Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thing 22 - Keeping up

I believe the tools exist that will make it possible for each of us to create personal learning experiences that will help keep us at the top of our game when it comes to using new technology.

Its exciting to have learned so much about so many different tools and to share that learning in a statewide community of learners. I feel like this is just a start -- and a good one! It will be fun to continue to explore, learn and use more tools.

Thing 21 -- other social networks

I have participated in NING and WebJunction for several years. WJ, I think, has been a great tool especially in the area of technology support, course, rural library sustainability, and for topical discussion. Mn-WJ is still developing, but perhaps it will come into its own in the next year or so.

I think these tools are a great way to connect with people of similar interests or concerns and for once, geography is not a dictator! I think WJ has been particularly useful in leveling the playing field and giving people every where the tools they need to do the jobs they do.

Thing 20 - My Space and Facebook

I have had accounts in both Myspace and Facebook for some years but rarely use them. One surprise for me was to find that my children's friends wanted to be friends -- and I was somewhat reluctant to accept their invitations! I thought there was just too much information that I really did not care about, and in some cases would prefer not to know. It all seemed pretty harmless, however, and I found it very interesting to see how the friendships rippled out across the world. That was nifty. A few Facebook friends are of interest to me, but I dont spend much time on either my page or anyone else's.

I do see how Facebook is being used by library staff as a way to make themselves available to students; and libraries that advertise their presence through Facebook and Myspace. Hennepin Co Library has done well in this area and it is interesting to see that kids, in particular teens, use the pages to create a community.

It will be interesting to see where these pages go in the next few years -- they seem to be evolving at an enormously fast rate and have gazillions of applications. I wonder if we might be surprised at what these turn into in the future and what unintended results crop up.

Thing 19 - Podcasts

Being an MPR addict, I discovered the joy of podcasts a few years ago when I wanted to listen to favorite shows I might have missed. I used iTunes to locate and subscribe to those podcasts and generally have downloaded them to my MP3 player to listen to as I walk or drive. Sometimes I listen to them when I knit or snooze on the couch.

I have made a series of inept podcasts using the OPAL webconferencing software. They have not been good, but it has given me the opportunity to know what needs to be fixed and some idea of how to fix it. I would like to use brief podcasts or vidcasts for training purposes and make them available on my website.

Thing 18 - You Tube

I love You Tube and Google Video for personal amusement and for a variety of professional reasons. So often, a quick video is just the greatest instructional tool when you want to convey a complex idea so folks will get the big picture -- why it is they might want to know this info.

In my personal life, I enjoy having access to video of things I would not otherwise have much knowledge of. I recently watched a long presentation by the author of Eat, Pray, Love. Having just read the book, I was curious about her and wanted to see what she looked like and what she had to say. It was a great experience.

I have embedded video in my other blogs.

Thing 17 - ELM Productivity Tools

I like the Ebsco webpage creator for making nice looking bibliographies. I am trying to convince my city council that some of our new sidewalks should be made from recycled tires -- rubber sidewalks. This tool was an easy way to share good info with members of the council. I don't think it changed any minds, but it did allow me to share quality information with my elected officials.

I have long been a fan of netLibrary and think it is a useful collection of books that is often overlooked. I think many of the tools available are fantastic. I have used it for a variety of personal and professional purposes over the years, but travel continues to be one very good use of netLibrary.

Thing 16 - Research Project Calculator

I have been familiar with this since it was first conceived of as an offshoot of the Assignment Calculator at the U of M. I think it is a deceivingly simple tool -- it is much more complex and robust than it first appears. The addition of teacher information adds to the richness of the site and provides some very useful tools for teaching Information Literacy.

I think these two tools will continue to develop and will be especially useful for kids moving from the RPC to the AC as they move from high school to higher ed.

