Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Postscript - Mp3 Players Shipping Out

The first batch of mp3 players are shipping out this week - we should finish packing them up today.



They'll look like this in the box:



And like this out of the box:



And like this when you are loading up an Overdrive audio ebook:



Thanks again to everyone who started Learning 2.0 and to everyone who finished up.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

#27 - This Is The End, Sort Of

Upon reflecton of yesterday's reflection, we do have one more question for you - was there anything else you thought we should have covered?

Please let us know if something comes to mind. You are welcome to ammend yesterday's blog posting or create a final short one. No need to worry, though, if nothing comes to mind.

Okay, now to the 27th thing...

The 27th Thing

Yes, you're looking at it, the 27th thing, what comes next.

Let's change the punctation and make the last part a question. What comes next?

First, the Return of the Podcast

We couldn't close shop without one final podcast. In today's podcast, David and Laurel seek closure and talk some about that very question, what comes next?


Click the Play button above
to hear this week's Podcast (3:06)

And what else comes next?

Your mp3 player

Don't worry - we haven't forgotten about your mp3 players. I've started shopping around (please email me if you see a good deal) and we expect to get your players out to you by the end of June. Many many thanks to the KCLS Foundation for providng the funding.

Now, why so long?

We want to get the best players possible and that means we are waiting to see how many of you complete the entire program before making our final purchase decision. Flexibility, afterall, is the 2.0 way...

So please make sure you submit your week 12 Learning 2.0 Progress Log entry - we don't want anyone to miss out.

And more globally, what's next at KCLS?

Web 2.0 at KCLS

We've already started - nearly 500 of you started blogging through Learning 2.0 and well over 300 of you are on track to complete the entire Learning 2.0 program. That would be you, reading this blog entry.

What comes next is creating KCLS services that take advantage of web 2.0 technology. If we do this right, we'll do an even better job of serving our communities (quite a lofty goal when you consider how excellent a job you all do already) and of working with one another.

More formally, a plan needs to be in place. The KCLS Blogging Committee distributed its recommendations for Web 2.0 services to APT and cluster managers just yesterday (5/7) and we hope to present them to all staff before the end of May. Expect to see Memo articles, emails, and meeting presentations on this topic throughout the early summer.

We don't want to overwhelm anyone - our staff or our patrons - and will roll new services out in waves, a few at a time. You'll see opportunities to participate explained in greater detail as we move forward organizationally.

It is going to be an incredibly rewarding (and fun) summer and beyond - we hope that you'll take part.

The End, Part 1: Thank You

It hasn't been easy, I know - you've stayed up late cataloging your books on Library Thing, watched countless new wave music videos on YouTube, sought out old friends on MySpace, shocked and/or impressed your kids with your new knowledge and lingo. And if none of the above applies, well, we hope that you learned at least something new.

Thanks to your energy and willingness to explore, our collective staff knows so much more. We'll help more patrons, we'll improve organizational processes, and we'll be much more confident when still more new technology comes our way (cause it isn't going to stop).

Thank you. Seriously. Thank you for doing this.

The End, Part 2: The Shot Outs

One last round of thanks - anyone on this list went above and beyond to make this program happen.

Bruce Schauer, our project sponsor, enthusiastically gave the go-ahead and provided continuous support.

Lisa Hill created the Learning 2.0 Progress Log and gave us all the tools we needed to administer this program. This was no small feat.

KCLS Graphics created our logo and the outstanding check-list brochure many of you picked up at our kick-off event.

Myra Basden videotaped that presentation (it will get on the intranet soon).

Helene Blowers, at the Public Library of Charlotte-Mecklenberg County, provided a wonderful idea and everything we needed to get started.

Our speakers, Stephen Abram and Aaron Schmidt, helped us think outside the box.

Darlene Pearsall created a participation option for staff working fewer than 20 weekly hours.

KCLS Cluster Managers and department heads did their utmost to find time for you to take part.

Learning 2.0 Advocates provided guidance when you needed it.

The KCLS Foundation provided funding for mp3 players.

And to anyone I've inadvertendly left off this list, no harm intended - thank you thank you and thank you again.

Okay, I'm done.

Monday, May 7, 2007

#26 - No, Seriously, Tell Us What You Think

We're almost done - just today and tomorrow's lesson before we start talking about this learning program in the past tense.

For the next two days, though, we're still in the present. Today we'd like to hear your thoughts on participating in Learning 2.0 and tomorrow we'll share some of ours and talk about what comes next.

