Archive for Skype
March 14, 2008
Today ended the SCASL conference that I attended in Columbia, SC. It is always a rewarding experience, as being a librarian makes you a singleton in your building most of the time, so what fun and excitement all of us like minded people can have when we are all together. There was never a dull moment. Here I am setting up my Exploratorium booth and getting ready to show and tell Flickr and SCASL Blogs!
Columbia was warm and sunny the whole conference (March 12-14, 2008) and I rekindled old friendships and made some new ones.
Sitting with Susan Henley and Camillia Harris (from Charleston School District) in Larry Johnson’s pre-conference session was so much fun–We talked almost through the whole presentation! But I had my laptop so we were pulling up the links to things he was talking about, so it was somewhat related. He never seemed to get annoyed with us, but I do think we were a tad distracting. Apologies Larry!
Eating dinner @ California Dreaming with Heather Loy and Mary (from Busbee Elementary). Although the three of us come from different school levels–Heather is from a high school, Mary from an elementary school, and I am from middle–each of us seem to face a lot of similar issues in our libraries.
Sitting through Joyce Valenza’s sessions were probably the highlight of the conference. She is leading with such an awesome example of what a true 21st century teacher librarian should look like, and I have set her as my own personal role model of what I want to be. I just want to thank Joyce for raising that bar SO high. One of my friends made fun of me for sitting on the front rows of the sessions Joyce gave. I just asked isn’t that what all kiss-ups do? But I truly wanted some of her knowledge & wisdom to touch me, if not physically, than spiritually from her aura. I don’t know why, but I felt the need to be right there. I think Joyce may have been surprised at the lack of knowledge on 2.0 tools, and she even fretted to some of us after her first session that perhaps she needs to slow down or chunk some of the content for easier digestion. I said no, please keep the bar raised high so our state librarians will know what they need to work towards. Note to Joyce: While there may have been fear in some eyes as you presented, there was a spark that we need to fan into a fire on utilizing today’s tools to engage learners. Many came to my session just thelp them understand better, and I thank you for that.
The SCASL Bag Fashion Show was a hoot-and yes, I participated. I hope to get more of the pictures posted and Ida Thompson’s rather funny diatribe that was read as we walked the fashion runway!
Supper at Damon’s with Julia Davis, MaryAnn Sansonetti, and Chris Craft was a delightful way to end the day, and we have some plans underway–watch for them to be revealed soon. Collective wisdom is awesome.
After two full days of “sit and get” style presentations, I was worried about my own presentation on RSS Feeds. I returned to my room Thursday evening set on revamping my preso, removing the little text that I already had in it, and retooling it to be less like the “sit and get” sessions I had been in the two previous days. I tried hard to come up with interactivity, but never could formulate a plan that I thought would work. So I decided to turn to my network. I asked for shout outs at the beginning of my session, asking Twitter to greet my group and tell how they use RSS. I had 24 tweets to share, and I used them to start and finish my session. I was dumbfounded to realize that Joyce Valenza herself and Kathy Shrock, both of whom have been at SCASL before, and both in my reader’s “expert” folder, tweeted to my group. (Joyce had already returned to PA, but sent warm wishes and thanks for the fun she’d had in SC the day before.) I also got a skype chat from Tim Van Heule while presenting, which was rather funny b/c he did not know I was in the middle of my preso. Really cute and funny, and it went something like this:
Tim Van Heule
Sessions already? 8:13 AM
ready 8:13 AM
hi Tim Van Heule 8:13 AM
Tim Van Heule
What’s going on, Cathy Nelson? 8:13 AM
in the middle of a presentation 8:14 AM
Tim Van Heule
Ah… Fun… leaving you to it. 8:14 AM
bye 8:14 AM
My audience got a real kick out of the fact that I briefly chatted (using Skype chat as a text) with Tim. Since I had Skype open there was no disregarding it, so I just pulled it in as part of my preso! I had arranged to get Dennis Richards of Massachusetts to skype in, so instead of waiting for him to call (which is why i had Skype open) I just went ahead and called him. He was at the ASCD Conference in New Orleans. Using wireless on a conference connection is risky business indeed, too, but I forged ahead. It was a stop and go call, but Dennis did a fabulous job telling all how we knew each other from networking with the tools. He introduced himself as a school superintendent in his area, catching many LMS’s there off guard to know that a supt was using the tools as well. He shared that he had only been using RSS since last summer, but now thinks a whole new way about learning, particularly personal learning, now that he uses RSS. I didn’t drag out the conversation long since it was choppy, but do feel I left a strong impression about how RSS can help you develop a PLN (professional learning network) to grow and learn. In the mix I had the RSS in Plain English video as well as a video interview of Will Richardson where he spoke to the fact that educators must first learn the tools themselves before tryng to use them in school with kids. I also showed a short segment of an archived Ustream that Dennis Richards had on his blog where Sheryl Nussbaum Beach is talking about how a network can supplement your learning, and it was form the day before at her keynote at the NCAET Conference no less, going on simultaneously with SCASL–just about 175 miles up the road. Read about her keynote, and even view it here. I hope today I did teach how RSS can play a lead role in professional development, and I think I embodied the example of taking advantage of generous people in my network who helped me out. I thought this was one of the best presentations I have ever done. Of course, I’m biased too.
