Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's pink

Working with graduate assistants and student workers I have opportunity to form relationships and grow with a dedicated group of people. After all, it takes dedication to go to school, manage your extra-curricular activities, and give quality time to a campus job. The intrinsic make-up of higher education institutions mean students move on after three of four years (once they're hired, they generally stay), but the ebb and flow mean as they graduate, others are hired. Even after the requisite letters of reference are written, there are always a few you stay in touch with over the years.

Last week I got an unexpected gift in the mail from a former GA; a pink snuggie, complete with free book light. It made me smile, but not as much as the phone call on Thursday and the opportunity to learn a bit about the new job.

(And yes, this really is an "at lunch" post. It's my Sunday evening on reference duty!)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's baaaack

It was back in my spam folder on Friday afternoon, even after blocking the email from delivery. This time, the 2010 edition of the Global Directory of Who's Who is at stake. I suppose my invitation to the 2009 directory, though ignored, was worth repeating.

You were recently chosen as a potential candidate to represent your professional community in the 2010 Edition of Global Who's Who.

We are please to inform you that your candidacy was formally approved January 4th, 2010. Congratulations.

The Publishing Committee selected you as a potential candidate based not only upon your current standing, but focusing as well on criteria from executive and professional directories, associations, and trade journals. Given your background, the Director believes your profile makes a fitting addition to our publication.

There is no fee nor obligation to be listed. As we are working off of secondary sources, we must receive verification from you that your profile is accurate. After receiving verification, we will validate your registry listing within seven business days.

Once finalized, your listing will share prominent registry space with thousands of fellow accomplished individuals across the globe, each representing accomplishment within their own geographical area.

To verify your profile and accept the candidacy, please visit here. Our registration deadline for this year's candidates is January 31st, 2010. To ensure you are included, we must receive your verification on or before this date. On behalf of our Committee I salute your achievement and welcome you to our association.

John Franklin
Vice President, Research Division

The Global Directory of Who's Who
4250 Veterans Highway, Suite 2050
Holbrook, NY 11741, USA
Phone: (631)588-8600

Once again it notes in a blase manner there is no cost associated with being listed and neglects to mention the exorbitant charges and hard sales for the book and online access. It's worth posting new and old(*) links to this particular offer.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Books, beautiful books

They're here! I was able to preview the cart of new books before lunch today. Even though the bulk of the cart, both picture book and juvenile fiction, were not titles I ordered, I was able cherry pick eight for the Mock Caldecott panel scheduled for later this month. My perusal was not "deep" by any way, shape, or form. But, I have to admit one made me laugh out loud. The Middle Child Blues, by David Catrow, is full of wit and Catrow's signature artwork. Angst filled middle child Lee looks wonderfully like a 50's rock star, complete with requisite attitude.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In my mailbox

Today must have been mail day for library journals; in my mailbox were the most recent editions of College & Research Library News (January 2010), American Libraries (February 2010), and ALA Graphics (Spring 2010). I've only briefly perused the titles, but there were a few things that caught my attention.

ACRL Insider provides a great overview of the journal and includes full text where available. I was particularly interested in Professional Development on a Dime and Social Media: A Guide for College and University Libraries. The Fast Facts section included interesting statistics on Missing Web References:

"According to a new case study, “the number of [W]eb citations (in research papers) has increased from 41.60 percent of all citations in 1998 to 53.32 percent in 2002. But a substantial quantity of [W]eb citations (32.09 percent) was found to be missing.”" -- Gary Pattillo

American Libraries (the February edition no less) is often geared more to public librarians, but there are always one or two things that are adaptable to the academic venue. Faces of Circulation is a particularly timely to discussions I had with our head of circulation earlier this week and the often prevailing feeling of many non-librarian professionals.

"The main point is that every position in the library is necessary to help all workers perform their job efficiently. Circulation staff are valuable to the service of a library and should be treated that way." -- Toccara Porter

The author is honest, and blunt, about reasons for penning the article and I do not disagree with her description of events at the circulation desk as I have witnessed the same. But, I have to wonder.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Coming soon

Hurray! I learned today 95 children's books will be arriving this week in our Baker & Taylor shipment. The naked book shelves will once again feature new books, I'll have opportunity to choose several more "new to us" titles for the Mock Caldecott sessions scheduled for later this month, and there will be something new to read!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Decision Made: MP3

I spent time working with my computers generic sound recording program to create the audio file for overviews. It worked, but saves the file in wav format that were huge and when opened in Angel defaulted to Windows Media Player. Since I need to have files that are dual platform compatible, I bit the bullet and downloaded Audacity to my laptop at home so I could create MP3 files. Here's what I used:

The Audacity download was quick and easy and took up very little space on my computer. The LAME MP3 Encoder was a short update, but it took me longer than necessary to connect the two products. If I had only read the directions.

After rehearsing the text, I recorded my spiel three times until I was satisfied with the audio file in it's entirety. It was simple to export as MP3 and I checked it in Quick time and Windows Media Player with success. The upload to Angel was quick and easy and I "announced" the file at noon today. I'm please and plan to move forward with the project. Time will tell if the students find it useful.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Browser humor

A morning message from my computer, is it harbinger of things to come?

Not the best way to start the morning, even my browser is tired. It certainly made me chuckle, I'm not sure my browser ever told me it was embarrassed before.

