Saturday, July 31, 2010

On Hiatus

I leave for the new job in Mongolia in four days, still haven't packed, have a few last minute things to buy....I REALLY can't spend any time online, on the blog, on Twitter.--and I have to try to force myself to stick to that!  : )

So Bib 2.0 is on hiatus for a couple weeks, until I get settled in a new country, get the internet hooked up, etc.

My next blog post will be from Ulaanbaatar!  

Enjoy your new year, as everyone heads back to school!

LOC Implies Second Rate is Good Enough for K-12?

OK, so I'm still confused...and pretty outraged.

I blogged yesterday about the new DMCA exemptions that allow re-mixing of videos for non-commercial purposes.  It looked, from the EFFA article, like students and teachers were now "covered" if they ripped small portions of motion picture DVD's to include in analytical or satirical videos of their own making.

This morning I started slogging through the actual ruling, a marvel of legalese. The exemptions address two major concerns:  1) Whether teachers use tools such as Handbrake to bypass  digital protections in order to rip clips for class view/analysis (a big time-saver, when you're showing 4-5 clips in a class!) and 2) whether students can rip clips for use in analytical or satirical videos of their own making.  The initial proposal, in a nutshell, was this:
The proposed expansions of the class involved extending the class to include all of the motion pictures on CSSprotected DVDs contained in a college or university library (rather than just a film or media studies department) and to encompass classroom use by all college and university professors and students as well as elementary and secondary school teachers and students. [emphasis mine]
With the growth of media studies in K-12 schools, the necessity of incorporating visual literacy into our curricula at an early age and  the burgeoning of film production in schools, it is a no-brainer that K-12 teachers and students would be included in the exemptions, right?

Apparently not.
NTIA supports expansion of the existing class of audiovisual works to include all college and university level instructors and students but does not believe the record justifies an expansion that would include elementary and secondary school teachers and students...First, proponents for educators failed to demonstrate that high quality resolution film clips are necessary for K12 teachers and students, or for college and university students other than film and media studies students. Because other means, such as the use of screen capture software, exist that permit the making of lower quality film clips without circumventing access controls, the Register finds no justification in the record for expanding the class of works to include such persons as express beneficiaries of the designation of this class of works.
If I'm reading this correctly, the argument is that K-12 teachers/students (or non-film studies students in general) don't need high-quality video for the classes or projects. They can use screen-capturing software (such as Camtasia) to just record video off the screen.  (Have you ever tried doing that?  The results are TERRIBLE!)  Basically, this says secondary students don't need to turn out quality video work.  EXCUSE ME?

So it sounds like we're covered if students just screen capture segments to include in their videos, or if teachers do the same to incorporate segments of film into their classes.  But NOT if they use, say, Handbrake, to rip of section from a DVD.

Thus, the LOC's argument is patently ridiculous, and privileges college students as inherently more serious of purpose. Any old second-rate video is fine for the lower grades.  Obviously, these people a) don't remember being in college and b) have little clue as to the quality video work going on in elementary and secondary schools today.

Also, why is it OK for college professors to rip sections from DVD for class analysis, but I can't legally do the same for my high-school film class?  Do they really think that, say, the two year IB Film Studies is any less serious or academic than a one semester freshman class on intro to film? (Take a look at this walk-through on the IB Film Independent Study requirements, as an example). And it's not as if media classes are the only ones doing serious film analysis.  The History and French teachers at my school spend considerable time deconstructing and analyzing films in class.

Moreover,  have you ever tried using Camtasia to capture a video segment? I have.  It's useless for serious analysis, as it skips, freezes, leaves out dialogue, etc.  The capture rate is just not fast enough for film.

So, obviously, if I am reading this correctly (and let me know if I'm not!),  there is still work to be done here. The LOC needs to understand the type of work going on in schools today, and extend these exemptions to ALL academic levels. We need to bombard the Copyright Office with calls and emails expressing our needs and providing examples of the kinds of work our teachers and students do.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mental Health Break

From Crispian Jago at Science, Reason and Critical Thinking

GameSalad: Make Games for iPad/iPhone...Without Programming!


With GameSalad, "the world’s most advanced game creation tool for non-programmers," users drag-and-drop  elements to create games for the iPhone or iPad.  Wouldn't that make a fun library club for middle-schoolers?  Create a collection of games made available to the entire school!

In fact, (older?) students could even sell their games through the App Store.

The app offers a variety of game styles, from shoot-em-ups to adventure to car racing, and the interface is clean and easy to understand.  The site provides both video and text-based support.

Gaming addresses several technology and curriculum standards as students develop story-telling skills through the game narrative, problem solve, work collaboratively, and more. It's well worth the time, and would certainly be motivating for many students.

Here's a brief introductory video to give you a sense of it all!

LOC Adds Fair-Use Exemption: Remixing Just Got Easier (And Legal)

One area of teaching Film Studies that's always a migraine-level headache is getting the students to use media ethically. Kids always want to include clips from their favorite DVD when we do, for example, movie trailers.

Those migraines just got demoted to run-of-the-mill headache level, as the LOC and Copyright Office recently added an exemption to the DMCA protecting video remixing. The Electronic Freedom Foundation, which filed the original lawsuit explained
The new rule holds that amateur creators do not violate the DMCA when they use short excerpts from DVDs in order to create new, noncommercial works for purposes of criticism or comment if they believe that circumvention is necessary to fulfill that purpose. Hollywood has historically taken the view that "ripping" DVDs is always a violation of the DMCA, no matter the purpose.
"Noncommercial videos are a powerful art form online, and many use short clips from popular movies. Finally the creative people that make those videos won't have to worry that they are breaking the law in the process, even though their works are clearly fair uses. That benefits everyone — from the artists themselves to those of us who enjoy watching the amazing works they create.
So Scary Mary is now legal! (though, really, it always was since it's parody. It's just that now Disney doesn't have an argument) You can read the full rule-making order here.

Of course the key here is that term "for purposes of criticism or comment."  We still need to ensure students are using these clips for new purposes: analysis, satire, parody, etc.  But that's just good teaching.

Oh, and for those of you far more technically inclined than I am...they also announced that it's ok to jailbreak your iPhone!

On a similar note, while digging around their site I ran across the EFF's Teaching Copyright, a set of 5 lessons, with accompanying handouts.  While I can only dream about teachers giving me enough time to run a mock trial, I like this site in that it leans more towards exercising "thou shalts" in copyright, rather than "thou shalt nots."  I don't think it's our job to be the copyright police; we need to promote student work and creativity, rather than raising unnecessary roadblocks.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reputation Management: Vizibility

 Now here's an interesting approach to ensuring colleges, potential employers, and others see your best digital footprint.

I tried Vizibility out, and I like it.  It's easy to use:  you give them your name, places of employment, and add keywords you would like them to include.  They return the search results, and you sift through them, deciding which to include and which to delete.  When you're finished, click done, and the site gives you a button to include on, emails, profiles, etc.  or the HTML to add to websites.

This, of course, does not stop potential employers from doing their own search and finding any less-than-perfect online information there may be about you, but it at least ensures they find the stuff you want them to find!

Check out my profile below.   And thanks to the Committed Sardine for the head's up on this.

