Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Matters Now - Excellent Free Ebook

Many extraordinary authors and thinkers contributed to this ebook. It's a quick read but I've been purposefully reading slowly, trying to assimilate the nuggets of wisdom within the pixels. It's inspiring, helping me to think and gain perspective. This free ebook has been organized by the always inspirational, Seth Godin, here's his blog post on this. It's worth sharing so for those of you not following me on twitter I've embedded it below and include the download link.

What Matters Now

Monday, December 7, 2009

University of Edinburgh librarians lead discussion on Infolit iSchool Island in Second Life

Edinburgh University librarians lead discussion on Infolit iSchool Island in Second Life
Information Services for learners in Second Life is the topic of today's discussion.
Sheila Yoshikawa who blogs here and here graciously hosts regular discussions on her University of Sheffield, Infolit iSchool Island. It's a packed house today and time now to head out front to check out the van they've been using to reach their distance learners in Second Life. Click here to see the van we visited after the presentation (will take you to my posterous blog where I post primarily on my Second Life work).
Find out more about the Virtual University of Edinburgh in Second Life.

Posted via email from robinashford's posterous

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

IBM World Community Grid Live in Second Life

IBM World Community Grid Presentation Live Now in Second Life
Great group from IBM World Community Grid (WCG) presenting live here on the rooftop of the Karuna Resource Center on their FightAIDS@Home project. The group in attendance was from around the globe...this is what Second Life does best. How else could people connect and share like this (don't even mention web conferencing programs as they simply do not compare-read on to understand).
After the short presentation and Q&A time, the IBM representative mentioned in my previous post on the World Community Grid, Bettina Cutler (Skippy Leafblower in SL) and I took all who were interested inside the Karuna Resource Center to tour the World Community Grid exhibit on the second floor. People appeared to enjoy the tour and Bettina somehow managed to get everyone together for a group snapshot. After our time in the IBM exhibit room an interested group headed out to the back deck to look over the Facing AIDS exhibit created for, which I posted on earlier here.
It was an informative presentation and a good time. I look forward to continued collaboration with folks from the IBM WCG, many of whom had not been in Second Life before this World AIDS Day event.

Posted via email from robinashford's posterous

Monday, November 30, 2009

IBM World Community Grid: FightAIDS@Home presentation in Second Life for World AIDS DAY

As I mentioned in my previous post, December 1, 2009 is World AIDS Day 09 (WAD09). And as stated earlier, in Second Life (SL), as in other worlds, we are busy preparing Karuna Island for this major annual event. In this post I'll share about another Karuna partner, The IBM World Community Grid (WCG) and more specifically, The World Community Grid FightAIDS@Home project.

As stated on their site, "World Community Grid brings together people from across the globe who donate their idle computer time to create the largest volunteer computing grid benefiting humanity." 

The Karuna Resource Center houses a permanent World Community Grid FightAIDS@Home exhibit in an upstairs room of the Center that people are free to visit anytime. This was one of the first exhibits I put together (with Bettina, our IBM reps great inworld help) after accepting the National Library of Medicine grant funded position as Karuna Consumer Health Librarian. I strongly believe in this project and have participated by contributing my idle computer time since first learning about the wonderful work being done by this organization.

As part of the Karuna Island World AIDS Day events taking place in Second Life tomorrow, our IBM representative, Bettina Cutler, Program Manager, Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, IBM Asia Pacific, has arranged to have an IBM WCG representative along with herself give a presentation on the rooftop of the Karuna Resource Center in Second Life from 3-3:30 PM PT (SLT). We will also have a short 3 min. FightAIDS@Home video available for viewing on the rooftop throughout the day.

I'm looking forward to this event and want to encourage anyone with a Second Life account to attend. This SLurl (Second Life URL) will take you directly to the grassy Karuna Resource Center rooftop. Of course Karuna Island is open to the public 24/7 so feel free to stop by anytime. Events will be taking place throughout the day for World AIDS Day, and there are always interesting places to explore, fun activities, and information resources.

Update: A Linden Labs blog post with new video has just been published further highlighting the days events.

Posted via email from robinashford's posterous

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Karuna Resource Center in Second Life-Facing AIDS Display for World AIDS Day 09

December 1, 2009 is World AIDS Day 09 (WAD09). In Second Life (SL), as in other worlds, we are busy preparing Karuna Island for this major annual event. This year promises to be extraordinary. Click this link to learn more about the event:

As the Karuna Consumer Health Librarian and the person responsible for the Karuna Resource Center on Karuna Island, I work to meet the objectives of the information resources section of our National Library of Medicine (NLM) funded grant. For WAD09 I worked closely with two organizations to prepare something to compliment and extend awareness of their work inworld (inside SL).

The project I'm showcasing in this post was coordinated with our representative, Michelle Samplin-Salgado. Michelle and I met inworld and she shared about the Facing AIDS Campaign. After reading about the campaign, I went about creating a type of inworld equivalent on the back deck of the Karuna Resource Center. An earlier display I'd created on WAD09 already out there would compliment this one nicely.

The snapshots here show the display, which is open to anyone with a Second Life account. There is a notecard with step-by-step instructions embedded in a couple of the signs for visitors. The instructions include steps on how an avatar can choose to "wear" one of the signs on the table and then on how to take a snapshot and drag it onto the photoboard. The outside world equivalent can be found here on flickr.(Michelle and I included our snapshots in both inworld and outworld locations :) )

Below is the SLurl (for those who use SL) to the Facing AIDS display on the back deck of the Karuna Resource Center (feel free to explore inside the resource center and the rest of the Karuna Island as well!).

Please IM Robin Mochi inworld with any questions/comments or if you need assistance. Comments welcome here as well.

Update: A Linden Labs blog post with new video has just been published further highlighting the days events.

