Tuesday, April 29, 2008

#19 week 8... Library Thing.

I had had a Library Thing account for a while. As was the case with many of these 2.0 applications, I had created an account but hadn't explored the many features. Thanks to the 23 things group for outlining different ways to noodle around. It has been helpful.

That being said, I looked at the review features, the popularity of the title, and a few other things. I think most helpful for me are the suggested reading lists generated by Library Thing. Because I am always looking for new ways to develop our collections and forever making wish-lists, this feature is especially helpful. I would love to make my catalog more accessible and user-friendly.

#18 week 8... as posted from Zoho Writer!

One of the problems our students have is document compatibility. They create documents at home in some program other than Microsoft Word and get to school only to find that all their hard work turns into symbols, bleeps and bloops. These online word processing programs could go a long way to solve this problem. They also provide an equitable solution to some digital divide issues. Can't afford to buy Word? Then you can use Zoho or Google Docs. One thing that I discovered last week is that one can create a document in Google Docs and save it (download it) in a .doc format. This is pretty amazing. I discovered it as a friend of mine wanted to create a resume and was concerned about file compatibility since she didn't have Word. We noodled with it and made it work. It was a pretty revelatory experience (for one who deals with compatibility issues and teenagers on an almost daily basis). I haven't explored Zoho yet to determine whether or not a similar feature exists or not. We'll see.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

#17 week 7... curriculum connections wiki.

Well, no longer can I really complain about the lack of ideas about how to use the 2.0 applications. They are here in the calcurriculum wiki. There are some great ideas. Just reading them gets my brain going and thinking about what we could do and how things could work at our school. The thing that gets in our way is time and willingness to try new things, but that's a different story all together. It's great to have a place to share the ideas. I just looked at the photo editing site, Dumpr... creating coloring sheets/ sketches from photos... how fun!

#16 week 7.... wiki, wiki, wiki...

The variety of wikis are pretty amazing. I really like how some of the libraries on the list are using their wikis for pathfinders and book reviews. I appreciate that wikis are free (for teachers) and also accessible for lots of people. Nothing like information access. And wikis take things to the next level. Not only are they accessible, but they are edit-able. It is great to encourage participation from the community. Another positive feature of wikis is that that they can be whatever you want them to be. And they are flexible in terms of content. You can post pictures, documents, links, etc.

In my school community, the Physiology teacher is using a wiki for collaborative note-taking. I have brainstormed with teachers about how they can use wiki technology in the classroom. So far, no one has jumped on the band wagon. Although for the library group I belong to Bay Area Independent School Libraries (BAISL), we are using a wiki to collaboratively edit position papers that we publish. I could see school libraries using a wiki to post procedures of how to access databases or the catalog. It would be great to have a whole "how-to in the HNHS library" where students could go when they had a question.

Friday, April 11, 2008

#14 week 6... Technorati

Help, help...! I am feeling the information overload. I know I am partially doing it to myself by trying to cram all this SLL 2.0 stuff in by May 1st, but... There is just so much information out there! Technorati tries to organize it and I guess it does a decent job, but golly-gee, there's a crap-load of words and opinions and links and blogs and videos and... 298 blogs featuring the words "school library". 125 posts tagged with "school library". At least one of those posts is about doing unsavory things in the school library. Woohoo!

#15 week 6... the 2.0 debate.

#1... Thanks to the giant pictures accompanying each article, I happened to notice that all of the contributers except one were white men. This is in stark contrast to the populations I serve. It is interesting to think about demographics of information technology... who invents the technologies, promotes them, and profits from them AND who is using them.

#2... If we ARE going to champion 2.0, how can we use existing 2.0 technologies to increase access and to educate? I think some folks are thinking about this, Jessamyn West for one. Jessamyn is a proponent of social networking and libraries for sure.

#3... One of the other issues for me with Library 2.0 is outlined below in a quote from
Michael Stephens' article from the OCLC.

"Librarian 2.0 controls technolust
This librarian does not buy technology for the sake of technology. “Techno-worship” does not exist here. Without a firm foundation in the mission and goals of the institution, new technologies are not implemented for the sake of coolness and status. Technology is put to the test: Does it meet the users need in a new or improved way? Does it create a useful service for putting users together with the information and experience they seek?"

I am not sure in our application of 2.0 technology that we are always asking these important questions. I know I have struggled with this in my library.

