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1. Thinkerox: A Brain in a Box, by Dr. Brian Whitestone | Dedicated Review

Most everyone will agree that technology can be both beneficial and detrimental but how to explain this to children can often be difficult. Dr. Brian Whitestone, author of Thinkerox: A Brain in a Box, has depicted both aspects for children in an imaginative and vivid tale about a boy and his invention.

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2. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week - May 22, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between May 21 and May 27 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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3. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week - May 15th

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between May 15 and May 21 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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4. #libtechcon15

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Folks at #libtechcon15 . Photo by Jay Heath

At my school (LREI), our Library and Edtech departments merged a few years ago. We are in a bit of a unique position since two of our dedicated tech people are degreed librarians, and the Department Chair of the Edtech department is actually our high school librarian. So our joint department numbers 9 strong with 6 of us holding MLS degrees. We are fortunate to work and play well together, but our sense from attending conferences and meetings was that we are a bit of a rarity.

In the fall, we hosted the first #libtechcon14 where we invited librarians and tech folks to come in pairs or teams for an unconference style day that would touch on some of the hard questions about communication, working together and the future of libraries. The event sold out quickly and once it was over, we were asked to consider hosting the conference again.

This time we widened our view and decided why not partner with another NYC independent school to co-host the event. I strongly believe that broadening the conversation and sharing resources is essential to our success in libraries and we soon partnered up with Ethical Culture Fieldston and their librarians and tech folks to host #edtechcon15 up in the Bronx.  We looked at what had worked well the first time around, as well as the reflections from participants that let us know what they wanted more and less of. We added an essential question portion asking big questions about collaboration, literacy and future job descriptions. One of the most powerful activities involved all participants anonymously writing down their hopes and fears on separate post-its in terms of library and tech. As job descriptions morph and lines blur, librarians and tech integrators are finding themselves redefining their roles in ways that are both exciting and scary.

I hope this conference will become a bit of a wandering staple the NYC independent school world.  I can see this model working not only for schools, but for public libraries as well —  to foster community between branches, departments or counties.  I know that I left energized with plenty of ideas as well as new contacts.

The post #libtechcon15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week - May 8, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between May 8 and May 14 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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6. How complex is net neutrality?

Thanks to the recent release of consultation paper titled <“Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services," for the first time in India's telecom history close to a million petitions in favour of net neutrality were sent; comparable to millions who responded to Federal Communications Commission’s position paper on net neutrality last year.

The post How complex is net neutrality? appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. What if printed books went by ebook rules?

I love ebooks. Despite their unimaginative page design, monotonous fonts, curious approach to hyphenation, and clunky annotation utilities, they’re convenient and easy on my aging eyes. But I wish they didn’t come wrapped in legalese. Whenever I read a book on my iPad, for example, I have tacitly agreed to the 15,000-word statement of terms and conditions for the iTunes store. It’s written by lawyers in language so dense and tedious it seems designed not to be read, except by other lawyers, and that’s odd, since these Terms of Service agreements (TOS) concern the use of books that are designed to be read.

The post What if printed books went by ebook rules? appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. YALSABLOG TWEETS OF THE WEEK - MAY 1, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between May 1 and 7 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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9. 6 things you didn’t know about light

Light occupies a central place in our understanding of the world both as a means by which we locate ourselves in nature and as a thing that inspires our imagination. Light is what enables us to see things, and thus to navigate our surroundings. It is also a primary means by which we learn about the world – light beams carry information about the constituents of the universe, from distant stars and galaxies to the cells in our bodies to individual atoms and molecules.

The post 6 things you didn’t know about light appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Making sense of mathematics

Mathematics is used in increasingly sophisticated ways in modern society, explicitly by experts who develop applications and implicitly by the general public who use technological devices. As each of us is taught a broad curriculum in school and then focuses on particular specialisms in our adult life, it is useful to ask the question ‘what does it mean to make sense of mathematics?’.

The post Making sense of mathematics appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Making sense of mathematics as of 4/30/2015 10:22:00 AM
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11. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week - April 24, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between April 24 and 30 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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12. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Would this ACTUALLY work? A graduate student contemplates Twitter

When the email got sent around the bloggers about doing a 30 days of programming, my mind instantly went blank. I’m just a librarian-in-training and haven’t done a lot of hands-on programming with teens. What could I bring to the conversation?

Then I remembered I did have a program. A hypothetical one that is. I’m currently taking a Media Literacy for Youth class which has been amazing. One of our assignments was to create either a lesson or program plan about a media literacy topic. It could be targeted to any age group and should last 2-3 hours. We had to write about outcomes, lay out all the activities, essentially plan it so some librarian could do it with the kids they work with.

I’ll lay out my idea and then want your feedback. Is this program realistic? Would it work with the teens you work with? And if it’s not realistic, what needs to be changed?

