Saturday, December 31, 2011

Using the Web and Humans to Do Amazing Things

Luis von Ahn found a way to digitize about 2.5 million books a year, at no cost--amazing, but that's not all, watch the two fascinating videos below.

YouTube description: After re-purposing CAPTCHA so each human-typed response helps digitize books, Luis von Ahn wondered how else to use small contributions by many on the Internet for greater good. At TEDxCMU, he shares how his ambitious new project, Duolingo, will help millions learn a new language while translating the Web quickly and accurately -- all for free

-- "With Duolingo you learn a language for free, and simultaneously translate the Web" - (a win-win, awesome!)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Innovative Academic Libraries...on a budget?

The library director and staff at my university library have been discussing ways in which we can implement innovative changes in our library space to better meet the changing needs of our users. These conversations have been happening for some time but space changes and innovative technologies come at a cost, and budgets have never been tighter for many of us in higher education.

I'm a believer in the value of the library as a hub of the university. The videos and links below showcasing the University of Calgary's new Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL), exemplify what is possible when a university (and a city!) fully realize the value of investing in the library (to the tune of $205 million!). The University of Calgary and others see the library as the place that can help shape the future of learning. This is an extreme example, I'm sure it's a dream come true for many on that campus, and will surely be a major draw for the institution.

Many university libraries are looking at ways to meet changing user needs. Besides smart planning, we need buy-in from university administrators in the way of dollars to implement changes. A good deal of student, faculty, and staff time is now spent in digital space. How can our libraries, especially those on a tight budget, help meet the space and technology needs of our users? What can we do to facilitate learning, to help our users build the 21st century skills needed to succeed in our digital world?

Harvard has been holding conversations on the "Future of Libraries" as have many of us in higher education.

This topic is one I have followed for some time, the "Libraries of the Future" and "Academic Libraries As Place" are blog posts I've written in the past. I believe it's time for action.

Below is a video of the grand opening this past October of the University of Calgary's Taylor Family Digital Library. For those who want to learn more about the TFDL, I'll also link to a story I created to pull in information from various sources on University of Calgary’s Taylor Family Digital Library and how it's shaping the future of learning.

Please feel free to comment on how libraries with limited budgets might begin to implement change within their space.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"The Next Generation of Digital Books"

Earlier this month, I discovered Our Choice by Push Pop Press, Inc. and found it to be a pretty remarkable book. My past experience with book-apps came when the Vook was first released. I purchased the "The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen" by Eric Gower and was impressed. I enjoy vooks on my iPhone though, to me, a vook can seem a bit more like a website with embedded video in an app. "Our Choice" is a multimedia e-book that feels more like reading a slick print book with useful media added throughout.

As The New York Times Technology writer, David Pogue stated about Push Pop Press " didn’t create just “Our Choice.” It simultaneously created a platform, a technology, that will permit them and others to publish subsequent immersive book-apps much faster and more easily." That's what has me excited about this book-app.

Though "Our Choice" is without features available with less interactive ebooks (search, highlight, annotate, share, hyperlink, etc.), it's engaging and had me quickly engrossed. And I can only see the work being done by Push Pop Press, Inc. and others improving.

Learn more about the "Our Choice" book-app by watching the short 4min TED Talks below by Push Pop Press co-founder, Mike Matas. Then scroll down to view the 2min "Our Choice" video trailer and see what you think.

I'm not sure how popular books in apps like this will become, it seems they're best suited for certain types of books, but it should be interesting to follow as they and other e-books evolve.

"The Next Generation of Digital Books" from Push Pop Press, Inc.:
Our Choice will change the way we read books. And quite possibly change the world. In this interactive app, Al Gore surveys the causes of global warming and presents groundbreaking insights and solutions already under study and underway that can help stop the unfolding disaster of global warming. Our Choice melds the vice president's narrative with photography, interactive graphics, animations, and more than an hour of engrossing documentary footage. A new, groundbreaking multi-touch interface allows you to experience that content seamlessly. Pick up and explore anything you see in the book; zoom out to the visual table of contents and quickly browse though the chapters; reach in and explore data-rich interactive graphics.
Below is the Vimeo video trailer for "Our Choice"

Al Gore's Our Choice from Push Pop Press on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Google's New Think Quarterly > Think Data > Read Mobile

Data (and QR codes) done right, it's a beautiful thing:

Click above image to enlarge & scan QR codes to read each article on your mobile device. Get Think Quarterly 01 for eReaders and other devices by visiting this site to download EPUB or PDF versions.

Friday, March 25, 2011

QR Codes and The Academy

(click image for clarity)

A while back I read a post titled "QR Codes Everywhere But Higher Ed?" by Mike Richwalsky (@mrichwalsky). I noticed Mr. Richwalsky also wrote a post back in February 2009 titled "QR Codes: Is it Time?" so he's been tracking these codes for a while.

I've had similar thoughts about QR Codes. And, like others, we've been slowly implementing the codes in our university library. Recently our marketing department created a nice promotional card for our new mobile library site, which included a QR Code for easy access (incl in flickr set below). Overall, higher ed has been slow to adopt QR codes, but based on the number of conferences and presentations featuring this simple technology, that may be changing.

