Monday, August 20, 2007

My 2.0 Discoveries

Learning 2.0 Technology - In Summary

1. Flickr has got to be my favorite discovery because it is just pure fun! I haven’t had as much fun for years as I had creating my Avatar…it had me LOL (Laughing out loud, for those like me with very limited techno-lingo).

But Flickr offers their users much more than mere creative enjoyment. Not only can you do amazing things with photos, but you can use Organizr by collections or sets, with tags to easily find them later, or keep them in an album, or share your pictures with one, several people, or publicly display them to all. With Invitr, you can show and tell people you invite into “your domain,” by password invitation only, different things about you and your life. You can receive updates from your family and friends, send email, or use your cameraphone and download pictures.

You can upload from your desktop, make calendars, make your own postage stamps (but at $12.99 each, I doubt if I’ll be doing much of that), and make things—cards, framed prints, photo books, and target DVD’s. If you’d like to share where your pictures were taken, or where others were that were taken near you, you can use Mappr to pinpoint on a little map and drag your photos right over onto it. It will show a virtual push-pin that gives the location you desire.

Besides a great deal of other terrific things you can do using Flickr, I love word games, and so playing Flicktionary became rather addictive. I loved trying to solve the identity of the compound word through a series of seemingly unrelated pictures which were displayed inside three boxes in less than 99 seconds. The only hints were that those photos were the common thread that help unravel the mystery of the compound word you were seeking. I often beat the clock…YES!

But I did learn a great deal through my journeys. I wanted to find what I could discover and be able to use these things later, and I did bookmark quite a few winning sites.

2. Actually, I have always considered myself to be a life long learner. I have enjoyed working with children in various capacities throughout my career, and the teacher in me has always wanted to teach them interesting things. Every time I teach, I research my subjects because I don’t want to pass on misinformation. And each time I do my homework in reading the material I want to teach, I learn more than I can possibly say.

As I stated in one of my very first blog posts (entitled, Building Blocks), I have always stretched and challenged myself to learn and do more than I even dreamed I could. And usually I have succeed beyond my highest expectations. So the surprise is that I never have received any formal computer training, so this area of development was a filled with a little bit of trepidation. But instead of backing away or procrastinating, I embraced this newest challenge and decided that if it was worth learning, it was worth learning well.

And I did. Being an overachiever, I probably overdid it, compared to a lot of my colleagues, but I consider this the first step in a series of future steps to be taken in the exploration of Internet technology. So thank you for the opportunity to learn it this way.

3. The thing will I take away from this experience is a greater sense of self-confidence now in this broad-world spectrum. Now, if I feel hesitant to delve more deeply into technology, I know I have only begun to scratch the surface of what is out there to know. And so what if I haven’t learned every thing there is to know…only God know everything! And only a fool would think he does know everything.

So now, instead of feeling like one of the “Unenlightened,” I’ll just roll up my sleeves and plow right in, admitting that “I didn’t know that!,” and exploring until I do know!

4. Well, one thing I had trouble with twice (this blog and the one just ahead if this) was that my longest two blogs were lost in cyberspace, even though I saved them diligently; they timed out on me. The first one was this one.

I don’t know if my using a laptop on the bookmobile had anything to do with it, but I had a patron, so I posted my blog, then minimized the screen to check her items out. When I restored the screen and went to edit post, I had only begun to type the last of #6 when I noticed a message that said blogger was not connected to the Internet. It told me to “test here” and that my blog may be lost. I tried to save it, and then save as a draft, but they wouldn’t save.

I tried minimizing to save it to a Word Document, but again, it wouldn’t save it. So holding my breath, trying not to lose all the work I’d put into it, I clicked on the test here spot, and watched my entire 2 hrs. work evaporate into nothingness! One of our techs said it had probably timed out on me, and many computer savvy people tried to retrieve it for me, but came up empty.

The second time was this morning. I had just completed the blog before this one which took me quite a long time to finish because I had other duties that occupied some of my time. Thinking to myself, “I’m going to save the post I had just published to a Word Document so Saturday’s debacle wouldn’t be repeated, I just had enough time to copy the blog, and instantly, the same thing happened. I could not believe this happened again!

But fortunately for me, when the message popped up that “this page cannot be displayed,” I logged off and then logged in again. Much to my shock and surprise, there it was, except for the edited version I had made, which I gladly redid!

What I am saying is, that everyone should be warned NOT to use blogger directly, because it can, and unfortunately does, time out and you can lose everything you’ve worked on! I was told (too late, much to my chagrin) that I should have always used Word, and after I had saved it, copy it into my blog post and then publish my post. Please keep this in mind and forewarn people; you don’t know how frustrating and painful this can be, especially when it could be so easily avoided!

I would also like to say that no matter what prizes were offered as incentives, my greatest enticement, aside from the obvious—learning 2.0 technology—was the CEU’s offered. However, I don’t know, since I seemed to go above and beyond the call of duty, that it took me an inordinate amount of time (but even so, I did that because I truly wanted to know and learn as much as I could, and isn’t that the point of it all?), but I really don’t think it was just me. I heard even professionally trained computer people say that parts of this were very confusing. They said they didn’t like some of the sites involved, and some of the wikis, and some of the way things were generally formatted. But I just do NOT feel that the 1.8 (or whatever) CEU’s given was nearly an appropriate amount for anyone...not even those who didn’t put as much time and energy into it as I did. Just to “keep up” I often spent LOTS of (unpaid overtime hours) after work doing my 23 Things.

What would I recommend to rectify the problems? I would recommend that computer techs from all participating Maryland libraries who have aided their staff or did this training themselves be brought together for a symposium to bring to the table every problematic issue they experienced, and then discuss methods of “de-bugging” until every conceivable ‘thing’ was satisfactory with the panel. Who would know better than the people with the most expertise?

One more every Maryland library, we have an enormous task to accomplish at this particular time of year, namely, our Summer Reading Program. Now I don’t know about any other library, but we are so terribly busy, we can barely see straight, let alone be pressed by any other tasks. As much as I enjoyed it, I must say that I felt very pressured due to my summer duties and a whole week of programs to do at all the branches (at the end of June) by myself with this course work added in the mix. I usually try to squeeze in planning the upcoming bookmobile route for the year during any times of relative quiet (like before we open to the public in the morning, and sometimes during the lunch hour when mothers take their children home for feeding and napping). I haven't even begun that task, for wanting to finish this and have it behind me.

So I wondered, “What WERE they thinking when they made this a summer project?” Cecil County Public Library offers our Summer Reading Program for infants / preschool / school-aged (1st-5th grades) in Children’s, YA (middle school through high school), and all adults. A great deal of our staff help in doing the Cecil County Fair—a huge undertaking outreach to our community, so many of our staff were entirely too tied up to take part this year, even though they truly wanted to.

5. Yes, I would most likely take part in one again, but as I stated earlier, I would certainly hope that the CEU’s offered would be more sufficiently given, in light of the amount of work that is required. And, if it were not taking place in the height of our Summer Reading Program, all the better!

6. Well, the entire program was very beneficial to me as someone with professional computer training. Aside from the one or two brief training sessions we all had from some of the computer training technologists, I have been self-taught, and have managed to do fairly well, considering, through my 17 years here. However, I often felt very uninformed as far as the technological aspects of my job. Therefore, I welcomed the opportunity to gather as much from Learning 2.0 as I could, especially when we were allowed to use our work time to learn it!

So to summarize in a sentence, I will use a quote from one of my blogs, “I feel much more confident about venturing out and challenging myself...maybe with some elbow-grease, I can cut and polish this rough stone until it shines like a 2.0 Carat Diamond!"

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