collection.

Week 9, Thing #21, Podcasts

Podcasts are also something I am already familiar with. Colleagues have shared podcasts about subjects we are interested in with me. I have found websites for kids to use while researching that contain podcasts. For example, when the 8th grade was doing their career unit, I found podcasts about various careers on one college's career center's page. Last week, I found a collection of podcasts containing the stories of Holocaust survivors. I like finding resources using this technology because I think the kids become more engaged when they are listening to stories than when they merely read them.

I had never used a podcast directory before this. It is a good tool, but I don't think I could turn kids loose to use one. There is too much trashy stuff listed in the directories. It would be too easy for students to wander off into places you didn't want them to go if you had them use a directory to search for a podcast. I would have to find the podcast myself, then post that link in order to keep the lesson on track.

I like the idea of students creating their own podcasts. I would need to work on the tech part of doing this, but it is something I could develop in the future. I like the idea of linking the podcasts to your RSS feeder. What a good way to keep up with developments in fields you are interested in.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Week 9, Thing #20, You Tube

Well, you doesn't know about You Tube? It has become rather ubiquitous, hasn't it? From political messages to videos of police abuse to the ability to share music and humor, it seems nearly everything is on the internet via You Tube these days. And students love it, so finding good ways to incorporate it could be really useful in the library.

Most of my past use of You Tube has been to use links that friends have sent me. Mainly, these are humorous videos. This exercise got me to log on and explore what is there. The site is easy to navigate and searches seem to return pretty good results. It is nice that most videos are tagged and have enough of a summary that you don't have to look at the video to know what it is about. Of course, the quality of the videos themselves vary widely. Some are well edited. Others look like they were posted by college kids who had nothing better to do. The picture and sound qualities are also hit and miss. Because videos can range from professional quality to "as good as my aunt's vacation videos", I would certainly preview ANY video before using it in class.

I could see linking some videos to the library website if I had any kind of tutorials or instructional videos. I think kids would be more apt to use those than read through a tutorial. You Tube can also be a useful resource for me or other teachers who are looking for ways to convey information in a video form. For example, I found videos of popular young adult authors being interviewed, examples of book talks and library orientations, and a recording of the Nicaragua National anthem. I also found some things that were such bad quality that it inspires you to think about making your own video. Perhaps that could be a project to take on in the future. I have even had teachers find old videos posted that they used to have copies of but have lost, so there is an archival component to You Tube that can also be useful.

Although there are many uses for You Tube, I have to admit sharing humor is still one of my favorite ones. I have found some common ground with some kids I have been trying to establish relationships with by sharing our favorite humor links. Tonight's experimentation encourages me to look further into ways that it could be used in my teaching.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Week 8, Thing #19, Library Thing

Note Number One--I notice I mistakenly titled my last post as week 6 instead of week 8, but I can't find a way of going back and editing it. So I guess the lesson is "once published, it stays"?

Now, for Library Thing. Of course, I love this program. Maybe it is because this kind of work is familiar, but this site makes cataloging and organizing a collection SO easy. I like that you can display the list in different ways, add tags and that it displays the covers. I found the site easy to use and the explanations of what you could do and how to do it good. I'll definitely be a frequent user of this site.

As test cases, I did 2 of my historical fiction books and 3 of my textbooks from a favorite college class. I'd have to say that using the Library of Congress records instead of Amazon worked better for the textbooks. The information is more complete. Of course, my fiction books were more popular and had more reviews. There were a few people who had my textbooks, though. I would assume that those people have a similar interest in this field to mine. Why else would you keep the textbooks? Using the social part of this site could link me with them so I could pursue learning more about the subject.

In the library, I can see using this tool to create and feature collections such as new books. I will have to check out how I can use it in conjunction with my library web page. I hope the district controls allow it through! At home, I can see using it to organize my personal library. I especially like the idea of comparing with others who have similar books. That is what I need--ideas for more books to get! You know what I mean!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Week 8, Thing #18, Zoho Writer

I was excited to experiment with this site which is a site for web based use of common applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. I've had experiences in the past with the frustration of trying to share documents or working on editing documents with people in other locations. This seemed like the perfect tool for dealing with some of those situations.

I created a document in the Zoho Writer area and experimented to see what I could do with the program. I did like the toolbar and many of the things it was able to do. There were plenty of tools there to use. However, the program was not as intuitive as I would have liked. I had trouble figuring out how to do some things, like returning to the document after viewing it in "preview" and trying to rename the document. I couldn't get the photo import to work at all despite an hour of trying. I never could get the spell check application to work either, which is essential.

I would be interested to try creating a document and sending it to someone for editing to see how well the sharing part works. I can see how using the web to do this would be an advantage. That way, you are not tied to one computer or a particular program. That is a very attractive idea. I also notice that they have a wiki application. Since I am interested in learning more about creating one, I will probably experiment with this to see how well it works.

I also added the picture here that I tried to put in my Zoho document. It helped me dissipate my frustration at not being able to do it before (and also let me know that the photo was not creating the problem). It also reminds me that although it is winter outside, summer--and
my opportunity to be outdoors--is not far off!