Saturday, November 17, 2007

Online Outreach and Marketing

Not all insights come from conferences. I try to continue learning while I'm waiting for the next conference!

Those who read my blogs probably have figured out that I'm an unabashed fan of the LibrarianinBlack, Sarah Houghton-Jan. I regularly read her blog.

This week she posted a .pdf of a presentation she recently gave at the Hawaii Library Association conference. It offers useful advice if you're interested in finding ways to publicize your library and its services. Many of her tips are free or inexpensive. Sarah was a virtual librarian in her last job, so she knows her stuff. Take a look!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Information Goddess

I've been coming across so many great Web 2.0 tools that I decided to devote a separate blog to them. Take a look, mortal!

Learning 2.0: Tools for 21st Century Learning

Diana Laufenberg is a young social studies teacher at Mount Elden Middle School in Flagstaff. I rarely miss one of her sessions at the Peak Performance conference. Diana is enthusiastic about using technology to further the cause of learning.

Diana arrived at this conference with over a dozen of her students. Their charge was to interview and photograph speakers and those in attendance and to create a conference wrap-up slide show to be shown at the closing of the conference.

Diana devoted a section of her wiki to her Learning 2.0 session. Here's her introduction to this page:

"It's all about the learning. Tech tools and gadgets are fun, no argument there, but they don't necessarily make for good teaching or learning without sound pedagogical footing. Asking compelling questions, focusing on process, pushing the envelope on critical thinking are all goals of the learning and we live in an age where there are tools to serve those educational endeavors. Do not confuse a fun gadget with something that is necessarily good for the learning. First define the learning and find the resources to support. In my humble opinion, this is the key to effective teaching in the 21st century. Work to carefully define what are the goals for learning and use the most appropriate tool for the task."

Diana always schedules hands-on presentations in a lab and gets her audience involved in creating or exploring something on a computer. This year we explored the wiki page and I went nuts when I found this link: Top 50 Web 2.0 Sites. What a treasure trove!

I'm not going to post my notes on Diana's session because her Peak Performance wiki page is almost an exact duplicate.

I will report on two items of interest:

1. Diana also is a fan of TEDTalks! I'm addicted to them and, in fact, recently purchased a new video Nano so I could watch the vodcast version. The TED (Technology Entertainment Design) conference is held annually in Monterey -- yes, in the same venue as Internet Librarian. They select a theme and gather the great minds of the world to present their ideas. Aforementioned Great Minds are given twenty minutes to share their passions with the world. Visit TED's site or the Podcast section of iTunes, search for TEDTalks, and wallow in free access to either audio or video podcasts! Diana showed a clip from Dr. Ken Robinson's talk, "Do Schools Kill Creativity?"

2. I asked Diana if she was familiar with any web-based audio editors since we still don't have Audacity installed on any computers in my library except for my laptop. She logged into her Twitter account, which is dlaufenberg, and asked her circle of contacts. No one had a solution, but it was inspiring to know that some of the big names in educational technology were being polled for help with my question. Professional collaboration on the fly!

Teacher librarians, Joyce Valenza has a Twitter account! You can sign up for a free account, too, and read what she and her circle of acquaintances are discussing. Or, better yet, ask her a question -- or answer one.

It’s Time to Upgrade: Making the Case for Change

Dr. Tim Tyson will be presenting the keynote addresses at each of the three AzTEA conferences this year. Every keynote will be different. After enjoying his keynote at the Peak Performance conference, I'm looking forward to hearing his presentations at the next two conferences.

Dr. Tim Tyson has been an educator for over thirty years. He currently works as a consultant and speaker. Prior to this, he was the principal of Mabry Middle School in Cobb County, Georgia. School Library Journal has referred to him as the "Pied Piper of Educational Technology." He started a student-led digital film festival at Mabry.

Here are my notes from his keynote:

It’s all about perspective. We get stuck until some tragic emotional experience shakes our perspective. Are we powerful enough to change our perspective without a tragedy?

