Stacked in Our Favor

Thoughts about libraries, education, children's literature, writing, art and being connected

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Week 5 Thing 10

I created this image using Although I have had a great deal of fun trying out the other image generators, I think I like this best. I used Ticker Factory to create the counter for our Dr. Seuss birthday celebration in March. This may be one of the tools I find myself using often.

I'll admit that I spent far too much time playing with the Lederhosen Dance Generator, the Nightingale Song Generator, and the R2D2 Translation Generator . There seems to be significant overlap in products. Like many other web related activities, these could really be time drainers. If I can make myself choose a background which is "good enough" rather than wondering if I can get one just a little bit better elsewhere, these products may be a real help to me. I think I will have to discipline myself to do just that.

Image generators which I thought would be really helpful include those which make posters, those which alter the image in some way to make it visually interesting (Sketch Generator, Photo Spread Effect Generator and Warhol Generator are some examples) and those which make cartoons. My mind is on overload thinking about all the ways that these tools could be used in our library. Posters to promote things we are learning, incentives for students (i.e. giveaways), ways to present the information gathered by students and writing prompts are some of the ideas which easily come to mind.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Week 4 Thing 9 - Finding School Library Blogs and RSS Feeds

Exploring the many resources for this "thing" was interesting as I had never used them. In that sense it broadened my horizons. I'm glad to have a broader palette of tools to use when I need them.

The resource I found most interesting (though least helpful) was Blog Pulse. I can see why this would be useful, but I don't have any immediate need to use it.

In the end, however, I feel I will continue to add RSS feeds and find blogs in the same old way. There are enough blogs through professional organizations to which I belong that I struggle to keep up with the extracts from those. Then there are always the blogs which are listed in those blogs. I don't really feel much need to search for blogs. It's more a matter of continually weeding the list of RSS feeds to which I subscribe to make it more manageable. I don't really feel that RSS will ever make it take less time to look through my subscriptions. It's like what they say about houses - the stuff expands to fill the space. Well, my feeds will expand to fill my time. What it will do is allow me to do is to get more information for the time I invest.

Having said that, some of my favorite RSS feeds/blogs are unshelved, Chris Harris's infomancy, School Library Journal, The Hornbook Magazine blog,The Shifted Librarian, and Library Journal. I also subscribe to a number of Jane Austen feeds. These, too, I have pared down.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Purple Glasses which started it all

Originally uploaded by purple.glasses

These are the glasses which started it all. You can see them paired with two of my favorite Jane Austen novels: Pride & Prejudice and Persuation.

This completes the task I started several posts earlier. It was so easy to post this from flickr. Why didn't I get it right away?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Week 4 Thing 8 - RSS Feeds and Google Reader

I started using RSS feeds after our conference in November. I determined that I would go home and immediately try some of the things I learned in workshops before I got distracted by other responsibilities. I chose to start with what I learned about RSS feeds from the workshop by Chris Harris. Mr. Harris is always a pleasure to listen to and I always feel I get more ideas to ponder per minute than I have any right to expect. His combination of humor and thoughtfulness make him my speaker of choice every time.

I already had i-google on my computer, but was far from utilizing it's capabilities. Adding Google Reader was really productive. It's taken me a while to find the balance between adding anything and being rather spartan about additions. At first I added a large number of professional feeds and then got caught up in feeds for my other interests. Before long I realized that much of my "hobby" related feeds were really not something I was going to be interested in. As I dropped those things started to become more managable.

RSS certainly saves time by bringing the information to me. There is no doubt in my mind that RSS provides me with more pertinent information than I would be able to absorb by searching myself. The fact is that I often will look at an article because it is right in front of my nose and it looks enticing. I hadn't planned on reading articles, catching up or looking for information, but if it is front and center it gets my attention. That, I think, is the beauty of RSS. Bringing information to the reader without effort, without time outlay and making it easier to keep up to date without much outlay of time or effort.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Week 3 Thing 7 - Random Technology comment

Maybe I'm stuck in a rut, but this course is really making me think about the time management skills required to use technology effeciently as well as effectively. It is all so interesting to me that I tend to get mesmorized by it.

I heard someone say the other day that old fashioned cameras were so much less work. You took a picture and developed it. You put the pictures in a box and that was it. Now you have to take them, upload them, choose which to print, print them, save them to another medium, share them online, crop them, rotate them, touch them up, etc., etc. Once all that is accomplished you have to delete them from your camera before you can take more. It is not a time saver. While I didn't agree completely with this opinion, there is something which resonates.

