Sunday, August 9, 2015

New tool - gif maker!

We have mean bees in our yard that make a habit of attacking the honey bees on the sunflowers, and today I caught one in action.  My husband suggested I make a gif - so here it is!

I had success with - it was indeed easy to use.

My first ever gif.  It's a good one!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Digital Literacy in Action - Civic Engagement

Last night, the first of (too) many GOP "debates" took place.  I had an interesting experience while trying to watch the event that highlighted the importance of digital literacy skills.

In the last few days, we've fielded questions at the library about the time of the debate and where it could be watched.  I helped one of our regulars find a schedule of all the debates between now and the election - but didn't look closely at the details for this first debate.

I guess I should have - it turned out that only cable subscribers could watch the debate live streaming on the internet.  That ruled me out, and probably some of the people calling the library for information about the debate too!

But not all was lost - for those with a bit of tech savvy.  After determining we would be skunked through normal streaming sources, my husband searched around and found a YouTube channel that was showing the debate.


Marcus Harun, a young journalist based in Connecticut, was literally filming his television screen and broadcasting via YouTube so those of us without the precious cable subscription could still see the debate and learn about the "top tier" of GOP candidates.  This worked great, until about halfway through the debate when YouTube pulled his stream for copyright violation.

Not to worry though!  Marcus had a backup broadcast going, using Periscope.  We were able to watch the rest of the debate this way.  What was most interesting though, was the things Marcus had to do to ensure this stream wasn't pulled down too.  We think he must have been getting warning messages from Periscope, because he started to make sure that he was visible in the broadcast at all times, and he occasionally turned it off for discussion.

This is a great example of digital literacy in action, on both ends of the experience.

From our end, we started with the desire to watch the debate on our computers (as we do not own a television).  Once we determined it wasn't a straightforward (free) endeavor, we used our skills to find an alternative viewing option.  Our determination to watch the debate gave us the motivation to persevere.

On the broadcaster's end, he made the decision to circumvent traditional viewing methods based on the belief that information should be freely available, especially for the sake of an open democracy.  He used his technical skills with recording equipment and several websites to provide the opportunity for more people to be involved and engaged in the democratic process.

Both of the people I know of that called the library for information about the debate would not have been able to take advantage of these alternative viewing methods, due to lack of access.  I'll not get into the political ramifications of locking down a portion of the democratic process to only those that pay for access.  That's a different (but very important) issue.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Those questions...

It took a few days, but I'm back to answer the questions posed in the last post:

  • What resources can we use to duplicate what November describes (e.g., transforming an existing space into a space that becomes a launching point for community-changing endeavors grounded in strong digital literacy skills?
  • What are we (and can we) be doing to encourage our learners to use digital literacy skills in ways that "leave a legacy” (i.e., something that the learners can continue to own and share long after the formal learning opportunities conclude)?
  • What can we do in defining and fostering digital literacy to support work that has an identifiable purpose that is meaningful to our colleagues and our learners?

Very good questions...

In most libraries, we work with the physical space we currently have.  It can take years to get new buildings, and even remodels require a good deal of planning and money.  Librarians are really good at rearranging what we have in order to try new things, with the least amount of budget expenditure.  At my library, we transformed the area near the entry into what we call the Lifelong Learning Center.  Here it is prior to the final addition of tables and seating conducive to collaborative work.

I really like the open feeling of the newly revamped entrance area

It's be three years since the remodel (really?!!), and now I often see people working together on computers and we hold many of our "Book A Librarian" sessions in this space.  I'll have to take a photo tomorrow to show what it looks like - it's kind of funny to see it in this state before the furniture was added.  This may not be the source of any groundbreaking developments, but we do provide a space for people to learn and work together.  Two of our other branches were remodeled into Creative Tech Centers, which provide an array of equipment and programming focused around technology.

Question two - not much, yet.  I cannot think of anything my library system has done to really encourage any sort of "legacy" by the people we offer technology training to.  In fact, I think it's been quite the opposite.  We offer generic classes teaching basic computing skills, and a few people come but overall attendance is slim.  What's lacking?  CONTEXT and PURPOSE.  A generic class to learn how to use Word is nice, but boring.  The learners need a reason to learn that will carry on after the class occurs.  Our Book A Librarian appointments are popular because people have specific learning goal in mind, and they receive personalized help.  This still does not encourage a legacy, however.

Question three - for my coworkers, our purpose is to help the people that walk in the door.  Therefore we need to have a level of digital literacy that enables us to provide high quality service.  Until now, this has meant the ability to help people download eBooks to their devices, or showing them how to access their flash drive or print from the public computers.  Obviously the potential for so much more exists.  In the next few months, my work will consist of expanding digital literacy skills for my coworkers, who can in turn open doors for our customers.

This course has given me so much to think about.  Everyone needs meaning for their learning.