About Me

My photo
I'm a part-time teacher-librarian and mother of two wonderful children. My Libra tendencies compel me to constantly seek balance in my life. This isn't always easy but it's fun to try! For my mind, I have a challenging occupation, which demands a lot but is stimulating and always allows me to grow and learn. For my body, I love to skate-ski and I'm an avid "spinner". I jog and do other fitness activities because I have to. For my spirit, I enjoy reading great books, and sharing time with a beautiful, inspiring group of women. My greatest joy comes from time spent with my amazing husband and family.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lesson 13-Reponse to readings-The Future’s Bright, the Future is…

As LIBE 477 winds to a close, I am excited to be writing this final entry into my blog. A small measure of the scope of my learning lies in the fact that I didn’t even fully understand what a blog was in January. Now, only four short months later, my own little technological diary contains 33 entries and incorporates a gamut of technologies previously foreign to me: slidecasts, animoto videos, podcasts, Flickr slideshows, voicethreads, links to wikis, YouTube videos…the list goes on. I might be tempted to believe that, by the force of my somewhat fragile mastery of this cool Web 2.0 gagetry, I have achieved my Week One goal of muscling my “dinosaur brain into the 21rst Century”. Picking up on Futurelab’s “The Future is Bright, the Future is…(2007) reference, this would be little more than my own version of viewing Web 2.0 as early converts to automobiles viewed these as “horseless carriages”. Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 are more than just the sum of their gadgets, compelling though these gadgets might be. I believe this to be one of the most fundamental truths I have grasped by reading, viewing, experimenting and discussing my way through this course. What the immergence of Web 2.0 has created is a whole new integrated information landscape with staggering quantities of digital content, open choice, digital spaces for collaboration and participation in the larger global community and countless opportunities to both consume and create information (Todd, 2008). The result is that our students are creating their own learning environments everyday, whenever they access a YouTube video, go on Facebook or read the Twitters of those they follow. For this reason, Futurelab asks a vital question I believe all governments, school districts and individual educators must ask: “When e-learning provides so many resources and in a way so easily personalized to meet their specific needs, what added value can schooling bring to the educational process?” (Futurelab, 2007). There is no doubt that educators still have a vital role to play but this role absolutely must change if we want our schools to maintain any future relevance at all. No longer can teachers present themselves as “information experts” but rather as “facilitators” in accessing the information and the experts and as fellow contributors to the communal body of knowledge that is the Internet. As Futurelab emphasizes, our job will be to “help fashion a curriculum which will focus not on content but on equipping students with the skills they’ll need to select, evaluate and make most effective use of so much multimedia all-singing, all dancing material” (Futurelab, 2007). Here is where the “new literacies” we have spoken so much about come in to play. In his lecture, “Learning 2016”, Stephen Heppell adds his own list of literacies to those of fellow experts when he speaks of the necessity to teach students to “create, critique, collaborate and communicate” (2006). It will be vital that our schools teach these new literacies or I believe our future generations could actually end up taking the horrifying path depicted in Epic 2015 (Sloan and Thompson). Personally, one of the questions that “keeps me up at night” is how teachers and librarians can best advocate for their students in this area, when school districts are cutting technology budgets along with all the rest, axing specialist positions, librarians being some on top of the list, and enforcing outdated and misguided restrictions to technology access in the spirit of “protection”. On the flipside, as someone who has always been somewhat wary of the invasiveness of technology, I question whether such innovations as open source learner management systems and their kin might greatly dehumanize our teaching and learning environments, something I feel would be very sad. While I have appreciated the flexibility and richness of my on-line learning experience, I must admit I would have preferred at least some face-to-face contact. My final and very personal concern is “how the heck” I will mange to keep up with the ridiculously fast-paced evolution of the technological landscape. Through considerable time and effort, I have managed to scratch out a rather tenuous perch in the Web 2.0 world and now comes Web 3.0! Despite these reservations, I find myself much more open and comfortable with the idea of approaching and mastering new technologies and I am absolutely convinced of the necessity to do so. As I look to the 21st century, I tend to find comfort in the perspectives of those thinkers who can bring the debate back to certain essential truths. When Stephen Heppell speaks of the future, he puts a very hopeful and a positive slant on the Worldwide Web and all its associated technologies. He refers to the 21 Century as a “learning age and a transparent age” and perhaps an age where Web 2.0 and even Web 3.0 tools will be there quite simply for the purpose of “helping people to help each other” (Heppell, 2006).