Here is a flickr link to additional snapshots including those taken during World AIDS Day activities on Karuna Island.

Posted via email from robinashford's posterous

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why "Clay Shirky: The Social Media Revolution" Matters for Academic Libraries

Below is a recent interview with Clay Shirky I want to share. It's 23 min. long and worth the time. He starts off talking about twitter and why it's important and how it's evolving. There are some direct references to ebooks, bookstores, libraries etc. but it's not really about that. It's about what's happening in the world of social media and about what may come. Important stuff for academic librarians and others in higher education to consider these days.

Clay Shirky's 2005 article "Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags" had an impact on me back in the earlier Web 2.0 days. I was a newer librarian and folks in the library profession were beginning to understand our profession would be experiencing significant change. Librarians began to wrestle with folksonomy vs. taxonomy and more, much more, and at an increasingly rapid pace.

I've continued to follow Shirky's writings on the Internet and disruptive technologies because...well, because there's a digital revolution taking place and these things are of critical importance to libraries.

I was also glad to see a tweet a couple of days ago pointing me to a new publication by OCLC Research. The "Call to Action" section in the two page PDF below is about how librarians need to keep up on what's happening in the field of scholarly research and publishing and adapt our practices to the changing needs of researchers. It also states, "Developments such as cloud computing, open access publishing and online social networking are affecting research practices." The report includes a citation and link to Clay Shirky's post "Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable," which is valuable reading as well.

I've put these two things together in this blog post because I've found as an academic librarian, at this time in history, it's more important than ever to follow and understand what is happening in this social media/digital revolution. I'm not sure I could really feel prepared to play a central role in support of scholarly research and publishing at my institution otherwise.

An Academic Library Manifesto
OCLC original PDF: Chris Bourg, et al., for OCLC Research

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Social Web-Living Statistics

Gary Hayes has done it again. One can't look at his dynamic social media counter below and not wonder about the significance of the live web--how it's impacting our world, our lives.

(Note: click the small red "mobile" and the yellow "games"tab)
In a blog post last week my reflections were on how to live a healthy balanced life (in the midst of all this connectedness) in order to have a more positive impact in our world. I'll continue to seek understanding and balance in this area. But staring at this social media counter I am amazed (and perplexed) over what this will mean five years from now. The digital social revolution we are a part of is truly changing our world. It's not something one can dismiss as insignificant any longer.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

We Are All Connected-There's Much To Be Learned

The video below really grabbed me this morning. Partly it's the passion and statements made by Sagan and others such as:

"I find it elevating and exhilarating
To discover that we live in a universe
Which permits the evolution of molecular machines
As intricate and subtle as we"

I'm in a rare introspective mood at the moment. I spent an exhilarating two hours learning via twitter early this morning. I'm excited by simple discoveries and derive pleasure in finding things out. But in this moment, I'm wondering about the impact of my discoveries, my connections, my learning, etc. Am I doing anything to make the world a better place? Could my time be better spent volunteering in a homeless shelter or assisting with numerous other face to face needs? I guess that depends.

I was going to use the video above to segue into another post on connections and why I love twitter, connectivism, social media, our exciting new participatory culture, etc. I'm fascinated by these tools and concepts and sometimes wonder why. Mostly, for myself, I think it has to do with a sense of empowerment.

Since discovering what used to be called Web 2.0 back in 2004, and what seems now to just be the Internet, I've been pretty caught up in social media of all kinds. As Seth Godin explains ordinary people now have the power to lead and make big change. He urges us to do so. But, again, I'm wondering how much positive change, if any, I'm making.

This NY Times Magazine article from last week really hit home, especially this last paragraph:
I’m not wishing the Internet away. It has become so integral to my work — to my life — that I honestly can’t recall what I did without it. But it has allowed us to reflexively indulge every passing interest, to expect answers to every fleeting question, to believe that if we search long enough, surf a little further, we can hit the dry land of knowing “everything that happens” and that such knowledge is both possible and desirable. In the end, though, there is just more sea, and as alluring as we can find the perpetual pursuit of little thoughts, the net result may only be to prevent us from forming the big ones.
And I've been realizing that though I'm a very connected person, and I know a little about a lot of things in a few areas, my learning is not as deep as it should be. Nor are my connections. I'm feeling a need to live a more balanced life and to make my life matter more (yes, I'm a baby boomer).

Finding balance has been a lifelong struggle. But I think I'm ready to try again as I suspect balance could be key to my living a healthier and more impactful life. I was encouraged recently by this blog post by @KentBottles (a twitter bud) titled, "What Have I Learned About Keeping Myself Healthy, Happy and Well."

It also helps me to remember, as stated in the video above by Nye, "really, I'm just a speck." Not that each little speck can't make some difference.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Graduate LIS Class from University of Hawaii Visits the Karuna Resource Center in Second Life

Professor Diane Nahl (aka Adra Letov in SL) and seven of her graduate Library and Information Science (LIS) students visited the Karuna Resource Center this past week to see the types of resources and displays being featured and to speak with me about my role as the Karuna Consumer Health Librarian. We also discussed the evolving work of librarians in virtual worlds.

I welcomed the group at the front entrance and enjoyed chatting with Diane while watching her students clicking on the displays and touring the building. After exploring, the students began asking questions. I had them get comfortable on the couches and chairs and did my best to answer. They were an astute group and it was good to see and hear from future librarians who seek to understand the changing roles of information professionals.

We discussed the resources and presentations I included in the resource center and how they meet the outcomes of the National Library of Medicine grant that funds Karuna Island. We also discussed the benefits and challenges for librarians working in virtual worlds, how statistics are gathered, and more.

