Sunday, October 28, 2007

Presentation Tomorrow! ABOUT BLOGS!

I do tend to do this as a matter of course, but this time in particular I find myself wanting to tweak my presentation the night before. Part of this is because I learned so very much today at my pre-conference workshop: Searchers Academy (AKA Finder Academy!) The speakers were folks I have heard in the past and my expectations were quite high for the day. I was not disappointed. The most of the day was shared between Mary Ellen Bates, of Bates Information Services, and Marcy Phelps, Phelps Research. The last hour was presented by the inimitable Gary Price of Resource Shelf and (and no he was NOT on the Google Executive Board at one time...) Anyway, one thing that was covered was the searchability of blogs. This is a rapidly improving ability that is moving towards negating one criticism sometimes leveled at blogs: that they are hard to search. So I am revising to include that information. Also, it occurred to me that I could use some great tips for what makes a good, viable, healthy blog. So I posted that question to my friends at LM_NET, TLC, and EDTECH. I asked them to add comments to my wiki for the presentation but now am thinking...maybe they should have posted them HERE SINCE THIS IS A BLOG. Ah well, if anyone wants to share a tip, that would be great! I wish I had more time to write about the things I learned today, since they will get buried under the things I learn tomorrow, but I am going back to tweaking...after today/night maybe I will find time to be more current with specific things that stand out from the sessions.

Friday, October 26, 2007

WOW! Voice Thread!

I have been practicing my avoidance skills, looking around the Net for new and different things rather than going over my presentation for next Monday, which I SHOULD be doing. Anyway, I came across a great Web 2.0 tool just now, that I have not seen or heard about before. It is Voice Thread! The idea is that you build a presentation/conversation around an image or group of images. Your audience can chime in either with voice comments or with text messages. The picture, which is the centerpiece, will be in the middle, with everyone's avatars and comments clustered around it. There is a great demo if you go to the site. Take a look! It is really cool! And who knows? Maybe it will be new to your filter and thus fly under the radar at school! I keep hoping...anyway here is the URL:
I am off to sign up and then report to my wiki and practice my presentation. Otherwise, I will have to go to 43 Things or TadaList and nag myself online!

Feeling like a phony

I am headed to Monterey, CA tomorrow for the Internet Librarian/Internet@School Conference. I will be presenting a session called "Here Today Here to Stay? The Future of Blogs." And yet I have not updated my blog in a week. What's up with that? Well, the flu is what has been up, plus reaction to an antibiotic that I think was worse than the malady. The combination has had me so out of it that I have only been able to concentrate on the bare essentials, preparing the presentation and keeping up with my REAL job. I hope to redeem myself by blogging faithfully during the conference, which is my #1 favorite place to learn new things that I can use all the rest of the year. This will be my fourth conference and I know I will be learning tons of great new information. My wiki, where the conference presentation plus a couple of others that I will be doing in November, is located here:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

MA Bell's Blog about Librarianship and Technology

I must say this is handy. I just uploaded a powerpoint presentation that I plan to use soon, using SlideShare. After uploading, I had the option to share it here. it is! The raison d'etre for this powerpoint is to help people come up with creative ideas for teaching with technology, even if they have little or no Internet access. I share David Jonassen's philosophy about mindtools and then give some activities that go along with it. They all involve the use of readily available, low-cost or free applications. This is intended to be useful even in the most heavily filtered schools where Web 2.0 options are blocked.


From: drmaryannbell, 2 minutes ago

This slide show is about how to use technology readily at hand in teaching K-12.

SlideShare Link

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Contemplating Contemplation

When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time just thinking. Of course much of my time was spent in angst ridden daydreams about some boy. But all the same, I was just sitting alone in the quiet of my favorite spot in our big yard, unplugged from even my transistor radio. This was what I liked to do in the early evening after the supper dishes were washed and put away and yes, I was involved in completing this task and not with the aid of a dishwasher. I would then wander away to my place, look up into the darkening sky, and simply think. Not all my reveries were lovelorn musings. I also thought about my future, what career I might have, where I might live, what college might be like, etc. Some of my thought were prayers as well. No one suggested this was a waste or time or an unusual activity. My folks left me alone. When it got dark or I got cold, I would wander back inside where there were all the usual distractions of TV, phones, and radio. I was not a hermit, but I did need and want time alone.

