Final Self-Appraisal

When I came to this class the first day, I was apprehensive. As I’ve stated numerous times, I’m not technology-driven. On a discussion board post for LIS 600, I mentioned that I generally only adopt new technology if it a) significantly improves something I’m already doing or b) enables me to do something I already wanted to do, but couldn’t. Although that’s still more or less my approach in my personal life, 635 has really expanded my ideas of what technology can do in my professional life.

The “practical” things we’ve learned (specific apps and websites, for instance) have been very helpful, but at least for me, the more important take-away has been that learning new technology embodies the lifelong learning I hope to encourage in my future students. I may decide a particular app isn’t useful in my media center, but learning the app allows me to make a more informed decision about its usefulness and expands my general professional knowledge base. Moreover, the more varied my technological knowledge, the easier it will be for me to learn unfamiliar technology (kind of like languages–by the time you’re fluent in several, the others aren’t as difficult to pick up as the first new language). Although this particular piece of technology may not be immediately useful, the principles I learn from it may.Discovery in the Park

That’s where a lot of the assignments have been helpful. I may never teach WorldCat to elementary school students, but I can definitely use the skeleton of the lesson plan, with its flipped segment, for other topics. I can use tools students (and possibly parents) are already familiar with (like Pinterest and YouTube) to expand their ideas of how they learn. I can also convey these avenues of learning to teachers in my school, with the background of having used it myself, which enables me to expand outside of the media center and become a more integral part of the school.

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Digital Storytelling

This Flickr set contains the images used in our video.

This Flickr set contains the images used in our video.




For our digital storytelling project, Laura and I decided to retell the story of Rapunzel. Our video, created using Videolicious, is Retelling Rapunzel: A Digital Storytelling Video

Our Storyboard and Bibliography are also available. The curated content collection, which expands the bibliography, is linked in the above image.

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The Learning Project

Screen shot 2013-11-11 at 10.32.23 PMI’ve posted all three portions of my learning project under the page “Learning Project,” with a brief explanation of the flipped segment and the curated content collection, as well as an explanation of the lesson as a whole. The lesson plan has its own page, instead of a link.

Between draft 1 and the final draft, I made a major structural change, electing to have the students work in groups during class instead of working as a whole class with the instructor as a focal point. The whole-class work seemed likely to discourage quieter students from participating, while group work would give students the opportunity to learn from each other. A group work segment also allows the instructor more time to personalize “instruction,” since the instructor can move among the students answering specific questions and troubleshooting specific problems, without slowing down students who already understand WorldCat.

I kept the independent segment as the last part of this session (session 2 in a series of 3). The group work should prepare the students to work on separate topics, though they may still ask questions of each other and the instructor. The independent segment is the “real-world” application, since this is where students apply what they learned from the video and in the group work to their own work. Seeing an immediate application of using WorldCat should reinforce the idea that WorldCat is a valuable resource in research, not just an assignment for this one session of one class.

Originally, I included six indicators from two different ACRL standards. However, a classmate suggested narrowing the indicators to a more specific focus. I chose the Standards for Libraries in Higher Education because their broadness better describes how this lesson fits into the purposes of an academic library (although I think the indicators chosen could also apply to an elementary school media center).

I’m curious. Did anyone else have to teach themselves WorldCat, or has anyone else encountered a focused explanation of “here’s WorldCat, here’s how you can use it?”

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Learning Project- Peer Review Updates

Having discussed my learning project draft with Jarrion, I am considering changing the class session to having small-groups instead of the whole-class work. The original idea, to have the whole class working together, was to give the students a chance to learn from each other. I think the small-group environment would be better suited to learning the skills.The small-group work would probably make it easier for quieter students to participate in the process and would allow the students to “teach” each other, reinforcing what they’re learning. This could also incorporate a suggestion from SuAnn to give them pre-selected topics that I’m already familiar with so I could assess “on the fly,” instead of having to wait and assess after the session.

I suggested to Jarrion that he narrow his topic, choosing a section of his current plan and really fleshing it out.

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Learning Project- Draft 1 Reflection

As I was constructing draft 1 of my lesson plan, the thought that kept occurring was “there’s more to this lesson planning thing than I realized.” I was not an education major in my undergrad, so this is my first official “lesson plan” sort of assignment. I’ve taught things before, informally, but those were much less structured in their planning. I may have thought about similar components, but putting them all into words, and connecting the pieces, was kind of new. I have a much better appreciation of how instructors have to prepare for lessons having attempted a plan myself.

The hardest part for me was describing the assessment. I suppose, to a certain extent, when I teach someone a new skill, I rely a lot on non-verbal cues to see if they “get” it, which is why I included more slippery standards like “Are students asking questions?”– if, for instance, several students ask about a particular step, I should probably go over it again in another way.  I’m not really a fan of tests and quizzes, so I chose a worksheet as a more neutral sort of “solid” assessment. Since it’s not a “test,” it should be less stressful for students with test anxiety, while still giving me a measurable standard– either students can successfully complete it (and are ready to move on), or they can’t (and aren’t).

