Revisiting 10 Things Teachers Should Know About Technology

Here is my 10 Things post from week 1 revised in week 14…

There is a lot of tech that can be used in education and used well. Here are some tips (in no particular order) when looking to tackle the latest educational technology has to offer.

  1. Experiment.  chemistry-158301_960_720  It’s amazing what is available, don’t be afraid to try a few things and find a good fit that adds-value to your instruction & your students’ learning.  I STAND BY THIS STATEMENT AFTER WEEKS OF EXPERIMENTING AND I DID NOT TURN INTO A MAD SCIENTIST (MORE LIKE THESE GUYS…) 420548297_bcf026a9b9
  2. Things will go wrong – that’s okay!  Apologize, make it a teachable/relatable (hey I’m human too) moment and forge on.  Try to have a back-up in mind.  THE FACT THAT TECH IS EVER-CHANGING & VERY FLUID CAN BE POINTED OUT HERE.  JUST WHEN YOU LEARN TO LOVE SOMETHING IT CAN DISAPPEAR.  WE LEARNED ABOUT VINE EARLY IN THIS COURSE, THEN AT THE END OF OCT. (AFTER 3 YEARS OF EXISTANCE) IT WAS SHUT DOWN.  cestlavie
  3. Keep usability/accessibility in mind.  Is it free?  Does it work with various platforms?  What about students with adaptive tech needs?  ADDITIONALLY: DOES IT REQUIRE THE STUDENTS TO COMPLETE USERNAME AND PASSWORD CREATION; AND, IF SO, DO YOU HAVE TIME FOR THAT IN CLASS?  IF IT IS AN APP OR TOOL ON A SHARED DEVICE ARE THERE PRIVACY ISSUES TO BE AWARE OF?
  4. Collaborate!  Trying new tech is always easier with a buddy (like going to the gym!)    cat-206981_960_720I bet your librarian is willing to pitch-in with the heavy lifting (to keep the gym analogy going).  STILL TRUE!
  5. Try to integrate tech that helps students create (reach for the highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy).  EXPLORED THIS FURTHER AS WE TRIED MORE TECH AND APPS OUT FOUND THIS ARTICLE THAT IS A BIT DATED BUT IT HAS A GREAT BREAKDOWN AND THERE ARE PLENTY OF VISUALS OUT THERE TOO (PYRAMIDS AND WHEELS), EVEN DEVICE SPECIFIC TOO… SOMETHING FOR MY BULLETIN BOARD
  6. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  Look at what your colleagues are doing, attend professional deveopment opportunities, ask your librarian or tech specialist, or look online (just don’t fall down the rabbit hole with the latter).  IT REALLY IS SO EASY TO FALL INTO THE RABBIT HOLE… the-rabbit-hole-natasha-bishopVISIT THE SITES IN NUMBER 7, AND (AS I STARTED DOING FOR A LATER WEEK’S ASSIGNMENT) FOLLOW KNOWN LMS, LIBRARIANS AND ED TECH TWITTER USERS OR BLOGGERS
  7. Check out sites like these that recommend tech and tech sites to follow:  Keeping Up With The EdTech Surge | Steven J. Bell, ACRL online (2014)  & TechMatters: Keep on Keeping Up: Resources for Monitoring Developments in Educational Technology | Krista Graham, LOEX Quarterly (2014)
  8. Try having students lead the demonstration of a new tech tool.  Maybe even involve them with the experimenting and selecting as a part of the lesson.  OUR PDP DESIGN WEEK GOT ME THINKING THIS COULD BE A GREAT FLIPPED CLASSROOM APPROACH WITH FACULTY IN A WORKSHOP AS WELL!  AS EXPERIENCED IN THIS COURSE, USING THE TECH MAKES A REAL DIFFERENCE.
  9. As long as privacy can be protected (according to standards for your students/school) use tech to showcase what your students are doing with tech by sharing it on a Wiki, blog, website or social media tool.  OUR SOCIAL MEDIA WEEK REMINDED ME THAT THIS APPLIES TO OUTREACH TOO! HAVE INTERACTIVE CONTESTS OVER SOCIAL MEDIA, HAVE STUDENTS CREATE SOCIAL MEDIA SPECIFIC CONTENT FOR THE LIBRARY.
  10. Don’t just use tech for tech’s sake.  The cool or wow factor can be tempting, but the tech really has to serve a purpose, so have your outcome in mind first then find the tech that fits best.                            BE WARY OF THE wow

Cited

Bell, Steven J. (2015, Aug.). Keeping Up with… the EdTech Surge. ACRL Keeping Up With… Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/acrl/publications/keeping_up_with/edtech

Graham, K. (2014). TechMatters: Keep on Keeping Up: Resources for Monitoring Developments in Educational Technology.  LOEX Quarterly, 41, 1, 6-7.

Olson, K. (2008, Jan. 12). 10 Things Every Teacher Should Know About Technology. Classroom 2.0. Message posted to: http://www.classroom20.com/forum/topic/show?id=649749%3ATopic%3A96384

Images from:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesstra%C3%9Fe_10_number.svg

https://pixabay.com/en/chemistry-laboratory-experiment-158301/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/candiedwomanire/420548297

https://pixabay.com/en/cat-training-adidas-domestic-cat-206981/

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The-rabbit-hole-natasha-bishop.jpg

 

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Give me an O – P – A -C!

For my OPAC interview I spoke to a middle school librarian located in Southeastern MA. Having only had experience with consortium based OPACs it was interesting for me to hear about all that goes into choosing an OPAC and the inner-workings of one for a school library (or district).  Her school uses Follett’s Destiny for its OPAC.  Her school system actually selected this OPAC based on the research and proposal done for this class in a previous semester (their system at the time – Athena by Follett – was no longer being supported in the way they needed it).  This is something they acquired early in her position; she met with a number of librarians in neighboring school systems and an independent school in order to come up with Destiny Library Manager as her choice.  In addition to Athena she had experience with Concourse Library Automation (from BookSystems) in her district’s high school, but when researching this system it became evident that it is not designed for school libraries and did not fit their needs.  Instead, it had been previously chosen because it cut costs and would sync with the student data management system.  The district-wide change was supported by the head of IT and the hardest part of the change-over was experienced by the high school since it was not using a Follett product already.

Images from Wikimedia Commons

Ultimately she saw Destiny Library Manager as the most student-friendly and made the case that it would streamline the budget since they would be getting multiple services from this one system rather than from a number of vendors. The Destiny subscription includes: a PreK-12 circulation, cataloging, inventory and report function for the district’s school libraries; easier access and fluency in searches; and a free mobile app for users that supports their movement towards BYOD in the district.  She viewed one of the most important features of Destiny to be its direct connection to Follett’s Titlewave (collection development tool) and Titlewise (collection analysis tool).  This would help the district libraries inventory and assess their collections in a more comprehensive way as they look to the future.  Other beneficial features for students, educators and the community include: access to eBook content, more user-friendly search functions, social networking features, and the ability to tie the CCSS standards to the collections.