I've seen QR codes in our Best Buy and a few other stores, and there is a definite increase in our local newspapers and mailers, but QR codes are still not a mainstream technology in Portland, Oregon USA. I'm not sure why, though I have some theories (another post). And the majority of people I know (other than early adopter librarians and techies) still don't know what they are.

At times I wonder if QR codes will ever mainstream in North America, and lately I've decided that for some purposes, I don't think that it matters.

Institutions of higher education and libraries (public and academic) are places that I believe can benefit from using QR codes even if they never mainstream, at least for now. Simply put, they are a low threshold technology that provide a lot of bang for the buck. In some cases I think we could ask ourselves why we wouldn't use a QR code. I'm not saying let's start blanketing our libraries and campuses with QR codes, but a QR code on a mobile website promotional card, in a university brochure, and various other places just makes sense to me.

I've embedded my most recent presentation on QR codes below. The presentation includes examples of how QR codes are being used in libraries, with publishers, vendors, retailers, and popular culture.
An article titled "7 ways higher education can use QR codes to connect with current and prospective students" has ideas to assist those in higher ed in getting started.

The Arboretum - Next Generation of Learning blog from the University of Oregon has a number of QR code posts worth reading by Robert Hill Long (who recently found and kindly posted my QR code article). Mr. Long has some great ideas for implementing QR codes in higher ed, and I suspect there will be more posts to come.

Below is a YouTube video on QR Codes at the University of Guelph:

I've embedded a new flickr set dedicated to QR codes and the academy which I'll be adding to as I discover more:

And finally, A press release on the journal NEUROSURGERY® titled "Medical Journal Using QR Codes to Link Print and Digital Video" includes a QR code (which is also on the cover of their April 2011, Vol 68, issue 4 publication). When scanned or photographed, that particular QR code takes users to one of the clearest QR Code tutorials I've seen yet. For those who don't yet use QR codes, I'll include the youtube video of the tutorial below:

I'd love to gather more examples of QR codes related to higher education. Please feel free to recommend links to information or images in comments.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mobile Information Literacy & Mobile Trends

I've attended two of the four Handheld Librarian Conferences (#HHLIB on twitter), and hope to attend many more. This was one of the most relevant conferences I've attended in a while, and one I recommend others consider in the future. It's affordable and as an online conference, accessible to most. (And the archives from years prior are accessible to all.)

I also appreciate that the conference has a good sized international group of attendees/participants. The US is often lagging when it comes to mobile and much can be learned from those outside our country with more experience.

I've embedded the slides here from my Handheld Librarian IV presentation (including links to videos shown during the presentation)
Newer technologies, like those I and others shared, can be fun and useful. However, there were meatier presentations as well, many given by excellent keynote speakers. I discuss one of those presentation below my slides.
There were many valuable sessions during the two day conference, but for me there was one session, a keynote, that stood out - Presented by Andrew Walsh, University of Huddersfield:
"Handheld Information Literacy: Mobilising Existing Models?" Here is a link to the PDF of the presentation.

Research data (cited in the Walsh presentation, my presentation's first video link, and any Google search) confirms that mobile is of huge importance. Many industries are currently hyper-focused on mobile. I don't think most expected the level of exponential growth of mobile we've experienced quite so quickly. Even Google was off with mobile predictions. I know the recent Educause ECAR report on mobile undergraduate use caught me off-guard and I suspect most in higher education are still unaware of those statistics, no less thinking about the teaching and learning implications.

Libraries have been having mobile conversations for a while and many have created mobile sites or mobile library apps. Early adopters within libraries have been implementing simple mobile technologies like QR codes, and soon I expect we'll see more practical and location-based augmented reality used in libraries as well. However, few have begun to think about the larger implications of mobile and it's impact on libraries and educational institutions.

Those attending the Andrew Walsh presentation linked above were challenged to think deeper. The big questions he addressed: "What does all this wonderful technology mean to our users?" and "What does the mobilizing of search and information sources mean to our ideas of information literacy?"

Mr. Walsh presented a brief history of information literacy (IL) including a list of IL attributes fed into standards and models such as the ACRL 2000 standards, the SCONUL 7 Pillars and more. He then compared traditional competency based IL models (fixed IL) to more relational based mobile models and spoke on how mobile IL varies as mobile search can happen anywhere from a range of devices using the mobile web browser or specific apps. Search no longer happens in fixed controlled environments and since people are increasingly attempting to meet their information needs via handheld devices, IL is drastically changed. We need new models to reflect this change. What will it mean to libraries if most information needs are met while on the move?

A lot of food for thought was provided by the Walsh presentation along with Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, keynote on "The State of Mobile Connectivity" earlier in the day.

More questions than answers are apparent to me at this time, such as: How will mobile change our roles as librarians? What about mobile learning in the classroom and beyond? Will librarians eventually move from being embedded in classrooms and Learning Management Systems to provide more services via twitter and other mobile apps? What other services might we provide? Will librarians, many still expected to fill traditional librarian roles, be free of some of those responsibilities so they can begin to consider the impact of mobile within their organizations and work towards supporting mobile users?

