Random happiness with Heyjude

I love this! It fits with the randomness of people happiness ~ just one in a crowd!

Thanks to a tweet while I was sleeping I was led to this ~ via @artykel ~ and it brought a grin to my face.   Hope it cheers up your day too!

PS:: Check out Kelly’s 365Project. For those of us getting hooked into daily photoblogging, I thought this was a fabulous alternative – which I didn’t know about :-)

It’s a picnic ~ being creative!

New Year ~ summer break ~ welcome to another year of change.  Some people will bury their heads, while others will hear the sounds of rustling and go and investigate :-)

For me – it’s definitely a chance to catch up – and twitter tells the same story; @jokay is working on Aion prettiness. @betchaboy is dancing a wordpress tango (fill out his survey to help him); @Kim Cofino has made the big move to her own hosted domain.

A bunch of us started our photo journey through 2010 ~ for me a Year in Photos was born. I’ve placed an image link to it in my blog’s sidebar.

I’ve added Books I’m Reading to my blog as well ~  a link to my  professional reading from now on.  I always meant to do this..so along with my photo journey memories, this will keep tabs on the great things I read to inspire my professional work ( I’m also pleased to see that when Library Thing is down for scheduled maintenance I don’t get scrambled rubbish in the sidebar! Terrific).

And once again I was amazed at how much we do online. Being creative really is a picnic these days!! Don’t believe me? Check out how easy it is to play with images with Flickr and Picnic.

If you haven’t used it yet, Picnik is photo editing awesomeness, online, in your browser. It’s the easiest way on the Web to fix underexposed photos, remove red-eye, or apply effects to my photos.  The incredibly handy Firefox extension Picnic Tool not only adds an ‘Edit in Picnik’ option to my right-click menu, it even lets me screen capture an entire website and edit it right in Picnik.  I enjoy tools like this as I am no Photoshop expert!

Don’t forget Kwout either – I used it to make a new image link to Second Classroom for my blog’s sidebar, sending it straight to  Flickr from Kwout ready to embed. Too easy!

Welcome to my new banner!  Might make a new one tomorrow :-)

Retro design in our library

A key feature of our library is its integration of 70s retro design – within a very modern 21st century look.  I WILL post up a whole set of images and story of our renovation – when it’s done.

“What?”, you say. “It’s still not fininshed?”.

When you restrict work to holiday periods for a major overhaul – it’s gotta be a long-haul renovation.  But we’re nearly there. Here’s what it looks like at the moment…creating a new office, and new AV department!  Phew!

Meanwhile, I’m thinking about how to add an interesting graphic element to the space behind the front desk (currently hidden behind those boards/shovel)

It’s a large area – smooth lime green cupboards, that hide filing drawers, slide-out storage baskets, books storage etc,  and two whole purpose-designed laptop storage cupboards for laptops for loan.  (Designed these ourselves!!)  Each drawer has a ventilated base, a swing arm that delivers power and data within the drawer to fixed points – easy to connect laptops quickly.

Pictures later!

What I want to do with the smooth green doors is have different vinyl lettering/images that can transform the interface.

So I was having fun looking at these 40+ Vintage Posters to inspire my developing design ideas.

Next – we need Dean Groom to come on over and get cracking with more ideas.

Teaching Naked – without Powerpoint

My friend and colleague Gary @chemedlinks, chemistry teacher and learning technology evangelist, pointed me to a fabulous article in the Chronicle of Higher Education: ‘Teach Naked’ – When Computers Leave Classrooms, so does Boredom.

This is a fabulous read.

Gary will be presenting a Keynote at the ASLA NSW PD day this coming Saturday, on the topic of “Pedagogical Powerpoint”.  His message is really the same at Mr Bowen -Gary urges us to add pedagogical value to your classes if you are using Powerpoint.  The idea is that we  should challenge thinking, inspire creativity, and stir up discussion with a Powerpoint presentation – not present a series of dry facts.  Of added value is Gary’s work on hunting down research papers that shed light onto the whole notion of how to use Powerpoint well.

There is so much that we can get involved in if we want to in schools – whether it’s podcasting or ‘powerpointing’ – its about driving deep learning through deep investigation and discussion.

Meanwhile, enjoy reading the article, and perhaps take it to your next staff meeting as a discussion starter.

More than any thing else, Mr. Bowen wants to discourage professors from using PowerPoint, because they often lean on the slide-display program as a crutch rather using it as a creative tool. Class time should be reserved for discussion, he contends, especially now that students can download lectures online and find libraries of information on the Web.

Information will breathe in and out of us!

Information in Bb 2.0 is one of the coolest things I have come across – appropriate for the ‘rethink’ time of the holidays!  Play any or all of these videos  together, start them at any time, in any order to create your own collage of user experience.

Be sure to play the 3rd down on the left: ” information will breathe in and out of us”

By Daniel Donahoo (2009)

she closes the lid
and unplugs the device
no bigger than her thumb
from the computer.

My lifes work, she says. But, it isnt her lifes work.

You see, we store information like an Escher painting.
It shouldnt all fit in there. But, it does.
And every day we manage to fit more and more into smaller and smaller spaces until one day
she says,
we will be able to fit all the information the world has
everything that everyone knows and believes and dreams
into nothing.

It will all be there. Stored and filed.
Tagged with any keywords you might imagine.

Our hard drives will be thin air.

They will make nanobots look like elephants.
And elephants will be in there too. Tagged. Accessible with search terms
like grey, ivory,
and the largest land dwelling mammal

We will process away at nothing and understand everything.
We will think of a word and the information will slip in, not through our ears or eyes
but straight thorough our skin. Information will breathe in and out of us,
permeate our skin.