So…here I go!

As a twenty-something, I would say I’m pretty well-connected in social media. If someone asked what my favorite social media platform is, I would say it’s Twitter. There something exciting about Twitter when you think about it like a cocktail party (shout out to blogger Dave Charest for this analogy) — there are hundreds of conversations going on around you and you decide which ones to tap into. And our teens are using it so why not have a program that challenges them to think about not only how they use Twitter, but how others use Twitter?

The program would stretch over several sessions, with each session being around an hour. I wanted to design a program that could be amended to fit the library and the teens. So each session has a big idea and it was my hope that librarians could pick and choose which sessions to do. Here’s a brief run-down of the sessions:

  1. Twitter 101: Learn the basics. Set teens up with accounts if they don’t have one (or have dummy accounts they could use for these sessions). Talk about how you tweet, what the heck hashtags are, and how the people you follow can create a bias for the information you consume.
  2. Creative uses of Twitter: Twitter doesn’t just have to push information out to people. It can be used to write stories, tell choose-your-own-adventure plots, and even poetry. This session would allow teens to explore these various avenues and try one out for themselves.
  3. Using Twitter intentionally — how businesses incorporate social media: This would be the workshop where you could bring in community partnerships. Ask a social media coordinator for a local company to come in and talk about social media strategies. How do those companies use Twitter (it’s intentional as opposed to the ways the average Twitter user tweets). You could even ask the staff member in charge of your library’s Twitter account to either help facilitate this session, or come in to give a short presentation.
  4. Tweet chats: Explore the world of tweet chats (or when hashtags trend and become a large conversation). Have the teens engage in a tweet chat or perhaps see if another library wants to team up and have the teens from both libraries talk via Twitter!
  5. Live tweet: I see this session as the final one, but it doesn’t have to be. Have the teens pick out an event they want to go to (or suggest an event like a library or school board meeting). Have the teens create a common hashtag and have them live tweet the event. See if those tweets can get other people to join the conversation!

So…what do you think? If you want to know more about each individual session, you can check out my online portfolio where the whole plan is (it’s the first link on the page), including references for more information. Looking forward to hearing your comments!

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13. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Programming for the Platform

So, your first questions might be, “Who is this? And why is he writing here?” Good questions. Let’s start there. My name is Miguel Figueroa and I work at the American Library Association on a new Center for the Future of Libraries initiative. As I’ve begun my work over the past year, I’ve been focused on three objectives:

  • Identifying emerging trends relevant to libraries and the communities they serve
  • Promoting futuring and innovation techniques to help librarians and library professionals shape their future
  • Building connections with experts and innovative thinkers to help libraries address emerging issues

And if those objectives sound pretty obvious to you, I’m not surprised. I know that YALSA members, by the nature of your work and your audience, tend to be on trend, innovative, and outward-looking. In fact, over the past year YALSA members have been incredibly helpful in suggesting trends for me to explore, including Collective Impact, Connected Learning, and Emerging Adulthood.

Today, as part of “30 Days of Teen Programming,” I want to try to connect teen programming to an important and emerging view of the library as platform.

David Weinberg’s excellent article, “The Library as Platform,” proposed the potential for the library to serve as a platform by leveraging its data and information resources for members of the community to build from. And John Palfrey, in his forthcoming book BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, encourages libraries to become platforms for hacking – engaging large communities of people with diverse skills and perspectives to remake libraries and their communities using the resources, information, and data libraries make available.

Given these descriptions, it may be very easy for us to think about the library as platform as belonging to the realm of the digital, the networked, or the technology-driven.

But the library as platform is also helpfully described in the Aspen Institute’s “Rising to the Challenge: Re-envisioning Public Libraries” as one of three key assets libraries possess – People, Place, and Platform.

  • The library’s People (librarians and library staff) connect users with resources and serve as conveners for learning and creation opportunities.
  • The library’s physical and virtual Place accommodates a wide range of purposes including reading, communicating, learning, playing, meeting, and doing business.
  • And the library’s Platform facilitates individuals’ and groups’ discovery, creation, curation, and sharing of knowledge and innovation alone and together.

2 Platform is the participatory environment that opens the library’s technology and resources to experts from the community with an emphasis on addressing the community’s varying and expanding set of needs. The Platform emphasizes the opportunity for users to serve and be served not only by librarians and library staff, but also by other users, a rotating cast of novices, experts, teachers, learners, and peers.

It is the Aspen Institute’s view of the library as Platform that leads me to think about programming. Programming is one of the best opportunities we have to make the library a participatory environment. Programming is responsive, hands-on, collaborative, and open. But the process of programming can also be onerous, requiring that we develop, plan, practice, promote, and execute a successful program for an assembled audience.