The nature of work has changed because of technology. Global competition, consolidation, mergers, and layoffs have resulted in a third of America’s work force being laid off. They’re now independent contractors. To thrive in the economy, right-brain skills are essential. (Both Tim and LSLibn highly recommend reading Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind.) Unfortunately, many schools still focus on Rules, Rituals, Routines, and Right Answers.

Tim said he worked in a middle school with “hormonally handicapped” kids. (Sounds pretty typical, eh?)

Students sitting in rows is an outdated practice. We need to be doing project-based learning to prepare them for the workplace.

John Dewey (1916): “One learns through direct experience, by being engaged in authentic tasks. Learning is not, then, a process of transmitting information from someone who knows to someone who doesn't; rather, learning is an active process on the part of the learner, where knowledge and understanding is constructed by the learner. Moreover, learning is a social process: learning proceeds by and through conversations....”

A Big Question for Teachers

Who owns the learning? Teachers are working themselves to death and their students aren’t. Students need to take ownership of their learning.

The way we work, play, communicate, build and maintain relationships, travel, etc. have been transformed by technology. But school is pretty much the same. There’s LIFE and then there’s school.

Trivia: People in one out of every eight marriages in the U.S. last year met online.

The New Bad Word (per Daniel Pink) Is Routine

We need routines to be efficient, but anything that can be reduced to routine can be automated, digitized, and sent around the world at the speed of an electron. If you’re engaged in a job filled with routine, your work can be outsourced.

Students believe what happens in schools is irrelevant to both their present and their future. We can’t continue school as usual. It's time for new beginnings! Opportunity! Potential! Transformation! Metamorphosis!

The transformational power of the laptop is more potent than the printing press.

School 2.0

- Authentically engaged learners
- Self-directed learning - “If you require a boss, you’re already too expensive to hire.”
- Project-driven instruction
- Independent problem-solvers
- Empowered by technology innovation
- Collaborative learning community
- Relevant

Connectedness, meaningfulness, significance, and contribution are hallmarks of School 2.0.

We shouldn’t think our job us to pour information into children. Instead, they need to gather information on their own, assimilate it, and then use it to make the world a better place.

Put kids’ work into global distribution. This is the first time in history that we can do that and it doesn’t hardly cost anything. It’s simple and cheap. Tim started the school year at his middle school by asking students: “What do you as a student have to say that is so important that everyone in the world needs to hear or read about it?” This was very inspiring to his students.

His podcast,, on iTunes has had 2.2 million downloads so far in 2007.

In New Zealand, every teacher and student has a blog that serves as a digital portfolio.

Authentic Assessment

The concept of childhood is very recent. Tim's grandmother started early to make a valuable contribution to her family. Her contribution was respected and essential. Children today are entertained and minimized.

When does meaningfulness start for a person? When students graduate from high school? College? Get a job? Marry? Have kids? It should start today. It’s time to refocus our thinking.

What’s on Students’ Minds?

Inspired by Tim's challenge, some Mabry students wanted to shoot a video about human embryonic stem cell research. Tim, concerned a bit about the volatility of the topic, told themm “Come up with a plan and keep me informed on every step you take.” Their next progress report was to request a field trip to Emory University to speak with Dr. Chedda, a researcher, who had committed to spending two hours with the students. Tim went with the students and their parents wanted to go, too. The researcher gave the kids the same presentation she gives to colleagues. She didn’t dumb it down, but she drilled down to explain concepts and vocabulary. Students toured the lab, saw actual stem cells, and witnessed experiments being conducted. The video they made after the visit was judged by a panel, including someone from Georgia TV.

