Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

#YALSA and the badging program – #ALAMW14

Posted by lpearle on 3 February 2014

Linda Braun made it clear – this is a work in progress: testers are needed.  Just go to yalsabadges.ala.org

So what do we need to know beyond that?  Badges are a serious learning process, more about the learning than about the badge.  These are tied in to YALSA’s Core Competencies, with the idea that they will help people get the skills they need to be successful.  The following are about YALSA’s badges (my thoughts on this and some badging takeaways will follow):

  • These badges are “crowdsourced” – once someone has completed the work, it becomes open to the public, who can then comment and either approve (“thumbs up”) or disapprove (“thumbs down”) for their work.  In other words, earning the badge is contingent not only on completing the various steps and requirements but on peer approval of the work you’ve done.
  • The exact number of thumbs up is unknown, it’s based on an algorithm.  There is the danger of someone doing the work and then waiting… and waiting… and waiting… for approval.  Community buy-in is critical, as is community participation.
  • The system is (as of right now) a Pass/Fail system, so you could be 100% on several steps but still not “badge worthy”; once you do get approval, you cannot lose it.
  • Badges can be exported to Mozilla’s Backpack, which will enable people to show a variety of professional development badges as part of their online portfolio/resume.
  • Obtaining badges demonstrating competency is gaining acceptance in the military and at colleges.  They demonstrate actual skills, much more clearly than a grade on a test does.

They are still working on the badges, with only three available right now.  The format for each is Overview -> Goals -> Technology Requirements -> Steps (what you need to do) -> Rubric and screencasts on how to do things like set up a Google Form are included.  An online forum may be set up so that those working towards their badge can communicate with others in the same position as well as with people either already badged or those who are experts/mentors.  Notifications for new content need to be created so that people don’t have to log in daily (and see nothing there).

Linda stressed that this is a soft opening, reminding us that Gmail was in beta for five years (but YALSA’s working on a faster timeframe than Google).  She also recognized that there is work to be done on providing administrators and supervisors with information on the rigor required and the skills learned, so that people recognize this as a credential.

So, my thoughts about these badges specifically:

  • The skills skew heavily to the public librarians and their needs; school librarians might not be able to see a need or value to the work needed to complete a badge.  School librarians have the NBPTS for Library Media/Early Childhood Through Young Adulthood and AASL’s NSLPY Award to help them focus their programs and skills. YALSA is going to have to make a really strong case for the school librarian contingent to make this a valuable professional development tool.
  • There’s a w whiff of “checking in” here, like Foursquare or Get Glue.  This may skew the process towards younger librarians, or those who want to become a librarian, while those in the middle or further in their careers will not see them as necessary.
  • Many school librarians are required to get CEU’s and without getting state buy-in to make a badge the equivalent of a certain number of hours of learning, again, there won’t be as much buy-in from school librarians.  Some states won’t accept CEUs from outside their state, again limiting the desirability of this program.
  • While I understand why YALSA feels the need to provide interesting ways to provide professional development tools, particularly those that allow for self-paced, reflective learning, this feels as though YALSA is trying to be LITA Jr.  Perhaps a partnership with LITA to create badges for all ALA members would work better?
  • At Midwinter, the Board approved the creation of a badge for Literary Evaluation.  One supposes that this is so that the President-Elect has better information when considering appointments to the various selection and awards committees – but murmurs I’ve heard are fears that this won’t be objective, that people “on the outs” with YALSA’s Board or VIPs won’t get fair treatment even if they have the badge.
  • The badge that was used as an example, Leadership and Professionalism, struck me as problematic on two levels.  The first was that there are suggestions of library and related twitter feeds to follow – granted, I didn’t ask how that list could be updated by people, but I suspect that newbies might only follow the ones already listed and thus lead to a privileged echo chamber while interesting, outsider voices go unheard.  The second was that once the badge is earned, what mechanism is in place to ensure that the badgee(?) continues to keep up with this newfound PLN?  Maybe I’m jaded from working with students who tend to forget things quickly after the test, but…

