Friday, October 21, 2011

10 easy steps to a fantastic future for libraries

10 easy steps to a fantastic future for libraries.
If we can we be:
• leaders in our community
• leading by doing
• proactive and engaged
• listening and forward thinking
• open and communicative
• learning and changing
• trusting and tolerant of failure
• free to experiment and play
• sharing our knowledge and skills
• creative and connected

Maybe easy isn't the right word but IMHO I think it's what we could be doing to create a strong and vibrant future. These 10 easy steps can be applied to any library context and then comes the hard part - where you put it  into practice! This year I've been to a few events focussed on the future of libraries and the future of the profession and reflecting on those events helped me come up with this list. You may agree or disagree, I'd love to hear what you think?

Friday, June 24, 2011

More zombie library games

Image from Matthew Stewart on flickr 
This is a paper that Ashley brought to my attention and I think it's totally awesome! ...

Also, check out Zombie walks! (found this via the flickr image)

Short blog post cause I'm off to Sardinia tomorrow!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Online security and protecting our data

Should I be worried?
This morning I heard an interesting ABC Radio Program on Life Matters called Hacking: why we need to worry about online security. At first I thought it was a bit of a scare campaign on things like online banking, shopping and paying bills. But it got me thinking? How much do I really think before I go wacking my credit card details into an online form? Answer: probably not enough. I usually use PayPal where possible but so many times  if I'm buying tickets or accommodation or anything - I just put the details in without thinking about it too much! I guess I'm lucky so far? Has anyone been not so lucky? There was also alot of talk about how hackers are getting better at accessing data from your mobile phone when you use a wireless network for online banking, paying bills or online shopping. When I looked into it further it turns out the world of cloud computing puts our personal data at greater risk of being hacked than ever before! This is scary stuff! Do we really need to worry about this? Please share your opinions.

Here are some recent stories about online security:
Story from The Conversation on recent hacker attacks
Story from BBC news on cloud computing and protecting your data
A string of recent stories on hacking from ABC news
Stories on hacking from

The importance of great leadership

While convalescing last week I was thinking about how important it is to have strong, supportive leadership in the workplace. As a newbie in any career, you rely on supervisors, managers and superiors to mentor, guide and lead. Under the right conditions you can flourish in your role and be rewarded. Under not so right conditions your self esteem and sense of purpose can plummet. In my worklife so far I've experienced both. I've worked in places where I didn't feel I could speak up and voice an opinion, where hard work is not acknowledged or rewarded, where new ideas are discouraged, where every move is scrutinised, or worse, where you are completely ignored and disregarded. Luckily those time are behind me because where I am now is the complete opposite. I am so grateful to be in an environment that is supportive, encouraging, innovative and engaging. I feel like I'm part of a team that includes all levels of staff with many different backgrounds, talents and interests. I've learned so much from all my supervisors and managers (and the whole team) about communicating, working together, planning, organising and teaching. I know I might not always be so lucky, but I hope I've learned enough from current and past experiences to realise when I'm not flourishing and to move on before my self esteem plummets. Of course there are good days and bad days in any workplace. But hopefully the good outweigh the bad. If they don't it could be an indication that it's time to spread your wings elsewhere.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Teaching and Learning Forum

Yesterday I attended and presented at a Teaching and Learning Forum which I really enjoyed. I gave a presentation on collaborative tools along with Ashley, Jane and Janet who presented on using treasure hunts for teaching information literacy to nursing students. In the afternoon, there was a talk and panel discussion on final year students and alumni experiences of the transition to employment. This led onto what employers want from graduates. It seems many students perceive their communication skills and other attributes as high when in fact employers often rate them lower. How can we improve this? Also needing improvement is the ability of students to market themselves in an interview. Alot of emphasis was also placed on extra curricular activities as a way of enhancing your experience and skillset to improve employability. The final session held three streams and the one I attended included:
  • A presentation on U:PASS which is a fantastic program run by Student Services to assist students who are studying in subjects that are historically perceived as difficult, like physics and maths (there are many others). The service has seen most students attending go up a grade!
  • Hunting for Treasure by Ashley, Jane and Janet. Talking about using game based learning to teach information literacy skills to first year nursing students. Students are having fun and learning by finding the answers for themselves, resulting in fewer visits to the Research Help Desk for assistance
  • Collaborative tools by moi! I demonstrated Diigo and Google docs and talked about other tools in the prezi below. No need to zoom. It's meant to be like a poster. I shared a google doc with three people and demonstrated live editing! T'was fun!

Game based learning or how to make learning fun

Last Sunday I wrote a guest post for the ALIA Sydney blog on Game Based Learning. I got quite carried away and still felt I had more to write so I'll try to add more things here as I find them. Here's the post (below) for those who missed it...

