Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Very Own XO Laptop Video/ OLPC

This is my first attempt at creating a video. I was inspired by my little green and white machine. My XO and the One Laptop Per Child Education Project really is wonderful and well worth learning some new technologies to promote! Please take a moment to view my one minute video on the XO laptop. Let me know what you think about the XO or if you have any questions about it at all. I will be posting a video review of my XO later this week.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The XO Laptop, Higher Education & Mesh

My XO continues to amaze me. I haven't had as much time as I would like to spend on it, but I am continually impressed each time I use it. One thing I have learned for sure- my little green machine has an incredible wireless range (approx. 3 times that of most laptops). I was in a Peet's Coffee shop two days ago, which had no wireless connection for their customers, along with two others who were working on their laptops, but not online. It took me two minutes to connect to an open wireless network a couple of blocks away. Others looked perplexed when they saw what appeared to be a green and white toy machine connected to the Internet, which they could not access. I told them that the next time they were able to get online they should google "One Laptop Per Child" and learn how to get the most advanced technology available. And that's what I want to discuss in this post.

I plan to meet up with a couple other XO laptop owners soon so we can all mesh. What is mesh? Well, here's my earlier post on the mesh network to check out if you are unfamiliar with the term. Be sure to watch the short video.

Now I'm not a techie by any means so keep that in mind, but I'm trying to understand some things. Why don't our expensive computers contain mesh networks? Doesn't this make perfect sense, especially in the context of higher education? Isn't collaboration more important than ever when it comes to research? Once I saw how the mesh network worked, I imagined the students at my university using this technology for course projects (with profs and librarians meshing right in the middle of them and assisting as they work), and then I imagined university students from all over the country being able to mesh, and then I thought of the global community. It blows my mind that a computer that cost under $200. to build contains these advanced open source technologies. Is open source the answer? If so, why isn't higher ed totally embracing the open source community? Maybe even leading in the open source movement? Perhaps this is already happening and I'm simply unaware? Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, December 21, 2007

My XO Laptop Has Arrived!

My new XO laptop in Powell's Books, Portland, Oregon, USA on Dec. 20, 2007. It is amazing. Beyond what I had hoped for. It works wonderfully. It cost under $200 to build and includes cutting edge technology (Mesh!) which doesn't exist in our most expensive laptops. It runs on Linux, a free and open-source operating system. And it's revolutionary interface, Sugar, promotes collaborative learning. I paid $399. for this machine as part of the OLPC Give One Get One program, in which I receive one machine and a second machine is donated to a child in a developing country. That feels pretty good as well. I can't imagine an educator who would not be excited about this. If you want to know more, here is a link to my YouTube playlist of videos on the XO Laptop and OLPC. It's not too late to order one, the deadline has been extended through Dec. 31, 2007.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Virtual Worlds-Immersive Education

This Chronicle article "'Immersive Education' Submerges Students in Online Worlds Made for Learning" was informative and led me to the Immersive Education site which contains valuable information for anyone wanting to investigate further.
I have been a believer of virtual worlds and their potential in higher education for some time. Most of my experience has been in Second Life. I have looked at and posted on Croquet. I believe virtual worlds are here to stay and their use in higher education will grow. It makes sense economically and as distance education continues to grow I think more universities will take advantage of the rich experiences that can be made available to their students. I'm glad to see that more folks in higher education are working to make better use of this technology for educational purposes. I will definitely continue to follow this trend. It will be important for academic librarians to have a role in these spaces.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Google's Knol - Good/Bad Idea?

When Google introduced Knol this last week, I was perplexed. I could not figure out why Google would want to compete in this way with Wikipedia or Citizendium. I wasn't going to even post on this, but something I saw in this Chronicle's Wired campus blog post "Can Google's New Open Encyclopedia Best Wikipedia?" caught my eye and I began to think Google's Knol could have a chance. The key factor in Google's favor is that Knol authors stand to make money for their efforts. But I still do not think this Google project will succeed.
Now I love most all things Google, but I would personally rather see Google focus on more innovative endeavors of its own rather than looking at ways it can add revenue by tweaking successful Web 2.0 products like Wikipedia and calling it their own.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Better Virtual Worlds

Recipients of 2007 Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration Announced - $100,000 went to Duke University for leadership and development work on the OpenCroquet open source 3-D virtual worlds environment. From About the Technology: "Croquet is a powerful new open source software development environment for creating and deploying deeply collaborative multi-user online applications on multiple operating systems and devices."
In 2007, HP and Duke University announced the formation of the Croquet Consortium, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the continued development and refinement of the Croquet open source platform. The work behind this project started several years ago and continues to develop. I'm optimistic about this virtual world and its potential in higher education. There appears to be more of a focus on educational applications than Second Life and other virtual worlds. It also seems much easier to use. I'll continue to investigate.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Thought This Was a Joke

