I’m screwing around with my blog January 5, 2011 Comments Off
…and that’s all I’m doing. Swear. I have decided that orange is now my (in public) signature color so I changed the theme. Well, pale pink is really the color of my heart and the color that makes me happy but I don’t have time to make my own pale pink theme right now. The WP canned themes in pink are so little girly-cutesy and that fills me full of rage.
None of this means that I am going to start writing in my blog again. I’m just waiting for this damned thing to upload to a website I’m working on and I’m really bored.
No real research for you August 13, 2009 No Comments
California Community Colleges cut electronic resources budgets. Completely. 100%. No more databases for community colleges there. As Kenley notes, the state is looking at central brokering for the CC’s but what until then? Did they slash the Universities like this? What does this say about how Cal. values community college students? My heart goes out to these librarians and students. I want to send them articles. Lots and lots of articles. http://acrlog.org/2009/08/06/report-from-the-field-californias-community-college-crisis/
Whither the Community College Library? August 10, 2009 No Comments
In a recent article on csmonitor.com, community college librarian William Wisner (Laredo CC) chastises librarians and the library schools that produce them for whoring out to technology and abandoning the rightful mission of the Library. You may recall that Wisner wrote the excellent albeit depressing Whither the Postmodern Library (McFarland, 2000). In this new article, Wisner describes his experience at the video game store that is his local public library. I have to somewhat agree with his distaste for public libraries having to pander “coolness” like gaming and video watching in order to seem relevant to its younger users but I’m wondering what Wisner would like those librarians to do. How do they get these users in the door? Books are not a huge draw anymore, let’s face it. The jury is still out in my mind if playing Guitar Hero in the library is going to help any young person become a learner but it does get that person into the building to hopefully use the rest of the library. I’m not going to look down my bespectacled nose at these librarians who are doing what it takes to engage their patrons. I’m not a public librarian therefore I choose to respect their expertise and let them get on with it. I’m thinking that Wisner should too.
What really grabbed me about this article is Wisner’s description of his own “imaginative” library program where his community college library gives coffee away and he sits around talking academic subjects with students. This sounds more like a small liberal arts college than a community college. I’m sure no one is sitting around talking about MSDS sheets and the NEC codes over a cuppa, and if you are, I want to come work for your library! I just don’t see the average community college student having the time or inclination to just sit around and think deep thoughts with a librarian over caffiene. At least at my college. We have 35,000 students passing through during the school year and they are hard-pressed to get to class, get to work and get on with their lives. We do them the most benefit by being efficient and intuitive to their needs. Anyhow, rapping with students about Plato over free coffee is really the same thing as offering space to play games, in my opinion. It is simple marketing. It is getting the bodies in the door so we have an opportunity to work with them and hopefully influence their learning.
As far as our Wisner’s accusation that librarians are deconstructing the library via technology…we cannot force people to actually read, man. Our charge as librarians is to provide the best possible scenario for a patron to locate information. And not just the patron that needs the traditional books and silence library. We have to provide for disparate age groups, learning styles and abilities. Wisner accuses us of prioritizing information over knowledge. I hope he isn’t saying that learners’ acquisition of knowledge is our responsibility. Synthesizing information by engaged reading is a responsibility or choice of the individual. Librarians create conditions most conducive to the improvement of the mind. And that is the best that we can do. If the person needs a computer, we provide it. If they need silence, we provide it. If they need a collection of hundreds of books on the same topic, we hopefully can provide that or will find them a library that can. If they need to sit and talk for an hour about their topic of interest, we do it and provide free coffee to boot. And if they need us to stand on our heads–we’re all over it. I call that noble.
Wisner, W. Restore the Noble Purpose of Libraries. July 17, 2009. http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0717/p09s01-coop.html
“books…gone into retreat” July 7, 2009 No Comments
One of my favorite technology blogs, Make Use Of, shocked me this morning with a post about book review websites. I had to read the introductory paragraph twice to make sure that this post wasn’t a joke of some kind. The author claims that the reading of books is dying and cajoles us into making books a “part of our daily routine” and offers us a few sites to make choosing our books easier.
The author, Stefan Neagu, writes:
Books, once considered the the pinnacle of human civilization, have slowly gone into retreat. Whether it’s technology, modern society or time, the reason behind the demise is widely debated, but what we know for sure is that books today, are still a great way to experience adventure thrills, learn about faraway places and contemplate the future
These are the sort of unsubstantiated statements that drive a good librarian crazy. (Those who love comma splices will adore this post, by the way.) When I did a brief search for publishing stats I found that The Association of American Publishers reported we bought 24 billion dollars worth of books last year. Mr. Neagu is correct, that dollar amount is less than what was earned in 2007 but 24 billion is still a lot of money. As far as the “widely debated” reasons for this decline…can anyone say recession? I’m thinking that people are reading the books they bought last year when they were flush and didn’t have the time to read. And they are using their public libraries more. And I’m sure they are reading on the internet more but I will bet you my untouched first edition hardcover copy of Infinite Jest that they are not reading novels on the computer.
