28 August 2008

Summer of learning!

Wow, where did the summer go? I started this post back in July and now its August. The summer flew by and our summer 2.0 learning extravaganza at MPOW has ended as well.

So I had planned to do a post after each week's session and obviously that didn't happen. So rather than do a back trace, I'm going to devote a paragraph or so to each weeks topic in this blog post. To recap our program consisted of three different introductory sessions, four different topics spread out over four weeks, and a capstone. Our colleagues could choose to attend any of the sessions that interested them and in our books they still participated in the program, even if it was just an introductory session. Here the first two postings on our launching of the Library/Web 2.0 program. Here's the breakdown on the introductory sessions.

My colleague, Liya, and I continually challenged ourselves as we were developing this program. We had begun discussing this program in March and by the time approval was granted we literally had about two weeks to get it up and going by the beginning of July. There were a number of things that we didn't think of and had to adapt to along the way so, it was a very challenging, but rewarding experience.

Before the sessions began we created a Wiki to host our information. This way our colleagues had access to the information that we presented, whether they were able to attend or not. We also invited our colleagues to be part of the wiki. We wanted them to have a chance to create content and add their own information into the wiki. This is the wiki that we created. One of the things that we made sure everyone knew was that Liya and I were available to answer any questions about any of the sessions. We wanted people to feel comfortable utilizing the software.

The first session was a discussion and exploration of Wikis using WetPaint. I should start off by saying we had to put this together by e-mail, IM, and Google Documents and didn't really have a chance to practice our presentation together. Liya taught the majority of the session, while I contributed small bits and pieces here and there. We had a good turnout of people from Public Services and a couple from Technical Services. We introduced what wikis were, how people have been using them, and show cased some examples. Then we showed our colleagues how to create a wiki using Wetpaint. Overall the session went fairly well and we learned a couple of key points. One: we learned to pace ourselves a bit better when speaking so we weren't both trying to share the same information at the same time. Two: Liya learned not to read from the slides just as a way to make the conversation a bit more lively. We did have a couple of people that created their own wikis, here's the best example. The people that attended seemed to enjoy themselves and ask questions. We were a little bit disappointed that no one stayed after the presentation to work on or start their wiki, but this proved to be an issue throughout the summer.

The second session was discussion and exploration of Flickr and tools to edit photos with. I taught this session and decided to show not just Flickr, which I think of as relatively easy to use, but some tools to edit photos with. After all one of the benefits of Flickr is that it has editing software built in. This session seemed to go fairly well. I decided to forgo creating a formal handout as the process of Flickr is relatively simple. You create an account, have photos, and start uploading. Based upon some comments received more people would have liked to see the process of creating the Flickr account. However, the attendees did like seeing the different online tools that could be used to edit your photos. I demonstrated on some of my colleagues headshots and showed some of the different effects that could be accomplished for free and improve the photograph. Here's the list of some of the websites that were highlighted. My goal with this presentation was to show the basics of Flickr and some of the online photo editing tools out there. I think I accomplished this and if we have a chance I'd love to showcase more of Flickr. Mostly I just wanted to get people started and I think folks did have the chance to do this.

The third session was blogs, guest taught by another colleague Geoff Timms. I wasn't able to attend this session, but based upon comments this was one of the most well liked presentations. Geoff showcased how to create a Blogger blog from beginning to end. People enjoyed seeing the entire process and I think this worked well with this topic. It probably also would have worked well with wikis, but we learned from that presentation and so did Geoff. Overall this session was probably the highlight of the 2.0 program.

The fourth and final session was on Last.fm/Pandora/and other online streaming media. I taught this session and wanted to give folks a chance to see how traditional media, such as movies, tv, radio, were moving online and could be accessed for free. I was able to highlight a number of different sites that were legal, such as Pandora and Hulu, and some that were of more questionable variety. My primary goal was to showcase just how many different sources were out there and how companies were having to reevaluate how they conducting business, such as how TV networks are putting shows online to watch for free. This last session was very small, three folks (the three presenters during the program actually), but it was a lot of fun and a good way to end the program, just wish that more people could have attended.

The hardest part of this program was this final bit, the Capstone. I think my colleague and I put so much focus and energy into sharing the technologies and tools with our colleagues that we just didn't have much left to give to the Capstone. For me I felt almost burned out. Part of it was due to some disappointment with the support we didn't get (and I felt like we would/should) and that there was just a lot of things going on. It was still a nice celebration, I just feel like it could have been more. We created certificates for everyone that attended any of the sessions from introductory session to the the final week. The dean signed the certificates and placed copies of them in each person's file. We had cake, fruit, and drinks to celebrate what was accomplished. We had people come to the capstone that didn't make it any of the sessions, but they got to see some of the things that we did. We did take pictures and those will be posted in the next week (I hope).

What's next? We're hoping to do something once a month, skipping September (just to let people get settled into the semester) and continue our learning. We're conducting a survey to find out what our colleagues learned and will be putting together a report for our management team to review. Based upon the responses there are a number of people interested in continuing learning and they have offered some valuable feedback.

I'll do a post on what we learned later this month after we compile some data from our final survey, but this was great experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

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