Stacked in Our Favor

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

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Week 8 - Thing 19 Library Thing

Like many librarians, I love to read. Pre-MLS, I bought any book I thought I would ever want to read and hung on to it as if for dear life. Somehow learning about the interconnectivity of libraries today, experiencing the richness of possibility available through Inter Library Loan and moving several times without the benefit of much more space changed things. My library record has soared and my idea of fun is going to another town and checking out books there as well. I can get all sorts of things without having to take responsibility for the storage of them. I do still buy books, but I am more apt to borrow them or give them away.

Having said all that, my experience with Library Thing is mixed. I can see the beauty of it, the wonder of having this tool available to individuals as well as libraries. The ease of use, the MARC records, the interactivity of it. I did sign up and post my books to the blog. However, I think I may prefer Goodreads because it gives you the option of indicating if you have read, want to read, own or borrowed the book in question. With Library Thing I get the feeling that it is about books I possess. I suppose I possess the soul of the book if I have read it, but most of what I read has no physical presence in my home. Please correct me if I have missed something. Perhaps this is a perception problem on my part.

I will enjoy thinking more fully on the sites available and making use of the ones I think best suit my need. Meanwhile, I am getting plenty of great books suggestions and having a blast.

Week 5 - Thing 10 Image Generators Post #2

Here's to image generators! I just made this image to use along with our Read Across America program. It will be used in our culminating slide show as well as to motivate students to read after the week off.

It may not be the most witty commentary found in cartoon bubbles, but I'm sure the students will love it.

I used Big Huge Labs to make this image.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Week 8 - Thing 18 Zoho Writer

The potential of Zoho Writer is incredible. The fact that it is free software which fills the place of other desktop applications is good enough to recommend it for further study. (Especially for those of us who are in contact with patrons who have limited financial resources.) The thing which really recommends Zoho Writer to me, personally, is it's collaborative capability. The ability to start a document and be able to have others work on it is beautiful. The free platform for holding meetings online is a great resource.

In the library I can imagine that we might use it to have mini-meetings more often at the end of the day from the comfort of our own libraries. (No more searching for a parking spot, right Wanda Luv?) Our students might use it to work collaboratively on a research project, even when one of them is grounded. Of course, these tools would not work for my have to be 13 or older. While some of you have patrons old enough, there is still the issue of filtering.... Personally, I can immediately see the value of it for getting family members to hash out family gathering meal plans all at once, rather than the telephone tag which sometimes happens. The possibilities are endless.

I used the templates to create a certificate of membership in the Purple Glasses Club. It was a fun, though delightfully pointless, thing to try. Neccesity will provide for more relevant projects, but sometimes it's just fun to create. It is interesting to note that posting it to the blog did elongate the certificate which gave it a somewhat warped appearance. No matter, the original looks fine.

Purple Glasses Club

Membership Certificate

This certifies that

is a member of

The Purple Glasses Club

in good standing since

January 2008

with all rights and privileges pertaining thereof.

Set down and signed this 20th day of February 2008

__________________________________ _______________________________
President Secretary

Monday, February 18, 2008

Week 7 - Thing 17 Sandbox

I went to the sandbox and posted a comment about changes I have made to my program since learning about all these 2.0 tools. It was the first post to that category. It is so easy to post to a wiki. WandaLuv has told about the wiki I made after our conference, but she was rather nice to mention that we all added our notes. I have yet to finish adding mine. It was so time consuming to input the skeleton for the wiki (I choose a complicated format) and then something else came up. Next thing I knew we were taking this class. I still have hopes of finishing that wiki (just found the password last Friday) and starting the standards reference wiki for school librarians at the K-6 level in Massachusetts. They are next on my list. Wikis are something which I believe I will continue to use often.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Week 7 - Thing 16 Wikis

It's pretty easy to imagine hundreds of uses for wikis. I can imagine being involved with wikis as 1. the person who assigns them for student editing 2. a tool for librarians in a district to work on district policies, documents, planning, etc. 3. tools for teachers to work in groups 4. a tool for going beyond parent communication to parent participation in the library's web presence. The provided links were thought provoking.

For some time I have wanted to start a wiki for elementary school librarians in Massachusetts to align print materials, web resources and lessons with standards. After I finish this class I am determined to start one and post it to this blog so that anyone may add to it. I think it would be profitable to all of us teaching any combination of these grades to pool our experiences in this way. I will post a link when I have it up and running.

Of the many things we have explored in this course, wikis may be one of the most useful to me. Along with determining to create one to my own specifications, I am also more aware that there may be some really good resources to search for information.