For the most part books are ordered from Follett and they send the MARC records the minute they ship the books. Destiny (since it is a Follett product) makes importing records relatively easy when you have any new title or copy to add to your collection. Typically a librarian can search by ISBN and it will show if the book is already in the district or has been catalogued somewhere in all of Destiny.  This can be used as a starting point instead of creating the MARC record from scratch.  When asked about creating new records, and how that process goes, she mentioned the library receives Scholastic $Bucks from sales of the PTA’s Scholastic Book Fairs so she will use these to order online.  While Scholastic does send records for many of their titles (as long as you remember to click that option when ordering), she still finds that several records in an order need to be created or the MARC record for one may not be complete.  The same holds true for donations.  In these instances she does her best and locates a copy of the book (if not the exact same ISBN) that is already in Destiny. She will then take that MARC record and change everything to go with their copy of the book and save that adjusted MARC record for it. She says this is not perfect, but it gets most of the information correct.

She has been doing extensive weeding and preparation for a move.  While still using Dewey she has made some changes in the organization of the collection including identifying and prominently displaying “high interest non-fiction” collections resulting in their circulation “going through the roof.”  She talked with many LMSs in the state to decide on an organization for the fiction collections, and she has decided on 12 categories she will organize by genre with color-coded spine labels after the move.  Overall regarding her OPAC she’s very happy with it, however she admits to feeling that she has not had time to explore it to its fullest capacity.  I think every librarian can identify with the time problem…

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Image from Justin Grandfield @ Flickr https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/115/292629556_39c0d788fe.jpg

 

What did poor MARC ever do to you?! (An Alternate Title for Chapter 8)

This week’s work reminded me of the importance of the access points cataloging provides and the way we have been able to expand this with MARC and now RDA.  It is great to be able to find a work for someone with almost any piece of info they come to you with (well except for the age old “I need that book with the blue cover?” conundrum).

I found it interesting to reflect on the evolution of the idea of author to creator in cataloging since the 1800s (104).  This really reflects the changing nature of library holdings.  We cannot just assume author/book anymore, instead we look at the creator or “statement of responsibility” of the item.  This could be an author, illustrator, choreographer, director, etc.  When faced with pages of  XX $a$h./$c stuff the my mind wanted to wander at times.  It was useful to learn more about what I am looking at in regards to a surrogate record.  The text provided LOTS of examples which I always love and find helpful when I then have to execute what is being learned.  I also appreciated the inclusion of a Harry Potter audiobook in the exercises (126).   1 Because I love all things Potter and 2 it is mentioned that media can often cause interesting cataloging problems to the point where sometimes you can see differences among institutions in the catalog (111).  I have experienced this both as a purchaser of audiobooks in a public library and as a patron searching for audiobooks or other media types.  It can be a frustrating bump on the way to access what you want.  (Sidenote – Jim Dale rocks!)

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Other physical descriptors (many that would not fit on Dewey’s card) are detailed in our readings such as number and coded fields, edition, measurements, content type (spoken word, etc.), series statement, notes field, etc.  ISBN I find to be particularly helpful when I am looking for an item with a not-so-straight-forward title or multiple editions (128).  Sometimes I am trying to decide whether to order an item or a student may be looking for a specific edition – ISBN can be a very valuable access point.  Series statement is useful because it can lead you to more related works (152).  The statement “cataloging periodicals can be problematic” made me exclaim YES! out loud as I was reading (172).  I often find that I have to go to the physical periodical section of the library to really know what is going on and almost never trust the catalog.  I was glad to see the topic of when it is appropriate to create a new record included – this is incredibly important for the need can arise, but if done unnecessarily it can cause access problems.  The book really did a good job addressing its main audience of school librarians for throughout the book there were special notes on how to handle things like book fair books and other relevant, special examples.

When looking at the future of cataloging, RDA was just implemented in 2013 so things are still developing.  This tells me more changes are coming.  Some of the info about BIBFRAME (the future of bibliographic description) went over my head, but the most positive take-away for me is how it is proposed to better “leverage and expose relationships between and among entities” (181) – I like this because it can really expand access for people and that is the core of cataloging.

Works cited:

Kaplan, Allison G. Catalog It! Denver, CO.: Libraries Unlimited, 2016.

Image from Unsplash at Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/couple-smiling-behind-books-70252/

CAT.A.LOG.ING

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Image from FlickrLickr https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Card_Catolog01.jpg

Cataloging is a fickle friend.  This week’s content reminded me that mastering the ins and outs can be a it of a chore. 641.5942 BUC (the Dewey number for The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook) – sure that’s so intuitive!  (Not!)  But once you get familiar with it it becomes easier and it certainly is essential for your patrons’ access and your own management.  I used to do original cataloging at the public library I worked at and here is what I loved about it:

  • Solitude – as much as I love helping people some alone time is nice
  • You get to know your collection in a way you can’t otherwise.  The excitement of seeing the newest books first.  Cracking one open to get the info needed to catalog it. Each piece of your collection goes through your hands.
  • The help that is available to you from what other librarians have done with the subjects or publisher provided info, etc.  You usually do not have to reinvent the wheel and can lean on others for guidance when you are stuck.
  • Knowing that you are making that item discoverable for the first time to the public you serve.

As an instruction librarian who does not do any cataloging anymore, I have a great appreciation for the work that is done.  One missing space in an LC call number can impact shelf-reading, weeding, or generating statistics.  Inconsistencies can negatively affect access to the collections as well.  So consistency in the classification you choose to use is important.  Signage (no matter what the style) is also key (Kaplan 82).

I learned AACR2 when I was in grad school, it was one of the first classes I took and RDA hadn’t taken hold yet so it was interesting reading more about it (7).  I like that RDA allows for more freedom and more description and that there is a toolkit assisting with how to use it.  Regarding classification systems I am the most used to Library of Congress.   I was not familiar with BISAC and Metis, but I had used Dewey in the small town library in which I worked.

I like that BISAC would give students the familiarity of a bookstore organizational scheme, but I am not sure if bookstores will always be common in today’s students’ lives either (sad face) (82).  I like that Metis was developed by school librarians with student research habits in mind (83).  I also like that it has 26 categories (so smaller than LC but more than Dewey).  It is fairly new which gives it hope, but I feel like it would need some sort of mandate or movement behind it from ALA or AASL to catch on more.  I agree with Kaplan’s description of LCC being better for larger libraries because of it’s large size and high detailed division of information (84).  I can see it being too much for a school library.  DCC has its pros and cons.  It can be difficult (especially with fiction) and one has to be sure to use the most up-to-date edition so Western bias of original is removed (84).  I did not know its organization (knowledge classified into 10 categories)  fits well with the K-12 curriculum – this is certainly a plus (81).  It is nice to know school librarians have options – I think ultimately your knowledge of your community/school and the state your collection is in at the time you inherit it will help you decide what direction to go.