After Diane and her graduate students left, I reflected on my own experience in graduate school. I attended the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the Unviersity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC GSLIS) not all that long ago, graduating in December 2003. It was a very positive experience and I am thankful to have attended an institution where I was pushed towards newer technologies. From learning basic html during my orientation to courses on web usability, online information literacy and more, I felt fortunate to be learning in a place that valued what was relevant and important for future librarians.

Professor Nahl's students, and many other LIS students from several universities who are offering courses in SL, are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about librarianship in Second Life. Virtual Worlds (VW) are here to stay, and as VWs develop and more of our constituents use VWs, the information needs in these places will grow. These LIS students will be better prepared than those without this exposure. It really is an exciting time to be a librarian.

The Karuna Island in Second Life is funded via a National Library of Medicine grant to provide support and information resources for HIV/AIDS individuals, family, friends, allied health professionals, librarians and the public. Jena Ball, (aka SL Jenaia Morane) is the Project Coordinator for Karuna and I am the Karuna Consumer Health Librarian. In first life I am an academic librarian at a small private university in Portland, Oregon USA.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from robinashford's posterous

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ebooks, Ebook Readers, Mobile Devices and Academic Libraries-Part 2

In Part 1 of this post I answered questions and gave my perspective as a an academic librarian who has been following ebook developments. In this post I'll highlight some fun technologies which may further influence these markets.

In the Wired Magazine post, "Clive Thompson on the Future of Reading in a Digital World," the author states "We need to stop thinking about the future of publishing and think instead about the future of reading."

This NPR broadcast with transcript and podcast "Chat While Reading: The Future of Books?" includes a link to Book Glutton (in beta, good concept and has potential for higher education).

Personally, I'm waiting and expecting a lot from new devices being released this year. Basically, I want a reader that is an "everything device." I would be satisfied for now with any of the devices in the Editis video below :)

Descrption: The french publishing group Editis's short fictional video is about the likely future of books. This video does not represent Editis's digital strategy regarding the epublishing market. However, it does hope to open discussions on the different economic models and the functionalities of future ebook readers. Filmed in 2007, this is the latest version with english subtitles. (Note: the first minute is blank and has been reported.).

Link to YouTube version

Another technology which could have a significant effect on books, ebooks and ubiquitous information access is Augmented Reality (AR). AR has been around since the mid 70s but only recently began seeing mainstream adoption mainly due to mobile devices as shared in a prior post with videos.

Link to YouTube version

I'm excited over what new technologies we'll see next. I'm ready to hear the full story on the rumored new Apple Tablet/Touch/iPad/? device due to be announced soon. I'm hopeful it will include a very nice built in ebook reader or else a wonderful app with which I can view my ebooks along with full computer functions and remember the etextbooks too.

Lastly, academic librarians are acutely aware of how quickly technology is changing and the effect that has on information access. It's difficult to predict how things will evolve. I'm adding a couple of links below to movements I'm following and believe could impact future information access directions.

Perhaps someday a mobile device won't be important: Article on MIT's Sixth Sense and on TED

The Living Book: The book written entirely in QR codes

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ebooks, Ebook Readers, Mobile Devices and Academic Libraries-Part 1

Librarians at my university have been closely following developments related to the ebook industry, ebook readers and mobile devices in higher education. The library director and I were recently conversing on this topic via email and the bolded questions below were posed. Discussions on this topic are being held in academic libraries around the globe. My responses to the questions (my best guess, really) are posted here to share with colleagues and others in academic libraries who may want to join in the discussion. Comments welcome.

Will our constituents "soon" be willing to read many of their books on MOBILE DEVICES (meaning cell phones & smartphones)?

I do NOT think reading ebooks on small cell phone devices (non-smartphone type) will have a large following amongst our constituents (and not for most of us in this country, though I understand it's quite popular in Japan and some other countries). Smartphones, on the other hand, (iPhones, Palm Pre, Blackberry, Android devices, etc.) are another story.

I believe that young people (undergraduate students) WILL soon be willing to read many books on quality smartphone devices. For many undergrads there is a compelling convenience factor. Students are mobile and most always have their smartphone device with them. During a spare moment they can easily fit in some reading. However, I also think reading on a larger computer or reader device and print reading will continue as well for some time for all age groups. Older graduate students and faculty, I suspect, would be less willing to read many of their books on current smartphone devices.

Many baby boomers, like myself, might choose to read ebooks occasionally on their current smartphone devices. For example, I have downloaded a couple of ebooks (using stanza and the kindle iPhone app) so that if I'm ever stuck somewhere and have to wait for whatever reason I can pull out my iPhone and read a chapter of an ebook. I don't do this often and instead usually choose to read a NYTimes article on my NYTimes iPhone app. I would never choose to pull out my current iPhone to read an ebook if I was home and had access to a larger device for reading or my laptop (simply too hard on aging eyes).

Will our constituents "soon" be reading most of their books on any electronic device (in this I include Kindle, the new Mac netbook, etc., etc.)?

That depends on what is meant by "soon." If it means within the next 12 months, I would guess that our constituents will NOT be reading "most" (but possibly many) of their books on an electronic device. And I also doubt "most" academic books will be available in electronic format within the next 12 months (that partly depends on publishers and effective cost models, etc. and it's complicated as this article explains).

My guess would be that within two-three years many, and possibly the majority, of undergrads, grads and faculty will be reading most of their academic books (textbooks and monographs) on an electronic device of some kind (it really depends on how quickly some of the technology is brought to market and the availability of academic books in ebook format).

One of our grad student recently shared with me that in her undergraduate program at another university, which she finished almost a year ago, all of her textbooks were provided for each class in electronic format. Students in her program were required to pay a flat $75 book fee for each class in which they enrolled and the books were delivered electronically. That practice, if widely adopted, could significantly propel ebook use forward.