As others have pointed out, to develop relevant programming, it’s important to look outside the library to find out what other people know and pull those ideas into our programming. I wonder, as we are thinking about the library as platform, if relevant programming won’t soon require that we pull not just the idea but also the content, the planning, and the presentation from outside the library.

MITMediaLabPrinciples

As I do my work trying to look to the future, I keep returning to Joi Ito’s Principles for the MIT Media Lab, especially the concept of “Pull Over Push.” Ito helped explain this in an interview with Wired magazine as “pull[ing] the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them.”

AspenInstituteReport

In a world that is increasingly networked, informed, and distributed, we can’t afford to centrally stock and control programming. In the terms of the Aspen Institute’s report, this would only utilize the People and Place assets of the library. The future, instead, might have us shift our roles toward the facilitation or “pulling” of relevant content from the community and redeploying it for the community. The expert programming librarian would then be the individual who is best able to spot knowledge, creativity, or innovation from among our users and give it a space in our library’s programming. There might be infinite opportunities available to us when we find ways to leverage all three assets – People, Place, and Platform – in their appropriate roles in our library programs.

I know that libraries are already doing this, finding ways to be a participatory platform. I also know that it is not easy. It’s a set of skills that aren’t easy to master. How are you using programming to reposition the library as platform? What are the benefits you have experienced? What are the challenges you have faced? How can we learn together? I hope you will share your thoughts in the comments section below or via e-mail (mfigueroa@ala.org). I’m excited to continue learning from my YALSA colleagues who are on trend, innovative, and outward-looking.

Miguel Figueroa works in the Center for the Future of Libraries at the American Library Association. You can reach him at mfigueroa@ala.org.

 

 

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14. 2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner - Alexandra Tyle-Annen

We were ecstatic when we found out that we would be receiving funding for Teen Tech Week.   We were able to plan a variety of programs that focused on programming, photography/video, and robotics.   Our goals were to:

  1. Reach teens that have little or no technology skills
  2. Grow the skill level of teens that already have a strong technology skills
  3. Have teen(s) assist with programming.

A local teen happened to be a tech wizard and helped plan and teach a few of the programs!  He was able to connect with the teen participants and many of the younger teens were in awe of his knowledge.  He was a great asset to the program and a huge reason the programs were so successful!

We were able to purchase a GoPro (along with accessories), Cubelets, and littleBits.  Along with classes, we held drop in sessions for teens to play creatively with the tools on their own.   We also encourage the teens to use the GoPro during the other programs to create videos of their projects and learning experiences.

It is truly amazing to see how all of the teens were able to quickly grasp most of the concepts.  They were able to understand everything from how numbers flow through Cubelets to drawing shapes and creating games with python!  They were able to manipulate the code we produced as a class to put a personal twist on the projects.  The most popular programs were the GoPro class and the Python 101 classes.

Due to the number of participants and the number of tools we needed to create small groups to work together on their projects. It was a great opportunity for the teens to work as a team.   Having them work in teams encouraged discussion and a new level of creativity!

We were surprised that most of the teens that participated in Teen Tech Week were not from our core group of library teens. A few of them have increased their library usage and are becoming familiar faces.   An almost equal amount of girls and boys attended the programs.

The library is planning on providing additional technology based off the teens’ suggestions and interests.  It is important to us that we find a way to have the Cubelets, littleBits, and GoPro available for teen use within the library.  We are currently reviewing different options on how to do so.

Alexandra Tyle-Annen is the Adult/Teen Services Manager for the Homer Township Public Library in Homer Glen, IL.

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15. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Engaging All Teens in STEAM: Thinking Diversely, with a Program Plan

Many libraries across the country are offering great STEAM programs for teens; but are these programs as accessible and interesting to diverse teens as we would like them to be? Teens identified as underrepresented minorities--i.e., African-American, American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, and Pacific Islander teens--routinely score below their white peers’ in math and science. It’s not about aptitude, though; it’s about whether these teens have adequate access to learning opportunities that prepare and inspire them to pursue and succeed in science, technology, engineering, and math. That’s where the library can step in with informal learning opportunities that engage all teens in STEAM.

To make STEAM programs accessible and motivating, directly involve teens in the process of “doing” STEAM. Hands-on learning is great, as it emphasizes that every person is capable of doing science. Even better is collaborative work, which allows teens to work together to create a product greater than they could accomplish on their own; this is often called “citizen science.” Hands-on activities also allow teens to prioritize the things they enjoy and find interesting in a program.

