Wednesday, October 24, 2012

MLA 2012, Part Two

MLA 2012 Report on several sessions:

Screencasting: Launch a Virtual Library Instruction Program
Elaine Settergren and Alyssa Novak
Online Division of the Globe Education Network schools:
Globe University, Minnesota School of Business, Broadview University

For online orientation to the library website, catalog or databases, I can’t think of a better way to introduce people who are not physically with you to the library’s vast and very useful assets.
However, the thought of doing such instruction is daunting, to say the least.  
Alyssa and Elaine (who do screencasting on a regular basis) put together an amazing and, I believe (though I haven’t tried it yet), easy to follow guide for creating your own screencasts.
Their experience has shown them  that their constituents (the students of Globe College) are only willing to spend as much time as they absolutely have to when they need something to work for them, whether it be a database, a catalog, whatever. So convenience is the watchword for mass training via screencasting, and in this day and age, I suspect that is true for our customers as well. However, their cry of convenience over everything had me remembering an old marketing adage “You can have it fast, cheap, good—pick two.”
In their presentation, they covered both a free software called “Screencast-O-matic “  and then uploading the completed version onto Youtube. Screencast-O-matic is software that requires no downloads, is easy to upload to Youtube, is easy to start and stop (a big plus when you flub a line), and is free and easy (music to all our ears!)
Uploading to Youtube allows for close-captioning in a text format, makes it easy to track statistics, gives flexability with the ability to embed the video in other places as necessary and again those magic words…is free and easy. Not to mention everybody and their grandmother gets onto Youtube daily and its accessible on all kinds of devices.
In fact, the two presenters actually demonstrated how to do this by creating and uploading a short demo piece during their presentation. And, if you are prepared (have a script handy, have the proper equipment, do your homework,  know what you are “teaching”, etc)  it really does seem as easy as it could possibly be.
The most problematic part of this practice seems to be keeping it updated. They recommend using an excel spreadsheet and reviewing former screencasts once a year (at a minimum) to ensure that they are still accurate and relevant.
Their handout can be found here:

Organizational Creativity: Managing Change, Remaining Competitive
Alexander Sonsteby
Metro State University
This was easily the most frustrating of the sessions I attended. While I think that the presenter does know his subject, his presentation was disjointed. The presentation included several “hands-on” exercises.  In one, each of the participants writing a short story using  StoryCubes (a dice game with words on it instead of numbers….you throw the dice and then try to include those words in the story you are creating). Given the time constraints, I suspect it was an exercise in futility for the majority of the folks in the audience. The other exercise was to jointly
‘create the worst website homepage ever’. That was fun, but hardly worth the time invested, which ate into his presentation significantly. Many of his suggestions for spurring creativity in groups that you work with seem to have come from a book called “Thinkertoys” by Michalko.  Unfortunately, we do not own this in SPPL, but it is widely available through ILL.  His handouts for the presentation consist of a long bibliography and the promise that his powerpoint is available to anyone who asks for it. I will not be asking, but I will probably be talking to Collection Development about a few of the books on the bibliography, which can be found here:

Traveling the Yellow Brick Road
Melissa Gray
St Paul Public Library

Melissa did a wonderful fantasy genre talk, filled with history of this unique type of writing, and added a great deal to my own knowledge of fantasy tropes, including urban, Arthurian, high, steampunk, etc.  While I enjoy reading fantasy, I had never given it that much thought before. And that made this an invaluable session for me. Anything that stimulates the old gray matter is a lovely thing! I learned a great deal about the beginnings of fantasy, garnered many titles that I will want to take a closer look at, and definitely  enjoyed her passion for her subject. Well done!
Much of what she talked about was new to her audience and I wish she had used more tech (such as a projector?) to back up her presentation. Just trying to keep up with the titles she was throwing out became impossible. Once I accepted that, and simply sat back and enjoyed the session, I found myself being transported by the depth and sincerity of her admiration for this genre.
Her handouts page holds much to be pondered and explored.

--Doris @Central

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