On the other hand, the idea of badging is one that has interested me for a while.  I love the idea of creating skills-based badges so that students can demonstrate their ability to do things like cite a source, find information in our catalog or a database, and format a paper.  Teachers planning to do a research paper could mandate that the students complete certain badges by a specific time so that they (and the librarians) know what, if anything, is needed in the way of instruction on basic skills.  There were several things mentioned in this session that were very helpful as I think about how best to create a badging program:

  • Make the look of the badge simple – not childlike, just simple
  • Beware of complexity (perhaps break up a larger piece into smaller elements) and the time it will take (boredom or frustration can prevent completion
  • Start small, figuring out what’s most important/needed now and then build
  • The LMS needs to be really, really robust (YALSA is using Drupal) and that you have lots of tech support and training on how to use it
  • Test, test, test and retest
  • Ask the community experts how to assess the “win” and provide peer review

I’ve done one badge on information literacy and it was time-consuming and kludgy.  Not to mention the fact that there were two questions I got right but were marked wrong by the system (luckily I took screenshots of the “wrong” answers and successfully got the grade changed). I can only imagine the work it must take to keep them up-to-date and smooth-running so that students don’t have technoangst on top of everything else!

Posted in Conferences, Professional organizations, Techno Geekiness | Leave a Comment »

Maker/Create/Collaborativespace pre-conference – #RUSA #ALAMW14

Posted by lpearle on 31 January 2014

I was fortunate to get off the waiting list for the RUSA MARS/RSS pre-conference and see what public and academic librarians think about the maker/create/collaborate space trend.

The overwhelming message was the “maker/createspace” was not just about 3D and Audino, it was anything that isn’t reference or readers advisory.  You don’t need to be a coder to be a creator, you can be a knitter, calligrapher or a rubber stamper (or another type of creator).  This is a message that we need to remember as we create our spaces: it’s about the creation, not the tools.  At bottom, doesn’t “maker” meet our mission as librarians, helping people explore their passions?  In schools especially we’re supposed to help students create new things with the knowledge they acquire – and a maker/create/collaborative space does just that.  Thinking about the space is a great way to start the strategic planning process, too, as it will involve people from different constituencies.

One important thing is to not be a closed shop: be open to all platforms (iOS, WinTel, Chrome, Lynix) and allow people to use all those during the programs.  A diversity of experience and resources can spark really interesting ideas.  It’s also critical to remember that not everyone can afford the tools necessary (it’s also important not to go broke providing for people using the space – finding that happy medium can be difficult).

How should you start? Ask the community what they want, and what they can bring to the space.  Consider an Idea Studio (a la Warwick PL). NCSU’s Hunt Library has a 270o Visualization and Teaching Lab (home of the Virtual Paul’s Cross Website).

Final words: balance what the users really do want and need with what they’re told they want and need (by the media, the library administration, etc.).  It’s a difficult process, and an on-going one, but very worth it.

Other pearls of wisdom:

  • outside funding, but BYOP[roject] is also good
  • Facebook and Twitter are great sources of ideas for what other libraries are doing – see how you can re-purpose their ideas
  • helping people with digital curation is as much “maker” as it is “archivist”
  • consider putting large windows in the space, so people outside can see what’s inside and get inspired
  • students like whiteboards, flexible seating and furnishings

Resources:

Posted in Conferences, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Where does the money go?

Posted by lpearle on 6 January 2014

In November I had to prepare my AY15 budget. Yes, you read that correctly: November 2013.  The budget won’t be finalized for several months yet, but it was an instructive exercize to consider what I’d be spending the school’s money on from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015.  What was the proper amount for print resources (books and periodicals)?  Which databases were we going to keep?  Could I build in some fudge money so if a great new database came along we’d have the ability to purchase it in AY15, not AY16?