Library Landmarks Highlights Map

Program Length: 60-90 minutes

Supplies:

  • map of the library
  • digital cameras, tablets, and/or smartphones
  • cords to transfer photos to the computer
  • computer with an internet connection
  • free Google account
  • account with a web-based photo-hosting site (Google+, WordPress, and Flickr are options; talk to your IT department about the best option for you)
  • cords to connect the computer to a projector

Program Itinerary:

After welcoming teens to the program, share a map of the library. What is typically shown on the map? What would teens rather have on a map of the library to show their friends the best parts of the library? Allow teens to brainstorm their ideal library map landmarks, then send them into the library with cameras--digital cameras, tablets, or smartphones--to capture these sites. While teens are out taking photos, log in to Google and any other relevant accounts in the program space.

When the teens return, upload their photos to the photo-hosting site of your choice; make sure each photo has a static URL.

In another window, go to Google Maps. Underneath the search bar in the upper left, click “My maps.” Click the “Create” icon that pops up. Give this new map a title, then use zoom functions to focus in on the library building. Make sure the entire library is within the screen view. Add markers to the map to correspond to the locations the teens photographed. (To add a marker to the map, click the “Add marker” button underneath the search bar. Then click the mouse on the point of the map you intend to mark.) After a marker is placed, name the place before clicking the photo icon. To add a photo, paste the proper image’s URL in the “Image URL” function. Repeat this process for all of the photos the teens took in the library. Have books available for teens to browse while they wait their turn to add their photos to the map (see list below).

When the map is complete, project it onto a screen or wall so that teens can share their library landmark highlights with one another. With any luck, teens will learn about places in the library they didn’t know previously. Since the map is hosted online, share the map’s URL with attendees; they can share it with friends who may be coming to the library. Share the link on library social media, too, to give other customers a chance to explore the library from a teen’s point of view.

Books on Display:

For more information on Building STEAM with Día and the importance of making STEAM programs and services accessible and interesting to diverse youth, check out the free archive of the webinar Building STEAM with Día: The Whys and Hows to Getting Started. The full Building STEAM with Día toolkit will be available in summer 2015.

 

Amy Koester is Youth & Family Program Coordinator at Skokie (IL) Public Library. She blogs regularly as the Show Me Librarian, and she has written articles and given presentations across the country about STEAM programs and services for youth. Amy is authoring the Building STEAM with Día toolkit.

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16. We should celebrate the decline of large scale manufacturing

One of the most important and unremarked effects of the revolution in information technology is not to do with information services at all. It is the transformation of manufacturing. After a period of two or three hundred years in which manufacturing consolidated into larger and larger enterprises, technology is restoring opportunities for the lone craftsman making things at home.

The post We should celebrate the decline of large scale manufacturing appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. 2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner – Sarah Ryan

When I started as the Teen Services Librarian at the Hancock County Public Library in 2013, one of the first things I noticed about HCPL teens was their love for comics and manga. My desk is located next to the teen room, parallel to our comic and manga shelving. Day after day at 3:30 p.m. teens would flock to that section and take over the entire space in the teen room. Inspired, I started a monthly comic book club and anime/ manga club – which just celebrated its 1st birthday!

During our clubs, teens discuss the respective genres. Many create their own art or have started drawing their own comic/ manga panels. Numerous teens expressed their interest in making comics at the library.

Our library uses the yearly Collaborative Summer Library Program themes, and this year’s focus is superheroes. While planning for Summer Reading 2015, superheroes and villains were dancing in my head. Teen Tech Week, Summer Reading, and the wishes of our library’s teens came together and formed a program plan. The grant funds awarded from YALSA and Best Buy were used to purchase 10-Wacom Intuos digital drawing tablets equipped with comic-making software.

The goal of the Creating Comics program is for teens come to the library during weekly open computer lab hours (Monday – Wednesday, 3 – 6 p.m.) to practice and master creating digital artwork and comics. I staff the lab, so teens can ask questions about using the tablets or the software. Teen Tech Week was a great success. We had eager teens in everyday to work with the drawing tablets, and they stayed the entire duration of the program. A total of thirty-five teens used the drawing tablets during our three-day Creating Comics kick-off. Since Teen Tech Week, we’ve consistently had five teens on drawing tablets daily during open lab. We’ve seen several short comics completed and fantastic artwork. We are also in contact with local high school art teachers and STEM educators who are helping direct students to the library to give as many teens the opportunity to use this new technology. We plan on taking a drawing tablet with us to schools when we do summer reading talks to promote the Creating Comics program.

3-9-15 Creating Comics poster

Between now and June, teens can use the tablets to develop their artwork for personal portfolios and college submissions. They can also start working on their own comics. During Summer Reading (June – July) we will be running a weekly Creating Comics program where teens will collaborate with their peers to create a comic storyboard, characters, and dialogue. Together they will create weekly web-comics that we’ll publish on the library’s teen webpage.  Teens will be learning a new technology, improving their artistic skills, and learning how to work in a drawing team.Teens Creating Comics 3-16-15

These tablets give teens the opportunity to work with technology and software they will encounter in college and the professional world. This drawing lab is the first experience many teens will have to this technology. We hope to reach as many teens as we can who are interested in careers in art, graphic design, or just looking to be inspired.

