Thursday, November 22, 2007

Final Thoughts

· What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey? Looking through the 2.0 award winners was very educational. As I looked through each category, I found myself second guessing some choices. It's always easier to be a judge after the fact, but some choices were very questionable in my opinion. There were of course a number of gems that I will look at in greater detail in the coming days and months. I think some of these gems will become part of my repertoire of regularly used sites.

· How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals? I listened again to the lifelong learning presentation (7 and half things...). Although this program was not on my personal list of goals I see how it enhances my learning in other areas and offers benefits for me, colleagues, and library users at work. It also reminded me to get renew pursuit of goals that have been pushed to the sidelines for a while.

· Were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you? One thing that surprised me was the level of freedom we had in choosing topics and exploring sites. My expectations were that the exercises would be heavily weighted toward library topics and issues. This was not the case and, generally, that was good. On the other hand there is quite a lot of new technology that was not covered but might be useful for library work. Missing out on an opportunity to review some of them was disappointing.

· What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept? I think the program should be structured in modules that build upon each other. Although I see the benefit of a survey or discovery course, the educational model that builds on information previously received has an automatic assessment built into the program. Thus participants know their level of progress at the end of each module. I would also say that just because something looks easy or intuitive does not mean it is either.

---A recurring question was "I am doing this correctly?" A personal or group orientation about expectations would answer that nagging question.---

· And last but not least…If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you again chose to participate? This was very time consuming but the opportunity to do it at work was never there. I literally completed the entire program from start to finish at home. If that would be the pattern for future programs and the opportunity was voluntary I might have to refuse.

· How would you describe your learning experience in a few words or a few sentences, so we can share our successes and promote this program?
I learned about, used, and manipulated some new tools and some familiar tools. I think this will help me on the job.


I am of two minds about Wikis. The good is the information is easily accessible. Of all the quick informational resources on the web wikis are the best. If you don’t know anything about a topic I take a look at Wikipedia to get the lay of the land.

But are you getting reliable information? The bad is that in most cases you’re not sure about reliability and authority. One simplistic amendment can take an article from factual to arguable to unusable.

I don’t subscribe to never using Wikis as many academicians do. I would say that if you find information in a Wiki you have to investigate the source(s) and verify with other reliable information. This may be more than most users are willing to do.

As for practical uses, I see Wikis as a great collaborative tool. If you don’t have or want to use document sharing software or work with emails and attachments the Wiki can be great way to get several colleagues’ ideas in a place where everyone can access it. Of course, the problem of reliability and authority arises here too. Some of the most vocal may be the most unreliable. However if you want to get everyone’s opinion or brainstorm, the Wiki may be the best route.

The best use of a wiki that I have seen is preconference planning. Conferences have used wikis as a tool to get collaborative discussions going on lodging, restaurants, conference speakers, and sightseeing.

I like to listen...

I already have Netlibrary and Overdrive accounts and have listened to several books. I have downloaded an equal number of fiction and non-fiction books. I cannot say that I prefer listening to one better than the other.
This format is not my favorite and is usually my last resort for obtaining a book. Although I will listen to a recorded books, I don't like downloading them as a rule. The format is fraught with problems that I don't encounter with the CDs or audiotapes. So I would rather drive to Frederick or Carroll County to borrow the book or recording than download it from one of these vendors.
Of course, there are times when you cannot get the book from any other source or it cannot be obtained in a timely manner. In these cases, I have used Netlibrary and Overdrive to listen to the book or other material. One such instance has been the language programs. Overdrive offers access to multiple languages by multiple publishers. This material supplements material and resources that is in local libraries. Best of all the access includes explicit permission to copy the lessons to your own disks or load them onto portable media players.

You Tube

One of the "perks" of public library work is being privy to what excites users about You Tube. Library users send me links or pull me aside to view their favorite clips. That was my experience prior to today. Today I searched for applicable information resources and library related postings. This is a sampling of what I found: (1) the World Digital Library; (2) the Library of the Future; (3) Ibiblio Digital Libraries; the Harlem Digital Repository; and Jolanta Dickute on Digital Libraries.

The world of digital libraries, archives, and repositories is a very interesting area of the profession and a key issue of concern for the future. All of the above sites or clips had something interesting to contribute to the "virtual discussion." The media I decided to embed in the blog concerns preservation which an equally important topic for the future and one of particular interest to me. If you view this, pay attention to her examples and discussion of data migration (a project I am personally working on). Notice also that it is product is free and open source.

This is one topic about which I would like to see some discussion. Watch the media and respond.

Podcast Subscription

I am now a subscriber (through Bloglines) of the Capitals Report. Unfortunately, Caps fans aren't getting a lot of positive news of late. Maybe their season will turn around.

Podcast Recast

I looked at all three suggested sites. My preference is Podcastalley. It just seemed more accessible to me. returned the fewest quality hits for my searches. I also may have been influenced by the fact that Yahoo podcasts did not start and generated error messages on both of my personal computers.

Using Yahoo’s podcast search area and Podcastalley, I searched for rugby and ice hockey podcasts. The selection is pretty good for both. I found national and international podcasts for both sports. There is a lot of good broadcast action for fans and a number of informative talk show formatted programs.

Libraries could easily transform this tool into a communications link between the library and users. Why not produce a regular podcast about the most interesting title discussed in book groups in the county? I can also see the library highlighting materials and resources in podcasts. The A+ partnership might benefit from podcasts aimed at parents, students, and teachers.

On this functional angle, I am rethinking the utility of podcasting.

Award winners: Worthy or Unworthy?

I always like finding a new site to use or recommend to users. The award winning Farecast caught my eye. It is travel site that is as good as Kayak. The interface is nice. I also like that it brings up a proximity map for hotels that you’re considering. The search for airfares offers great features like predictions for a 90 day period; grids and sliding scales for departure and arrivals; and, of course, fare comparisons. Worthy.

Omnidrive: If you are looking for a way to open up documents when you are away from your home or work Desktops, this may be the answer. Omnidrive, a file and media sharing tool, makes it easy to work on documents of all types from any location. The choice of clients (Windows or Mac) makes it automatically user friendly. I want to test it out on some "real"documents. Until then, the user guides show that the product has some promise. Worthy

Games Too much "fun" for me…Confusing and crowded interface…Social and other games border on the obscene and absurd. I don't know by what criteria they are judged. Unworthy.

iGoogle: I'll admit that "Start" pages are beyond me. Customization is interesting and fun, but ultimately unnecessary. Unworthy.