Decoding Codes for Education

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As part of this year's TLT Symposium's, there's an exciting pre-game happening that I'm very excited about and this post is part of that game (Quest #3...and a very long overdue blog post).In the last month or so I've become interested in alternate reality games, so TLT's pregame is very timely and extremely relevant.

A technology that has recently caught my attention are 2D codes, aka QR codes. These are similar to bar codes but look a little different.  The concept and end result are to get the user to more information in one single swoop.  I don't want to delve too much into how they work because I think that's well covered here and here

In a recent  post by Christen  he described 2D codes as 'lifehacks'. What I'm wondering is, how can 2D codes also be put to use in education either as a way to increase learning or make learning more efficient (eduhack?)? A few thoughts might be:
  • leading to further information, e.g. a textbook offers a code to get to supplemental materials or problem sets online.
  • space scheduling:  schedules for group study rooms, video viewing rooms, equipment/media labs etc. could be quickly accessed using this codes
  • a way to explore a large space like the library: this could take the format of a self-guided tour, a scavenger hunt, or simply serendipity, but codes could be strategically placed in spaces of interest. Codes would lead users to more info about that space (history, use, etc.)
Since 2D codes have not yet been widely adopted in the U.S., I'm not sure how successful they would be right now.  However, the concept of simply and quickly getting to more information online using an input device that isn't a keyboard is an intriguing one.  I'd love to hear your ideas about other ways 2D codes might be used in education.

PSULIBS on Twitter

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At the learning design summer camp, I got the idea to create a Twitter account for the libraries to share updates and information.  This isn't an original idea, it just hadn't "lightbulbed" for me until camp. So, I did it!

I'm introducing psulibs on Twitter. If you are a twitterer, please follow us for updates and information. It may take a little time to finetune the content for the Twitterverse, but I look forward to new connections. Also, great minds must think alike because the Palmer Museum and PSU Live recently did the same!

For PSUL folks out there that might be reading this, let me know if you would like to contribute to psulibs twitter. You can either send me the content to be twittered or I can share the log in with you.

p.s. if you're reading this on my site, please excuse the funky layout until I get it cleaned up :)

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Day 2, Immersion Reflections

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Today was primarily about learning styles. I gotta say I love this kinda stuff too! I found out I am an Accomodater (the names don't really match the styles). The characteristics of an accomodater are:
getting things done (I just read a book with this title...that was the first give away)
Taking Risks
being adaptable
being practical

What's more important than your own style (in this context anyway) is that you are familiar with the other styles and begin thinking about teaching to those other styles. It's natural that we teach to our own styles, but we need to keep in mind that others may not learn the way we do. So, the next natural step is to teach to all the styles, right? Harder than it sounds my friends! We did do a few exercises where we tried to stretch our activities to fit other styles, but it's challenging to fit all 4 into one activity. The important part to me here is awareness. I think it's half the battle. When your aware that other styles are out there and what works for them, you'll find ways to accommodate them, one by one.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on the broken method. This was an exercise where we were in small groups and were given an instructional technique of some kind and had to identify how to fix it. Everyone reported out on their technique and as a group we resoundingly confirmed that "It sucks!". Next we went back to the group and outlined ways to make that tool better. My group had orientations so the Open House got some shout outs (from me). Lastly we regrouped and discussed how we knew our assigned method was broken. Basically coming back to outcomes, feedback, assessment, and personal experiences.

My day concluded with dinner with an old college friend I hadn't seen in 10 years. It was a great mini-reunion and totally made my day!

Immersion, Reflections on Day 1

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Today was the first real day of Immersion (we had a picnic yesterday) and the name does not lie...we were immersed in all things instruction, teaching, and learning today from 8:30a-8:30p.

