My Online Personal Learning Network

This assignment was more reflective than I expected it to be.  It became one of those, who I am and where I am going, moments.

My Online Personal Learning Network

Goals Statement

My online personal learning network (OPLN) will enable me to remain relevant in this ever changing information and technology centered world, and to share this competency with others.   My goals will be achieved by: keeping current on emerging information literacy and technology trends and tools; evaluating those trends and tools; utilizing the selected tools in the library or for personal enrichment.  Overall I wish to foster an environment of learning and creativity in my personal and professional life.

Defined Scope

I currently work part time as a reference librarian in an academic library.   This job is satisfying in that I am able to share what I know with patrons, and it also allows me to build upon my knowledge base as every patron and reference interview is different.  I have also created a few learning objects which satisfies my desire to create items that promote learning.

I see myself eventually in the future as an online/embedded librarian.  I think that the development of online courses will continue to grow, and that the need for librarians to help students in these online spaces will continue to grow as well.  As an online librarian I hope to promote online spaces that foster not only learning but also a social component that allows students to feel comfortable enough to share ideas with each other in a meaningful way.  I believe that collaboration in online learning environments is particularly important as my experience as an online student has shown me that it can be isolating at times.

Resource Network

The following items are a few components of my OPLN:

Aggregators

Google Reader – this is my primary method of organizing and receiving my resources.

Pinterest – is something that I am only dabbling with right now.

Scoopit – I see potential in this resource and will continue to cultivate it.

Blogs and Websites

The following are only a sample of the websites I follow.  I seem to add to my list of blogs and websites at a faster rate than I discard them.

Dangerously ! Irrelevent:  Technology, Leadership, and the Future of Schools is a blog where the author likes to throw statements that seemed to be crafted to illicit a response from his reader; not necessarily positive in nature but the posts are thought provoking.

The Daring Librarian is a blog that I only recently began following and what drew me in was her blog post Transparency is the New Black, because I find the idea of online transparency to be intriguing and frightening.

Free Video Lectures is a blog dedicated to providing information about free online learning resources.

Internet Archive is an online archive that has links to many types of media some of which are public domain or have a creative commons license.  Please check each individual artifact for the type of license it has.

Library 2.0 is a group blog that is interesting to follow because there are various authors which means that the blog posts are different in writing style and topic.

Library Journal is a publication with articles and reviews on issues relating to librarianship.

Merlot is a website that shares educational content like videos and tutorials that can be utilized depending upon the license of each individual artifact.

Quantum Progress is a blog by a science teacher who muses on the state of education today and on how he thinks it could be improved.

Seth Godin’s Blog is great just because he makes me think.

Springshare’s LibGuides Community is a great way to find out what other librarians are doing with instruction and new web 2.0 tools.

Stephen’s Lighthouse is a blog that I was told to follow from my first semester of my MLIS program and I have not regretted subscribing (except for keeping up with the overwhelming number of posts that the author likes to post).

Tame the Web is a blog I have been following for a while now with posts and guest posts on trends and technology in the library.

Teach Paperless is a collaborative blog that discusses technology and the classroom.

The Cloud and Crowdsourcing

Google Docs is a great tool to use for collaboration but I didn’t realize how far reaching it could be until one day I noticed that I had a few Docs in my list from authors I didn’t recognize.  Two of these turned out to be presentations created by Tom Barrett that are open for anybody to modify or add to.  The third turned out to be Seth Godin’s free ebook.  Apparently I had clicked on these links at some point in surfing the internet and these documents were somehow added to my Google Docs.

103 Interesting Ways to use an iPad in the Classroom

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzOwF662DJd8Yko3U0pXc3VRY090YTNreGs3YUI3UQ/edit

https://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0AclS3lrlFkCIZGhuMnZjdjVfNzg1ZGc1eHo0Y3M

Facebook

Using Facebook to follow the activities of webpages is a good alternative to an RSS reader.  A problem with using Facebook is that information tends to get lost in the feed especially if the page owner does not actively update the status.  The parent websites tend to be more detailed and links to these can be found in the “About” section on each Facebook page.  Below are the information related links that I follow:

Edudemic is described as “a community of teachers, education professionals, and hundreds of other people interested in the intersection of education and technology.”  This resource discusses new and popular online tools and offers links for further investigation.