The independent worksheet in particular should also make clear the connections between WorldCat and real-world (well, real-academia) applications, since students will use as their beginning topic their research for their composition class (which is the basis of this lesson). Besides demonstrating WorldCat’s usefulness, it should also allow them to begin researching for the class in an environment where they can receive research help. Since this lesson is part of a series about library resources, it should reinforce the idea that the library is a place to come for help.

The final assessment survey is more an assessment of how well the lesson worked. If students are all confident in navigating WorldCat and intend to use it again, the lesson has probably done well. If more than one or two students are not confident in WorldCat and do not intend to use it again, the lesson was very likely to blame. If only one or two students will not use WorldCat again, the lesson may not have been constructed broadly enough (or they may just not like WorldCat–there could certainly be other factors).

Do these assessments (non-written, in-lesson; worksheets; survey) seem like they would give the instructors the needed information to know if students “got” it? Any suggestions as to improvements?

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Flipped Classrooms

For the TEDEd page, click here.

I was already familiar with Lars Brownworth’s podcast series, “12 Byzantine Emperors,” so this one really appealed to me. Although reading or listening to words describing is a fairly good learning method for me, the podcasts never could give me a definite idea of what the walls and strategic position of Constantinople were like. This video did that through the visuals. Although they were simple, just colors and basic shapes, the diagrams of the walls and of the defense strategy made the point very well. Their simplicity prevented the visuals from distracting from the words as well. The visuals supported the verbal very well–one of the problems I’ve always had with a podcast, even an interesting one, is concentrating on the words when there are so many other non-related visuals around to distract. Because this video engages two senses (sight and sound), I found it much easier to concentrate on the information presented.

One of the other advantages this video demonstrates that I think would apply to others as well is length. I’m not ADD, but I do have a limited attention span. Even an hour of lecture is tough, especially since I’m a “captive” audience. Shorter videos, which are more “interesting” anyway than sheer verbal, are usually over before my attention span runs out. Longer videos, since I can watch them on my own time, allow me to stop the video and come back later if I can’t concentrate. Since I’m not a “captive” audience, I’m a little more willing of an audience–I can wait to watch the video when I’m interested or wide awake, instead of being forced to attempt concentration when I’m out of it.

One problem I might encounter though–short videos can’t always convey enough information or examples to really “make the point.” Since I already had some background in medieval Constantinople (from the podcasts), I had a context in which to place this video. For something like history or literature, I’m not sure if a short audio-visual lecture can convey all the needed information effectively; but if you record a longer video, you get kind of the same problems you have with classroom lectures.

Any thoughts on how you might employ this for teaching traditionally heavy-reading material (like history or lit) without using just sound-bytes? Or resorting to a long lecture-video?

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Instruction Objectives Draft

My overall goal is to enable undergraduate student researchers to use WorldCat as a research tool.

My objectives are:

  1. Given a specific book, students can locate the subject headings and locate the nearest available copy (digital or physical).
  2. Having located a subject heading in objective 1, students can use the subject heading to locate at least 5 more resources with that subject heading with at least 1 book and at least 1 journal article.

I’m thinking this would be a tutorial video, followed by a class session working through the process, with an independent worksheet to apply. What do you think?

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Convergence & “Remix” Culture

Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 10.41.05 AM

When I typed in “convergence culture,” the guy that kept coming up as the expert was Henry Jenkins, author of the “Confessions of an Aca-Fan” blog above. After reading up on what “convergence culture” is, I thought to myself, “why haven’t I encountered this term before?” I had encountered the idea of analyzing non-traditional texts (such as YouTube videos and other entertainment “texts”) before, but no one had ever named it for me. Now I know.

Jenkins description in his “About” of the “Aca-Fan” as “a hybrid creature which is part fan and part academic” struck a cord. In my senior thesis class as an English major, all four of us could have called ourselves “Aca-Fans.” I wrote on my favorite series, history-mystery “popular” fiction series Brother Cadfael Chronicles by Ellis Peters. Casey wrote on The Dark Knight and the character of the Joker. Although Liz and Hannah took slightly more traditional routes (Ron Rash’s “literary” novel Serena, and Alice in Wonderland), they still chose those works in part because they enjoyed them. Discovering a term for us is vindicating of our work.

Switching gears a bit…

The above video, although not a “remix” in and of itself, relates because of the beginning. Heather Dale, the artist, behind the song “Mordred’s Lullaby,” released an mp3 album called “Perpetual Gift” last year (2012), called so because Heather gave full permission for downloaders to give the music away freely. The mp3’s were live versions of both previously released and new songs. “Mordred’s Lullaby” receives my special attention here because in the “Perpetual Gift” recording, Heather discusses the song’s popularity as the background music for “fan videos” of all sorts, saying, “I’m really thrilled that my art is inspiring their art.” Rather than clinging to her rights to the music, Heather Dale actually encourages her fans to incorporate her work into theirs, and an album like “Perpetual Gift,” which is given freely to be used freely, is a clear manifestation of that encouragement.

