Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thing #23 -- Looking back on the program

I feel that I learned a lot through the 23 things on a stick program. The best parts of the program for me were as follows:
  • No driving somewhere in the winter (when the roads are bad) or the summer (when our library is crazy busy) to go over the topics.
  • Not needing to block out a specific time during the day to work on learning (this can be a problem when local meetings and regional webinars overlap).
  • Learning at your own pace ... too often classes proceed so slowly for me.
  • Thing #1 - learning to blog. I do plan to keep this blog going, although the focus will change to library events and book reviews.
  • Things #4-6 - online graphic design tools. It was so much fun to play with these tools, and our next library handouts will benefit tremendously from what I learned.
  • Thing #11 - I'm using this for my personal benefit; it's great to have access to all my bookmarks on any computer I go to.
  • Thing #20 - Facebook/MySpace. I'd heard so much about these sites, and it was great to have a push to actually explore them.
  • I would add Thing #3 to this list, but I was already working with RSS feeds.

I would definitely do a program like this in the future. Yes, more online at your own pace learning PLEASE! I would suggest that ELM could be a program of its own ... I felt that was the least successful thing simply because there was so much and you could do the (non-challenge) parts just by following directions without really exploring on your own. I also felt the order that the topics were presented could be improved. However, overall, the program was excellent, and I had a great time exploring some new tools.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Thing #22 - Continuing beyond Thing 23

This thing may be the hardest to complete of all of them; however, I will do my very best to accomplish the following:

  • Keep up with my work-related RSS feeds. (I've added several in the last few weeks that I had never heard of before.)
  • Spend time exploring new things I hear about immediately rather than putting it off by saying "some day I'll take time to..." -- this might work out to 15 minutes each day or just larger chunks of time here and there.
  • Take advantage of more programs like this.
  • Be sure to not to skip articles on Library 2.0 when doing professional reading -- they're a good source of new ideas to explore (even if our library can't currently afford the staff time or money to implement them).

Thing #21 - Social Networks

I can see how social networks on the web are a fantastic thing for those who have the time to be active in them -- lots of people with the same particular passion who want to discuss all of the minute details of that activity. However, I find it hard to carve out time to DO my passions, and don't want to spend that time discussing them. If anything, I tend to be a"lurker" rather than a poster in these forums.

I checked out three different sites for this thing. The "23 things on a stick" Ning met my expectations. It sounds like many of the program participants are facing the same challenges and surprises while working on their goals -- not enough time to fit everything in the day was a major theme. I also joined BakeSpace. I don't expect to be very active, but I always love a source of new recipes and it also has the potential as a resource to answer questions. I looked at (but didn't register for) Craftster. I found a wonderful forum thread there on crafting for charitable causes that gave me some ideas for channeling finished projects to a good home where they are needed. I may also use that site as a resource for future questions.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Thing #20 - Facebook

I had fun with this thing -- creating a facebook page immediately put me back in touch with some old friends, it was incredibly interesting to see the profiles of my nephews who are currently in college, and the widgets/quizzes/etc were fun little pop things to do (my dragon currently weighs 274 pounds and has accumulated 52 gold coins).

Leaving my personal fun out of it ... I looked at individual library pages on both Facebook and MySpace. The MySpace pages were very much geared towards teens; so much so that I thought a couple of them would be off-putting to anyone over the age of 23. The Facebook pages seemed to be more age inclusive.

Then I took a look for what might work best for my library. I wrote down a list of 20 teens who regularly visit us and checked both sites to see if they were listed. The results were as follows: 10 were on neither site, 2 were on both sites, 5 were only on Facebook, 1 was only on MySpace, and the last 2 were possibly on MySpace (they were more common names and had private profiles, so it was hard to tell for sure). Both of the 2 Facebook teens I asked "friended" me, and their profiles looked very active. In contrast, the MySpace profiles list the last activity date and most of the teens on the list hadn't used it in several months. If I was going to choose one site over the other to maintain for this library, it would definitely be Facebook.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thing #19 - Podcasts

I have to admit that I went into this thing with a preconceived notion that I wouldn't like it. I hate talk radio and that's very much what my notion of podcasts was. I think that the investigating that I did both supported my notion, but also gave me a few pleasant surprises too. There were many podcasts that I immediately rejected because of their length ... both because I'm feeling like I'm getting close to the deadline for the 23 things and feeling some time pressure and also because of my already stated dislike of talk radio ... one interesting-looking Harry Potter discussion had individual 'casts that lasted almost 2 hours.

I did try listening to podcasts both on my iPod and on an RSS feed on my computer. The casts I tried included Travel in 10, On Board Games, MN Public Radio's Song of the Day, and the NPR's Food Podcast. I am planning to continue an RSS feed on the travel and games podcasts although I will probably be very selective in which bits I listen to.

The pleasant surprises ... there was a better variety of topics than I expected, it was easier than anticipated to download the casts I wanted to hear, most of the directories (especially were very easy to navigate, and those podcasts I subscribed to through the RSS feed gave very clear descriptions that made it easy to make listening choices.

The down sides ... yes, it's talk radio.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Thing #18 - YouTube

I choose to add this YouTube video because it's my favorite example of a "complaints choir" and somehow it just makes you feel a little better to know that other people have blah days too. Misery loves company I guess.

I like YouTube ... it's especially fun to see some of the homemade video ideas some people have. My favorite example of library marketing is the super librarian. I think that having a video clip can spice up a library's webpage presence -- the only concern is how much time it can take for some of these clips to load.

Thing #17 - ELM

The most important lesson I learned from this thing: CHECK YOUR DIRECTIONS! A good lesson for those of us who have little time to recheck all our flyers, handouts, etc. It was really frustrating to do the first part (partially due to several interruptions while I tried to watch the quicktime video and needing to reload it each time) until I realized that RSS feed wasn't accessible in the Student version of InfoTrac. Once I switched to Cengage, I had no problems completing the task.

I've used ELM tools for finding information for a long time, but I hadn't tried all of the tasks (RSS feeds, webpages, etc) before. I can see where the RSS feed would be great for someone who's following an ongoing topic - especially medical or technology related where you want the most current news. I didn't see that I would use the EBSCO webpage feature again. I liked the feature of searching within a book on NetLibrary -- that wasn't something I was aware of before this thing.