UPDATE:   Hmmm, they obviously have some kinks to work out on the HTML code.  It doesn't seem to be posting.  See that faint shadow right under this?  That's supposed to be the button.  If you move the cursor over it, it highlights and will find the search--but no button, and it comes up as a broken link in edit mode.  I tried adding it using Blogger's HTML gadget, and it wouldn't show up at all.   The website says they don't offer technical support for this.  Hardly useful, or an approach that's going to garner them users/business!

But here's the link you would add to emails, your online profie, etc.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Coming (Soon?!) To a Browser Near You: Tab Candy

I currently have about 12 tabs open on my browser.  Only 6 of them show; the others are buried in a list. One of my teachers at work always has about 26 tabs open in his browser.  It is very unwieldy and hard to keep track of all the different tabs. I'm always inadvertantly closing something I actually need.

It's still in Beta, but Firefox is working on a solution to all of this, and it looks sweet.  Here's the video.

An Introduction to Firefox's Tab Candy from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

Doug Started It!!! The Essential Tech Tools Meme

Read Doug Johnson's post today for this to make sense.  He's right, though;  I realized last year, I was throwing WAY too many tools at the teachers; I needed to winnow it down to essentials, then add any others on either an ad hoc basis, or gradually, as they incorporated the others into their daily strategies.

So what are my Essential Six Apps?

Google Apps:  (kind of a cheat, because it includes so much, but that gets me docs, plus Google Sites, so I have a wiki).

iMovie:   Really, we have to stop privileging textual literacy.  Visual literacy is just as important (and arguably more important) in today's world. 

Facebook:  I admit, I love it. Because of my nomadic life, my friends are so far-flung, it's an easy way to keep in touch without spending 8 hours a day on email.

Skype:  It wouldn't have made the list if I weren't moving to Mongolia in 7 days.....I taught my Dad how to use it a few weeks ago, and he's now much happier about the whole thing. Ditto my SO, who gets his lesson this weekend.

Blogger/Wordpress:  Some sort of blogging software!  I have a blog on both, but Bib 2.0 is my raison d'etre these days.

NY Times website.

As to gadgets...I'm happy with my laptop and a good flash drive.

So....tag, you're it?  What apps/sites/gadgets do you find indispensable?

Free Online Grading Program Launches Soon

The ReadWriteWeb announced the launching of LearnBoost's online grading program  yesterday.  You can sign up here to be one of the first to receive a free account.  A good thing to share with teachers and administrators, especially in these days of funding crises.

From the RWW article:
The tool manages gradebooks, lesson plans, attendance and will integrate with Google Calendar - providing one account, rather than multiple accounts, to manage the classroom. LearnBoost operates on the freemium model, with a free tool as well as premium features, and as such promises to offer substantial savings to cash-strapped schools. But it's not just price that makes LearnBoost a compelling choice for educators. The product was developed and designed with teacher input, and much care was taken in the user interface.

Google Lookup

A feature you might not have known about in Google docs (spreadsheets).  You can view a text-based explanation here.  It's strictly a fact-based thing, and maybe more useful for the sciences, but I've used it for generating lists of authors/novels, presidents/terms, etc.

Using Prezi as a Teaching Tool


Paul Hill simultaneously explains and demonstrates excellent use of Prezi as a teaching tool.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Top (Free!) Tools to Organize Online Research

I'm starting to think about what tools I'm going to introduce to the IB Extended Essay students to help organize themselves as they do their research. It seemed like a good time to do a re-cap (or a gathering!) of the different online note-taking/bookmarking tools I've mentioned before, and to look for any new ones.  All of these apps work via browser add-ons, and all allow sharing.

I will add that I tested several different tools; I only included a) those that allow you to grab and save content (images, text, etc.) b) the ones that actually worked.  A couple that shall remain nameless repeatedly crashed my browser, wouldn't save content, etc.  They didn't make the list, even in a negative review.  I also didn't include Google Notebook because they've stopped working on it. With that said, here are my top choices:

Diigo: Originally my app of choice, Diigo's biggest flaw is that you can't make folders to organize/categorize your saved information, which means you have to rely heavily on tagging to sift through the items. I'm not sure kids are all that methodical (or consistent) in their tagging, so that's a drawback.  Still, it's a nifty app, and they recently added the ability to capture screenshots and add call-outs to the image. Very cool. Diigo is most famous for the ability to both highlight text on a website, or add public or private sticky notes to the site.  (Kids really love that!)  They offer an education account that makes student sharing and collaboration a breeze. Diigo now has a web highlighter for Safari on the iPad as well as an offline reader for the iPhone.

iCyte:  The best thing about iCyte is it's so incredibly easy to use.  While the features are somewhat limited, it's perfect for upper elementary and middle school students. Clicking on the right side of the iCyte browser button captures a screenshot of the page you're on and brings up a window that allows you to assign the capture to a project, tag the shot and add notes. Clicking on the left side brings up a list of all your captures.   How easy is that?

Evernote:  The granddaddy of them all, of course, and probably the tool I will use with my IB students. Evernote is multi-faceted in that has a Firefox add-on, a desktop application, an iPhone/iPad app  AND an online version.  All of which sync, of course.  You can also add notes from Facebook, Twitter or via email. Evernote also recently added Trunk, a collection of a wide variety of apps and hardware that also work with Evernote. You can add images, text, audio, and video. Evernote saves it all. You can create folders to organize it all. It allows users to create to do lists, which is nice to help students organize their research tasks. Because it does so much, there is something of a learning curve, but it's not huge.  You can find my more detailed review here.

SpringPad:  While not as elegant as Evernote, SpringPad has one feature I really like: it has a notebook app that allows students to add content, and then arrange it onto different tabs. So, as you can see in the image, I created a general notebook for research on St. Francis, with tabs for him, the 5th crusade, and the sultan.  It has an alarm feature that can send either email or SMS reminders (about due dates, for example), as well as a to-do list to help students organize themselves.  Like the others, it can grab text as well as capture a screenshot of your webpage. It also offers apps for the iPhone or Android.

Zotero:  I have a real love/hate thing going on with Zotero.  I love it in theory.  Designed for college and graduate level research, it is phenomenal at capturing bibliographic info from online books, journal articles, websites--even pdf's--with a simple click, and allows users to choose from the major citation styles.  It's a cross between EasyBib and EverNote, in essence.  Sort of a free Noodle Tools.   It will store full files, you can add notes, grab screenshots and all the usual collaborative functions.  You can even use it as a notetaking tool with physical texts (though there's no reason you couldn't do that with Evernote, too.) Students manually add the bibliographic info, then notes are grouped under that entry. But for some reason I just don't like working with it much, and I don't think it would be all that intuitive for high-school students, though I'll admit I've never tried it with them.  If any of you have experience with it, I would be interested to hear what you think.

Mental Health Break

I love those "flash" theatre things popping up all over YouTube...though why, oh, why, do they never seem to happen any where I am? Two of my faves...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Taking a Screenshot on Your iPad/iPhone

Now, it could be everyone else already knows this, but I just learned how to do it today, so maybe there are others out there who need the info!

I often need to grab a screenshot to help readers visualize what I'm writing about.  For example, this post the other day on Flipboard.  I needed a screenshot, figured you could do it, but didn't know how.  Well, turns out it's easy.  (Thank you, Apple!)

