Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mobile & Social, and Google+ Hangouts

The last few years have seen a good amount of focus and research on mobile in libraries and education in general. In the last couple of years social in libraries and education has also been picking up steam.

I'm including a couple of my presentations from 2012 below on these two topics.

What I'm especially excited about of late is Google+ Hangouts, (see slide 24-36 in presentation below). What may be of specific interest to librarians/educators like myself, who work with students and colleagues in ways other than face-to-face, is referenced in slides 29-33. (For those not familiar with Google+ Hangouts, it is arguably the most popular feature of Google+, Google's social networking platform and more.)

Bottom line, in the same way that twitter has become my single most valuable professional development tool over the years, though I was skeptical at first, I'm hopeful that Google+ Hangouts will make certain aspects of my job a little easier. At the same time I hope to be able to provide superior research help to students online using this tool.

Tomorrow I lead a reference tips session at our weekly librarian's meeting on the main campus, which will be all about Hangouts. This Saturday I'll be teaching my second library research class to students in another state via Google+ Hangouts (you can read about my first session here, from back when it was named G+ Hangouts with Extras). A week ago I joined our librarian's meeting on the main campus for the first time from my Portland office with positive results and will continue to attend at least one meeting a month using this tool. There'll be another blog post here soon focused on Google+ and Hangouts with some entertaining screenshots so stay tuned if this topic is of interest.

Are you using Google+ or G+ Hangouts at your library? Are you an educator using Google+ Hangouts for office hours or in any other way? I'd love to hear about what others are doing with mobile and/or social, feel free to share in comments.

I'll end with a quote that resonates with me as I continue to follow mobile and emerging technologies "The most important thing we can do is to ensure that when the technology matures, we are ready to deliver content to it."  -Jason Griffey, Head of Library Information Technology at the University of Tennessee and author of Mobile Technologies and Libraries.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Teaching Library Research On An iPad

I recently taught my third library research class on an iPad and here’s what I learned.

     First, you may be wondering why a librarian would teach with an iPad rather than a laptop. In my case the answer is simple: GFU students who enroll in the Master's Degree in Teaching (MAT) and Adult Degree Programs are given new iPads. Professors from those programs felt it would be helpful to the students if I used the library's iPad to demonstrate how to access and download library resources. 

The equipment:
     Along with an iPad 2 or the New iPad (3rd gen), you need a VGA Adapter to connect the iPad to the classroom projector, and some kind of laser pointer since you will have no cursor. The picture above shows what I used: an iPad 2 with a smart cover (for easier viewing and typing during demo), my iPhone battery charger with built-in laser pointer, the VGA adapter, and a case for carrying the iPad and accessories. 

Class design, learning outcomes: 
     My one-hour library research session consisted of a brief overview of the library website, followed by demos of how to get articles from our subscription databases, how to find and request books, and how to use library e-books.  I also introduced them to their course-specific research guide (LibGuide), and used that for parts of the demo.

How things went in the classroom - (learn from my mistakes):
     Even though I had practiced in my office, the first class was a little rough. I did not have a laser pointer, and I hadn't realized that without a cursor students would not be able to follow along as I referred to links and various parts of pages on the projector screen. The students were quick to point this out, and now I always take a laser pointer with me.
     In addition, these students were in a new cohort, and had been handed their iPads at orientation only hours beforehand. Most were unfamiliar with the device, and this brought additional challenges. Fortunately many owned smartphones and were familiar with touch screens, mobile browsers and apps. Still, I needed to move more slowly than I had anticipated. Halfway through the class I realized I needed to focus more on exact steps so the new users could follow along.
     The two subsequent classes involved sessions with students who had been using their iPads for a few months. These graduate teacher education students were very adept at using the device. They easily followed along and even got ahead of me more than once (i.e., some began downloading e-books while I was demonstrating using e-books in the browser). 
     For the most part these classes went smoothly and felt more like teaching on a laptop. Nonethless, when on an iPad there are regular reminders that you are using an Apple mobile operating system (iOS) throughout. When pointing to anything built on Flash there will be either an empty space in the page or a small “broken link” icon. In the case of our library tutorials, we made sure everything had been uploaded to our YouTube channel so those on iOS devices could access them too.
     Another consideration is that many sites will detect your mobile OS and ask if you would like to go to the mobile version of the site. In some cases there is no choice and it will simply redirect you. It's important to test the sites beforehand to know which way to direct users when there is a choice. Most libraries now have a mobile site to accommodate smartphones. That may not be the best choice for iPad users, though, who could benefit from having access to the full website.

