Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thing 22 and 23 - This is the end... only friend, THE END!

I am really glad I tried this endeavor (and even gladder that I made it to the finish line). I think that this was an outstanding program and really worth the time. So, now what?

The fact is - of the 20-some things we looked at - some I really liked, some seemed okay, and a few did not seem worth the time or effort. I truly believe this idea of prioritizing is important. There is no way I could keep up with and utilize EVERYTHING that is out there. However, I do think that if I can narrow my focus down to the handful of things that I like and use - that will still make me rather progressive in my profession. I am surprised to say that Bloglines has probably proven itself to be the most useful of all the tools to me personally. It has really cut down on my "surfing" time not checking sites that haven't been updated since the last time I visited them. I also see myself using things like Flickr, LibraryThing, Shelfari,, a great deal in the future.

Does that mean that I will close my eyes to the other (and future) Web 2.o tools out there? I certainly hope not. I do resolve that I will do my best to keep as current/informed as I possibly can to this ever-changing technology. I can't promise that this blog will stay alive - I currently have three blogs going (one for a grad class, one for my library and this one) - not bad for a kid who had never blogged until 4 months ago!

Once again, kudos to those who worked so hard to put this program together - it really was a worthwhile endeavor.

Thing 21 - Other Social Networks

I know I gave the impression that I wasn't too fired up about social networking a couple of posts ago. However, the social networks discussed in this "Thing" are ones I could see myself spending a bit more time with.

Obviously, the professional networking aspect to sites like these is fairly appealing. The ability to "hook up" with like-minded people or other librarians could be very beneficial. I stopped into the 23 Things Ning (say that three times fast) and got a chance to "see" some of the people going through this program. Beyond that, Shelfari is one that caught my eye. Much like LibraryThing, I like how it connects people through books - and the widgets look pretty cool on a blog.

When I find the time, I am going to try and look into some other social networks that may pay dividends at work - too fried to try it right now.

Thing 13 - Online Productivity

Is that an oxymoron? I think sometimes that the time I can spend online "working" actually makes me less productive than I could be.

Anyways, I do have some experience with some of these tools. I have start pages through both MyYahoo and MyMSN. The Yahoo one came about through Fantasy Football. While I do not use it for my personal homepage - I do like the way that it allows you to predetermine what headlines and information you see up front. The MSN page is the homepage for my desktop computer at home. Again, it shows local news and weather reports which is nice.

One thing I was interested in was the online calendar sites. Scrybe was not accepting new registrations so I went to 30 Boxes. The site is okay - although I did run into some annoying snags. I did put a widget from my calendar on this blog. I also tried to place it on my library homepage through, but it did not work out (probably more of an issue with my host site).

Overall, I think this stuff is okay - but there is nothing wrong with using a trusty pen and day planner.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Thing 20 - MySpace/Facebook

As I thought about libraries incorporating social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook, I couldn't help but think of the old adage "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." There is no doubt that a library MySpace page might seem cool to some kids, but the fact is, they would still have to be interested enough in the library itself in order to even visit the page. The fact is, kids/people participate in these networks in order to communicate with friends. Even if the school I worked for allowed me to set up a MySpace page and allowed students to visit it, I am not sure it would be worth the risk of time that would be wasted on "other" endeavors.

That is not to say that there are NO positives in libraries using such technologies. In browsing through some of the library-based sites I found on Myspace, probably one of the coolest things I saw was how many authors have their own MySpace pages and link up and interact on some of the library sites. This is a cool connectivity aspect that would be great for a library and its patrons. MySpace obviously also would allow for simple and up-to-the-minute announcements and such - but those things can be just as easily accomplished on other tools such as blogs and wikis.

In the end, social networking sites such as these carry a lot of baggage with them and until those issues are safely addressed (if that is possible), I don't see them playing a huge role in public schools. But, hey, I never thought this Internet thing would catch on either! :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thing 19 - Podcasts

As a talk-radio junkie, I hear the word podcast hundreds of times a day (every show I listen to offers its program in podcast form). However, I do not own an iPod so I have never really looked into podcasting. I see the point - it is kind of like a walkman for those of us who prefer the spoken word to music. Aside from radio programming, I also know that audio books and the like are also being made available for an mp3 player. If you own the necessary equipment - great. I listened to a brief interview from the latest MEMO conference and can see the benefits of this tool in that one can keep up with things and hear about events/conferences/etc. strait from the horses mouth.

As far as incorporating this into my library - I again have to go back to the administrative restrictions excuse. iPods and such are not allowed in the school I work in, so I doubt I will spend too much time worrying about providing podcasts for my student patrons. I will not rule them out completely - it may be something fun down the road that I might have some students work on, but for right now I will probably just stick to finding some that I can use for professional development purposes.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thing 18 - YouTube

I am very familiar with YouTube and have been for quite a while. There is no doubt you can find just about anything under the sun at this site. My one complaint is what I would call "reckless tagging" of many videos. For whatever reason, it seems that one can search for something and will be directed to things that actually have nothing to do with what they were looking for. This can be very dangerous, especially when you consider how it could be young people who are searching and a seemingly innocent search term can dig some some "dangerous" things. This is probably the main reason why many schools do block YouTube. It would be nice if they could "monitor" tagging a little better. I know there are other video sites out there, including one called TeacherTube which is appropriate for the classroom.

The above video is a clip from the movie adaptation of my favorite book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thing 16 - Project Calculators

I have come across similar tools from my days teaching in an English classroom. I think they are fine, it's just that what they do (give a timeline/plan for completing an assignment) is basically what the teacher does in teaching the assignment. College professors do not spend a lot of their time "walking" students through projects - but such practice is very common in the high school classroom. Because of this, I never saw the NEED for these tools for high school kids.
But the more I think about it, the more I see the potential benefit of such tools . Thinking back to my own experience teaching the research process, no matter how detailed a timeline you give a student, no matter how many "step-by-step" deadlines you have - some kids just aren't going to pay attention to them and will still cram it all in at the last minute. Maybe, if kids get a chance to feel like they (with the help of their computer) are setting their own deadlines, they might be more involved in the process. I also see A LOT of value for teachers themselves. I looked through RPC handouts section and found many interesting/useful materials.
In the end - I will definitely make my staff members aware of these sites and their supplementary materials and will probably make the RPC site available from my library homepage.