1.  Hold down the power button at the 'top' of the iPad.

2.  While holding down the power button, quickly press the screen button at the bottom of the pad. (Don't just keep holding it, you will start the shutdown process!  I learned that the hard way.....).

3) Your screen should flash once, and you'll find the screenshot in your Photos app, which you can then email to yourself if you want it on your computer.

Easy-peasy, huh?  Works on the iPhone, too.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Think B4 U Post!

I'm working my way through the lengthy  NYT article on the repercussions of digital footprints, and our "constitutional right to oblivion."  (Isn't that a great phrase?)  I'm only about halfway through it, but I ran across this in its dicussion of managing our online profile, and it stopped me in my tracks:
...the Facebook application Photo Finder, by, uses facial-recognition and social-connections software to allow you to locate any photo of yourself or a friend on Facebook, regardless of whether the photo was “tagged” — that is, the individual in the photo was identified by name. At the moment, Photo Finder allows you to identify only people on your contact list, but as facial-recognition technology becomes more widespread and sophisticated, it will almost certainly challenge our expectation of anonymity in public. People will be able to snap a cellphone picture (or video) of a stranger, plug the images into Google and pull up all tagged and untagged photos of that person that exist on the Web.
This struck me as absolutely what I was talking about the other day, that we need to move beyond cybersafety. One of the key tenets of teaching online safety is "DON'T TAG PHOTOS," yet that heretofore sound advice (I actually untagged several photos on Facebook the other day) is already obsolete, giving students of false sense of security.

With the trend obviously towards greater and greater connectivity and openness, we will always be playing catch-up to  technological advances if we focus on privacy and safety.  I am in no way saying that's not part of what we should be teaching, but the emphasis needs to shift from safety to profile management and thoughtful awareness of what we post, upload, and share.

Obviously, that still only takes students so far...they have little control over what others post about them.  However, if we start thinking in those terms and are aware of what others might post or say about them, maybe they'll be slightly more careful about the situations they get themselves into, and the photos they allow to be taken.

It all just sounds too Orwellian, doesn't it?  To have to be so hyperaware all the time? Wondering how what X or Z does or says online might conceivably affect our next job interview.  Are we really ready to be judged by a "reputation score"?  Or to declare "reputation bankruptcy"? (you really need to read the article!)  But it bears thinking about, and, apparently, it's never too soon to start that process.

UPDATE:  Yes, yes, yes!!!  "Instead of suing after the damage is done (or hiring a firm to clean up our messes), we need to explore ways of pre-emptively making the offending words or pictures disappear."
 i.e. footprint management!   (grin--I'm sort of live blogging as I read the article!)

UPDATE 2:  Per Doug's comment below...  he also suggested that as all of us have to merge our public and private identities, photos showing us having a few drinks on Facebook will no longer seem so scandalous. “You see your accountant going out on weekends and attending clown conventions, that no longer makes you think that he’s not a good accountant. We’re coming to terms and reconciling with that merging of identities.”

Digital Frames for Book Promotion

I want to do a better job of promoting/advertising new books next year.  One way I thought of doing that is to purchase a 12" digital frame.  For each title, I would make a jpeg Power Point slide with an image of the book cover and a blurb about the book, then upload those to the frame.  It will be on display at the circ desk, with a running slide show of what is new in the library.

There are infinite variations on the idea---the blurb could be student generated quotations for book reviews; you can add pictures of students and library events, display images of student art, etc.

Ideally, I'd like to do this on a larger monitor, but that's for my second year, I think.  For the first year, while I figure out school dynamics, this seems like a good start.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What a Surprise: Schools Need to Teach Information Literacy

via @BlueSkunkBlog

I don't know whether to groan or cheer.  David Pogue interviewed John Palfrey, author of Born Digital.
 Take home quote
 I think almost no emphasis is being put on giving kids the skills that they need to sort credible from noncredible information. Schools have to wake up and have to give those skills to our kids. It’s the critical thinking skill of the 21st century that they’re going to need, sorting credible from not credible information. And I think we’re asleep at the switch.

The Indispensable Librarian: Michelle Luhtala

I mentioned a few posts back that I had a wonderful opportunity to spend a few hours with Michelle Luhtala, winner of ALA's 2010 Library Program of the Year Award. She generously shared information about her program, and allowed me to do a quick interview with her on making libraries relevant for the digital age. I certainly learned a lot from her; I hope you will, too.
The transcript is below.

JH: The big thing in library circles these days is all the layoffs, districts thinking an aide can do our job. How can we help the public understand our relevance, because I don’t think we’re doing a very good job of that.

ML:  You’re right, and I think there are several things we can do.
First, if you are indispensable to the faculty, that definitely helps and pushes collaboration to the forefront of our role. Sara Kelly-Johns says our role as information specialists is being pushed down the hierarchy of our job description and our role as instructional partner is being pushed up.

Professional development is also where we really need to shine. If we are perceived as leaders in our districts on the PD front, if we’re on the schedule and we’re on the agenda, it helps us gain visibility in terms of “Oh, wow, this person is really an expert,” and that is a great thing. We should be on curriculum development committees and across the curriculum--we have opportunities in all the disciplines because we work with all kids and all teachers, with opportunities to embed technology and information literacy across the curriculum.

We must embrace our role as 21st century educators and embed 21st century curriculum across the board. In our district we’re very aware of the need to engage students not only as learners, but as collaborators and contributors to knowledge, to democratize the process of almost demote teachers in their roles as educators to facilitator, so that kids learn by doing.

It’s also really important that we not lose sight of our role as reading specialists, with, again, that same paradigm shift. Engaging students as contributors to the book selection process and democratizing the selection process is very important. We have so many technologies out there--BookShare, Facebook, VoiceThread--and if you use those tools you can really engage learners to not only participate in the booktalking process, but to be able to do it regardless of assigned face time with those kids. They can do it independently; you can continue your booktalking and reading throughout the summer months, because you can step back from the process and let it happen. If students are included in the selection process, they’re far more likely to participate and continue that discussion.

Finally, we need to be more aggressive in providing evidence for the impact of our instruction. Because we don’t have assigned class time, it’s hard for us to collect data from students, but because of emerging technologies, we have a plethora of opportunities and resources to be able to start doing that. We have access to students via email, Google Forms, polling with Poll Everywhere.

Even kids who don’t have access to internet outside school have cell phones, so if you pose a question, just text a number and your answer, yes or no. It feeds into a spreadsheet and you have collected data. We have so many tools to collect data that take very little time. All we need is imagination and curiosity. Also, read blogs, articles....we come up with solutions all the times just by listening to people. (laughs) A degree of selfishness helps--”How can I use that for me?” is a really good question to ask. Also, we don’t have to be experts in a certain technology before we try it and launch it. That’s going to push us into 21st century leaning.

JH:  You mentioned we need to embed ourselves in the curriculum and the schools. What are some specific ways you’ve done that?

ML:  One of the most effective ways we’ve done this is to use an online course platform [e.g. Moodle] for the library program. Two years into the process, we now have over 200 documented lessons for projects across the disciplines in our school. The first year was labor intensive, but the second year was enhancement and as we go they just keep getting better and better.

We have a block for each project, with associated resources and the actual assignment; we have suggestions for using the public library, our own resources, which search terms might be advisable, how to collect resources in a way that works best for this project, tips on tech glitches they may run into along the way. The beauty of this is, if twelve kids come up saying, “Hey, I’m having problems with blah, blah, blah,” put the answer on the Moodle and all kids can consult that.

By using Moodle in this way (I’m saying Moodle because that’s what we use, but there are other tools out there), we’re modeling for teachers how to use this technology in a way to really improve instruction. It’s been instrumental in terms of building collaboration. Teachers can see others’ work, so it has standardized instruction in a good way that helps students succeed. It doesn’t minimize the individual touches teachers add to their projects, but it does allow a certain uniformity. It also standardizes our library instruction--if we have 12 sections of history, chances are I may deliver instruction in a different way for the classes. But with this they all have the same set of resources, and it’s complementing and supporting the students. It also differentiates, because it provides extensions for the high achievers and allows reinforcement for the lower performing students.

JH:  Again, you mentioned involving students and democratizing the library. How have you done that in your library?

ML:  Two words: participatory tools.

The online booktalking has definitely part of it. (You can see the NCHS library VoiceThread booktalks here). We also have an advisory board of students. They advise us on things like, “How do we want to handle silence during exam study periods?” Usually they come up with pretty sound solutions. We lean on them as resident experts; they can help out with technology. We recently surveyed the students and use the advisory board as ambassadors to get the students to actually take the survey. We told them “If you tell 15 kids, and they each tell 3 kids, we will have had some reach.” It was the second to last week of school, we got 140 kids to fill out a long, 15 minute survey. Out of 1300 kids during exam week, that’s pretty good!

Also, forums. Anything that’s participatory online really, really helps. Using photos, videos of them doing stuff...they are THE most narcissistic age group out there, so anything that involves showing them, featuring them, show-casing them, gets them to participate. Very often we’ll just walk around, take pictures, and put them on our Facebook page. That generates buy in, builds a conversation, and we can use their narcissism and exploit it to engage them.

JH:  Now, you say “Facebook” to a teacher or school librarian, and most people’s immediate response to that is “It’s blocked.” Do you encourage librarians to take on that battle to unblock these technologies?

ML:  Yes, absolutely. I think it’s very important. Administrators, in many cases (not ours...we have very visionary leaders) need to understand the importance of teaching sound practice, teaching that social networking tools can be used for productivity, not just collaboration and networking. There’s a productivity factor to these technologies that is completely under-utilized.

The thing about this digital generation is that they’re free with information disclosure in a way that really creeps out the older generation. Those of us who’ve read Orwell are like, “Oh, my God, are you NUTS?” They’re really free with that in a way that puts them at risk sometimes, so it’s absolutely part of our 21st century responsibility to impart instruction on how to manage your profile online. It also raises the bar in terms of accountability. (laughs) They’re much more reticent about sharing their latest red cup extravaganza on Facebook if they know they’re going to be using Facebook in classes. So if they have access in school, they suddenly have to be a little bit more accountable.

Does it invite bullying? I don’t think it invites any more than they are faced with now. Email can be used for bullying. Are they more active on Facebook? Yeah, they like it better. (laughs) But maybe they’ll like it a little less if we use it for school and that might not be a bad thing!

[There are teachers who] don’t WANT the school to infiltrate kids’ social life. One of the things we’re learning with emerging technologies is we’re all having a hard time drawing the line between our personal and professional lives. If we want to be efficient, sometimes it’s easier to check our email all in one place and not keep them separate. That’s part of the process of being a 21st century human being--you need to be able to compartmentalize in your own head what is personal and what is professional, and if they happen to be delivered on the same platform, that’s not sacrilege. That’s just functionality.

JH:  I read an article somewhere a while ago making the case that we should definitely be teaching these technologies, but we should use education-specific apps, such as Edmodo or something similar, rather than Facebook, because if you separate the academic from the social, it puts students into a different, more analytical mindset, rather than merging with where they hang out socially. What are your thoughts on that?

ML:  I can see a point there, but I also really value the skills they’re learning in their social Facebook world. I want them to feel the same skills they’re learning in that world can absolutely cross over into their academics. How many times has a librarian gone into a class and taught them a skill, then gone into another class with the same exact students, and watched them going back to the way they did it before you taught them, because it’s a different class? Kids don’t necessarily make the leap. What’s working here, they know how to do this here, but then they change environments and they don’t think those skills apply to the other situation.

I LOVE the way they’re thinking in Facebook--it’s one of the reasons I love Facebook. In Facebook they tag pictures, they upload pictures on a weekly, if not daily basis. They change their statuses four times a week, they network with friends, talk to friends, they contribute to knowledge, they inform other people about stuff that is going on. They don’t do that in school. The reason I like going into their tools, into infiltrating that world, is because I want them to use those skills in school. Not enough teachers are getting them to do that, and it’s our job as librarians to bring them into that 21st century thinking.

JH:  These are great ideas for drawing in students. How do you draw in the wider community-- parents, for example? Is that something you work on?

ML:  I think it depends on your district, your demographics--it depends on how many parents you have involved. If you have really involved parents, in some ways you want to minimize their involvement because you have helicopter-parenting going on and you want to increase students’ independence. You want to communicate directly with kids and really work with kids.

If you’re in an environment where parents aren’t as engaged and are kind of disinterested, then you definitely need to find a way to rope them in. We happen to have really involved parents in this district, so there are places where I have actually kept it just for kids. One way I’ve done that is to make things available in our Google Apps world, which is available just for kids in the community and not for parents. That’s a nice way for me to work strictly with kids.

The Facebook page is open, we do have a number of parents visit our website, who are subscribers, so we can keep them up to date and current there, and I encourage that. I do stress--and I really believe this--one of the most important tools in the community is your public library. Collaboration with them, instructional partnership with them, really helps in terms of visibility. We have phenomenal data about the success of our collaboration with the town library. Granted we’re just one public library and one high school; it’s much easier than if you have seventy schools in your district and 30 public libraires. And don’t forget college libraries! If you can capitalize on nearby resources and community organizations, you really, really should.

UPDATE:  It just occurred to me, I should repost Michelle's webinar info. She is offering a year-long series over at on Using Emerging Technologies to Advance Your Library Program.  While we've had the first session, it is archived, so you won't miss anything.  You can register here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back to School Countdown Widget

Here's a fun, customizable widget to add to your library blog or website.  There are several formats to choose from.

Shifting Library Personnae

Char Booth wrote one of those "Gee, I wish I'd written that" posts over at In the Library With The Leadpipe.  Definitely well worth reading, on the shifting nature (and metaphors) on what it means to be a librarian in the 21st century.

Flipboard: Your Life, in a Magazine

The hot new iPad app, Flipboard  links to your Facebook and Twitter account, showing articles and images posted by your friends.  It also links to sources chosen by Flipboard--they have a tech category, for example. It also allows you to share via the app.

I love the idea of this.  It's highly visual, and seems like a better way of working through your Twitter feed.  I must admit, I haven't had a chance to try it yet.  I downloaded it, but when I tried to connect to my feeds, I received a "the site is over capacity, try later" message.  As I said, the hot new app!

If your school jumped on the iPad wagon, this could be a useful tool for students to share info (assuming you're one of the rare schools that doesn't block Facebook/Twitter)  especially if they have different accounts for their school selves, vs. their social selves.

For myself, I'm hoping it will be a good way to keep up on Twitter, even when I'm not online, capturing all the links without me having to scroll through endless "more" links.

UPDATE:  OK, it's working.  This app is the COOLEST THING EVER!!   Forget checking my Twitter feed, I am going straight to Flipboard!  You can see everything article-style.  It gives the first few paragraphs of each link, then you go online to the actual website if you want to read further. It also shows who has re-tweeted, and gives you a link to reply, if you want.

The layout is positively elegant, with the app doing a brilliant job of choosing which images to display for eye-grabbing appeal. Here's a shot of my Twitter feed on Flipboard.

Bottom line:  If you have an iPad, you NEED Flipboard!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

All Moved In and Back Online

Moved the significant other into his new apartment, spent all day unpacking and sorting and the place is now livable!  Better yet, internet all hooked up!  Hooray!  Blog posts soon.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Who Do You Write Like?

Stylistically, that is.

I write like is a fun little tool.  Like Wordle, you input at least a few paragraphs of text...from a paper, your blog, whatever, hit the button, and it "analyzes" your writing style to tell you who you write like.

Ex-English teacher that I am, how could I not??  The first time I only put in two paragraphs, and it came up James Fenimore Cooper.  EXCUSE ME!!??  If that were true, I would stop blogging immediately, consdering it a cruel and unusual punishment to perpetrate upon my audience.

So I tried it again with a longer post, and it decided I write like David Foster Wallace.  Still not a fave, but better!

Give it a try.

EPA Oil Spill Resources

The EPA has posted several resources analyzing the environmental conditions around the Deepwater Horizon disaster, including a kmz file for Google Earth.  Great for helping students visualize the extent of the damage.

Why Librarians Are More Important Than Ever

I Think I'm in Love

I finally started a "serious" reading of a book on my iPad.  Previously, I'd looked at a couple pages to get a sense of what it would feel like, but hadn't sat down for a serious, concentrated effort.  A die-hard physical book lover, my previous readings showed me that the experience wasn't as horrible as I thought it was going to be, but I still didn't think I'd relish the experience.

I must say, I love it.  I'm reading Tony Wagner's The Global Achievement Gap--not exactly a light read--using the Kindle App for the iPad.  With the iPad, the pages are large enough that you're not having to turn them every 3rd sentence, and it's easy to highlight and add notes. (Though I'm still having issues typing.  I keep hitting the n key instead of the space bar, so I end up with sentencesnlikenthis).

I also like that my notes sync to my Amazon account, which makes it easy to check them when I'm on the computer and writing, say, an article.  I would love to see the notes on my iBooks app sync with my .Mac account.

Right now it's a bit cumbersome to switch back and forth between the Kindle App and Evernote (for example), but once the iPad has the same multi-tasking feature as the iPhone4, that will be much easier, and make this a no-brainer for schools as an alternative to handing out textbooks, novels, etc.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mental Health Break

Is this perfect, or what?  Hilarious BYU library parody of the Old Spice commercial

Old Spice, David Pogue and Education Reform: Not as Weird as You'd Think

What can Old Spice commercials teach us about reforming education?  A lot.

Like most people, I love the new Old Spice commercials with the really good looking, incredibly ripped, bare-chested guy. They are  hilariously witty, both verbally and visually.

If you pay much attention to YouTube, you know the Old Spice creative team has been on a real spree the last few days, crowd-sourcing user questions on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, then creating short, 30 second video responses to the best questions.  They are, as you would expect, both funny and an excellent marketing ploy.  Hey, if I were a man, I'd run out and buy some Old Spice!

Now, to back up a bit, lately I've been reading Tony Wagner's Global Achievement Gap, where he posits that the education system is in big trouble, largely because the world has moved on, but the system hasn't.  We're teaching an industrial age mindset with an industrial age pedagogy, with lots of isolated little learners, and many teachers who still think collaboration is cheating.

Which brings me back to Old Spice. Yesterday, the ReadWriteWeb posted a fascinating article  on how the team went about making  and posting (so far) 161 of those videos.  They worked as a team, delegating tasks to experts rather than everyone working on everything (what Wagner calls "team-based leadership"); they leveraged social networking to gather data and real-time feedback from a vast audience, then integrated that information into their final product; they published that product, generating more feedback.  (Serendipitously, on the same day, David Pogue posted his crowd-sourced article on iPhone Apps We Wish We Had.)

Read the article? Can you see this happening in your school?  Well, if your school blocks Facebook, Twitter, and other networking technologies, it won't be happening any time soon. And that's one reason why education is in such big trouble in this country.  If the above scenario is what's happening in businesses these days, and Wagner says it is, we are not only not preparing students to be effective contributors to that society, we are working actively to prevent it.  That scares me no end.

This wildly popular series was not based on pre-conceived assumptions about their audience, or a discrete set of "knowledge."  With their ultimate goal in mind, they set about finding/generating information, then constructing their response to it.  I found the following remark especially telling:
Tait says that Old Spice's parent company Proctor & Gamble exhibited incredible bravery in allowing his team to write marketing content in real time, with little to no supervision.
"There is such great trust [between the companies]," he said. "But we are being very responsible. They have given us a set of guidelines and if we get close to the edges we contact them."
This is the crux of what education reformers have been preaching for years:  Teachers need to cede control to the students, to get out of the way and LET THEM LEARN.  We provide guidelines, we teach them the skills, provide the tools,  then sit back and let them do it, only 'interfering' when they need help.

It's scary to give up that much control; even when you're willing, the system doesn't always support it, though Grant Wiggins  (who spoke at our school a few years back) convinced me that we use NCLB testing as an excuse.  He states that good teaching will result in improved test scores, as long as it promotes understanding, not just rote content.  We need to stop seeing ourselves as experts and more as facilitators; more importantly, and this is the really hard part, we need to get students to take on the responsibility for their learning, to stop sitting there passively, hoping osmosis will do its work.

Though I think if we're doing the kind of engaged, participatory education the Old Spice team demonstrated, that enthusiasm will follow.  As Ian Tait, the leader of the project states, "Those people [the creative team] are having more fun than I've ever seen anyone have in a shoot like this. That's part of why it's doing so well. It's genuinely infectious."

The job for me now, is to figure out how this translates to libraries.  I have mostly taught the research process as an independent sort of endeavor, and I need to make it far more collaborative.

But a) this post is already long enough and b) my discussion with Michelle Luhtala yesterday directly ties in to this, because of some of the ways she is leveraging collaborative tools when she works with students.  So I will work on getting that interview up early next week, then elaborate on how I hope to implement these ideas in my own program.

In the meantime, this weekend is the big move;  I have to finish getting ready for that, so won't be posting much.  As a closing "gift," however, here's one of my favorite Old Spice commercials, followed by one of the video "blurbs" on libraries. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Positive Digital Footprints: Minding Your Own Business

We need to teach students to Google themselves on a regular basis.

Like it or not, the internet is changing not only the nature of privacy, but people's attitudes about privacy. A 2010 Pew study found that only 44% of 18-29 year olds actively manage/limit their online information, though that number goes up (65%) for those on social networking sites such as Facebook.

A Will Richardson post got me thinking about moving beyond just  teaching research skills, digital citizenship or cybersafety, and actually crafting  a program to guide students in actually building an online presence. With the advent of Web 2.0 (3.0!), there's an increased "pressure of participation." If potential schools or colleges do a search and not only find nothing negative, but don't examples of a creative online life, what does that say about the student?

Students are increasingly aware of the potential to be "Googled" by prospective colleges; many have taken to posting on Facebook and other sites under avatars or assumed names.  But I doubt many have considered actually trying to manage and build their own digital footprint. I don't think Middle School is too soon for students to be thinking about this, but definitely by 9th grade.

One 17 year old who is consciously developing her online image is Motzie, who started a blog for exactly this purpose.  As she states,
"I don’t claim to have an in-depth knowledge of the workings of the www, but I do understand that anything and everything you post or do on the internet is stored, in some form, and can be traced back to you... I am someone who is very conscious of the trail I leave online – this blog is in some ways an attempt to not only keep my footprint neutral, but even leave a positive impression. " (linked with permission). 

(btw: I'm hoping to have Motzie as guest blogger sometime in the next few weeks, discussing her views on how we can help students me more footprint-aware.)

So here are my thoughts--so far!--on what such a program would look like. 

1.  Raise Awareness  

First, get students thinking about their online life.  What activities do they engage in? With which communities do they connect? Is there any overlap?  How does the web enrich or limit their daily life? 
I ran across this great project from Luther Jackson Middle School, which obviously encourages students to think along these lines.  Have students do an ego search and think about the results.

2.  Self-Analysis
Have students do an ego-search.  What do they find?  What does it say (or not say) about them (i.e. what is their "brand")? What would a stranger think?  One potentially nifty tool (though I wasn't able to get it to work today) is this Graph IT facebook app, that makes both a Wordle-like or 3D cloud of your status updates. Great for giving an overall idea of how you come across online.  Here's mine... 

In addition, students should ponder what is in their control and what's not, and how to minimize "bad press." Tony Fish, who blogs about digital footprints for business, reminded me in the comments on my last post that  digital footprints consist of not only what you say about yourself, but also of what others say about you.  Unfortunately, we don't have much control of that. Students can, however, start thinking about just what sort of pictures they allow to be taken of themselves, and whether they really need 937 friends on Facebook.

In worse case scenarios, there's always the Web. 2.0 Suicide Machine, which claims it can wipe out your Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles/feeds/updates.

3.  Action Plan

I read somewhere that if you're not taking control of your online presence, someone else will.  Students--we!--need to develop a specific plan for building a digital profile, considering
  • What information or traits would they like to have available?
  • What are the best tools for creating those...blogs? Uploaded videos/art/photographs?
  • Collaborative comments/posts on other sites. I'm always surprised when I do an ego-search, how many of my comments on Amazon, Ning,  and various news sites or blogs come up.  These are also venues for students to build their online profile.  

As Media Specialists, we also need to encourage teachers to embed these opportunities into their own lessons and assignments, as well as providing those opportunities for students ourselves. 

Please post any thoughts you have on additions to this, or anything you've done with students that helped raise their awareness.

Preview of Upcoming Attractions:  Today I was lucky enough to be able to talk with Michelle Luhtala, one of the winners of this year's AASL  School Library Program of the Year Award. Her school is just down the road from me, and she generously let me not only visit her library, but ask a volume of questions about her program.  I recorded a 20 minute interview with her, which I will transcribe and post sometime in the next several days.  She's an amazing  and energetic woman, who is doing a great job getting students excited about libraries and media.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Welcome to My Footprint

Now, this is cybersafety that takes the right approach.  Instead of fear-mongering,  My Footprint SD focuses on the digital footprint we all leave behind and talks about how to manage that, which is EXACTLY the approach I want to take next year.

It offers two "real-life" scenarios each for high school and middle school, and one for elementary. It is pretty text heavy, so I'm not sure how well it will go over with students, but I like the handbook idea of students creating an online manual for others to use....or maybe a series of PSA's?

Thanks to Jamie, also, who commented on the previous post and recommended Netsmartz, as well as the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use.

Along these lines, Athur Levine has a cogent article on the Huffington Post, where he takes schools to task for blocking the very technologies students need to learn to use responsibly.  Money quote:
Schools today do not take into account the changing professional world that more than ever relies both on individual effort and networked teams. In an increasingly competitive global economy, American students are not performing well compared to those in many other nations. And rather than harnessing technologies that have become ubiquitous in young people's lives, American schools often avoid or even forbid them.

WoogiWorld Cybersafety: I'm Not So Sure

I played a couple of rounds of WoogiWorld's CyberSafety game this morning, looking for tools I can use with my elementary students next year. I think I've mentioned before I'm stressing over what to do with them, since I've always been such a grade 7-up oriented person.

Obviously, I'm all for teaching cybersafety, but I HATE all these FBI-type programs that scare the bejeezus out of people.  The now famous  2007 report by the NSBA states that fears are often exaggerated by the media, with school districts over-reacting by blocking everything that's blockable.  How are kids supposed to learn responsible use of these sites and tools if we aren't able to access them to teach them?

Which brings me back to WoogiWorld.  I love that it teaches appropriate and safe online behavior. But does anyone else think it over-stresses the fear factor?  I want them to be careful, but I don't want them thinking predators are lurking behind every chat line.  Am I over-reacting?

Have any of you used WoogiWorld with your students?  What do you think?

Kids: Learn MovieMaking Free at Apple Summer Camp

Smart move on Apple's part, and a great opportunity for kids.  Local Apple stores are offering a free 3-day summer camp  teaching 8-12 year olds the movie-making process from storyboarding to final viewing. They will need to bring their own camera. Check here to sign up at your local Apple store.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Free Screencasting II

If my feed results are anything to go by, one of my most accessed posts is one I wrote way back when I first started on free Screencasting for Macs.  A lot has changed since then (sadly,ScreenToaster came and went, for example), so it's time for an update. These options will work for both Mac and Windows.

Jing:   This, of course, is the go-to app for most people.  Made by the venerable folks at TechSmith, (makers of Camtasia), Jing is a download that allows you to capture either screen shots or up to 5 minutes of video/audio, making it great for recording quick tutorials.  You can host the video on the ScreenShare site, or download it to your laptop. It's quick, easy and fairly intuitive.  What it's not is editable (though you can load it into Camtasia to edit. But if you have Camtasia, why are you using Jing?).  It also saves the files as flv. (Flash), so you can't load them into iMovie to edit them, either.  You can add arrows (call-outs) to screen shots, but not to the video.

Screencast-o-Matic:  Not an especially pretty site, but it gets the job done.  SOM is an online tool (so no downloads) that captures up to 15 minutes of  both audio/video, though you can turn the audio off if you want. Very easy to use. Especially cool,  you can opt to place a bright yellow "halo" around the cursor, making it easy to follow.   SOM lets you download the final video as either a flash file, MP4 or AVI, which means you can the load the MP4 file into iMovie for further editing. You either host the video on the SOM site or load it onto YouTube.

Screenjelly:  Records 3 minutes of audio/video that you can then share via Twitter, Facebook or email, or you can host it on the site.

Screenr:  This one is unusual in that it's geared toward Twitter.  Again, it records up to 5 minutes of video/audio, that you then post to your Twitter account.  Why, I don't know....  It does create video that can be viewed on an iPhone, though.

For Windows users, there are a couple of other options, but I haven't used any of them, so I'll just list them.