iPads and library e-books:
     The GFU library's two major e-book vendors, ebrary and EBL, are probably mostly used in the browser. They also allow e-books to be downloaded for offline reading, which may be attractive for iPad users. Digital Rights Management (DRM) ensures that these downloads expire after a certain amount of time, and limits their use in various ways. Consequently, the user must have a free Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) account, and will be prompted to create one if need be at the point of download.  In the case of ebrary, the user must also create a free personal ebrary account before downloading an e-book. Both accounts can be created on an iPad. However, Adobe Digital Editions is Flash-based and can not be installed on iOS devices. Instead the user must install the Bluefire app, which uses their ADE account. 
     Bluefire can be used for both vendors’ DRM-protected ebooks, but ebrary offers an app of their own, and there are some benefits to using it. I recommend installing both and authorizing them with the same ADE ID account.
     If you don't have time to walk students through creating ADE accounts, it may be best to simply demonstrate how to use these books in Safari—one can still search, highlight, take notes and more in this environment.  You could then point them to a link on the library website that will explain how to create an ADE account and download the ebrary and Bluefire apps. 

What I learned: 
1) Before teaching with an iPad the first time, practice in a room with your iPad hooked up to a projector
2) Always bring a laser pointer
3) Mobile sites are often not the best choice on iPads, since the screen size permits handling the full-content site.  However, sometimes there is no choice; be prepared and test beforehand (especially with e-books).
4) Be aware and prepared for workarounds when running into Flash on the iPad.
5) If a learning outcome is to have students successfully download a library e-book, have them create a free Adobe Digital Editions account before class.
6) If students are new to the iPad prepare a simpler presentation that covers less territory.
7) When working with students who are adept at using the iPad, relax and let them teach you a few tricks. 
     Finally, I'm noticing that students who own 2nd and 3rd generation iPads are beginning to use them as their primary devices. I have confirmed this with a show of hands whenever I work with students in our MAT program. Most eventually invest in some kind of case with keyboard so they can type as quickly and easily as with a laptop. They may have access to a desktop or laptop as well, but the tablet becomes their go-to device once they're comfortable with it.  See Forrester blog post from April 23, 2012 - Why Tablets Will Become Our Primary Computing Device 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Professional Online Identities - Academia Embracing Social Media

Below is an overview/summary presentation of the online adjunct course I completed teaching to graduate counseling students this week. It was a great experience all around, and especially rewarding for me in that students appeared to have enjoyed the course as much as I did. We all learned quite a bit.

Included in the slides below are student voices via twitter that I thought were most profound. Hearing attitudes change and the "ah-ha" moments throughout the course, it became clear that students were understanding the potential impact of social media on their careers. In addition, the professional development benefits afforded them by following experts and organizations who wisely utilize social media became apparent.

For most of the students, it was a revelation to learn the extent that freely available social networks could be used for professional as well as personal purposes. The course also focused on tips and tools that could help as they planned their goals and strategies. And though we focused on using social media for a positive professional impact, the misuse of these tools can also impact careers.

It seems this past year was a turning point and the debate over the ROI of social media is about overSocial media and TV integration has increased and it makes sense that most businesses and organizations are incorporating social media into their overall strategies. And that includes higher education, where there is plenty of buzz and implementation-- Social media in higher education literature review. Higher education institutions are also developing helpful social media policy guides.

It's becoming increasingly important that college and universities provide some type of training in this area for students as well as staff. (And not just for business programs, which may have a jump but are still lacking per this recent Forbes report.) Whether it's for-credit elective courses for those in professional programs, seminars, or informal "lunch & learn" sessions, we can all benefit from understanding social media's potential. In addition, raising awareness of how its misuse can cause significant harm.

Students uploaded their finals for the class and all can be viewed on Slideshare from this TRMA585 tag list. I'm proud of their work and the course. Hope you enjoy the slides. (Click TRMA 585 Instructor Ashford link below for larger view on Slideshare)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Online Identities - Having An Impact

As an academic librarian and early adopter who follows new and emerging technologies, my blog posts are more about emerging and educational technology than they are about library work, though that distinction is blurring. Many librarians are ahead of the curve when it comes to new online tools, digital initiatives, social media, etc. An understanding of technology has become critical to our profession as the digital revolution continues to transform our world.