Lesson 13-Demonstration of new knowledge: My Vision of the Future

I thought you might like to see the Slideshare I created as part of my Vision for the Future assignment. To see my complete project, please visit Patrice's Vision for the Future wiki at: http://patriceslibraryvision.wikispaces.com/

Lesson 12- Response to readings: Reflections on Online Repositories, Open Access and Stone Soup

It was interesting to read the perspectives of both Willinsky and Esposito on the issues of open access and on-line repositories but I must say I was left a little confused. Should we trust Willinsky, when he states that “In this current knowledge economy, the Internet appears to be able, through various models of open access publishing, to do more to extend the circulation of knowledge, and to increase participation in a global exchange around that knowledge, than print has been able to achieve” (Willinsky, 2003)? Or should we believe Esposito when he warns that, “OA is the Botox of scholarly communications, a cleverly applied poison destined to keep a permanent smile on a publisher’s face (Esposito, 2004)? Thank goodness for Alice and her Voicethread on on-line repositories and open access! Her presentation made the topic much more accessible by bringing it out of the world of academia and into our classrooms and libraries.

One of the issues that Alice brought up is one that I thought very worthy of a little more reflection. I am now pretty familiar with Asselin and Doiron’s “Literacies for the Information Generation” (Asselin & Doiron, 2008), as I have addressed them in several of my assignments during this course. I have thought about their concept of “ethics and social responsibility” (Asselin and Doiron, 2008) from a variety of perspectives. This said, I hadn’t really considered the “responsibility” to contribute to online knowledge from quite the same point of view before reading Alice’s Voicethread. Do we, as teachers have an ethical obligation to share online and to teach our students to share as well? How important to digital citizenship is the idea of becoming “givers” rather than just “takers”? Alice’s point about the amount of time teachers “volunteer” to create resources is very well taken. I think it does impact on the willingness of some to generously “give away” what they have created. Is such reticence justified or is it the result of a narrow-minded, archaic point of view? In my comments on Alice’s Voicethread, I used an analogy of the wonderful art project that a teacher might create and share only to find that the following year, it had already been done and published on another teacher's bulletin board with no credit given. How important is the issue of credit and how well will it be respected as materials are cut up, mixed up and mashed up? I’m not sure, but I can’t help but think about one of my favourite primary school books, Stone Soup. Is the Internet not, in fact, serving as a facilitator for our communal generosity in much the same way the hungry travelers did in Stone Soup? How can it be a bad thing when we all take the little bits of knowledge that we have, which might individually not amount to much, and contribute them generously to the global “soup pot” of knowledge? When considered in this very simplistic way, OA seems to provide a great vehicle for the digital sharing that should perhaps not just be considered an option but a moral obligation.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lesson 11-Response to readings: Learning about Open Learning

I just read Ester Shein's article "One Stop Shopping With Learning Management Systems and found particularly interesting the link to the Gwinnett County Online Campus (GCOC). Of course, I've been living my own "open learning" adventure since January but hadn't thought much about other contexts where such an opportunity might be helpful. While it seemed quite natural to be participating in such a program at a post secondary level, I hadn't considered the use of such technology to provide learning alternatives to high school students. There would be many situations where a high school student might wish to catch up or to get ahead and would find such an online option very desirable. I can also imagine that students who have health or other concerns would benefit greatly from LMS. The sophistication and flexibility of LMS is worlds away from what is now provided with traditional correspondence courses. Coincidentally, my son decided to take a correspondence course beginning this September. In our district, this was the only option provided outside the walls of the classroom. He made the decision to take Planning 10 via correspondence so that he could free up his schedule to take English 11 in his Grade 10 year. Unfortunately, he ended up really struggling to complete the course and "made it out alive" only with intervention by me and a high school counselor. As I compare my experiences using Vista to his using a much more traditional and limited model, I can understand why he found the learning process so challenging. His experience also really taught me that online learning definitely doesn't work for everyone. I can see that you would have to be a very independent, organized and self-motivated worker to optimize your learning...something that many 15 year old boys are not. This said, I can't help but wonder how much more positive the experience would have been for Zach had he been in an LMS environment. Here are a number of advantages I feel LMS has over "old school" correspondance.

