Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Beyond Method #12: Reflection and Evaluation

I really enjoyed this course and wish I could keep going. So, yes, I would be interested in taking a follow-up course from the TX State Library. Through the readings, I was exposed to many new websites, concepts, and tools. What I need now is more practice with some of the tools. I would love to have a concrete "reason" to practice - for example, a digital story that will be critiqued by a committee.

My favorite exercises were Tell a Digital Story, Customizing Your Window to the Internet, Social Cataloging, Next Generation Presentations, and Capture Your Computer Screen. I loved realizing how powerful a digital story can be and discovering for myself that less is more. I enjoyed customizing several window pages so that everything I use frequently was in one place. However, once I did it, I realized that I preferred igoogle because of a more visually-pleasing lay out. I learned how user-friendly Good Reads is, and I plan to continue cataloging and keeping track of books there. I had a good time playing with SlideRocket and saw how much potential there is to create more exciting presentations. Finally, I learned that I can design powerful, time-saving Capture Your Screen presentations that will explain basic concepts and conserve staff time and energy.

The main weakness of this program was that I did not interact with other students or a teacher. If there was an option to do so, I was unaware of it. It was lonely writing blogs and making discoveries without having people to share with. I would recommend working on this feature by putting students in mini-clusters or at least with a peer or mentor who will give feedback.

Once again, I am very interested in a follow-up class. Thank you, Texas State Library, for a positive learning opportunity.

Beyond Method # 11: Surveys and Polls

I had no idea there were so many online survey tools available, many of them free or low cost. My experience has been limited. My boss used Survey Monkey to poll our teachers about which online databases they use and want to keep. Not many people answered, and the results were ambiguous at best. Also, my school was competing for a "best place to work" contest, and we were asked to fill out an employee satisfaction survey. Since it asked you to identify your department, I answered it wondering if it was truly "confidential." My old workplace required us to complete several work evaluations online, too. Because I was the only librarian, I always wondered about confidentiality. Finally, I've been asked to participate in several evaluation surveys from my MLS program and continuing ed workshops. I usually do, sometimes with the thought, "Not another survey!"

I now realize how important surveys are and how time consuming it is to create a good one. I also like that you can use some survey software to do other things such as register for this class. I will be more willing to participate in online surveys for programs and causes I care about. I also might poll my students more often to check for understanding and to make sure my curriculum fits their needs.

Beyond Method # 10: Web Conferencing

I had never "attended" a Webinar, so I watched 10-15 minutes of one available at the Texas State Library: Baby Boomers and Your Library presented by Allan Kleiman. I had to download software, which took a few minutes.

The seminar had interesting information but seemed boring in the way it was presented. There was slide after slide of print and only one slide with pictures. Mr. Kleiman had a lot of pauses and "um"s, which are highly noticeable on a webcast. It felt like the pacing was slower than I could absorb, and I stood up to stretch while listening.

I see a lot of potential for web conferencing, but the format needs to be more dynamic than this to sustain attention. What this reminds me of the early days of educational videos, when "talking heads" were the norm. Boring. I believe the field is in its infancy, and perhaps innovators will learn how to add spice.

I enjoyed the readings and videos on Skyping an author and may try to do that this year.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Beyond Method # 9: Digital Storytelling

I had fun creating my story on Animoto. It wasn't hard to use, but I found myself wishing the site had more "free" templates. I told the true story of our library flood a few weeks ago, and the presentation was designed to recruit parent volunteers. Click below to view our library story.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Beyond Method # 8: Screencasting

I didn't know anything about screencasting, and I am totally smitten. I had fun reading the articles and watching samples of the different applications. I was impressed how adding audio can make a Powerpoint come alive. I feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle, but not for long!

I used Screencast-o-matic and was impressed with how easy it was to use. I first watched the demo and then recorded, restarting several times to correct pauses and errors. However, it's late at night and my husband is sleeping, so I didn't include the audio. I was hoping to add that tomorrow, but I'm not sure if you can edit the "free" option.

My short screencast showed how to use our Alexandria online catalog, focusing on how to find out which library the book is in (we have two libraries). I used Edgar A. Poe as an example. Once in the catalog, I showed how to find other books by Poe and other horror stories.

I can definitely see upgrading Screencast-o-matic and using it to teach things like catalog use. The students at our private school all have learning differences, and they need frequent reminders.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Beyond Method # 7: Next Generation Presentations

I had so much fun with this unit. I knew about sites such as Pretzi and Sliderocket, but I never had made time to play with them. I read the PC Magazine article that rated all these sites, and they chose Sliderocket as the star. So...that's the site I played with.

I did have some trouble manipulating and getting used to Sliderocket. I started a library orientation presentation that I could use at work. What frustrated me most was figuring out how to give credit when I used Flickr Creative Commons photos. Finally, by chance, I noticed that if you put your cursor in a certain place, the credit will come up. I also had some trouble figuring out how to change the color of fonts and backgrounds, but I finally did. I like how easy the site makes it to add transitions. I also like that you can go right to Flickr from the site.

I plan to play with the site more and to possibly finish my orientation presentation. I can see a use for Next Gen Presentations to spice up the routine, probably boring, Power Points I often use in class. I would feel comfortable recommending Sliderocket to others.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beyond Method # 6: eBooks and eReaders

This unit blew me away. I knew a little about all the different eBook and eReader formats, but I had no idea how complicated it is. Plus, we don't know if the current eReaders are a temporary, transitional format or here to stay a while. Both Meredith Farkas and Eli Neiburger, in his 2010 Library Summit presentation, say that libraries are "screwed." The eBook publishers are looking out for their own profits, and libraries get left behind.

I found Eli Neiburger's presentation to be a wake-up call (see video in this post). He says that book collections are going the way of candles and vinyl records - there are some around, but the industries have downsized considerably. He writes that libraries must make themselves more relevant - perhaps by providing work stations for creative projects and more - or we're inscribing our own tomb stones. Before seeing Eli's video, I was considering introducing eBooks this year. Now I see that I need to jump in - after researching and learning.

Project Gutenberg is impressive, but the book I viewed, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, was not physically appealing. The paragraphs and sentences seemed extra long because of the layout. Here's the address:

Beyond Method # 5: Social Cataloging and Libraries

I had a blast with this step. I already had an account on LibraryThing but did not use it often. I set up an account on GoodReads and fell in love: GoodReads seems more user friendly than LibraryThing. Adding new books is so easy, as is adding tags, putting books in categories, and so forth. I stayed up far too late one night and wound up adding over 100 books.

I really enjoyed seeing how libraries use GoodReads. Many have established a reading club for adults, teens, or children. Some sites say that when you write a review, you are eligible to enter a drawing for a prize. I'm in a "foreign authors" book group, and GoodReads would be a great place to chat with others if you miss an in-person session. Also, the clubs have a "book shelf" feature, and that would be a good place for my school library to display new children's books.

my read shelf:
Barbara Katz's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

Favorite Children's Books

Some Favorite Adult Books

  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  • Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (memoir)
  • The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch
  • The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
  • Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri