Monday, April 11, 2011

Beyond--Method #12 Last dance: reflection and evaluation

Well, typical of the way things have gone for me during the time I have taken this class, I had literally clicked the Publish button when my server went down and I lost the whole post. So here goes try #2. This time I’m typing it in Word and I’ll copy and paste it when I’ve finished. I think that’s called experience.

In spite of all of my technology issues (server issues at school, inability to access my library catalog from home, having to get a new computer in the middle of the process, etc.), I did enjoy this class. There was a lot of information presented. Some of it was brand new to me, some I have had some limited experience with, and some I am very familiar with.

My favorite new discoveries are Sliderocket, ScreenJelly and MixBooks. I can see so many uses for them, at school and at home. Fun to use in my own presentations and to teach staff and students to use them as well.

One outcome of this class that I didn’t expect and I doubt that you planned for is that it made me think about some of my students who have no access to technology except at school. The little tech issues that I had were so frustrating, but at least I knew that I had some options. What must it be like for those students who have nothing? I hope that I will remember and be more sympathetic and understanding when they are ready to just give up.

This class is organized very well. You have provided a lot of information (I can hardly imagine the hours and hours you’ve spent) in a format that is easy to understand and to follow. I like the fact that the Discovery Exercises are very specific in what is expected. There is so much to learn. I hope this site will be available for a while so that I can go back and reread parts that I may have missed the first time through. I have done that with the Dozen Ways to Two-Step.

In conclusion, thank you for the time and effort you have put into this course. I am definitely interested in taking any future classes that are offered by TSLAC.

Time spent on Method #12--approximately 2.5 hours.

Total time spent on Beyond Two-Steppin'--approximately 25.5 hours.

Beyond--Method #11 Survey says!

I have taken many online surveys, but never created one before. I liked reading about all of the different kinds that are available. I think that PollEverywhere would be a useful tool. I like the idea of the Jeopardy-style questions during library orientations. It would probably help keep the students engaged. I'm glad there is an option that doesn't require cell phones since our students are not supposed to use them during school hours.

Online surveys could help decide what programs a library would offer, what books and materials patrons would like to see in the collection, what patrons think about the library, etc. They seem like they would be very easy to use and very beneficial.

Just for fun, I created a survey using SurveyMonkey. Enjoy!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Time spent on Method #11--approximately 2 hours

Beyond--Method #10 Meet you online

I have to admit that when I saw the title for this section, I was thinking about dating sites. Wrong kind of meeting.

My library does not currently use any online conferencing or meeting tools. I think that it would be interesting to use Skype an Author. In this time of budget cuts, I doubt that my school would be willing to spend money to have an author actually come to campus, but virtual visits might be possible. I can see where videoconferencing might be useful for students who are homebound or away from campus on school trips. Possibly a webinar could be set up to inform parents about the use of our databases and other resources.

I have attended some webinars and online meetings. For the most part, they are effective. The only problems that I have noticed are those that are caused when the technology doesn't work as it is supposed to. I remember one conference where we had to have the presenter on a speaker phone because his voice would not project over the computer speakers. It's always good to have a backup plan.

Another time that I use online meeting programs is when I have to ask my tech support people to fix my computer. At some times I give them control of my computer and it is really strange to sit there and watch as things just seem to move around the screen all by themselves.

One tool that I do have in my library that has some of the features of web conferencing is SMART Sync. It allows the teacher to see student's computer screens, send messages or files to them, even control individual computers if needed. There are a lot of features that allow for interaction between teacher and students and between groups of students.

I was happy to see the list of archived TSLAC webinars. I plan to spend some time looking through those and finding a few that I would like to register for. I'm sure there are a lot that will be useful.

Time spent on Method #10--approximately 1.5 hours

Beyond--Method #9 Tell a (digital) story

This step was a little more enjoyable for me than the last one. Not as much frustration. I decided to use MixBook to create a digital photo album. I used some of the tools available, but not nearly all of them. I can see students using this or a similar site to create unique reports and presentations.

A link to my MixBook

Wouldn't it be fun to create digital storybooks for (or better yet with) young students?