Week 6 Thing 15 - Future of Libraries

Having read all the articles listed, I must admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed. While I agree with others that Away from Iceburgs was quite thought provoking, the article which made the greatest impact on me was To a temporary place in time. Library 4.0??!! I'm still struggling with Library 2.0. I thought I was on the way to being relatively current. I didn't think about keeping up with the latest and greatest of technologies when I applied for graduate school and proclaimed libraries to be my life work. It came as rather a surprise as did the fact that I actually liked the challenge. The difficulty which nags at me is the ability for us to continue to adapt ourselves to current trends. Being relatively new to the field, I still find it stimulating and exciting. I wonder how that will be as the years go by and I have ridden wave after wave of innovation.

The other huge question which remains on my mind is the seemingly insurmountable gulf which separates the populations which are being discussed in these articles (a society which is web-saavy, connected and information literate) and the patrons that still make up significant part of school libraries (unconnected, impoverished, web-newbies or non-participants). Several years ago I read an article which quoted the percentage of school libraries which have yet to automate as being higher than 50%. If I remember correctly, it was significantly higher. If this be the case, we are not ready for the web-saavy, but our patrons may not be ready for more either. I have had the experience of being told not to use the latest innovations on the school website, rather I should use the simplest interfaces possible in order to reach the greatest numbers of families. There is a kind of sense to this which comes at the problem from a different direction and no less valid.

My conclusion:

Web 2.0 holds the possibility of unbelievable wealth of connectivity. Concurrently, web 2.o will be one of the greatest causes of widening the digital divide. The ability to keep up with the changes will be too great for the average person and nearly impossible for the person who does not own their own computer. Think of all those people who line up at the public library to wait for a turn to check their email. Where will they be when web 2.0 becomes the rule of the workplace rather than the innovation?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Week 6 Thing 14 - Tag! You're IT!

Exploring Technorati was a good thing to do. Good to know about the services and what it is capable. However, I restrained myself from signing up for yet another password and tagging my blog. Why? Well, at week 6 in this adventure I find that I have plenty of new toys to get used to using, thinking about and incorporating into my lifestyle. I'm not sure if I will continue my blog after this class is over or whether I will change to a different medium. Does this blog need to be found or is it really only relevant for those of us on this 9 week adventure? Will any of us continue these blogs? Develop other blogs? Continue to read these blogs? These are things I'm thinking about before I tag. Still, it's good to know about the capabilities should I want to tag in the future.

Tagging is in interesting concept - one which has really amazing potential to make things clearer, easier and more transparent and also has the power to confuse, hypnotise and trick us into thinking we are better at finding information than we really are. In I felt it gave me more power to make my favorites useful and saved me time in the doing. In technorati I felt I got a great number of useless hits. Trying both sites makes one think about whether all this self-centered tagging really lulls people into thinking that they are finding good information, true information and useful hits. Does this transfer to research and make us lazy and undisciplined? I can't believe I even asked the question. So the thing I am pondering is where can we draw the line between time saving, self determination and creativity and reliability, truth and fact. Interesting things to ponder in an election year on a night when it is snowing on and off.

So I feel as though I'm running all over the internet trying to tag pieces of information and make them my least on loan. Tag! You're IT!

Week 6 Thing 13 -

Delicious, delectable and treat for the senses...ah, but I get carried away. I have set up a account and though I've added just a fraction of my bookmarks it has changed the way I think about bookmarking. I love the fact that I can search my bookmarks, easily give multiple tags and don't have to sweat it too much. The fact that I so often don't even have to think of my own tags as suggestions pop up makes this really user friendly and cuts down on the time I will spend overthinking it. That could be bad in terms of quality control, but the way I see it, it can only help if it helps me to do an extra step without taking much added time.

One of the things which is interesting about is that it can serve as a search tool as well as a bookmarking tool. I have yet to look at the actual bookmarks of others, but I'm thinking that if I connected to the accounts of my library friends (that's all of you out there) I would be able to garner excellent resources without the time involved in searching myself.

I have added a badge to my blog, so peak at my bookmarks if you are interested.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Week 5 Thing 12 - Rollyo

The power of this tool is really an amazing boon to librarians and teachers. The ability to search preselected sources takes resource lists to a whole new level. The mind reels thinking about the possibilities. It makes one want to spend hours selecting sources for an array of topics to see how well it would work.