In Japan, half of the top ten selling works of fiction in the first six months of 2007 were composed on mobile phones. That is composed as in written, not read, on cell phones! And all along I've thought we need better keyboards or plugin portable keyboards for handheld devices before people will do much work on them. But then I'm a baby boomer.
From the Sydney Morning Herald: "In just a few years, mobile phone novels - or keitai shousetsu - have become a publishing phenomenon in Japan, turning middle-of-the-road publishing houses into major concerns and making their authors a small fortune in the process." We know that Japan is far beyond the U.S. when it comes to mobile phones, but this one caught me by surprise. TechCrunch also picked up this article and I enjoyed reading the 56 comments where I learned more about this phenomena.
I will continue to think mobile, I don't think we're that different from Japan (though I understand the long commutes and cultural differences) the UK, etc. I think it's only a matter of time for the U.S. And my post on Cell Phone College Class in Japan makes even more sense now.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Google, OLPC, and Unicef Collaborate - Primary Sources

From the FAQ Page:Our Stories™ is a new project that encourages people to interview friends and loved ones, and to share these oral histories with others. Our three founding partners, UNICEF, One Laptop per Child (OLPC), and Google, have come together to help create, share, and grow a global collection of personal stories collected through recorded audio interviews.
Last night I tried this site and listened to the short stories of three young boys from Tanzania. It worked wonderfully and was interesting and inspiring. This will be a hit with the young and old from all corners of the world. Great collaborative project.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Academic Libraries As Place

The librarians at my university will be meeting this week to discuss what is often referred to as "library as place." We will look at this from a couple of perspectives. We have all read and will discuss the third of a five part strategy in this article: Lewis, David W. “A Strategy for Academic Libraries in the First Quarter of the 21st Century.” May 2007. Freely available at the IUPUI Digital Archive(Revised version of “A Model for Academic Libraries 2005 to 2025.”) We will also discuss a report written by our library director on the library as place that addresses general trends and space use implications for our university.
Some of what I expect our group will discuss:
What should the academic library of the future look like? How will the needs of our students, faculty and staff be changing? How can we begin to address those needs (with limited funding) now? How should we prioritize the needs for now and in the future-what is most important? (And how will the role of the academic librarian fit into these new spaces? But that's probably another meeting.)
Ideally academic libraries will begin to incorporate technologies which address the changing needs of our students. As mobile learning continues to be developed in the U.S. students will need and appreciate spaces where they can come together to collaborate on projects or just to socialize. The video below gives us a taste of some of what I'm sure academic libraries of the future will include. I also think we can learn a great deal from watching how businesses are currently using new collaborative technologies such as this bar/lounge (scroll to photos of computer tables in lounge at the bottom of the page).
So if I was given a $25K donation right now to bring important future technologies into my academic library, I would begin by adding a wall size touch screen computer as shown in the video below along with at least one interactive digital table and a 4D Globe. My guess is these would be a hit with both students and faculty and the library would become a more desired and popular place on campus.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Mobile Learning-The Next Big Thing in U.S. Higher Education

The award winning Learning2Go partnership is currently the largest collaborative mobile learning project for pupils in the UK. Below is a quote from "21st Century Mobile learning becomes reality for learners in the City of Wolverhampton":
Put quite simply, if learners are to use the power of the internet and all of the content and authoring tools that are now available, they need access to a device at a time of their choosing and driven by their learning needs.
Some may say this is a ways off still for the U.S. Others will argue it's already here as some of our colleges and universities (and schools) have been moving in this direction. But I believe that soon mobile learning in colleges and universities will become ubiquitous in the U.S. The devices are finally becoming inexpensive enough, with increasingly high quality screen resolution and longer battery life. And with Google's Android and other open source programs there will be more Web based applications available than ever before. Also consider the increasing amount of digitized materials being made freely available along with ebook reader like capabilities on these devices. The handheld device makes sense for many reasons now including providing better pedagogical opportunities. Soon I can see students paying a little more than they currently pay for their cell phone text messaging machines for a machine that allows them to also take a class on their device or supplement their in-class coursework.
Of course librarians need to consider this as we continue to develop ways to best serve students and faculty. And academic libraries in some ways could become more important as a place where students gather to work and collaborate using larger touch screen computers and other technology to facilitate learning in groups. There's much to think about still but this is going to happen, it really is time.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Google, iPhone and Mobile Computing

From today's Google Alert - Google picks iPhone for launch of new mobile app A great step forward for the iPhone. And once this device is 3G capable in 2008, it will be a great mobile machine. The ability to plug in a portlable keyboard would help for those planning to create serious Google docs.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Work in Higher Ed? Librarian? Give/Get an XO Laptop and Let's Mesh!

