Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Beginning

It is the final week of classes this semester. I look forward to the coming summer semester, hoping that I learn as much in those classes as I did in the last few months. Looking through the portfolio requirements for the SLMS track students, I was surprised at how many pieces of this culminating project that I have completed this semester. In this class, I have learned how to write and create a newsletter for circulation; I have learned to collaborate with others on a group paper looking specifically at library websites; I have successfully created an entire orignal professional development workshop; I have become certified to teach Internet safety... The list goes on. I can see the value in all of these things since they will be directly applicable to what I will be doing in the future. This week we read an interesting and timely article (despite its 1930's publishing date) about education and curriculum changing and adapting to fit the needs of present students. We are fortunate in the SLMS program to have this adaptability built right into the program with its focus on new technology and new ways to use the technology in a school library. Finally, this week we had an exam on copyright issues. What I will take away from our study of this issue is to proceed with caution in this area, and when in doubt, look up any specific situation to be informed of possible infringement. Having a good resource for this will be absolutely vital.
I really did enjoy this class in computer applications. It introduced me to many new things that I would have never used before... My career as a school librarian will definitely benefit from having taken it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


What is my vision for my future career? My hope is to one day be the librarian in a school that puts the education of the students at the forefront of everyone's thinking. This includes, not only teaching students to pass tests, but to also instill in them life-long skills and characteristics like a love for reading, responsibility, information literacy, and a craving for new knowledge in a variety of formats. Technology integration would be a major part of my program, promoting creativity and collaboration among students and faculty.
During my first year in the school librarian program, I have visited numerous school libraries, and sometimes it seems that there is a large gap between what we learn about in our classes about collaboration and technology integration and what really happens everyday in school libraries... Hopefully, as new school librarians, we will bridge that gap and incorporate the best practices and tools that we now have in our professional toolboxes into our everyday practices in the schools, in hopes of improving the educational experience and learning of today's student in the Information Age.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Week 13 Copyright Police?

This week in Computer Applications we took another look at the issue of copyright in schools, the laws, regulations, and consequences of infringement. As an information specialist, the school library media specialist is in a unique position in the school which allows him/her to monitor a great deal of these issues on a daily basis. Much of the equipment that generates copied material (copiers, printers, computers etc.) are housed in the library, giving the SLMS a good opportunity to monitor, as well as giving the SLMS a great responsibility due to the possible legal ramifications of infringement (to the SLMS personally even). However, much has been said about the school librarian being viewed as a "copyright police," ready to jump all over faculty and students for any slight infraction. This does not generate good working relationships, which is absolultely vital for a collaborative, collegial working environment (which has been shown to increase student learning).
A key in this whole issue is administrative policy and support. If the SLMS is supported by school policy and the administration, copyright problems will become more of an administrative issue, instead of a personal, "look what he is doing" attack by the SLMS. Posting flyers, sending out emails etc. notifying faculty of the school policy is a good start to spread awareness about this important issue without alienating people in the process.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Week 12 E books

The semester is fast coming to a close. There are many many assignments all coming due within the next few weeks. It can be easy to lose focus on the goal of my education in favor of simply "getting the assignment" done and over with. Everything we are doing will probably serve me in the future. If I learn it to a high level right now, it will be much easier to implement it into my school library.
This week we learned about ebooks and their place in school libraries, especially in the nonfiction and reference sections. This is a truly interesting topic as some people believe that ebooks have the potential to motivate students to increase their reading and research with print sources (that are no longer "print" anymore as they are in a digital format).
In research and reference especially, ebooks might be a revolution and a great tool to fight against the "Google it" generation. To have another digital resource to consult other than the Internet (this being more reliable), some believe would greatly serve to increase information literacy practices amongst students today. My questions come in regarding cost vs. benefit. The ebooks and their readers continue to be very expensive. Is this expense worth the possible benefits? This is something that I have not really worked out yet in my own vision of a school library...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Week 11

This week we have been adding to our professionaly resources, as well as discussing the importance of constantly updating and utilizing these resources in our careers. Technology is constantly changing and growing. There are so so many applications available (many of which are free of charge - a good thing in this uncertain budgetary year) that can serve to incorporate information technology and computer skills into the curriculum of any grade level, as well as simply enriching the educational experience, whether it be through adding excitement to a info tech class by using various new apps or by increasing reading enjoyment through something like Google Lit trips.
I looked through my Diigo account this week and was admittedly overwhelmed at the amount of links and suggestions included there for implementing technology in the school library. I find myself thinking, I am going to have so much going on as a new school librarian. Just learning names of students, becoming acquainted with the school environment and other faculty, drawing up my own curriculum, how will I possibly have time to think about using these things in my library? I have to adopt a view of my future career as a profession, one that will develop over years and years of experience. Once I am adapted to a certain library, I will have more time to think about technology integration, and I do not have to use EVERY new app that comes available, only the ones that serve my particular needs at the time.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Week 10 Conferences and Workshops