One line item gave me real pause: the professional training/conferences line.  A number of years ago, Doug wrote a great post about his expectations for presenters. Now, in my nearly two decades of doing this school librarian thing, I’ve only had real support for my conference going for eight of those years and even then I was careful to only have the school pay for registration, transportation (if I didn’t drive) and the hotel, plus shipping of books/materials back to school – meals and other stuff were on me.  In part it’s because I didn’t want to take advantage, but in part it’s because I truly believe that having some skin in the game is important.  So as I prepared my budget, I thought about the upcoming year’s conferences and which I might want to attend.  It’s not like I’m starved for choice: ALA Annual and Midwinter, YALSA’s Literature Symposium, AASL’s Fall Forum, SLJ’s Leadership Summit, NECC, NCTE/ALAN, NYSAIS’ NEIT Conference and many more.  The question for me is, “which experience will give my school (and me) the biggest bang for our bucks?”

The Little Professor has a post about attending MLA that I think has great application for ALA (and divisions).  While some may argue that 3000 (AASL13) vs 25000 (ALA Annual, average) is manageable, the question about the types of presentations arises.  I like to stray outside the box, seeing what other divisions are up to and learning from them because there’s often a lot I can apply to my situation.   The Literature Symposium vs NCTE/ALAN is another conundrum, because they’re very different experiences.  As I work more with training teachers and students on technology, would missing ALA Annual in favor of NECC be the better choice (although here, again, there’s a scale issue)?

So many questions to answer, and in November 2013 I have no idea what the answer was going to be come registration time in late 2014.  Where will you be putting your money?

Posted in Conferences, Professional organizations | Leave a Comment »

Turning off, or the dark side of social media

Posted by lpearle on 23 November 2013

One of the questions Angela Carstensen asked her author’s panel at AASL was about their use (or lack thereof) of social media in their books.  The responses were very thought-provoking and left me with much to ponder as my school shuts down for Thanksgiving Break.

The first response that made me really think was Kimberly McCreight’s (she’s the author of Reconstructing Amelia, which heavily uses social media as Amelia’s mom searches for the reasons behind her fall from the roof of her school).  At the risk of spoiling, I’ll just say that there is some bullying involved in the plot, as well as a tell-all blog.  Ms. McCreight’s response was that bullying has been intensified by social media – in decades past, home may have been a safe space for the bullied but now text messages can arrive at any time, spoiling sleep.

“Just turn if off” may be great advice, but is it realistic? The bullied know that the messages are still coming in and will be there when they wake up and turn it on.  What before used to be perhaps graffiti in the bathroom or painted onto a locker is now posted not just locally but globally.  There is no safe space, thanks to social media.

It also got me thinking about the not-quite-bullying, almost the opposite of the negative attention: no attention.  The socially insecure whose “friend requests” are ignored, the public posting of photos of parties and events that they’re not invited to, the comments on others posts and photos that are met with deafening silence or are deleted.  Yes, it’s easier to find like-minded people further from home but don’t we all really want to be known and accepted in school?  And I also thought about two kids I know, one a junior in high school the other in 8th grade (they’re siblings).  For a variety of reasons, their parents have severely limited their at-home interaction with “screens” to one hour a day (not including educational use).  The two have to make decisions about whether they want to go on Facebook or watch a tv show or play Xbox or post to Pinterest.  I’ve never asked them how they feel about this, or how it may be affecting their interactions with their peers.

One of the things I’m thankful for is that when I was growing up, during that socially awkward, personally awkward stage, broadcasting those moments and that torment was limited to prank “I’ve got a crush on you” phone calls (and laughter in the hallways the next day) and mean girl graffiti.  The parties you didn’t get invited to?  Only your classmates really knew, not their friends across the globe.  As an adult I have the strength and mental equipment to deal with anything like that that might happen, but back then?  Not even close.