Will our constituents still prefer reading books in print (paper) format but likely will accept/prefer books on demand (printed from electronic)?

I think there will be a continued demand for print books (how much that will decrease due to ebooks, I'm not sure). I'm not very familiar with books on demand, and may not know enough to really answer this properly. I looked into books on demand/print on demand while working for one year at a public library a few years ago. I recently took a quick look at more recent information on this topic. NPR has a good broadcast available (transcript and podcast) titled "Company's 'ATM For Books' Prints On Demand."

The company, On Demand Books, makes a remarkable claim on their site. I've also read many articles and posts regarding ebooks and the coming revolution. Time will tell, but for academic books it seems ebooks make more sense (easier to search, annotate, hyperlinks in some cases, etc.). The makers of the Espresso book machines point out that print is still widely more popular than electronic and of course that is true at the moment. However, I believe that could and is rapidly changing (even with the industry challenges).

Will most academic books (even copyrighted) really be available as a download either free or at a very low cost (5 to 10 dollars each) "soon?"

I don't know this answer. Although if "soon" means within the next 12 months my guess would be, no. I think if things continue to move forward as they have in the last year, and effective cost models are brokered (which I believe will happen but, again, timing is difficult), that we will then see most academic books available electronically. (I don't know enough about free or low cost academic ebooks to comment on price.)

How will any or all of the above impact us as a library, and our collection development?

Heh, the answer to that question is a book of its own (or maybe a giant collaborative wiki :) ). I don't think any one person or organization has the answers at this time. Things are evolving and we will have to wait and see what happens with digitization projects, what types of devices hit the market within the next 12 months, what develops related to copyright and DRM, what other new technologies develop, and so much more. I am glad these questions are being asked by academic libraries globally. Many organizations are taking serious steps to discuss and debate the future of libraries as I shared in my prior post "Libraries of the Future" (see video)

I believe ebooks will become an increasingly important part of academic library collections. From a 2008 Springer survey:
eBooks are particularly effective when doing research because they are "convenient, easily accessible" and they offer "enhanced functions" when compared with traditional printed literature. In addition to the fact that no storage space is required, the eBook (because it is electronic) it is easily searchable and for research this fact is key.

Part 2 will include videos of current and future technologies that could add to the appeal of ebooks in academic libraries.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Libraries of the Future-Debate, Discussions, Podcasts, Videos & More

"'Libraries of the Future' is all about debate and involvement, and JISC invites you to take part - both online and in person – in events and debates, to read and respond to publications, podcasts, sponsored supplements, and much more."

The Libraries of the Future site is a wonderful resource, one that librarians and administrators in the USA can harvest to learn and help spur discussions as we, too, work to understand the changing needs of our students, faculty and staff.

It's an exciting time to be an academic librarian. I'm not sure what the academic library will look like 10 years from now but I'm optimistic. The technologies that challenge us will also continue to help us to connect and grow in new ways.

In April I had the privilege to attend the Library of the Future Debate as it was streamed live into Second Life (SL), (which enabled me to participate and view with others from around the globe) from Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Oxford University, Oxford.

The Libraries of the Future short documentary was recently released and "showcases interviews with leaders from JISC, Oxford University and LSE as well as students and academics who discuss what the library of the future will look like."

The Libraries of the Future publication below "explores the issues surrounding Libraries of the Future, showcases the events and activities of the campaign and looks forward to some possible solutions."

JISC - Libraries of the Future

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

First and Second Life Presentation for Guangdong University of Foreign Studies Delegation

Tomorrow morning I present before a delegation of 25 administrators from The Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in China. My presentation is on our experience with teaching and learning in Second Life (SL) and is being hosted by The George Fox University (GFU) School of Education.

The presentation will take place in real life and part of the session will involve a live demo/tour in Second Life. I plan to use flickr slideshows of the work we've done with graduate education students. I also plan to meet inworld (inside SL) with Scot Headley, GFU Professor of Education, with whom I've been collaborating over the last year (as reference librarian and adjunct instructor for GFU). We'll take a tour of our university skydeck, Karuna Island and Resource Center, The Monash University China Incountry program, and the 3J Chinese Language School.

 I'll also share about my new grant funded position as the Karuna Island Consumer Health Librarian. The Karuna Resource Center (RC), which I've posted about on posterous. The RC is a place where I've carefully chosen information resources that meet the outcomes of the National Library of Medicine grant that funds my work. The Karuna RC is a good example of one of the main affordances of virtual worlds (VW), which is the many informal learning opportunities.

Here is a link to a Guangdong University news article on the first visit from the GFU delegation to Guangdong University in 2007.  "On April 16, a delegation of George Fox University (GFU) of the USA led by President David Brandt paid a visit to our university for discussions on exchange and cooperation programs." Since that time there have been further exchanges with the new GFU president, Dean of the School of Education, School of Management, etc.

This is the first time GFU is hosting the delegation from Guangdong University. I'm hopeful exchange programs and the relationship between our universities will continue to develop. There is much we can learn from other cultures and I'm glad to be a part.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from robinashford's posterous

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed/Cross Reality-A View from 2028

Somehow I missed this great video when posted in November 2008. I've been a longtime subscriber to the Gary Hayes YouTube channel, which I hesitate to add here because if your interests are similar to mine you will lose huge chunks of time and have to be torn away from these videos. Gary's website is a must read as well.

Gary is ahead of his time on this video (heh, about 20 years actually, not unusual for him).

This video is a compilation of work used to create a video ala the famous Epic 2014 Googlezon video. For those not at all familiar with Epic 2014, please understand that this video is "A video archive from 2008 compiled & written by GARY HAYES in 2028 :)"
(I have to admit I often wonder how we will look back at this time in 20 years, in 10 years even. The technological developments we're witnessing really are mind boggling these days.)