Thing15 - Games

I chose 2nd Life out of curiosity about it. I was fascinated by it but felt like it was a huge commitment in terms of time, bandwidth, and complexity -- I created a cute avatar, learned to fly, visited some interesting sites and participated in an online event at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC -- but I didn't have much luck negotiating the various libraries or attending any library events. Also I didn't think it was really worth my time to invest any more energy in it at this point since gaming doesn't have much interest to me in general. Now if it was an opportunity to try out Wii -- that might be a different story. I think that type of gaming may well have a future in my life -- and for libraries.

Thing 14 - Library Thing

I have used Library Thing for a segment of my personal library. I love the ease of use, the full cataloging, seeing who else has the same books I do, and looking at other collections.

I am very taken with the use of Library Thing by libraries (e.g., new books, book clubs, etc) and am wondering if it might be an option for smaller church libraries.

I did see in a Library Thing discussion group that there were church libraries who reported success with it.

I think getting the book covers is really cool!

Thing 13 - Productivity tools

I have found my iGoogle page to be a great resource -- a place to collect all MY things from calendars to RSS feeds to file converters and weather reports. Since I find Google to be endlessly fascinating -- always another widget, another tool, another service -- I tend to spend too much time seeing what will work on my iGoogle page, my cell phone, and my webpage. Always something new to explore and to build on.

On a more serious level, iGoogle is a great personal learning experience platform. With the tabs it is possible to put feeds and other resources all in one place when you're working on learning something new or want to receive alerts about a particular topic.

I also like the way the banner reflects the time of day as the sun travels from left to right!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Thing 12 -- Digg

Digg can be pretty interesting and is especially interesting when one of your own posts is dugg! Unfortunately, I think I'm too easily distracted by looking at top stories -- especially political ones -- and forgetting what I'm doing.

I do think that it is interesting when my favorite bloggers are digging each other and major issues -- a quick way to get an idea of what's hot, what the buzz is.

Thing 11 - Tagging

I have found Del.icio.us to be about the most useful tool there is. I work on lots of different computers and have many different personal and professional projects going all the time. It is just great to be able to assign somewhat random -- or at least unrelated -- tags to a website and then find that website again later, no matter what computer I'm on.

I recently heard an author talk about writing a book and tracking all her sources, chapter by chapter, on Del.icio.us as she was doing the research. Great idea for anyone doing research and wondering how to keep track of so many possible resources on the web.

I also like the social aspect of this -- to see who else has tagged an item; what tags they used; what their del.icio.us account looks like.

I would like to know more about libraries that allow tagging in their catalogs -- that seems like a great idea since library subject terms are pretty rigid and very specific. I think del.icio.us would also be useful in college courses or high school classes where students/teachers could share resources.

Thing 10--Wikis

I thought it was interesting to see how the Princeton Library used a wiki for book reviews and then linked back to the Princeton catalog when you clicked on the title.

We used a wiki to plan 23 things on a stick and I thought it was a very useful way to keep track of various threads that were being worked on simulateneously by different people. It has since taken on a life of its own with this project and the comments from participants -- just like it is supposed to, but was not originally intended to do that. A very positive unintended consequence --as so often happens with these tools!

Thing 7 - Communication

I have found that the NLLN subscription to OPAL webconferencing software has been extremely useful for small meetings, for sharing documents, and for NLLN planning. The multitype directors use it regularly for meetings and planning in between face-to-face meetings.

I especially enjoy the OPAL website and the constant stream of programs available there in real-time and in the archives. Some amazing opportunities have come past that provided good learning experiences of personal and professional interest.

Chat - as in Google Chat -- is just the best for quick conversations with others. I like the fact that Google records and keeps a transcript of these conversations. I have used the group chat function to some extent, but it didn't prove to be quite as useful as I thought it would be. Though I use it at work for "on the fly meetings with colleagues, my favorite use is with my daughters who live in distant locations -- but are at work most days!

E-mail and wikis are also part of my tool box when it comes to planning and implementing NLLN programs.

I think this is a particularly useful "Thing" -- but it sure includes a lot of alternatives!