As someone who works with girls going through that stage in their lives, it’s something I need to be more aware of and watchful for because it can feel so much worse now, given the reach (and permanence) of social media.

Posted in Conferences, Musings, Techno Geekiness | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

What I didn’t see at #AASL13

Posted by lpearle on 20 November 2013

This is not a “why didn’t the organizers do this??” post, it’s more of a wish list of things that thus far no one’s working on, or if they are they’re not in the school library world.

  1. I’m still not sure what the difference is between federated search and “discovery”, but why can’t all databases not only integrate but use natural language?  Information shouldn’t be that difficult for my students to find.  Plus, controlled language?  Show me a student K-12 who really cares about metadata and controlled language in databases and books and I’ll show you a very strange student.
  2. Something like that time turner device Hermione had in Harry Potter.  Seriously.  There’s no way we can keep up with the pace of technological and policy change and have anything resembling a life without one.
  3. It was great that YALSA was there, but where were ACRL, RUSA and ALSC?  There’s so much that we should be doing cross-divisions!  Having representatives showing why and how to navigate another division would be a great welcoming opportunity.
  4. Vendors who support their “booth babes” in professional development.  I think it was at either Portland or Indianapolis that I met a vendor rep in a pre-conference; they’d been registered for the conference as an attendee so that they could see what was really important and really happening, rather than living in the vendor bubble.
  5. Self-care.  At some conferences there are back massage booths – why not booths or a conference room filled with “self-care” vendors?  Learning relaxation techniques, getting stress-management tips and maybe getting one of those cards that show you how to exercize (discretely) at your desk or the proper technique for shelving/getting a cardio jolt while unjamming the copier (like the cards you see in some airline seatback pockets showing how to exercize inflight).

Perhaps next conference?

Posted in Conferences, Musings | Leave a Comment »

Data driven at #AASL13

Posted by lpearle on 18 November 2013

Most of us are not math people, but even the numerically challenged should question this:

But when such thoughtful and challenging speakers as Debbie Abilock and Kristin Fontichiaro are giving a presentation entitled “Slaying the Data Dragon” it’s difficult to resist going.  Trust me when I tell you they brought the awesome and then some – and at 8am, no less!  Despite my “bed head” (as Deb called it) I manged to take copious notes…

The first thing to remember is that it’s not just about collecting data, it’s about interpreting the information as well as being aware what data is being collected (by whom? for what purposes?).  Scientists and techies are not just being required to submit their interpretation of their data but all their data sets so that others can learn from and expand upon them.  Big Data builds on past experiments – but we need to always question the data we didn’t collect ourselves.

(QUERY: if that’s the case, why do we blindly accept the data and interpretation provided by the Pew Internet & American Life surveys? are any of their data sets statistically significant?)

It’s also important to remember that computers can unearth connections we don’t see (or don’t think of to look for) but that they can’t made a distinction between good data and bad data; humans also need to interpret the correlations but can’t assume they understand the causations.  Privacy concerns may be something that our students don’t share, but when our data is being tracked by the politicians, sports teams, stores, financial institutions and others in addition to the NSA, one has to ask the question, “how will we weigh the trade-off between privacy, consumerism and security?”  What are the implications for the future, both immediate and longer term?  Why do we share our data so freely?  An extreme example of the downside is the ease with which the Nazi’s identified even assimilated Jews, based on data given freely to the government decades earlier.

Private browsing?  Not so much.  Acxiom is one data aggregator tracking your movements around the interwebs.  Try downloading and using ghostery to see how many others are using trackers, monitoring your movements from site to site, feeding the data back to… whom?  Don’t want to use the download but on a PC?  Try right click / view source / ctrl F .gif to see who’s hidden trackers on the site.  You can block and control who sees what you do!

