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Learning Process!

One thing that WLS Learns has helped me with is a better understanding of how I go about learning something new.  This picture captures almost all of the different stages I experience in my learning process.  Do you identify with any of these kids?  All of them??

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What’s a Wiki?

Thing #9:  What’s a Wiki?

A wiki is a collaborative website and authoring tool that allows users to easily add, remove and edit content. Wikipedia, the online open-community encyclopedia, is the largest and perhaps the most well-known of these knowledge sharing tools. With the benefits that wikis provide, the use and popularity of these tools is exploding.

Some of the benefits that make wikis so attractive:

  • Anyone (registered or unregistered, if unrestricted) can add, edit or delete content;
  • Tracking tools within wikis allow you to easily keep up on what been changed and by whom;
  • Earlier versions of a page can be viewed and reinstated when needed;
  • Users do not need to know HTML in order to apply styles to text or add and edit content. In most cases, simple syntax structure is used.

As the use of wikis has grown over the last few years, libraries all over the country have begun to use them to collaborate and share knowledge. Among their applications are pathfinder or subject guide wikis, book review wikis, ALA conference wikis and even library best practices wikis.

Discovery Resources:

Use these resources to learn more aboout wikis:

Exploration Exercise:

  1. For this exploration exercise, you are asked to take a look at some library wikis and blog about your findings. Here’s a few examples to get you started:
  2. Create a blog post about your findings.
    What did you find interesting?
    What types of applications within libraries might work well with a wiki?

So what’s in a wiki? Find out by doing some exploring on your own! )

This Week : Play!

There are way too many fun things to do out there!

Thing # 6: Play around with an online image generator.

Thing #7: Take a look at LibraryThing and catalog some of your favorite books.

Thing #8: Explore Twitter and post some tweets.

Greetings WLS Learns Participants!

The Exploration Exercise for Thing #5 is sooooo simple: blog about anything related to technology. Yeah, that’s it! And it can be anything that relates to technology. Just share a few thoughts about it on your blog (I know, I know – you did this your first blog. Sort of. Take this opportunity to reflect, perhaps, on that post and see if anything has changed. And, special favor here, be sure to add at least one comment on another participant’s blog. Because that’s what is at the heart of online communities: connecting and communication. : )

Thing # 4 – RSS Feeds

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Recognize this icon? You’ve probably seen it on websites (at the end of the address bar? This is the RSS feed button. Maybe you’ve heard friends and co-workers talk about it, but still have no idea what RSS is. Well, don’t worry, because this week we’re going to learn all about RSS! In the information world, RSS is not only revolutionizing the way news, media and content creators share information, but it also is swiftly changing the way everyday users are consuming information.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is a file format for delivering regularly updated information over the web.

Just think about the websites and news information sources you visit every day. It takes time to visit those sites and scour the ad-filled and image-heavy pages for just the text you want to read, doesn’t it? Now imagine if you could visit all those information sources and web pages in just one place and all at the same time … without being bombarded with advertising… without having to search for new information on the page you’d already seen or read before… and without having to consume a lot of time visiting each site individually. Would that be valuable to you? Well, it’s available now through a newsreader and RSS.

This week’s Discovery Exercises focus on learning about RSS news feeds and setting up a Bloglines account (a free online newsreader) for yourself to bring your feeds together.

Exploration Resources:

  • Here’s a wonderful CommonCraft on RSS Feeds:
  • Feed Me: A gentle introduction to Internet feeds – a good tutorial from Palinet, a library cooperative
  • Using Bloglines Tutorial (how to keep up with dozens of blogs everyday) – This online tutorial walks you through how to setup a Bloglines account and add newsfeeds. Follow Steps 1 through 3 to set up your Bloglines account. Steps 4 through 9 are optional and cover how to subscribe to different types of feeds (podcasts, Flickr albums, etc.)
  • Adding RSS Feeds to Bloglines – A short YouTube video from our own Helene Blowers that she created showing how to add feeds.
  • Additional Bloglines news feed subcription information (screenshot image)
  • Your co-workers – tap into their knowledge or work through your discovery process together! Several WLS staff already use RSS feeds – seek them out and ask them to show what they know.