Additional takeaways. One thing I love about librarianship is the willingness to share and that is reflected in cataloging practices described in Catalog It!  The fact that a lot of this stretches internationally (IFLA, LC’s influence, etc.) is something we should be proud of as a profession.  I was not familiar with MARC field 658 (75) and how curriculum mapping can play a role in cataloging – giving more reason for a school lirarian to really know what is going on in her school.

A favorite quote from Catalog It!  for me was “organizaiton of information is paramount to access” (13) – with the diversity of our collections and expectations surrounding electronic access today this can serve as an effective mantra as we work on our own collections/cataloging.

Works Cited:

Kaplan, Allison G. Catalog It! Denver, CO.: Libraries Unlimited, 2016.

PDP: And if you don’t know now you know… (mic drop)

This blog title gives away the fact that I spent my formative years listening to 90s hip-hop.

800px-turntables_and_mixer Image from Baskoner  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Turntables_and_mixer.jpg

It was hard deciding what to present.  I would most likely be presenting tech to library staff and colleagues, but I felt a pull to do something geared towards faculty.  Part of this is because of my own desire to become more informed about assessment and find new ways of doing it (especially using tech).  I have also been doing a ton of reflective writing for most of the grad classes I have been taking recently (more so than I remember with my MLIS in 2006), so using that as an assessment since it helps the student as well  made sense to me.

And so began my journey finding tools and apps that could apply to reflection. Some we had covered in class already – Prezi for isntance.  For reflection it is suggested that sound be added – I had not realized you could add sound to Prezi.  Recap was a cool new tool I discovered – it is specifically designed for capturing student responses to learning.  Another clever idea from an instructor was setting up a “video confessional” like ones you see on reality television for students to use during a specific long-term project.

I also noticed something interesting regarding some of my research.  My simple Google search for “apps for student reflection” got me way better results than my more sophisticated advanced search.  Sometimes simple is better, but you often don’t know until you have tried both ways.  This is why I always feel out searches before teaching and usually even before student appointments.

I chose to use Google Slides because I love most things Google, but do not have a lot of experience with this tool.  This project let me work on that – I tried animations, fonts, adding gifs, etc.  I found it interesting that I tried to add a Vimeo video and while it looked like it recognized it, once you “saved” it and left edit view – it did not appear in the presentation view.  I had to use an image of a screenshot and hyperlink that to the video. Adding a YouTube video however was seamless – of course that is owned by Google so coincidence? I think not!

It was nice to stretch my mind and think of ways to do reflection and assessment other than filling out a form or survey.

 

Picking Favorites

 

So for this week it is nice to look back and try to pick a top 5.  We looked at so many. There were some I liked (like Glogster or Wideo), but then their limited use (not truly free) knocks them out of the running for me.  Here’s five in no particular order, however I tried to pick ones that serve different purposes.

  1. Google Hangouts / Sites / Forms/ Slides ETC!  – is that ultimately called the Google suite?!  I like all of it.  It is all user-friendly, intuitive and clean in design as well as what it produces.  I feel like everyone has a Google account, so it makes it pretty well worth it (except for my 3 friends who still hang on to their aol or yahoo accounts).  I can see Hangouts as a way to have meetings in bad weather or for an online class, or as a way to “bring in” a speaker.  Sites is a nice platform for a web-presence.  Forms could be an answer to a lot of my problems – assessment, class scheduling, etc.  Slides is another alternative to PowerPoint -which I am always happy to see.  Most of these could be used by me in instruction or by my students to create a product of their learning.
  2. Twitter – I avoided it forever.  Signed up once years ago and backed away quickly.  It is hard for me to split my time between too many social media platforms considering I already balance personal and professional.  However, this class gave me a reason to try it again and I am glad, for I believe I will be sticking with it.  This seems like it will be a useful addition for professional development ideas.  I can follow leaders in academic libraries and (most importantly to me) educational/instructional technology for new ideas to use in my classroom.
  3. Animoto – a little bit limited by what you are allowed to use (music, design-wise) and very limited by short length of your free animation – however, if it can be used for outreach on social media short is okay.  It produces high quality looking videos that could provide a nice peek into what is going on at the library.
  4. Piktochart – I love the idea of Infographics as a tool for library promotion.  Also as a tool for students to use in a project.  And as a way to present information in a class session.  I think they can really have a visual impact.  There are some limitations to this site, but for the free version of the tool it is useful and you sign up with your Google account.
  5. WordPress – Again, very intuitive, pretty easy to use.  I have done guest blog entries (not actually posted by me) for library outreach and I have posted a week’s lesson in our summer info lit course when we once used a blog to conduct the course.  You can do a lot for free.  This class has got me into regularly having to maintain one and the various posting/editing features are easy.  This could be a good tool for students to produce work on, so it is good that I am more familiar with it.  This could be good for outreach by the library should we want to restart ours; or networking and raising one’s profile as a librarian. Relatedly, I have also found new WordPress blogs to follow which aid in professional development ideas.

Images from:

Alexy Kljatov at Wikimedia Commons  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Snowflake_macro_photography_1.jpg

Melanie Levi at Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/apartmentlife/8284225075

*sax at Flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/saxonmoseley/5325339842

 

Assistive Technology = Expanded Access and Empowerment

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I work at an academic library and, as suggested by Janet Hopkins in her 2004 Teacher Librarian article that included “10 ideas for addressing library accessibility issues,” I tried to identify barriers to learning in my own library (#3).  To address assistive technology (AT) we have ADA compliant desks in each classroom and for study spaces throughout the library.  We also provide an “adaptive technology” study room that has numerous assistive technologies for the visually impaired including JAWS 7.0, ZOOMText 9.0, Kurzweil 3000, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, among others (all of which I should become more familiar with the use of #6).  I spoke with our information desk (#2) which manages access to all study rooms, and the adaptive tech room is being used, but we get very few questions/interactions beyond checking out the key-card.  Therefore, we know little about the disabilities our students have who frequent the library and whether there are any barriers we need to address/needs being missed that could be fixed with additional AT.  This is something we could work on with a survey or focus group (#5).  The Disabilities Office for the University is in our building so it is possible that close proximity means students are going directly there when a need arises, as they also provide tech/devices and other supports.  I will speak to this office to learn more about the school’s population with disabilities and their challenges (#1).

