Sunday, April 25, 2010

Final Post?

Well, I did it. I started this class feeling weary of all the new technology, but managed to learn all that was required and more, without too much trouble. The copyright exam was thorough, but not too difficult. I reread many sections as I worked on the exam and found myself understanding the rules better on the second reading. It does not feel as overwhelming as it did the first time. I also felt more relaxed this week with most of my school work done. My resume was completed on Sunday and although it contains most of what I think is important, I don't know if it will be impressive to a potential employer. My experience in the field of Library Science is still quite limited, but that should change as I complete the program. I hope to find some part-time work in a library this year as I need more working experience. I hope this resume will look good enough to get that starting position. Still waiting for feedback from Prof. Allen.

The topic of discussion this week was centered on just two documents on change in education. The first was a story written in the 1930's about people resisting changes needed to survive, even when they were very obvious and the second document was the result of research on the need to incorporate 21st technologies into the curriculum in schools-the tools that students will need for the future. The relationship between the articles demonstrates the cyclical nature of change and resistance in society, and also the need to be an independent thinker that persists for needed changes in the way we live and learn. I saved these article in my Diigo account, so I can reflect on them again in the future.

So the question now is "will I continue this blog for the remainder of my graduate work?" It could be useful, as I believe it was for this class. I love the idea of a blog, but when time is short, it may not get much attention. I started a blog for my cycling activity about six weeks ago and have not posted since! I have never been a writer, so this is work for me. I do love to read what other people are blogging about though. I also read everything that Will Richardson writes about in his blog and on Twitter. He is a real role model for me in his enthusiasm, knowledge and use of web 2.0 tools. Since I began following him on Twitter, I find I use this micro-blogging platform more often. I still don't say much myself though. Will I ever become a dedicated, interesting writer? Maybe if I had more than one follower. As a school librarian, I would like to be as inspirational as Will Richardson someday, so there is my reason to continue blogging!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Almost Done

Well, it was a productive week. Completing i-SAFE certification took longer than I thought it would; its a good thing I did not procrastinate on this as it took six hours. I did not think the last half hour was necessary though and it seemed like an advertisement for the iSAFE organization.

The other project I was happy to complete was my resume. I have never liked creating them, but the timing of this project was great as I hope to have the opportunity this summer to look for a part-time job at a library. It would be incredibly useful for me to have some real experience and get to know some people in the field. I did join the Rochester Area School Librarians this week and I attended a happy hour they held at the Bar and Grill Next Door. I met some new people and talked with a few I knew for quite a while. Ben Griffin, the SLMS at Bay Trail MS is full of information and is about the friendliest guy I've met in some time. I think being a newer librarian, he is happy to help those of us that are struggling to learn and navigate within the field.

I downloaded a new bookmarking tool called Zotero this week, but I am not yet understanding how it works. I am extremely happy with Diigo though and my google reader. I don't know how I would survive this field without them. There is so much information that I want to have available to me and this is how I will do that. Reading an article like the one in the journal on Library 2.0 by Natasha Wanchek had so many links to additional resources that I had to bookmark the article so I can come back to it and continue to check into all of the links. How else would I keep up with so many sources of information? My google reader now has 25 subscriptions-the journal is my newest one, thanks to the link in the article by Natasha Wanchek. I can receive an entire magazine for free! Cool!

What is not so cool is the steady stream of news posts that discuss the job cuts affecting librarians in school and public libraries. I hope this is not going to be a lasting trend. It would not be funny if I completed another degree program in a dying field, like the textile industry in the 80's-thanks in part to President Reagan and free trade. I've worked really hard this last year and sometimes I wonder if it will be worth the time, effort and cost. Let me see some good signs...please!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tools to Play With

I was really hoping our discussion in 568 would revolve around some of the tools that we read about this week. I just love the idea of podcasting for education. I do believe that hearing someone read information can help with comprehension and connect the listener in a personal way to the intent of the message or passage in text. I love this connection when it is well done and enjoy going for long walks with my iPod to hear a book on tape. I also like being able to hear our instructor once a week in the podcast, even though I could get the information by reading the weekly materials and following the syllabus. The portability factor is also a very valuable asset, especially for people who commute to school or for students that benefit from hearing information presented in a format that can be heard again and again. Some like to listen while they get some routine housework done or get a little exercise-I know I can only sit for so long before I become restless or my eyes start to get heavy! Lastly, most younger students love this type of technology.

