When I read the New York Magazine article about Whisper, comparing it to one of my favorite blogs, PostSecret, the author waxed poetic about it hearkening back to the golden age of anonymity in online sharing. I had to try it.
It’s a simple app. Compose your message, the app will suggest images based on the words you use, or you can use the camera on your device. It will give you a variety of fonts to choose from as well. The app auto-generates hashtags based on your text input, but you have the ability to remove or add more. Continue reading
When you turn (or swipe) your calendar’s page to 2014, be sure to pop by the YALSAblog to check out its new look.
We hope it’s cleaner, more colorful, and offers better mobile compatibility for our readers-on-the-go:
There’s also a changeable graphic to highlight YALSA’s of-the-minute work and initiatives, like Teen Tech Week.
And be sure to kick the tires while you’re there, and do let us know about any accessibility issues.
Which technologies are likely to gain more traction in the new year? Some modest predictions about the tools and trends with appeal to teens and the librarians who serve them.
Really ephemeral social media
Adults, like teens, are grappling with finding self-destructing social media which won’t haunt them into adulthood. First came Snapchat, with its associated imperfections, now Leo is all of-the-moment, but the platforms will likely change over time as adults cotton on to them. But, as TechCrunch points out, that need is not just about privacy:
Yes, its messages self-destruct after a few seconds, but the rationale behind doing so isn’t necessarily about privacy. For Leo co-founder Carlos Whitt, the ephemeral nature of the app is more about getting rid of the “cognitive load” that comes with photos or videos being saved or shared in public. People act and share differently when they know that a photo or video will live forever, the thinking goes. One need only look at Instagram and the all-too-perfectly filtered photos that appear there to know what Whitt is talking about. The impetus behind Leo, then, is to be able to share what you’re doing without having to worry too much about what happens to it.
Fuss-free augmented realities
This was the year augmented realities finally got some traction in the edtech world. Right now, most augmented reality is still a bit clumsy through interfaces like Aurasma and Layar. For now, augmented reality too ofter requires you to run a specific app to pull up applicable virtual content when you happen upon associated places in the physical world, kind-of like QR codes, which I find way too fiddly. I like Chirp, which uses an auditory, rather than a visual clue, to signal availability of digital resources.
Wear-able wearable computing Continue reading
As enthusiastic about tablets as I happen to be, I’ve been leery of the educational technologists suggesting mobile devices can replace more robust computers for teaching and learning. Nearpod was, quite frankly, the first tablet-based technology to make me gasp at its possibilities.
The backend is not unlike slideshare — you upload your files and publish them through the nearpod interface, and have the ability to embed assessments, too. A “live” session generate a PIN for students to follow along, and stydent viewers are visible in-app from a roster. Nearpod instructors have persistent access to anything uploaded into their library, but you can also purchase NPPs, sets of canned presentations on curricular topics, for an average of $10 for 12 in themed collections. Continue reading
Maryann Macdonald, author of the World War II-era novel-in-verse and 2014 Bluebonnet nominee Odette’s Secrets, will speak at USBBY’s program at the 2014 Midwinter Meeting. The event will be held Friday, January 24th at 8:00 p.m. in the Howe Room at Loew’s Hotel.
Macdonald’s historical novel is a fictionalization on the real experiences of Odette Meyers, a Parisian girl of Jewish descent who is sent into the countryside to hide with a Catholic family during the Nazi occupation. Kirkus, which gave the book a starred review, described it as “an ideal Holocaust introduction for readers unready for death-camp scenes.” Continue reading
DeSTEMber is sponsored by Girlstart, an organization whose mission involves empowering girls to continue STEM studies, an ambitious goal considering the White House estimates only a mere 24% of scientists and engineers are women. If you’re not particularly science-oriented, promoting STEM can seem daunting, bit Girlstart’s associated website provides a wealth of programming ideas, many in online modules, as well as an archive of DeSTEMber content from 2012. There are synchronous guest lectures planned from many top-flight science centers and zoos around the country as well, so all you have to do is dial in.
1. Join Girlstart’s exclusive ‘Girlstart for Educators’ Google+ community‘ to receive our DeSTEMber activities before we release them to the public.