(You may want to watch this on youtube where you can click on HQ for better quality or download the MP4 file Gary has made available for download on the right sidebar.) Enjoy!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Augmented Reality & Handheld Devices-Finally Ready for Mainstream?

I've been following and posting about augmented reality on twitter a fair amount lately. (Click to enlarge photo.)

Augmented reality (AR) has been developing for many years. Now that AR and handheld devices have evolved, we'll be able to benefit from both in new and practical ways. This is an exciting time with wonderful possibilities. This recent New York Times article states (free login), "Once the stuff of science fiction, augmented reality is now also making its way to smartphones, thanks to advances in both hardware and software."

The video below is one of the first examples I saw of practical AR on a handheld device. Here is a recent report on further developments related to the Wikitude app below. Google's Android has been ahead of Apple's iPhone when it comes to AR. I'm hopeful Apple will catch up. There's no shortage of developers working on iPhone apps in this area, that's for sure.

Augmented reality is pretty amazing and I believe this is just the beginning of what we're going to see with AR on handheld devices. The educational applications for this are limitless. And once Apple grants access to the video API, I'm hopeful the iPhone 3GS will catch up.

And soon Layar will be available beyond the Netherlands for phones running on the Android operating system. Again, an iPhone version of this will be a must.

The newest AR iPhone video to hit Youtube has stirred further interest in the U.S.

Yesterday on twitter @loic (Loic Le Meur of Seesmic) claimed this was a fake. Here's his tweet, which was retweeted by a few others.
"augmented reality on your iphone (yeah, it's a fake but watch it anyway) "

From what I can tell it's not fake, though it's not yet available in the app store. But it may not be all it appears to be, not yet. Here's a review that talks about the good and bad of the app (written after the first London version video was released).

BTW- @angusdav did reply to "@loic why do you think the acrossair apps are fake? they say they're in the app store approval queue."

I was a bit shocked by the @loic reply "@angusdav is it not a fake? It looks so amazing that I thought it was!!!"

I've just scratched the surface on this topic. Google "augmented reality" and you'll see that there's a ton of info out there and many more exciting developments in the works. Here is a video blogger who does a nice job showing and explaining some of the AR progression. Since that video was done in March 2009 it doesn't contain the work recently released by Georgia Tech (be sure to scroll & watch that video!).

And regarding the Apple iPhone and the API controversy? - I just ran a quick search and found this: Open Letter to Apple: Let us Augment Reality with the iPhone! (Turns out it contains the videos I included here and more!)

One last additional link here-check out this awesome augmented reality business card.

So what do you think, is it time? Will this technology have much impact in our lives?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lessons Learned-Teaching Adult Students & Faculty in Second Life

Spring semester 2009 I taught my first course as an adjunct instructor for my university's School of Education. EDFL 625 - "Intro to Second Life for Educators" was offered to graduate/doctoral students and faculty. The class, made up of four students and seven faculty members, would journey together in this strange new land.

The purpose of the course, as stated in the syllabus, is "to acquaint participants with Second Life (SL), a 3D virtual environment. Our intent is to discover the functions, processes and relationships that exist, as well as the potential of virtual worlds (VWs) for educators and education."

In a prior blog post I discuss being asked to assist a prof at my univ with his first SL course as a type of embedded/blended librarian, and I sought feedback on what people thought of librarians in virtual worlds. After that experience I was asked to teach as an adjunct. I've learned a great deal from these experiences. My learning has been broad and includes: becoming more adept using various technologies, gaining a deeper understanding of online teaching & learning, what the immediate needs are to prepare those new to SL so they are ready to learn, learning how best to utilize the 3D environment for teaching & learning purposes, how to play and have fun in these environments and how that can lead to deeper learning and more.

I've also been privileged to be able to work with two other faculty members on publications and presentations related to these efforts. Scot Headley, Professor of education, George Fox University and Anita Zijdemans-Boudreau, Assistant Professor of Education, Pacific University.

Being a part of this team has been a huge learning experience for me and one for which I'm most appreciative. It has greatly expanded my understanding of the publication process. We continue to build on our work. From 2008 to present I've had a number of opportunities to co-present at juried/peer reviewed/invitation events and publcations directly related to our work with teaching and learning in SL. Some of those include, a poster session at EDUCAUSE Learning Institute 2009, a presentation/publication for (SITE) Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2009, Presentation at TCC Worldwide Online Conference 2009 and our newly accepted poster session and paper presentation for the upcoming E-Learn 2009 World Conference. (12/09 Updated presentations listed here.)

What I will share below here is a set of questions presented to me by my two team members for reflection. They felt answers to the following questions would be useful for the final draft of our upcoming E-Learn 2009 paper presentation. This will also help me as I reflect on what worked, what didn't and how I can make this course better for the next semester.

What were some satisfying elements about the Spring 09 course?

The most satisfying elements were related to seeing growth in everyone, including myself. Watching the lights go on regarding the possibilities of virtual worlds and education. Experiencing the excitement that comes from being so fully engaged in learning. Learning from each other, what was working, what wasn't and why. Since all in the class were educators, the reflections on our course wiki were in the context of education, which was most helpful. We were able to have rich discussions both synchronous (inworld) and asynchronously (on wiki and email) in which we could all participate and learn from each other.

What were some unsatisfying elements or detractors?

The technology itself was, at times, a cause for frustration. This was especially the case for a couple of people with computers which did not meet the Linden Labs recommended system requirements to run Second Life and/or strong broadband connections. This is an ongoing problem with SL and one which must be addressed before SL will be able to become a mainstream teaching and learning environment.

What are some adjustments that you want to make in the upcoming fall course and why?

