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1. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week - August 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 July 24 and July 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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2. Hanging Out (and networking) with YALSA Librarians

I’ve been blogging for YALSA for almost year. Crazy to think I’m starting my second year of graduate school. Those job descriptions that come into my email box seem a little more real, and a little more attainable.

What makes me so excited about heading into the professional world of librarianship is when I get the chance to interact with other librarians, librarians that have experience and insight, insight that I hope to one day have. While I know they, technically, are my colleagues, I still feel a little out of their league. However, that doesn’t stop me from soaking up as much knowledge from them as I can.

I got an opportunity to meet a handful of other librarians (and YALSA) bloggers last week. Crystle, our blog manager, had arranged some Google Hangouts as a way for us bloggers to meet each other. I logged on Monday night, not quite sure what to expect.

Our hangout also had another purpose than simply seeing each other on our screens — we were discussing The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action. It was a report that resonated with me; many of the ideas proposed are ones that are in line with the readings I had done for my community engagement class this spring, along with the work I did with elementary students last year. I have found that if you let the interests and passion of the people you’re working with guide action, then we are setting ourselves up for success.

As we walked through the first few sections of the report, I was content to just listen to the librarians, who spoke about previous experiences with teens. I felt lucky to be a part of a conversation where I heard about the reality of things in library land; while we want to always think that reports and theory are accurate, we know that at the end of the day, real life isn’t as set in stone or black and white. It felt like I was getting a peak into what my job might be like in a year and frankly, it was incredibly inspiring and exciting. I wished we were all sitting around a table at a coffeeshop, where we had more time to share experiences and talk through new ideas.

This hangout reminded me the power of networking. While I didn’t speak much, I was still a part of this conversation. I was learning and processing and thinking about the ways in which these ideas could be put into place in my own practice as a librarian. I look forward to another year of YALSA blogging and navigating my way through teen librarianship.

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3. App of the Week: Crop

crop
Title: Crop
Cost: Free, with $ 1 in-app purchase to remove ads and maintain aspect ratio
Platform: iOS

Sometimes an app is so simple, but works so well, it's hard to imagine how you would get along without it. For me, one of those is Crop by Green Mango Systems.

IMG_3694

Whether it's focusing on the content of a screen-captured Instagram post or creating a quick thumbnail for an avatar, there are many occasions when you'll want to remove the bulk of an image or rotate it on the fly. You simply select the image, use the eight points of the image canvas to determine the size you want, and you can keep finessing things until you hit "Save." And unlike the crop option within the iOS photo roll, Crop saves your creation as a new file, so you don't loose the original.

In a digital photography workshop at our state edtech conference this summer, the presenter, Leslie Fisher, emphasized taking pictures from where you stood and cropping them instead of using the digital zoom feature in your device camera. She said that results in less degradation of the image quality. Crop is super-useful for anyone adopting that sort of digital photography workflow.

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4. Apps, Online Tools, and More!

Being a children’s librarian has to be one of the most fun and rewarding jobs a person could have, but that doesn’t mean it is easy! Balancing multiple responsibilities, tight scheduling, and having to constantly be “on” are just a few of the everyday challenges. Luckily, for us, there are tools out there to help us along the way. I posed the question to the ALSC Listserv “What are your favorite apps or online tools that help you stay organized, focused and energized?”

Here are some of the ways youth service staff are using technology to their benefit.

Productivity:

Google Keep is a post-it style system for checklists and notes. Share across your devices or with others. See real time progress on collaborative checklists or setup location reminder notifications.

30/30 is a task management system with a built in timer that tells you when to move on to your next task. The task list is controlled completely by gestures, and is the recipient of many awards and positive reviews.

 

Professional Development:

Many people use Evernote for note taking, but it can also be used for much more. Save program resources and collection development resources, tweets, bookmarks and more!

Pocket  allows you to store articles, videos or anything else to read at a later date. Save directly from your browser or from apps and access anytime, even without internet.

 

Wellness

Headspace is a meditation app that provides personal training for your mind. Learn the basics of meditation and participate in guided or unguided exercises ranging from 2 minutes to one hour.

Pocket Yoga  lets you take your yoga instructor with you anywhere you go! Choose between different practices, different durations and different difficulty levels.

 

Programs:

Canva  allows anyone to create visually appealing graphics. Flyers, social media posts, ads, and even presentations can be created by dragging and dropping images and fonts. Canva for Work is coming soon.

Finally, this one isn’t available yet but I know it will be worth the wait!