Lesson Planet: “award-winning search engine enables teachers to easily find and share 400,000+ teacher-reviewed curriculum resources within an online, professional community.”

Libraries are Essential posts links to a variety of library related links and information for marketing.

The Library of Congress provides information on the LOC digital collections.

Save Chicago Public Libraries and Librarian Jobs is interesting for the fact that it illustrates the difficulties associated with funding public libraries.

This Week in Libraries “is a weekly internet video show that brings libraries around the world up to date with the latest trends in libraries.”  The video shows are vlogs hosted on Vimeo and feature interviews with library professionals in various parts of the world.

Listservs

The links that I subscribe to, plus others that are available, can be found at:   Section Discussion Lists on the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) website.  I subscribed to the first two listservs as a resource to use in my search for full time employment, and for insight into real life concerns of academic librarians.  The Instruction Section was chosen because I am interested in a position as an online librarian.  I have found these resources to be an interesting glimpse into real day to day concerns of working librarians and while I find the number of emails that I receive to be a bit overwhelming, I am going to continue to utilize these resources.

CJCLS Community & Junior Colleges (CJC-L)

CLS College Libraries (COLLIB-L)

IS Instruction Section (ILI-L)

Twitter

I have been on Twitter now for a little while but am still relatively new at using this resource.  This is on my list of things that I need to become proficient at using.  I follow friends, family, classmates, and education/library/technology oriented tweeters, here is a sample of those I follow:

Buffy Hamilton @buffyjhamilton is a librarian who loves learning and literacy.

Michael Stephens @mstephens7 is an educator, librarian, blogger and posts content relating to all three.

Pete Cashmore @mashable is good to follow to keep up on news and technology.

Phil Shapiro @ philshapiro tweets and retweets a lot of education related posts.

polly @pollyalida is a library consultant who tweets and retweets technology information relating to libraries.

Slashdot @slashdot has an interesting mix of popular culture and technology tweets.

tombarrett @tombarrett is a technology oriented educator.

YouTube

Harvard University has many videos relating to a variety of educational subjects.  There is also a list of featured channels to the right of the screen.

The Teaching Palette has to this date 37 uploaded videos.  I found this collection when looking for a Pinterest tutorial and liked her other tutorials and educational videos.

TED-Ed “is TED’s new education initiative” and contains 23 videos at time.  The TedEd website has more videos, as well as other content that compliments the videos.

US National Archives has a variety of videos on its site relating to archiving, history, and preservation.

Problem-Solving/OPLN in Action:

Attempting to backtrack to discover which of the resources in my network that I’ve used for particular class assignments or personal enrichment is problematic.  Problematic because often times one of my resources will offer a link to another source that I might use, or an idea might cause me to conduct a search of the internet or a particular database to find out more about a subject.  As a consequence what might have been my initial resource may not be what is used for the final result.

One example of where I used resources specifically from my network was in the Pinterest module I created for the Create +8 project my group produced for a public library based on the 28 things model.  I found articles from two of the blogs in my resource network: Stephen’s Lighthouse and Edudemic.

Network Maintenance Plan:

Judging by my current resource network and the number of items that I weeded and added while drafting this OPLN I think that maintaining my OPLN will be an ongoing process.  As it is I still have a lot of weeding to do and think that I must come up with a better way of judging the difference between what I can use for future use and what I should just read and discard.  I currently use Google Reader, Facebook, and Twitter as my main methods of following websites. Those websites that are not RSS capable I will add to my bookmarks.  I have tried a few other methods but either have not been happy with the results or have not been consistent in my use of them.  Pinterest has thus far failed to inspire me although I do intend to continue to use it due to its current popularity.  Scoopit on the other hand seems like it could be a viable, and visual, way of curating interesting articles and I will continue to develop that resource.  As I enjoy trying new software I will continue to look for efficient and appealing ways to maintain my OPLN.

I expect my OPLN to change over time, especially when I consider how my interests have changed from the first semester of my MLIS program until now, in the last semester.  How it will change I don’t know because I’m not there yet, but I do look forward to the journey.

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Shall we play a game?

If you are familiar with that decade (the 1980s), or perhaps enjoy stories about computers with the power to destroy the world, then you are probably familiar with that phrase.  In the movie, War Games, the computer named Joshua wants to play a game of chess with a young hacker named David.  David however doesn’t want to play chess; he wants to play global thermonuclear war.  Joshua reluctantly agrees which sends David into a frantic race to stop Joshua from launching the United States’ entire nuclear arsenal at the Soviet Union.  David was interested in playing a game of war, but when it came to reality he was horrified at the thought.