Other topics of student-created Mabry Middle School videos:

- Children’s slave labor in the chocolate industry on the Ivory Coast
- Commercialization of pure drinking water
- Saving lives in Africa from malaria - Students collected donations for bed nets when it was aired.
- Captivity of elephants -- The teacher had shot video of elephants during a vacation in Africa. Tim rejected the student request for a field trip to Africa (!), so students filmed videos of elephants during a field trip to the Atlanta Zoo. They discovered the elephants in the zoo had a skin condition because they don’t have enough room. They researched that and raised people’s awareness.
- Organ donation

Students are not assigned a letter grade for their films. Their reward is what a thousand attendees say when they watch the project on Film Night.

The point is not the technology. The effective educator in this age of hyperconnectivity is the educator who uses tools to get students involved in their world.

Children want to be prepared to make a contribution today.

“The self depends for its wholeness upon its surroundings.” - John Dewey

Tim claims his greatest fear is that No Child Left Behind will accomplish its goals and will create an entire nation of minimum achievers. Will -- or have -- the students who are achievers be overlooked because we’re emphasizing the bare minimum?

Contact Information

drtimtyson/blog - He invited attendees to email him “if I can help you in any way.”

You can watch some of Mabry Middle School student videos by searching for MabryOnline on iTunes.


On Saturday, November 3 I attended the Peak Performance conference in Flagstaff. Two conferences in one week! I was in Web 2.0 heaven! Peak Performance is the first of three conferences held around Arizona by the Arizona Technology in Education Alliance (AzTEA). This year’s conference was held at Northern Arizona University for the first time.

AzTEA conferences provide an excellent way to learn about educational applications of Web 2.0. It's an excellent opportunity to meet colleagues from around the state. Most of the presenters who teaching the sessions are working educators.

The next AzTEA conference, called the Teaching and Technology Conference, will be held in Tucson at Pueblo High School on January 26th. The final conference of the year, the WOW Way-Out West Technology Conference, will be held at ASU West on May 3.

AzTEA annual membership costs $35. Individual conference registration is only $50, and there is a discount when you register for multiple conferences. For example, you could register for the next two conferences for $80.

If this wasn't already a sweet enough deal, here are a few more incentives. You collect a conference tote and tchotchkes from the exhibitors. Breakfast and lunch are provided. A raffle for techno-goodies and gift certificates from local vendors and restaurants is held at the end of each conference. Professional development certificates that will add seven hours to your stockpile are distributed. And, if you're very, very lucky, you might win a free week at Plug and Play tech camp! (I was very lucky last spring and tech camp was a fantastic experience! A week at a 5-star resort with hot and cold running technology!)

I'm going to post some material from Peak Performance and try to chip away on the remaining Internet Librarian sessions, too.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Good Morning, SUSD Librarians!

Need a fun way to deliver a message (or a top notch keynote "speaker")? Try Dylan Messaging.

Be sure to put some text on each blank "page" for the best effect. A nifty possibility is presented after you send off the image to yourself or a friend. Click on the link to view it. In the lower left corner you'll see an option to retrieve the code you need to embed it in a blog -- as I have below -- or on your website.

Who said web ads had to be obnoxious?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Web 2.0 Training - Promoting Play Through Online Discovery

Meredith Farkas, Distance Learning Libraries, Norwich University, Vermont
Helene Blowers, Public Services Technology Director for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County

Meredith's Training Experience: Five Weeks to a Social Library

Drupal was selected as the online course management system. It allows multiple blogs so each individual in class can have an individual blog but all can be accessed at one site. It can create static web pages. Chat rooms and wiki “stuff” can be employed.

MediaWiki -- the same software used by Wikipedia -- was put to use as a “sandbox for participants to play in.” is similar to YouTube and is nice for both podcasts and video content. (Linda’s note: I used to post the second batch of conference podcasts.) It’s also a one-stop shop for multimedia. offers a good display of screencasts, which are like showing movies of what you’re seeing on your desktop to others.

They discovered that robust web conferencing software wasn’t free. OPAL -- a membership organization for libraries -- offered them free access to their platform.

They used both synchronous (everyone working online simultaneously) and asynchronous (log in when it’s convenient) sessions.

