Monday, October 25, 2010

Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians

ACRL released a report in June titled, “Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Higher Education in 2025.” The goal of the report is "to prompt academic librarians to consider what trends may impact the future of higher education in order to take strategic action now." As a librarian/educator, I wholeheartedly agree that watching trends that may impact our future is important, and I was glad to see this report.

A variety of themes are covered in the report and 26 futuristic scenarios are presented. A survey instrument was developed for the purpose of measuring the probability of a scenario, impact (if the scenario were to occur), speed, and whether a scenario represents a threat or opportunity to academic libraries (for the record, I see most change as an opportunity for academic libraries, just not always business as usual).

One of the four scenarios rated as highest in probability, impact and speed is a scenario titled “Right here with me.” In this scenario students use their handheld devices in almost magical ways. The devices sense information, processes are automated, and more. Reading this reminded me of two newer technologies being used in the US, QR codes and augmented reality, which can seem a bit magical as well. These technologies provide access to information on mobile devices without keying in terms to search.

I’ve been following mobile technology trends for some time (see my first mobile test blog using a simple Motorola RAZR phone and $5. data plan) and I’m a strong believer that the digital revolution we're experiencing will be increasingly mobile. Though I'm uncertain of all that will evolve with mobile technologies in the next 5-15 years, QR codes and augmented reality are two mobile technologies that could have a strong impact in libraries and higher education. In the case of QR codes, I think sooner rather than later as early adopters in the U.S. are currently exploring and implementing this technology in their libraries, on campus, and beyond.

This week I'll attend the ACRL-Oregon & Washington Fall Conference 2010. The title, "If we knew today what we'll know tomorrow: Futures thinking for academic libraries," has me excited about learning from others who value looking forward.

I'll be presenting a five minute lightening talk at the ACRL OR/WA conference using the presentation below. This slideshow compliments an article, which will be available in the November publication of C&RL News on QR codes and mobile users. (Update: C&RL News article is now available.)
All posts tagged with "QR Codes"
All posts tagged with "augmented reality"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Exploring Augmented Reality Apps on iPhone 4

I've been fascinated by augmented reality (AR) for a while and have posted in the past (scroll) on this technology as it relates to education. Many feel the potential of AR is huge, though for various reasons it will take time to mainstream.

The Gartner's 2010 Hype Cycle shows AR has 5-10 years to mainstream adoption. The 2010 Horizon Report, commonly used by educators to scan the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching and learning, has listed Simple Augmented Reality Time-to-Adoption: Two to Three Years.

I've long had an interest in testing AR but my previous iPhone 3 (not 3GS) did not have the built in technology necessary to use AR. In most cases, handheld devices must have a compass and GPS to be able to use AR. The flickr set below shows examples of AR app tests on my iPhone 4, which I've been running mostly in downtown Portland, Oregon, USA. The set and descriptions can also be viewed on flickr

I'm excited about what I'm learning as I test AR apps in the city. I see challenges after using these apps, but the potential has become more clear as well. I'm also encouraged by the fact that there are smart people working on moving this tech forward. O'Reilly radar recently posted a good article titled "How augmented reality apps can catch on" and there are creative thinkers/innovators in higher education working on practical uses for teaching and learning.

For now, my plan is to keep testing and I hope to soon find someone at my university interested enough to collaborate with me on creating an AR tour of our campus and main library. Seems like a good first step. I've seen a few examples of how a handful of higher ed institutions are beginning to use AR. I'd love to learn of more. Comments are most welcome.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An Educational Augmented Reality Project

Those who follow me know that I'm an early adopter drawn to emerging technologies. As an educator I'm always on the look-out for educational applications of these technologies.

I've been fascinated by augmented reality (AR) for a couple of years now. Many of my AR blog posts have featured AR concepts that may or may not come to pass. A lack of standards and other issues means it will be a while before AR is ready for mainstream.

The video embedded below describes an educational AR project that sounds useful and doable. I also found it personally worth supporting.

One of the things I especially appreciate about this project is that the educators involved realize that not everyone will have heard of AR, and many will not personally possess the required hardware. They are proposing a project that would engage students in valuable learning activities and provide ways to make the technology available to those who have never heard of AR, don't have a device of their own, but who could still benefit.

Read about this kickstarter project, "The Civil War Augmented Reality Project," watch the video, and see if you agree. If you do, please consider supporting if possible.

