Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Week 9, Thing 23 --Summing Things Up

It’s been a busy nine weeks. My stated goal for the journey was to have the sense that I am not three steps behind the students when it comes to Web 2.0. I think I am gained on them. Although, with mash-ups and evolving technology, I may always be one step behind, I feel much more comfortable with the concepts and vocabulary. Some of the things I enjoyed playing with, like the image generators, probably won’t replace the tools I already use. Others are new tools in the arsenal against ignorance. Looking at my previous posts, I can see where each new tool caused me to rethink a task that the students or teachers perform. Some of them, like my library science students’ procedure books popped up multiple times as I tried new tools, so I will need to assess the differences in how each one could be used before I finalize the assignment. I will also need to present changes to our tech coordinator and administrative team, so that I have backing for having students on “social” networking sites and can be sure that we don’t run into blocks on the system.
I appreciated learning some new tools for my own continuing education. Both writing my own and reading other people’s blogs challenges me to look at new ideas. The RSS feeds will continue to keep me updated on developments in the library field. The discussions about tagging have me thinking about the way students deal with knowledge, making me more open to looking at searching in different ways. LibraryThing may lead to my finally getting my books organized and deciding which books no longer match my interests and should be passed on to someone else.
One thing I hadn’t thought about before starting was that my spell checker needed educating as much as I did. I wish I had kept a list of the words that I added to the dictionary.
I liked the format of the program. Dividing the Things into 9 weeks made it easy to monitor progress and was a motivator for keeping with the program. Having over 3 months to pull the 9 weeks from made it less stressful and allowed for vacation breaks or just unexpected events. Having the September 1 deadline encourages me to finish. There were times when I was slightly overwhelmed by something new, but there was a lot of encouragement available. One of the best parts of the format was that it gave me a framework to work from. I had been to excellent sessions at CSLA Conferences where enthusiastic presenters introduced blogs, wikis and podcasts, but it wasn’t until I did the 23 Things that I could understand and appreciate the value of these web 2.0 tools. When you decide to offer another discovery program like this, I will definitely want to participate. The 23 Things gave me an excellent way to model lifelong learning for my students.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Week 9, Thing 22

Looking at the Gutenberg Project was both fun and frustrating. The link from the 23Things list didn’t work (I did this Thing in July), but I am assuming the result of a Google search was the same site. The concept of putting out-of -copyright material online where it can be freely downloaded and read on a computer has the potential for saving people (especially students) money and being ecologically sound. On the day’s Top 100 list was a book, Encyclopedia of Needlework by Thérèse de Dillmont (131), which I have in my personal library. As an illustrated volume, it seemed like a good test of the download process. The first download I tried was a format that my computer didn’t recognize. The second was HTML and worked great: a file of images and the document itself worked together to create a lovely copy of the chapter on macramé. It was, however, only a chapter. After trying some other options, I downloaded the zip file. It turned out to be the whole book plus an image file with all the images, but they didn’t integrate when I tried to read the book. This, of course means that I will need to do further research.
On LibriVox I listened to the beginning of Oliver Twist. It was really easy to access the file and the reader for chapter 1 had a pleasant voice. Audio books are a big help to students who are ELL. Some of our teachers have been reading parts of the lit books to their classes. Assigning students to access books and listen as homework, would free up class time for discussion and analysis of the story.
I’m all in favor of free resources and I know that my students will like the idea of being able to read and listen to free copies of books.

