Web 2.0

Social networking is educational!

According to a recent study by the University of Minnesota, the use of social networking sites is narrowing the technological divide between low- and high-income kids in that they are all learning vital computer, communication and socialization skills while using these networks.

What we found was that students using social networking sites are actually practicing the kinds of 21st century skills we want them to develop to be successful today,” said Christine Greenhow, a learning technologies researcher in the university’s College of Education and Human Development and principal investigator of the study.

While using just about any site – not just social networking sites – would give kids the same sort of “21st century skills”, the question is, would they want to use them like they do MySpace and Facebook? Plus, you have the possibility for creative expression with these sites that encourage user-created content – something that doing research on the computer or learning typing skills on the computer will do. And schools still block these sites…
A better response would be to reinforce the lessons these kids are learning on these sites.

“Now that we know what skills students are learning and what experiences they’re being exposed to, we can help foster and extend those skills,” said Greenhow.

and finally…

Greenhow suggests that educators can help students realize even more benefits from their social network site use by working to deepen students’ still emerging ideas about what it means to be a good digital citizen and leader online.

So – let’s stop blocking and start teaching!!

Web 2.0

Twitter Debate!

McCain and Obama will be debating via Twitter over the next few days – and it should be fairly interesting. McCain says that he doesn’t know how to use a computer at all, and Obama has 40,000 followers on his Twitter account already – so the technical advantage is definitely for the Obama camp. (and really, do we want a president who will probably ultimately decide the Net Neutrality issue to be one who admits to computer illiteracy?)
You can follow the debate either through the Summize search for the #pdfdebate hashtag (PDF – Personal Democracy Forum, the sponsor of the debate) or through the Tweetboards arrangement of the debate moderator (Anna Marie Cox), McCain’s representative (LizMair) and Obama’s representative (Mike Nelson).
This is an interesting experiment and a great way to get the candidate’s positions out to a new audience. It’s also an interesting use of Twitter, which I love to see! What I’m hoping we won’t see is the infamous “fail whale” that Twitter posts on it’s site whenever it gets overloaded and unable to respond to all of its traffic!
Enjoy the debate!



Ok, I live in a fairly small market that doesn’t have a lot of choice on the radio (unless you are into Country music, then you’ve got lots of choice) and from 9am – when NPR’s news goes off the air – and 10am – when the good music comes onto our local alternative rock station – there isn’t much to listen to. Except for Mancow in the Morning. I’m not a Mancow fan, but I wasn’t in the mood for country music and there is still occasionally some good music on in between his blathering, so I was listening to that as I went for my morning cuppa. Just as I was about to turn off the car and head inside, Mancow took a call. Some lady called in to say that, at her son’s parent-teacher meeting last night, she was informed that the ALA would be banning a couple of Shel Silverstein titles from that school because they promote disobedience. Mancow immediately took off on a huge rant, calling librarians emasculating lesbians and saying that they – and teachers – both hate male children. After a minute or two of this, I lost my cool and had to go inside for a cup of coffee to cool me down a bit (and no, it wasn’t iced coffee). When I came back out, he was still ranting, this time about teachers, I think, about how they hate boys and want to make boys like little girls via medication. He was complaining about the fact that they want to keep us all stupid and under the government’s thumb and he continued in that vein (with a bit of bitching about the liberal PC mafia removing holidays from school… whatever!) until I got to work.
I had to listen to that part about the ALA for a couple of minutes before my brain processed the word “ban” properly. It was *so* not what I had expected to hear!! I was too flabbergasted to call in and tell him that the lady who called in originally had gotten some bad information and that he was defaming an entire profession (or two – he let teachers have it as well) on the basis of incorrect information. Now I’m just too irritated (and unwilling to cater to him by calling his show) to do anything more than blog about it!
Consider it blogged.


360 degree turnaround

In what may be a shocker to those who know me, I’m voting republican this year…

And yes, the 360 degree comment was on purpose. Go Obama!!!


Having fun…

via Wordle – my tags, all prettied up!


Social Software Showcase – OpenID

I’ve finally put together my (very first) screencast on Slideshare for the Social Software Showcase site! It’s up and available now – feel free to check it out and find out the basics about OpenID and the issues surrounding this identity management tool. According to my son, it’s pretty good (though he may be a bit biased…) – he was asking me last night if he should get one of these OpenID things, after he’d heard me talk through the presentation (about 4 times – he should be pretty familiar with OpenID by now…).
There is a list of OpenID tutorials for the nuts-n-bolts “how to” information below the screencast of my rather theoretical discussion of OpenID, just in case you all decide it’s something you want to try out!
If you are going to be at ALA, stop by the Social Software Showcase at 1:30pm on Saturday the 28th at the Marriott Anaheim — Gold Key I-III to talk to me and the other talented folks who are contributing content to this “unconference” at the conference!