 

I work with a lot of students one-on-one and over the years there has only been one occasion when a student’s disability came into play.  She had a visual disability, needed research assistance on our online databases, and could not see my computer screen.  Thankfully the technology in the adaptive study room was available.  I often get requests for assistance finding videos/films with close captioning to be used in classes in my academic areas when a student with a hearing impairment is in the class.  In these cases it is actually the Disability Office contacting me.  I check our own collections then turn to interlibrary loan to see if we can get a copy from another library if we do not have one with CC.  In some cases Media Services may need to help with a solution.  I get no information regarding students that attend library instruction sessions; if I had that info I may be able to improve on a session.  Since this will not change I can spend some professional development time (#4) looking at the tips provided on Universal Design like this check-list provided by such sources as Project ENABLE which we learned about this week.  CAST makes a great case for Universal Design saying if you “design for those in the margins… it works for everyone.”  They have a number of useful items for professional development including their UDL Studio site (pointed out by Jones 2015) for creating educational materials and I even found they have a higher education site UDLONCAMPUS.  The QIAT Resource Bank for guiding AT services looks like an excellent resource for furthering my knowledge on AT.  This week’s discovery process led me to this University of Texas Libraries blog post on an article looking specifically at UDL in (academic) library instruction, so this is very applicable to my position and has tips I can use in lesson planning next semester.  For example, making video tutorials and making sure they have captioning is one way I can improve and expand accessibility.  UDL will help me address accessibility issues for students with disabilities while potentially benefitting all students in the long-run.  Publicizing (#10) any efforts we make towards better accessibility can certainly be done better through posters, newspaper ads, campus tv and email announcements, social media posts, and workshops.

I like Hopkins (2006) idea of Assistive technology that can travel with students after check out at the library and it would be great if the library looked to add this service.  Harris (2011) suggests making sure your website is compliant with accessibility standards.  I am on the University-wide campus committee for the school’s website re-design and try to advocate for the library’s page.

To get another take on assistive technology in K-12.  I interviewed an Instructional Technology specialist at the elementary level and a Special Education administrator who works with mostly secondary students.  They work for different public school districts in Massachusetts.  I asked the following questions:  Is there any assistive technology (strategy, device/tech) that you’ve seen work particularly well for students with disabilities?  Is there a most common disability or barrier you see?  Do you run into a lot of barriers in regards to getting the AT they need?

IT Specialist interview:

Assistive technology in this district is mostly handled by the Special Education Department.  Some examples of common AT include: non-verbal students may have a communication device they can use for talking/understanding lessons with the help of their aides; and students with hearing issues may bring a special mic to specialist classes for teachers to wear to be heard in their listening device.  This year they have a new student who is a refugee from Syria, who has significant injuries to his limbs – the result of a bomb attack.  (He is one of the most positive students in the school). Coming in they had very little information on what he could or couldn’t do. They are trying out different things for him – lots of speech to text, special styluses (which work with hand prostheses and an iPad), and they’re researching a better keyboard for him.  OT also helps out on this front.  The efforts mentioned above are the work of a group of teachers who are trying to get him AT that will work for him – not necessarily the results of an AT consult.  The abundance of helpful apps used for special education students stands out for this educator as well.  The educator mentioned text to speech is easily accessible via Google Docs and works for a lot of students with varying disabilities.  In regards to barriers, there can be a disconnect between the special education and tech departments, making it unclear who is/should be in charge of obtaining and/or paying for assistive tech.

Special Education professional interview:

This district has an Assistive Technology Specialist and Easter Seals may also be involved at assessments.  As a special education professional this educator sees iPad, speech to text and Bookshare as tools that come up a lot.  AT like these serve a variety of disabilities including: autism, vision impairment, reading disabilities, neurological and other health-related disabilities.  The educator stressed that there are so many AT uses for the iPad it is good for global disabilities for all levels of schooling.  Students in this district’s special education program have iPads according to their IEP for many different reasons.  For example, for the non-verbal iPads can be great for communication.  Of the disabilities mentioned above the most common are reading disabilities and autism.

Guide to terms:

Bookshare – Accessible ebooks for people with visual, physical, and learning disabilities. Free for qualified U.S. students. https://www.bookshare.org/cms/

Dragon Naturally Speaking – speech recognition software with fast, accurate dictation and transcription, and advanced customization.  http://www.nuance.com/dragon/index.htm

Google Docs – text to speech accessibility tool offered in Google’s online word processor.  https://support.google.com/docs/answer/4492226?hl=en

JAWS 7.0 – Job Access With Speech is a screen reader, developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse. JAWS provides speech and Braille output for the most popular computer applications on your PC.  http://www.freedomscientific.com/Products/Blindness/JAWS

Kurzweil 3000 – Educational software designed to provide literacy support.  Built-in features for reading, writing and study skills helps students to become independent learners, active participants and to keep up with peers and achieve their full academic potential. https://www.kurzweiledu.com/products/k3000-win.html

ZOOMText 9.0 – is a magnifying and reading software for the vision impaired, reads aloud and allows you to multi-task as well http://www.zoomtext.com/products/

Cited sources:

Christopher Harris. “Are you Accessible?”  School Library Journal, February, 2011.

Janet Hopkins, “School Library Accessibility: The Role of Assistive Technology.” Teacher Librarian, 31:3, February, 2004

Victoria Jones. “Tools of the Trade: An Innovative Organization Provides Free Tools and Resources to Make Learning Accessible to All Students.” Usable Knowledge, April 22, 2015

 

A Week of Cliches and Colloquialisms (brought to you by students and social networking)

Taking an in-depth look at student interest in and use of social media and online gaming at times made me uncomfortable (am I too distracted by my Smartphone as well? how much of 2009 did I lose to Farmville?)  Other times it made me feel empowered (helping students with a project in which they are blogging really does have add-value and relevance!)

Mostly it left me not wanting to fully commit to a belief one way or the other and spitting out cliche and colloquialisms left and right.  That question I proposed above?  “Guilty as charged!”  Do the pros outweigh the cons? I cannot commit definitively so I will say “Everything in moderation!”  Oh yeah and “it’s complicated.”  Students are definitely social networking, so “if we can’t beat’em we better ~ at least ~ join’em” or we will get left behind.

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The reality is today’s students (of all ages) are using social media and online gaming (in large numbers according to the Pew Research Center), so librarians need to be knowledgeable about how these technologies impact student learning and daily life.  This knowledge can then inform our teaching and help us stay relevant.  Digital literacy and digital citizenship is a logical extension of other library efforts such as information literacy.  Keeping on top of tech trends is another big componant of our job.  Integrating social networking and gaming into our teaching can have a positive impact on learning while making lessons relate to our students’ lives better.

If students are going to be using social media and online gaming, then we should be able to help them use these platforms more intelligently and efficiently – whether that is teaching high schoolers about filter bubbles (Pariser 2011) or middle schoolers about their digital footprint (Internet Society 2014) – there are opportunities for librarians to make a difference in the online lives of our students. I believe librarians can equip students with tools to make their socially networked lives a little LESS complicated.