Week 9, Thing 21 Podcasts

My first stop was the Yahoo tutorial. It made working with podcasts sound less scary. I almost downloaded the Yahoo Music engine, but my daughter told me that she had never need to download software to listen to podcasts. It turns out that the Windows Media Player already on the computer worked just fine. Having not a lot of time to waste on junk, I went straight to Educational Podcast Directory. The site is very basic. I clicked on Information Skills. There I managed to still waste time by looking at entries for baby names and polymer clay, before following the Open Stacks link to find that its subtitle was Promoting information access and literacy for all. There I hit the jackpot with “Uncontrolled Vocabulary,” a podcast series (podseries?) on current topics in libraries as suggested by blogs and articles in the news. I am listening to edition #9 right now. The topics are interesting and one of the participants authored the article We Asked for 2.0 Libraries and We Got 2.0 Librarians, which I had read for an earlier Thing. Another thing I liked about Uncontrolled Vocabulary was that the blog that the podcast is attached to gave a link list to the articles that were being discussed. Anyone interested in submitting a blogpost or news article for inclusion in future podcasts can send the link to del.icio.us with the tag unvocab, which is an interesting use of social bookmarking. Adding the feed to my Bloglines feeds was simple. I guess I will need to invest in an MP3 player next, because this would be good for listening to on my commute.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Week 9, Thing 20 You Tube

Having frequently received links to videos, I found it interesting to see where they came from. I looked at several on You tube. Some were not worth the time I spent looking at them, but they’re like potato chips—it’s hard to stop at one. The one I’ve chosen to include in the blog is “The Adventures of Super Librarian” created by the librarians at McCracken County Library, which I found by following a link from Conan the Librarian. I liked the humorous way it promoted the library and seemed like something that my students could create. I’ve also been enjoying Doug Valentine’s videos which I encountered at the TeacherLibrarianNetwork.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Week 8 Thing 19 LibraryThing revisited

Having already set up a LibraryThing account for Thing 11, I went back to catalog some more of the books laying on my end table. I wish it were as quick and easy to add titles to my OPAC at school. Also, after some of the other apps that use tagging, I could appreciate that it allowed multiword tags. A nice improvement would be if the auto complete feature recognized commas as signaling a new tag and showed its suggestions for each tag you began typing like it does in labels on Blogspot.
This time around, I checked out some of the “unsuggestions”. I was amused to see that about 10% of the books on the list generated for one of the books in my collection were ones that I had read and enjoyed (granted some were years ago) and still have in my house. Apparently people who knit aren’t supposed to like science fiction (among other things).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Week 8, Thing 18

This document was created using Zoho. It was not hard to do. The buttons are almost identical to the ones in Word, so it felt familar. One difficulty I encountered was when I was playing with buttons and accidentally toggled the HTML and, not knowing what I had done, couldn't get anything to work. I also created a chart which picked up the background on the text just before it and wouldn't let me change that color, except a cell by cell. Inserting a picture was easy, but I didn't seem to be able to make the picture smaller.

Publishing to my blog was easy and I was able to shrink the picture here. but then I lost it and the page had errors. This is annoying, but not fatal if all you are doing is text.

I keep saying this, but I think this is perhaps the best way to go with those pesky WASC docs that require input from various people. It was easy to put a note on the document and seems easy to set up as a shared document.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Week 7, Thing 17

Playing in the sandbox—would have been more productive if I had something specific in mind, but I could see how easy it is to edit a wiki. To be comfortable setting up a wiki, I think I need to just do it, so I am looking at the possibility of a family event planning wiki with my 20-somethings.

I went to post one of my ideas for using web 2.0 on the Calcurriculum wiki and realized that the ideas that seemed so clear when I posted on my blog were too vague to be useful, so I had to go back and clarify them in my own mind before posting them on the wiki. Collaborating on wikis might encourage that same kind of self-editing in students, too. Once an idea seemed ready, I went to the site and uploaded my idea. I found that the formatting needed to be cleaned up when I pasted the idea I had copied from a Word document. This was easily done, because all I had to do was paste it in the pop-up box and let the program reformat it to match the other entries. I found I had somehow inserted my idea at the top, causing it to become the page heading. This was also easily corrected, because deleting what I had accidentally put in restored the page's proper heading. All together, it was not an intimidating experience and I will repeat it when I get my next good idea. I will also go back when I have time and read the other entries more carefully, because the ideas looked useful.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Week 7, Thing 16