This has certainly been a full week. We were given the opportunity to "attend" a conference with numerous presentations done by professionals in our field about integrating technology into the school library. These presentations were helpful in several respects as it gave me numerous ideas of computer applications I had never even heard about. It is also great that these conferences are available online for me to keep to view anytime I might need assistance in the future (as it would be impossible to remember everything).
Also, there were several presentations on professional development at this conference. These were especially helpful this week as I was finishing up my own workshop for a professional development seminar (for this class). I learned many different things about making these workshops useful for those who attend and making teachers (especially the "non-techie" ones) feel welcome and comfortable. Some of these strategies included offering food and beverages as well as time for mingling and networking. This allowed teachers to feel more comfortable instead of simply taking yet another professional development class. Also, I found it to be important to stress the collegial and social aspects to learning technology.
The semester is fast coming to a close and I think we are probably all feeling the pressure of getting projects done before it ends, but even amidst the stress, I can see how far I have come and how much I have learned throughout the course of these classes... It is exciting to look ahead to the future and the opportunies we will have to apply everything we are learning today in a school library.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Week 8 Presentations

This week has been a great learning experience for me. The thing that I really like about this class, Computer Applications, is how practical it is... This class is truly preparing me for a future career. Professional development presentations is something I will need to be doing as a school library media specialist. It is a great way to build relationships with fellow isntructors and other school staff members.
We have learned how best to give an effective presentation for staff development. Including knowing your overt and covert objectives, how best to meet these objectives in the presentation, and how to measure the success of the presentation by giving evaluations. There are many things to consider while creating a professional development workshop, incuding audience, time, publicity, duration, scope, location... the list can go on and on... Technology can come can really enhance a presentation (as we saw in the Powerpoint tutorial) through graphics, visuals, animations, but it is important to ask whether or not these things really add to the message we are tring to convey or if they will simply distract the audience.
This week I also have been working on the iSafe certification modules. This issue of internet safety very important today, as children spend many hours a day doing various activites online (especially with web 2.0 technology). To be able to effectively teach students (and teach them to teach eachother) about the dangers of online predators, viruses, identity theft etc. will be a great tool for me as a new school library media specialist.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Week 7 Collaboration

Group projects were never my favorite thing to do in highschool and undergrad... There was always that one person who did not do their share of the work, riding the coattails of the rest of the group. It was also a frustrating process to pick a time for everyone to meet and work on the project together... Once the project was completed though, it always seemed that I had learned more than if I had done it alone. I had learned from my peers. Everyone brought his or her past experiences, individual perspectives, and search strategies to the project (for the most part :) and we all benefited from it.
Now, for our project with the Google doc this week, many of these frustrations have been alleviated thanks to technology. We are able to work at our own pace and mesh our thoughts in real time. I really like this application for this reason. There are still difficulties involved with working in a group. Splitting up work or making suggestions is always somewhat of a challenge, and requires tact and imagination... but this is the way of the future of education. I am planning on implementing this type of assignment in a school library, and I need to be able to collaborate well with my peers before I can instuct students on how best to do it with other students.
For my part this week, I am focusing mainly on usability in regards to library websites. The website is an all-important part of the library facility. It provides an access point for students and parents to utilize the school library from anywhere. I have seen too many library websites that are underdeveloped or simply out of date (e.g. links no longer work). This is an unfortunate reality that I believe really speaks badly for the school library. SLMS need to take initiative to educate themselves on webpage design and upkeep as a professional responsibility that will aide students in their search for and access to information.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Week 6 Internet Safety

Internet safety has been the topic so far this sixth week into the semester. This is a subject that is very relevant not only in schools today, but in almost every home across the country.
The Problem
Anyone with a computer is at a risk for leaving a trail on the web that could bring them some type of harm (identity theft, predators...). Children are especially vulnerable because they get lulled into a false sense of anonymity on the web. They always think "no one will ever see this," when in actuality, virtually anything written or posted online can be viewed by anyone else and it is out there permanently. You cannot take it back. Social networking sites encourage children to release personal information by creating a "profile" that prompts them to post pictures, give their name, location, age, etc. Predators are lurking, just waiting for enough information to cause harm.
The Upside
With that just said, it would seem prudent to discourage children from using the internet at all costs. I take the same stance as Doug Johnson did, saying that the computer applications themselves do not cause harm and do not cause risk, students should just be taught how to use them properly. I have started the iSafe online tutorial in order to learn how best to teach internet safety to students. I have found that I am learning alot myself in the process! Web 2.0 is a revolution in how people use and view the internet. It comes with its risks to be sure, but when students are taught to minimize their "digital footprint" there are some really neat and interactive tools available for them to use.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Week 5 Searching Tools