We are so thankful to YALSA and Best Buy for funding our Teen Tech Week and continuing programs through the summer. This grant has and will continue to make a huge impact on the artistic growth of Hancock County, Indiana teens.

You can follow Sarah and teen updates at Hancock County Public Library on Instagram or Twitter @HCPLibraryteens. Check out our web-comics over the summer at http://hcplibrary.org/teen/.

 

 

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18. Thinking (out loud) about learning in makerspaces

I recently made an expedition to SXSWedu in Austin. I was really excited about this conference because I thought it’d be useful to me as an educator/facilitator/enabler of science and technology-based programs and projects at my library. I was looking forward to hearing new-to-me perspectives on student (or in my case teen)-centered learning; maybe I’d pick up some tips on how to help teens feel comfortable expressing their interests or how to frame  a challenging project in a manageable way or chunk it into achievable pieces. What I most hoped to do, I think, was speak with other educators about the unique challenges and opportunities of learning in a makerspace-type environment. It was a valuable experience in many ways, but not quite what I expected. (The usual caveats apply – YMMV, perhaps I picked the wrong sessions, didn’t find the right folks to network with, etc.)

As I left SXSWedu and headed for home, I reflected a bit on my experience. I was disappointed, because I had hoped to connect with experts - people who knew more than me about what I was doing. I didn’t. At a panel where I expected higher-level conversation about makerspaces and learning, I left frustrated that the conversation was ‘what is a makerspace?’ and ‘low-budget vs high-budget’ and ‘you don’t NEED a 3d printer’ instead of ‘this is what makes a makerspace special, and this is how to maximize that opportunity.’ I wanted nuts and bolts and a user’s manual, and I got Tinker Toys. As I thought more and more about what had happened, it occurred to me that if I wanted to talk about this, I ought to just start the conversation I wanted to hear. To that end, here are the questions on my mind right now, and some of my possible answers.

Question 1: What’s the best way to enable teen-initiated learning in a makerspace?

A makerspace-based learning environment is very different from the structure of classroom-based learning, and I wonder how to scaffold learning and build skills methodically in such an unstructured, come-and-go environment (or whether I should even be worrying about that).

We could provide pre-chunked modules for each tool or skill (in physical or digital format). For example, a set of Arduino-themed handout-style modules, beginning with Blink and advancing to more complicated projects. We could curate a tailored, leveled set of links to digital resources for self-directed learning, like Youtube videos, Instructables, tutorials from sites like SparkFun and Adafruit, and resources created in-house. Another option might be leveled project challenges, with resources on hand and mentors (staff and/or teens) on-site to help. For example, “program the EV3 robot to follow a line maze” with Mindstorms programming books and websites accessible, and volunteers from a local robotics team.

Question 2: How should progress be measured or tracked in a makerspace learning environment?

The first option that springs to mind is badging – digital, physical, or both. A bonus (and a drawback) of this method is the opportunity to engage an artistically inclined teen volunteer to design the badges. One major question for this method is the procedure for issuing badges. There could be an online form to fill out, though that feels disconnected and impersonal, and I know I value any chance to engage with a teen during the learning process. Staff could be the primary issuers, but that reinforces the adult-as-authority dynamic. Teen mentors could also be deputized to approve badge earning, but organizing that as a face-to-face interaction could be complicated. Would these badges stay with the badge earner, or in the makerspace? Would we need to create physical artifact to hold the badges?

Chart-based tracking is a simple, time-tested method. The information is all in one place and easily accessible, but it feels (to me) a bit internal and closed off. It could be made more accessible, however. A binder is more restricted than a Google Doc, and quite private as opposed to a classroom-style wall chart.

It could be handy to track progress on the resources themselves, especially for those teens who are looking for help learning to use a resource. Imagine a sticker on the back of a resource sheet or ‘Expert’ badges displayed alongside digital resources – the teen looking at those resources can easily see peer mentors. Privacy issues could come up here, but an opt-in system might alleviate that worry. One possible complication is the difficulty of scheduling peer-to-peer learning sessions with so many demands on teens’ time.

In addition to those questions, I’ve been thinking a bit about some of the unique challenges and opportunities inherent in makerspace-based learning.

One challenge I’ve run into more than once is a complicated first foray into learning a new tool, resulting in frustration and discouragement and eventual abandonment of the project altogether, which in turn colors the teen’s view of the tool and makes it less likely that the teen will attempt to use that tool again. I hope that providing a structure for learning new tools and skills (see: Question 1) will ameliorate the problem. In discussions with others, I’ve also heard the suggestion of leaving the project as-is, in hopes that the teen will revisit it or that another teen’s curiosity will be piqued and they’ll take up the challenge. (Tangential – should projects be marked abandoned or off-limits to limit toe-stepping?)