CamStudio:  Records audio/video, and saves as an AVI file, which I believe you could edit in MovieMaker (let me know if I'm wrong on that.)

Wink:  Captures video and audio, and allows you to add explanatory text boxes, buttons and titles.

CaptureFox:  Now this one's really different.  It's a Firefox add-on, so works through your browser.

Tutorials, obviously. If teachers are going to be absent, they could create a quick video to explain the lesson, which would be a big help for the sub (and eliminate all those "well, the sub didn't really explain") excuses!  Students could write and create a weekly (or daily, for elementary) wrap up to post and use for review (or students who missed class).

Here are a couple good how-to's for creating organized, engaging screencasts.

What is Screencasting
How to Make a Screencast
Webinar: Creating Online Tutorials

Need Examples?  100 Awesome YouTube Vids for Librarians (you'll find some tutorials in here).

No Dots Day...and my Mongolian Blog

Aargh.  I hate this day.  See that little map in the column on the right? Yesterday it was filled with hundreds of dots.  It's a total ego thing I admit (I still remember being thrilled when I got my first non-US dot!), but, hey, I'm human, and blogging can be a lonely business. The map is kind of like a full answering machine:  When you come home to lots of messages,  you get to think, "Hey, I'm popular."

I know, I know... pathetic...immature...

Anyway, once a year Clustr map archives everything, and you lose your dots. Apparently, yesterday was the day. So it's back to an empty-looking map for a while.   Oh, well.  It's good to be humble, right?

And now for something completely different....

I don't think I've posted the link to my Mongolian  blog here.   I'll be blogging my travel/adventures/mishaps there, if you're interested.  It will be a totally non-library, non-tech blog, though. Just my travels and impressions.  Today I blogged about Mongolian Death Worms.  You just gotta love the sound of that.

Here's the link:   Me and Genghis Khan

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blogging as Avoidance Behavior

It  occurred to me a moment ago that the hours and hours I've spent on the blog the past few days is actually procrastination--my excuse for NOT working on packing up the house for the big move. 

For the next few weeks, then, I'm going on the posting-every-other day plan. I really MUST get this done, and I know I won't if I even think about starting up the laptop!

Three Ed-Tech Myths

The University of Walden released their study of more than 1,000 education professionals, examining attitudes towards "the effects of technology on student learning, behavior and skills." The report debunked five common  myths and revealed some disturbing attitudes.  I'd like to look at three of those in this post. You can access the complete report (or a five page summary) here.

Myth #1: Newer teachers and those with access use technology more frequently.

Not true.  While younger teachers may use social networking in their personal lives, that doesn't necessarily translate to their teaching pedagogy. In the study, teachers with 10 years of experience or less made up only 28% of teachers who frequently use technology. Part of the problem may be that over half of newly-certified teachers surveyed stated they left college feeling ill-prepared to incorporate technology into their lessons.

And just because teachers have access to technology, doesn't mean they use it.  Only 29% of teachers not using technology  said it's because of limited access; 49% said they don't use it because it's not relevant to their lessons. More on that later.

Myth #2:  It's more important for students to use technology than teachers.

I confess, I believed this one myself.  I thought as long as teachers had a grasp on a tool, they didn't actually have to understand it thoroughly themselves.  Had I just taken the time to think that through, I would have realized the fallacy.  First of all, if you don't use technology yourself, you're less likely to incorporate it into your teaching or your assignments. Secondly, without a thorough understanding of the technology and its limitations, how can you design a lesson or assignment that makes the best use of the tool?  Or help students to use it creatively and meaningfully?

Nor will students necessarily "figure it out" for themselves.  I think the whole "digital native" idea does a HUGE disservice to students, because it implies they intuitively understand technology and don't need to be trained its use. To be blunt, that's garbage. They may be a genius on Facebook, but that doesn't mean they know how to use Ning thoughtfully to develop a project.  And if you don't know, how can you teach them?

More significantly, teachers who use technology frequently place a stronger emphasis on the so-called 21st century skills. Whether teachers who use technology value those skills more highly, or whether the technology itself necessitates using those skills remains unclear, at least in this report. Having seen (and assigned!) plenty of brain-dead "tech projects" in my day, I don't think using technology automatically means students are working in the upper levels of Bloom's.

Myth #3:  Teachers and administrators have shared understandings about technology use.

Really?  That's  a common belief?  The study reveals a fairly large disconnect between how much technology use administrators believe is happening, and what teachers are actually doing. Only 66% of teachers said their administrators are supportive of technology use, compared to 92% of administrators. Despite the above evidence that many teachers  believe technology is not appropriate to their lessons, and their failure to emphasize important skills, 59% of administrators state their schools strongly support 21st century skills.


Of all of this, I'm most disturbed (but not surprised) to find that so many teachers find technology irrelevant to their discipline. As the report states, "In a world where technology penetrates every aspect of the most successful and innovative organizations, this is a telling finding." Just because you can teach without technology, doesn't mean you should. That's somewhat akin to shunning books in favor of the oral tradition. We are not preparing students for life in the industrial age, but life in the information age. Students who are not taught to use media and technology in sophisticated, creative ways are not just disadvantaged, they are made irrelevant and teachers are derelict in their duties if they fail to embed these competencies into their curricula regularly and often.

Our job, as media specialists, is not just to train teachers and students in the  WHAT's and HOW's of technology, but also the WHY's and WHEN's.  We really must do a better job (and I include myself in that) of not just showing them tool after tool, but of

  1. Evaluating tools and selecting only the best/most useful to share.  It's far too easy to be overwhelmed by the barrage of what's available. If it doesn't a) make their (or the student's) job easier/more productive or b) allow them to do something new, why use it? Along with this, of course, goes suggesting appropriate technologies to use.  How many times has a teacher said, "You need to show me how to set up a blog!" only to find out what they really need for their purpose is a wiki?
  2. Frame the lesson appropriately.  How would you frame a tech lesson?  ‘I’ve got a way that you can do your lectures in a much more interesting fashion, we’re going to learn all about PowerPoint,’ or [are you] getting up and saying, ‘Kids will be much more excited if they’re helping you construct what they’re learning, and so we’re going to learn about wikis.’ (qtd from the report)  We have to take the emphasis off technology and ground it firmly in what we know about learning and students.  Technology is not the point; it's the tool.  When was the last time you had a pencil lesson?  Yet teachers frequently have "technology lessons."
  3. Giving practical examples of and suggestions for their use. I suspect by far the largest problem for most resistant users is districts tend to throw computers and smartboards at them, give them one days' training (if that) then say, "Here, go use them," with very little understanding of how they can be effectively incorporated into classroom routine.  
  4.  Following up.  I am horrible at this, and I really must improve.  How many times have you checked in with a teacher or student after showing them a new web 2.0 tool?  Once?  Maybe twice? We need to check-in regularly, offering suggestions or re-training as needed, linking teachers with other faculty using the tools successfully.  We should regularly showcase best-practice examples of technology use, including brainstorming sessions. I know, the big problem is time, time time.  Talk to your administrator. If it's a priority for him or her, believe me, s/he'll make the time.
UPDATE:  It should be mentioned that this report is based on teacher/admin perceptions.  One does wonder whether the findings would hold up with a more concrete study.  I suspect many of them would.