I also want to try using Jing as a way to capture images or web pages and share them with friends without using links. I think this will work well with Twitter and Facebook, giving me more ways to utilize these tools of communication. As an instructional tool, it seems ideal and I would like to see more examples of teachers using it.

The Copyright WebQuest was an interesting and detailed way to help students or teachers understand what copyright is and how it applies to them. I like the use of role playing to understand the concerns of different individuals with respect to copyright, (librarian, administrator, author and technophile). This is also an hands-on way to develop guidelines to follow on copyright issues.

Digital storytelling seems to be a popular tool used in several of the schools that I have visited this year. I think it is a great way to have students collaborate and create a digital representation of their work, that they can share with the school and the community through the library media center websites. This is a motivating and fun technology tool for the students.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Professional Development

Well, now that I have finished the professional development workshop assignment, I don't know if I'll ever have enough time to do it again, especially if I am working full time. It seems like this assignment took weeks to put together. Maybe if I created a power point more often, it would not be so difficult. This was my first power point and I do think it turned out OK, hopefully Susan Allen will think so anyway! I nearly forgot everything I learned when we had the tutorial on creating power points four weeks ago. This is the type of information that I think you need to use to remember. Also, learning about WebQuests was quite time consuming, but interesting. I'm surprised by the number of teachers who say they have never used one. My son told me he did one once, but did not like it. That surprised me too- they seem like a great learning tool.

This was a long day with not only the prof. dev assignment, but also with it being Easter. I had to do the Easter egg hunt with my son, which he still enjoys at eleven years of age. Then quiche to make for the family brunch. The brunch was nice, but I think we stayed too long as I have not been away from the computer with school work since returning around 3:00pm. Too tired to continue. More later!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tools On My Belt

OK, No more surfing/procrastinating...time to write some thoughts on the week. I seem to feel overwhelmed every week with regard to the amount of information I need to learn about. I want to play more with some of the more interesting tools I am learning about such as Flickr. I have my undergrad in design, so I feel I should be using my love of art, design and photography for educational purposes like presentations, lessons and to develop visual literacy skills in students. I will try to include some nice visuals in my power point.

It was great to learn more on search tools and techniques this week, as there are so many ways to find information. Searchme and TinEye were new features that I look forward to trying out when I get the chance. I also want to spend some time checking out some of the google apps that I had not heard of before, like google notebook, google groups and google alert. I did check out google news sites and was impressed with the vast coverage of news from various sources, including blogs. I bookmarked this site and expect to use it often, if not daily for news. Google also impressed me greatly with Lit Trips for education. This is a great way for students to increase their understanding and interest in a story, and also provides geographical context to the literature.

Lastly, I think I learned quite a bit about the social bookmarking tools that we are using through the readings and discussions. Most seem to prefer Diigo, but I find delicious easy to use as well. I'm not sure if it makes sense to have them both, but maybe eventually I will designate one, such as Diigo for educational information and groups, and use delicious for personal interests. I can access them both from my iPhone too, so for now I will continue to use them both. I am also continuing to add interesting sites and blogs to my google reader acct. I just need a little more leisurely reading time to enjoy them.

Off to another busy week...hop, hop, hop!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On Line Conferences and the Social Web

This week was full of new information, mostly absorbed through online conferences. I spent a lot of time viewing and taking notes on the content of many different web 2.0 technology tools for learning. I also noted the presentation features that I liked or did not like so I might consider these features when creating my own presentation. I found I had little time to work on the power point with the readings, conferences and discussions that I needed to participate in. I also had a great deal of reading and a lesson plan to develop for another class. Hopefully the week ahead will allow me some time to work exclusively on my power point. Despite my concerns about my work load, I did feel that I learned a great deal this week and I would much rather gain as much as possible from my classes than to work for just a day and be done for the week. I wished I had more time to view online conferences and will try to come back to them again when I have some time. I also liked the article by Doug Johnson on copyright. He is all for protection of copyright-when it makes sense! I like reading about this topic from him because he admits that much of the expectations on Fair Use are unreasonable and thinks too much control is in the hands of the creator.