My audience seemed receptive to my message and now I have a TON of homework to do. I promised all the links I used would appear in the presentation link of this blog, and so I must set out to create that. I also have a 3-hour workshop to prepare for Monday. Am feeling very swamped!!
February 19, 2008
Thursday I am slated to be a “Career Day” presenter at my school. I’m sure many of you have experienced a day where students are scheduled to hear guest speakers, and this week at school we have a bevy of career exploration opportunities for our students to participate in. Today we had a slew of visitors that spoke auditorium-style. They were community leaders that our 8th graders could turn to and that was the gist of the motivational speeches. Tomorrow we have over 100 8th grade students scheduled to shadow or apprentice adults at their jobs. We also have roughly 30 students coming in to “interview” staff members about their job and how or why they chose it as a career. Thursday we are having shorter sessions where students can rotate to 25 minute sessions where more career representatives are coming, and I’ve been asked to give three sessions on the career field of education. I didn’t want to seem like I wasn’t a team player, so of course I graciously said yes. But our kids, well, they already know me. Many of them have already heard “my” story. What’s a girl to do? My fear was that my session would be challenging b/c they would not have any questions for me or worse, would not choose my sessions. So, in 21st century learner style, I have chosen once again to ask my network to rescue me! My plans are to open up my Skype at school, and have guest speakers that my kids will not know speak to their choice of education as a career. Maybe I can even figure out a way to make it possible for students to ask questions too. We’ll see. Bill Gaskins of Carvers Bay Middle in a neighboring district is going to skype me tomorrow for something different, so it will be a perfect opportunity for me to “test” this before the big day.
Oh! You want to know who is virtually coming via skype? Let’s see:
Carolyn Foote, School Library Media Specialist, Austin, TX
Lisa Parisi, Elementary 5th Grade Teacher, Long Island, New York
Alec Couros, Ed. Tech Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Marcie Hull, Art teacher/Media Services, Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia, PA
Zac Chase, High School English Teacher, Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia, PA
Chrissy Hellyer, Year 7 Teacher, Taradale Intermediate School, Taradale, Napier, New Zealand
Doug Johnson, Director of Media and Technology at the Mankato (MN) public schools
I’m also hoping to snag David Jakes (though i do not have a commitment as of yet-just a twitter dm beg and an email request.) Here’s to crossing my fingers! [UPDATE Wed PM: David has conflicts in his schedule, but did graciously participate in my trial of using Skype at school from a PC so I could make sure video and audio would be good on both ends. Thanks Dave! I primarily use a MAc w/ Skype, but only have access to a PC at school.]
Image: ‘Dr. Adam‘
Image: ‘Question mark‘
February 1, 2008
Today on our SCASL-listserv, a fellow teacher-librarian asked about how schools are dealing with students who bring their own laptops to school. The posted question also inquired about how schools are using webcams, with the follow up statement “couldn’t they be used to help our homebound students.” Of course we had quite a few respond, and it was divided relatively 50/50 on good vs. bad reasons to allow the laptops. No one, however, addressed the posed supposition about the benefit of webcams in school. I sat on this all day today (though I did individually reply to a couple of people about what I knew about my former district, and the value of the concept. But I wanted to see how others would respond. The following is my posted reply after seeing everything from kneejerk reactions (almost denial) that student owned laptops have a place in our schools, to some obviously very accepting and most welcome to the idea. I shared 3 issues in my response, and they are as follows:
1) More and more districts are looking into wireless as a more feasible means of providing access in their building(s) and district offices, and removing the costs associated with wiring. It is becoming the norm for more and more wireless places, and this is no different for schools. A school or district can go wireless with secure networks, and all one has to know is the password to gain access. The IT hardware folks can lock down a wireless network and make it secure in a relatively easy manner. Even the routers and such you buy at Best Buy and other electronics stores can easily be secured. I predict that in probably 7, but more likely 5 years, there will be more wireless workstations than not. You almost cannot buy a laptop anymore that does not come equipped with wireless capability, and many laptops are also coming equipped with an internal webcam, which brings me to my 2nd thought.