There is something about games that allows us to distance ourselves from the reality of a situation and put ourselves in the possibility of another.  When playing board games, like Monopoly for example, the way that the game plays out depends upon which properties you and your opponents own, and on how you develop those properties; in essence you become a businessman and landowner.  When playing games like hide-and-seek or kick-the-can you become the prey trying to outwit the hunter.

And if you consider video games and the variety and abundance of them…

Video Game Walhalla By localjapantimes retrieved from flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/localjapantimes/4391725467/

 

…and the different types of formats they are available in….you realize that the way we play games has totally changed from those schoolyard games of the past.

Video games are interesting in that they allow you to travel to different planets or dimensions, or to engage in lifestyles that you had never conceived of before.  You can have the opportunity to wield a virtual sword or gun. You can create a virtual family and build yourself a life from the ground up.  Maybe you are interested in exploring an alternate history.  Or it could be that you like games that let you test your problem solving abilities through a series of puzzles that increase in difficulty.

When you consider the popularity of video games in our society it seems foolish not to utilize a similar sort of game play in learning environments.  Talk to any game player who has beaten a game level and they can tell you in detail how they solved the tasks that allowed them to move to the next level of the game.  Some of those game levels require repetitive play to beat so it is understandable that the game players would remember the steps that led them to success, and probably apply those concepts to the next levels.

So when you consider that games allow us to distance ourselves from reality to engage in these fantasy situations, wouldn’t it make sense that we could apply that to the reality of real life situations?  For example I’m not sure that many people would be interested in a game called “Adventures in Librarianship” but I do think that future librarians might be interested in role playing opportunities that could model certain skills that would be useful in real life situations.

The United States Department of Defense seems to think this sort of modeling is useful, and here are only a couple of the things I found:

Researchers Examine Video Gaming’s Benefits

Computer Game Trains ‘Art of Battle Command’

Advanced Equipment Maintenance Training Using Revolutionary Video Game…

Simulating Warfare is no Video Game

Exploring e-portfolios and Independent Open Learner Models:  Toward Army Learning Concept 2015

In this decade it is likely that some of us have played a game that might resemble David’s almost end of the world scenario in War Games.  Some of us have played games that simulate gardening, cooking, commerce, and planning.  Why not take that a step further and modify those games for education?

Now if only I were a game designer….the game designing librarian?  Why not.

Tell me a story…

…one that tells me who you are and where you come from.  Tell me about a time in history that made an impression on you.  Show pictures that make me feel like I’ve been there before, or that makes me want to go there in the future.  Play music that expresses the poignancy of a moment.  Tell me in your own words what happened and what it felt like.

Once you have put all of that together you have created a narrative, and if you have put all of that together successfully then you have potentially created a learning object.

After perusing this week’s readings I took a look at a learning object I created in a previous semester.  At the time of making this video I did not realize that what I was creating was a learning object, which I should have, but at the time I was just concerned with completing an assignment which required the use of various web 2.0 tools.

Looking at the video now I cringe a bit at the excessive dialogue, and the sloppy audio editing, and the use and arrangement of the pictures I used.   (And I must say that listening to one’s voice play back like that is a bit uncomfortable.)  I also wonder if I should have made this more of a personal reflection but at the time of creation I was more interested in creating something that resembled a documentary.

Wondering what else I might have done when I previously created this video to add more interest to it, I  looked around the internet this past week to see what else I could have added to my story.

My first stop was MapsGL where I created a map of Mount Saint Helens utilizing the “My Places” feature which allows you to place specific points on the map (you need to sign into your Google account to use it).  There are a bunch of cool features that you can use once you create your map and I took a few screenshot examples.  If you click on the images below it will just take you to a bigger version of the image.  I included links to the actual app in the caption portion of the pictures, and hopefully they work…you might have to enable MapsGL to get it to work, though.  I couldn’t make the links clickable so I’m sorry but you will have to copy and paste the URLs into your browser.