I also enjoyed reading Will Richardsons chapter on the Social Web and learned much more about tools that I have been using like Diigo, Delicious and Twitter. I honestly did not know what the difference was between Diigo and Delicious. It seems that Diigo is primarily about saving content and Delicious is really great for sharing links in the easiest way possible. A feature that I had figured out for myself on Diigo is the ability to find someone who has bookmarked a site that I am interested in to find more links and resources for information that I need. As Will put it, "It's like someone else doing the research for you". I always love his enthusiasm. His book will not be sold after this class is over as he has taught me so much and I need to try more of the tools and features that he has discussed in his book. Now that I have his Twitter name, I will add him to the list of people that I follow-that should be interesting. I also should check his blog this week! So much information, so little time.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

WebQuests and Power Points

I made a decision, finally! The topics that I chose from are all somewhat new to me, so I need to learn them all, but know little about any. I have not read much on webquests and I do think they are a very useful tool for the students learning to use the web for research, so this is what I propose to work on. The Bernie Dodge website has so much information, that it is almost overwhelming. He is the expert on this learning tool though, so I am glad he has provided this comprehensive resource. I must admit that I am nervous about this project as it will take me a long time to put together and I have no experience with creating power points. On the bright side, I will have learned so much.

I also have been working on the iSafe modules and am at the point of implementation. I need to select my class size and grade level, which seems odd, as I do not have a class to work with. I hope I am doing this correctly? I need to get back to this program and clarify the directions. Thank goodness tomorrow will be a quiet day in my home. Weekends are a wash!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Power Points, RSS and Wiki's

Although I did finally get through all the tutorials on power points, I feel it will take doing one to actually know what to do. I did have some trouble keeping up with Dan's podcast, as I played around with the tools of the PP, but eventually found all the items he mentioned. It was hard to take notes, while doing this on the print out of the power point! I am likely one of the few in my course that has never learned how to use PP and now I am anxious to get my project started to ensure that I will have enough time to work through this new technology. My eleven year old laughs at me and says they are sooo easy...we'll see!

I enjoyed reading the chapter in Richardson on RSS feeds. He is an excellent writer with the way he inspires you to try using these new web 2.0 tools. The RSS feed should be helpful for me in organizing the growing quantity of information that I need to keep up with and will save me the time of looking for updated posts and articles. I plan to add more to my google reader account in the coming weeks.

I found myself contemplating the article "Wiki Woman: How a Web Tool Saved My Career" by Grace Rubenstien as I rode my bike through miles of country roads today. I like how she stated that she wanted to challenge the students to find answers on their own. This is an important skill, that will help them not only for the science class they are currently working in, but for their future learning endeavors as well. Students had the chance to share what they know in this wiki and to collaborate and learn from their classmates. Teaching and learning in wiki's can be a more creative, authentic learning experience, that students enjoy! I continue to think I should try creating a wiki for my bike group as a way to practice using one for future educational purposes. I could create a calendar of upcoming rides with links to starting locations, the routes, photo's, road safety, youtube videos on bicycle maintenance, bike shops, touring groups, my bike blog, etc. I would also have a discussion board, where the group could talk about ideas for future rides, problems encountered on rides, carpool connections, upcoming birthdays or special events-the possibilities are endless!

So, going back to this article, I read the comments that followed and was struck by one that I thought made an excellent point in response to a post about how wiki's for the classroom will not work because some students do not have home computers. The responding commentator related this excuse to not giving a student, in the past, an assignment because they might not have an encyclopedia at home. That would not happen, as the student would be expected to use a library where encyclopedias are available. The same can be done today with regard to access to computers. So, no more excuses-web 2.0 technologies can be used in most schools today, especially if a library is within a reasonable distance.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Websites, Wiki's, Blogs and Google Docs

Another week full of interesting new tools and topics. The information on how to create a good school library website was very useful, especially after seeing so many different examples of how websites can be set up. It sounds like Blogs are an excellent addition for interactive, collaborative input and information on school websites and they are easy and inexpensive to set up. The examples that I looked at were fun to look at and read, especially if they were regularly updated. The work involved in keeping them updated may be the only drawback for a librarian short on time. You should also enjoy writing, something that I need more practice doing before I will feel totally comfortable, especially the reflective content. I created a twitter account this week as a way to learn how to micro-blog. I just don't know who to twitter with! Most of my friends think twittering is silly. I like to be open-minded and have not formed an opinion yet. I have added a few comedians and the infamous Lance Armstrong, but who else should I follow? Last word on blogs, it is nice to have added Will Richardson's blog to my diigo library, as he is the expert on the web 2.0 technologies that we need to know about. He is also a very engaging writer.