Image from:

Douglas Muth Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/dmuth/7540543816

Works cited:

Internet Society.  (2014).  “Your Digital Footprint Matters.”  Retrieved from: http://www.internetsociety.org/your-digital-footprint-matters

Pariser, Eli.  (March 2011). Beware online “filter bubbles.”  TED Talks. Video retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles?language=en

 

 

 

Keeping Up Appearances and Shameless Self-Promotion, Etc.

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Social media is an essential tool for librarians today.  Our exploration of social media tools this week reinforced this belief for me.  It is crucial that we maintain some sort of social media presence.  For me at an academic library I believe community building is key.  We need to be seen as the heart of the campus.  Promoting what we have to offer is vital (and we have a lot to offer).  Libraries and librarians are constantly adapting and evolving; and once people realize what we have to offer they are usually quick to buy-in. But to make sure we are seen as essential and relevant we need to shout aloud to the world on occasion, because there are stereotypes to break down…

Social media allows us to create content that shows how we are innovating librarianship with today’s technology through instruction (teaching with iPads), research (LibGuides), collections (ebooks, streaming film), services (OverDrive, online tutorials), new initiatives (Digital Commons), and more.  While creating content for marketing is important, interaction with our audience can turn it up a notch.  I know I want to do a lot more with our Facebook/Twitter presence to foster interaction – this post gave some ideas.  I think prizes will be key at first.

How I use social media as a consumer or for my own professional development is important too.  I have used Facebook for years.  I have a personal account and co-manage the library’s account.  Regarding Twitter – I had dipped a toe in once and quickly threw in towel, just not enough time for another social media account.  For this class I set up a new Twitter account and I found a lot of exciting Twitter-ers? to follow, so I plan to keep up a professional account this time.  I am very excited about some of the educational technology accounts I have started to follow.  I found a great article on having students post your school/library’s social media content.  It is nice to get the reassurance that I was really doing something right when I created our student social media task force – and it encourages me to bring it back.

I wasn’t sure about how I could use Vine as a librarian, but I found this post useful for some ideas including brief how to find… videos or event promos.  I visited a number of libraries’ Pinterest pages and saw some uses that make sense such as pinning faculty books and library services.  There were some cute, for-fun pins too such as “libraries we love” and celebrity readers.  Some of these were useful because they show we have a fun-side, but spending a lot of time on this would not be possible for me and some of these boards didn’t have much add-value.  I’ll be sticking to Pinterest for personal use and my own professional development use, not library outreach.  Tumblr is too public and seems like a great place for memes and gifs and not much else?  Don’t get me wrong that’s fun, but it is one more thing when I already have other things that work for me.  I think I should know about SnapChat because it is what the “kids” are using (for now); and because of this week’s content I do know more, but I’m going to stay away from it professionally and personally.  I can do without LinkedIn, tried it for a second – nolikey.  I am being peer pressured to get on the Instagram bandwagon, many are preferring this to Facebook these days.  I could see myself doing this personally, and professionally it might be wise to start one however we already have Flickr which is photo-focused.

My end conclusion between number of platforms and plethora of content within each – there is not enough time in the day!

Images cited:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Art_of_Social_Media.jpg by Pigsonthewing Wikimedia Commons originally posted https://www.flickr.com/photos/mkhmarketing/8468788107

https://www.flickr.com/photos/calsidyrose/6033655868 by Calsidyrose Flickr

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shawnzlea/2224108157 by Shawn Rossi Flickr

My attempt at Wideo and thoughts on Week 5’s exploration

Check out my Wideo creation on how to find the full text of scholarly articles.  Click on image below to be taken to the site:

final-wideo-screenshot-for-blog

Thoughts from this week’s exploration:

Wideo – This is the tool I spent the most time with that was listed in the article by Byrne.  I was first interested in it because he described it as a tool you could create “Common Craft style” videos in.  Using the site though, how to do this was not obvious to me.  You could make nice presentation videos or tutorials.

Wideo was cool, I had to sign up for a free one week trial.  Does not seem to be a better free option?  Or an educator option?  I picked a template – it was a bit hard to find the right one because a lot are geared towards business and marketing rather than education.  It had great editing options!  I loved that after I uploaded my own photos I could edit them more once in Wideo.  For example, two of my photos needed more cropping than I could do with my PC before uploading, but I could fix once in Wideo (these images basically wouldn’t have worked if it did not have that option.)  You can also add stickers, text, frames, edit red-eye, etc.  One problem I did have:  I added a sticker, saved changes then found better sticker for what I wanted and was unable to delete previous sticker – had to delete photo and redo it.  Other cons: I could not get as many slides as would like (limited to 6) and could not add as many seconds as would like to a slide (total video limited to 30 seconds) without upgrading.  While I do not expect to have all the bells and whistles of a pro version (icons and sounds to add, etc.); this was disappointing.

The Buffy vs. Edward copyright case – #1 Take-away: it’s complicated.

Before embarking on a lesson in which student create video content BE SURE to go over fair use.  Resources and lesson plans from organizations like Common Sense Education can help.

Richardson’s Chapter 8 – We live in a time where we are more globally connected than ever and where multimedia publishing has been brought to the masses (Richardson, 111). While a bit intimidating (copyright, tech involved, student privacy, etc.), I think our students will be doing this with or without us, so I rather it be with us and maybe they will learn some things along the way (how not to violate copyright, tech that makes it easier for them, ways to safeguard their digital footprint, etc.)  This prompts me to want to revisit metaliteracy: Mackey, T. & Jacobson T. (2011). Reframing Information as a Metaliteracy. College and Research Libraries. Retrieved from http://crl.acrl.org/content/72/1/62.full.pdf 

Richardson provides some great links to resources for podcasting in education like the Education Podcast Network and real-life examples. (p 115-117).  He also goes into how-to.  Screencasting is also included in this chapter I was happy to see Jing mentioned since I already use it.  I have used it myself for instruction, this week’s lesson got me thinking about how to have students use it.  For instance, putting students in groups and have them be assigned to make screencasts where they teach the rest of the class a part of the lesson.  Livestreaming or WebTV is also mentioned in this chapter – I am not there yet!

iTunes Podcasts and TeachThought’s & Edutopia’s recommended educational podcasts:

The number of iTunes podcasts on educational technology alone (for example) was overwhelming.  It also included some questional choices for the category including “Jokes in English” and “Sex Advice from Oprah.”  I clicked on one that was on-topic&it hadn’t had a new post since 2006, so some are dated which could be a problem with rapidly changing ed tech world.

Rather than sample at random it would be wise to consult lists of “Best of’s” from some sites I already know are reliable to see what podcasts would of interest to me or (better yet) commonly appear on more than one “Best of” list.  Podcasts that are already vetted would be more useful to me and save me time.  So I started with the lists provided in our week 5 content.  Some I am familiar with: TedTalks, various NPR podcasts.

