Sunday, May 16, 2010


Some six months exploring social media - tools, commentary, theory, practice, etc. - in the context of education, generally, and libraries, specifically, and this morning I find this on my sister in law's blog. Another vote for KOHA, I think.

Apologies for the size; it was the smallest choice. If it frustrates you, as it did me, just go watch it on YouTube. Duh.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Top Ten Revisited

I was somewhat afraid to revisit my top ten list. Written in January, I had only been a teacher librarian for two months. What did I know? Well, not how to count to ten, apparently. Here it is, in abridged form:

1. Your students may be on Facebook and text constantly, but this doesn't mean they know what a wiki is;
2. The most popular tech tools - wikis, blogs - are simple to learn and most OSs have templates built in;
3. Play! the best way to learn new tech is to play with it;
4. Ask your students for help; they're often good at figuring new tech out fast and love to be the teacher;
5. Don't be afraid to admit you don't know; no one has mastered it all;
6. Promise to learn what you admit you don't know and model your process;
7. Don't assume your students know basics; ask before skipping steps;
8. Technology is not always the right answer; examine the content and goal and then decide if tech fits;
9. Expect problems to crop up that are beyond your control; you will lose the internet on some days;
10. Start simply and build;
11. Less lecturing and more time for students to play with what you've shown them.

Okay. We can mash a few together - 5 & 6, 1 & 7, etc. So, that brings us down to 9, so I can add what I've figured out over these past few months in the lion's den.

10. Your students will assume that they know how to search the web and find information. They do not. But, humor them. Let them go out and fall down. When they are frustrated because you have shot down every site they have found and are ready to hide in the comfort of the familiar - World Book, e.g. - THEN teach the class on how to use a decent search engine, how to frame a search, how to locate and use the library's online databases. This will help you avoid lots of eye rolling and also having to teach the same lesson to every student individually after having taught it once to the whole class.

Other than that, I'm pretty happy with my list.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

OPAC Overload

Trying to make sense of all of the different OPAC options, their costs, special features and relationship to my students' needs and other, connected concerns was a bit of a nightmare. The bottom line, for me, was that it felt much like shopping for a car: no company wanted to give specifics on prices, but instead wanted you to call a sales rep. Similarly, it was difficult to figure out, in many cases, exactly what one would get for the money. Follett did a pretty good job of laying out their services on line, but price? Koha made price pretty clear, but features?

I am left with a better understanding of the various options out there, and some of the criteria necessary to evaluate them, but still far from knowing what the ideal OPAC would be for my district.