Wiki's on a school website can help students access organized information and resources to succeed with interactive class projects. I have had a great experience so far using the Wetpaint wiki for LIS 568 and feel the Blackboard courseware is outdated and boring to use by comparison. My son has a wiki he uses for his Robotics team that give the students the specific information they need by teams, subteams, projects, calendars, point accumulated, etc. It is also a place where discussions take place about progress with the building of the robot. I can see many uses for this format. I did look at the Flatclassroomproject, planetmath the Welker's Wikinomics wiki's. They were very impressive with loads of information, visuals, podcasts, online discussions, personal profiles and more. The Flatclassroom wiki even showed you on a map where all the participants were located by dots. If you moved the cursor over the dot, you would get the profile and sometimes a picture of that student. Cool stuff!

Using Google Docs will require more practice to be really useful, I think. It seems like collaboration should require an initial gathering of parties, maybe through a chat room to clarify the goals and visions of the participants. With a plan in place, I think this is a good tool to use. For now though, I think I am googled out and will think more on ways to use this format for collaboration in the school environment later.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This week proved difficult for focused reading with my kids home, especially for a topic as complex as copyright law. I found I could only digest a few pages at a time with chapters 5 & 6 in the Simpson book. I still surprised how little I heard of these laws as I worked in 4 different schools in the last 6 years. I have witnessed many violations of these laws, as an unaware teacher's aide. I understand the reasons behind these laws, for the most part, but I wonder how often these laws are enforced. How does a district/teacher get caught? Is there an agency that monitors materials used in schools? I have the impression that enforcement is not routine, or more teachers would be conscientious of copyright law.

I set up my iSafe account this week and plan to get the certification process started this week-while it is quiet in my house! In my readings, I really liked the article by Anne Collier, "A Better Safety Net". She uses the phrase "Online Safety 3.0" to represent the use of safe social networking for students. Collier discusses how social networking and online gaming can be beneficial for many students. Social networking tends to fall into two categories, friendship- driven and interest -driven. Students learn social skills, explore interests, express themselves and develop technical skills. Online gaming and play is mentioned as benefiting the development of the brain as"players analyze statistics and probabilities, strategize, learn how to budget and market, and explore supply and demand" as stated by Collier. Interest-driven online users will have an opportunity to find a group to connect with, learning the important skills of collaboration in the process. Lastly, she believes school is the best place for students to learn how to use the internet responsibly, by incorporating new media literacy and digital citizenship into the curriculum.

Just a short note on the Doug Johnson reading. He is so right when he states that it is the contents of online materials that can be a problem, not the formant, (Facebook or MySpace for example). Social networking is just a tool that can be used for many purposes and students need to learn how to use these tools appropriately and safely. That will not happen if students and teachers cannot access interactive online social learning formats.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Searching, Info Literacy, Google Squared

Another week full of information. I usually spend at least two hours browsing through the recommended sites, reading posts and creating posts with every visit to the classroom wiki. It just works better to tackle a few chunks of information at a time. My week started with the information literacy topic and the Allen November website. I took his IL quiz to see how savvy I am and I scored pretty well, but not in the geek category yet. It was alarming to investigate the Martin Luther King website that was created by the racist group White Power. It is amazing that the government cannot shut down an operation like that. It was a good example of how corrupt a seemingly legitimate looking website can be. I am glad I now have some good sites to refer to when I need to check on a website.

The discussions involving searching tools for catalogs was very informative. There are so many options now to make searching easy for any type of user. I don't think library users will have any trouble finding what they need if libraries take advantage of newer systems like the Follett Destiny Quest catalog. The types of resources have also become very diverse with the advent of digital resources. I myself have not experimented too much with these features, but I know it will be increasingly popular, so next time I want a book, I think I will see if I can download one into my iPhone. I actually did this once, but it was rather cumbersome. Hopefully, the second time around will be smoother.

