Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Managing multiple social media feeds at once

I must admit, I am a social media junkie.  I love Twitter and Facebook.  I participate in many chats each week, sometimes multiples at once.  I am an all over the place social media freak.  Sometimes, especially when I am involved in multiple conversations,  I use different apps to help me.   Tweetdeck is my favorite.
Tweetdeck has several means to present your information.  You can download an app to your device (Computer, iPad, Android, etc) or you can work off of the internet browser directly.   The program lets you organize columns of information to follow.   For example, I have all of my interactions, #edchat, #tlchat #pblchat etc. set up to filter into tweetdeck. I can multitask, which in my line of work is key.  

If you are a google chrome user,tweetdec k is an actual app built into the browser.   I use it regularly to keep track of things I am working on.  It also lets you keep track of lists, favorites and messages.  You can also monitor your Facebook page as well.  I love the ease of use.

I have tried other programs to monitor and track social media, but I have foundtweetdec k is the easiest for my needs.   

A few words of caution:  If you have the actual app installed on your computer, beware, if you don't set it up right, you have a constantpin g as tweets come in. It gets to be a little of an annoying sound.  The alert isnice bu t if you are trying to do something, it gets distracting. 

Look it over if you are interested in organizing your social media into one place.

*Note: Thetweetdec k version you are seeing here is the versionfro m google chrome. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

A few places to look for web 2.0 tools

I was fortunate enough to have a snow day today so I spent a little time doing some research on web 2.0 tools.   I came across a site called effective web 2.0 tools for the classroom.  The creator of the site had a slew of links and such well organized into types.  I spent some time clicking around and found several sites I have never seen to test for future posts. I bet there are a hundred or more tools to refer to.  I was in tech guru heaven!  He had a few very good links available that led me to some great tools.

I was pleased that the author has recently updated the site.  One of the first links he had was to an online tools index labeled by images called Go2Web20.  I have never seen this site, and I had to add it immediately to my pocket bookmark.  I loved, loved, loved both of the sites. I liked Go2Web20 because I have seen people use a tool at a conference and not known what they were using.  This site lets me see a visual of the site and sometimes, I can remember it. I am definitely going to keep this one in my tech guru trick book.

He also had a link to a site called ICT Tools and Resources for Schools, Teachers and Educators.  This site is set up like a graphic organizer.  It has links pulling out of specific topics. There were lots of topics to explore and there were also some feature tools. I liked the visual aspect of this site.  It seems easy to refer to and I added it as well to my pocket.

Another site he added was a Directory of Web 2.0 tools from Center For Learning  It isn't as much of a visual site but, it is loaded with links.   The links are organized by type (Social Media, Blogging, Productivity tools, just to make a few.)  There are a lot of options for the tech person to use.

I hope someone can benefit from at least one of these tools.  All four are going to help you find something to use in your classroom or at school.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Starting a Library Coffee Shoppe

Since I have been talking so much about the bookstore model and my shift away from Dewey, I think it is only appropriate to talk about our new venture: the coffee shoppe.

The idea came up three years ago when I visited a colleague's school media center.  She was selling kids coffees and drinks left and right.   I talked with my administrators and we thought doing something like this would be a great way to motivate students and get them into the media center.  It's sort of the Field of Dreams thought process, "If you build it, they will come."   After a lot of research and some conversations with other school media specialists who started a coffee shoppe, we began the process.

We started writing a few grants.  Our local youth philantrhopy group agreed to sponsor us because we were doing things to benefit our students.   We invited our functional skills class and our entrepreneurship class in to help us get the ball rolling.   With their support, we were able to get a grant to start the shoppe.  We bought a refrigerator and some coffee urns.   We opened in January of this year and business is booming.  Our vision is helping our school be better.

We  use the profits to buy materials and items for the media center.  Databases are expensive, I have a very limited budget.  I can use the coffee shoppe monies to buy some of the materials we need that the district can't afford to provide us.  I have already had a few teachers request materials that before, I would have to say no.  Now, I have a littlle bit of money available to use as a backup if something is needed.

Some of you are probably thinking, is this lady crazy?  How is this managed.  Easy, we are a small school.  We have only about 30 kids who regularly visit the coffee shoppe.  We started pre-measuring our powdered drinks so when kids come in, we just add water.  We have a coffee club card where kids get punches each purchase.  It works well. We are seeing success. I am seeing kids come to the media center that NEVER walked in the door before.  I can't complain.   It's for the kids, afterall, right?