I was thinking about this yesterday as I relaxed during a heat treatment at the physical therapy clinic where I am receiving treatment for something aptly called frozen shoulder. Heretofore when I was lying on the nice padded table with pillows placed around my arm and shoulder, enjoying the lovely mild electric/heat treatment, I would let my mind drift, maybe thinking about a work project and how I would approach it. Another thing I might do was simply meditate, going through some of my repertoire of memorized Biblical passages and other inspirational ones, such as the Prayer of St. Francis and the Serenity Prayer. But yesterday I brought a new friend with me...a brand new iPod. I really enjoyed listening to my favorite lowbrow music, a mix of traditional country and Americana, with a heavy dose of Texas musicians including my own daughter, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Merle Haggard, Lucinda Williams, Alice Stuart, Gillian Welch, and lots of others. Even better was listening while doing my pulley exercises and using the hand bicycle. The music made these monotonous tasks much less boring and tiresome. But as I listened I did think about this new experience. Now I was NOT giving my undivided attention to the art of thought. And next time I have therapy, I know I will want to use the iPod again. It makes me wonder about people of all ages, but especially youngsters, who are never unplugged. I see then on the walking paths, on campus, in cars, and really everywhere. Do they ever just stop, be still, and think? Do we ever encourage kids to do this during school hours or at home? Don't we always scramble to keep them busily occupied, and even fill previously quiet areas with music or other sound to keep them occupied? Is this all to the good? In my graduate days I wrote a paper comparing American and Japanese educational environments. One big difference between the two, I learned, was importance given to silent time for thinking. Americans really seem to discount and also shy away from this. Now with all the wearable and easily carried technology to engage us, I wonder of anybody does ever stop and just think. And further, I wonder what it means to our society that we do not?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Trip Down Library Memory Lane

I took a trip down memory lane yesterday. I visited the periodical stacks at my university library. To tell the truth, it has been years since I have gone to the shelf and pulled down a tome, and riffled through the pages of a bound volume, hoping the article had not been cut or torn out by some other long-ago reader. It felt a little funny to be back there, even though I am on the same campus all the time since I teach at the same university where I got my MLS. Back in the old days at SHSU, library classes were held in this building, and on the same floor where I found myself yesterday. I could remember being there every week-end in the early 80’s when I was working on my degree. I could look in the little conference room where I had catalog classes with my hero, Dr. Bonnie Thorne. It is a storage room now. For those of you who remember her, Bonnie is doing great, retired, and looking amazingly unchanged from when you had her for a class. I found the volume and article, which was from 1995 and no longer available online, and made a few notes.

Looking at the article was another memory-lane experience for me. It was by Dr. Doug Rogers, director of the doctoral cohort to which I belonged in the late 1990’s, and still inspiring students at Baylor University. This article was the linchpin of his views on technology and I wanted to refer to it in an upcoming presentation. I want to talk about the article in a future posting but wanted to commemorate my library visit and search in this one. The questions I could not escape were…

1. I wonder how much longer all these resources will be here? The musty smell of all those aging pages was, if anything, more intense than I remembered.

2. I wonder when I may be back over her to do a search for a print article? I still use the library for books, of course, but for journal articles, no—online databases generally suffice. Of course my fields are educational technology and librarianship, and 99% of the time I want the most recent information possible.

Am I saying print files like these are passé? Do I advocate disposing of them? Emphatically not! Even in my field, I just proved the ongoing value of those bound volumes. My BA is in English and history, and I certainly know that scholarly thought regarding these realms does not get dated in the same way as information may in other fields. Indeed, my reason for seeking the outdated article, which is about educational technology, is to point how timely the premise is some twelve years later. Long live libraries and the treasures they hold until the time comes when I need that one remembered gem and find it waiting for me on the shelf!