Cataloging has always been viewed as the most boring class in the library science field. I have even been told by several SLMS essentially to "get ready to nap through that class." Despite its monotony, I can see through our activities in Computer Applications this week the importance that things like keywords, subject headings etc. have in regards to utility, accessibility, and general user-friendliness. This week we looked at searching tools, both on library website and general search engine tools, like Google. The amount of information available out in "cyberspace" is so vast its unimaginable. The task of organizing and making this information usable is quite daunting. Google has done some exciting new things lately. I really liked the Google Squared feature. It is in its early stages, but I can already see its potential as it makes searching for information on a certain topic a one-stop-shop process.
As an information specialist, I would hope to encourage students to access information from other sources such as books and databases. In order to get these students to do this on their own (instead of "googling" it), we need to make library search tools as user-friendly as possible. As was discussed in the discussion boards this week, perhaps keeping a simple search interface will help. But I believe demonstrating to students the quality of information that they can receive through library search tools as compared to Google searches will help to increase their information literacy skills.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Week 4 IL/ICT

Week four, thus far, has been one of the most intensive weeks of the semester. When I opened up this weeks "weekly materials" for Computer Applications, I was admittedly a bit overwhelmed by the amount of materials available for us to go through. The webquest itself was an amazing resource on IL/ICT. I feel as though everyone who is going to be a SLMS or is currently, should have this entire webquest in their professional toolbox because even though it is large, it breaks down and somewhat condenses this issue of information literacy and ICT and its place in the curriculum. This is our whole job as SLMS! Information literacy is our curriculum... It is extremely important that we know this issue inside and out so that we can defend our role as an integral instructor.
I do believe that there is a common misconception today that all young children are computer whizzes and can make use of computers to find any information. Now, there is no doubt that kids are constantly on the computer (or some other technological device), but that does not necessarily mean that they have the ICT skills necessary to promote their education. ICT skills need to be explicitly taught. It is too easy to simply type in a word, sentence etc. into a search engine and simply choose from the first few hits on the web and call that "doing research." I have seen this done not only in elementary or secondary schools, but sadly I have seen it many times over in colleges and universities as well. Children need to be informed as to why this does not work and how best to find information (even if there are a few more steps involved and it requires more brain power).
This week so far has been a great learning experience for me. I am looking forward to continuing to learn about technology and its relation to this profession in the weeks to come!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Week 3 Assistive Technology

Well, week three... the semester has really begun. I have gotten into somewhat of a schedule for completing my classwork each week, and - I am happy to say - I have become more comfortable using the computer applications needed to complete some of these assignments. As difficult as it is for me to learn and educate myself - I cannot imagine the difficulty involved in education for a person living with a disability. I applaud all those with learning, mobile, or sensory disabilities who get up everyday and tackle school work, despite countless challenges which are very easy for most, such as manipulating a mouse on a computer or turning the pages or a book.
Assistive Technology can bridge this gap - to some extent. I am really glad we were required to complete this newsletter about assistive devices because through my research, I learned a great deal about how much is really out there. I feel more prepared now to enter a real world situation in which I would be responsible to acquire the proper tools to assist someone with a particular disability. There is a wide array of tools out there... we just need to know which ones best serve the needs of the student population and how to obtain the funding to acquire them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Week 2 trial and error

... And so it begins. I am now well into the second week of the semester. The online format of this class has been quite a challenge for me, but at the same time, I have been learning a good deal about the online applications involved in this field of library media through trial and error. In many ways, I can see that this is the best way to learn. Through experimentation, frustration, and some success I have been able to learn many new things this week about making the Internet useful for myself and others.
This week we discussed and explored the issues of related to the governmental hierarchy involved in school libraries. Who is in control? Where does the money come from? These are really important questions that need to be answered in order to best serve your library media center. Being aware of different councils, regional groups and grant writing opportunities is an absolute must. To not investigate these avenues would mean missing out on many possible ways to improve your school library. This is a disservice to me as the SLMS, the school, the principal, the faculty, and most importantly to the students the LMC is meant to serve.
We also entered into some discussion on copyright this week. This is something I have to force myself to be interested in, as is probably true for many. However, it is readily apparent that this is an important topic for SLMS and their schools. Legal action is more prevalent than I thought in regards to copyright infringement. It is definitely something to be informed about and to make others around you aware.
This second week has been a successful one thus far. I am beginning to feel less anxious and more confidant about the upcoming semester.... Hopefully I will be able to carry this positive attitude with me throughout the next 14 weeks.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Week 1 Getting Connected

I began my first week in the Spring 2010 semester with a great deal of confidence. Although I am only in my second semester of the SLMS program at the University at Buffalo, I had finished the fall semester with success and was rested up after a nice, albeit seemingly too short, break. As soon as I opened the syllabus for each of the four classes I am taking, my confidence was replaced with anxiety, stress, and even a bit of nausea. Seeing the next few months of my life laid out before me was more than a little daunting.
LIS 568, in particular, was a cause of some immediate concern, upon learning that I had to subscribe to a wiki, create a Diigo account, write a blog, listen to a podcast... etc. None of these things were in my repertoire of prior experience or knowledge. However, once I took a few deep breaths and read the instructions carefully, I came to realize that these tools were nothing to be afraid of. They were simply that... tools for my use. For example, creating an account for an RSS feed seemed like an insurmountable task, but when I put my mind to it, I could see how useful and time-saving such an application could and would be to me in the future.
Even now, I am writing a blog... successfully I might add (and the first week is not even over with yet). Imagine what I will be able to do by the last week of class!