The morning kicked off with a reenactment of the 7 ages of information literacy...each immersion faculty member did a mini-skit that highlighted an age...from "reader's advisory (age 1) to "information literacy (age 7), they sang, they danced, they showed us their human side.(later we would call this their personhood)

The morning's sessions discussed the articles we had to read prior to arriving. At the end of this, we had to create a tag cloud of the important keywords that came up in the jigsaw discussions. Visual outcomes of our work are very important here.we do a lot of drawing with crayons, making posters, etc. It's definitely something I'm not used to, but I like it.

Next we watched a video called the deep dive from Nightline about the highly innovative company, Ideo. I've seen this video before but I can't remember where. It was good to see it again and frame it within the context of Immersion. The phrase "the basket is tyranny", which refers to the specific example in the video of how Ideo re-envisioned the shopping cart, really resonated with us and became the catch phrase for the day. Things like the "Tyranny of the 50 min session" and "the tyranny of the content" were bandied about quite a bit. It made us chuckle but at the same time reminded us to think outside the box. "Fail often to succeed early" was another good one we took from this video.

The afternoon was primarily about the concept of the authentic teacher followed by presentation techniques. Randy Hensley talked a lot about the affective side of instruction--your spirit, your humor, your enjoyment for the topic, what you bring to to the table that's from your heart. In teaching, your identity matters A LOT, but in our day-to-day teaching we often have a self-imposed rigidity..e.g. I HAVE to show them how to use the catalog. I MUST show them XY&Z all in 50 mins. I think we often box ourselves in because of our tools, the time restraints we have, what the faculty member expects us to teach...our own expectations of ourselves.
However, in our jobs it's important that we are indeed ourselves. We need to help students see the connections to the content we teach and remind ourselves that we are experts and that it's ok to reshape our instruction so that it's authentic to our style.

The presentation techniques discussion followed and centered around observing and being aware of our voices, bodies, and attitudes. The details are too many to enumerate here but I loved that Randy went into so much detail about these things. This is good stuff that you just don't get anywhere else! Later in the week, we will all give a 5 min presentation without props so that our cohort can give us feedback strictly on these areas.

These are topics we pretty much never talk about. It makes me wonder if pre-teachers get this kind of training. But I love the fact that librarians care enough as a profession to make this kind of discussion possible.

PostSecret's push to Facebook

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Today I cam across a link on PostSecret that offers exclusive content only available on their Facebook site.

Personally I'm not sure how to reconcile my feelings about this . One on side, I think this is a really good use of Facebook and push advertising by PostSecret. Here you have a good site with lots of dedicated, loyal readers. I think offering exclusive content on another site is the best way to get people to use the Facebook site. Otherwise, wouldn't most users get what they need from the native site? Other sites usually do have some kind of discussion board/comments feature. In that case, I guess Facebook could provide some kind of feature that the native site doesn't (or bring in $$$ somehow). PostSecret doesn't really have its own discussion board so maybe FB provides that for them.

This is something I'd like to see us do with the FB application. I think that's the key to getting people to use it--provide something unique there that users can't get anywhere else, e.g. an interactive map to find our friends in the library.

My one hesitation? People that don't use FB. As librarians, making resources free and available to everyone is in our blood. It kind of reminds me of sweepstakes that still have to provide an alternate way for people to enter that's not web based by providing a telephone number or address. Providing exclusive content on another web site creates a barrier. It's not a huge barrier, since FB accounts are free and open to everyone (now), but it's more of a mental barrier for some folks who have various reasons for not wanting to sign up for FB. Plus, in higher ed, is it fair to build in this extra step to a resource that's ultimately supported by tuition dollars?

A drawback to making it open to everyone? The TIME it takes to think through an alternate access point and put those processes in place. And we all know we move slowly enough as it is in libraryland! So, as I said, I'm not sure how to balance all these things...certainly open to suggestions and would love to hear feedback.

Thank you notes

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I felt compelled to blog that I love being part of a profession where thank you notes are commonplace.