Tonight I enjoyed playing around with the Google squared site. I looked for information on cross country skiing in NY, getting only a few possible sites. Skiing is a sport that is primary promoted for downhill skiing, so most of my results came up with this area of information. I tried adding other options to narrow the field, but it did not help much. In the end, I did get some good websites for XC skiing, but these did not show in my squares. I saved and retrieved the squares without difficulty, so I will think of some other ideas to try Google squared again. It seems like a good way to organize a variety of search results. So many new tools for finding and organizing information!

Monday, February 8, 2010

All About ICT, IL, NETS, Webquests & More

I did it again-forgot the blog until it hit me at 3:30am, as I lay in bed thinking about my research paper that is due tomorrow for LIS 532! School work is invading my sleep and I don't know how to stop it. It will certainly help that I put a message to post my blog into a calendar reminder in my iPhone. It is silly not to put that expensive little computer to work in every way possible. Technology is supposed to make life easier, right? That takes me into the topic of IL and ICT. It appears that both are very important to have in our digital age. I was well aware of the issues around information literacy, but had not heard the term "information & communication technology" in relation to library science. ICT is defined as the ability to effectively research and communicate using technology, which is what I am doing on a daily basis, as are most people with access to computers. I am not surprised by the lack of proficiency in effective research and searching techniques. The format is so new, especially for teachers who have not kept up with the ever increasing ways that students find information and use information. There are certainly not many teachers who are using technology to communicate with students in web-based courseware programs, but I think that will change.

"Satisficing" was a term that I read in Joyce Valenza's article called "They Might Be Giants", and it stuck in my head because it defines the quality of information that many students are using through the internet. Satisficing is a combination of sufficing and satisfying; and this is where the student is content with the a quick, satisfactory answer rather than taking the time to truly research from authoritative websites or databases to find the best information to answer questions. I also read that most students are not using school databases, because they either don't know about them or prefer to search from the convenience of their own personal computers. Joyce Valenza also feels that the library need to present information in a new format. Her statement "Young users prefer collaborative seamless environments. Their academic, social, creative and entertainment areas merge online in nomadic multitasked landscapes". I know this is true. I have observed plenty of college students using their laptops or the cell phones to accomplish many tasks at the same time while sitting through a lecture. They do appear to be listening to the instructor, but are not content to take notes on the laptop without the connections to their email or facebook accounts. I can see using courseware such as Blackboard to be somewhat outdated now after using a wiki for this course. It is much more interactive with the podcast, links to informative sites and videos, profiles and photo's of students, and the discussion board is much more user-friendly. So, library websites and databases need to emulate this format for information seeking if we are to get students away from the comfort and ease of "satisficing" work.

Monday, February 1, 2010

AT Reflections

Where to begin? I was surprised by the many options for students with learning disabilities. I feel I should have known more about these products, especially with my having a child on the autistic spectrum, who has significant learning impairments. I also worked for BOCES for 6 years and have seen some AT tools, like the Dynavox communication system for students who are unable to speak in a functional manner. I have also used the touch screen mouse alternative with computers. But there are so many other useful tools to help students learn. Even the Smartboard is a great interactive type tool to engage students who have attention issues and benefit from visual and auditory presentations. I myself find that a great way to learn new things, as it is not always easy to visualize things you are not familiar with. I was better able to understand some of the AT tools after watching a power point I found on these items through one of the many websites and links I perused.

I liked that some of the AT tools are available right in your browser and I plan to try that out for myself. Items such at the Intel reader and other text to speech tools do not seem to be used in any of the learning environments that I have been in. In my SLMC interview at the Bay Trail M.S., they don't use much assistive technology. I was told that the special ed. dept. is in charge of these items. He did say that they have used the FM Sound Sys., where he has worn a microphone clipped to a cord around his neck and the student had a hearing devise in his ear. Something like that could be quite useful for students with auditory sensory differences, that prevent them from staying focused on a speaker, because they are completely distracted by something like the sound of the florescent lights-sounds crazy, but they really can hear these things! I also asked about the use of filters and whether they present any problems for the students trying to access information. The answer was a resounding "no, not at all". In a few cases he has requested that a sight on say "breast cancer" be unblocked, but otherwise, they have not had problems accessing information. Makes me wonder if this is as big an issue for school libraries as I have been reading about? He also said they have social networking sites blocked, but not YouTube, as there are many educational videos they use with the students. I imagine the filters may be a greater problem in the high school, unless they allow greater access. Well, I need to move on to the next topic in this weeks' podcast. Adios.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tired of thinking