Friday, February 15, 2013

The ebook debate

Of late, I have read numerous discussion threads on several different groups I follow regarding adding e-content, managing e-content, etc.  I have spent a long while tossing the idea back and forth should I spend the money buying items such as this or should I stick with print media.   I bought a popular series in ebook form and publicized it's existance.   Not one hit so far.  We added the e-content in October.  So my questioning the students has started.   I am learning more and more they prefer the traditional book.  I have lots of kids with kindles and e-readers but they play games more than read books.   I have some who told me they liked the book smell and the feel of pages flipping.   Others told me they prefer to research in a book since they can put tabs and flags in.   So I am a little torn.

I think eBooks are going to take on and do so quickly, but I am not sure how well my patrons will embrace it.   I am a traditional person, myself.  I read a lot of books, I have read them both on a device as well as in a book.  I like both mediums but I prefer paper. The smell, the feel, the lack of reflection from the sunlight. I am also one who is willing to try new things.  I think the online e-content is something to consider investing in, but my concern is the expense. Yes, e-content is cheaper, but, are the savings worth it?   My patrons are used to walking around the stacks looking for a title or telling one of the staff what they are looking for.   I teach them how to look on their own, but many are on a limited time budget and it's often faster to just walk to the section and show them.  Would they use the e-content if it was available to them?  The next question to ask, where do I get it?

There are so many places available that sell e-content.  Some of it is very valid and very beneficial to my student population, but deciding what I want to get is going to be a challenge.   Do I find content that accomodates primarily our 1:1 tools or do I search out things that can go on more devices.  That is my huge decision.   Any thoughts readers?  Do I take the plunge?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Some more about our genre section

So as my aid and I walked around the media center the other day to talk about how we can do a better layout to better serve our students we discovered even another obstacle, idea, etc. to add to the to do list.  Our historical  fiction section needs to be reorganized.  We have a slew of Historical Fiction books but they range from a lot eras so, we decided to historify (I just made up a word) our Historical materials.   We are labeling them by era.   Each book will have a tag that relates to a specific era.  We decided if we trained our patrons to look for a color specific tag, they will know items that relate to one another. We decided we will do this with both historical fiction as well as non fiction. That way, patrons can locate books that relate.

Our idea for this is a little out there, but so is our entire process of making the library a better place.  We feel that patrons will find more materials of interest for both research and pleasure if the items are better organized.  Color coding was our method of choice. We are going to work this into our historical fiction section now, but as time moves on, we may decide to add labels to items in some of our other genre sections.

Hopefully, our time and effort will make this library a place where people can come in and find exactly what they are looking for faster.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Try Wufoo for forms

I was reading someone's feed one day when I saw a link to a site called Wufoo.  The name alone intrigued me but I decided to check it out.

Wufoo is a form builder that allows you to create three free forms/ surveys a month.  It is a limited amount of forms and access for free, but it can be used from time to time.

I like how the form manager on the site allows you to see analytics and change the look and feel of the form. I use google docs a lot to make forms, but this program is a change in scenery. It was pretty easy to use and I can see myself using it in the school library to generate ideas for programming and book clubs. You can set it to do a lot of different things, such as notify, generate data, etc.   I like that component.

I have always loved using google forms, but this is something fresh and new. I am always game to a change! It's easy, it's free (limited of course) and it makes the form look different than what one is used to. It has a very nice, detailed help page that outlines all of the components and how to make it work.

Another neat component, you can add users!  So you can work collaboratively with a partner or a colleague to develop surveys for the classroom (or department, library, office, etc.)

Check it out.  It is easy and different.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Read it later is new and improved pocket

When I decided to blog a few times a week last summer, my plan was to work ahead and get posts done in advance.  Let me tell you, it worked well for a while, but now I feel as if I can't even get caught up on my daily tasks much less my blog, so, pardon me if I am behind.  Real life is catching up with me faster than I expected!

With all of that in mind, I want to talk about Pocket.   Not sure how many people have heard of this one, but I came across it at a webinar and I really liked how it worked.  It used to be a site called readitlater, but it has been reformatted and made to be better. Pocket works like diigo and delicious but it produces a much more visual bookmark.  Think of it as a more organized pinterest.

I crossed over to the android side a few weeks ago and got a galaxy note 2.  Pocket is an app I use frequently on my phone.  My district has blocked pinterest because it is an everlasting website and the information is using up so much bandwidth that we can't manage everything we need.   I started pinning pages on my phone and then send them to pocket if I think I would use it at school.  I have found so many fantastic pages that I can see being useful in the library but I  can't track them during the day.  The end result of my saves leaves me a very nice visual of the pages I have saved so I can refer to them later.    It allows you to tag the pages so you can linkk them together.

I showed pocket to a colleague who is also blocked from pinterest at work and she was so excited.  She added the app to her device and immediately went to town transferring her pins to the page.

I am really pleased with how well pocket works.  Will I use it to replace diigo? Nope, probably not, but I will use it as a tool to move items from pinterest to work.