I thought my biggest dilemma in creating this search tool was deciding what topic to use. I love world geography, especially the Unesco World Heritage site, so world geography was it. It may not be the most useful search tool at the moment as it wasn't built in response to an actual project, but it is a test. Just a test. If it were a real search tool....

However, like others who have gone before me, inserting the search tool into this blog has proved to be much more tricky than anticipated. WandaLuv mentioned that the html isn't what it should be. I fiddled with the html for a while trying to get it right, but it is beyond my scope at the moment. Guess I'll have to break out my notes from the html course I took a few years ago, but haven't used much, and get to the root of the problem. Until then, I am impressed with the tool, but imagine that Rollyo's growth will be limited by the difficulty in making it work.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Week 5 Thing 11 - Web 2.0 Awards List

SEOmoz's Web 2.0 Awards site was interesting. I chose to look at a site from the "Philanthropy" heading. I choose to look at Be Green Now as it was the one which seemed most interesting to me. The idea that I could track my "carbon footprint" and then learn ways to offset my hazardous behavior seemed great. I was disappointed with the site as it seemed a little too simplistic, didn't seem individualized enough to be meaningful to me and the suggestions for off-setting my 20th century un-green activities seemed to boil down to "plant a tree" or "pay us to take care of it for you." I suppose that having them invest in wind, wave and solar power is a really powerful thing, but it felt like advertising. While I haven't planted a tree yet, my mind has been jogged to water my basil plant.

So I tried something else. I tried out both Library Thing and Reader2 (honorable mention) and Good Reads (recommended by someone in this class). All of them are variations on the theme of social networking about books. I liked them all and am now having the difficult decision about which one to really focus on. With all of the stuff that is out there, it is hard to think that I would actually do all three. It is easy to see the potential for using these tools in a library setting. What a great way for people to react to the books they have read and also to recommendations. One very intriguing post was the list of a 4th grader and the supportive comments she was receiving about her reading adventure.

Looking at Ning! was interesting, but I couldn't really figure out what to do with it. None of the groups had things going on which grabbed my attention. Maybe I've missed the whole point of the thing. It will be interesting to see what others post about it and see if some of the ideas make me view it in a different way. Any future thoughts about Ning will be posted separately.

The Travel IQ game was fun. Wish I could say I got to level 12, but in all honesty level 8 was the last finished. Funny, today students were really interested in the world map and got me sidetracked for a while discussing different parts of the world. This game would be a natural choice for student fun and learning. It did seem to be a quiz which you could get better at by paying attention to the mistakes made along the way. At least you could get in the right country, if not the region.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Random Technology Comment #3

Ok, so despite the fact that it was a crazy week, I did manage to read a couple of books this week. Don't even ask me how I fit that in. One of the books I wanted to share as it seems to go so well with thinking about web 2.0.

The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez by Judy Goldschmidt. The font size and the page spacing help make this an enjoyable, quick read. 12-year-old Raisin moves to Philadelphia from Berkeley, CA. She keeps a blog to keep her 2 best friends in Berkeley current on the ups and downs of her life. Naturally, chaos ensues. Won't tell you more - you'll want to read it yourself. Personally, I was a little confused about what grade level I would recommend this for. I'd love to know what other people think.

It made me think that it would be great to compile a list of fiction books which deal with technology and ethics, internet safety and technology in life for our digital natives. They may adapt quickly, but they still need so much time to think about the issues. Intellectual property and safety are the issues I'm most concerned our students are exposed to. Anyone have any suggestions. I'll post the list if there are enough comments.

Random Technology Comment #2

I've had a crazy week at work getting ready for Read Across America. When I did sit down at the end of the day, I found I was so busy catching up on everyone's blogs that I didn't too far ahead. Finally, I decided to take the good advice of others and add everyone's feeds to my reader. Well, who knew that would take so much time? Then I had to start reading the blogs all over again. I'm hoping it will save me time and allow me to continue to see everyone's posts. The one thing I worry about is that by getting just the most recent post I am not making the same kinds of connections. By going back to the original page I connect the posts to get an overall feeling about the person who posted them. I begin to see patterns. I start to get a sense of who each individual person is and what they value. By using feeds, the posts stand alone and unconnected. I may be able to keep up with the posts more effeciently, but I doubt they will do as much to build a community of us in Massachusetts who will then identify the blog with the person when we meet at MSLA events. Perhaps there is another forum for that, perhaps I could be more proactive about preventing that by clicking to the link and making the connections each time I see a new link. At least I would only be checking blogs which actually have been updated that way. It puts the responsibility back on me to make the connections. I find this thought provoking.