    More Newspaper Chauvinism

    I just had to showcase more of the fascinating, albeit appalling, ads from the West Highland Free Press on the Isle of Skye .  (Though that makes it sound like these are ads they're actually running. They're not, obviously.)  If you have a Facebook account, you can see all of the ads here, here, and here.  Click on the images to enlarge them.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    Google Docs on iPad: They're Working On It

    I posted in the GCT forum the other day about DocsPortal, an app that syncs your Google Docs with the iPad (but doesn't allow editing).  Lo and behold, one of the Google Gurus responded with, and I quote
     While we aren't yet promising a date - we are working on getting
    document editing working on iPad.

     Remember, you heard it here first!  I hope.

    More on Being Media Neutral

    CUNY's Ann Kirschner ran an experiment reading Little Dorrit on four different platforms.  NPR reports on the results.

    Now, personally I think the only thing that makes reading Dickens bearable is knowing that Thackeray's even worse (and I say that as an English major!), so I'm not sure that was the best test book. But it makes the point that physical books just aren't the be-all and end-all anymore, and the iPad is even more of a game-changer.

    On a related note, I tried reading a book on my iPhone yesterday, using iBooks.  I hadn't done this before, as I just assumed the screen would be too small, since I can't read websites, etc. very well on it. What a surprise!  It was actually quite easy to read Pride and Prejudice--almost enjoyable, though you do turn the pages a lot.

    And according to the Apple tech guy I was talking to the other day, it's an even better (read: crisper) experience on the iPhone 4, because of the retinal display.

    Newspaper Chauvinism

    From the West Highland Free Press collection on Facebook (via my friend, Seonaid). Kinda makes you gag, huh?  (click for a larger view)

    Santa Reads My Blog!!

    Or at least one of the elves....maybe Mrs. Santa?

    Really...I was looking through my "visitor path" links (down there on the right where it says "read my stats") and there it was:

    Forget mailing in my Christmas list this year!  I obviously have a direct link!

    iPads: Camera Connection Kit Has Multiple Uses

    I was just reading Andy Ihnatko's blog and he pointed out that the $29 Camera Connection Kit (so you can load photos directly onto your iPad without having to sync with your computer) allows multiple other USB devices to work with your iPad. Basically, it's just an attachable USB port.

    For example, I plugged in my headset,  loaded on a free voice recording app and recorded audio content.

    What other ideas do you have?

    I should also point out, I was online with an Apple tech guy yesterday, and asked if the iPad would have printing capability anytime soon.  While it's not native, he did tell me there are several apps you can buy that allow you to print from the iPad (or iPhone).

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Budd:e's Interactive Cyber Safety Program

    Budd:e, an interactive e-security "game" from Australia, is a great tool to add to your online safety toolbag for students.  It offers both  primary and secondary versions.  It is not a tutorial itself, but rather tests students' knowledge of appropriate ways to ensure their online safety.

    Primary students build a "Budd:e" by answering questions related to, for example, digital citizenship and cyber-safety. Secondary students run through a series of real-life scenarios (you've received a message from an unknown person on Facebook asking for pictures) and choose appropriate responses to deal with the situation.

    UPDATE: Yikes!  I just realized I forgot to include the link.  My apologies!

    Free Aviary Education Beta

    AVIARY, the online video, image and audio editing program that allows students to work collaboratively, now has an education version, and they're accepting applications for accounts.

    Four Traits of Great School Libraries

    I'm doing some hard-thinking/reading about libraries as I start thinking about my program for the school in Mongolia, much of that related to the program I developed at my current school, what works and what needs changing.

    More as a way of grounding my thoughts than in providing anything new (to quote Doug Johnson, I'm not a deep thinker, but I'm practical), here are my thoughts so far on what a truly forward-thinking library looks like. Please feel free to suggest additions for anything I missed!

    A Great School Library Is:

    SOCIAL: I don't just mean that students work in collaborative groups, sharing documents and information, obliterating that sepulchral hush that libraries used to be--though that's definitely part of it. But that the library program itself is social and interactive, whether it be through student blogging or book reviews on the library website, shared bookmarking through or Evernote or pathfinders, etc. More importantly, program content stems from student/faculty input and feedback. Do you talk to students about what they want and need?  Do you have a library suggestion box?  Do you use Google Forms to take occasional user polls/surveys?  Ask students for ideas on ways to add to or improve your program. Better yet, ensure that thoughtful students are on your library advisory committee AND LISTEN TO THEM.

    CREATIVE: I mean this literally: we need to be creating content (or getting students to create content), not just archiving it. One thing I admire about Free Tech 4 Teachers Richard Byrne, is the sheer plethora of useful handouts he has available. I swear, it seems like he puts these things together overnight. It guilted me into preparing the SearchSmart handout for my students--the ones who keep claiming they don't need lessons on searching--and I almost literally can't keep them "in stock." It convinced me I need to do a better job of writing quick handouts on a variety of topics for students, faculty and parents.

    We also need to be creative in its more imaginative sense (and this is harder, of course). Whether its pedagogy, technology use, or just looking for new ways to serve our clientele,  we must think outside the box in coming up with new ways to inspire our users.  Nor do I mean big, program-changing creativity, though that's great. Just the small things can make a meaningful difference:  I'd been putting pathfinders together for over two years before it occurred to me to create a Google Book Shelf for each one. A small thing, but students and teachers loved it, and it broadened the scope of the collection.

    MEDIA NEUTRAL:  OK, I know this is an odd one. I had multimedia as the term, but the English teacher in me rebelled against the non-parallel structure, and the librarian in me said, "So what? We've been doing that for ages."  Yes, libraries go far beyond books these days: databases, Kindles, audiobooks, etc.  But come on, don't we secretly kind of privilege books?  How many of your teachers, when detailing the resource requirements, tell students at least two of them have to be books?  I've been guilty of that myself.  I've even told students to stop digging online and go check the shelves.

    But I was wrong. At least, I was doing it for the wrong reasons. If books are more specific to what a student is researching, great.  We shouldn't require physical books just to require books, however.  First, we need to meet students in their comfort zone, not ours, and that means online. Second,  privileging books implies a value judgment, and students sense that. There are students who will never crack a book, for whatever reason, and I don't want them thinking I'm going to judge them for that, especially if that means they avoid coming to me as a result. Finally, with everything available to us in multiple formats these days, I'm just not that sure books are actually better any more. 

    UBIQUITOUS:  Along with all of the above, we must provide multiple access points for library resources..  We need to get ourselves out of the library and make our presence felt. My first year,  I insisted teachers bring their classes to the library, but I was trying to change the culture of the school away from library-as-lounge.  Now, I not only teach in the library, I go to classes in teachers' classrooms, in the auditorium, in hallways, in the faculty lounge.

    Move off your website. Create a library Facebook page, and a Flickr page.  I know, I know, it's blocked at school.  Kids don't need it at school; they need it when they're home. Take on that fight and make your case. Put a Twitter widget on your library page and update it with new events. Students don't use it much, but their parents do. What a great way to let them know about ongoing research projects their student is (or should be!) working on.

    I have had a long-term goal--that I ABSOLUTELY VOW to finally complete this year!--of putting all my lessons onto vodcasts students can download onto their ipods or watch on the library website.

    Those are my ill-formed thoughts, so far.  The one thing I really need to tackle is a reading program. I have done nothing with that so far, and it's long past due. I'm sure I'll post on it soon.