For those new to AR, below is a two min. video introduction to AR

Sunday, July 11, 2010

QR Codes in Libraries

QR Codes are appearing more frequently in the U.S., though the technology is still largely unknown to the majority and mainstream adoption will take time. Recent developments are raising awareness of QR codes in the country (UPDATE 7/29 more major QR code exposure), and librarians in libraries everywhere are busy experimenting, learning from each other and sharing results.

I created  an introductory flier to share with students and faculty as we continue to research and brainstorm ways to utilize QR codes in the library and on campus.

The Portland Center of my university, where I work as a reference librarian, serves primarily graduate and doctoral students. They are busy adults, many with families working full-time jobs while attending graduate school. Any new technology that is introduced must have enough value to warrant their time and effort. Because QR Code technology is very simple to use, I think there is a good chance of seeing this technology utilized IF doing so makes their lives easier (i.e., QR codes on study room doors to take users directly to the room reservation online form can save time and effort). The main undergraduate campus library has also introduced QR codes and it will be interesting to observe usage between the different groups.

The Journal of Information Literacy recently published an article by Andrew Walsh titled, "QR Codes – using mobile phones to deliver library instruction and help at the point of need." From the Abstract:
This article outlines the practical uses we have found for QR codes, gives preliminary results of how those have been received by our library users in our pilot study and highlights the reluctance of many students to engage with this technology, which may need further investigation.
It's a worthwhile read from which we can learn a great deal, but keep in mind the research was done close to a year ago and there have been significant changes since that time. Many of the same challenges exist today, especially in the U.S. where we are lagging in the use of QR codes and other mobile technologies. However, awareness of QR codes is growing in the US, and QR code technology has developed greatly the last few months in both quantity and quality of apps. I've personally culled a number of apps as better apps have been made available (no longer is taking a picture necessary on some devices as newer apps quickly and accurately scan the codes).

The author also mentions that QR codes are "an easier alternative to full augmented reality," and I agree. However, augmented reality is another technology that has seen significant development over the past few months. I've been experimenting with augmented reality (AR) apps, which I hope to utilize for library tours and other purposes (blog post to come - done and here). At the moment (until the next new technology) I feel that both QR codes and AR will have a place in the library and the university. This post on augmented reality and handheld devices from a year ago highlights the different amazing apps at that time and I expect to continue to see gains in AR and QR code development.

Lastly, this past Friday I discovered (via a tweet to a flickr screen shot) that Alexander Street Press (ASP) had made QR codes available in their Music Online database. I immediately logged into our subscription database, picked an album, found the code, scanned it and was listening to music via a beautiful ASP player on my iPhone 4 in less than two seconds. Below is a screen shot I took to share (with an expired QR code (explanation below), so no legal worries :) ).

Screen shot 2010-07-09 Music Online QR Code

I was in my office on our university's wireless system at the time I had logged-in and assumed the music would stop working on my iPhone once I left the office, but that was not the case. After arriving home, I found that I could still listen to the music on my iPhone and at that point I was perplexed as this music was from a subscription database. I continued to experiment with the music database QR codes throughout the weekend.

On Sunday I was searching for information on how the Music Online codes worked when I came upon this Library Journal post"Alexander Street Press, Mobile Streaming Audio, and QR Codes" The article explains that a specific collection of music was being made freely available to all until August 15h. However, the music I chose was not from the free collection and though the article was indeed great exciting news, it did not answer my questions on how/why I could access the subscription databases on my phone without being logged in.

After further searching I found this Alexander Street Press link to a page titled "Using Your Mobile Device" from their Music Online database. Included here is the statement "Mobile shortlinks (used to create the QR code) allow you to listen even when outside of institution network, allowing you to listen from your own home. Please note that shortlinks cannot be used outside of your institution network after 48 hours, but will still be usable within it." I verified today that all the links to music I had bookmarked on my iPhone on Friday have indeed expired. I was also able to easily login as a remote user from my home yesterday and once again added a number of album selections to my IPhone.

I'm very pleased and believe that what Alexander Street Press has done with Music Online and QR codes is the type of development that will drive mainstream adoption in libraries. I'm looking forward to what publishers and database vendors and others (including librarians!) will be doing to help make using library content on the go even more feasible and exciting.

How is your library using QR codes? Comments are welcome.

BTW - The QR Code generator I've been using is Kaywa and my current favorite free QR code reader app for iPhone, iPod Touch, Android devices and many more is the i-nigma reader.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Making a statement (not my typical blog post).