The Mother Goose on the Loose Online Construction Kit (OCK) is a free cloud- based tool developed by Mother Goose on the Loose, LLC that is designed to make planning storytimes easy by utilizing three big databases. One database aggregates nursery rhymes information such as:  lyrics, instructions, pictures, relevant illustrations, etc. The second database stores titles and bibliographic information of quality children’s books. The third database consists of developmental tips that can be used to explain the value and purpose of certain activities being done with children. There is also a wizard friend who will help users combine information from all of the databases mentioned above to generate either a barebones outline or a fully-fledged script with lyrics and instructions to help make planning high-quality programs for young children a breeze. OCK is still in beta testing, and anyone  who is interested can contact info@mgol.org

We hope these tips will help you further the amazing work you are already doing!

The post Apps, Online Tools, and More! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. App of the Week: Padlet

Title: Padlet
Platform: iOS (Android coming soon)
Cost: Free with paid versions with extra features for schools, businesses, and personal use

padlet logoPadlet is a web-based tool that's been available for a few years. Recently an iPad app launched which makes it easy for libraries working with and for teens to use the tool in a variety of ways.

As with the web-based tool, the Padlet app is a good way to create walls of content. The content might be a curated list of resources - including audio, video, websites, Google Docs, images, and more - that a teen is going to use in a presentation. It, might be a wall where teens brainstorm together and collaborate on ideas for a new project. Or, it could be a place where library staff working with and for teens collect resources of interest to help them provide high-quality service to the age group.

The slideshow below takes you through the basics of using Padlet, adding content, applying settings, and inviting collaborators.


Padlet iPad App - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

New Padlets can be created in the app by selecting the "New Padlet" link. Then to add content all a user needs to do is to either double-tap on the screen or tap on the + at the bottom of the screen. When adding new content it's possible to add a title, a description, and then a link to the content (if web-based resources are being used.) I found that the touch-screen features were not as easy to use as I would have liked. Sometimes a double-tap didn't open up the content window and sometimes using my fingers to drag an item on the wall to a different location - as one is supposed to be able to do - didn't work as easily as it should.

All of the basic features of the web-based version of Padlet are available including changing the wall background and layout, adding notifications when someone adds to a wall (if collaborators are taking part in a Padlet project), adding collaborators, and sharing a Padlet for website or social media integration.

Using Padlet with teens who have access to tablets is a great way to give them opportunities to collaborate on content development and brainstorming. It's also a great way for teens to curate content for projects of academic or personal interest. The fact that it's now available as an app means that teens, who have access to tablets, will have more opportunities to use the tool.

If you or the teens you work for and with are already Padlet web users using the iPad app will be something that you can add to your arsenal of resources. If you haven't yet used Padlet for or with the teens you work with, give it a try.

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6. Get Away @Your Library: Setting Goals to Reach Underserved Teens

With our youth patrons returning to school, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your community’s demographics and set goals to “Get Away” and connect with those underserved populations. As you consider where to start, the first step may seem daunting, but tackle the unknown in a way that is most comfortable for you. We’ll be sharing our ideas about setting goals during our Teen Read Week Twitter chat Setting Goals to Reach Underserved Teens onFriday, September 11 at 2 pm EST. If numbers and statistics read like a first language, you’ll probably have your own plan of action in which to gather information and compile results into charts and graphs. However, many of us need a different approach in order to ease our way into such unfamiliar territory and we offer a few ideas here.

Demographics from an insider view

Consider your teen patrons’ habits as a diving board into better knowing your community. For instance, if your teens often ask library staff for change to spare for food, comment about not eating breakfast, or are eager to attend library programs especially for the free snacks, you may want to further explore this trend. Start by investigating the nearby school’s stats on free and reduced lunches, the city’s poverty percentages, or the state’s caseload counter for food stamp families. The location of these resources will also provide other relevant data that may offer a more detailed view into the issue. Once you have a baseline of data, connect with local food pantries and other social service providers and start a conversation. You may discover any number of ways to partner with these organizations from creating a bookmark for the public listing the location of these services to facilitating meal programs.

Demographics from a bird’s eye perspective

Map the government, parks, nonprofit, and other community agencies within your library’s service area. If a particular trend in services exists, investigate its related statistical topics and connect with those organizations. Also, the types of businesses in your service may offer a starting point into better understanding your community. If you notice an unusual number of liquor stores in your area, you may check the location of rehabilitation centers or AA groups and connect with them. Another way to address your map of agencies, is to first connect with the organizations located nearest to your library, as those service are directly targeting your immediate area.

Take action with us in better understanding your community by joining the Teen Read Week Twitter chat on Friday, September 11 at 2 pm EST. Come ready to share your goals and gain new ideas and resources from your peers. When joining the Twitter chat, be sure to use #TRW15. See you there!

