Tag Archives: google

Participatory culture and cloud computing

Clouds by fifikins via flickr CC

At MPOW we get many requests from both academics and postgraduate students for help with referencing software such as Endnote.  One of the problems with download-able software such as Endnote is the portability of data between the devices on which it is installed. You either accept that you have different lists, or carry around USB sticks with data and never be quite sure which is the most up to date….. Enter products such as Endnote Web – storing the information in the cloud and accessing it from home, work, beside the children’s tennis lessons or while waiting in the doctor’s surgery.

This is not a post about Endnote – it’s just one example.

Access is the key – and if you are writing a paper or presentation with others, then sharing also becomes important. Web 2.0 tools enable us to show academics and students how to create a public Dropbox folder for documents, store favourite links in an online bookmarking service such as delicious or diigo, or use Google Docs to collaborate on a paper with colleagues. Kathryn Greenhill describes this process perfectly over at Librarians matter:

Zotero itself has taken the place of any social bookmarking like delicious or diigo. [We] used it to collect references for our [shared] VALA2010 paper over the last couple of months – just adding to a shared group library. We read through and tagged these references and pulled out useful quotes, so now as we write up the paper, we just click on a tag and instantly have a list of references on that topic.

Participatory culture means we need new, social skills as part of our work or study. Cloud services allow our skills in collective intelligence, judgement, transmedia navigation and networking to be utilised easily.

Cloud services carry risks that must be weighed up in making the decision to use them. Control over access to your data is largely out of your hands – behind whatever security has been set up by the company or organisation taking responsibility for the data. The security disaster faced by Sony earlier this year highlights how easily it can all go wrong.

On balance? I’m happy to take advantage of the convenience of cloud services, the way they allow access to my information and allow collaboration with colleagues.

References:

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Available http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF

Nelson, M. R. (2009). Building an open cloud [Cloud computing as platform]. Science, 324(5935), 1656-1657. Retrieved from http://www.sciencemag.org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/cgi/reprint/324/5935/1656.pdf

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Mapping my PLN

image created using Popplet for iPad

Alisa Howlett, blogging at Flight Path recently wrote a post based on Jeff Utecht’s 5 stages of PLN adoption.  I would echo much of what Alisa has written, so pop over and read it rather than have me repeat it all here.

Essentially, the 5 stages are identified as immersion, evaluation, know it all, perspective and balance.

It’s hard to identify at which stage I find myself – I have been through intense periods of involvement with my PLN and am certainly no longer at immersion. However, neither am I entirely happy with my current involvement with my PLN so I wouldn’t call it balanced.

Possibly ‘perspective’ is where I am at.  I know I can’t possibly see or take in everything my PLN puts out on twitter and I have stopped trying to follow all of it. Sometimes I find myself feeling left out when there appears to be an interesting conversation going on – and it’s apparent I’ve missed the good bits – but mostly I acknowledge that I can’t possibly see, understand, comment on and participate in every conversation. Or even most of them.

Meredith Farkas wrote a great post over at Information wants to be free about the problems associated with keeping up with the news flow on twitter and her preference for blogging as a medium for keeping all the big ideas in one place.  Adopting this philosophy, I still follow a lot of blogs – an RSS feed (I use Google reader) collects them for me and they sit and wait until I’m ready to read them, rather than rush by me in a busy twitter stream.

Between my RSS reader and my diigo bookmarks, I feel like I’ve got some measure of control over the information flow – and hopefully some balance (or at the very least, perspective).

(The image of my PLN and it’s connectivity is from a great little iPad app called Popplet, I found out about that via a blog post from Kathryn Greenhill over at Librarians matter).

Updating my CV

I was doing some updating of my ALIA PD points today and it startled me to see that I have pretty much already accumulated the points I need for the 2011 year (it’s a financial year thing).  I only joined the scheme in April 2010, realising that all the reading and learning I had been doing for my new job since starting here in February could also be counted as PD points.  It then occurred to me that  it’s probably time to update my CV with some of this learning and achievement and professional progress.