This link should take you to this version of my map. You might have to enable MapGL for it to work. http://g.co/maps/wkwzr

With this map I clicked the map icon in the upper right of the screen and chose the "Webcam" option http://g.co/maps/rwfdf

Hopefully this link works right because it looks pretty cool as it zooms you down to street level. Once you are finished playing around with this screen if you click on the little minus sign in the upper left it will take you back to the main screen. To try out this feature yourself grab the little yellow person that will appear in the upper left and drag him down on top of the highway. This only works if you put it down on the road because this follows the video taken by Google street filming. http://g.co/maps/v6fb6

This is the "Pictures" view and if you notice the little tiny gray squares those are pictures too. Just click on them and they expand and if you double click you are taken to the photo viewer Panoramio http://g.co/maps/5w8bx

This is an example of the expanded view of one of the picture icons.

The following links lead to various photographs, videos, and information regarding the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens.  There were many more but I figured that this list was probably long enough.  I hope that this story gives you some idea of what it was like to watch these events play out on the news, or in my case the local news because I lived close enough to the mountain to see the cloud plume in the distance.

CVO Photo Archives: Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Boston.com:  Mount St. Helens 30 Years Ago

USGS Multimedia Gallery:  Mount St. Helens 1980 Ash Cloud as Seen From Space, Mount St. Helens: May 18, 1980, and Mount St. Helens: A Catalyst for Change

References:

Educause Learning Initiative.  (2007).  Seven things you should know about digital storytelling.  Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7021.pdf

Center for Digital Storytelling.  Retrieved from http://www.storycenter.org/

Barrett, H.  (2009).  Digital Storytelling: An introduction.  Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/eportfolios/digital-storytelling-2388498

Persona

I found the section on persona, in Char Booth’s book fascinating.  She talks of balancing one’s teaching persona with that of your personality so that your teaching style is more genuine.  It made me think of how that translates into online learning where one must rely upon the written word for the most part to present oneself.

There is a realness that is sometimes missing with virtual learning, a lack of immediacy.  Recordings, either video or audio, allow participants a small glimpse into what sort of person that their instructor might be.  Real time meetings make the person on the other end of the internet even more real, as you can hear them interact rather than just lecture.  This is aided even more if the person enables video so that you can see the expressions on their face, their posture, or the way that they might talk with their hands.

How does an instructor construct a learning environment that ensures that realness?  How does he or she create an online persona that is genuine to their real personality?  Perhaps the answer to this depends upon each person, and how well each person works in an online world. Of course this does not only depend upon the instructor, it also depends upon the learner who is also a participant in this learning endeavor.  I suppose this means that however much an instructor creates an environment that is conducive towards communication, if the learner does not want to participate then even the most careful planning may go astray.  This in a way should not be looked upon as a failure as it is an opportunity to see what methods do not work and to improve upon them for the future.

Booth, C.  (2011).  Reflective teaching, effective learning.  Chicago:  2011.  Kindle edition.

It’s not about me

After watching Char Booth’s presentation one thing that resonated with me was that I should not be so concerned about being a perfectionist when it comes to instruction, and to accept that sometimes good enough is good enough.  It’s funny because when I conducted my first instruction session last month, the librarian who co-taught that session with me said basically the same thing before the session started.  She said that teaching made her very nervous but that she had to remember that the information she was imparting was important for the success of the students.  She warned me that sometimes a session can go off track and that the only thing you can do is to just go with it and do your best.  Her basic goal for any instruction session was to convey the points that she considered to be the most important and anything after that was a bonus.  The one thing that she always reminded herself of before the session was that it was not about her…it was all about the students.

This was helpful because once the instruction session started the professor whose class it was, interrupted me early into it and totally threw my plans off track.  This was very distressing as it was the first time I had taught before (except for one on one reference transactions) and I was pretty terrified and had expected to rely on my script.  I was forced to go off script and ended up spending most of the time going from desk to desk and helping people individually or in smaller groups.   This actually ended up working out better because I found I was less nervous moving around the class than I was when I stood behind the podium.

Looking forward with that experience behind me I wonder if my style of teaching is to be more interactive and to act in a more personal way.  Behind the podium I was stiff and probably pretty boring, but while roving around the room I was able to interject some personality into my teaching style, and actually managed to garner some laughter (although I do hope they were laughing with me and not at me).  The evaluations were all positive and a couple of people said that they learned a lot and that they had fun, although I am not sure if ‘fun’ is my ultimate goal in teaching.  I wonder how you can effectively create a balance between learning and fun.