The below video is actually a mashup of “Mordred’s Lullaby” with the BBC series Merlin. This combination is fairly common on YouTube, but this particular one is a little unusual. The television series does not tell the same story as the song (in the song, Morgana is Mordred’s mother; in Merlin she is not), but most mashups use the characters as themselves (Arthur as Arthur, Morgana as Morgana, etc.). This one employs other characters as older versions of the main characters (for instance, Merlin‘s “Uther” is the song’s older Arthur), prompting the video creator to explain the “casting” in the About section beneath the video. As someone familiar with both Merlin and “Mordred’s Lullaby,” I needed that explanation in order for the mashup to align well enough for me to “follow” the combined story. Viewer familiarity with the sources prior to watching the video could actually have been a hindrance to understanding the mashup, one of the potential disadvantages of mashups (at least compared to a wholly “original” work).

Personally, I enjoy mashups (as long as I “get” what’s going on), so I approve of artists “approving” the use of their work in them. Artist approval (which Creative Commons licenses facilitate) really can be very much an inspiration.

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LIS 635 & Flickr

a screenshot of my LIS 635 set on Flickr

a hyperlinked screenshot of my LIS 635 set on Flickr–click to view the set in question

I’ve been using a small digital camera for a while now. My first digital camera was a Nikon Coolpix L6, and it’s still going strong (I’ve been using it for close to seven years). I’ve also played around with friends’ digital cameras and some larger, more expensive “digitals” with such features as interchangeable lenses. Digital photography offers a lot of freedoms. I can take a lot of pictures (and delete those that I don’t like); zoom in and out; alter flash; and change various other settings. Once I’ve uploaded the pictures to my computer, iPhoto allows me to enhance color, crop, and otherwise fine-tune the picture.

Then, of course, digital cameras offer an expanded range of sharing methods. I don’t need anything but my own computer and the Internet to share when using a digital. This freedom poses a set of challenges that never really came up with the disposables. Not only can I share photos whenever I want with whomever I want, so can everybody else. My friends can post pictures of me, and if I don’t like the picture, all I can do is “untag” myself or ask them to take it down. Among friends that might not be a big deal, but when the sharer and the subject don’t know each other, the subject of the photo has very little recourse in protecting their privacy. To use myself as an example: I don’t like my photo being put online. Today, a student popped into the third floor lounge and took a photo “for a photo-scavenger hunt,” explaining only after taking the picture (and never actually asking if the subjects minded). In this particular instance, I was not in the photo, due to my location in the lounge, but if I had been, what would my options be? I could ask him to delete, but I have no way of enforcing that, nor of controlling the dissemination of the photo if he didn’t delete.

Digital photography and photo-sharing online, whether it’s through Flickr or any other social media certainly has its uses, but the freedom they offer comes with a greater possibility of “doing harm” than more restricted methods of photography and sharing. Since I dislike my photo being posted myself, I avoid taking shots in which the subjects are recognizable without asking permission, and I rarely post photos with people in them. In consequence, the above Flickr set contains only inanimates. Using digital photography to incorporate people into a blog or video can be both useful and and fun, but it comes with a responsibility to respect the rights of the people around us.

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Mid-Point Reflection

Revised Essential Question:

How can school media personnel employ technology in the media center to facilitate student development of lifelong learning skills?

After discussing my original EQ (from August 21, 2013) with classmates, I narrowed the question a bit to the above. So far, LIS 635 has answered this question in two ways. First practically, and second theoretically.


from TechSmith’s page on Jing.

Practically speaking, I am learning a variety of new sites and apps that I can use in the media center to teach students and to encourage their learning. My favorite so far is Jing. I can use it to teach students to use various Web sites and other computer-related activities, such as using an online catalog. If the library had a website or blog accessible from outside the school, students could access tutorials from home if they needed help on, say, using Microsoft Word. Since Jing isn’t especially complicated, older students could probably also learn to use Jing, allowing them to “teach” their fellow students (such as having older students create a tutorial on using the online catalog). Playing with WordPress to create visually interesting and informative blog posts also lays the groundwork for creating a library blog.

my iPod Classic and dumphone, as of Sept. 30, 2013

my iPod Classic and dumphone, as of Sept. 30, 2013

On a less practical, more theoretical side, LIS 635 is encouraging me to step outside the box with technology. I’m not very technology-driven. New technology doesn’t scare me; it just doesn’t usually pique my interest. “New versions” of things (for instance, the iPad Touch) don’t make much of an impression of the version I have (in this case, the iPod Classic) fills the need. In consequence, I tend to be rather behind in my technology (I still like my dumbphone, for instance). Learning about a variety of unusual, non-phone sites and apps has piqued my interest in learning more about using them and finding others that work in other ways, partly out of curiosity and partly because my ideas on technology’s uses in the library are expanding.

So I suppose one of the ways school media personnel can employ technology in the media center to facilitate student development of lifelong learning skills is to demonstrate said lifelong learning skills by continuing to learn new technology.

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