A recommendation that really interested me was G.A.M.E. “featuring practitioners who have successfully implemented games into their classrooms and learning environments.”  We turned our 5-week information literacy course for the Summer Bridge Program (serving incoming freshmen) into a game-based curriculum in summer 2015 and in the 6 years I have been teaching in the program it was the most successful version yet.  It would be good to come up with new ideas and hear other examples of how to integrate gaming through this podcast.  Moving at the Speed of Creativity is a long-running, educator produced podcast primarily focusing on creative uses of multimedia with students.  The latest entry includes a movie that would be relevant for a screening or acquisition once on DVD for many of my subject areas. Additional posts include ISTE, iPad and digital citizenship as topics – all potentially useful for my continued professional development.

Spreaker (not on the list) – I discovered Spreaker over the summer because it was featured in the Unquiet Librarian’s blog.  The fact that it works on several platforms as this blog points out is key to me: desktop (PC or Mac) and mobile (Apple or Android) is a big draw to me because I need to be sure all my students and faculty can use it. Equal access, usability are key.  I watched a video tutorial but I am not ready to get into all that goes into trying it out.  Most importantly I found my next podcast to check out when I finish the West Wing Weekly and Gilmore Guys podcasts –Out on the Lanai: A Golden Girls Podcast

YouTube/TeacherTube/Vimeo– I like that TeacherTube is a safe venue specifically for instructional videos.  This will make finding educational content easier than searching all of YouTube which is also full of cat videos, surprise egg videos, and stupid human tricks videos. It is nice to have an alternative storage site (and place to search for content) as an educator.  I like that you can create a free account, but I do not like the fact that it includes advertising.  For instance, when I wanted to watch a video on Boolean operators I had to sit through an advertisement from Wayfair on how to create an “outdoor bar shed” as in “Would you like a Gin and Tonic before you mow the lawn?”(not the best school content I must add!)

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Image from: Global Jet, Flickr  https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2479/3612336224_c4ed195c5d_b.jpg

I like the look of Vimeo and know it is growing in usage.  I found the best comparison of Vimeo to YouTube from Techsmith (behind Jing) making me think it is worth checking out, however I am getting account fatigue!

Cited

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

 

 

A is for Applications

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Image from Kristina Alexanderson https://www.flickr.com/photos/kalexanderson/6612252585 

While I have to let Valenza’s concept of “app smashing” sink in, I 110% agree with her statement that “a new, and critical element of our mission as librarians is the curating of apps to meet the needs of specific grades, projects, classes, teachers and administrators.” (2014).  Yup!  Yes!  Affirmative!  You-betcha!  We did an iPad pilot project at SSU Library and for my part I researched, tried and then shared apps that could be good for the social sciences and for library research and library use in general.  I maintain a page for each of my academic areas.  I did workshops with two colleagues and faculty feedback was: we want to use this stuff – please tell us what to use.  I see apps as a logical extension to collection development – we are vetting books, databases, e-readers, streaming film collections, etc. why not apps too?!  They are often resources for learning or tools that get you to resources for learning.  It can be hard to keep up, so here’s an exploration of this week’s class assigned 11…

Flickr http://flickr.com

I created a Flickr account here is a link to my photostream: https://www.flickr.com/gp/143895336@N06/A72NRS

Setting up my Flickr account I am annoyed that it makes me a Yahoo! account.  Once I get past that I could see it as a professional tool for outreach.  For instance, we took pictures of our move into our new library building and Flickr provided us with a nice visual display of a grid of images for our website.  I could see Flickr being a way to post student created images for an assignment, library contests involving photos, etc.  

Recently I have heard of photovoice being used in lessons for students in social work and education, so Flickr could be good for that. Beyond photovoice I thought the mapping could be useful for an imagined class trip across the US or sites of the Civil Rights movement through historic public domain photos, etc.  

I have taught students how to search Flickr using Creative Commons to find usable images for presentations they are doing, blog posts they are writing, or Wikipedia articles they are editing.  I would like to be more confident about choosing images with the right copyright.  For instance Wikipedia suggests images with CC BY-SA but these seem harder to find.  On the other side of the coin, in certain situations you may want to have some level of privacy with what you are putting out there.  I like Richardson’s point that one of Flickr’s strengths is that you have choice in how you set viewing access (p. 103).  I sometimes find myself suggesting that instructors include image citation in requirements for their student assignments.  As a librarian it is important that the instructors are on-board with setting the same standards for images as they do for other citations. 

BigHugeLabs http://bighugelabs.com/ 

I thought this had a lot of fun options.  I made a movie poster using my own photo and it was pretty easy to use.  I would like more options like font size, but still for a free version you did get some good choices (different fonts, colors). 

salem snow poster.jpg

I read on teachwithweb2.wikipsaces.com that you can get a free educator account so students can be pre-registered.  This way they can sign-in without an email address and other extras.  That is a big extra for me – I typically have no time for the logistics of sign-ups in a class session.  I also like that it is set to work with Flickr which I just signed up for.

The photo collage options, the map maker, and the movie poster, trading card, & magazine cover creation choices have a lot of potential for use in lessons.  A number of the features offered would also be good for library outreach efforts (adding special fx to photos, funny motivational posters for the library during finals week, etc.)

Timeline http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/timeline-30007.html

This application is certainly good for doing one specific thing – making a timeline.  It is pretty basic, but sometimes that is all you need (especially if your time with students is limited!)  Considering it is free you get a nice application – you can even add photos to your timeline and there are three fields for text which can be useful if you want to include an event name, date and short description.  I occassionally ran into a letter limit and had to reword what I was typing to fit it and occassionally it took some fumbling clicks to get where I wanted to be, but I’d get there and for the most part it was easy and intutitive.  It is nice that you can save, email and print what you create.  I wish you could make your title bigger – it is dwarfed by the preset header of “TIMELINE”and I wish you could do more with colors/fonts but beggers can’t be choosers  ; )  This could be a good application for any of my subject areas covering the history of a topic: US social policy (a regular course for me) and (more recently) the Black Lives Matter movement come to mind.

Glogster  http://edu.glogster.com/

This is an application I will be sure to share with faculty in my subject areas.  This is an application I would be sure to share with faculty in my subject areas if it was free.  As I looked into it more and more I realized there wasn’t a free option any more (except a 7 day personal account free trial), so it cannot make it to as high on my list of suggestions as I might like.  (Tell me if I am missing something!?)  

Making creative, enagaging presentations can be a challenge for anyone.  Glogster’s cool interface (reminiscent of social media tools they use in their social life) could motivate students more and (according to Glogster’s website) promote higher-order thinking. It is nice to have students experiment with more than PowerPoint, and it is nice to have more than Prezi or HaikuDeck to offer as alternatives.  The fact that it is a multi-media interactive poster (combining text, graphics, images, audio, video and the web) puts a nice twist on a traditional static physical poster or even a slideshow.  (The name sounds like a clogged blog though!)

