Free Blog (at a price)

So it turns out edublogs now allows “contentlink” ads to appear within my free educational blog.  I have investigated the possibility of ridding my blog of these annoying ads.  Now I read that in order to have an “ad-free” blog, I must pay an annual subscription.  It is difficult for a reader to distinguish my intentional links from these random advertisements.  I suppose this is another example of constantly changing technology.  As an educator, one can spend many hours learning a new technology tool which ends up becoming useless, unnecessary, or suddenly obsolete.  There is still one benefit, however, because each new learning experience provides skills that make the next one just a bit easier.

The secret to digital happiness is getting comfortable with change.

Alliance Virtual Library: Where can I find…?

Looking for information on the virtual libraries collaborating in Second Life through Alliance Virtual Library?  The Alliance Virtual Libraries Catalog provides slurls (Second Life url addresses) that will take you to many inworld libraries and library related sims.  Another directory lists many of the libraries and projects on Info Island.

Research is not poetry

The first hurdle I encountered in becoming a researcher was to loosen the passion and enthusiasm surrounding my personal perspective. My professor told me that research is not about feelings and that I should put a lid on my enthusiasm. Years spent teaching students to write about personally significant meaning is difficult to erase. And, to be honest, I love my perspective! Learning is always about looking at something outside our comfort zone. I am willing to try to change my way of thinking. But…fall is in the air and I long to write about the crisp air and collect some colorful metaphors as they float about. Oh, research, where is thy beauty?

Immersive Learning Environments (ILE’s)

As I review recent research literature in the area of libraries and literacy learning, I find repeated articles about gaming and Immersive Learning Environments.  I am beginning to understand the power of immersing a learner in a situation that requires learning new concepts and skills.  This “situational” learning gives the brain motivation to analyze, synthesize, and comprehend at a high level more effectively than memorization by rote (for a course grade).  As leader of the historical tour guides for the virtual Alamo this summer, I witnessed this motivation firsthand.  I was highly motivated to understand the historical context of the Alamo and the people involved in a way I had not been through reading books or through movies.

Learning the skills in 3D games and virtual worlds can seem daunting to the newcomer.  Other individuals (players or residents) seem highly skilled and the newcomer can be intimidated.  The pay off for continuing to learn must be readily foreseen and worth a great effort.  Rewards might include: creativity, sense of accomplishment, social interaction, confidence, and knowledge at a new level.

Book Discussions

 

bookdisc

Book Discussions and Book Clubs are traditionally a highlight of library programs (certainly my elementary school library book club is a happenin’!).  On July 23rd, I led my first virtual book discussion in Second Life on Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, a 1992 novel which first coined the term “metaverse.”  I worried that no one would show up for the discussion, but it turned out there was standing room only with 27 avatars. Conducting a book discussion in a virtual world made me realize the potential for reaching a wider (global) audience with similar interests.

Blah-blah-blog

In the back of my mind I have struggled with the concept of “blogging” since the moment I encountered it.  As a writing trainer, I have spent many summers training teachers on the recursive writing process.  A writer is encouraged to revisit writing again and again to revise.  The writer takes an idea and revisits it to form word pictures that can vividly express thought (hopefully) to a particular audience.  Blogging, imho, is quite different.  I am not certain where revision fits, I am not certain of my audience…the only thing of which I am certain is my willingness to learn and share what I learn.  Perhaps my audience is nobody.  “I’m nobody, who are you?”

For some reason, however, my blog has kept a focus on themes and topics within the field of librarianship.  While that is not surprising (and I do feel I ramble on about personal perspective entirely too much), I seem to have steered clear of other interests: music, faith, philosophy, cooking, hiking, and so on.  The topic of blogging falls into my goal of investigating current technology tools for the purpose of information delivery and education.

Writers must be willing to take risks- being misunderstood, making mistakes that are exposed to the reader.  As more people are writing through new technological modes, publishing opportunities have changed.  Anyone can publish on the web through blogging.  I have felt this sense that my blog is contributing to a huge mass of trivial electronic clutter of little value. My ears perked up when I heard of a book with the title Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger.  We now live in the age of push-technology instead of pull-technology (in the words of librarian Joyce Valenza), where society provides the bulk of information instead of a “top-down” hierarchy.  This video by Michael Wesch shows that change better than anything I can say: Information R/evolution.  (Watch in high-quality.)

The Explosion of Virtual Worlds

Now Google has released Lively and Facebook is giving us Vivaty.  Just how many virtual worlds do we need? And how in the world(s) are we supposed to choose?  Valibrarian just entered both new worlds and compared the two environments.  This animoto video shows the “cartoon-animation” type avatars in Lively.  I also made an animoto video in Vivaty, which has more realistic avatars.  Neither environment allows for the creative possibilites of Second Life (where users can build just about anything themselves).  Both Lively and Vivaty are pretty easy to use.  I was able to play one of my machinima videos on an inworld screen in Vivaty in just a few minutes (Something that took over six months to learn in SL).

Videography

I’ve worked with editing videos for my school news show for years but only started editing them on the computer a couple years ago.  I made a couple of videos to compare video camera choices.  I am sure that there are numerous other video cameras available now, but here is a video created with the RCA SmallWonder (a very small and inexpensive model) and another filmed with a Sony HandyCam (edited in Adobe Premiere 2.0).  Hey, by the time you read this, they will both probably be obsolete!  I bet you can tell which one I like best.

Multi-conferencing

I attended two national conferences simultatneously (thanks to SL)!  I was physically present in Los Angeles at ALA while virtually present at NECC (ISTE- International Society for Education) in Second Life.  How amazing is that!  Virtual worlds now allow us to multi-task in new ways never thought of before.  I was able to network with fellow librarians, meet colleagues from SL in real life at ALA, and still organize and lead the virtual history tour guides for the Alamo Event in SL.