Exploration Exercise:

  1. Follow the exploration resources above to learn more about RSS and newsreaders.
  2. Create a free online Bloglines account for yourself and subscribe to at least 10 newsfeeds to your reader. See Using Bloglines Tutorial steps 1-3 for instructions.
    • WLS Learns participant blog feeds – Subscribe to several of your co-workers’ blogs. This is as easy as typing the blog URL into the subscribe field in Bloglines, or finding the RSS icon somewhere on their blog, if they have included it. Try it, it’s easy!
    • Then try adding a few other types of news feeds from news sources. Start with these 3 sites below and subscribe to their feeds:
  3. Create a post in your blog about this exercise. Optional: If you’re up to the challenge, you can provide the URL address to your public bloglines account (find where to find this below)

Don’t know what to blog about? Think about these questions:

What do you like about RSS and newsreaders?
How do you think you might be able to use this technology in your work or personal life?
How can libraries use RSS or take advantage of this new technology.

How to find your public Bloglines URL:

  1. Click on the Share tab within your Bloglines account:
  2. Scroll down the right screen pane and locate the public URL (see screenshot)
  3. Be sure to add this as part of your post to demonstrate your completion of this activity!

So, to wrap things up, here is the link to my public Bloglines account: http://www.bloglines.com/public/jsexton50

Why have a public account? To share blog rolls with others, of course! ) By checking out the blogs I subscribe to, you can see what i check into most days when i go online and if they are interesting to you, you can easily subscribe to them yourself.

P.S. I had a bit of difficulty making my blogroll public because I couldn’t figure out my username. It turns out NOT to be your login name/email. You make a username by logging into Bloglines and then clicking on ACCOUNT then selecting BLOG SETTINGS. Enter the username you want to use. Then, beside SHOW MY BLOGROLL, be sure to select YES, publish my Blogroll.

P.S.: Once you tackle this discovery exercise, you’ve conquered the most difficult one of all the “THINGS”! Whew! )

Thing # 3

Part 1: Flickr Fun
Even if you’ve never used Flickr, you have most likely heard of it. Photo sharing websites have been around since the 90s, but it took Flickr, a small startup site, to catapult the idea of “sharing” into a full-blown online community. Within the past few years, Flickr has become one of the most-popular photo sharing sites on the web. It’s become so popular that even libraries are creating accounts, which emphasizes the online community aspect even more. Flickr is also known as one of the first websites to use keyword “tags” to create associations and connections between photos and users of the site. (And if you’re not familiar with tagging, fret not! We’ll cover that as an exercise before too long!)

So, for this discovery exercise, you are asked to take a good look at Flickr and discover what this site has to offer. Learn how tags work, what groups are, and all the neat things that people and other libraries are using Flickr for.

Exploration Resources:

Exploration Exercise:

In this Exercise, you have two options:

  1. Take a good look around Flickr and discover an interesting image about which you want to blog. Be sure to include either a URL link to the image in your blog, or if you create a Flickr account, ora already have one, you can use Flickr’s blogging tool to add the image in your post (note that when they talk about the “Blog This” button, it can be found at the top left of the photo you are looking at).
    – OR –
  2. If you’re up to an easy challenge… create a Free account in Flickr and use your library’s digital camera to capture a few pictures of something in your branch. Upload these to your Flickr account and tag at least one of the images “WLSLearns” and mark it public. Then, create a post in your blog about your photo and your experience with Flickr. Be sure to include the image in your post. Once you have a Flickr account, you have two options for doing this: through Flickr’s blogging tool or using WordPress to configure your blog with Flickr.

Have fun! I can tell you that Flickr can easily become addictive! ;)

P.S. A quick word about photo posting etiquette. When posting identifiable photos of other people (especially minors), is it advisable to get the person’s permission before posting their photo in a publicly-accessible place like Flickr. Never upload pictures that weren’t taken by you (unless you have the photographer’s consent) and always give credit when you include photos taken by someone else in your blog.