Some makerspace materials are disposable, but many must be reused (for example, Arduinos), but being able to show off projects is important. What’s the best way to record these projects for posterity and ensure that the maker has some artifact of their accomplishment? Video clips? Time lapse photography? And what’s the best way to store and catalog these digital artifacts so that they’ll be accessible to the makers? Should they also be publicly accessible?

 

Caroline Mossing is a Teen Services Librarian in the Teen Library at the San Antonio Central Library.

 

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19. Young Children, New Media & Libraries Infographic

Young Children, New Media & Libraries Survey

Young Children, New Media & Libraries Survey (image courtesy of ALSC)

Between August 1 and August 18, 2014, 415 children’s librarians responded to a survey of 9 questions concerning the use of new media with young children in libraries. The survey was created as a collaborative effort between Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), LittleeLit.com, and the iSchool at the University of Washington. Preliminary finding are available through an infographic created by ALSC’s Public Awareness Committee.

You can download a copy of this infographic from the ALSC Professional Tools site.

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20. Just Dance @ Your Library

Teens have an amazing variety of programs at their fingertips ranging from college prep, crafts, gaming, pop trivia, anime, and much more.  What if there was a way to combine many of these elements into one activity that is not only fun, but will have amazing health benefits as well? I bet you are thinking the same thing I am: dancing. Before I go any further, some of you may think I am crazy because there is no way teens would voluntarily dance in public, especially amongst their peers. Well, I am very excited to tell you that there is actually a way to get them to dance and have fun, but it requires us to lead by example. In other words, we got to shake our money makers so teens can see just how fun it really is.

Before I go any further, I would like to discuss some rather disturbing facts. According to the American Heart Association:

“About one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity in children more than tripled from 1971 to 2011. With good reason, childhood obesity is now the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States, topping drug abuse and smoking.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also states:

“The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.”

Clearly, obesity is on the rise and it is something that we should address in our programs and services. For example, are we sponsoring programs, or partnering with organizations, to prevent drug and alcohol abuse? If we are, are we addressing obesity as well? If not, it’s time that we do because teens are living in a world where body shaming and weight-related bullying is rampant. Furthermore, teens literally live in a digital age where video games are much more popular than physical exercise.  If we care encouraging teens to exercise their minds with books, why can’t we encourage them to exercise their bodies as well?

This is where we talk about dancing. Dancing is an amazing way to lose weight, feel great, and have fun. How can libraries provide teens with access to physical activity that will appeal to teens? It’s called Just Dance.

Just Dance 2015 Wii UJust Dance 2014 XBOX 360Just Dance 4 PS3Just Dance 3 WiiJust Dance 2 Wii

 Just Dance a is video game (available for the Wii, Wii U, Playstation and XBOX) where teens can dance to their favorite songs and sweat the pounds away. Yes, we can actually use gaming as a way to get teens to move.  In regards to the game, itself, it is fairly intuitive where it requires users to take a minute to explore menu options. I will say that the Just Dance games vary in content where some offer warm-up segments, cool down segments, goal-setting, account settings, and the “Sweat” mode.   As an avid Just Dance user, the “Sweat” mode is AWESOME! Although it does not offer a multi-player option, one teen can lead a timed workout (20-40 minutes) and everyone will sweat. Otherwise, I highly recommend the dance crew and battle mode where teens can have a dance off or dance together.  There is a suggested calories counter, but, be honest with the teens, and explain it’s not accurate whatsoever; all that matters is they are meeting their daily exercise quotas.  The more teens dance, the more stars/points they get to open new modes and songs, which include workouts that include mash-ups and new battle modes. Some of the newer versions offer exclusive modes such as Party Master and an option to complete with other Just Dance players from the entire world called “World Party” providing you have an internet connection.  As I mentioned earlier, teens don’t need to be expert dancers because it’s all about moving, sweating, and having fun.

Now that we know there is a way to get teens to move, the next big question is: what if teens don’t engage in this program because they don’t want to be the only ones dancing?  My answer is: we have to be the ones to show them that’s it okay dance even if we can’t. I know that some of us aren’t the most coordinated, or just plain out of shape, but, if we want teens to have fun, we have to show them how. In fact, I have challenged a group of teens to beat me in a dance off and, so far, only one teen has. After hosting several Just Dance parties, I have seen so many teens come out of their shells because they recognize this program as a way to cut loose without having to be embarrassed by their lack of rhythm or being picked on. In fact, I have seen several teens show off their mad skills and it was so much fun! Bottom line:  Just Dance is all about having a good time  and getting into shape.