Zamzar http://www.zamzar.com/index.php

Zamzar is great!  I have used it for converting Word files to PDF and converting long, awkward links to more manageable ones. (I keep waiting for the lizards on the home page to talk like the funny, old Budweiser commercials.) The number of formats they offer is very impressive.  It has a number of applications for my use in creating instructional and outreach materials – I could see it being useful for my faculty and students for the same purposes.

SurveyMonkey http://www.surveymonkey.com/

I have used SurveyMonkey a lot and been happy with it. I like the ease of use, the Q&A options, and the stats it can generate after.  I have used it to survey students as a means of assessment at the conclusion of a class.  I have been happy with this because it allows me to create questions that can also act as a review for students (while giving me more in-depth understanding of how much they are actually grasping what we went over).  For instance, I can have a required open-ended question where I ask them to list a certain number of search terms to see if they got the concept of brainstorming for keywords and synonyms related to their topic.  I have used it to collect feedback on the circulating e-reader and iPad pilot I ran; and I have used it to survey faculty needs related to the library.

Classmates in this week’s discussion seem to prefer Google Forms, which is always something I have wanted to become more proficient in – so I will spend time trying that. 

Doodle http://www.doodle.com/main.html

I use Doodle all the time for scheduling meetings for the MANY committees I am on.  It is quick and easy.  It let’s you put as little or as many options as you want for dates and time blocks – so very flexible (although you still may not find one time everyone can attend!). You are provided with an easy URL to share and notifications when people have replied. Big pointer – when you send out a Doodle put a respond by deadline!  Most people “get it” and readily respond.  Then there are those that never open the email to begin with – I need a different app for them…

Bubbl.us http://www.bubbl.us/

I recommend Bubbl.us to students although I find it to be a bit wonky.  You go to click to add a bubble and you end up with two or a sub-bubble where you don’t want it. It is a little touchy.  I like that you can do just enough without making an account.  I don’t want the creation of an account to prevent a student from using a useful tool – it can be a hurdle for individuals (account overload today) and it can take time from class I do not have to give.  I also like this concept mapping tool from Northwest Missouri State University Library (you can save and print without an account) and the app Popplet for iPad. 

Voki http://www.voki.com

While the look of the avatars here are a little basic or early-web (retro?) looks wise there are a lot of choices and details you can adjust and add to really personalize.  (Everything from accessories for your human or monster etc. to the background behind you).  It is easy enough to work with and it is nice that there is a free option.  I could see this as being useful for an online classroom situation (thinking February 2015 snow) or a little something extra in a presentation.  I think it is useful for anyone uncomfortable being the talking head themselves or just wanting a unique touch to the material they are presenting I could see using the Voki created avatar for an welcome/intro to a new lesson or resource guide. I like that you can do text to speech because I couldn’t get the microphone option to work.

Here’s a goofy attempt at a free one – none of them said Tara how I say it and I am pretty sure she has the “Rachel” for a hair-do.  Scottish accent and some Harry Potter references of course!  http://tinyurl.com/jc832c3

 

Jing http://www.jingproject.com

I attended a lesson on Jing back when Mass Library System had regional offices (NMRLS was mine).  And it is a useful tool.  It does a great job capturing what is going on your computer screen so it is great for tutorials.  You can add voiceover and it provides you with link to share or embed.  I have created a Jing tutorial on how to set up Google Scholar settings to find SSU materials, so my Jing tutorial flips the classroom for me.  Not everyone uses Google Scholar so I don’t want to go into it depth, but I can mention it in class and point out the tutorial so that those who do use it can learn to use it better.  I have tried things like Captivate and Camtasia which are fancier and therefore $$$ and Jing seems to do the job for me – I do not necessarily have the time for fancy unfortunately.

Animoto http://animoto.com/

I had played with Animoto awhile ago a NOBLE consortium tech session, so it was nice to revisit it.  It seems much more sophisticated.  The music choices are nice as are the themes to choose from.  There are a lot of options for uploading your pics whether directly from your computer or from various platforms (Flickr, Facebook, etc.).  I signed up for a trial, so while there were some limitations it was nothing noticeable or problematic. (Although I am stuck with a watermark on my creation.)They give some editing options even with the free version and many options for sharing (Voki and other tools for instance limited some sharing options to paid-for accounts).  I created a short video as a trial (actually used personal pics for a change, I am a little cautious about my digital footprint). Animoto provides a nice embed link, but I do not have that level of a WordPress account to be able to use it – doh!  It could be nice for outreach at our library, however I am not sure marketing would allow it (or they would at least need oversight).  I can imagine some uses for students and certainly promotional materials for academic departments.

Cited

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Valenza, J. (2014, July 26). “Librarians wanted for smashing, building, toolkit building.” School Library Journal. (Blog) Retrieved from: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2014/07/26/librarians-wanted-for-smashing-blending-toolkit-building/ 

GoodReads and Tumblr and Diigo – Oh My!

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There is a long, winding yellow brick road to set out on when exploring good tools for librarians in education.  Here are some thoughts/discoveries from my exploration this past week.  I couldn’t include it all here, but have divided the highlights into three categories: organizing stuff, finding new stuff, and keeping track (and finding new) books.  I have to add that the issue of the difference between tools and apps (Kellet article) hurts my brain a little bit.  One can argue tools perform multiple tasks and apps perform a single function, and I see that perspective, but I also think a lot of tools have app versions (ie. Gmail, Prezi, Canvas).  Then the lines between them  get fuzzy to me.  I guess I tend to be in a mindset where a tool is something helpful you can use, that will progress your work along whether it is a multifaceted or simple.

Tools for organizing:

I already love Pinterest.  I use it for everyday life (realistic or not!) and I created an account as a student over the summer where I am putting library/edtech related pins.   I need the visual Pinterest provides – not just the title or URL of the site.  I like that you can edit the caption to contain the info you value and make (pin) boards of categories that make sense to me.  It is  easily searchable, my pins can be shared, and I can follow boards of other Pinners that share interests (why reinvent the wheel).  As I mentioned in this week’s class discussion some of the educational links I find do not necessarily have a good graphic to pin, but Pinterest has improved and even without a graphic I can usually still pin it (a custom name I enter becomes the image.)  Also, I struggle when I feel like things I want to bookmark overlap into more than one category – it’s not always clear cut.  I feel like I might have this problem with any social bookmarking tool though?   So on to try others.

When I went to try del.icio.us I actually got this message…

delicious-error

Insert Price is Right losing horn here.  I know this tool has been around a long time, however this did not impress.   I decided to spend more time with diigo to see why it seems to have taken the lead.