Amanda Barnhart is the current chair for YALSA’s Teen Read Week committee, an MLIS student, and a Young Adult Associate for the Trails West branch of The Kansas City (Mo) Public Library.

 

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7. Technology and the evolving portrait of the composer

It’s a cartoon image from my childhood: a man with wild hair, wearing a topcoat, and frantically waving a baton with a deranged look on his face. In fact, this caricature of what a composer should look like was probably inspired by the popular image of Beethoven: moody, distant, a loner… a genius lost in his own world.

The post Technology and the evolving portrait of the composer appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Send ALSC to SXSWedu!

Cookies

Delicious! (image courtesy the author)

A sure sign of the approaching end-of-warm-weather in my office is the farewell party for our summer interns. (While that’s bitter in several ways, it’s especially sweet when my colleague Michelle makes her amazing cookies for the occasion.) This year about half a dozen high school students joined us and, of course, we have asked them what they learned while working here the last couple of months and how their perceptions of libraries have changed. And it’s been interesting/fascinating/frightening to see how even among this group of engaged young people with library cards most had arrived without full awareness of everything libraries have to offer.

This is another reminder of how important it is for us to advocate and tell our story to all ages, and so, looking to reach out to new audiences, ALSC has submitted a program proposal, Library Media Mentors Transform, for SXSWedu, an educational innovation conference from the South by Southwest folks, which will be held in Austin, Texas, this coming March.

SXSWedu “fosters innovation in learning by hosting a diverse and energetic community of stakeholders across a variety of backgrounds in education” and is an ideal place for ALSC to bring our message about Media Mentorship and fighting the 30 million word gap. The objectives of our program proposal include:

• How to identify and support the roles librarians serve as media mentors to families in your community
• Evidence-based guidelines for media usage with young children
• How to partner with libraries to enrich your family engagement effort and support the goals of your educational program.

Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth white paper

Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth white paper (image courtesy ALSC)

And for ALSC to get there, we need you! SXSWedu sessions are selected by an advisory board and staff, but 30% of the decision comes from votes from the public, so please help us spread the word about youth services librarians as media mentors by casting your vote here for the Library Media Mentors Transform program proposal. Public voting is open now through September 4, and while it does involve creating a log-in to vote, it’s worth those extra couple seconds to bring ALSC advocacy to this new and emerging arena.

Thanks for your help!

The post Send ALSC to SXSWedu! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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9. Considering Access and Library Spaces

A person’s right to use a library should not be denied to or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views. — Article V of the Library Bill of Rights

Photo courtesy of the author

Photo courtesy of the author

First, let me introduce myself demographically. I’m chronologically gifted. In other words, I’m older than rock and roll, and I began working as a public librarian in the 1970s. At that time, the cutting wave of censorship for the protection of innocent children from the degrading influence of the contents of the public library was to paint underpants on Mickey In the Night Kitchen with Wite-out®.

But that was then, and this is now. Now we have the Internet. Now kids can play games on the computer. And, as many in my demographic cohort express themselves, “THIS IS A LIBRARY, not a fun house for kids! Others are here to do important things on a computer!” (Remember if anyone is having fun it means they cannot be learning. If it’s educational it must be tedious and boring.)

To avoid this generational turmoil many libraries have installed a game room, complete with videogames. It’s as big a draw as afterschool snacks. Which brings me to the main topic of this post. Do age-segregated areas in the library violate Article V of the Library Bill of Rights?

Some libraries set aside computers for children, complete with child-size furniture to ensure that children have access to computers and don’t just get shunted aside by larger people. To me, this not a case of access being restricted that conflicts with Access to Library Resources and Services to Minors, because it’s designed to ensure that access. For its Children’s area, The Seattle Public Library has a laudable statement of this practice on its website:

PURPOSE
Children’s areas within Library facilities are special parts of the Library housing special collections, programs and services designed especially for children. The purpose of the Children’s areas in Seattle Public Libraries is therefore to provide children and their caregivers with access to these special children’s materials, programs and services.

POLICY
Children’s departments are available for use by those patrons who are accessing the special materials contained in the children’s collection and for use by children and their caregivers, to attend children’s programs, and to utilize other services provided by children’s departments. Patrons not included in these categories may be required to leave the children’s department and instead use other areas of the Library.

However, over the years at various libraries, I’ve encountered adult customers who don’t agree. Often, as mentioned above, they have important things to do on the computers and they aren’t any free in the adult area, or the ones in the children’s area are more convenient for them for other reasons.