The OLPC Give One Get One program has been extended to December 31st. Mine will be arriving very soon and since there has been an extension I thought I would put in a plug to others, especially librarians and those in higher education. Invest in this product if you possibly can! Not only will it benefit a needy child in another country, the XO laptop you receive will benefit you and/or the child in your life as well. And best of all, we can mesh! Oh, and if you haven't heard of the wireless mesh network, which connects all other XO laptops within range together, which in turn connect others, and so forth on these machines then please watch the video below. And Sugar, "the interface that graphically captures fellow learners and teachers as collaborators, emphasizing the connections within the community, among people, and their activities," is amazing - check out this demo. Librarians regularly seek and discuss new collaborative technologies. This is the sort of thing that those of us in higher ed will want to take serious notice of for a number of reasons. See my other posts on this topic, including a short NYtimes video review of the XO.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Univ of Birmingham Wins JISC Award for Innovation, Excellence & Imagination

The e-course team at the School of Dentistry, University of Birmingham, won the JISC-sponsored ‘Outstanding ICT (Information and Communications Technology) Initiative of the Year’ award. The e-course they developed is wiki-based (so that anyone can create a new page, and set varying editing permissions), with a full range of social networking features, unrestricted file storage and sharing, podcasts, videos, wish lists, and anonymous feedback options, amongst others.
If you're interested in why they won, and quality innovative work, take a look at their welcome to the ecourse at birmingham uk page.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Google Ready to Bid

Google ready to bid on mobile airwaves
"Google announced on Friday that it will bid on coveted airwaves to launch a U.S. wireless network, in a move that could pit the Web search leader against U.S. wireless service providers."
I will continue to follow this. Google's success in this area is important to the future of mobile computing and higher education. And that makes it relevant to academic librarians.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Online Courses Growing, Next is Mobile Learning

Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning
from the Sloan Consortium.
From NPR: Online Courses Catch On in U.S. Colleges. And from NPR on the University of Illinois online education. And the last sentence from the NPR article above:"If any of this seems strange, get over it. Because the next wave in e-learning about to crash on our shores is m-learning, as in mobile learning, delivered to your cell phone."

Friday, November 30, 2007

iTunes U Expands 'Beyond Campus'

iTunes U, the education portal within Apple's iTunes, has expanded its content to include educational materials from sources beyond colleges and universities, including Smithsonian Global Sound, KQED, Little Kids Rock, and the Museum of Modern Art. It is accessible through the iTunes Music Store in the iTunes U section. See this Chronicle, Wired Campus article. I downloaded some of the content - excellent quality, entertaining and educational.

Cell Phone College Class

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese already use cell phones to shop, read novels, exchange e-mail, search for restaurants and take video clips. Now, they can take a university course. Take a look at this articleCell Phone College Class Opens in Japan"Our duty as educators is to respond to the needs of people who want to learn," Sakuji Yoshimura, who heads Cyber University.
It's coming, the USA is behind, but it will happen.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Film Australia Digital Learning

Take a look at Film Australia Digital Learning: "Digital Learning provides links to content-rich websites suitable for national secondary and tertiaryeducators and students." And "The digital resource finder is a free, quick and easy-to-use search engine for teachers and educators."
Watch the one minute clip of Bruce Dawe reading "Little Red Fox."I think finding quality materials and creating guides to resources such as this could become more important for academic librarians as educational content is increasingly made available via the Internet.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My XO Laptop On The Way!

Yesterday I received my confirmation number in writing and today my "Welcome to the OLPC Community" letter arrived.
Most exciting to me as an educator is that I am now a part of a OLPC global community. From the welcome letter:
We also hope to bring together the world's educators and software developers into a volunteer, global community that will provide essential feedback about how to improve the XO, as well as help create dynamic, open-source educational content that will engage and inspire children all over the world.

