Technology, information, knowledge, power, people – Week 13

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

“I’ve just spent the morning creating a prezi for the unit I am coordinating next year. I used Jing Pro to turn it into a screencast and uploaded it to Youtube. I used the basic editing tools Youtube now offers to trim the start and finish and then emailed the link to my colleagues”.

Now, there’s a sentence that I could not have written at the start of this unit. Well, I guess I could have written it, but I wouldn’t have known what it meant and I would have been lying. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of those things.

On hearing that I was enrolled in Information Programs my QUT mentor told me she thought I’d really enjoy this subject. I don’t know about you but whenever anyone tells me I’m going to really enjoy something I become a little bit skeptical. Still, she didn’t elaborate, so I kept my mind prised open and jumped right in. Technology and I don’t really get along. In spite of the fact that I had been blogging for some time, as well as obsessively using Twitter, I was not confident with anything technical. Sure, I could format a Word document in a basic way, enter data into spreadsheets, and databases and make a powerpoint to go with a lecture, but that was about it really. The skills I have gained (while still in their early stages of growth) have astonished me. Equally astonishing was my enthusiasm to “play” with the new ideas and concepts of gathering and communication information that were available in the world of Web 2.0. The people I work with are probably heartily sick of me by now. Every week I’ve been regaling them with tales of bundlr, or storify, or screencasting. I’ve spent the last 13 weeks or so storing up little ideas of how I’m going to use all these things not just in future LIS activities, but in my teaching as well.

As an online, part time student the learning environment of this unit spared me much of the usual isolation experienced with distance education. The key concept of the Personal Learning Network made me feel part of a community. It wasn’t just any old community either. It was a supportive, encouraging and tolerant community and I feel privileged to have encountered and engaged with my fellow classmates on Twitter, on the unit site and through our blogs. Thanks for being so wonderful 🙂

Did I have a key takeaway or lightbulb moment? Have I learned anything about myself through engaging with the content of the unit. How can I possibly narrow those questions down to just one thing.
Participating in this unit reminded me that you get out of life what you put into it.
I’ve been reminded that there are many good and wise people in the world and I will always have something to learn from everyone I meet.
I’ve been reminded that collaboration can be a rewarding experience.
I’ve been reminded that there are still people out there who are passionate about their work and their life and the world around them.
I’ve been reminded that I have perfectionist “tendencies” that I need to continually work to curb or I will drive myself round the twist.
I’ve been reminded that flexibility and compromise are not signs of weakness and that they can help you reach your goals.
I’ve been reminded that it’s okay to ask “stupid” questions because you will probably get the answer you need and learn something in the process.
I’ve been reminded that inspiration could be waiting just around the corner so follow your instinct and your heart and go for it.

What I’m really trying to say here, is that for me Information Programs has not just been about gaining some new skills. If that’s all teaching does – teach some new skills – then it hasn’t fully succeeded. In my opinion the most effective learning occurs when I am prepared to consider new ideas, when I am prepared to change my mind, when my mind is opened to new ways of thinking about the world and my place in it. As a learning experience Information Programs has made me think carefully about my place in the world of Web 2.0. It has emphasised the need for me to shape my identity in the online world and it has highlighted that the way I engage with digital information, the way we all engage with information has changed and will continual to do so. As someone who is pursuing a place in the LIS profession, it is my responsibility to explore, consider, reflect, evaluate and ride the waves of that change and the changes to come. Technology and programs are tools. How we wield them is up to us. If we are to do our job effectively we must place the communication process as central to our use of technology, and remember that in the end, everything we do is about people. The connection between knowledge and power is seen daily, in events the world over. As professionals who will disseminate information that can become knowledge, it is vital to realise the potential ramifications of our future roles in terms of the power struggles in our culture, from the local to the global.

The games of life

You know the reason I didn’t choose this week as a designated activity was because way back in Week 1, gaming conjured up images of online role playing games of which I have no interest at all. If you had asked me was I interested in games, the answer would have been an emphatic NO! But the activity, commentary and discussion around INN333 this week has changed my mind. The concept of a game as a learning or information tool had never really entered my mind (DUH!). Little did I know, that my mildly obsessive personality was perfect for engaging with a week of playing a game. And it’s been fun too. Luckily I skipped delving into any of the “ville” Facebook games or else I might have a severe addiction by now. Still, if I look back over my life until there have been some gaming highlights. Card games of 500 with my grandfathers where they played to win despite the fact that my brother and I were still in primary school are an early memory. Then there was Trouble, Snakes and Ladders, Uno (which still marks all family gatherings and is HIGHLY competitive), the Mad Magazine board game (loved so much that recently my brother bought an old copy on ebay after my mother threw ours away when we left home), Boggle, Scrabble, Monopoly (of course), Trivial Pursuit (at which I am highly competitive), Pictionary (at which I am very bad – surprise!) and a recent love of Trivia nights. So, surprise surprise, I might classify myself as a gamer after all just not really a Web 2.0 gamer. Little did I realise that these games were teaching me things! I thought I was just having fun. Who knew that we could learn stuff and have fun at the same time! Not me 😉

But then, wait a minute….what’s that Wii doing in my lounge room? Surely, I haven’t bought a game-playing console? It seems I have. It’s teaching me that I’m quite lazy and that the Wii fit DVD will gather plenty of dust if left unused. And what about Angry Birds? That’s a game. What have learned from playing it on my phone or iPad? Well frustration mainly, and a realisation that I still have no idea about the laws of physics, motion, energy or how you break those big glass contraptions with the pigs in them.

So I do have a life that has been shaped by games and gaming after all. Thank you INN333 Week 12 and all your participants for raising my awareness of the game.