It reminds me of when scrapbooking made it's way into the craft scene. I was immediately attracted to it and at the same time I knew that starting was like playing with fire. Once you begin there are so many desires - photo albums, paper, special glue, special scissors, special punches, embellishments...the list is unending. Personally, I knew it was something I should run the other way from as I already had so many hobbies. The time, storage space, space in my brain and committment would have to vie with too many other things. So I have managed to escape without much more than a few cute hole punches and the occasional pretty piece of paper.

I am feeling much the same way now about technology. There are so many really fabulous applications which could be used to great advantage in the school library and personally. There will never be enough time to use them all well. Which will I choose? Which will I drop due to lack of the time/space continuum?

Technology which I especially want to use more or learn about:

podcasting (looking forward to week 9!)
wikis (week 7)
my new cell phone
mixing audio (I love Audacity)
recording audio

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Week 3 Thing 5 and Thing 6 - Flickr

I have had so much fun purusing flickr. There are so many possibilities for using flickr to enhance what we do in the school library. At our conference in November, I got a big dose of ideas for using flickr. Actually sitting down and doing it myself really brought home to me how much is out there in the etherscape waiting to be used and how little I ever have time to take advantage of. After we get through with the actual course I think I'll have to sign a contract with myself about using each technology in my school.

After hours of playing with flickr, I finally sat down to create a free account. I thought it would be fast and easy. After hours of getting familiar with what is available, how complicated could it be? Plenty complicated. It's not that I couldn't have done it the easy way, but I kept getting distracted. Finally, the new account was created, I chose the best of the mediocre photos I had taken last week and uploaded it. I can just hear the Staples commercial "That was easy." Then I tried to search for School Library learning2.0 to find my photo. While the photos which appeared in response to my search were inspirational (and so much nicer than the photo I submitted) I could not find my own photo this way. My photo is tagged and marked public, but, alas, it remains elusive. I'll try again tomorrow. Also, I couldn't figure out a way to make a link to this blog. So I will simply add the photo here. It is a photo of a story quilt we have hanging in our library.

The amount of time I spent on searching will be no surprise when you know that I had trouble passing by any of the mashups, special features, groups, extra. It is a whole new world for me and I felt like Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole.

I come away from this part of the course with two benefits. The first is a huge set of new tools and ideas for use in the library. The other is a new appreciation for what it means to be a young person today - the time involved in staying on top of things, for learning the things which make you stay current and in the loop, the enormity of learning it all, doing it all and making connections. I got lost in the geomap of noodles in Asia (highly recommended), I can't imagine how long I would have continued to search if other responsibilities had not called me away from my reverie. Wow!

What else did I think? I need to improve my photography skills. The vast numbers of breathtaking photos is really wonderful, but also somewhat oppresive for a beginner like myself.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Week 2 Thing 3 and 4

Create a Blog, Make an Avatar and Post it

This was a great exercise. Frankly, the most difficult thing about this was choosing a name for the blog. It's funny how it is not really the technology which makes creating web content difficult. It's more about the content. Mastering, or at least becoming familiar with the technology is actually much more finite than determining why do it in the first place.

Avatars are new to my experience. The experience was kind of addictive. Downloading it onto the blog was a mystery to me at first, so I was quite grateful for the information on the course site.

Week 1 Thing 2

7 1/2 Habits of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners

First, I have to admit that I was not able to access the attachments which accompanied this tutorial. Every time I clicked on one, it would start to come up and then disappear again. Finally I ran a double screen and typed the information I thought I would need into a Word document to work on it. I then created a Learning Contract Template for myself to use throughout this course and possibly into the future. The idea of signing a contract with myself regarding learning goals is a wonderful idea. It is likely to be an idea I continue to use in the future.

Easiest Skill:
Skill 4 Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner.
I don't tend to think much about whether I can do something or not. I just dive into anything I am interested in. The exception to the rule is anything to do with a saw, hammer or nails.

Hardest Skill:
Skill 1 Begin with the end in mind.
I'm pretty good at beginning, but I don't always have a practical application in mind. That being the case, it is pretty easy to get distracted by all the other things which vie for attention and not really get comfortable with a skill.

Week 1 Thing 1

Reading through the School Library 2.0 website was really inspiring. I am really looking forward to learning more about each of the skills which are detailed in the schedule for the next 9 weeks. I know I'll mention this later in Thing 2, but one of the things which made this so attractive is that someone else organized it and created a plan. Many of the skills/technologies are things I have heard about and even dabbled in, but I look forward to exploring them in a structured way, with the added advantage of shared experience.

I am really looking forward to this experience.