Yesterday PBS Newshour posted Gulf Coast Oil Leak: What Are Your Suggestions? Their ongoing coverage of the Gulf disaster is worth following.

I suppose I could be over-reacting but this seems huge to me. After reading and viewing this photo blog from the Boston Globe yesterday and thinking of long-term ramifications--the human, animal and environmental impact...well, I don't have words to adequately describe my feelings.

More than anything, I'm hoping we can learn from this man-made disaster and take steps toward a future where we refuse to implement technologies with the potential for this type of destruction without a proven plan in place to address problems or what some refer to as "a mistake." Humans make mistakes, we all know that. IMHO we are all responsible for this one.

Update 6/11/10: others feeling responsible...

Google News: The Live Feed for gulf oil spill

(The #oilspill in the title is the twitter hashtag many are using in posts on the oil spill, for those unfamiliar with social media.) Update 6/2010: Many on twitter have switched to #oildisaster Click either for real-time results from those tags on twitter.

My SL and twitter friend @SunnThunders shared this article and I decided to embed the video below. Not sure it's possible for us to reverse our reliance on oil in this country or our world, I'll at least try to do my part in minimizing usage. At this point, it just doesn't feel like enough. Warning: the video is pretty shocking.

Watch full-screen on YouTube

Photo blog UPDATE 6/4/2010: Caught in the Oil (if the first set of photos were too disturbing do NOT click on this link).

Sorry, but feel it's important to add yet another update -
Photo blog UPDATE 6/11/2010: Scenes from the Gulf of Mexico

My final update on this post is the NYTimes "Tracking the Oil Spill in the Gulf." An interactive map (click "play" button upper left of map) and estimates of oil spilled in this disaster.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Why I Want An iPad Anyway

I was both excited and disappointed when I watched the Steve Jobs iPad demonstration along with zillions of others via live blogs and tweets. I thought they were mistaken when I first heard "no flash" and then "no camera" on a live blog. I tweeted "no flash, did I understand that correctly?" and several others said they were sure that couldn't be and were trying to confirm.

It didn't take long to figure out this gorgeous device was primarily for consuming content. As an educator I found this especially disturbing. Surely everyone knows we're a participatory culture now (no, not everyone, actually) - how will we upload our videos to YouTube?!

Since then I've followed the iPad hype on twitter, read many articles and blog posts, and watched plenty of videos about the iPad and iPad content. People are definitely passionate about this device. Some reviews have been critical, others say it's going to change the world.

After stepping back from my self and my personal technology habits, I'm in the camp that this device will be a game changer. I see it as the beginning of a new era. A move from files and folders to apps and the cloud. This makes sense to me as I've had most of my data in the cloud since the first Google Apps existed and I'm a believer. And the Apps! iPhone apps have been blowing my mind lately, I can only imagine the amazing developments to come in new iPad apps within the year.

PCMag: Apple iPad video review from Reviews on Vimeo.

It's not yet an ideal device for someone like myself, not a techie but an early adopter who likes to create, but a game changer nonetheless.

I'm planning to wait until V2 of the iPad for myself, when I'm pretty sure the camera situation and a few other things will have changed (ability to create and edit google docs please!). I'll have plenty of opportunities to get my hands on iPads before then, and I believe I've convinced my library director to let me pick one up to run e-book tests on very soon. BTW - the iBook demo in the video is nice and I expect there will be some truly innovative apps developed along these lines: iPad iMagineering-Penguin Books-DK Yep, exciting times ahead.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Consumer Health Librarian's National Library of Medicine Grant Funded Project in Second Life

The NLM grant funding this project ends on May 1, 2010 and I felt it was important to document my experience. It's been a truly remarkable journey. My hope is that this presentation (and speaker notes) will provide viewers a sense of what working as a Consumer Health Librarian in Second Life entails, will enlighten those who are not familiar with virtual worlds and Second Life, and will be found interesting and informative to those of you who are already conversant with the technology and culture.

Below is the link to view the full presentation or click the "Menu" button above (on the bottom left of the full presentation is an "Actions" drop down menu which will allow you to choose "Show Speaker Notes" to view further info for each slide)

Also uploaded this presentation to Slideshare.