  • What do you think about this line of reasoning, and how do you handle this in your library?

The next questions may be even stickier, or more problematic. The following was designed to remediate the problem of overcrowding in the game room with only a limited number of screens and game controllers.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo courtesy of the author.

  • How does it fit with the Access to Library Resources and Services to Minors? Especially the part that reads, “Children and young adults unquestionably possess First Amendment rights, including the right to receive information through the library in print, sound, images, data, games, software, and other formats.”
  •  Would you adopt a policy like this? If not, what do you, or would you, have as a policy?

And for extra credit consider these questions:

  •  What do you say to the eleven-year-old that wants to play Grand Theft Auto V?
  •  Would you, or have you, selected Grand Theft Auto V for your collection?

Your comments are invited.

The post Considering Access and Library Spaces appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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10. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week - August 14, 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 August 14 and August 20 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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11. 5 THINGS YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ABOUT TEENS AND SOCIAL MEDIA: RESEARCH STUDY SUMMARY AND INFOGRAPHIC

Many of today’s teens spend hours each day online communicating with friends. They visit their online friends in social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter; they share photos and videos via services such as YouTube, Vine, and Snapchat; and they send each other text messages throughout the day – and night – via their ever-present cell phones.

In a recent research grant funded by IMLS, we set out to study how public and school libraries fit into teens’ increasingly online information lives, especially when it comes to searching for information. To that end, we collected data through interviews, focus groups, and surveys from two populations of U.S. high school students. One population attends an urban public science and engineering magnet high school which is known for its award-winning integration of technology throughout the curriculum and its 1:1 laptop program. The school enrolls about 500 students, about 30% of whom are economically disadvantaged and 65% of whom are minority students. The second student population attends a suburban public high school located outside of a major U.S. metropolitan area in a different region of the country. About 55% of the students are economically disadvantaged and 75% are minorities. This second school also supports a small science and engineering magnet program within its total student body of about 2500. Our research sample from this school included both magnet and non-magnet students.

A total of 158 students from the two schools took part in the study. As a group they were heavy social media users, and the majority had used social media services such as Facebook and Twitter to ask (77%) and answer (61%) questions. More than half of the participants had asked or were willing to ask questions about 20 common information needs topics, ranging from social activities and entertainment to careers and health information. School was the most common topic they asked about online, with 77% reporting that they had used social media to ask questions about school-related topics such as homework and class scheduling.

These findings demonstrate that – contrary to common belief -- teens are not just wasting time when using social media. Often they are seeking information and sharing what they know with others. Recognizing that teens are using social media for beneficial uses such as information seeking and sharing can help libraries to better support teens’ information needs. Libraries can develop policies that support teens’ use of social media and consider providing informational content through these outlets. Library staff can also encourage teachers, school administrators, and other adults who interact with teens to consider the value of using social media for information access and sharing.

Based on this research, we’ve put together an infographic that summarizes some of the main points we learned in direct contrast to common myths about teens and social media. The infographic uses direct quotes from teens in our study to contradict five common myths about teens and social media:

MYTH #1: Teens talk about everything online and have little regard for personal privacy.

MYTH #2: Facebook and other social media just distract teens from schoolwork.

MYTH #3: Teens’ use of social media is frivolous.

MYTH #4: It’s dangerous for teens to interact with adults online.

MYTH #5: Internet in schools and libraries is just for finding information.

You can find the infographic at: http://youthonline.ischool.drexel.edu/.

Would you like to display the infographic in your library so that parents, teachers, other library staff, and even teens can learn some of the positive benefits of teens’ social media use? We’ll send you a free poster of the infographic if you contact us at youthonline@drexel.edu (first come first served, while supplies last).

Also, please let us know what you think of the infographic in our brief survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MXKDSXR). This will help us to develop our ongoing research about teens, social media, and libraries, and to improve the ways we share our research results with library staff, teachers, parents, and others.

And…there’s more from this project! We also talked with teens about their perceptions of libraries. We focused on this part of the study in our Spring 2015 YALS article “The Teens Speak Out: What Teens in a Tech High School Really Think about Libraries…and What You Can Do To Improve Their Perceptions.”

You might also be interested in our short quiz for assessing the quality of your teen services: 10 Questions to Ask about your Teen Services.

Lastly, for more information about the research team and our work, visit the Drexel University Youth Online Research Group website.

(This work is based on research conducted by Drexel University’s Youth Online Research Group, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [IMLS], Award #LG-06-11-0261-11, and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Grant No. 2011121873.)