But what about apps and tools like Fitbit and Jawbone?  The data they collect from you isn’t just included in your profile, it’s shared with everyone else using those programs.  Health data is protected, but what about our other data?  Target can predict when you’re pregnant (assuming you use either an affinity card or your credit/debit card).  Is that ok?  It may be helpful to get recommendations on shopping sites, but isn’t it also a little creepy?  Here’s a new term to learn: algorithmic regulation, which is supposed to help solve public problems without having to justify or explain by using personalized “nudges”.  Some seem benign, like your doctor or dentist reminding you to come in for a check up, but what about reminders to floss, or take a walk, or purchase milk?  Not reminders you set, but those that come from “elsewhere” based on data input from you and others?  Or what about glasses that can fool you into thinking that broccoli is really cake?

The problem is that Big Data isn’t neutral, mostly because it influences policy decisions – policies made by people who, like most of us, don’t know how to interpret the data they’re given.  An example of this is InBloom, a Gates-funded organization taking data from students without their permission or knowledge.  Decision makers also need to look at both macro- and micro-levels, as data provided for a neighborhood or town may look very different when compared to larger areas.  Infographics may be fun ways to represent data, but we need to learn how to read them.  A good start are the ACRL visual literacy standards, which can be walked down to K-12.  Working with teachers to create lessons that incorporate data interpretation also helps.  We were left with a number of sites that either have collected data or are still doing so, good places to start with both colleagues and students:

Reading List:

Posted in Conferences, Privacy, Techno Geekiness | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

First thoughts, #AASL13

Posted by lpearle on 15 November 2013

Initial impressions of AASL13?  Smaller than usual in some ways (fewer than 2500 attendees, about 1/3 the size of my first AASL back in Portland) but larger in others (I’ve never seen so many people at an ISS gathering!  Good for us!).  The exhibits were sparser than the last couple of conferences, too, perhaps because of the lower attendee rate and the fact that NCTE is next week, while YALSA’s Lit Symposium was just a couple of weeks ago.

This is my 9th AASL and as much as I may pretend, it’s not all about the swag.  It’s about the opportunities to learn and grow with people in similar situations as well as learn from people in schools very different from mine.  Looking over the conference offerings and seeing new names with new ideas presenting is always such a thrill – not that the old names are bad, but isn’t it wonderful that others are sharing as well?  I know that many of my friends feel the same way as they examine the offerings, sussing out what is a Must Attend session and planning a few Fun to Attends.

So why so many fewer people?  Here’s my guess: it’s not just about the economy, or lower budgets.  It’s about a glut of PDOs (aka Professional Development Opportunities).  When I was a sweet young thing just starting out, the options were ALA and AASL, with the former very large and confusing for newbies.  Then along came the SLJ Leadership Summit, YALSA’s Lit Symposium, AASL’s Fall Forum, Computers in Libraries, ISTE and BEA.  I can reach my PLN and learn via Twitter and Facebok and Nings and Pinterest and… and… and… If I need more formal learning, there are webinars and MOOCs.  Choosing where and how to spend my time and treasure is more difficult than before due to the sheer number of choices.  That’s not a bad thing, but it does mean that we constantly feel as though we’re scrambling to keep up simply because we hear so much more frequently about the things that others are doing.

No real conclusions here, just some Friday morning musings.

Posted in Conferences, Musings | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Real World, Real Tools – #ALA2013

Posted by lpearle on 8 July 2013

Going to ALA’s Annual Conference is always a great time for me to learn, especially from those in situations unlike my own.   I’ll attend sessions provided by other divisions because even though I’m not in an academic or public library, or work that heavily with technology, I can take ideas and think about how they might be used in my professional life – or what the trickle down/trickle sideways effect might be.

A few times I’ve been honored to give back, to share what I’ve learned with others.  This year, it was a preconference with Wendy Stephens and Deb Logan, focusing on how to navigate/negotiate real world situations.  Sadly, all to frequently what our professional organizations and pre-service educators tell us is, well, not based in reality.  Our goal was to share the Wisdom of the Room, because even though we’re in different schools there’s so much we can learn from each other.