There will be three main adjustments -
1) Continue to require a mandatory orientation before the first live SL class but I'll add an assessment to that so I am sure all students are closer to the same minimum level of adeptness in using SL before our group classes begin. Second Life is complex with a fairly steep learning curve. It's not difficult to learn, however, time must be invested in learning the basics before one can fully benefit from the learning environment.

2) Second Life is a playful environment, which concerns some educators. I plan to make better use of this fact. I experienced an aha moment during one live class where everyone met on the skydeck to create a t-shirt together. I had a power point display there and also walked students through the steps, watching as I saw the new t-shirts appear on each avatar and the delight expressed at accomplishing this task. Some lost their shirts completely and others made jokes about no nudity, etc. I saw that they were having fun while almost unknowingly learning some valuable skills.

The second half of that class was dedicated to a trip to a sandbox (practice area) where an advanced student led the class in a demonstration of his building/scripting skills. It was a wonderful time with others chiming in on what they had learned and sharing objects with each other. Many students stayed well after the class was over. I saw the benefit of having students lead and of allowing students to share more of their own learning. The wiki had been used as a place for sharing the learning that was taking place by each participant. I realized during that class that I was missing an opportunity to more fully utilize the SL environment for student learning as well. I'm looking forward to this change during our next course.

3) For the next course there will be more required participation in live SL events during the one hour weekly assignment students complete on their own time. Students were somewhat reluctant to really become involved in this way and I'm still assessing why. I want educators to understand the value of connecting with others and with the many professional organizations in SL. Informal adult learning of this nature is one of the greatest values afforded by virtual world environments. This is something that may have to be experienced to be appreciated.

And one last important comment- This past semester, I realized the importance of the avatar (and continue to reflect and attempt to understand this phenomena). There will be more to come on this topic.

How specifically might you implement these adjustments?

1) For the orientation assessment piece I plan to do the following - All those who register for the course will be sent a resource link with instructions on getting started in SL, which will include the mandatory orientation. I will ask each student and faculty member to notify me once they have completed that to arrange a one hour time slot to meet me one-on-one inworld. In that hour I will work with each individual on a couple of areas that are usually problematic or take practice. An example is camera controls. Without a good understanding and some practice using camera controls in SL one can't really experience all the environment has to offer. I have additional information on our skydeck to address challenges of this sort along with opportunities to practice some of those basic skills.

2) I plan to schedule only half the number of full tours next course. At least half of every other class will involve an activity of some kind with students working together to complete a task. This should allow for more interaction and more opportunities for students to take the lead. I also think this will motivate students in further developing SL skills beyond the basic level.

3) I'll spend more time explaining and showing the importance of joining and participating in groups and attending live SL events. I'll also tie more of the weekly assignments to this so it's not optional. Participants will share what they have learned from others while attending events and in doing so, I'm hopeful the value will become apparent.

Now that you have done this a couple of times:
What would you state as important factors in helping educators become proficient in SL?

Second Life is constantly evolving and it's important for educators to continue to spend time interacting and learning in the environment. I believe the most interesting and effective way to do that is to become involved. I recommend that educators join groups inworld like ISTE and others that provide a way to meet, learn and participate with other educators. As relationships build and evolve there will be opportunities for collaboration and/or research. This is a win/win way to continue to grow in proficiency and to grow in understanding the value of using various technologies for teaching & learning.

What are you hoping for as a desired outcome in this work?

My desired outcome for this specific work is that educators will complete the course with a better understanding of how virtual worlds can be used for educational purposes. I also want educators to feel inspired.

As a student growing up in a traditional education system, I didn't have many positive learning experiences. I believe our education system must change and that learning can and should be immersive and engaging. There are global problems to be solved and in virtual worlds we can connect and collaborate with others from around the globe. There are so many possibilities with these platforms that I think it's easier for a person to find their passion. Once that happens, we are much more motivated to learn. And those who might fail under traditional learning models can thrive when engaged and motivated to learn, at least that's been my experience.

Below is a slideshow of snapshots taken during the course. This may also be viewed on flickr (click "Show Info" for additional information).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Should Academic Librarians Assist in Virtual Worlds?

About a year ago I was asked by Professor Scot Headley, from our School of Edcation, to assist with a course he was preparing to teach that summer in Second Life (SL), an online 3D virtual world (VW) environment. I was honored to be asked and looked forward to the faculty/librarian collaboration. I also felt it fit my job description as Reference & Distance Services Librarian, and perfectly fit our library mission:
The mission of the George Fox University library is to support the instructional programs and research activities of the institution by providing access to recorded information in a variety of formats, and to provide instruction in the use of traditional and new information resources and technologies.

Having already been in SL for some time (mainly learning, networking for professional development purposes with other librarians/educators), I felt ready for the challenge of serving as a "SLibrarian." My prior interest/preparation stemmed from my belief that teaching & learning would continue to grow in VWs and I felt some librarians should be involved. I knew my university had already used SL for one class and thought there would eventually be more.

After meeting with the professor of the course to discuss my role and course needs, I went to work creating resources to address the information needs. I placed those resources along with a librarian office building on the skydeck George Fox University (GFU) leases from New Media Consortium.

The GFU skydeck space was ready before class started and was used for many purposes. Examples of how I assisted in my role as librarian include, helping to orient our graduate/doctoral students who were using SL for the first time by creating "how to" informational posters, attending the one hour per week inworld (inside SL) class to assist as needed, providing one-on-one help with students during inworld office hours or by appt., adding content to the course wiki, creating inworld subject guides, and meeting occasionally with the prof to discuss/assess learning outcomes related to the course assignments.

The professor and I continued to collaborate throughout the course and I learned a great deal working in the role I saw as a type of embedded librarian in Second Life. Or maybe I should say a blended librarian or a combination of both? Here is a flickr slideshow link of the class from last summer (click "show info").