Facebook & Academic Libraries

Facebook Shuns Some Library Search Tools
A couple of years ago I attended a meeting at a small liberal arts college where we discussed whether students wanted libraries and/or librarians in Facebook, MySpace, etc. As a group we weren't really sure. Personally, I thought probably not.
I'm still researching this topic, but I think I'm changing my mind. I'll post again on this soon. Oh, and since the Chronicle article above was written there have been changes and more library applications are showing up in Facebook (I found a cool JSTOR widgit which I was able to add to my profile).

Book Digitization Projects, Google, Copyright

U. of Michigan Librarian's New Blog Defends Institution's Deal With Google
I wonder how digital book collections will alter academic libraries? How soon before academic libraries are significantly impacted by digital book collections? Once the copyright issues are worked out, I suspect things will change quickly. But in the past copyright issues have been problematic in higher education. I'm not sure how this works, but I suspect that eventually an economic model in which publishers, libraries, and users will all benefit will be worked out.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Google's Android and Academic Libraries

A colleague recently took a look at my blog and sent me an e-mail asking this question: "What is the main point about Android, mobility and libraries?" A good question, one I'll continue thinking about, and for now this is my reply:

I believe that eventually (within 1-2 years), if Android develops as I think/hope it will, there will be a shift in how people, and especially students, find, access and use information.

Traditional undergraduate students will use their laptops much less. Students who couldn't afford laptops will be able to purchase a handheld device that will be used in place of a laptop.

Students, who are always mobile, will rely on these devices more as they develop. And with nicely designed portable plugin keyboards, better than ever screen resolutions and/or larger portable screens, even those who want to write their papers on their devices and bypass purchasing a laptop will be able to do so.

Because students will be able to easily access and input information via their social networking sites, it will be important that librarians and libraries have a strong presence there and in other online places where students regularly spend their time.

Chat based services which allow students to "Ask a Librarian" are now available via Facebook and other social networks, and there are many libraries creating profiles in Facebook, MySpace, etc. I recently saw that one university created a JSTOR search widgit which I was able to add to my Facebook profile.

Course management systems will be another area students will be able to easily access via their hand held devices. Again it will be important that libraries embed course specific materials, Web 2.0 products relevant to the student's assignments, and perhaps access to a librarian for help via chat.

So how is this different from what trad. undergrad students are already doing? Well for one thing, and this is based on observations of my 20 year old college student daughter and her friends, I believe they will be accessing this info more often. And they will be more apt to use resources that are always available to them. My daughter lives on her cell phone, mainly texting her friends. She sleeps with it. When she visits she grabs my computer to check her Facebook and MySpace networks. She will not carry her laptop anywhere unless she must. Oh, and she has checked her e-mail once this semester! All her communication takes place via Facebook, MySpace and of course her cell phone via text message. She will take the time, if it's required, to access her course managment system at her home on her laptop.

What will be the ramifications of this shift to increased mobility on academic libraries? For one thing, I believe the library as place could become even more important. Students will need collaborative spaces to work on major projects together and also to socialize face to face. The library of the future should be designed to consider this as well as advanced technologies such as walls of large computer touch screens where students can work together on projects. Jeff Hann's work with multi-touch interfaces is one example. Interactive computer/furniture is another. The tables in this bar/lounge are interactive computers, and there is much more to come in this area.

I will be posting more on my thoughts about this and the academic library of the future. It will be increasingly important for librarians and library administrators to understand what types of changes need to be considered as we work to remain relevant in the academic community.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Visual Data - Gapminder

I learn best with visual data. I first discovered Gapminder a couple of years ago in Google Labs. I love playing with this tool and recently discovered that one can subscribe to Gapcasts and put them on your blog, iPod, etc. I'll embed one below.

While on the reference desk, I have recommended this tool to students working with human development statistics with very positive results. If you know of other good visual tools please post a comment.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Senators Support Open-Access Measure

From the Chronicle's Wired Campus article, October 2007The Senate passed HR 3043. The measure included language requiring all researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health to submit their final manuscripts to a free online archive:
The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, that the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law.
The Open-Access Movement is important to all and I believe it's a movement in which librarians should be major advocates. How might we go about furthering this movement within our institutions? What about open-access of all scholarly research?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Google Apps for Higher Education

I can not understand why colleges and universities choose anything else over Google Apps. Why?! Many academic institutions are looking for ways to save money, and not only would the savings be significant, but by switching to Google Apps they would be upgrading. And many students, faculty, and staff at academic institutions already use Google Apps, and then when we are forced to use inferior products (Outlook?!), it can be quite frustrating.
I've been told it's because of Google's data mining practices. I wonder how valid that argument is? And shouldn't the fact that Google's security is far beyond what most institutions can provide be worth the data mining? I think if students, faculty and staff were asked which they would prefer, they would choose Google Apps over other products, especially if they were given a 30 day trial and then could decide. What do you think?
Take a look at the 2-min. introductory video tour and then you will want to watch the comprehensive 12-min. presentation on Google Apps.
And below is a 4-min. video by Arizona State Unversity on their experience w/Google Apps:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Or Has Google Blown It With Android?