More personalized contact: Zach had virtually no contact with his "teacher". When e-mails were sent for clarification, response would come but often a week after the fact. Also, there was no opportunity to connect with other learners for collaboration or discussion. With LMS there is personalized contact potentially through podcasts, video and even the possibility for a "virtual class". Relationship building and collaboration with other learners can occur through chat rooms, discussions forums or wikis. This would go long way to reduce the feelings of isolation and disconnect, which can be demotivating for anyone, but particularly for an adolescent, and enrich the learning experience.

More immediate feedback: One of the biggest frustrations for Zach was the lagtime between the time he handed in an assignment and the feedback he received from his instructor. This occured in part because his assignments were handed in to his school in hard copy format and had to be hand delivered to the office of his teacher. Pick up only happened once a week. It was only at this point that assignments could be marked according to their "position" in the pile, which sometimes took weeks.

No hard copy required!: At one point, Zach handed in one unit's worth of assignments (probably about 9 or 10 chapters.) These assignments somehow were lost in transit and he was asked to redo them...this was the straw that broke the camel's back for him! With LMS, there are no hard copy assignments. In addition, there are helpful tools to organize assignments and resources.

Many opportunities to be engaged: Planning 10 by correspondence was chapter after chapter of read and response type assignments. There is so much excellent and interesting content in Planning 10 and this could be presented in so many engaging ways within an LMS system. Connecting with "experts" through blogs, video, podcasts, virtual classroom environments, discussion forums with "classmates" and experts and many more possibilities.

Although an LMS would not have guaranteed success for my son, it would have made his first online learning experience so much richer and more relevant both to his life and his learning style. I hope our school district and others jump on this technological bandwagon very soon and I hope Zach gives it another shot...someday.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week 10- Response to readings: Wrapping my head around mashups SOA and web services

The readings in this lesson were a challenge for me. I must admit that reading Breeding's article, Web Services in the Library Environment, felt a little bit like trying to read Chinese. This is probably due to the fact that, to date, I have no experience working in a library and this is my first TL certification course. Needless to say, my prior knowledge is pretty skinny. For this reason, I have been working hard to wrap my head around the concepts of mashups and web services. As I understand it from The Horizon Report, a mashup is “a web application that combines data from more that one source via a single unified tool” (2008, p. 20). According to the article, mashups are “powerful tools for navigating and visualizing datasets; understanding connections between different dimensions such as time, distance and location; juxtaposing data from different sources to reveal new relationships; and other purposes (Horizon, 2008, p. 20). This started to make sense to me when I read Eric Schnell’ article, Mashups and Web Services, in Library 2.0 and Beyond. On page 64, he describes “Almost 600 Google Maps mashups…that overlay maps with anything from gas prices, to hurricane tracking, to cell phone coverage, to locations where scenes from a particular movie were filmed” (Schnell, 2007, p 64).

Just when I thought I was getting a sense of the whole mashup thing, Schnell had to add service-oriented architecture (SOA) and web services into the equation. Actually, he does a pretty good job of explaining the SOA model in layman’s terms by comparing it to the manufacturing of cars using interchangeable rather than specific tools. Schnell goes on to explain that “if a library were to build an online catalogue using the SOA model, the bibliographic data, the core application, and the user interface would be designed as individual software modules. This modular approach to system and source development facilitates the flexibility and responsiveness required in a changing environment” (Schnell, 2007, p. 65). Schnell then goes on to link the concept of web services as being directly tied to SOA. Web services, he explains, “are websites that are designed for other computers to use” (Schnell, 2007, p. 65). Using Schnell’s article as a reference, Breeding is starting to make a bit more sense to me now. I can certainly appreciate that using web services would hold some definite advantages over library specific interfaces such as Z39.50, MARC and others. Schnell offers the following example: “ a library customer could access a library website to request a document. The online interlibrary loan management system could use a web service to communicate with OCLC or commercial suppliers to identify other libraries that could fulfill the request…the request system could then communicate directly with any of the suppliers to locate the item needed. During this process the customer receives messages updating them as to the progress of the order. The resulting service is a seamless system of communicating and exchanging information using non-proprietary, nonlibrary specific standards” (Schnell, 2007, p. 66).