This semester I was asked to teach my own SL course as an adjunct instructor for our School of Education (SOE) EDFL program. The one credit hour graduate level edtech course, "Intro to Second Life for Educators," has progressed nicely and has been quite the learning experience for all involved. This time I've really taken on two roles, one as the instructor and the other as the librarian. I created a course wiki where I link to many different types of information resources. Everything from blog posts to online news articles to shared links of searches I ran for scholarly peer reviewed articles in our Ebsco databases, and I've continued developing inworld subject guides.

As part of last week's inworld asynchronous assignment, I asked the class to watch the short YouTube video I created below on using Sloog for inworld subject guides (meaning subject guides of places in SL). (The assignment this past week was to use the Sloog website beginning with my Sloog user page in the way I describe in the video to visit Genome Island, explore and then write a reflection on our course wiki about their experience.)

(Click this link to view in larger format on YouTube site.)

Subject guide (sometimes known as resource guide, etc.) creation is seen as a fairly standard task amongst academic librarians. We create guides which include links to books in our catalogs, article databases, websites we've evaluated and feel may be useful, etc. Some librarians have also begun pointing out valuable Web 2.0 resources in their subject areas.

Virtual worlds (VW) are another platform containing new formats of information. There are over 150 VWs and their numbers are increasing rapidly. Those interested in VW growth projections can take a look at this post on Gartner's report and this site which shows large growth in the elementary school age demographic (our not too distant higher ed students).

Some virtual worlds, such as Second Life, are not only a platform in which educators can meet with students at a distance but they also contain what is often referred to as immersive builds. Below is a snapshot showing a number of these places. They are oftentimes interactive, immersive places, which have been designed and/or created by educators to assist students with their learning. As a SL librarian, who has been evaluating inworld immersive learning spaces, I am able to provide students with ways to find and access these places as an additional information resource beyond books, videos, articles and websites.

Example: Immersive Educational Builds in Second Life

For those not familiar with VWs and/or SL, this site shows some of the institutions teaching and learning in SL (this is a partial list and many who are still in the exploration stage (such as my univ) are not listed).

Now back to the title of this post and questions for any readers who happen upon it--Should academic librarians provide assistance in virtual worlds?

Does my work as a SL librarian fit the role of an academic librarian? Obviously, I believe it does. I have presented and blogged on the role of the academic librarian in virtual worlds in the past, and belong to the ACRL in SL group where I network with incredibly innovative librarians in SL. I also closely follow the work of the ALA in Second Life and have attended their events when time allows. But I'm interested in what the rest of the academic community thinks. If I'm wrong about this, please comment and tell me why.

I'm not saying every librarian should be conversant in virtual worlds. Academic libraries typically have librarians who specialize in specific areas. Does it make sense to have a librarian who is conversant and able to assist when needed by faculty teaching classes in those worlds? Might some institutions consider this an asset?

Is creating inworld subject guides a role others see as fitting for an academic librarian? Should librarians be leading in this way or should we wait until virtual worlds are more mainstream? If we wait, is there a chance our role will be filled by others such as educational technologists? (I would argue that edtechs have the skills needed to lead as administrators/creators of our institution's spaces in virtual worlds and that librarians should be the main information need providers.)

Many of the library and information science graduate schools now offer classes on virtual worlds. Do academic library directors see the value in that when making hiring decisions?

I am an early adopter of technology (though not a techie) and have learned over the years that sometimes I can be too early, and sometimes I am wrong about a trend. But, I like to think of academic librarians as trailblazers and believe we should be leaders and not afraid to take risks.
There is a digital revolution taking place and it's an exciting time to be a librarian. As we contemplate how the next five years will develop, how we prepare ourselves to remain relevant as academic librarians seems more important than ever. If our constituents are (or will be in the near future) teaching and/or learning in virtual worlds, I feel some librarians should be there.

Comments are welcome.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Why I Really Like Twitter

I first heard about twitter a couple of years ago and my knee-jerk reaction was that it sounded like something I would never want anything to do with. However, I heard the word enough to warrant a quick look. "What are you doing" are the words above a white box where one can share in a maximum of 140 characters what it is they are doing. My very first thought--Who cares?! Then a flood of thoughts, a rant really, fluttered through my mind--Yagottabekiddinme! I'm a busy person, why would I waste my time finding out what everyone is doing?! Isn't facebook for that? I don't even have time for facebook! Why are people using this?! How narcissistic can we get...what's happening to this world...people are losing their minds, that's what...this whole social networking, microblogging, Web 2.0 stuff is getting completely out of hand--you get the idea.

I vowed never to consider such a waste of time. I had already pared down much of my Web 2.0 arsenol to only those things I felt were most useful because my time was at a premium, twitter wouldn't even be considered. Those were my thoughts two years ago.

It's hard to remember what article or blog post it was that caused me to reconsider. Twitter was being mentioned regularly by all kinds of media and I noticed that many of the authors from blog and news feeds I subscribed to were using twitter. These were bloggers and journalists I respected, they were busy and productive people. I knew I had to take another look. This time I created a twitter account. That was over a year ago. Now twitter is one of my favorite and most useful tools, which is hard to believe given my initial impression.

So what is it about twitter that makes it so useful to me? Well, I'm a bit of an information junkie and an early adopter of technology. I'm interested in new information relevant to my job and my interests (much is related to emerging technologies). I look for Web 2.0 and beyond technologies that will serve a need and will provide me with maximum value for my time and effort. Twitter is quick and easy to use and enables me to find people to follow who talk about and provide links to information that I find very useful. And that information tends to be very new, and very now and oftentimes includes a short commentary by the tweeter. Twitter also saves me time as I no longer have to read all my feeds for the majority of my information needs. In return I provide information and links to the twitterverse and those who find what I share of interest can choose to become my followers.