Update: A twitter bud, Dr. Kent Bottles, wrote a great post (and not just because he mentions me :) ) titled "Second Life & Twitter: Expanding My Understanding of Health Care Innovation"

I'm looking forward to presenting on May 5, at the 13th Annual ICSI/IHI Colloquium On Health Care Transformation in St. Paul, MN. My presentation is titled "How Doctors, Nurses, Allied Health Professionals and Patients Use Second Life"- Join us!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

PBS Frontline presents Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier

Below is the trailer to an important film. "The film is the product of a unique collaboration with visitors to the Digital Nation Web site, who for the past year have been able to react to the work in progress and post their own stories online." The film is available online and will also be aired Feb 2nd. From the press release:
In Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier, airing Tuesday, Feb. 2, from 9 to 10:30 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings), FRONTLINE presents an in-depth exploration of what it means to be human in a 21st-century digital world. Continuing a line of investigation she began with the 2008 FRONTLINE report Growing Up Online, award-winning producer Rachel Dretzin embarks on a journey to understand the implications of living in a world consumed by technology and the impact that this constant connectivity may have on future generations.

The full press release is worth reading. I know there are challenges; technology can consume us and we must find balance. The film addresses the topic of schools and institutions of higher education using technology for learning. Parents and educators are challenged to keep children safe and to find ways to utilize technologies that are truly beneficial. Many believe those challenges must be addressed because there is so much potential for learning about ourselves and our world.

It's obvious to educators that technology is transforming us and the way we learn. There is little doubt that technology can and should be used to further learning in schools and in institutions of higher education (how, is less known). This post by a UK educator is an example of how easily children adopt and benefit from new technologies "What happens when you give a class of 8 year old children an iPod touch each?" And this post by Abby, a 4th grader, who recently posted on pandas, which her father, an educator himself, tweeted about to share. They were pleasantly surprised as comments from around the world were submitted on her blog.

Can you imagine children like Abby and the 8-year-olds in the UK post video and others like them in high-school or college? Will sitting and listening to lectures, writing papers and taking tests meet their expectation for learning? They are already creators of content, they are participators in a globally connected world. Can our education system build on that? Would society benefit if it did?

As an academic librarian I believe it's important that institutions of higher education understand that most college/university students of the near future will have grown up immersed in technology. And though there are challenges, the expectation for learning with these tools should be understood and technologies utilized when and where appropriate. I'm hopeful this program will help us understand the pros and cons of this digital revolution so we can better prepare. Again, one can view the program online here.

Update 3/2010: I'm including a link to a blog post that many feel is a fair criticism of the Digital Nation program speaking primarily to the segment on Second Life.

Lastly, a twitter buddy, @raymondpirouz, wrote a short blog post and alerted me to a response video by educators who felt that "Digital Nation" left out much of the incredible work related to education in Second Life. I agree (fairly typical of SL media reports) and am embedding the short response video below.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

An Early Adopter Librarian's "New Technology for Higher Education" Post

I've been wanting to write a post that looks back on some of the technologies I've been following and involved with the past year. This week my university's CIO, Greg Smith, sent out this invitation to a Google Wave:
New Technology for Higher Education:
I am starting a new Wave to gain feedback for my upcoming Lunch & Learn presentation on what is new in Technology. A side benefit of this Wave will be to give a quick glimpse of what Google Wave is. So please respond with your short lists of what you think is important or innovative Technology in Higher Education.
I figured this would work for both purposes. I enjoyed participating in that Wave (seemed a good practical use of Wave) and was hoping to easily embed that in my blog but alas Google Wave, which I think has great potential, is still in the early stages of development. The options for embedding into this blog are not currently very simple, instead I will copy and paste what I wrote, including my short intro, and redo the links and embeded videos below:

Remember I'm not a techie, just an early adopter (and a librarian) who often finds herself in over her head. Also Greg, you state to list what we think is "important or innovative," you didn't state necessarily practical or useful at the moment. Since I tend to feel most passionate about newer technologies that may or may not make it into the mainstream, I'll focus some on those as well (don't worry, I'll leave the really "out there" things out for now).

My practical happening now list:

* ebooks (we've been purchasing and leasing thousands at the GFU library)
* eReaders and, more importantly, ebook reading software for any/every device
* mobile (handheld device) access to everything
* video, video, and more video! And streaming live video like Ustream, Mogulus, etc.
* screencasts
* google apps and all things google
* web-based everything
* our work is in the cloud
* digital repositories
* open access, open source, open education, open content of all kinds
* social networks of all kinds (though these have been around a long time, there are new networks being created regularly and older networks are still evolving. It does appear facebook is used most in higher ed but seems to me more for social purposes than educational. The social network that has been most impactful for me is twitter, though like many things, it's all in how you use the tool.)