Before doing Thing 16, my acquaintance with wikis was limited to Wikipedia and the debate over letting students use it for research (I’m currently in favor of it, if students are taught how to establish the authority of information they find there.) I was impressed by the ways that librarians and educators are using the technology to involve patrons in the library, to collaborate with colleagues both at their own libraries and around the world, and to enable collaborative projects by students, I was especially interested in Book Lovers Wiki which tied in with summer reading program, because it seemed like a model I could work with for my own library. The safety measures in place—reviews were checked before posting, poster’s anonymity assured if desired—were reassuring and FAQs and link to the PBWiki site and its tutorial was especially appreciated by this first time person.
The Albany County Public Library Staff wiki demonstrated how wikis could be used for staff collaboration. This makes me think that a restricted wiki would be the way to go on the WASC tasks my school is working on this year.
The Brentwood school wiki, Sample Literary Circle Wiki (10th Grade English), and Sample AP World History Wiki were impressive examples of student work. While the assignments could have been structured the old-fashioned way, the wiki format enabled the students to collaborate outside the physical and temporal constraints of the school day. The assignments were thoughtfully set up and could easily have been the result of teacher-librarian collaboration. Another thing I really liked about these uses of wikis is that it becomes obvious to the teacher which students are contributing and which are just along for the ride. One of the frustrations of being the librarian is seeing one student struggle to carry her whole group and knowing that the others are taking advantage of her conscientiousness. One assignment I currently do with my library science students that would be adaptable for a wiki is writing their library procedure book.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Week 6, Thing 15

Service for the Next-generation Library by Michael E. Casey and Laura C. Savastinuk can best be summarized by this quote from their article, “The heart of Library 2.0 is user-centered change.” They point out that, while Web 2.0 driven by technology, Library 2.0 is not just about the technology. It is more about the attitude of openness and working to take the library outside the physical walls. It means incorporating patron input, looking to serve the unserved while continuing to provide for the already-served, keeping up with trends, and regularly implementing and evaluating new ideas. The best libraries have sought to do these things. The technology now available provides valuable tools for us to create “Better Library Services for More People
I appreciate the distinction that the authors make between Web 2.0 and Library 2.0. I have known librarians who have had a library 2.0 attitude, doing outreach to schools and setting up reader advisory groups. Web 2.0 technology extends the reach of the library. We may not be comfortable with it, but it isn’t going away and it would be foolish to ignore its possibilities for better serving our patrons. This will look different in each library. For my own library it will mean looking at ways to involve the students in the ways the library operates. Certainly a library blog is part of it, but starting a book lovers’ ning and finding a way to allow student reviews in the catalog look like good starting points.

Postscript: On this activity, I used a technique that I learned from 2.0 applications, I looked at the references listed on Wikipedia and decided to read something by the author with the most “authority” i.e. most often cited. The first article I read seemed to be coming into the middle of a discussion, so I ended up reading all the articles listed for Michael E. Casey. Moving from one article to the next is second nature for me (and the reason these assignments take so long). I learned it using a set of World Book Encyclopedias. Using Web 2.0 tools makes satisfying curiosity much easier and certainly more appealing to a generation that can’t remember life before computers.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Week 6, Thing 14-part 2

Tags are an interesting look at how the human mind works. We are programmed to create shortcuts to identify objects and ideas. The subjects in our OPACs are one way of labeling ideas, but not all people have the hierarchical way of looking at things that delights traditional catalogers. (see my earlier comments here) What I like about tags is that they allow for a multitude of entry points for finding information. Just as I might be referenced by my given name, job title, a kinship term, a hobby or physical trait, each one giving a fuller picture of who I am and allowing various people to share their knowledge of me, subject tags allow people coming from different backgrounds to access the same article. Looking at the tags that someone else has used for an article allows me to see new ways to classify the information. That turns upside down the way we present knowledge to students. Often we tell them the subject, then the topic and then the specifics. We test them expecting one right answer. We ask them for the main idea as if there could only be one. What if we give them an article to read or listen to and have them tag it first as individuals and then sharing their tags? One article I read (unfortunately before I began using del.icio.us) pointed out that as more people tag an item, the irrelevant tags become statistically insignificant. If a whole class fails to find the labels we expect, maybe we have failed to give them the right information.