As I understand it, opening the door to web services in a library setting, could also open up the door to all kinds of interesting library oriented mashups. Schnell talks about a number of great ones like Delicious Library, Go-Go-Google-Gadget and LibraryThing.

Some of the challenges in such a change in practice would be obvious. Issues of intellectual property versus fair use and data security come to the forefront, as do possibilities for trademark and copyright infringement. According to Schnell, the jury is still out on the use of mashups in a library environment. He believes that “Before mashups can make the transition from cool toys to sophisticated applications, much work will have to go into distilling robust standards, protocols, models and toolkits” (Schnell, 2007, p. 72). This being said, I would have to agree with Schnell’s point at the end of his article: “ Libraries need to move common resources to the network level and concentrate on customizing and creating value for their local customers. Libraries need to use SOA, web services and the mashup to strengthen collaborative efforts if we are to remain significant in the increasingly competitive information marketplace" (Schnell, 2007, p. 72).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Week 10-Demonstration of new knowledge: My first podcast

As my demonstration of new knowledge for Lesson 10, I thought it would be a good idea to create a podcast and incorporate it into my blog post. Before beginning this somewhat scary endeavor , I read Will Richardson's chapter on Podcasting (Richardson, 2009, pp. 109-122) in Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. He has a great step-by-step on creating and editing podcasts. His information, in addition to the tutorial provided by Audacity, helped me muddle my way through the creation process. Although I need to spend more time practicing with the editing features, I found the general creation of the podcast to be relatively easy. Where I ran into difficulty was with the publishing. Will Richardson suggested using OurMedia.org to store the MP3 I created. He stated that the trick was to get a "unique URL that is assigned to the file to create a direct link to it in your blog" (Richardson, 2009, p. 118). Easier said than done Will! I spent well over an hour and could not get OurMedia to do what I needed it to do! I then went to Switchpod but it has apparently gone off-line. I was really getting frustrated when it occurred to me (after a desperate e-mail to Joanne) that I should use the "Help" function on Blogger and see what they had to say. Well, that did the trick! Blogger suggested a number of free hosting services and I chose Box.net. It was extremely simple to use. Within a couple of minutes I had signed up and been given an embed code for my MP3 file, which I have now incorporated into this post. So here it is, my first little attempt at audio publishing.

Week 9- Demonstration of new knowledge: YouTube here we come!

Dipping my toes into YouTube was generally an enjoyable and easy experience. Luckily, we had all the necessary gadgetry in our house. We also had the perfect occasion for creating a video. My daughter and her two friends were performing in their first singing festival together and were practicing up a storm.

As with several other of my interactions with technology, the creation of the product was very simple. It was in the publishing realm that I encountered a couple of little challenges. The first came from the girls themselves. They weren't crazy about the performance (they did sound much better on competition day!) and were hesitant to put themselves "out there" so publicly. Ultimately, they agreed on the condition that I not add any tags and that the video be removed at the end of this course. It makes me wonder how many videos have been published without the consent of their subjects.

Once recorded, I saved my video on Pinnacle Studio and retrieved it once signed in to YouTube. The upload process started fine but was taking forever. I had neglected to save the video in a format that worked well with YouTube. It was easy to get the information I needed to correct this problem from YouTube's "Video Toolbox". Once I reformated my product to an MPEG4, the video uploaded without a hitch.

I can certainly see why people get hooked on creating videos for YouTube. It's so immediate, simple and a wonderful way to share with friends and the greater public. So here are my little beauties singing "I Know It's Today" from Shrek the Musical. My daughter Kira is in the middle. Enjoy!