I spent time with Diigo and I see it has strengths.  Like Pinterest I can put an extension in my Chrome browser for good usability.  I think that it is pretty cool that I can highlight the actual content of the webpage that I am saving to my Diigo account, I can put sticky notes, and edit these later.  Saved items are saved by title so they’re displayed in text (no image unless actually saving something that is an image file itself).  Being able to tag my content helps with organizing it and I like that you can sort, make lists and even headings and sub-headings with it.  I also think the potetional for collaboration is huge, and it would be fun to experiment with either as an instruction librarian in a group such as Ed Tech Talk or by having students share resources as they complete a group project.  While I see that Diigo has its uses, I think primarily Pinterest is still “it” for me social bookmarking-wise. Here’s the best way I can put it – a social bookmarking tool that is more visual is great for grabbing something you are looking for at a quick glance, while Diigo (where it is heavily text) I feel like you have to sift through more. For the simple purpose of organizing bookmarks in order to access them easily I’ll be sticking with Pinterest for the most part.  Collaborative work on an article or group project is when Diigo may make more sense for me because of the extras like hi-lighting, annotating and greater level of collaboration that can  take place.

Tumbler to me is much more social networking than organizing.  It is unmonitored and pretty public (you might want some privacy).  Users tend to post under wacky names and Tumblr may even suggest such names to you – posting under this kind of anonymity is hurts the credibility of this source.  It’s layout is very visual (which I normally like), but there is a lot on there.  When I have used Tumbr it has been for locating images or memes I can use.

I have used Padlet to add an interactive element to my collection deevelopment Wiki and enjoy the visual it projects, but I am not sure how much interaction I will get (have to count on  others to know how to use it). I like that it has the potential to be used by my faculty and students as well, and think collaboration could be a strength – for example, as a collaboartive bulletin board for ideas/resources for a group project.

Regarding Google tools…  I use Google daily.  As I sometimes tell my shocked students – The Librarian says Google it!  I firmly believe that if they are going to use Google than I better know how to use it well, so I can help them use it better (mostly I see this from an information literacy, searching for and evaluating info p.o.v.).  I started using Google Docs a couple of years ago, it is great for collaboration or for use on my my Mac that does not have Word on it. I held workshops on “Everything Google” when I first started out but my workload and the ever-evolving nature of Google offerings has made it hard for me to keep up.  This week’s content gives me reason to!

One takeway from this was an appreciation for GoogleSlides.  It is user-friendly (like most Google tools) and I have free access with my Gmail account.  It seems to have all the bells and whistles of a PowerPoint even with options to put in animations.  It is free and available any time for me to work on since it is connected to my Google account.  When I opened Slides in my account I saw that I had a presentation some of my students had done in my Summer Bridge course last year.  This shows that my students are using it too. Google Hangouts was another exciting find for it gives me an option other than Skype for people without iPhones and FaceTime.  A number of Johnson’s LiveBinder links were useful as well.  One in particular was on using Google Forms in the classroom.  I’ve used interactive options in my LibGuides, Survey Monkey, and Poll Everywhere to get student input (whether Q&A or feedback).  I have always wanted to work with Google Forms.  This article gave me some ideas for its use and the video gave me a good tutorial. For a free tool, Google Forms does a great job summarizing your data – graphs and everything.  Of course, I like that students could use it too.

With so many tools and so many accounts to make to use them – while I am not for monopolies – I find myself wishing I could just get everything I need from Google (especially since they do things well).  One giant Swiss Silicon Valley Army Knife.  I’ve even branded it for them.

Finding new stuff:

As an instruction librarian I use LibGuides and create them for my academic areas or for specific classes.  I can easily embed RSS feeds and think they  have incredible potential for classes looking at news literacy, students needing to follow news on a current event or topic, or students looking for topic ideas for an assignment.  For example, following reliable news sources can be useful.  The NY Times (among other publications) have numerous RSS feeds that can fit your need.  The possibilities are endless:  professional organizations, government resources, and trade publications more.

As far as using an RSS reader to collect a lot of RSS feeds in one place (for me) I have only used FlipBoard for iPad and it is a beautiful tool.  I love the visual display (there I go again!) and ease of use.  I went to 4 different RSS feed readers and all wanted access to my Google account info if I used them, so I finally gave in to Feedreader.  It was ranked number 2 in the article (by Gube) mentioned in this week’s class content .  At first glance here’s what appealed to me:  it was simple, the appearance of the page was easy on the eye (RSS can be a lot of text to get through), and it had options to star things to be read later and to filter unread results.   Feedreader made it easy to add feeds and link to their stories.  It was a little wonkier figuring out how to categorize them, but it could be done.  I would like a way to limit how many can appear in the feed from each site, but I could not immediately find such an option.  Again, it becomes a lot of text to sift through. Info-overload!  But if you are smart about what you choose to follow it could be really useful in the battle to keep up-to-date on things that matter to you.  As Richardson explains in our text (71) RSS feeds help you become a more efficient consumer of info and we need all the help we can get!

Organizing and Finding New Books:

I found this article “Good Reads v. LibraryThing – Part One” by Amanda Nelson for bookriot.com that was helpful (although written 4 years ago some features may have changed). I wish I did more reading than I do, but these days I do not have a huge need for organizing my books.  (My son’s books might be a different story, although I tend to do this through Pinterest mostly so people know what to buy him or not.)  I do not have a need for organizing my academic area collections through one of these tools as our consoritum catalog does that.

I set up accounts for both, but there is so much with each to look at. For personal reading I just do not do enough, and for collections I deal with books primarily from academic publishers which I don’t see having a strong presence here.  The ability to get stats on your reading is cool and the social potential is huge between reviews to give and read, groups to join, quizzes to take, lists to look at, etc.  I liked taking a look at LibraryThing’s Zeitgeist and its cover view.  Ultimately neither tool is necessarily filling a need I have at this time.

Other:  An infinite number of additional tools and apps were available to check out.  I have DropBox and it has proven useful for cloud storage of files I need to access anywhere from any device and for collaborating.  That is until I noticed a file that looked like a compromise to my account, so I downloaded a password protection app that adds an extra level of security by texting me a code to login.  Unfortunately, I then had issues with my Apple account and that app disappeared (as did my memory of what any passwords could be).  I recently got a “your account will be deleted for inactivity” message, so I have to go figure it out before December – there is a double-edged sword to “free” tools and apps and its name is instability.

The apps and tools that I find most intriguing are ones that I can use in the classroom.  For example, I took a look at the free version of Socrative which allows you to set up a classroom where your students can take quizzes composed of multiple choice, t/f, and short answers.  You can also do quick polls and see reports of results.  It’s most interesting feature is “Space Race” in which groups of students can take quizzes in a competitive format – makes a game out of quiz taking.  I could see this being useful for making review fun.

Images from:

Stux @ Pixabay (public domain) https://pixabay.com/en/tools-logo-work-equipment-pictorial-191794/

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