Week 6, Thing 14 part 1

A Technorati search is similar to a search of the OPAC in the fact that choice of search mode effects the results. It is also like a Google search, because you can use advanced search to specify how you want the search terms to relate to each other and where you want to search. Searching on keywords for School Library Learning 2.o (no quotes) produced 1752 hits (almost 500 more than on Saturday—does this mean that a lot of us are on week 6 and claiming our blogs?). Searching for the same phrase in quotes netted 187 hits, most recognizable as posts to our CSLA summer learning opportunity. A search of tags netted 1311 blog hits, as well as visual media hits. Searching the blog directory produced only 11 hits without the quotes and 8 with them. This search seemed to select entire blogs, not just one post were somehow labeled as school library learning 2.0. I’m not sure about that because looking at the sites, I couldn’t find a common place with that label. After the search I looked at the favorites, I looked at the favorites. What I discovered is that I seem to be out of the loop when it comes to popular culture. I had no clue who/what 9 of the 15 top searches were. I’m also not sure that 2 weeks from now they will be terribly important. Maybe Web 2.0 is where everyone will get their 15 minutes of fame.

Technorati claim

Technorati Profile

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Week 6, Thing 13

Del.icio.us was another of the applications where I got caught up in looking at content and spent hours following links, reading articles and posts, and watching videos. The idea of social cataloging or folksonomy makes a lot of sense to me, because I have seen the frustration of students whose reference points didn’t match up with Sears. This has lead to some creative cataloging where I tried to put a summary or content statement that used the keywords that students would search for when doing assignments. The reason for limiting subject heading in the past was the need to standardize because time or space (think card catalog) requirements made it humanly impossible to record all possible subjects. The computer really opens up the possibilities. Why not have as many ways of getting to information as possible? The tag clouds are helpful because they show the many possibilities while bringing the ones more people found useful to your attention first. As a visual person, I appreciate this.

The SJLibrary’s del.icio.us page , was a treasure chest of information. The temptation is to try to read them all. If I were writing an article on Web 2.0, say for a parent news letter, this would be a good place to reference articles, because they are selected by library professionals. With students, a teacher could set up a link list of pages he or she has selected, or a link to a trusted del.ioci.us site. With technophobe teachers, the librarian could collaborate on setting up a list or encourage a whole department to work together on a page. The students would benefit by exposure to quality information online and also by the teachers working together.

I found that some of the sites listed were so interesting that I had to save them, so I opened an account. I am thinking about importing my old favorites list from Internet Explorer. One of the considerations is whether to copy all my links which include of my interests outside the library profession. I know that as librarians we can justify almost any subject matter, but it feels like too much self exposure to include my genealogy and other subject links to anyone who is just browsing from link to link.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Week 5, Thing 12

Rollyo is a handy to restrict searches to sites of your own selecting. After looking at several of the ready-made search rolls, I decided to make one for the students in our religion classes. The procedure was easy and the search roll is now on my blog site. (see right margin) It will need some refining, because my list of links is on my computer at school, but I have a start. Sharing the search roll with the teachers will provide an opportunity for collaboration.
I am not happy to see advertisements on the hit list, but students will encounter that on most search engines and the ads are at least clearly indicated by the color change.
I can see two ways that Rollyo could be useful for getting students away from going for their favorite search engine. First, the librarian or teacher could set up search rolls for appropriate sites based on teacher assignments and student age and ability. This should result in fewer, but more valuable hits. The second use would be to teach computer literacy to students by having them research sites to create their own search rolls. I haven’t gotten to wikis yet, but it seems like a class could collaborate to create a group search roll with students justifying their additions to a list. If they could convince the rest of the class, their choice would be added to the final search roll. Criteria for website evaluation would naturally be a part of the project.