Monday, July 27, 2009

Thing 23: Reflection

I thoroughly enjoyed taking the North Texas 23 Things course and would highly recommend it to everyone. I think that it definitely took me out of my comfort zone and led to me explore many aspects of web technologies that I would never have discovered on my own. My favorite Thing is Facebook, both for socializing and networking. Until this course, I had been asked by my children and friends to sign up, but just had never bothered to learn about it. I set up my own Facebook page, and now login every day to check in. The principal at my school often posts information there before emails go out. I have had fun with friends, relatives, and colleagues on Facebook. My least favorite Thing was probably Twitter. I guess I just don't see the point, and no one I know really uses it. I much prefer Facebook. I'm glad I now know what it's about, though. The most challenging Thing was the Blog Readers. I had difficulty setting up the folders and finding information that was relevant to me.

By taking this course, I learned that there is a lot I still need to learn! The information that is available to us is incredible and must be managed. It is our responsibility as librarians to stay on top of new technologies to help our patrons learn how to best navigate all the information. I will use Wikis and Delicious to share information, as well as Facebook. I will also use YouTube for book trailers, especially once TeacherTube is up and running. I would like to use Flickr Mashups and Image Generators in presentations and find ways for students to use them. I know that many sites are blocked at school through the filters, so I will have to experiment and see which ones I can utilize with my students. I am amazed at the possibilities that are available to use today, and am so glad that I had the opportunity to explore this summer!

Thing 22: Developing Your Own 23 Things for Your Library

Although the entire staff at my elementary school did not participate in the 23 Things, several of the librarians in my district got together and decided to take the course this summer. Our plan is to get together this fall and use the ideas that we've learned to create a staff development workshop that we will present at one of our in-service days. I would definitely recommend this course to both teachers and other librarians in the district - in fact, I think anyone at all would benefit from this type of course. One of the librarians in my district made a good point, and that is that at the elementary level, perhaps we should concentrate on training the staff on Web 2.0 technologies rather than focusing on the students. Many of our students do not have access to computers at home, and using some of the technologies to enhance learning and research would be a wonderful use of this course.

I think that we could teach staff how to use tools such as RSS feeds, Ning, and Flickr to search for information and ideas that they can use in their teaching. We have already started a Wiki to share library information, and hopefully we can fully utilize it in the fall. Right now, we just introduced the idea. Facebook is wonderful for networking and sharing ideas. As far as presentations to students, I would like to use book trailers from YouTube and experiment with Flickr Mashups and Image Generators. I think that we can pool our ideas and create a training workshop to share all the exciting new ideas we have learned.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thing 21: Podcasts

My husband and son are constantly dowloading new podcasts, but I haven't experimented with them yet. My favorite podcast was Booktalks Quick and Simple by Nancy Keane. I listened to podcasts on Gary Paulsen's Lawn Boy and Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. The audio quality was excellent, and there was music included as well. I found that this podcast was useful and definitely interesting enough to subscribe to. It covered booktalks on a variety of books and new titles are constantly being added. I also listened to an elementary podcast by first graders from the MCDS Huckleberry Room reading stories that they had written. This was cute, and the audio quality was actually good. I didn't find this podcast interesting enough to subscribe to. I found that several of the podcasts were no longer available. Another podcast I listened to was the City of Los Angeles Teen Podcast. It was put on by teens and included book and movie reviews. The audio quality on this one wasn't as good and some of the teens talked too softly. I wouldn't subscribe to this one either. These would be great if someone you knew was participating in the podcast.

I am an elementary librarian and, although I don't think that podcasts would be extremely useful to my patrons, there are some applications. I noticed that under the school section of podcasts, only middle and high school libraries were listed. I can see it being used for booktalks or stories, especially for students who are hearing impaired. Students could also produce their own podcasts of book reviews or stories. Many of my students do not have access to a computer, so I don't think they currently have much experience with podcasts. It would be a learning experience for me as well as them.

Thing 20: YouTube

I have used YouTube many times before, and just recently read in a library blog about putting book trailers on it to be shared by librarians. I did a search using the various library terms and found that there is a wide variety of videos, both in subject matter and in quality. The videos were for the most part were being used for marketing purposes to advertise an event or library or for instructional purposes.

I noticed that many of the same videos appeared using different search terms. I found a K-12 Database video for Region 20 that was very useful for explaining the services available on the databases. The tag line was "Imagine a Library As Big As Texas," which I thought was very effective. The video ended by instructing viewers to ask their school librarians how to use the databases and it provided an Internet address. There was a Texas Reading Club video by the City of Round Rock that was very well done. It was promoting the summer reading program and used puppets and children as actors. There was also a School Library Media Centers Rock video with a collage of pictures and good music. I also watched a review of the Kindle.

Searching under Events led me to a story hour reading by students and a video of celebrities such as Bette Midler and Barbara Walters talking about the importance of libraries in their lives. I searched under Book Trailers and found a wide variety of quality. There was a trailer for The Recess Queen that was very poor, and one on Found by Magaret Peterson Haddix that was well done. I think videos could be used by librarians for library instructional videos, and definitely for book talks. It would be wonderful to share these and have them available. Libraries should be marketed just like any other service, and YouTube is now an advertising venue.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thing 19: Google Docs

I have never used Google Docs before, nor have I ever even heard of it. I just automatically resort to using the software on my computer to create presentations and spreadsheets. I logged in and created a document to share. It is very similar to Word in all of the fonts and settings. I tried to share it with another email address I have, but I received a message that to prevent email scammers, I could only share the link. I was able to email myself the link in order to log on and edit the document. I'm not sure if that was just because I am on a different computer than I usually use. I do like being able to save documents easily in different formats, and I also like the ease of having so many templates and examples readily available. This is different than my usual software, as is the ability to readily share. I am still nervous about saving applications in only one place, so would also save the documents to my hard drive as well as online.

Reading the Google Docs blog was interesting and gives me some great ideas to play with. Today's entry was on using the documents to organize a trip involving people all around the world. I can see this also being used to organize a reunion or other event. Many of the blog entries were geared for developers, but I did get some good tips for creating a presentation. I usually just use PowerPoint, but I can see collaborating among librarians in the district to save time. We wouldn't have to create our own presentations and email them back and forth. There were also some suggestions for using the budgeting applications. I will suggest this at our next librarian's meeting and since we are all taking the 23 Things course, we should all have practice. I hope it works!

Thing 18: Wikis

I have used Wikipedia many times before, and have been warned by college professors not to use it as a reference source in a paper unless it is linked to a cited source. We give the same warning to students - that is is safest to use it as a springboard. I looked up the San Antonio River Walk because we are visiting my in-laws and were thinking about going down there. It was interesting that there is a warning on the first page before the article that the entire article does not contain any cited sources and therefore might not be totally reliable. It encourages the reader to add any reliable, cited sources possible. I do not know enough about the history of the river to decide whether or not the information presented is correct. On the discussion tab, the only comment was that the river walk is commonly misrepresented as one word "riverwalk" rather than the correct usage as two words "river walk." On the history tab, there are additions by high school groups and Neil Sperry about the history and foliage. There is quite a lengthy history but, again, I don't know enough to judge whether or not it is correct. It was interesting, though, because I usually don't explore those areas.

I posted on the Wiki using "Julie" for my page. It was very easy to post information, but without having to sign in, it seems that anyone could change your information. It was fun to look at the other pages. We just started a wiki for the librarians in my district this spring. It is an easy place that we can all post information, rather than emailing back and forth. I do like this aspect, and it is very similar to the groups and conferences in our district email. We can use it for minutes of meetings and shared documents. I think wikis can be another great time saver.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thing 17: LibWorm

I spent quite a bit of time exploring LibWorm, and it is interesting but probably not my my top Thing - at least not yet. I did a search on my school library and did not find anything about my own particular library, but rather a lot of information about libraries with similar names. I am currently trying to find information about elementary scope and sequence plans for different school libraries, but could not find exactly the information I wanted, even trying a variety of different search terms. I could find the same information using another search tool.

I found that it was more helpful for me to go into the different categories or subjects. For example, I could browse School Libraries or Children to find information on new topics. If I was looking for a hot Censorship topic, I would definitely look there. Also, I like the Book Reviews and could use it for job openings if I was looking right now. I would not rate the quality of the results that LibWorm gave me as very high, but perhaps I was also not searching for the right topic. As with most things, I think that LibWorm serves its purpose and should be used as an additional tool in finding information.