On a personal level, I love sending and receiving thank you notes, especially old school, handwritten ones. Other than signing credit card receipts, I handwrite so few things at length these days that I get a hand cramp when I write out thank you notes. The crafty/girly side of me gets into the stationary, pens, labels, etc. On the one I just received (for the session on iGoogle I did for the Juniata-Conemaugh chapter of PaLA), I like the antithesis of the situation: the reason for the note was something web 2.0ish (iGoogle), but the note was notably (ha!) web -2.0ish (handwritten & snailmailed).

But really it comes down to the sentiment of the note and the fact that someone took the time to write it and express their thoughts. I'm a sucker for this stuff, yes. Do I think less of people that don't send them, no....but it is particularly delightful to get one :)

NextGen Inner Moxie

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This morning I saw this Library Journal post from Lia Friedman and Char Booth. <3 it!!
For me, it nicely summarized the feelings I've had a lot lately and over the past few months:

1) the whole misconception that others have that your age is directly proportional to your interest or savviness with technology. SO NOT TRUE. Granted, younger people are generally more comfortable with technology, but it's an over generalization that young = good/interested in technology. I encounter plenty of students that outwardly say they are technophobes. We see plenty of questions at our service desks that indicate many students don't fully understand technology even though they use it heavily. And vice versa-plenty of folks of varying ages that are whizzes with technology. It makes me a little sad when 'more experienced' librarians write themselves off from technology just because of their age.

2) Our risk adverse culture. WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS. I'm not entirely sure how we go about creating institutional change that increases risk taking, but I'd love to talk about it with you if you have ideas. this is an area we NEED to work on. I'm so glad we wrote it into our strategic plan. This article has inspired me to go out and just try some stuff on my own...even though we are a very committee heavy organization and profession. Which leads me to...

3) Committees...Hmmm...I have conflicting thoughts here. As a profession, librarians are a very collaborative folk. This is one characteristic that drew me to the profession. However, we tend to go overboard with it to the point where it bogs down progress. A colleague says we actually fetishize it. This is why I love the hot team approach that ETS uses. It's the 'somewhere in between' of doing your own thing and an officially sanctioned committee. If we start using a hot team-type approach in libraryland (which I hope we do), we'll need to be careful and aware not to slip into old habits.

that's all for now. that feels like a lot since I haven't blogged in a while....phew!

Fun OPAC feature?

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What if this where an online catalog feature?

This retrieves books based on the color of their book cover (using hex values)! How fun would it be to add this to an OPAC? Heck, even as a tool for librarians to assist with those "Uh, I need to use the green book." requests. Heck, I just like clicking "pick random colour" button and seeing what shows up! Just imagine the possibilities.

I wish I were this clever. Neat idea folks at University of Huddersfield (wherever in the UK that is). Saw this over at Jessamyn's site under one of her talks.

CiL: Making Time for web 2.0

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David Lee King (Topeka & Shawnee Co. Public Library)
Making Time for 2.0

Why should you make time?
1. be relevant to next gen users (even the "old stuff", e.g. ebay that your mom is using uses 2.0)
2. teach the current generation (teach grandma to use flickr)
3. teach them how to subscribe to the library
4. save time (prof. reading, IM, bookmarking)
5. patrons what to participate
6. be a community leader
7. land a cool job (transformative technologies)

Q: How do you deal with people that are looking at retirement...not for a cool new job?
Changing focus in job descriptions. Hire the great people first. Reference the "Good to Great", and "The Leadership Challenge".

How to make time?
1.Changing focus (finding time v. willingness and priority) find: beth cantor's blog? beth's blog?. Don't "carve out time"...make it become an essential part of your job...change job descrip.!
2. Schedule your time--make appts. for yourself. Write more than one blog post in a sitting.
3. Remember to play--essential to learn how to use the tools
4. Supervisors need to grant time--give play time, formal training, buy books for training--don't ask staff for input if you aren't going to use it--let them innovate.

I missed most of her part, but Gina Millsap, Director at Topeka & Shawnee Co. Public talked first at this session about leading change. I think it was a good session tho, from a administrator's perspective.