Thursday, October 27, 2011

To Infinity....and Beyond...I Chose to NOT Reinvent the Wheel and Will Embrace Web 2.0

When I reflect and consider Web 2.0 technologies this is the phrase that comes to mind. Buzz Lightyear's powerful phrase, "to infinity and beyond!", which he used to encourage and cheer on his fellow toys in Walt Disney's Toy Story Movies, is how I feel when I consider how useful, meaningful, and important certain web 2.0 technologies can be for libraries and educators. If we can seek out, practice, and effecitively use web 2.0 tools that enhance our teaching skills and lessons, I think everyone in the classroom will benefit.

After reading about Web 2.0 tools at the OCLCs online newsletter forum, three big ideas jumped out at me: libraries are like idea labs, everyone online can literally be connected, and that the web can use these connections for greater communication, researching, and networking. As a professional, you would be exhausted seeking out and using these tools all at once. There are just too many. However, it would be helpful to attend workshops about these tools, seek them out yourself, and say abreast with discussions and literature about tools that can really work in your schools. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and scared regarding Web 2.0 technology I chose to be curious, selective, helpful and positive.

I definitely see libraries as mind gyms, a mind spas, and dynamic, interactive social and academic realms. Libraries serve many unique functions in addition to storing and organizing data, helping with data retrieval, and providing reference for research inquiries. Libraries are Masters of Information and I think we should embrace this title with confidence and eagerness. Having the right attitude about what services a library can offer helps open people's minds and eyes about the potential usefulness of all libraries. We no longer are helping people manage the resources in our libraries, but we're helping people understand and use data that lies in The Cloud, on their Kindles, and pretty much everywhere!

Understanding this daunting task should make librarians eager to stay connected with other professionals and enthusiasts. Web 2.0 technology allows us to be connected easier, faster, and in formats that change and develop everyday. Being a part of online web conferences, downloading podcasts, bookmarking sites on a shared bookmarking service, blogging, and even Skyping open up our classrooms to be part of new learning opportunities. I think we need to be cautious and knoweledgable about the technology we use, but practice may make perfect. I hate writing citations, so when I get library of my own, i'll be sure to offer citation help help with Zotero, for example.

Because the web truly does connect most of the world, it provides a great base for networking, researching, and communicating. When I was completing my undergrad studies for social studies education, I was always reinventing the wheel. I 'd do everything from scratch. It was exhausting. I didn't always see the usefulness of borrowing and adapting others ideas. Five years later, I see how much extra work I made for myself. One great tool I use to avoid reinventing the wheel is subscribing to new librarian blogs, RSS feeds from schools and library organizations, and reading a concise digest from the listerv LM_Net. I feel like I can stay in the loop and still get the scoop about what is going on in the library world. I can pick and choose what I feel is important and read it at my leisure. I can also ask questions, post comments, and seek out answers that will return fast and accurate answers, unlike my undergrad days.

My pledge after graduation will be, "I promise to never reinvent the wheel. I may improve the invention, but I will embrace Web 2.0 technology so that even learning more about making new wheels will be effective and done with ease."

The OCLc articles and brief and to the point, some being more helpful than others.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

From Zotero to Fifty in ....a couple minutes?

One of the most tedious tasks that all good writers must master is citation. I dislike it immensely. I can days writing an outstanding paper on creating the most perfect library program only to have a professor cut down my grade because of citation issues. It stinks. My work is high quality, but my citations may have a comma or spacing issue and I lose points. "Stop the Insanity!" In my undergrad days, I lugged around accordion type folders filled with papers, bibliographies, articles, writing style guides - UGH! Now, these can all be bookmarked with web 2.0 technology located In The Cloud and I work on whatever project I would like from where ever I like. Any tool that makes storage and editing easier I am all for. The citation tool Zotero helps with this task. My Zotero library is growing at here. Zotero is going to help me create a bibliography for a paper I am doing on the author Katherine Paterson. I will find articles and web pages about the author and then create a citation immediately using Zotero. I am going to need to watch a tutorial about generating the citation which I hope is quick and painless. So far, I've found lots of guides on the sites, and few simple answers.

I love using Diigo to bookmark pages on the Net, but it just does not have the citation tools of Zotero. In order to appreciate Zotero, one needs to appreciate Firefox and its many plug - in capabilities. It works with lots of free software to transfer data and make it more useable. In this case, it will take the work out of making a citation. This is a video to show how to make this happen.