Our knowing will be as deep as it is wide.
You see our work here is to learn so much,

to be so full of knowing,
that all there is left to do is unlearn.

Humanity must get to a point where we let go.
We leave the useless ideas and the spent ideologies in the recycle bin.
like an adolescent brain shedding neurons.
like a snake slithering from its old skin.
like an old man who has come to understand so well the point where reality meets the intangible that he is able to decide which breath will be his last. And, he will enjoy that breath more than any that he has taken in his entire life.

And, her lifes work is more than a four meg flash drive.

My lifes work, she says, is the impact that this has.

This is not about what I produce. It is all about what others receive.

Good sounds – royalty free to schools

Last term some of our students were working on movie trailers with a colleague.  A perfect opportunity to introduce ideas about open source, creative commons, or royalty free image and music for use by  schools. There are a number of strategies that teachers should be familiar with – time to make a nice list!

soundzaboundI was pleased to get a ‘heads up’ from Barry Starlin about Soundzabound. Just in time for our next batch of movie work.

Here’s what the site tells us:

Soundzabound Royalty Free Music supersedes Fair Use in that we fully license the music with unlimited rights for education and sign off that you are protected. Fair Use has limitations in use and states the you are liable should there be a claim. Soundzabound also provides the solutions for:

  • Education Approved Content in a searchable database
  • Artist branding rights not covered under Fair Use
  • User statistic reports
  • Web-based interface formatted for all your production purposes

What this tells me is that it is safe to let students jump onto the site and grab what they need to enliven their productions. Soundzabound shows how their sites works, and the multitude of contexts that sound bites can be used in.

This is where the site comes into its own. The movie trailers our students made could not be put onto the web safely – fair use didn’t cover publication of the end products on Youtube.  Had the students used files from Soundzaboud we could have shared their magical creations.

My next move, when the school term starts, is to make available a school list of resources for such productions. Should have done it ages ago – but the time is now right.

Here are some sources  I have already  collected. There will be others I know, so if you have a favourite site, list or collection, and have time please let me know.

Creative Commons and Music

Content used to be king

There was a time when books, newspapers, magazines and journals were the prime source of content and information.  It was always your move! navigating the authority maze,  enjoying slow reading of (limited) information sources in order to gain a knowledge base that matched a particular curriculum outline.

This was when content was king and the teacher was the sage on the stage.

Now communication is the new curriculum, and content is but grist to the mill that churns new knowledge. Why?  I came across a few good reads this week that set me thinking and wondering about the changes that we must support in our teaching and in our library services.

Think about this:

The era of Teacher Librarians  ‘taking a class’ in order to show kids how to search, get basic skills, or navigate resources is over. This is a teachers job!!  Teach the teacher by all means (that’s professional development) but don’t waste time doing repeat performances for a teacher who hasn’t caught up with how to integrate information resources into the curriculum.  How can they claim to be good teachers if they can’t model how to use information effectively?  How to use new search tools? How to navigate databases? These ARE NOT specialist skills any more – they are core skills for learning!

The era of collaborating, communicating and integrating resources flexibly and online is here to stay. Every form of interactive and social media tools should be deployed by school libraries to support learning, teaching and communicating with and between students. Are teachers ready for this?  Are your own library staff ready for this?

So what is the situation with content?

Dave Pollard wrote about The Future of Media: Something More than Worthless News. Agreed, the reason he wrote the post is quite different to mine – but in a lateral kind of way, what he wrote has huge relevance to information professionals. Media is changing, and the way media can work for or against learning is deeply concerning. Dave writes

Few people care to take the time needed either to do great investigative work, or to think creatively and profoundly about what all the mountains of facts really mean.

There’s the rub – mountains of fact. Authority and relevance are as nothing when we are confronted with mountains of information to sift and verify. The alternative is to grab ‘something’ and miss the opportunity to engage in real metacognitive knowledge activities.

The diagram Dave offers provides a strong framework for information professionals. How do we deal with new and urgent information need? What value do we place on media scrutiny?

Of course we can’t answer these questions effectively without taking into consideration the shifting dimensions of interoperability and semantic search. We are datamineing on the one hand, and creating data on the other.

Now what’s the implications of this? Semantic search depends on our tags! and our tags depend on our understanding of the strengths and weaknesses inherent in data sets.   It all depends on how things are defined and linked! Duplicate and meaningless content is created by poor  search engine optimization and keyword cannibalisation.  This means that the info junk pile continues to grow. The Search Engine Journal provides a good set of graphics (with explanations) that spell out these problems .

Here’s a simple image that demonstrates a good interlinking strategy. Then go and examine the canonical solution – looks like the stuff of good information professionals to me!

Of course, alongside the need for good search engine optimization is the growth in search functionality and growth in search engine options. Google has  some new features that have been tested in the past months. Google wants to expose some advanced search options that allow you to refine the results without opening a new page. The options are available in a sidebar that’s collapsed by default, but it can be expanded by clicking on “Show options”.

You’ll be able to restrict the results to forums, videos, reviews and recent pages. There’s an option that lets you customize the snippets by making them longer or by showing thumbnails, much like Cuil. Google wants to make the process of refining queries more fun and exploratory by adding a “wonder wheel” of suggestions.

Maybe I’ll just stop thinking and wander right off and do some Semantic Web Shopping!

What? more issues to consider?  not my move anymore? ….. massive change is pushing us into a  21st century information maze.

Change is coming (image by Maria Reyes-McDavis)

Change is coming (image by Maria Reyes-McDavis)