So, please, jump straight into today's Reflective Exercise.

  1. Create a blog posting that reflects on your experiences with Learning 2.0
  2. Write whatever comes to mind, though try to touch on the following questions:

    How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

    What were your favorite Learning 2.0 discoveries or exercises?

    Did anything surprise you?

    Was there enough help available when you needed it?

    What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?

    Would you like to see similar training opportunities as new library-relevant technologies emerge?

    And, last one, if you could go back in time and tell yourself to either participate in the program or skip it, what would you do?
Feel free to write about whatever else comes to mind. And come back tomorrow for the last of our 27 things.

Next up: this is the end...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

an Update on Learning 2.0 Presentations

For those of you who were not able to attend or for those of you who want to relive the experience, the slides from both of our Learning 2.0 guest speakers are now online - Stephen Abram's February Talk and Aaron Schmidt's April Talks.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

#25 - Something To Do With That MP3 Player

To my surprise, we're almost done - today's lesson marks the end of our next-to-last week of Learning 2.0. This also means it's time to go mp3 player shopping. Thanks again to the KCLS foundation for funding this program completion reward.

But with mp3 players on the brain, mine at least, today's lesson offers a perfect excuse to focus on our most popular free Audio eBook service, the OverDrive Audio Book collection.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Overdrive Download Collection

There's a wonderfully wide range of audio books in the Overdrive Download Collection. Popular fiction, history, young adult, you name it.

Overdrive, though, isn't just audio ebooks. Keep an eye out for different formats (text ebooks, video, classical music) in your search results - some of your favorite titles will not be available as audio downloads.

You should also know that most downloads (all but the text ebooks) ask you to install the Overdrive Media Console. This is free software, worry not, but you're not going to be able to install it on a KCLS staff computer.

How, then, do you download audio books?

If you've got a computer and high speed internet at home, it's easy - install the Overdrive software and have at it.

And if you don't have a computer and high speed internet at home? You'll be able to use one of the new public PCs (the thin client replacements) in our branches. Talk to your LTA to find out if your branch has added one or more of these new computers.

Explore the collection

Okay, so where do you find Overdrive downloadable audio books?

First off, there's an Overdrive catalog on our website - ebooks.kcls.org will take you straight in. You can also get there via the ebooks-Audio link found on our main website menu.

Overdrive titles are also in our OPAC and in Catalog Explorer. It's especially easy to limit your search results in Catalog Explorer - choose 'e-book - audio' from the format refinement option on the right side of the screen.

Today we'd like you to focus on the Overdrive catalog - get a feel for the collection and get ready to download ebooks on your new mp3 player in just a few weeks' time.

So, straight off, to our low-key Discovery Excercise

  1. Head over to our Overdrive Catalog
  2. Explore - search for your favorite authors
  3. Explore some more - browse a few subjects that interest you
  4. Make a mental list of the titles you'd like to listen to once you get your mp3 player
  5. That's all.
    Or, unless you need a visual kick-start - should you be having trouble making sense of our ebook site, feel free to take a look at this hastily-produced 3 and a half minute demonstration
Post-script: a number of you have run into error messages when installing the Overdrive software on your home computers. Read the comments to this posting for suggestions on dealing with 'parameter' and 'security upgrade' problems.

Next up - the wrap up...

#24 - Podcast, Podcasts

Today we look at podcasts and podcasting.

If these words are new to you, let me back up - a 'podcast' is a non-music audio or video recording that is distributed over the internet. The distribution is what makes a podcast unique. It's also what makes a podcast powerful - interested listeners or watchers can receive updates through RSS when new content is posted.

Variety

Podcasts come in many shapes and sizes. They can be brief (like those you've seen in Learning 2.0) or considerably longer (interviews, panel discussions, radio shows, etc). They can be slickly produced radio broadcasts or home-grown recordings done with a $30 microphone and free software.

And, despite the name, you don't need an iPod or a MP3 player to listen or watch - all you need is a computer with headphones or speakers.

Find a podcast

iTunes, free software from Apple, is the directory finding service most commonly associated with podcasts. It's tied to their online store but everything is free - you can browse by topic or search by keyword. iTunes also includes an amazing capacity for actually downloading the content you subscribe to automatically. And anyone can submit content for inclusion.

But what if you don't use iTunes? There are plenty of other options.