Web 2.0 tools can so helpful if they have plug - in and they work all the time.
I hope this new tool can help me quickly make a citation list for my last paper of library school

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thank Goodness for Google

Google has saved my life more than once. It's a unique wiki and I LOVE IT! While I was student teaching, I forgot my jump drive. I was pretty emberessed about it, but because of my misfortune, I explored Google Docs. I has used it before to work on a group project, but not much after that one class...until this day. I dusted off my account and immediately put it to good use. What I really liked was that I could do work on documents anywhere, anytime, and it saved my work for me. My work drifted away into the cloud until my next visit, upon which I could easily retrieve it. This concept really worked for this sometimes scatter-brained, but well intentioned librarian. I never lost my work and I could share it easily with my professors and colleagues. Each semester, I travelled to UB for 1 class, so meeting up with groups meant an added 3 hour trip. With Google docs, I could work on group projects, communicate easily, add notes to the work, and have ONE document to work with...Ka-Ching!!

I had only a few issues with Google Docs. For starters, I was concerned that if I could access these documents so easily so could students at a school. For better or worse, communication of this nature is monitored at schools and I was not sure what kind of outcomes this could bring, such as: sharing test questions and answers, sharing homework, gossiping, inappropriate messenging that would disrupt the school day, etc. Despite its usefulness was so much more rewarding, as a I teacher I had to consider these scenarios. As an adult and professional, my mind was filled with 'what if' scenarios. I love that wikis allow for the immediate exchanges of ideas and information, but I guess I also strongly feel that it somehow needs to be regulated when children and students are concerned. Once I can get past this, I can dream up so great lessons involving digital, international pen-pals and writing cross-country book trailers by my library students.

I've gotta learn to scrutinize new web tools without being afraid. Not afraid to say this is cool but not useful (at least for my library) and not afraid to try something new (after I've done my research). I'm gonna continue to give wikis a try and seek out meanringful ways they can used in my library and in the other classroom in middle/high school grade levels.
I'm off to explore these sites:
Best Educational Wikis
Best uses for Wikis in Education
Teachers at Work - Blog

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Wide World of Wikis

I've been working with Wikis for about three years now. I'm trying to see how they can be useful to me as an educator and how I'd like them to be different to fit my personal and professional needs. My first impression of them was pretty negative, but the more I learn about them the more I believe that wikis, like podcasts, RSS feeds, and other web 2.0 technology, has many niches to fill. I still prefer using a webpage, but I"m open to exploring new wikis.

I tutored a student in 2009 in Social Studies. He was very reluctant to do much work, but he loved computers and web 2.0 technology. This was my first wiki, but really it wasn't too bad, except that my student didn't want to work on the wiki or any work for that matter. It bummed me out doing all this work, but, it was great practice in learning about wikis and learning how to create one. Another wiki in the making I created was for my professional teaching portfolio. This wiki can be viewed by the public, if they are invited. People cannot edit my wiki, they can only view it. It contains my teaching portfolio including: lesson plans, field placements, examples of my writing and research, book reviews, program ideas, newsletters, and other pieces that showcase my work and talents as an LIS student. It can be found at

The wiki for our class that I visited for the St. Joseph's County Library at I think it is great that the library has this. It's actually quite organized and worthwhile. If I were from St. Joseph's area, I know just where to go to find out about my family history and genealogy. However, some other links are not as great quality as the genealogy link, such as resources on gardens.

So here I blog about my love & hate relationships with wikis. The bottom line is that I have high expectations for a wiki. I want it to have: organization, good quality information, all links working, easy navigation from page to page, consistent content coverage for all subjects and sub topics, and a useful scope. Maybe by a wikis nature, it can't have all these qualities, but I think it should. When wikis came onto the scene a few years back, people questioned their quality and reliability. I know, as a teacher, I did. But, I like that as wikis have evolved, new features have been added. I like that not everyone can instantly change the information, and that only certain people can access and edit a page. I LOVE that templates for wiki sites are efficient, user friendly, and organized. I also love that wikis are made in different formats that can be useful to a small business, note taker for a class, or a personal collection on materials, just to name a few. Since I created my professional portfolio wiki, even more wiki engines and free wiki spaces on the web have developed.

I think libraries can use wikis in many useful ways to generate excitement about their resources and programs. I think another very useful use of a wiki would be for publishing book, periodical, website, and web 2.0 technology reviews for teens, adults, parents and seniors. A local 'what's happening' page in the wiki would allow people to post events that are upcoming and it would be free advertisement. I think many people go to the library for 'how-to' help and a page on 'how-to' advice might be helpful and interesting. Aesthetically, a wiki can help give people of a community a sense of ownership and pride. If they are monitored and maintained, a public library wiki can be darn right interesting. The one mentioned above may not have the look of a library website, but its eclectic contents and contributions from the local community was pretty neat.

I know I should not simply say website or wiki, but I can do what I want. I still love the sleek look, organization, and design of websites. But, wikis can be useful too. I am sure to visit this topic at a later date.