2) This initial thread also asked about the use of webcams in schools. Brian Crosby (author of the blog Learning is Messy and recipient of NUMEROUS awards) out of a school district in Nevada was able to completely and efficiently serve the needs of a former student diagnosed with Leukemia who b/c of her illness had to stay at home. Brian arranged for the student to have a webcam and for his classroom to have a webcam, and through a program called skype, involved this little girl in the everyday activities that took place in his class. This gained him national attention and notoriety, and caused many educators to rethink what possibilities a webcam can bring into a school. Most shockingly, this was not recently, but I want to say 2 years ago. I personally use a webcam and skype to talk to other school librarians around the nation, and would like to explore bring guest speakers into my library program in an effort to show that our world is truly global today, and students can gain insight and perspective from folks they might never have had the opportunity to see, hear and interact with before. Carolyn Foote of Austin, Texas recently had an article in School Library Journal about hosting an author at her school using Skype and a webcam, and I have participated frequently in conferences from around the world I might never have had the opportunity to participate in, all b/c a friend (Lisa Parisi) who had a webcam found a way to include me in the session (using Skype and Ustream as the vehicle to transport me there.) These 21st century tools are here, and we must embrace them. I promise our students have.
3rd) and last, more and more students are going to be bringing their laptops into our schools. There is no denying it, and with the difficulty (especially in SC) with budgeting for Technology, why not embrace this concept and allow the students who have the capability to provide their own means to connect at school? With them bringing their own, and students without access using the schools resources, we would definitely come closer to a 1:1 program for providing computer access, and maybe join our counterparts from around the world in global projects and 21st century learning.
Yes, it does open up a can of worms, and yes, the higher ups will have to develop guidelines and policies. There are already schools in our state that allow students to bring their own laptops to school, and it is ludicrous to deny them when they have the means. Let’s not bemoan this, but rather celebrate it. We as school librarians can be a part of the solution instead of the problem by assisting our building level admin with policies and procedures to accommodate this growing trend. It is not going away.
I wish I had included one more thought. As we prepare students for college, it is
practically inconceivable that anyone would send their child to study at a post high school institution with out a computer of some kind. I read somewhere earlier this year that nearly 87% of entering college freshman bring either a personal desktop or laptop computer with them, and identify it as a critical tool for their success. In my opinion, it is inevitable that this will trickle down to our k12 schools. It is a futile battle to try and keep them out. We cannot hold back the flood of 21st Century Learning.
November 29, 2007
Recently Carolyn Foote, a friend who is honestly a friend in the virtual sense, as I only know her from Twitter, blogging, webcasts, and Ustream forums, has challenged my thinking about the library. She works in a large public suburban high school in Austin, Texas (Westlake High School). She is in the process of packing up her entire library book by book for a renovation project. Earlier this week she was informed that the renovation could take as long as a year. My comment to Carolyn was “Wow, you will be a virtual librarian in every sense of the word.”
As I reflect on my joking quip, I realize it is true. Will her job end until the renovation is done? Will she have anything to do while the renovation happens? How can a staff member with no physical “home” in the building continue to work and serve the school without any books or tables, a checkout counter, or a reference section, especially in a high school?
I know the answer to my questions. Carolyn will be in need and in high demand right through the whole project. She will probably work harder than any other staff member in the entire building, as she strives to provide the same level of service and instruction as before when there were the typical tables, chairs, books, and more. How?
Just as I jokingly called her a “virtual” librarian, she will become just that. Research projects will be just as effectively completed as they were before. She will continue to teach information literacy and using online resources effectively. Students will have access to necessary resources. Book talks and author visits will continue to happen, even if she has to use Skype. You see, Carolyn is a 21st century teacher librarian, who has adopted and uses instructional technology to “complete” the job. She uses the tools to compliment instruction, and I would wager she is so good at this already, this vehicle called web 2.0 will drive her services until she can park her self back in a physical space called a library. Carolyn already uses wikis, blogs, and more to supplement instruction. She is using Skype to pull in authors for literature appreciation and book analysis. And students as well as teachers know she can assist in just about any kind of project she is challenged with. Carolyn Foote is a 21st Century Librarian, and I am so glad to know her, at least in the virtual sense.