Motion Computer Emotions

I mentioned in my previous post that I opened two cool appurtenances today, an iPod and a Motion Computer. I raved about the iPod in that posting, and now I want to describe my reactions to opening this tablet computer.
  • Packaging was a bunch of sturdy brown cardboard boxes. They did not reveal contents which is frustrating because, with several, you have to examine the thing inside to figure out what it is. What I mean is, there was one box that contained an external CD drive. It was in a larger shipping box that held other stuff as well. It took me a minute to figure out what the thing was because the box really did not say.
  • Frankly, documentation is lousy. Packaging is mundane. After all these years, one might think that competitors would learn from Apple about the little things like these...
  • The stylus was missing. OK that is not Motion's fault. Computer services handled the computer first and installed software, etc. They carefully packaged everything back up, but the sleeve for the stylus was, alas, empty. Since I already have an HP tablet, I tried that stylus, and was happy to find that it does work. BUT I think every tablet computer should come with at least two styluses (stylii???) Come on, people lose those things. Next on my list is to try to find the missing one and request that more are ordered.
  • I was not the one who originated the order for this computer, so was not that familiar with it. I kept looking for the keyboard. THERE IS NONE. Unlike my HP, this computer comes with the assumption that you will use it just with screen/stylus, choosing between the three modes for text input: handwriting, single letter entry, and on-screen keyboard. At first this dismayed me, but the idea is growing on me. After all we really want this thing for conferences, etc. where the keyboard is less important. Handwriting recognition works great for me. My handwriting is OK, not pristine but not physician's scrawl either. So I am fine for entry.
  • Another box held a large supplemental battery that is the same size as the computer and attaches to the bottom. Good for extended use, I am sure.
  • The best thing about this gizmo is its weight. My HP feels like a ton of bricks in comparison. I can and will look up the weight, but right off am saying that it is very light.
  • It is also very sleek and slim. I think my Motion and my iPod like each other...
  • Conclusion? This is not someone's workhorse computer, at least not mine. But for conferences, meetings, etc, it is very, very cool.
  • Take a look! Here is their website:

Gadget Heaven

I am in it! Today I unboxed two really cool tools. I am the lucky person who tries out new hardware for our university department. Today I opened two new sleek, slender, may I say sexy, digital wonders. One was the newest iteration of the iPod. I already have an iPod that I will share with someone else in the department and migrate to this new one. The other is a Motion Computer. Oh wow! How lucky am I??? Here are reactions to each:

  • Oh my, Apple does know how to package things! I was presented with a small black box, about the size of an index card, gently encased in shrink wrap. Getting into the box did NOT require a screwdriver, blowtorch, or even a Leatherman. Indeed I just used my thumbnail to barely break the wrap and peel off. Opening the box was like opening a jewelry box. The top lifted off instead of having an end flap. It is a nice sturdy box, the kind you actually WANT to keep with the loose ends that go along with the device.
  • Inside was nestled a sleek little black wonder. It makes my previously beloved iPod look white and clunky. Yep, I am fickle. Out with the old! In with the new!
  • With the old iPod, there was a disk to install. That would have been an issue for me since I want to install this to an HP table computer that lacks a disk drive. Not a problem! As soon as you hook your iPod to your computer, you go right to the Apple site, register, and get the software you need.
  • Of course you end up at iTunes with lots of music, books, etc. for sale but what the hey? I LIKE iTunes. I have not bought anything though. Not yet...but...
  • THERE IS NO POWER CORD! How cool is that??? You just charge up by hooking up to your computer. I think that the old one was that way too, will have to check.
  • My new lil' buddy went right to my previous collection of iTunes music and synced without even being asked. It did ask if I wanted my pics done too, and of course I said yes!
  • How about documentation? Well there is not that much but this device is so intuitive that you don't NEED much.
  • I had the little wonder up and good to go in less than 30 minutes, including syncing with my previous music and images.
  • Do I love Apple for their style and user-friendliness? YES I DO!!!
  • In fact here is a little secret I will soon as I get a chance, I am going to finally allow myself to get an iPhone. I am hooked after playing with my nephew's this past weekend. He has been using his for several weeks and gave me the affirmation I have been using, a positive reaction from a fellow gadget lover who has been using the phone for several weeks, enough time for the novelty to wear off.
OK so how about the motion computer? I will make that my next entry since I like to keep them short.