Its almost midnight, but I did remember to post. This was a very busy week and the AT newsletter was a bit overwhelming to me, as I knew nothing of the topic, until now. I learned a lot, but find I am too tired to explain it all. There was almost too much information out there. It was hard to decide which resources to use and which devises my library would have. I did like the way the newsletter turned out though-hopefully Susan Allen will like it too. I will write more in the morning. I'm just too tired now!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Web 2.0 Monsters

Well, I survived another week, fumbling along through the dense, dark forest of new electronic tools and complicated topics. I honestly feel myself avoiding the computer, as I know I have so much to learn for this class, and I am not great with technology, and it sucks the hours out of my day whenever I attempt to get a few things done. After the web 2.0 monster steals the hours from me, I find I still have so much more to learn. It is not a simple tool for many reasons. There is so much to explore, which is fun, but distracting also. It took me a while to figure out how to use the podcast, wiki, diigo site, diigo educational acct., NY virtual library, thinkfinity, etc. I even managed to post to the wrong discussion group-twice! I did not get to my google reader acct., and have to make an effort to remember that tool next week. The reading is great as I like learning new things, (or at least reading about them), but the writing is slow for me as I have never been much of a writer. There were times when my children were little, that I thought it would be nice to keep a journal documenting their growth and all the cute things that they did and said, but I never liked my writing. I am too critical and self-conscious! So, if anyone reads this, tell me it is not as bad as I think or say nothing.

The new web tools are not the only thing that I find scary; copyright law is probably worse! I do hope the law becomes clearer to me when I am working in a library and media center, as I would not want to violate any laws, either as an innocent, standard, willful or contributory infringer. Although, it does seem like the classroom teacher will encounter the greater burden in finding material that can be used for assignments. It may end up being my responsibility to teach copyright literacy though and assist teachers with materials that are legal to use. So, this is a subject I will likely hear about for years to come. To be fair, I do find it to be an interesting topic, but it seems like it would be very easy to use copyright material without realizing that it is a violation. When I worked in a small special ed. classroom, we played music, DVD's and videos all the time for the students and there was no concern over the use of these materials. Technically, should we have asked permission? It would take quite a bit of time to do this, as we had a wide variety of entertainment for these students. These were used as motivational reinforcements to keep the students working. I will be interested to learn more about the role of the school library and media specialist in copyright protection.

Lastly, the chapter I read regarding weblogs was interesting, especially as a collaborative learning platform. The topic of blogging and how it is different from writing was interesting, with blogging being an ongoing, collaborative" conversation", that continues endlessly and becomes something called "connective writing". I can see the benefits of having an educational blog, as we can all learn from each other. It also seems to be the way of the future with the popularity of social networking and Twitter.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Options

OK, I believe I have completed all the details for week one in LIS 568. Well, I still have to register for iSafe program. I have never blogged before, so it will take some time for me to get comfortable with it. I am excited to see if this is something I will get hooked on. I joined Facebook just a few months ago and am amazed at how much I enjoy it now. I have found many old, new and current friends and like to hear about most of the things that they are doing, even if some post needless statements too often. I have also enjoyed the information and links that my friends post for others to check out. I used to check my email several times a day looking for personal connections, but all I seem to get are automatic news messages from my sons' schools and organizations, UB list serve information, advertisements and solicitations from banks, etc. I spend most of my time in my email accounts deleting messages I am not interested in. Now that I have my Facebook account, I have a social networking outlet, something I was looking for all along. It will be very interesting how the new applications I use in this class will change the way I use the internet. I also have an iphone and find endless tools and applications that have changed the way I look for information, music and social connections. Technology is rapidly changing my life!

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Challenges

So much to do. Two classes begin and a 6 credit test to prepare for. Playing in the snow was fun while it lasted.