Be sure to wish her luck as she tackles the project of library renovation. I know the end result will be a 21st Century Library to compliment her, the student body, faculty & staff, and community. I am looking forward to a face to face meeting with you in San Antonio this summer at Iste’s NECC.
Carolyn’s Blog Not So Distant Future
Carolyn’s Wiki Web 2.0 in Education
PS–my 17yo is looking at Austin, TX for college.
Okay, yes, I will blog about Skype. Skype is a handy tool that allows you to have f2f conversations with a person using an online connection. All that is needed is a good connection and a webcam. Now I have to confess that I have been using Skype for about 2 years. My entire family uses it for calls–even my 72 year old mother! You see, I have three brothers and three sisters, and we are scattered around: I’m in Rock Hill, SC (soon to be Myrtle Beach), one is in Seattle, WA, two are in Charleston. SC, one in Columbia, SC, the rest right there with dear old Mom in Lancaster, SC. But we travel a good bit too, so Skype has allowed us to really share travels and experiences with each other. I will not go into the technical details of Skype, but it is a downloadable program, and there is a free version of it. You don’t have to be really all that technically savvy to download it, set up your web cam and use it. I promise. My technophobic mother did it for pete’s sake!
But my reason for blogging about it is related to the uses I’ve found for it. I was introduced to Skype I want to say three years ago in October (2004) during the SC EdTech conference sponsored by SCAET. I downloaded it then, but couldn’t really get any frineds to use it. Then last Christmas as we sat around after eating Christmas Dinner, somehow it came up in a conversation, and all of my brothers and sisters agreed to download it and use it. We demonstrated for Mom too, and we’ve all been using it since. I’ve been in conferences too many to name where presenters (like Alan November, David Warlick, and others) have also demonstrated Skype. But I hadn’t really figured out how I might use it for my own educational journey. I even skyped Alan November in March during our SCASL Conference, when he was trying to demonstrate it there! It was a funny moment–read about it here.
I have had a few professional conversations with some of the experts I know (Alan November, Chris Craft) but other than that, I’ve had little use for it. Now that does not mean it wasn’t important to me. It’s just that I didn’t feel the need to use it outside the uses I’ve mentioned just now. But recently, I’ve begun to see it in a different light. I follow several different live podcast type programs on EdTech Talk, and many of them have their guests call in using Skype. They are frequently asking if anyone wants to “skype” in, though honestly I haven’t had the nerve to do that just yet.
But recently, David Jakes sort of sponsored a “Skypecast” of the sessions he would be attending at the November Learning Conference (Building Learning Communities) last week. Now I had attended NECC, and knew that some were doing this “skypecasting” of sessions, but it didn’t make sense to me why i would join a skypecast if I were there in person hearing, seeing, and participating. So I ignored the invitations at NECC to join in skypechats. I read over the blogs that posted the scripts of the skypechats, but really didn’t give it much more thought. Then BLC happened, and I wasn’t going, but Jakes had extended this invitation! So I jumped at the chance. David, along with many other experts who were there (Will Richardson, Ewan McIntosh, Joyce Valenza, and so many more…)used the Skypechat to summarize the presenters points, and do some reflecting and asking questions that racheted up my learning like I couldn’t believe. It was a whole different level of participating. Amazingly enough, some of the presenters even participated in the Skypechats about their own presentations! it was like back channeling going on, and it all centered on the topic at hand. Very few folks got off topic, and we (those in the session and those like me, sitting at home) didn’t miss anything. If anything, we all got a deeper understanding of the content. Read about my experience here.
Here is a pix uploaded by Will Richardson of David Jakes’ screen during BLC. If I’m not mistaken, I’m the third contact on that screen! Hey, isn’t that Bloglines on the presenter’s screen? Another favorite tool I use!
Now I have another friend (Kitty Forbus) who is learning Skype. She used me today as a guinea pig to test her web cam and microphone. It was a major revelation for her. She then asked for some ideas on how to use it–to really implement it in the classroom. Guess what? I drew a great big fat blank! I was so embarrassed! But she bounced back with some really good ideas, which she posted here in her blog, Stirring up the Dust. I may use some of your ideas Kitty! Just as I’ve been a help to her in some respects, she is being a help to me too. Thanks Kitty.