Time spent on Method #9--approximately 2.5 hours

Beyond--Method #8 Capture your computer screen

This section has been frustrating for me, which is ironic because this is something that I could use right now to create login instructions to leave for substitutes who come into the library. I don't know if the problem is with the sites themselves or (more likely) with my network, but several of the sites have caused Internet Explorer to close everytime I try to use them. With some of the others, I get a message that IE cannot open the page.
I will try them again later on a different computer, but the problem is that the information I would like to record is only available on the intranet at my school. Ah me, the joys of technology.

Having said that, I will also say that I can see many potential uses for these screencasts. I like the suggestion of creating individual ones to help patrons remember all the steps in answering a reference question. Screencasts could help students and staff remember how to access library resources, how to search the library catalog, or just about any other process that involves using a computer.

OK, I tried this again at home with a little more success, so it must have been a network problem at school. I used ScreenJelly, which was very easy to do. I made a short video aboout one of the databases that we use at school. I would love to figure out a way to use ScreenJelly at school. Maybe my technologist can help me.

Here's my little effort.

Time spent on Method #8--approximately 4 hours.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Beyond--Method # 7 Next Gen Presentations

I enjoyed looking at these presentation options. I had done some work with Prezi and GoogleDocs, but not any of the others. Remember when PowerPoint was the newest, best thing ever? Not any more. There are a lot of options that are really interesting.

I decided to explore Sliderocket in a little more depth than the others. I imported a PowerPoint that I created last year and just played around with some of the available edits. I know that there is a lot more that I could have done, but I didn't have a lot of time to experiment. Nice to know it's available, though.

Here's what I created. It's a presentation that I gave last year to my district librarians about Dulcinea Media.

Another presentation tool that was not listed in this section that I have used is Glogster. I like it because everything is on one slide that can be made very visually appealing. The slide can be customized with links, photos, videos, clip art, etc. Here is the presentation I created for my library orientation.

It is fun to play (in the purposeful sense) with these tools, but I think it important to remember that content is still the most important aspect. I think that some of these presentations have so much "stuff" on them that viewers could be distracted from the message. It's also important to remember that technology tends to fail at the most inconvenient times, so a backup plan would be essential.

Most of these tools have tutorials that would make it possible for me to help a student or staff member create a presentation, even if I had not used that particular tool myself.
Time spent on Method #7--approximately 2.5 hours.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Beyond--Method #6 eBooks and eReaders and libraries, oh my!

This is an interesting section for several reasons. First, there have been some recent discussions about ebooks and ereaders on the TLC library listserv. Also, the librarians in my district spent some time at a recent meeting discussing the benefits and drawbacks of using ereaders in the library. And third, after resisting for a long time, I got a dedicated ereader (ColorNook) for Christmas. Wasn't sure I would like it, and now I can hardly bear to be without it. Now I think everybody should have one!

Project Gutenberg is another one of those services that I knew about, but had never spent a lot of time on. It is truly amazing how much material is available. I located an old favorite, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I opened the HTML version and found it very easy to read. It even had beautiful illustrations.

I have not tried to download any titles yet, but this page of instructions should be very useful. Imagine having access of tens of thousands of free books! Could life get any better? In this time of serious budget constraints, I think that librarians and library patrons will find Project Gutenberg very rewarding.

As I said earlier, I have become very attached to my Nook. Several friends have given me "real" books to read, but I have a hard time putting down my Nook. Once when I was reading a print book, I kept tapping the right side of the book trying to get the page to turn. On the other hand,when I was reading my Nook one day my husband asked me what I was reading and I started to hold it up to show him the cover.

I think that ebooks and ereaders will become increasingly common in libraries. For better or worse, librarians will have to adjust and adapt to yet another new technological advance.

Re: 5 Ways that eBooks are better than paper books: Another advantage is being able to read without turning on a lamp or overhead light. On the other hand, one can read a paper book even when there is no access to electricity (like I did yesterday when the power was out for an hour or so.)

Time spent on Method #6--approximately 1.5 hours.