By Michelle Purcell, Rachel Magee, Denise Agosto, and Andrea Forte

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12. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week - August 7, 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 August 7 and August 13 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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13. Creating Classroom Environments: Are You Ready for Technology?

One question I am often asked about using technology is, “How do you get started?” The answer is actually a simple one - humbly.

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14. App of the Week: Google Cardboard

Screenshot 2015-08-04 at 6.58.57 PM
Title: Cardboard
Platform: Android and iOS
Cost: Free

It's more than a high-tech Viewmaster. Google Cardboard that takes advantage of the gyroscope in your phone to replicate 365 degree, stereoscopic viewing. Cardboard itself is an app which helps you get started, calibrate your device, and learn to manipulate the navigation and controls. A whole stable of apps and games build upon the Cardboard concept, but the populist VR trend is so new that the content is very uneven. Even in Google's demo, the international capitals captured through Street View pale next to the underwater landscape of the Great Barrier Reef.

Screenshot_2015-08-04-11-57-58

Google Cardboard is truly low-barrier. It works as well with Android as with iOS, so more students can use it, manufactured Cardboard cases are inexpensive and you can download a kit to create your own headset.

Some of the apps viewed through the Cardboard headset offer the most generational kinesthetic gaming improvement since the Wii. I use Cardboard to play Debris Defrag, what is essentially an immersive version of Asteroids that makes having a space gun seem absolutely fantastic. The virtual reality experience itself is leaps and bounds beyond holding your phone at arm's length to view a HistoryPin photo screen or an Aurasma layer.

Screenshot_2015-08-04-12-13-28

All those online video watchers can use Cardboard as another wrinkle to their experience. I spent a lot of time looking at standard video through Cardboard Viewers, but it was kind of like watching 2D television on a 3D television set, the effect was minimal. It seems to work more as a way to experience high concept video and games that others have created. I had a much better experience exploring the products posted by savvy marketers capitalizing on the nature of the medium. The North Face has a fun video. For teens waiting on the Oculus Rift, Cardboard is a fun stopgap.

Our App of the Week Archive features more great apps. Got a suggestion for App of the Week? Let us know.

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15. Digital dating dynamics: age differences in online dating profiles

Online dating is becoming an increasingly prevalent context to begin a romantic relationship. Nearly 40% of single adults have used online dating websites or apps. Furthermore, the world of online dating is no longer confined to young adults; reports suggest adults aged 60 and older are the largest growing segment of online daters. Obviously, adults using these websites are motivated to find a partner, but we know little about why they want to date or how adults of different ages present themselves to potential partners.

The post Digital dating dynamics: age differences in online dating profiles appeared first on OUPblog.

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16. India’s unique identification number: is that a hot number?

Perhaps you are on your way to an enrollment center to be photographed, your irises to be screened, and your fingerprints to be recorded. Perhaps, you are already cursing the guys in the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for making you sweat it out in a long line.

The post India’s unique identification number: is that a hot number? appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. Teen Design Lab Day Four -- Time to Design!

Another good day at the Teen Design Lab. We had a pretty free form day, complete with some inspiration, project time, and stickers.

What we did:

  • Watched some library related humor videos (such as Check It Out made by the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library — what a great job they did incorporating Taylor Swift into EVERYTHING). These videos served as inspiration and a potential design project. We wanted to give teens the option of making a video parody to promote the library.
  • Then it was design time. This is the neat part of the camp. We just let the teens be, serving really only as sounding boards and offering words of encouragement. We provide laptops, paper, pens, and other design supplies (such as clay, building blocks, felt, etc) so they can create a prototype of some sort. It was neat to see the teens find their element — some needed to make something with their hands while others made detailed dream plans and steps to success charts. The design process also the teens to showcase their talents and strengths, which is awesome. At the same time, we are aligning with library and community priorities — giving suggestions on how to make the teens feel welcome or participate in their community and or library.
  • The day ended with a sticker workshop. Again, this pulls from Makerspace and Fab Lab ideas and equipment (check out the Maker & DIY Programs YALSA Wiki page for more information about this sort of programming). It was an easy setup — laptops running Silhouette software, Silhouette vinyl cutters, and vinyl for the stickers. It’s another workshop where the teens really have free reign over what they want to do. Our only suggestion was using a silhouette image for the cleanest cut. The teens really took off on this project, most printing multiple sets of vinyl. They picked up on it pretty quickly (and a few had done this before). It was a nice way to end the workshop.

The teens will be back tomorrow, continuing to work on their designs and then give a brief presentation to their peers and community members we’ve invited to come so the teens’ opinions can be heard!

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18. Teen Design Lab Day Three — Tech Playground & Teen Feedback

Wednesday was a bit of a slow day. Lucky for us, we had something free form planned for the teens to explore.