Web 2.0

A Video Chat

My first Skype video chat!! Thanks to Bobbi’s grant writing skills, we have fabulous new training laptops for our use. I was playing with one of them this week, trying to see if we could use it to send out with staff members going to various festivals around town so that they could sign folks up for library cards remotely (they can – I’ve got it set up now!) when I heard the call from Andrew Morton, of the University of Richmond, for a volunteer to do some video conferencing. I immediately thought of the new laptops – all decked out with an integrated webcam – and my Skype account and told him I would be available. He was leading a session on their new Library Learning 2.0 program and wanted someone to come and chat about the glories of Web 2.0 *stuff*. I got everything set up on my end, tested it with him, and at 12:40pm CST we started my very first Skype video chat. Andrew asked me to talk a little about our LL2.0 program, and I did, then he opened it up for questions. I got a question about how the staff has used the lessons learned in their work since the end of the program – and I told them all about our “2.0ified” homepage – the Flickr, Twitter and Blog feeds that make up the majority of our homepage are not all created/written/uploaded by Bobbi (though she coordinates it and does an awful lot herself)! The staff that went through the program and got comfortable with the tools are helping by writing blog posts, taking and occasionally uploading pictures and sending out the occasional tweet announcement as well. I got another question about the incentives we used, too. They are still in the process of deciding on incentives and were very interested to hear what we had used at MRRL!
It was great fun, and I hope I was of some help to the folks deciding whether or not to embark upon the LL2.0 journey at the University of Richmond – and I got to try out a bit of video conferencing to boot!


5. YouTube

YouTube, as you may know, is a video sharing site that makes the sharing and social aspects of video really easy. Youtube gives it’s users the ability to upload video that can be commented upon, shared easily (via an embed code included with each video) and saved (via favorites) to be viewed again. All of this makes video a much more easily used medium for libraries to explore!
The Missouri River Regional Library has a YouTube account, but we haven’t been using it much – mostly due to a lack of recording equipment. Now that most digital cameras can take decent movies (and anything better than “decent” gets lost in YouTube’s compression anyway, it seems) we may start using it for more projects in the future. I did upload a short “safety” video, produced by the very talented, and just a wee bit odd, members of our children’s department a while back. More recently, Bobbi has used it to store the short videos made by our Automation Librarian to explain the use of our self-check machine (the hand model in those videos is our Circulation supervisor).
Other libraries, however, have made excellent use of YouTube. Denver Public Library used it to promote their summer reading program last year. The Metropolitan Library System (Oklahoma City) posted the first prize winner of their recent film content using YouTube as well. Other libraries have done other contests as well, using the teenager’s love of content creation to engage them in library activities via YouTube.
Other libraries post interesting little videos promoting everything from children’s activities to reference services – or just to have fun!
With the reduction in price for digital video cameras along with a serious increase in quality for even fairly cheap cameras, creating library videos is pretty cheap! David Lee King, a Library Journal “mover and shaker” is doing some really cool things with video in libraries – if you are looking for ideas to promote your services, engage your patrons and show the fun side of your library, his blog is an excellent place to start!


Big Day @ The Library, Pt. 2

After all the excitement with Jim & Shannon Butcher, I attended the library softball team’s 4th game. WE WON!!! 11 to 7!!! We got 11 runs!!! This is a first for our library – we’ve lost the last 3 games, so we were definitely due for a win. Very exciting stuff. It started off with the husband of our Circ supervisor, Troy, getting a home run on the very first at bat for the Dewey Decimators. It continued with lots of great at-bats, excellent plays that stopped the other team (the Dozers, sponsored by Twehous Excavating) in their tracks and some good luck thrown in. Yeah!!!! It was an excellent end to a fabulous day at the Missouri River Regional Library!!
Gary pitching


Big Day @ The Library, Pt. 1

Today, we hosted an author visit by Jim and Shannon Butcher.
Talking about writing
They were both wonderfully entertaining as they answered questions from the 70+ people who attended the event at the Main Library (they also did a Q&A at the Linn Library, but I didn’t attend that, and don’t know how many folks showed up for it).
The crowd

There were a lot of great questions and some excellent answers about books both upcoming and already published. It was a LOT of fun.
After the event, the library took the couple out for ice cream at the famous-throughout-the-Mid-Missouri-area Central Dairy ice cream parlor. We sat and continued to chat with them as we all sucked down massive portions of seriously good ice cream.

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