This semester I’ve been teaching a new online course as an adjunct at my university. It’s a one credit hour course offered to graduate Counseling students, TRMA 585 - “Developing a Professional Online Identity.”
Working on my online professional #identity course - made this #wordle for #moodle site #fun
I was pleased to be asked to teach the course by a Counseling Department faculty member with whom I've worked as a department liaison librarian, and who follows me on twitter and other networks.

The professor felt the topic was important for soon to be professional therapists to better understand the importance of personal branding and a professional online identity.

The 15 week course began with everyone in the class sharing where they currently stand with online experience and social media. Facebook naturally being the big winner and for many their only or most significant experience.

Due to the nature of the course, much of the work done by the 11 students in the class was completed on the web and is accessible to all. However, the course syllabus, weekly assignments, most posts and comments are inside Moodle, the Learning Mangement System (LMS) used by my university.

Each week’s assignment has explored ways to develop a positive professional online identity utilizing various tools and tips. Everything from LinkedIn to profile pages, google+, twitter, professional facebook pages, blogs, websites, domain names, and more. The course is winding down and we are starting week 13. This week’s assignment is on having an impact, and it’s partly what led me to write this blog post.

My belief is that anyone with access to the web can have an impact, and that we can all utilize and benefit from the online tools available to us. Whether that means creating a positive professional identity for yourself to help in your job search, utilizing social media tools like twitter for professional development purposes and to make connections, creating professional facebook pages, blogs or websites to promote yourself in your area of expertise, or for other ways to contribute to changing our world. The Internet and social media tools have enabled and empowered us like never before in our history.

An important technology I regret not having time to explore in this course has been the amazing impact online videos can have (often propelled by other social networks). Whether it’s using video to creatively promote yourself in a job search, to be recognized as an expert in a specific field, personally branding yourself, or to simply provide another fomat for valuable content to reach your audience, video is an increasingly important tool.

By now, with over 86 million hits on their single Youtube upload in less than one month (much more if you count others’ uploads), most have at least heard of the Kony 2012 - Invisible Children campaign. This post isn’t about that campaign (which I realize has its critics), but about how being innovative and using the Web and social media, the campaign spread beyond anyone’s dreams. As a TRMA585 student posted on twitter on March 7th:
 “The power of social media comes alive! Very moving. #TRMA585 should watch. KONY 2012: via @youtube”

What I find especially interesting is how others have been able to build on the original campaign. Two compelling related but unaffiliated examples having an impact are: How Technology Is Helping Kony Victims in Uganda and The Next KONY 2012? Invisible Children Co-Founder Releases ‘I Am Mother’

I think most will agree with this Read Write Web post that social media ROI doubts can be put to rest. As I've stated, the Internet has provided “A Way to Have a Voice That Matters.” It’s up to all of us to decide how/when/where and if we want to use that voice.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

#SOPA #PIPA Congrats...But It's Not Over

Online political discussions are not typically where you'll find this librarian - but this is different, it matters too much to me, and to so many others - I can't fathom what it would be like to go back to being a passive consumer of information. I've been empowered and know how it feels, I won't give that up without a fight.

We stopped SOPA and PIPA for now. The hard thing, as well articulated in the video below, "get ready, more is coming" - Watch as Clay Shirky explains the backstory on SOPA and PIPA in the video, and then read this Post PIPA and SOPA piece to learn why many are not in the mood to celebrate in the wake of the news that SOPA and PIPA are dead.

As CNET reported, "the lobbyists and politicians backing the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and Protect IP haven't given up."

Video Description: "What does a bill like PIPA/SOPA mean to our shareable world? At the TED offices, Clay Shirky delivers a proper manifesto -- a call to defend our freedom to create, discuss, link and share, rather than passively consume."

"Because until we convince congress that the way to deal with copyright violation is the way copyright violation was dealt with with napster, with youtube, which is to have a trial with all the presentation of evidence and the hashing out of facts and the assessment of remedies that goes on in democratic societies, that's the way to handle it. In the meantime, the hard thing to do is to be ready. Time Warner has called and they want us all back on the couch, just consuming, not producing, not sharing. And we should say no." -Clay Shirky