So this is a relective and slightly self indulgent post, a pause to look at what I’ve learned and managed to achieve since starting at MPOW (my first professional position and first full time job in 18 years) back in February 2010.  I’m pretty pleased with this list.  I have:

  • joined the ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee (NGAC)
  • learned how to participate in teleconferences
  • developed a web site using Google sites and written and uploaded all the content myself
  • developed and written library and academic skills modules for the college moodle
  • implemented a monthly student newsletter (college wide, not just library news) that I now co-ordinate & edit
  • learned how to conduct information literacy workshops (and learned that it’s different each and every time)
  • learned how to use prezi (thanks @misssophiemac)
  • learned how to use flickr (thanks @restructuregirl)
  • learned how to use twitter (thanks tweeps!)
  • established a Facebook presence for both the library and MPOW generally
  • learned about Orkut as a social networking site
  • participated in a blogging project (#blogeverydayinjune)
  • written my first collaborative document as part of an NGAC task
  • been to UTS to hear Heidi Julien talk about information literacy
  • been to the ALIA Biennial conference in Brisbane and met lots of new people
  • learned how to use the Libraries Australia database
  • written my first article for InCite (as yet unpublished)
  • discovered what a ‘personal learning network‘ is and how to develop and contribute to one
  • participated in discussions about my experiences as a student as part of research into LIS education
  • started planning for the library to move to another building and co-locate (finally!) with the computer lab

Some of this has been ‘just part of the job’ and some has been personal professional development that may or may not cross over into ‘the job’ but I believe (and fortunately, so does my employer) that it is all part of being an active participant in a learning profession and that ultimately that has benefits and payoffs for the employer beyond the ‘things that get done on the job’.

Probably the most valuable part of all of this to me has been the professional networking through twitter, NGAC and the conference.  I had an example of this just today in a focus group discussion for the LIS research project – I was delighted to find another participant was someone I had met at the conference.  Connecting and reconnecting is what helps build the profession.  I’m not sure where all that will take me in the longer term career sense but I’m sure it’s going to be positive.

image: Ecliptic Star Trails by makelessnoise via flickr

The family librarian

Today, practising what I preach, I taught Miss 16 to use Google wonder wheel to find keywords and background information for an ancient history assignment. Then, armed with said background information, off we trotted to the local library to find some books. Targetted pre-search a good strategy as she is currently on crutches so too much hanging about the library is not a good thing. To borrow a phrase from @jobeaz, “love my job”.

Getting paid to have fun

This past couple of weeks has seen me working on a website for the library, within the Google Aps domain that we hold at MPOW.  Google Sites is a wiki based ‘put the modules together’ platform and really easy to use (once you get the basics sorted out in your head!)  While there are all sorts of limitations with this structure, it has been an ideal solution for me – the library desperately needed a web presence and our resident IT support (yes, there’s only one of him) is run off his feet with day to day stuff.  With Google Sites, I have been able to construct a web site on my own that does the job and gets the information about the library services out there into the student’s preferred domain (and looks a bit snappy too).

Along the way, I have been able to play with lots of different learning objects – with varying forms of success.  I have used Jing to create short video screen captures of different Google search functions (namely Wonder Wheel and Timeline) and link to these from my web site.  In anticipation of a new intake of students in a few weeks, I have spent today putting together a short virtual library tour using Window’s Photo Story software (that I then uploaded to YouTube because Google sites has an automatic YouTube plug in and I don’t need to worry about html code embedding).  Photo Story is a really simple little piece of software I came across while doing my practicum at TAFE last year (I did a virtual tour of the library as one of my projects).  It doesn’t need any special equipment other than a camera and a microphone, so I whipped out the trusty iPhone, snapped a few pics of the library and surrounds, uploaded them to the computer, donned the headset/mic and away I went.  Photo Story strings your pictures together in a kind of power point display, adds your narration and some funky background music and you have  a little video without having worked with any kids or dogs.

While this ends up sounding like an infomercial for Google, the fact is that they are out there providing simple, low cost solutions to technology issues.  MPOW has limited budget and resources, Google Aps allows us significantly improved collaboration and the ability to provide services to our customers (both staff and students).

image from Flickr Creative Commons user dullhunk