Here’s my main presentation, on Administration:

There was going to be a follow-up section that pulled everything together into a wiki, but that didn’t happen.  What did happen was a GoogleDoc – livescribed notes and links from the session.  Please feel free to add your wisdom and real world tools.

Posted in Conferences, School Libraries | Leave a Comment »

Teens and eBooks – a #YALSA / #ALA2013 discussion

Posted by lpearle on 3 July 2013

pace Freud, what do teens want?

That’s the question that the roundtable I attended considered – and the overall sense was that, as with men vis-a-vis women, we just don’t know what teens want when it comes to e-books/e-readers.  We do have a few ideas, however:

  • it’s population specific – don’t trust national polls, as trends change from town to town and school to school.
  • platform agnosticity is especially important if you’re considering a BYOD program.
  • teens use reference ebooks far more than fiction ebooks - there’s no real evidence that they are using ereaders or apps to read for pleasure.
  • one huge problem: adults borrowing YA ebooks wrecks havoc with stats – we know the book is popular, but don’t know who’s reading it
  • don’t make the book native to the device (avoids age issues, platform issues, etc.)

The process needs to be seemless, even two clicks can be one click too many.  Why can’t whatever system (Follett Shelf, Overdrive,  B&T’s Access 360, etc.) be as easy to use as iTunes?

Teens also don’t understand – or care – about publisher problems.  They want their book NOW and don’t want to hear that this publisher isn’t providing an e-version (or a library e-version).  Holds? They don’t want no stinkin’ holds – it’s an e-version, right?  How can there be a limit to how many are using/reading it at one time?

As an adult, I understand that: earlier this year I had the pleasure of discovering Cara Black’s mysteries thanks to a publisher-provided ARC on Edelweiss.  I had a trip coming up and wanted to read another on my Kindle – only the immediate previous book was available in e-version.  Two of twelve volumes available?  Disappointing!

Of course, it’s not just about publisher problems, it’s about knowing what to buy.  Reading blogs, getting recommendations from friends and family are the usual ways students find out about their next read.  Why not create genre consultants?  As your teens what you should be purchasing (keeping budget and age constraints in mind).  Put them in charge of a part of the budget (e.g., give the fantasy consultant $150 to “buy” books with) – not only do you get great support from the consultant, word-of-mouth will tell others how responsive you are and how wonderful the collection is.  Our new mantra needs to be Patron Driven Acquisition.

What about foreign languages?  Creating a collection of ebooks in French, Spanish, Chinese, etc. can be a good resource for ESL readers and those studying the language.

Current wisdom is that the OPAC is dead – no one uses it.  So how do we promote our collections, e- and print?

  • create displays of Fiction/Nonfiction books that relate to popular movies, tv series
  • use Pinterest
  • promote via GoodReads/LibraryThing/Shelfari (students love the social aspect – just be careful to separate your reading from the library’s collection)
  • Subtext can be a great book group tool, in addition to being used by teachers for curricular-related reading.  Of course, you need to be aware of what books are available in the app and it is only available for Apple products (seriously – why aren’t these people providing multi-platform tools?!)

Courtney Lewis has been doing action research on her students and reading – there’s an article in the fall YALS on her previous study, and she’s re-doing it this year (four years is a lifetime in a school, and several in tech land).  Despite what we “know” about teens not reading, her data shows different.  We need to promote that – it may not be reading canon literature, but it is reading!  She’ll share her new data via GoogleDoc – just ask her!

 

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Conferences, Techno Geekiness | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 28 June 2013

Books, Reading, Etc.

School Life

  • This would work in a school OR a public library: Welcome to my Tweendom’s Are You A Reader Q&A
  • As you’re revamping your curriculum and website, consider adding some of the NoodleTools Show Me tutorials.

Tech Stuff

Posted in Books, Conferences, School Libraries, Techno Geekiness | Leave a Comment »

 
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