We called it a Tech Playground. Our potential project ideas were:

  • Facebook pot for the Peoria Heights Public Library
  • Google Maps with pins of their favorite places in Peoria Heights
  • Experiment with graphic design using Canva, Gimp, or Imgur
canva

Canva overview image from Reel Bold Media

What won out was Canva. I had only briefly worked with this website and I was the one who had recommended it after hearing about it at a social media conference. To sign up, all you need is an email address or can log in with Facebook or a Google account.

From there, you can make almost any sort of design. Flyers, Facebook covers, Etsy banners, posters, business cards — the sky is the limit. With the design, there are both free templates and templates that can be purchased at low cost ($1 or so). You can upload your own photos, use copyright free images, or purchase images from Canva (again around $1 or so). It’s relatively easy to maneuver around the site, and lots of tutorials to watch if you get confused. Here’s a thing we made!

We made a thing!

The teens seemed very into it and said it was one of their favorite things they did that day. It was a great project to just let them run wild and to create something they wanted to use. We also confirmed that Facebook is just not a social media this group of teens use (paralleling recent studies done that say teens are moving away from using Facebook).

After Canva, which was hard to tear the teens away, we had a volunteer from the Peoria Heights Historical Society come in. The teens seemed engaged with the volunteer and asked some good questions. The day ended with conversations on potential design projects they will officially start tomorrow and a conversation with the director of the library. He had looked at their feedback on the Hack Your Library project. The conversation was pretty good, but of course, came back to similar problems — teen involvement and investment. The teens gave good suggestions, such as scouting a couple of teens and allowing them to have a very active role in program planning. If they can bring a couple of friends, then the program has a chance of taking off. I’m curious to know in the future if the director keeps this in mind. I think getting teen feedback is so crucial. We can guess all we want, but at the end of the day, what the teens say and think does matter.

Looking forward to day four and getting more into the design process!

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19. Reading on Screens

Things have been quiet in the print versus digital debate lately for which I am glad, what’s the saying about beating a dead horse? I do understand that there is still much we don’t know about our brains and how reading online and reading in print affects how we read, what we read and how well we read it and I am grateful that the debate is heading down that river and away from the techno-evangelist’s books are dead digital utopia. But because it has been awhile since there has been anything “out there” about it, someone had to write an update about where we stand just in case we forget. And like a moth to the flame I had to fly right for it.

Everythig Science Knows about Reading on Screens is pretty much a summary to-date. You won’t find anything new or revelatory in the article unless you are one of the few readers in the world who have somehow managed to be disconnected from it all (and if you are that sort of reader, you have my admiration!).

What is most striking about this article is how it proves a number of things about reading on screens that it discusses. Like skimming. The presentation of the article invites it with blurry moving things on the header and cutting up the text of the article. I almost didn’t finish reading the article because all of the moving blurs were giving me a headache! The article quotes Ziming Liu, a researcher at San Jose State University:

Liu noted in his study that sustained attention seems to decline when people read onscreen rather than on paper, and that people also spend less time on in-depth reading. ‘In digital, we can link in different media, images, sound, and other text, and people can get overwhelmed,” explains Andrew Dillon, a professor at the School of Information at the University of Texas, Austin, “These are disruptive activities that can carry a cost in terms of attention.’

Ironically, this falls immediately below one of the big, moving blurry blocks! Distracting, check! Overwhelming, check!

We’ve been trained by internet articles like this one. It isn’t necessarily that I want to skim or that I purposely interrupt my reading with distractions, it’s the way words have been presented on the internet since websites were invented that has made me read this way on a screen. So is it any surprise then when given an article or story to read on a screen even without all of the attendant internet bling that I might read it just as though all that bling were there?

The article concludes:

Despite the apparent benefits of paper, Mangen and other reading researchers caution the screen-reading vs. traditional reading question has nuances that scientists have yet to fully understand. Which method works better may depend on the individual (for example, there’s evidence that for some people with dyslexia, e-readers improve reading speed and comprehension). Ultimately, it may be that both print and screen have unique advantages, and we’ll need to be able to read equally well on both—which means keeping our distracted habits onscreen from bleeding into what we read on an e-book or paperback. And reading researchers have some advice for how to prevent this: forget your smartphone and computer, sit down, and read a book.

Common sense. But I have to stop myself decrying the painfully obvious conclusion because common sense isn’t always a strong point for a good many people I have found, especially those getting grants to study the things that avid readers already know and could have told them without any trouble. Should it ever happen that researchers ask us one of these days about print and digital reading, someone is going to have to pick me up off the floor because I will have fainted.