2. Request to get your classroom involved to participate live with virtual guest speakers here.
3. Download State and National Standards aligned DeSTEMber calendar here: 2012 and 2013.
4. Follow #deSTEMber to share your classroom photos on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
5. Click here for DeSTEMber 2012!
The YALSAblog will join in DeSTEMber throughout the month, sharing exceptional STEM programming and resources for teens and tweens. And Kelly Czarnecki will be highlighting a range of Learning Labs supported by the Macarthur Foundation, and your imagination is bound to be sparked by these spaces and programs in museums and libraries across the country. We hope this constructivist movement will provide a nice antidote to the consumerism of the season.
Any school librarian knows that audiobooks of curricular reading will, at some point, be required to help support students with learning differences. But those might not always require a line item in your budget. LibriVox, an app offering ”acoustical liberation of books in the public domain,” offers an easy way for students to stream or download high-quality audiofiles to their own devices, so they can follow along with the print or to suit their own learning modalities.
For an open, volunteer-driven project, the selection of available titles in LibriVox is impressive. Jane Austen fanatics can find juvenilia, letters, and the memoir written by Austen’s nephew, in addition to multiple recordings, most available either voiced by solo readers or dramatized by a full cast, for each of Austen’s novels. And teen listeners have preferences in reader gender and accent, so the availability of a choice of narrators can’t be underestimated.
The same files accessed via the app are available via the LibriVox website. Some of these books are also being fed, selectively, into the Project Gutenberg audiobook collection (which does have the advantage of conversion of each book into a multiplicity of audio file formats). A small ad at the bottom of app display seems a small concession for access.
As I work with students and teachers, I keep close tabs on my email and RSS feeds throughout the day. It’s not killing time, it’s keeping up, and it’s essential to my work as a school librarian. And I’m just as quick to respond to a request from a colleague thousands of miles away as to help those in my building. And when I have a question, I throw it out to my PLN, educators and librarians across the country and around the world using a vast variety of networks, automation systems, and applications in a diverse range of settings. And the response is always useful, and often thought-provoking.
It’s what’s called being a Connected Educator, and this is how it’s described by the eponymous organization: ”Online communities and learning networks are helping hundreds of thousands of educators learn, reducing isolation and providing “just in time” access to knowledge and opportunities for collaboration. However, many educators are not yet participating and others aren’t realizing the full benefits. In many cases, schools, districts, and states also are not recognizing and rewarding this essential professional learning.”
I’d venture to say that many school librarians were connected educators before connected educators were a thing.If you’ve worked in this field for more than a decade, I’m sure you can remember earlier incarnations of burning up the bush telegraph, via listservs, gopher-esque discussion boards, or text-based email between buildings or across the state. Then blogs and RSS started cropping up, making it even easier to pull the information you want, rather than just the information you need, or to push your own information to others.
So many youth services librarians work alone — as either the only information professional, or the only teen specialist, in a larger institution. And I hope that our professional preparation armed us for combating this this isolation. I remember signing up for two listservs as a requirement in an introductory class in library school in the late 1990s. I chose one for art librarians (I had majored in art as an undergraduate) and one for newspaper librarians. And I now know ridiculous amounts about working in those type of special libraries, just because of that passive exposure years ago.
As a librarian working with teens, I often think of one of my most important roles is encouraging connections between young people and the wider world. I’ve done a project where students up-cycled magazines into PostSecret-type confessions to unburden themselves, but even looking for PostSecret examples to share with teens can be a little like Russian roulette, given that so many of the messages are NSFW.
A new book by Keri Smith, encourage users to use the public postal mail format to share in a more targeted way. Smith, the creator of Wreck This Journal, uses a similar creative scaffolding in her new project Everything is Connected: Reimagining the World One Postcard at a Time (Perigee; October 1).
Smith’s partially-designed postcards offer space for readers to confess their secrets, become superheroes, travel through time, create a secret identity profile and interact with people yet unknown. And it will provide teen librarians with an easy, fool-proof programming resource, as well a great jumping-off point for conversations about the shared challenges of the human condition.
The result of the postcards, Smith hopes, is a deviation from life as usual and the discovery of human connections—new and old.