PART 2: MORE FLICKR FUN:

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Like many web 2.0 sites, Flickr has encouraged other people to build their own online applications using images found on the site. Through the use of APIs (application programming interfaces), many people have created third-party tools and mashups* that use Flickr images. Here are just a sampling of a few…

  • Mappr – allows you to take Flickr images and paste them on a map.
  • Flickr Color Pickr – lets you find public photos in Flickr that match a specific color.
  • Montagr – create a photo mosaic from photos found on Flickr.


Exploration Exercise:

Your Exercise for Part 2 is to:

  1. Explore some of the fun Flickr mashups and 3rd-party tools that are out there.
  2. Create a blog post about one that intrigues you. If you want to get really fancy and you either already have a Flickr account or  you created one in the part 1 of this exercise, use the tool and include a link to it in your post, or upload it for everyone to see!

One fun tool is FD ToysTrading Card Maker. And there’s a ton of librarians out there that have created their own Librarian Trading Cards.

If you have read Roseann’s blog (http://roseann-the-librarian.blogspot.com/) you are aware of the site she has been using that has some pretty neat photo apps: http://oedb.org/blogs/ilibrarian/2008/17-things-to-do-with-your-online-photos . Its definitely got a lot of fun factor.

So go enjoy exploring some neat little apps! And if you’re up to the challenge while you’re at it, why not create a trading card of your own? )

* Mashup Note: Wikipedia offers some great articles that explain mashups. Basically, they are hybrid web applications that take features from one application (like Flickr) and mash it up with another (like a map). In this example, you get Mappr (http://mappr.com).

PS: WLSLearns image created with Spell with Flickr! )

Thing # 2

Now that you’ve done some exploring around this website and understand how this program will work, it’s time to set up your own personal blog in which to begin recording your thoughts, discoveries and exercises. Not familiar with blogging? Not quite sure what all the blogging hype is? Here’s a funny Common Craft video that can help explain it: As mentioned in the video, two of the easiest and free blogging software programs out there are Blogger and WordPress. Both are extremely easy to use. Let’s choose to use WordPress . Creating a blog using WordPress takes just three steps:

  1. Create an account here (go to http://wordpress.com/signup -here’s a screenshot of what that page – click on image to magnify). Fill in according to instrutcions. Your username will be the name of your blog. You may use your own name, but if you want you can also create a name.
  2. Go to Dashboard and at the top of the page chose DESIGN tab (view screenshot )
  3. Select your template (view screenshot ).

Once you’ve created your blog, there are two important things to know:

  • To add posts: The maintenance interface that you will use to add posts, edit or change the step-up your blog is accessed online at http://www.wordpress.com. Be sure to write down your login and password.
  • To view your blog: Your blog address is http://(xxxx).wordpress.com. (xxxx)=the unique identifier you entered in Step 2. Be sure to also write down your blog address. This is the address anyone can use to find your blog. Notice that when you are working on your blog from the dashboard, you can view your blog by clicking the “View Site” tab at the top of the page or the “View Page” button on the right. Before you chose to view, make sure click the SAVE button on the right.

If you run into problems or would like more information about blogs and using Blogger, here are some discovery resources you can use:

  • A video tutorial from WordPress:

Okay… Now, it’s your turn! Exploration Exercise:

  1. Setup a blog for yourself through WordPress.*
  2. Add a test post or two. Note: Use one of your test posts to create an entry about the habits among the 7 and 1/2 lifelong learning habits that is easiest and hardest for you and why.
  3. Have fun!!!!

IMPORTANT NOTE: How you choose to identify yourself on your blog is your choice. You can blog under a screen name, anonymously, or as yourself. However, in order to qualify for the staff incentives and prize drawings, you will need to regisiter your blog with John sending him and email with your blog address, i.e. xxxxx.wordpress.com.