Past innovations I use regularly
(some considered mainstream and some still not and maybe never will be but still quite useful to me):

* blogs and wikis
* google apps & all things google (google docs, gmail, Sites, analytics, iGoogle, Calendar, YouTube, Wave, mobile, alerts, etc.)
* virtual worlds
* aggregators of all kinds (from social networking aggregators like FriendFeed to RSS news feeds, to iGoogle, netvibe, etc.)
* delicious, diigo or other kinds of social bookmarking sites

The Future
(some near, some not too soon and some maybe never :) )

* augmented reality (AR) (already happening but more useful educational application still to come).
Here's a concept video I like on this:

* augmented reality and handheld devices - here's a blog post I wrote on that with several video examples (back before Apple allowed AR apps on their devices, many more avail. now) titled, "Augmented Reality and Handheld Devices-Finally Ready for Mainstream?"
* QR Codes - I believe QR (quick response) codes will soon take off in the USA though they've had a slow start. (Look for QR codes in the library this summer. Here's a photo of a QR code I generated for use in the library to give an idea of just one way these codes can be used (there are many amazing ways, really). This short video on google favorite places shows another use.
* Mixed reality
* browser based virtual worlds for adults (happening now but just barely)
* immersive learning environments of all kinds
* gesture recognition systems (some like project natal below will work on handhelds like Xbox 360)
* project natal (be sure to meet milo if you haven't already)

* spimes and "The Internet of Things (IoT)"
Here's a ReadWriteWeb article on this "IBM and The Internet of Things"
And here's a recent set of posts by RWW tagged with IoT

* And something and someone to watch as this sort of technology if/when developed could turn everything upside down:

All for now but much more to come because we're in the midst of a digital revolution! Exciting times :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Learning in WoW & Second Life (Simultaneously!)

Very interesting morning learning World of Warcraft. Had to leave WoW to work my reference desk shift in the Karuna Resource Center in Second Life (SL) in my position as Consumer Health Librarian. I spent a few minutes in both simultaneously and that's what this screenshot shows (shocked it didn't crash my computer to run both).
Also posted a screenshot of my first hour in WoW on flickr

The following explains a little about what I'm doing & why:
A bit of an experiment - was asked by a faculty member teaching at UCSD to assist with a research component for his course being taught primarily in WoW with some parts in SL. As an academic librarian working in SL, how could I say no?

ICAM 120 Virtual Environments
Winter 2010, Visual Arts Dept., University of California San Diego
Lecturer: James Morgan / Rubaiyat Shatner (Second Life)

So as in SL, I am a blue female in WoW (albeit a troll). Should be interesting comparing these two environments. I have a fair amount of experience teaching and learning in SL for my university and have been involved and following educational developments in SL, including the work and roles of librarians, for some time. I'm interested in learning how the WoW environment is being used for educational purposes. And of course, where does the librarian fit when courses are being taught in these environments. What is our role? More to come as I explore and learn in WOW.
Update: Jan. 9, 2009 -
I'm only at the beginning of my research on WoW but for anyone wondering about educational applications, I recently found a blog by an Open University faculty member, titled, E1n1verse – WoW, Learning, and Teaching by Michelle A. Hoyle. I especially enjoyed reading this post on why she plays World of Warcraft and the excellent references and links she included.

Final Update-Jan 22, 2010: Great group of students in the ICAM 120 Course, I enjoyed presenting on grant writing tips and researching a few articles for them. I observed one of their three hour-long classes and found it pretty fascinating. We all started in SL with introductions and then my presentation then took a short break and afterwards the instructor facilitated an interesting discussion on their reading for that week, Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulations. After the discussion everyone headed over to WoW. A lot accomplished in one class really especially since some had never been in SL before and a few were also new to WoW. Here are a couple of snapshots I put up on flickr.

World of Warcraft is something I would be interested in investigating further if I had more time. I just don't at the moment so unfortunately I can not continue on with the group. Even though I was only in WoW four times, I think I understand why some in higher education are using this platform with their students. I also think you would need creative faculty advanced in using the program to be successful. UCSD has a talented faculty member teaching this course in James Morgan. I was impressed with the level of engagement and discourse he managed with a class of 18 students participating in this adventure. I expect they will learn a great deal.

Another little nugget I learned about was something we all used for voice called Ventrilo(kind of like Skype but more stable with larger groups), it worked very well and really helped make the process between SL and WoW more seamless.