#4... Related to all of the above issues, in our schools as librarians, how are we using these things right now? I struggle with a staff that is partially technophobic (some folks) and incredibly busy (read as: also not interested in changing their curriculum to incorporate 2.0). These issues are understandable, but from my perspective unacceptable. Administration is supportive of a push to increase use of technology in the classroom, but it all takes time to implement. And in the case of the techno-phobes and other folks that are willing but perhaps not as tech-savvy, it takes time. For me, I click-ity click and I am there. I have created my profile on twitter, I have created a Ning for the library, but for others, there is a much more severe learning curve. It is easy to forget that and become impatient.

#5... Implications and other things to consider... already in my experience with attempting to incorporate 2.0 stuff into my library, I have run into problems with privacy. My Ning site is completely private thanks to the math teacher who pointed out that strangers, even when they could just see the main page of the site, had access to students' names and the location of the school. Oops, I didn't think about that. Despite my ability to jive with these applications, there are many, many factors that I haven't thought about yet. Hence, it is incredibly useful to have community discussions about it. Whether that is within the library community or the school community or both.

I reckon that this post has turned into a not so organized rambling mess, but there is a lot to think about as I (we) learn about this stuff. I think I might have contradicted myself even, but that's ok with me. I think the other main point is that it's hard. I struggle and the more discussions and sharing I have with other librarians that are doing the same, the better.

P.S. I have a myspace, a Ning, a blog, and a Twitter account for my library... no one looks at any of them or reads any of it.... That perhaps is my fault for not marketing it well enough or using these tools the few times I do actually get my hands on some direct instruction time. But also the students just don't really care about the school library. There are so many other, more interesting things (to them) that compete for their time and energy. These applications don't serve the needs of my students or my school community right now. That is frustrating but true.

Off topic: Plagiarism and Lupe Fiasco

For any of you (I suspect all of you) who deal with plagiarism in your lives, here is an incredible post from an education blogger. She tells a story that is not uncommon in my experience and probably yours too about a poem plagiarized from a popular song. See the posting here.

It makes me think. How often do we see that popular culture has an incredibly powerful effect on our students? All the time. It speaks to kids in a way that we don't and probably can't. It captures something of their experience that we don't get. How do we or how can we harness that power to use in conjunction with educating... whether about plagiarism or otherwise?

So, I guess I am asking... how do YOU use pop culture to educate, to inspire, and/or to reach the previously unreachable student?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Off topic: Animoto

Animoto is very cool, you can produce your own 30 second videos set to music by simply uploading photos. The 30 second videos are free, but there is also an option for full-length videos if you pay the big bucks ($3 per video or $30 for an unlimited year of video making). There are a couple of down sides... you can't edit your video once it's made without starting the process over again and waiting for the photos to upload (although an edit feature may be available with the paid service)... the video production and effects are not controllable so you have to kind of guess which photo will looks best at a certain point in the video sequence.... also, it can take a while for the video to get made (probably less time if your photo file sizes are smaller... I didn't bother to change mine the first time). That is what I know about it!

#13 week 6... del.icio.us and such.

I have a personal del.icio.us site. I have a professional one for work. My personal one is such a mess that I would like to start over. It is really hard to organize bookmarks well without simply having lists of lists. I am not sure that this idea of tagging works particularly well to sift out unnecessary stuff either. One has to be decent at tagging for it to really be effective. and perhaps even to have designed a system beforehand. I should look at other folks' sites to see how effective their set-up is.

For me, I initially created my personal account so I could save bookmarks from several places... home, work, work computers #1, #2, and #3, etc... Since then, two-ish years ago, I haven't really used it again. In my professional account, I have kept things pretty simple. There are only links to pathfinders I have made and a couple sites that I just found through the SLL site. I am working on how to keep it organized. I really think it takes a lot of practice to get good at the organization and until I get good , the KISS (keep it simple stupid) solution is the best.

Again, a plea... What are you doing with del.icio.us in your school library? How do you use it with teachers and students? Also, in the list of links to Discovery Resources, it would be helpful to see some links to school library del.icio.us sites! I linked mine above.

#12 week 5... Roll-yo

It was more helpful to me to go check out what other folks said about Roll-yo. I noodled around with it for a little while, but it seemed to be another piece of the 2.0 puzzle that created more work for us librarians. It does seem like an effective way to create very specific ways to search for specific things. Additionally, it could be an organizational feature for library-recommended sites in general. But how does this differ from delicious? I know it's a different way to organize, but I am not sure if it would be redundant with all these other wonderful applications. I guess one just has to decide which works better for the community.