UPDATE SEVERAL HOURS LATER...I took Iola for a walk and just got back. I do have a habit of naming inanimate things that I really like:

  • My car is Yolanda Dos Honda (Yolanda Uno gave up her life to save mine in summer 06 rollover)
  • My titanium heart valve is named Fido. He never fails me!
  • My Sony Vaio laptop is named Vera.
  • And new iPod is named Iola. I never named the other one.
Iola kept me going for two extra laps, I was walking with Merle Haggard, Robert Earl Keen, Alice Stuart and other lowbrow favorites of mine. I think I even tired out my dog! To sum up, I like my iPod even more than I did when we first met. She is so light and easy to carry, and gave me great company. I only have one video so far, a vlog I downloaded from NASA recently. But it looks great! Take a look at NASA's video podcasts. I know kids will like them. This one is about stability and features a skateboarder but also gets into rockets.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Great Library Research Idea!

My students do webliographies for one of their assignments. Someone today chose the topic of "Houdini." Among her resources, she mentioned the public library from the town where he was born, Appleton, WI. Here is the link:
They also have pages for two other famous locals, Edna Ferber and Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Thinking of my own home town, I can come up with several great topics of local interest that could also be unique resources for others. San Marcos, TX could feature a page about President Lyndon Johnson, for instance, since he went to college there. Royalty free pictures could be available of the school buildings that were there when he attended, and the house where he lived (now a museum).There are certainly people around who knew him, and it might be possible to offer some interviews. I wish I had thought of this idea when I was still in a junior high library. It would have been a great project with kids just at the right age...

Monday, October 1, 2007

Survey Monkey...sneaky or just clever?

I am not one to give a TV show my undivided attention. I often do have TV on in the evenings, but usually I am surfing the web at the same time. It takes a fair amount of enticing to get me to take my hands off the keyboard and focus on the TV screen. But I have to admit getting very involved in the new-ish game show, "The Power of 10." When it comes on, I put the computer aside and sit forward in my chair. I may even shout out instructions to the contestants and gesture wildly with my hands, encouraging them to raise or lower the percentages that indicate how many people in America feel a certain way about a given topic. For some reason I have always been fascinated by polls. I love to see numbers indicating how people feel about issues, and where my opinions stand in comparison to those of others. This interest leads me to frequently ask listserv friends how they feel about things. And last week, it also led me over to Survey Monkey.

Survey Monkey is a "free" service whereby you can post questions and invite participants to respond online at the site. All that is required is registration. I had visited the site in the past, and had participated by responding to some surveys, but had never tried it out until last week. Then I got the idea to poll people about Web 2.0 participation, and especially ask how they feel about blogging. So I went to SM and registered. Setting up the poll was easy. I had a little fun playing around with various color combinations and background styles. I keyed in some ranking questions and also some open-ended queries, because to me on of the best things about polls is gathering people's comments. Once I was satisfied with my product, I took the URL that SM provided and checked to be sure it worked. I also forwarded the address to two friends who tried out the poll as well. Then, confident I was ready, I announced my poll on my favorite listservs, LM_NET, EDTECH and TLC, and waited for results. Alas, although I got a couple of takers early on, I got many more messages from people for whom the URL did not work. Instead of taking them to my survey, it just took them to the main page and asked them to register. Evidently the URL was not compatible with some (many) people's email providers At that point I was pretty peeved with Survey Monkey, and tempted to give him the boot out of my virtual life. Before doing so, though, I decided to give Mr. Monk one more chance. I converted the URL to a shortened tinyurl and posted this to the listservs.

Voila! That evidently solved the problem, and I ended up with 83 participants, having hoped for only 40-50. Next, I went to the survey site and analyzed the results. Voila again! I got a nice display showing both numbers and percentages for responses, and also displaying all comments. All Right! I thought! Now to share!

That is where I have to ask the Survey Monkey sneaky or just clever? When I clicked on the button for displaying results, I got a message that my little primate friend would not do that unless I paid for upgraded service. And he is proud of this service, to the tune of $200/year! My first reaction was...forget it! I will just share on my own. But I really liked the display as it appeared at the site. I wanted all those nice people who had participated to see the final results of the poll. And I knew that I was going to refer to the poll in a couple of articles and presentations. I decided that I would cough up the money, opting for convenience and nice looking presentation of the data. So what is the best way to describe Survey Monkey? Sneaky? Clever? I think SM is both. I could have repackaged the data and avoided the cost, and having used the site still would have been worthwhile because it was a great way to collect responses. I made the choice to go ahead and pay the fee. Either way, the site does offer an easy way to conduct informal or even formal polls. Take a look:
And here is the URL for those results! For goodness sakes visit...after all I paid for it!