If you have a gaming system at home, or at your library, go to Gamestop and buy a used copy and give it a shot. In fact, host a Just Dance party with your colleagues and have a great time because once you try it, you will have a hard time stopping. Take it from me: I lost ten pounds from dancing in my living room a couple times a week so imagine hosting a Just Dance party every week?  Not only will you have happy and healthy teens, you will shed a pound or two as well! It’s a total win-win situation!

Sources:

1 http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/HealthierKids/ChildhoodObesity/Overweight-in-Children_UCM_304054_Article.jsp

2 http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm

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21. Instagram of the Week - March 23

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

On Saturday, March 21, over 130 locations throughout all 21 counties of New Jersey participated in the inaugural New Jersey Makers Day. From public libraries and museums to businesses and schools or youth organizations, each site celebrated maker culture by hosting events that promote making, tinkering, and STEM-based learning. Presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on activities introduced attendees to local makerspaces and provided an opportunity to interact with new technologies such as 3D printers, littleBits and Makey Makey kits, and computer programming. A wide variety of workshops were offered in which participants could try their hand at making things such as light bulbs, balancing toys, jewelry, duct tape bags, robots, and sculptures as well as learn the basics of sewing, gardening, origami, woodworking, car maintenance, and more! For more information on Makers Day and to see a list of activities provided by participating sites, visit the Makers Day website: http://njmakersday.org/

Similarly, just a week prior to Makers Day, Teen Tech Week took place from March 8-14 with the theme "Libraries are for Making." Aimed at helping teens develop digital literacy skills and demonstrating the value libraries can provide for non-print resources and access to technology, this week also provides an opportunity to showcase all the library has to offer in a collaborative and hands-on environment. Many fun programs were held this year and shared on Instagram including a technology petting zoo where teens can interact with different products, using 3D pens, making solar powered cars, and a retro gaming night with older gaming consoles.

Did your library participate in NJ Makers Day or Teen Tech Week? Which types of programs and technology did you offer? How did you get teens involved? Did they volunteer and help ensure programs ran smoothly or share their interests with the community by conduction demonstrations? Did you collaborate with other local organizations or businesses? Share with us in the comments section below!

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

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22. App of the Week: Lark

lark_icon

Title: Lark

Cost: Free

Platform: iOS

Many youth services specialists will be familiar with Lark's parent site, Storybird, which enables dazzling yet simple drag-and-drop digital storytelling. Like Fridegpoems by Color Monkey, Lark, Storybird's Poetry app, is a digital incarnation of a refrigerator magnet poetry set, inspiring creativity within a finite vocabulary set as you move and reorder the words it generates over an image.

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A lightning bolt icon launches a new project. You can browse art in a gallery, search by keyword or choose a random different background or word bank by swiping left. Many of the images, alternatingly fantastical and almost unbearably poignant, look as if they were cribbed from vintage picture books. You can also use a color picker to change the colors of the words on screen for optimal artistic impact. The overall effect is quite attractive and quickly achieved.

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You can post your creations to the shared database, save it to your picture roll, and Lark has the usual social sharing components built in, too.  If you're not feeling inspired, you can browse poems, follow those you find compelling, and "heart" or comment on poems you like. You can also block and unblock users, though the controlled vocabulary makes it pretty problem-free for school use, but registration through verified email is required.

Lark is designed for iOS 7 and is compatible with iPhone 4s and later. It isn't available for Android devices or optimized for iPad. Featuring it on public devices would make for an easy drop-in program for National Poetry Month, or working with a group to generate a poem with time constraints could prove a fun contest.

Have a suggestion for an app we should highlight? Let us know. And don't miss the hundreds of other great apps in our Archive.

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23. The “Activity Gap”: More thoughts on libraries and after-school programs

Back in October 2014, I wrote about a report entitled: “America After 3 PM.” The Afterschool Alliance was writing about how students spend their time after school. In it, I raised the point of libraries as hubs for after-school activities, a free spot for teens to come if they don’t have the resources or access to other after-school programs. At the end of January, Alia Wong from Atlantic wrote an article called “The Activity Gap,” which discusses the access issues students from various socio-economic classes face with participating in after-school and extracurricular programs.

Wong begins the article by comparing two different students, Ethan and Nicole, whose family backgrounds contribute to two different lifestyles and life paths. While their names have been changed, these two students do exist and were case studies in a study published in Voices of Urban Education. This national study was conducted by Brown University’s Annenberg Institute of School Reform.

Their results are nothing we didn’t already know. The article states the researchers were “alarmed” at the results, but we’ve been seeing and hearing about this growing income achievement gap for a while. I come back to the same question I raised in my October 2014 blog post: how can libraries help?