I also have to take issue with the sites that Make Use Of chose to review and the criteria used to evaluate them. The post is entitled “The 8 Best Book Review Sites” but only gives us four. (The other four are newspapers with book sections.) And they are clearly not the “best” because the evaluative comments include “nothing remarkable but worth a read,” “slightly better organized than the others,” and this train wreck of a paragraph describing AllReaders.com:
AllReaders.com, with a design stuck in 1999, the apogee of humanity according to the Matrix. Their library is comprehensive and the search engine highly customizable, but the reviews are generally short and superficial. “Gordon invites readers, authors and publishers to enter books and reviews in a process that takes about 10 minutes,” and that’s exactly the problem with the site. Instead of knowledgeable readers and writers, you will sometimes risk finding a common illiterate species: the internet troll. The advantage of reading through many viewpoints is undeniable so go on and visit it here.
Apogee of what according to whom?
Geez, I thought this post was supposed to review the eight BEST sites not the NY Times and three mediocre ones found in the first results page in a google search for book reviews. I’m sorry to be so critical of a single blog post out of so many good ones from Make Use Of but I have come to expect better. I won’t comment on the writing. I just won’t.
Make Use Of, you make, me crabby.
IT “help” for students June 30, 2009 No Comments
All IT staff who work with student systems need to take classes in how write directions. They simply bury the information the student needs in dense, dull text. So, the student is frustrated because they can’t use the system they need to use for class, then they have to literally wade through IT’s self-absorbed ass protecting text. Just put the information right out there so they can grab it and go do what they need to do! I don’t know why people who use systems every day of their lives can’t create help pages that they themselves would want to use. They should know better than anyone how Help utilities are used, right? Right??
Scenario: I am a student and I need to log in to my school email for the first time. I am given a login box. I type in my credentials, nothing happens. There’s no link that says something to the effect of “login help.” The help link is called “need more info.” um…ok. Remember that I am a first time user. Here’s what the “need more info” link gives me: [and what the student is thinking when and if they actually read this carefully]
What is my Log In ID?
Your Log In ID and initial e-mail password were sent to you in a letter when the account was created. [what letter?]
If you are not sure of your MyCOD student portal Log In ID, you can find that information in MyAccess (https://myaccess.cod.edu). [I thought I was in the student portal already. What's the student portal then? Isn't that where my email is? Shouldn't both usernames and passwords be the same?] After signing into MyAccess you will find your email address listed by first selecting “MyAccess for Students” on the Main Menu and then by clicking on “My Profile” in the “Academic Profile” section of the “MyAccess for Students Menu” page. [What? Where is this?] The part before the @dupage.edu in your email address is your Log In ID for the MyCOD student portal. Do not include @dupage.edu as part of the Log In ID. [Oh, so this is a different thing...I wonder what my login information is for that.]
What is my initial password? [for the email or for the other thing?]
The initial password, for a new account, is shown on the letter you received from registration. [letter? which of the five letters I got in the mail might have this information?]
If you were enrolled in classes between Fall 2005 and Spring 2009, your default password is the first two letters of the city you live in, plus your PIN. For example, if a student lived in West Chicago, and had a PIN of 1070 then their initial password would be: we1070. If you were not enrolled in classes at COD between Fall 2005 and Spring 2009 then your default password takes the form mmddyy where mm is the month of your birth, dd is the day of your birth, and yy is the last two digits of the year of your birth. For example, if your date of birth was January 4, 1984, your default password would be 010484.
[oh, ok...what? Why can't all new user passwords be the same format?]
What if I changed my password but cannot remember it? [changed it from what again?]
First, try following the “What is my password?” link above. You will be prompted with your password hint. [why don't you give me this link in the first place?] If you are unable to recover your password using the password hint, you’ll need to call the Student Support Helpdesk at 630-942-2999. [I called the student helpdesk. Instead of telling me what to do, they took my SS number and reset my password...and now I can't access my account until 6:00 am tomorrow. I give up.]
How long after registering for my first class at COD should I expect my account to be created?
As of May 1, 2009 all accounts are created the night that you register and should be ready for your use the next day. An informational letter will be sent to your house after your account is created. [oh, THAT letter...]
iPhone App Overload? Never! June 25, 2009 No Comments
I love my beautiful iPhone and the ten million apps and games I have on it. Well, there’s about 10 apps and the rest are games. Buckingham Palace Mysteries, Bookworm, Yard Sale, bloons, Myst (which I still hate after these many years of trying to complete that incomprehensible *%#&)….love the games. And I love the grocery list called Shopping with its tidy database. And the Yelp app which gives me real-people reviews of all the businesses near where ever I happen to be, the Mint app tells me how much money I have to spend at those businesses. I can check and respond to emails. Google maps helps me not get too very lost. And I can look up movie times. And I can pay the bills I forgot to pay when I suddenly remember them in the movie theater during the endless previews. I am completely besotted with my phone. I’ve dropped it to the ground twice and it still works, which means it loves me too. And I (knock on wood) haven’t suffered more than 5 call losses since I got it over a year ago. Not to mention it keeps my crucial-to-my-sanity audiobook collection right there in my purse when I’m driving. I’ve uninstalled a lot of apps too though, like the one for Twitter (made the decision that my not liking to Twitter isn’t criminal), the Whole Foods recipe thing (sucked), the Kraft Foods cooking vidtut app (boxed mac & cheese casserole ten ways anyone?) and the Amazon mobile app because I just didn’t like it. If only there was an app for chronic insomnia, I would so totally buy it for .99.