Libraries and librarians are currently working hard to keep up with the digital revolution and the move from print to electronic. The move to mobile is yet another shift, which could further drastically change our traditional roles. How will librarians and libraries keep up and be able to support the needs of our unconnected users as well as our connected and increasingly mobile users? Will we receive the needed buy-in and support from administrators? Or will we be caught off-guard and in outdated librarian roles be seen as no longer relevant?

I've recently begun working on a collaborative research project with two School of Education professors related to mobile learning in K-20 classrooms and beyond. Naturally mobile learning would have a mobile information literacy component. I've been thinking hard about my role as a librarian and relevance, as is the case with many librarians these days. I'm thankful for librarians like Mr. Walsh and others who follow mobile trends from whom I can continue to learn as libraries and librarians help move their institutions into 21st century literacies.

I'm also glad there are IT leaders in higher ed who are focused in this direction as well. My university's CIO, Greg Smith, recently attended the ACU ConnectEd Summit 2011 and shared some thoughts on his blog and in the video below on "The State of Mobile Learning."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

QR Codes, Augmented Reality & Future Realities

I recently presented on QR codes and augmented reality at a face-to-face conference, Online NW 2011 (#onw11) using video I converted and added to iTunes to tell the story. I added the corresponding youtube links to slides so people who weren't in attendance could view, and I've embedded that slide presentation of links and titles below.
I will be presenting on the same topic at the Handheld Librarian IV Online Conference (#hhlib) tomorrow.

My slides for the #hhlib conference are more visual as I'll only be able to show four or five videos at most. In the short time since the last conference there have been quite a few developments as QR codes and AR are evolving rapidly. During my last presentation I ended with a concept video from two years ago by Nokia on the future and mixed reality.

Below is another recent commercial concept video that takes us a few steps further. Though I won't be able to show the 5min video during my #hhlib presentation, I've added the link to my slides and I thought I would share the video here. How do you feel about "A Day Made of Glass?" Feel free to share your thoughts in comments.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mobile Impact - Libraries & Higher Education

The ECAR (EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research) Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2010 was released in October along with the Key Findings (PDF bottom left).
“The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2010 is a longitudinal extension of the annual 2004 through 2009 studies. It is based on quantitative data from a spring 2010 survey of 36,950 freshmen and seniors at 100 four-year institutions and students at 27 two-year institutions; student focus groups that included input from 84 students at 4 institutions; and review of qualitative data from written responses to open-ended questions.”

In preparation for two upcoming presentations related to mobile technologies in libraries, I've been following statistics on cell phones, feature phones, smartphones, and other handheld devices (i.e., iPod Touch, etc.) in the US and abroad. Page five of the ECAR Study Key Findings contains "Figure 2. Internet-Capable Handheld Device Users, 2009 and 2010," and the statistics clearly indicate exponential growth.

In viewing the charts in Figure 2 of the Key Findings, I found it significant that the percentage of those in the study who own Internet-capable devices jumped from 51.2% in 2009 to 62.7% in 2010. However, what really grabbed my attention were the stats that show the change in how students are using these devices, with 33.1% who own and use the Internet on their device in 2009 to 48.8% in 2010. That 15.7% increase in Internet use, with almost half the students using their handheld devices to access the Internet (likely over 50% by now), is what is bringing us in higher education and libraries to a tipping point. And the momentum is clearly growing outside of higher education as well (see yesterday’s report from Financial Times on smartphone growth).

Every student I’ve asked recently has said they will probably purchase a mobile device with Internet access soon (or have the data plan on their existing phone turned on) because it is finally becoming affordable (along with the allure of apps-see video below). With the fierce competition amongst carriers, data plans are dropping (T-Mobile is aggressively marketing fast 4G and “entry-level data plans that start at $10”). If costs remains low, my guess is that the number of students accessing the Internet on their handheld devices in next year’s ECAR report will show an even greater percentage of increase.

What does this men? What kind of impact will mobile devices have in higher education? I’m still not sure, but I’m paying close attention. As an academic librarian I’m interested in learning how we can leverage the technology available to us to better serve our students with computers in their pockets. As the proliferation of Internet accessible mobile devices continues (remember most US college campuses are completely wireless, and those who can’t afford data plans are often able to purchase the iPod Touch, which on wireless almost equates to an iPhone), I want to be ready.

Forward looking librarians are already on it. Take a look at the upcoming Handheld Librarian Online Conference IV. View the topics and issues being covered, and the ways in which innovative librarians are working to serve their mobile constituents. The program includes trends in mobile technology and features many ways librarians are utilizing mobile, everything from SMS and mobile instruction, to QR codes, augmented reality and more.

I hope to learn a great deal while attending the Handheld Librarian IV conference. Librarian roles are changing, and whether in public or academic libraries, I believe mobile technology and librarians who understand mobile user needs, will become increasingly more important.

Lastly, below is an amazing entertaining video that drives home the fact that indeed “The Times They Are A-Changin