Examples of libraries that have implemented Web 2.0 resources and done it well are important to include.

Students were required to write one blog posting a week in which they reflected on their learning. Meredith contends this “makes the learning more sticky.” They permitted outsiders to comment on the students’ blog posts and were delighted when some of the aforementioned Big Names participated. They were even more thrilled when the Big Names wrote about students’ comments on their own blogs.

Weekly chat sessions were scheduled. They divided students into eight groups to meet with a facilitator once a week.

The final project was to create a proposal for using one or more social library tools in their libraries. The ambitiousness of some of these projects was quite impressive and very gratifying.

Everything on the Five Weeks website has a Creative Commons license. We were encouraged to steal their ideas and use them!

If you do plan your own class, be sure to provide for both experiential and reflective learning. Provide ways for people to have many different conversations about what they’re learning.

Use tools that aren’t so difficult to learn that they become a barrier. Be flexible when technology problems arise. They will!

Be open about the process and allow criticism from inside and outside the project. You may need to change your plans midstream. It’s all about Library 2.0, which is characterized by being flexible. We’re in perpetual beta!


Playing with technology is essential to learning technology.

Reflective learning is critical -- it makes ideas stick.

Learning from peers can be more important than learning from a sage on the stage. Instructors were participants and were learning, too. They “ate their own dog food.”

Online learning can be developed on the cheap. Their only cost was server space and that expense was minimal. This form of training is very doable.

Helene’s Training Experience: Learning 2.0
and Learning 2.1: Explore ... Discover ... and PLAY!

“Learning is more important than the training aspect of it.” Learning 2.0 is another online discovery learning program.

Listen to Helene's hour-long 23 Things presentation on the SIRSI Dynix Institute site. See also:

66% of the staff at Helene’s library voluntarily signed up for the program and enjoyed it. She was able to offer an MP3 player as an incentive to those who finished the class.

Explore Discover Play!
is a continuation of the 23 Things program. It isn't conducted by a trainer. Each month, a different person takes over and is given the server password to post one or two new discoveries. Everyone -- us included -- can ask to be one of the monthly guides. Recently a librarian from Guam did the posting.

What can we do to keep up with these changes?

Don’t worry about the “What ifs?” Don’t delay to schedule a program until is perfect and you consider yourself an expert. Just consider yourself a player and go forth!

Definition of player: 1. One who engages in a competitive sport. 2. Somebody who plays.

If we’re going to become knowledge players, here are five tips:

1. Devote 15 minutes a day to keep up and explore new things. The information landscape is constantly changing. One of Helen's recent discoveries is Animoto. You can quickly upload photos and create a music video.

Subscribe to at least five blogs using an RSS news reader. Helene’s recommendations: LibrarianinBlack by Sarah Houghton-Jan, Michael Arrington’s TechCrunch, Nicole Engard’s What I Learned Today, Wired, and Learning 2.1.

3. Tag “play items” in if you can’t take time to explore when you find good things. Stash play items for others. Helene’s tags her new finds “mustblogthis” so she can quickly find them when she has time to explore.

4. Create a learning blog. Build your own toolbox.

5. Play! Give yourself and others time and permission to play.

How can you help others navigate the learning maze?

Throw away your trainer/teacher title. Become a learning guide. We don’t have to know all the answers. Be like a wilderness guide and cut the reeds out of the way to guide others towards discovery. Participants can share with us and help us learn, too.

This is not about training, which is about us and our goals, but rather is about learning, which is about the learners and their interests and needs.

Two things need to be present to learn:

1. Engagement

2. Motivation

Remove the classroom

Challenge yourself as you develop learning activities. Is there a way to remove the classroom? To encourage the participants to benefit from peer-to-peer sharing?

Remember exposure is the first step towards learning. Focus on exposure to tools that learners haven’t used before. They’ll gain confidence in their skills.

Learners have as much to share as guides. Build an environment where everyone can learn.

Focus on FUN!

Both presentations are posted on SlideShare.