Podcast.net is one - try a search on 'library.'

Podcastalley.com is another - try a search on 'library 2.0.'

Yahoo Podcasts is still another - try a search on something that has nothing to do with libraries.

Many podcast creators also post links to their podcasts on their websites. The NPR radio show Radio Open Source, for example, just featured an excellent program on web 2.0 tagging, classification schemes, and libraries. I missed the show but downloaded and listened to the podcast.

Be the podcaster

The first thing I noticed when producing the first Learning 2.0 podcast was how remarkably simple it all was - all I needed was a microphone, some free editing software (I've been using Audacity), and a site to host the finished product (I've been using Twango).

Don't believe me? Or do you want to learn more? Take a look at these links solely if you are interested - a Beginner's guide to Podcasts & Creating Podcasts or a 'How to podcast tutorial.'

But now to the doing - today's Discovery Exercise.

  1. Take a look at one of the three podcast directories:
    - Podcast.net
    - Podcastalley.com
    - Yahoo Podcasts
  2. Take a look around
  3. Locate some interesting library-related podcasts
  4. Add the RSS feed for the one you like best to your Bloglines account
Did you see any library podcast ideas that would be worth trying at KCLS?

Next up - ebooks, yes, KCLS ebooks...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

#23 - Video In The Post-Betamax World

We've come a long way since the Betamax-VHS format wars of the 1980s. It's no longer about the shape of your video cassette. No, it's about how easily you can copy your files to your computer and save them to your preferred video sharing site.

Online video has improved by leaps and bounds in the last few years - there's more of it, for sure, but the quality is much much higher (bigger screen sizes, fewer pauses when watching). This change is largely about improvements in technology - digital video cameras are much more common (including on standard digitial cameras and cell phones), highspeed internet access is much more common (important for watching videos but also for uploading them to the internet), video editing software has become far less expensive (often free online or pre-installed on newly purchased computers), and online storage (server space) has dropped dramatically in price.

That last one, the price of online storage, has been revolutionary - without it, companies like YouTube would not be able to host videos from millions of users without charging them a dime.

The (relative) ease of creating video, uploading it to the web, and storing it in an easy-to-access environment is starting to impact the way our society gets its news. Think about it - anyone with a digital camera can capture a news event on their cell phone video camera and save it to a YouTube account. Anyone remember the 2006 senate race in Virginia? The popular incumbent running for re-election started to lose steam after a YouTube video showed him insulting his oponent's campaign worker. He later lost the election. The video spread like wildfire in large part because of YouTube's video embedding function.

Video Embedding

All YouTube videos offer code that allow you to embed a video (it doesn't have to be yours - you can embed any video you find on YouTube) on your website or blog. Look below where I've embedded an outstanding video on Web 2.0 - click on the play icon to start it up, press pause to make it stop.


Content

Now, please understand that it's not just serious stuff - reporting, politics, web 2.0. There's thousands and thousands of fun, even useless, videos on YouTube for your watching pleasure. Me, I'm big on nostalgia and found some old commercials (Life Cereal, Colgate Toothpaste), local history (anyone remember the Kingdome?), and a bit of classic Seattle hip-hop before I even ate breakfast today.

But what about public libraries?

How about showcasing the opening of new facilities? Or storytimes? Author interviews? There are many opportunities to use video out there. There's even library dominoes...

Social Networking?

YouTube employs many of the social networking components we've seen in previous Learning 2.0 lessons - all videos are tagged (you can't upload a video without adding at least one) and video watchers are able to comment on what they've watched (they can type their comments or leave a video response). YouTube has also introduced an online video editor which is perfect for making simple edits to cell phone videos.

Google. Again.

YouTube is no longer the fresh-faced start-up company it was two years ago - they become part of the Google empire in 2006. Google paid $1.6 billion (yes, billion) for the company. You see, even Google slips up sometimes - they got into the video game too late and decided it was smarter business to acquire their main competitor.

Enough about Google, though. Time to search YouTube.

Discovery Exercise.
  1. Look for something that interests you on YouTube - spend a few minutes (and we mean just a few - it can get addictive) exploring.
  2. Write a blog posting about your experience - what's your take on YouTube? Do you see any other possible uses for YouTube at KCLS?
  3. Optional Last Step: try embedding the video you found in your blog. You'll need to use Blogger's Edit HTML tab when pasting this code.
That's it for today, everyone, thanks for reading and doing.

Next up - podcasts...