Google's got it wrong with Android Despite the hype, it's a bad move, says David L Margulis

I like to read both sides. This article makes some good points, but I have a hard time believing that Google didn't think through these issues before releasing Android.

What do you think? Is Android going to revolutionize mobile computing or did Google just make one of its biggest mistakes ever?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Why Google's Android Is So Important And Could Change The Future Of Mobile Computing

If mobile computing interests you (especially the future of mobile computing, which many believe is the future of computing), you should read this informative article just published in Slate Magazine. The title is "Yes, Google Is Trying To Take Over the World. Next step: Take out Ma Bell." written by Tim Wu. The article explains why it's not the mobile OS of Microsoft or Symbian that are the real obstacles to Google's largest plans. Rather as Wu states:
Google's truest and most formidable foes are much older and more powerful. Today we call them Verizon and AT&T, but their real name is the Bell system. Their ideology, which today governs the cell phone world, is called "Vailism," and it can be traced back to 1907 and the origins of AT&T's domination of American telephony. The Bells' philosophy, as promulgated by AT&T's greatest president, Theodore Vail, is based on closed systems, centralized power, and as much control as possible over every part of the network. Vailism is the antithesis, in short, of everything Google stands for. It is this—conquering the business culture of the telephone, as opposed to the computer—that is Google's great challenge.
Towards the end of the article - "Google believes that the ideology of openness must win out, and that the Bell system will collapse under its own contradictions." And the article's last sentence "Provided Google continues to have the nerve and resources, we'll likely remember the Android announcement as the beginning of a long, drawn-out battle for ideological supremacy in the world of wireless."

I do feel just a tad bit nervous about whether Google has taken on more than it can handle with this.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More on Relevance-Academic Libraries/Librarians

Two articles -
This first article is titled The Blended Librarian: A Blueprint for Redefining the Teaching and Learning Role of Academic Librarians
by Stephen J. Bell and John Shank C&RL News, July/August 2004
Vol. 65, No. 7
The second article "A Strategy for Academic Libraries in the First Quarter of the 21st Century" (click pdf link at top) by David W. Lewis, College & Research Libraries 68(5)(September 2007): 418-434.

It's important that academic librarians begin discussing and acting upon what these authors have researched. I'm feeling an urgency about this. I have proposed a meeting to discuss these articles with the library director and librarians at my university. I'll write more about this after the meeting.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Google's Android Demo

Sergey Brin and Steve Horowitz discuss the availability of the SDK (software development kit), that it will be open source in the future, and demo applications on the Android platform.

(The best parts start after the first 3 minutes.)

What are the implications for higher education? What is shown in this demo is just the beginning, wait until the developers get hold of this! (And there should be no lack of developers with $10 million being offered.)

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

At exactly 3:00 A.M. PST, my XO laptop was purchased. Here is a picture of it on the production line (I'm pretty sure one of those is mine!). I wanted to be the first one so I started calling at 2:58, but didn't get through my first attempt. Oh well. They are hoping (but not guaranteeing) they will arrive before Christmas).
OLPC Give One Get One
One Laptop Per Child Foundation
How might this change our world? Implications for higher education?

Want to know more? Check out this four min. video review by David Pogue of the New York Times

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Relevance of Academic Librarians

This title is about a topic many in higher education think about these days. Just what exactly do librarians do and why are they important? The academic librarian's role is changing and many are unsure of what the future holds for academic libraries.

I'm a somewhat newer librarian, and a baby boomer. I'm amazed at the technological changes I've seen during the last few years. I believe we are in the midst of a digital revolution. Sometimes it's scary how quickly technology is changing and developing, but mostly it's very exciting. I'm especially excited about the empowerment I feel as a participant in the Web 2.0 community. Social software has literally changed my life. I'm interested in ways to use these technologies in my role as a reference & distance services librarian in higher education.

I plan to share some of my passion for the work I do in this blog. How I'm a librarian by design, meaning that every day I'm learning, assessing, exploring, applying, adapting, sharing and collaborating as I custom design my role as an academic librarian.