Filed under: Books, ebooks, Reading, Technology Tagged: print v digital

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20. Programming is challenging, especially when you have to anticipate

Since May, I’ve been part of a planning team designing a week-long summer camp (July 20-24, 2015) for 8-12 year olds and for teens in the Peoria Heights (IL) area. This team is a smaller aspect of a much larger project, the Digital Innovation Leadership Program (DILP). This project is funded through the University of Illinois Extension and works with 4H offices across Illinois to plan and lead programs. Our goal is to focus on three learning areas: digital manufacturing, digital media production, and data analytics.

For me, it’s an exciting grant because it really builds off what I’ve done this past year. I get the opportunity to think more about digital literacy and how what I learned can be applied in other situations, always bending the curriculum/workshop to fit the context of the group. Additionally, I played a major role in the creation of the 8-12 year old camp and played a support role in developing the curriculum for the teens. The teens are building off the work of Ann Bishop and her team have been doing in Seattle: InfoMe, which I wrote about in my December 2014 post. Here are five things I learned (or got confirmed) about planning along the way.

  1. Plan A is rarely your best plan.
    • I think our morning camp is in version 3.5. We would have an idea, run with it for a bit, think of something better, tweak it, and run with it again. A few times, we threw out the whole idea and came up with something better. Just like writing a paper for my English classes in undergrad, my best work comes after a few revisions, a few freakouts, and some good conversations with mentors & peers.
  2. Nail down objectives early so that when new ideas come up they can quickly be  assessed if they fit the objectives. If yes, then accept the idea and if not, the idea is vetoed.
    • This was incredibly helpful as we kept coming up with different plans. Our team had met with some community leaders in Peoria Heights at the beginning of May to get an idea of what they wanted from this camp. The main objective that came through was strengthening community pride. When we came back to Urbana-Champaign to play, we had that strong objective in mind. Our camp was framed around that idea and it helped keep us focused and remember what was important.
  3. Give yourself enough time, especially if you’ve working with community partners.
    • Everyone is busy. It seems like such a simple fact, but often forgotten. While a community partner you meet with several months before the program seems very excited about collaboration, as the program actually approaches and the summer is flying by, they might be harder to get in touch with. However, if you contact them early enough, get the date on their calendar sooner rather than later, and provide solid information on expectations and program objectives, then you can feel confident going into the program. Also, I don’t know about you, but I never can estimate how long something will actually take me.
  4. Clear communication is crucial. 
    • Use clear and direct email subject lines, direct emails with questions or bullet points of information, call the person/people on the phone when needed, and also don’t forget about the value of visiting the place the program will take place (if it’s off site or for us, in a completely new city). We took another trip to Peoria Heights in June with a draft of our camp and some questions. It was so nice to sit across from the stakeholders and on-site organizers to make sure we were on the same page.
  5. Anticipate all you want, but sometimes you just have to relax and rely on your ability to change on the fly.
    • With the camp a week away, we suddenly started coming up with all these ideas. Well, if project A doesn’t work, we could do this alternative project A, or alternative project B. Oh…wait, here’s another idea. When you start to go into that spiral, things become overwhelming. I think it’s good to have a backup plan, but somethings you just can’t anticipate. I found myself needing to feel confident about what we had planned and trust myself to think on my feet if during the week, something changes.

Since the camp is right around the corner, I’ll be blogging reflections after the morning camp on my personal website and then will be posting short reflections on the teen camp here on the YALSA blog. Looking forward to sharing this camp with you!

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21. Devising data structures for scholarly works

For over 100 years, Oxford University Press has been publishing scholarly editions of major works. Prominent scholars reviewed and delivered authoritative versions of authors’ work with notes on citations, textual variations, references, and commentary added line by line—from alternate titles for John Donne’s poetry to biographical information on recipients of Adam Smith’s correspondence.

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22. Why a technologically enhanced future will be less good than we think

Today there are high hopes for technological progress. Techno-optimists expect massive benefits for humankind from the invention of new technologies. Peter Diamandis is the founder of the X-prize foundation whose purpose is to arrange competitions for breakthrough inventions.

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23. Terminal, by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs | Book Review

The Morris Island gang is back in Terminal, the fifth and final full installment of Kathy and Brendan Reichs’ NY Times Bestselling Virals series.