College of DuPage Island June 19, 2009 No Comments
After two long years, we finally have an island in Second Life to work on. We bought an existing island from the Alliance Library System. Those good librarians have been a wonderful support for us, and a lifeline for me personally. Since the Linden Labs people can’t easily grasp higher order thinking, they are having a hard time making me the named owner of the island since we paid Alliance for the coming year of maintenance and transfer fees, etc. I am keeping up my zen chant of “We’ve waited this long so a little longer isn’t going to hurt.” Visit the vast emptiness here: http://slurl.com/secondlife/College%20of%20DuPage/135/82/27
People have been asking what we’re going to do with the island. Well, first I need to be able to apply a raw file to change the terrain. I’m planning to do a prairie landscape with lots of pretty wild grasses, ponds and streams. Then, I’ll decide where to put the Fashion faculty and their runway and store front displays. They are going to use SL to teach merchandising which is going to be way fun and useful for them. I have a small student commons area all ready to plunk down where we’ll have information about the College and help for students new to SL. We’ll have Tintern Abbey there again though I’m not sure if it will be used in a COD class. Its a popular build and we’ve gotten a lot of attention for its usefulness in teaching. There will be a big area for our chemistry students since they are so keen and have lots of ideas. I’ve invited to Literature Alive some space for one of their smaller homeless builds. I’m also going to put up a new Community Colleges resource center for my group (500 members now! eee!) We’ll have the social networking display again and I’m toying with the idea of a storytelling and folklore center too. Its so great to have prims! (If we ever get them…grumble)
I admit to having much less energy for SL than I did two years ago or even one year ago…its interesting how apathy can sort of weigh a person down. I’m sure that I will get my energy back once I get started on the new sim and see our students using it.
Transforming America’s CC’s June 18, 2009 No Comments
Scout Report told me to tell you about:
Transforming America’s Community Colleges: A Federal Policy Proposal to Expand Opportunity and Promote Economic Prosperity [pdf] http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2009/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2009/0507_community_college_goldrick_rab/0507_community_college_brief.pdf
Community colleges are the bedrock of American higher education, and young and old alike use their facilities to gain specific technical skills and explore the world of the liberal arts. This May 2009 policy brief from the Brookings Institution’s Blueprint for American Prosperity series offers a few policy suggestions on how the federal government might reinvest in community colleges across the nation. The twelve-page brief was authored by Sara Goldrick-Rab, Douglas N. Harris, Christopher Mazzeo, and Gregory Kienzi. The brief offers a number of concrete suggestions for the federal government, including the recommendation that they should establish national postsecondary goals and also devote a significant portion of existing funding to improve and evaluate teaching practices in these institutions.
CC/SL Job Posted June 6, 2009 No Comments
From the SLED List:
I’m proud to announce that Prince William Sound Community College (in beautiful Valdez Alaska) has posted a 2 year IT position that will include technical coordination of our Second Life educational sites.
With campuses in Valdez and Cordova sitting on the beautiful Prince William Sound and in the Copper River Basin at the doorstep of the magnificent Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, PWSCC serves a large geographical land area that is only matched by the large diversity of its people.
The Information Technology department at PWSCC supports the technology needs of our students, faculty and staff at all of our campuses. We strive to provide friendly, prompt and exact service while delivering leading edge technology that enhances the educational opportunities our communities.
The IS Ops Technician 2 position, based out of the main Valdez Alaska, campus, assists the I.T. Manager to provide this service in a wide array of disciplines including workstation setup & maintenance, software support, networking, video conferencing, telephony, audio-visual support as well as being a team player with the other departments of the college. The work environment is fast paced and requires an individual possessing good people skills that is able to apply creative solutions in problem solving situations.
This position will also be the lead technical coordinator of our virtual world as designed in Second Life. They will act as our technical designer, admin and liaison as we venture into this new and exciting approach to education.
For more information click on: https://www.uakjobs.com , go to *Advanced search* and choose Valdez in *Location*
Julie A. Fronzuto Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Prince William Sound Community College
303 Lowe St.
Valdez, AK 99686
College for the Unemployed May 12, 2009 No Comments
Obama is my favorite person right now. This from Inside Higher Ed, College for the Unemployed:
“‘The president also said that he would soon ‘lay out a fundamental rethinking of our job training, vocational education, and community college programs,’ designed ‘to move beyond the idea that we need several different programs to address several different problems — we need one comprehensive policy that addresses our comprehensive challenges.’”
I’m all for anything that makes financial aid easier to get but I’m worried about changes to Perkins and the Workforce act. I’m sure we will not get screwed over but there should be a plan in place to make sure that if these programs are indeed changed or canceled that no CC (read: students) that currently relies on them will fall through the cracks. CC’s rely heavily on these programs in career and tech ed.