Maybe I'll finish the laundry and shop before messing with the IT course error that loaded 235 students into the class replacing the registered 52.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Still updating

A final link and spell check within the course yielded few necessary changes. Oddly enough, the spell check was more "productive" since many of the links were still active from late summer. In addition to new and/or updated assignments (spreadsheets and information portals), I was able to add a bit more on maintaining and building an online identity thanks to a new Common Craft video: Protecting Reputations Online in Plain English.

I have to admit, Statler and Waldorf paint a more succinct version of Internet content, but maybe not so educationally appropriate ...

Friday, January 08, 2010

Podcast or audio file

My new Netvibe videos are finished and posted in the content management system. I am definitely pleased to be able to offer students a choice for the assignment. All annoyances aside, I am relieved that Pageflakes hiccupped earlier this week prompting me to expand and adapt the assignment. The same thing happened this summer, the site went down for two days, and I was forced to delay the assignment due date; it put us behind for the entire term. Though the situation was a shining example of the imperfections of technology and allowed me to demonstrate the drop back and punt theory necessary when anything thing breaks during a lesson, a first assignment for an instructional technology class should provide success for the students.

I am still dithering about adding audio overviews for each assignment; something that would highlight important aspects in the rubric as well as provide a more human (though digital) touch to announcements for each project. To that point, I checked out three books on Thursday to do quick research on the topic.
Each title recommends using Audacity for audio editing and provides resources to upload and create rss feeds for a podcast. There appears to be an intrinsic difference between podcasts and simple audio files. Podcasts, to be podcasts, are posted on the web with rss feeds. Audio files are the backbone of podcasts, but standing alone they remain audio files. For my purposes, the audio entity is only for my students and it does not need to be posted online.

I am going to read and dither a bit more over the weekend before deciding to create the files or drop the idea completely.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Library practicum flashback

Random channel surfing this evening I spotted Gloria Gaynor performing I Will Survive on an award show. As soon as she came on the stage the audience went crazy singing along. All I could think of was the video I'd seen while student teaching - doing my library practicum - at a senior high school in the Pittsburgh area. Someone's husband sent the video via email and we watched it in a computer classroom. It still makes me laugh. Just as she starts enjoying herself ...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Pageflakes & Netvibes

This afternoon I was putting the "finishing touches" on an assignment that requires students to create an information portal for their classroom using Pageflakes Teachers Edition; at least I was until the site went down for over three hours. I thought at first I simply typed in the wrong address to my Delicious account, then I tried using Firefox instead of IE, finally I started getting flashbacks to summer when the site went down for three days right before the due date of the assignment. Naturally, this is the introductory assignment for the course.

Well, fine.

Since I cannot with good conscience require students to use a technology with such a propensity to be unavailable, I determined they needed to have a choice, especially since many of the results for Pageflakes down time mentioned the reliability of Netvibes. I registered for an account this afternoon and duplicated the Pageflakes information portal resources on my Netvibes page.

Now I have two portals.

I did not want to completely abandon the Pageflakes option, I found it simpler to navigate and students last term enjoyed using the site. I did not want to lose the opportunity to provide the more reliable Netvibes for students this term. So ...

My students now have the option to use the 2.0 Internet portal of their choosing. I revised the assignment, added another page of information about the second site, updated the rubric to indicate either would receive full credit, and will create two short video tutorials tomorrow. I am once again ready for the term to begin.

While working between the two sites this evening I noticed a distinct change in Pageflakes Teachers Edition; when you log in to work on your site there is now an advertisement prominently placed on your page.

Well, fine.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Spring Term Countdown

Spring semester begins on Monday, which leaves the remainder of this week for opportunity to make progress on my continuous to-do list. Prior to the holiday break I placed orders for the juvenile collection and did a quick inventory on other collections and supplies. While I still have to create the physical orders, I know what needs to be purchased and will have time this week. Opportunity to teach an online technology course this spring meant a big part in today's list was updating materials in the content management system.

What to do, what to do? Links and syllabus updated, due dates changed, instructional videos uploaded to YouTube and then embedded within assignments (it's simpler than worrying about real player, quick time and windows media player options), and a bit of verbiage "tweaking" took most of the morning. I've been considering using Google Docs Spreadsheets for an Excel assignment, and after lunch I decided to move forward with the change.

The university uses Gmail as the student email provider, so general access to necessary apps is simple. I started my quest with a paper handout, complete with screen shots, but determined a series of short video tutorials would be a better option. Luckily the handouts were easily interpreted as a story board and I was able to produce a set of videos using Camtasia and subsequently post and embed them with the assignment; the most challenging aspect was getting audio in place without interruption (phone, questions, and patrons).

I am considering developing a set of short overview podcasts to introduce each assignment. Since they don't all have to be done prior to the start of the course ...

Monday, January 04, 2010

A new toy

This evening I am waiting for my Christmas toy, a Garmin nĂ¼vi® 255W, to finish it's discussion with my computer and download the free map upgrade attached to my registration. I tried yesterday, but after four hours the process stalled (yes really, four hours). I logged in again after work this afternoon and it is telling me there are still three hours left on the download. This better be a seriously fabulous free map upgrade.

I have several presentation's pending this spring, so the navigation will be useful going to the airport and locating hotels and conference centers in-state. It was amusing listening to it "recalculate" several times on the way back from holiday break as I did not go where it thought I should; a few back roads and short cuts made her a bit snarky.

Update: 1/5/10

I've had to restart the map upload process again and am not pleased. Here's hoping third time is indeed the charm, it is currently under one hour of download remaining for the first time.