I can offer an example of a space happening in my community at the Urbana Free Library. Our library is able to offer a Teen Open Lab a couple days a week. The auditorium in the library is opened up and staff and teens set up essentially a mini-Fab Lab/makerspace/hangout area. It’s a spot where teens can come after school, hang out, or create anything from stickers on a Silhouette cutting machine, to using a 3D printer, video and audio production, or simply playing Minecraft or video games. The library has been able to provide another space for teens to go who might not have other after-school options.

Is this a great space? I think so. I visited there a few weeks back (my assistantship has a graduate student helping out at the Teen Open Lab so I went for a visit). The atmosphere was exciting. The teens seemed to be happy. They’ve reached a point in the Teen Open Lab where things are going well and they can keep thinking about where does this space go next. But, we can’t forget the process and time it took to get from point A (the teens had little space) to the idea of the lab, to the creation (and funding), and now the maintaining and sustaining. Perhaps what the Urbana Library Teen Open Lab teaches us is that we need to start having those conversations. If we look out at our community and see that our teens need a free space, we can start having those conversations about what a space for them might look like. I think it’s fine to say, “Look we have this income achievement gap and need to do something about it” but we need to do more than just say it. And maybe libraries aren’t the spot, maybe this conversation is meant for a broader audience, pulling in our education system and college admission process (which places value in extra-curricular activities and involvement outside of the classroom). What I’ve been thinking about in my community engagement class this semester is that libraries are the hub to have those frank conversations. We can open up a space to bring a community together to talk. We’ve been doing it since we first began as public institutions.

The Atlantic article does not offer many solutions and I am not sure I have many to offer either. I still think this is an important conversation to have, but we need to continue to think about the broader context and how we can help or at least provide resources to help. For additional resources on this topic, make sure to check out YALSA’s Professional Tool page on their website. Additionally, you can look at, Cool Teen Programs for Under $100, resources on YALSA’s Wiki page about Maker and DIY Programs, Making in the Library Toolkit, or A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces.

Do you have any ideas about how we can bridge this activity gap? I would love to hear your thoughts (or great articles to read and resources to use) in the comments below!

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24. YALSA Tweets of the Week - March 27, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between March 27 and April 2 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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25. Taking Things Apart* (*No reassembly required.)

We enjoy making things in the Children’s Room.  Catapults for rubber band balls and elaborate paper airplanes. Colorful chemical reactions. Louise Nevelson-inspired shadow boxes. Hand-sewn pillows stuffed with lavender.  Even sushi and super delicious doughnuts topped with cinnamon sugar.  But as delightful as we’ve found stirring, stitching, and sculpting–and designing projectiles of all shapes and sizes–we’ve recently discovered how much fun we can have unmaking.

For a recent pTaking Things Apart 1rogram we called “Taking Things Apart* (*No reassembly required.),” we collected old computer system units that we begged from a university IT department, where offices constantly update and swap out their CPUs.  With a few screwdrivers and pliers from around the library and a few others brought in from home, we set up the computers on card tables and gathered fourth to sixth graders in small groups around each unit.  And then we asked them to find out what’s inside.

This wasn’t an electronic scavenger hunt–we provided no specific objectives or procedure to follow.  We talked about safety, though, and reiterated our goal to disassemble the computers, not to break them.  (There’s a reason we didn’t give them hammers, after all.)  Because the power sources can occasionally hold a dangerous charge even after unplugging the computers, we showed the kids how those components are labeled and instructed them not to touch the batteries.  As they got further into the guts of the machines, we came around and removed the power sources ourselves.  And we’re proud to report zero electrocutions.

Once they pried open the computer casings, the kids required no additional prompting to explore the electronics.  They delicately unscrewed hard drives, unhooked data cables, and plucked segments froTaking Things Apart 2m the motherboard.  Many of the larger pieces have their own serial numbers, and when students wondered about the purpose of a part, we offered them a (functioning) computer to enter the number and read about the component’s use.  And they cooperated!  Passing around the tiniest screwdrivers and holding sections steady for each other, they rooted around in the guts and held out their micro-trophies for everyone else to admire.  “Can I keep this part?” one asked, over and over.   “What about this?  I want to take this piece home with me.”  (No one took anything.  Everything went to hazardous waste at the dump the following week.)

Near the end of the program, one girl who had spent half an hour dismantling a DVD drive plopped into her seat.  As I scooted over to check in with her, she set her tools down and yelled: “This is so much fun!”  So, we had no projects to take home.  And we spent the hour deconstructing and not creating.  But we definitely made a good time.

Robbin Ellis Friedman is a Children’s Librarian at the Chappaqua Library in Chappaqua, NY, and a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee. Feel free to write her at robbin@chappaqualibrary.org.

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