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24. Teen Design Lab Reflections, Day One

Hi everyone! So I wrote a post on Friday about an upcoming camp I was helping to plan. During the afternoons this week, we are leading a Teen Design Lab camp. Our general objectives for the camp are:

  • Help youth learn about the community through exploration
  • Engage youth in contributing to community problem-solving
  • Learn about digital media and technology

I’ll be leading a week long reflection series about how the camp goes with the teens each day and how what we are doing fits in while YALSA’s programming guide. I’ll try to have the reflection post every evening, although this first post is the morning after (since the first day is full of craziness, debriefing, and figuring out where to get dinner).

Day One 

What we did:

  • Spent some time on designing a roadmap for the week (see photo). Ann had written this roadmap for the week in terms of the themes of the projects we would be working on and then what skills and outcomes we were hoping for. This roadmap was partially empty and in the picture, you can see we asked questions and got answers from the teens to fill in the roadmap.
  • Community tour. We had the teens go out into the Peoria Heights downtown area and observe what they liked about the area (and what teens might like about this area), what they thought was problematic or what they didn’t like about the area, and then what questions they had or what surprised them about something they saw. We also sent them out with iPad Minis to take photographs with. We encouraged them to talk to store owners and ask questions. The facilitators wandered around the downtown area as well, but we really let the teens do their own thing. We will use this feedback for future design projects this week.
  • Spoke with the township administrator, Roger, (we had met him previously and he gave us input in how he hoped the camp would run). He talked about his beliefs in doing community engagement and some of the neat projects the Richwoods Township had done recently.

IMG_1146What went well:

  • The teens were great. They were engaged and actually interested in the camp and the design projects we are going to be working on. They enjoyed how we didn’t teach at them, but instead involved them in the conversation. They also asked a lot of questions, which allowed us to see where we were doing well in explanation and when we weren’t communicating well.
  • While we had less teens than expected, the group wasn’t phased. They rolled well with our flexible and always changing schedule.

What we want to improve on:

  • We did a quick evaluation at the end of the day to see what the teens thought went well and what didn’t go so well. This is a great way to remind the teens they do have a voice in this program. [Note: it also is YALSA’s #10 in their programming guide]. We found out on Monday that one teen wished we did more stuff, more project time, and less chatting. We have a schedule that is flexible enough to truly listen to this request and altered our agenda for today (Tuesday) accordingly.

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25. Teen Design Lab Day Two — Maps, notebooks, and hack your library!

Back for day two reflection! We added one more teen to the group, bringing our total up to five. Today was a heavy work day, although we were taking into consideration the request from the teen for more projects.

The afternoon began with working on something for the internet. We gave the teens three options: make a Facebook post for the Peoria Heights Public Library page (since our camp takes place at this library), make a blurb that could go up on the Richwoods Township website (since Roger came from the township to talk to us yesterday), or create a Google Map with pins at places they had visited on the community tour on Monday. More on that in what went well and what could be improved. 

Then, the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab made an appearance (and they are team members in this larger grant helping to pay me and my co-teachers to develop and run this camp). They brought along a friend, aka a portable laser. Holly, one of the Fab Lab instructors, led the five teens though designing a notebook cover to be lasered on a small Moleskine notebook. It was a great workshop and the teens had to find a quote they liked. We can definitely think of this workshop as a way to develop interest-based, developmentally appropriate programs that support connected learning. The teens had full say in what their notebooks looked like and this design process exposed them not only to design tools, but file management, USB procedures (like eject USB before physically removing it), and exposure to technology they might not have seen or used before.

With the notebooks begin lasered, the teens then did Hack Your Library. Essentially, they each had a clipboard, pencil, and a bunch of post-it notes. They were to carefully and thoughtfully go through the library, writing down on the post-it notes what they liked about the library, what they didn’t like, and things that surprised them (very similar to what they did the day before in downtown Peoria Heights). The afternoon ended with the teens presenting their findings to the group. The director of the library who we’ve been working closely with couldn’t sneak away to hear the presentation but was looking at the feedback on our way out after camp was over.

What went well

  • The teens really seemed to enjoy the notebook design workshop. It was great to see each other being lasered because they really showed off each teen’s unique personality. I think it’s a great strength to be able to have programming and activities that allow teens to be themselves in that sort of creative process. I feel I learned even more about them from those simple notebook covers.
  • Hack the Library activity ended up with so many interesting notes. Very few teens noticed the same things, which again helps to show how each teen is unique and brings a new perspective to the table.

What could be improved on

  • They seemed a little lackluster about creating website/Facebook/Google map content. I’m not sure if it was how we explain the activities or if that is something they just weren’t interested in. This gets me thinking about how can we encourage them to be creators of material on the internet in a way that’s engaging and fun to them.

Resources to check out

Photos coming soon! Check back tomorrow night for day three reflections!

 

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