There's also additional value I receive from twitter, which was not apparent to me in my early days. I can tap the resources and expertise of my followers. At times I've been shocked by the value of the service that's been provided. More than once I felt I should send a check to a person for "twitter services rendered." An example is the time I sent out a tweet that I had made changes to the course wiki I had set up in an attempt to make it look good on all platforms with all main browsers. In short order I received a tweet with an offer to take a look (by a helpful smart techie prof, at that!). I sent the wiki link in a tweet and quickly received word that it looked good using XP/FF3 and then an offer to look at it using other browsers. In no time at all I was told my wiki was "reasonably consistent across FF3, Safari, Chrome, Opera and IE!" This is just one example.

I should also mention that how I use twitter can be very different from how others use twitter. There is no right or wrong way to use this tool, it's up to the user to decide.
BTW-I do not agree with the twitter home page where it states "What" twitter is - "Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?" It certainly can be and is used for that purpose, but there are many who, like myself, use twitter for very different purposes.

With so many very social social networks along the lines of facebook, I appreciate having a tool where I don't feel I have to be social. I can simply use this tool to my advantage and share in return and maybe along the way make a handful of connections, but that's not my main purpose in using twitter. I follow only a small handful of friends, family and/or co-workers and vice versa (I'll never "connect" with the vast majority of those I follow). And now that facebook has incorporated some big twitter like changes, I would think most using twitter for the purpose described on the twitter home page will perhaps end up using facebook instead.

For a good understanding of why facebook, twitter and a slew of other microblogging and social networks are so popular start with this excellent Sept 2008 NYTimes article "Brave New World of Digital Intimacy"(log in-free)

(I decided to add this newly published post "Trouble with Twitterers? Depends who you ask…" The educator who wrote it uses twitter in similar ways and does a great job of explaining the process he uses to decide who he follows.)

Following are useful links helpful to further understanding twitter:
What Twitter brings to the party
NYTimes Twitter? It’s What You Make It
Sixteen Great Twitter Moments

Twitter is Killing my Blog

Yep, it's true, it's been almost two months since my last post. But I'm fighting back. I'm taking stock of what's most important to my learning and for me it's reflecting.

I recently reread this article by Alan Levine who was responding to an article from Wired Magazine where the author suggests the blog is dead. I completely agree with Mr. Levine. As an active twitter user and an early adopter of many Web 2.0 technologies, it's most important that I take the time to reflect. I just don't learn as well if I don't, and what I do learn doesn't seem to stick unless I take the time to synthesize the information. Taking the final step to share my thoughts on this blog in a somewhat organized and logical manner is another challenge in the process. Writing has always been a difficult task for me. Someday I'll take a class, but for now I'll blog and hope I improve and learn with practice.

I resolve (to myself) to post more often on my blog. If anyone benefits from anything I have to share here that's great, but really this blog is for me and my learning first and foremost.

I started out today thinking I was going to blog about twitter and I will, but I think I'll make that a post on its own thereby writing two posts today to make up for the fact that I've barely posted in two months. Although, in my defense, I have been teaching my first course as an adjunct instructor this semester in Second Life (along with my regular full-time job as an academic librarian and keeping up with emerging technologies (mostly via twitter now), etc. This included creating a course wiki where regular reflections were required by all participants, including myself. Once the course is over I'll reflect on lessons learned and share that here as well.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds

Second Life (SL) has been a part of my life for some time now and I've been reflecting on my experiences. I evaluate the use of this technology more critically than most people who know me may realize. Regularly questioning the benefits and challenges of virtual world technologies to find where the value lies is an ongoing project. Is the cost/benefit worthwhile?

Virtual worlds are growing at an exponential rate. As a librarian/educator I follow virtual world developments seeking to understand this phenomena and how these technologies are affecting education and educators worldwide.

For now I'll say this- If virtual worlds were used for nothing more than the purpose of enabling people to connect and communicate in ways not possible or extremely difficult in real life, then they would be worthwhile for that reason alone.

There are some amazing educational builds of truly immersive learning spaces in SL. I would have loved that type of engagement as a student. Many, but not all, may agree with me on their value. But no one can disagree with my experiences.

I've made some wonderful connections inworld and I'm building relationships on a global level. This is most valuable. I do not have the time nor the resources to travel the world. And I'm not sure I could create the type of bond with others made possible by virtual worlds. This may partly be due to their anonymity aspect.

The culture of Second Life is one in which there is a sense of being there for each other, at least amongst educators and those in SL desiring to grow, learn and give. The kindness and helpfulness I've seen demonstrated inworld has been heartwarming. There is much I've learned and will continue to learn from others in SL.

Second Life has enabled me to lead discussions on Infolit iSchool Island founded by a faculty member from the University of Sheffield, Sheila Webber. In three weeks the class I'm teaching as an adjunct instructor will tour that island and interview Sheila. A week later we will tour International Schools Island in SL and interview another educator in Thailand. Next week we'll interview a medical professor from Ohio State University and examine an amazing build he created. Library Science graduate students have interviewed me and in two weeks a class from the Univ of Hawaii will visit my university's skydeck to explore what's been created there and ask questions. I'm collaborating on a project with their professor, whom I met while presenting on virtual world librarianship. These are just a few examples.

My experiences are not nearly as profound as those depicted in the video below. Hopefully the examples and the videos will help in understanding the potential of virtual worlds for education, community building and more.

"Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds:
Collaboration, Culture and Community"

For further information on this project please see The Understanding Island Through Virtual Worlds Program website by The Carnegie Council.

And lastly, here is a related video titled, Dancing Ink TV: Understanding Islam, The Imagination Age