ECAR report on students and technology

This new report on students and technology from Educause Center for Applied Research has interesting implications for library services. As Barbara Fister points out, instant messaging is dropping in popularity while texting is on the rise. Also, it’s interesting to see that students, on the whole, prefer traditional face-to-face instruction to using a lot of online tools in their education. Less than 40% like to use wikis and blogs in their classwork. I also noted that only around 25% are actually using these technologies in class. I do understand that this doesn’t mean that only 25% have ever used these tools in a class, but I’m wondering if limited experience using these tools for academic work might affect the responses – for example, an experience with one class in which wikis were used in an ineffective manner might have soured the student on the educational uses of this tool. I think this is an area worth exploring. They did receive comments from some of the respondents, but really exploring what factors made some students like the experience and what made others dislike it would be valuable, I think.

In any case, the report shows we should be cautious in being over-enthusiastic about using new IT for education. And probably pay more attention to ways to offer mobile reference services as an alternative to chat.

In Defense of Banned Books Week

I’m a little late with this topic since Banned Books Week ended on October 3 this year. However, I noticed this year several articles and blog posts criticizing Banned Books Week and the American Library Association (ALA), and I wanted to address their arguments.

According to the ALA’s statement about Banned Books Week, “Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.” Sounds pretty innocuous, right? Who could be against the First Amendment and freedom to read? Continue reading

Twitter – timewaster or useful library tool?

Twitter has gotten a lot of attention in the media and among library folk interested in “web 2.0” tools. Much of the attention in the media has been negative, focusing on the vast numbers of tweets on the mundane aspects of people’s everyday lives. However, many librarians feel this could be a useful tool in providing services to users who are becoming increasingly fluent in the use of social networking tools.  Here is my Twitter experience.

I signed up for a Twitter account last spring for a library school class on web tools, not really knowing much about the service. During class, I mainly used it to contact my classmates and keep up with the instructor’s announcements on the class feed. However, once class ended I decided to explore the possibilities that Twitter opens for librarians and library service. Continue reading

Second Life

originally posted on Amandarama! LIBR240 blog 4/28/09:

I have to admit to being very skeptical of Second Life before ever trying it out myself. I never really saw “the point” and I guess I still am not sure about it. However, my visit to the Info Island and the reference desk there made me understand virtual libraries in SL a bit better. Continue reading

Embedding Multimedia

Originally published 4/14/09 on Amandarama! LIBR 240 blog:

This week’s assignment for LIBR 240 required me to embed multimedia resources into a website. We looked at resources for audio, video, and still images from Flickr, but for the assignment focused on images and video. Here are my experiences: Continue reading

Website Usability and Accessibility

Originally published 3/17/09 on Amandarama! LIBR240 blog

This week in LIBR 240, my web tools class, we learned about designing accessible websites. Accessibility in website design refers to whether your site can be easily used by people with disabilities, who may be using screen readers or other adaptive technology. Although accessibility is related to usability, because a website that is not accessible to users with disabilities is not usable for them, they do not mean the same thing. Usability is much broader and includes the entire user experience, including factors like:

  • how easy it is to learn how to use the site
  • how efficient it is to use
  • how satisfied users are with their experience

A website could be technically accessible (for example, using alt text for images to benefit people using screen readers) but still have poor overall usability. Continue reading

Fun with CSS

(originally posted 3/4/09 on Amandarama! LIBR240 blog)

Another part of the assignment mentioned in the last post was creating CSS stylesheets. This was in two parts: one part was to create a mini-website with 3 pages and use CSS to create a consistent layout for each page; the other part was to create a css stylesheet to modify the sample html file at www.csszengarden.com. Both of these took a lot of time! Continue reading