Librarians on TV

Last night I started browsing youtube for images and representations of librarians. Of course I’m guessing most of us are familiar with the Australian series “The Librarians”. Here’s two little somethings I found highly amusing. Both of them engage with the stereotypes out there about libraries and librarians. This one from Community is short and sweet with the wonderful line “maybe if we’re too loud she’ll shush us”

The second one from Mitchell and Webb is “nice” if only because it shows how a library’s information program (i.e basic borrowing record) can be used for insult and evil. Something to enjoy on a Sunday morning 🙂

It seems as though some television scriptwriters need a catch-up on the changing role of the librarian in the 21st century world of Web 2.0?

A delicious library?

With a few posts and discussions happening about our dreams of having libraries in our homes I remembered this from one of my favourite blogging friends Circulating Library. Delicious Library looks like a very interesting way of keeping track of collections of all types and cataloguing. It’s also good to see an example. I’m almost inspired to try it myself (on a rainy day when I have some time) as a program to catalogue my books and also my sheet music (the latter of which is constantly in a muddle). Are there any mac fans out there already using it?

my first library

As this unit draws to a close I started thinking about my first experience of a library. It’s interesting how things in life come full circle. The first library I remember going to was the Bundaberg Library and here I am working on an assessment that would design a new service for that that same library. Many things have changed in the 30 years since I first visited the library. For one, the Bundaberg library is no longer in the same building. When I was little the library was located in an old building that had once been a bank. (It’s now the city art gallery complete with a small exhibition space in what was once the vault!). My family were regular library visitors. It was always exciting because the library opened on a Thursday night…most unusual for a small Queensland town. It was also tres exotic to visit for a small child because (1) it had a ramp up to the front door and (2) it had a fountain outside made out of a big granite rock. To an 8 year old in the very early 80s these things were pretty exciting. Inside, everything was about the silence. The stacks were all very close together; it wasn’t a big space. But there was a designated children’s area, teenage fiction (which I delved into as I got older) and adult fiction and non-fiction. It was from here that I borrowed a lot of Sweet Valley High novels, the complete Fawlty Towers scripts, biographies of John Lennon, Winston Churchill and others, as well as doing research for my Ancient History assignments. I believe there may have been microfiche hidden away somewhere, but the catalogue was a card system and the nice ladies at the borrowing desk relished stamping the return date inside the front cover of your books.

There were no computers of any kind. There were no videos, dvds, cds or audiobooks. There were no attractive displays of new books, no posters advertising community events. The library was simply about books. How things have changed. Now the Bundaberg Library is housed is a specifically designed building, has branches at other places in the region, is full of backpackers checking their emails, retirees reading the newspapers, people poring over the DVD collection, kids and mums enjoying the activities with the children’s librarian and other such things. What has struck me as strange today is the infrequency with which I visit the library anymore. It played such a part in my formative years, yet I’m lucky if I go there once or twice a year. I feel bad about this, but access to university libraries and the world of digital information accessible from my desktop has superceded the experience of the community library. I think it’s something I need to rediscover.

The gamification of information literacy?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I teach in a program that has an information literacy component. Information literacy is taught in connection with academic essay writing and referencing skills. For the last ten years, it has involved students attending sessions in the campus library computer labs and working their way through a paper information literacy guide. As their writing teacher I attend their information literacy so I can connect these sessions with our writing tutorials. I have spent many a boring hour in the library, watching students update their Facebook status while the librarian stands at the front of the room and shows them how to use the catalogue, or a database, or the ABS on a projector screen. Needless to say, most of the students are not engaged. Neither are they participating. As a result, their information literacy skills at the end of the sessions are usually still quite poor which is frustrating when they then have to research information to write an end of term essay. Usually, I end up “re-teaching” the infolit in class. After watching the “games” take place this week and seeing how it motivated me (and lots of others) to participate in the learning environment, I have started to wonder how the information literacy might be incorporated into our teaching in a more interesting way. I had already started making a list of grand plans about incorporating screencasts, vlogs and other things into my teaching practice but games hadn’t really entered my mind. Now, I’ve started wondering how could I incorporate gaming strategies as a way of engaging our students with information literacy? Food for thought for the future!

the googlisation of the library catalogue

In the last couple of weeks the uni I work at has introduced a new way of engaging with its library. They have introduced a service called “Discover It” which is basically a google type search function available from the library homepage that searches all library resources (from the catalogue, from online resources, from databases the library subscribes to). At first I was a little bit skeptical as to how effective it would be. Teaching in a program that offers introductory information literacy this means changes to our course material for 2012. Today I went to Discover It to start to play with it. I was pleasantly surprised. At a staff meeting earlier in the week there was a lot of negative talk about how students wouldn’t know what type of resources they were finding, blah blah blah…but the interface is very clear and far cleaner to navigate than the old way of searching the catalogue. I do however hate the resdesign of our uni website. I think there is far too much white space and it looks unfinished and very messy. What do you think? Time will tell if this flattening of the catalogue in the style of google will be successful for the users of the library, but it is exciting to see the library embracing some change.

Building a bridge: Week 8 Reflection

This week my reflection is in the form of slidecast, mainly because I wanted to have another go at using this technology. I found this very easy to set up with ppt and then talk to the points. Something that I didn’t talk about in the reflection is my experience with some vlogs that have been put together for the program I teach into to assist distance students with information literacy. I went to have another look at them this morning and the files were too large to watch easily from home. They took forever to connect and then wouldn’t play. Technology fail. I’m not sure what was used to make them but I think something much simpler could be just as effective. This informed my last point about considering the technical/technological access of users when providing information in this way. Many of the students who would be wanting to access these vlogs live in rural and regional areas where internet access is limited and slow. We are doing them a dis-service if we cannot provide information equitably to all. Anyway, this is definitely something I will be looking to try and improve in the future. So, all in all, this week has really struck a chord with me.