Mobile games
Everyone knows the joy of playing a game whether you grew up with board games, marbles, soccer, arcade games, Atari, Gameboy, Playstation, Nintendo, Xbox or Wii. The fun and competitiveness of playing against yourself and others can be addictive! Regardless of whether these are real life or digital games, there are rules and expected outcomes that players must determine and achieve. While concentrating hard on the game, players don’t even realise they’re learning! Recently people of all ages have started gaming like crazy as mobile apps make it easier than ever to play cheaply, anywhere-anytime, alone or with people around the world (if you haven’t heard of Angry Birds you’ve been living under a rock). One of my favourites is Fruit Ninja where you chop fruit with a sword and at the end of every game you get a fruit fact! Games are usually considered a leisure activity but increasingly they’re being used in learning environments to encourage experiential, active learning. For some reason they’ve been more commonly used with younger learners but why should they have all the fun? Just because you’re at high school, Tafe, uni, work or the library doesn’t mean learning has to be boring! Right? In fact, the 2011 Horizon Reportpredicts Game Based Learning will impact education in the next 2 to 3 years.

According to Wikipedia, Game Based Learning is a branch of serious games, which are activities with defined learning outcomes. 10 years ago, people like Prensky started pushing the digital game based learning (DGBL) revolution because of the potential for learning to be fun and engaging for the students, the trainers, parents and administrators. In 2001 Prensky described a tipping point when he believes learners will demand game based learning. Considering the current ubiquity of games and the blurring of the lines between work and play, I think we might have finally reached that tipping point.

Game based learning is certainly not new. Just think about simulation activities and software used for many years with doctors (did anyone play Operation?), nurses, pilots, defence personnel and many, many more. These learning games prepare people for real life situations by allowing them to safely practice and complete expected outcomes. Second life has also been very popular as a learning environment for many years, particularly in tertiary education. It allows geographically dispersed groups to meet up, interact and complete tasks while in the game. It has been particularly useful for the areas of engineering, design and architecture because groups can design and build large scale projects, that in real life would only be scoped as models or prototypes. Check out the Horizon report for many more awesome examples.

So what are libraries doing? Quite a bit actually! With the rise of mobile apps there’s been a move away from entirely online games to a blend of online, mobile and real life. The State Library of Queensland is using a scavenger hunt app to create self guided library tours using geo-location technology. In fact it seems treasure hunts and scavenger hunts are all the rage in libraries at the moment. The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and Charles Darwin University (CDU) libraries are doing treasure hunts with QR code clues to enhance information literacy instruction. These three projects were recently presented about at the 2011 m-libraries conference in Brisbane. The University of Sydney Library ran a scavenger hunt around all campus libraries during orientation this year and the New York Public Library invited 500 people to an overnight library scavenger hunt (particularly awesome) which they describe as an alternate reality app based game.

So what is all this hunting and gaming doing for us? Well, according to the 2011 Horizon report we’re learning by reaching for and achieving goals, problem-solving, collaborating and communicating. We can interact with content in more complex ways and build digital literacies. They also acknowledge that students are more engaged with game based learning because it’s fun! There are some great examples in the report and I think it’s interesting to consider how this links with other trends they predict such as Augmented Reality and Gesture-based Computing. Something to ponder.

Besides ‘hunts’ there are many other library games being developed like augmented reality apps using data mashups by the Bavarian State Library (among others) and a location based checkin and reward game by some people at the University of Huddersfield library (definitely want to know more about this one). There are Fun Days and Flash mobs, flash cards and quizzes, chases and Amazing Races (check out my Game based learning Diigo group for more examples). There is already quite a bit of game based learning going on but if trend predictions are correct it will soon be the norm rather than the interesting exception. How will libraries, museums and organisations rise to the challenge of providing game based learning opportunities? Some of the things I've described require tech skills and money to make possible but others only require a few people and some enthusiasm! It's time to get in the game but just remember it's not about winning it's about having fun!

Now I apologise if any serious gamers are reading this because I'm not one, and I probably haven't used the right lingo to describe things. But that's the point. You don't have to be an expert. You just have to have a go. For those interested, there is a lot of theory behind serious games, gamification and game based learning - if you want to get into that kind of thing. And if you're already into it please share your resources in the Game based learning Diigo group.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sick Day cookies

This is what to do when you're home sick, have a hankering for choc chip cookies and just happen to have more than 2.5 kg of finest quality dark Belgian chocolate in the cupboard.

Cream 150g unsalted butter with 1 cup of brown sugar. Add a tsp of vanilla, pinch of salt and an egg and then fold in 1 1/2 cups of sifted plain flour, 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 cup of cocoa. Finally stir through 200g of white or dark chocolate roughly chopped. Roll dough into a thick log, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 mins. Then cut into 1cm slices using a serrated knife and place 4cm apart on a tray with baking paper. Bake at 180 for 10-15 mins. Cool on try for 5 and transfer to a rack for 5. Eat warm and eat often! You won't regret it! Yum!

Recipe from Delicious magazine April 2011 p.96.