The YALSA blog has been nominated for Best Group Edublog Award 2009!

Celebrating the best education blogs on the web, the Edublog Awards have been given since 2005 to recognize outstanding online work from a wide variety of educators and students. Past Eddie award winners include everything from individual librarian blogs to Discovery’s Second Life presence.

You can see all the categories and nominations, as well as past nominations and winners, at the Edublog Awards homepage. And don’t forget to vote! Voting closes December 16.

For those who won’t be attending the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colorado, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) will recreate the YALSA Mixer and Tech Playground in the 3-D virtual world, Second Life.

The exhibit includes 8 stations on twitter, handheld gaming, image editing and more.

This interactive exhibit, which runs Jan. 9 through Jan. 31, 2009, features models of some of the gadgets being featured at the special event, which kicks off YALSA’s Teen Tech Weekâ„¢ and will be held Jan. 23 at the Hyatt Regency Denver, 8 – 10 p.m. Gadgets are displayed on platforms at ALA Island (61, 228, 35). You may need to fly to see all the platforms! A menu with locations is in the large column at the entry point.

Each gadget featured in SL includes an informational notecard with tips on incorporating the item into Teen Tech Week events. Teen Tech Week is a national initiative sponsored by YALSA and aimed at teens, their parents, educators and other concerned adults to ensure that teens are competent and ethical users of technologies, especially those that are offered through libraries such as DVDs, databases, audiobooks, and videogames. The 2009 theme for Teen Tech Week is Press Play @ your library’®. Teen Tech Week is March 8-14, 2009. Read More →

This weekend, I’m in Tampa, attending the Second Life conference. I’ve already met a handful of librarians involved in Second Life (some I knew already, but didn’t know they were librarians). Jean Gardner with, the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, is working with community organizations and teens on their island, Oz, to simulate a geography project that has a real life impact on their town.

This conference follows right on the heels of the Virtual Worlds Expo: The Future of Media and Communication in LA. Check out Anne Collier’s post about it that gives a shout out to several school and public librarians involved in using virtual worlds. Read More →

Representative Mark Kirk, IL “who has sponsored legislation banning access to social-networking Web sites in schools and libraries has found a new target of displeasure: Second Life according to this article. Because one of his aide’s was able to log in successfully and lie about her age, and then encounter inappropriate content in Second Life (note-not Teen Second Life), he feels this is a strong enough proof that surely the company isn’t doing anything to protect children. Funny how he doesn’t seem to mention the ability to keep people in or out in a space that a school might own in Second Life or Teen Second Life much less any understanding of the positive activities that are taking place in such an environment by schools and libraries. I guess it’s better though to keep ignorant and keep other people ignorant instead of trying to have a dialog about what virtual worlds are doing to keep youth safe and how interaction of adults and kids online can be very positive experiences.

Read More →

I added two new resources to the YALSA wiki: Virtual Worlds: A Teen Tech Week Guide. Download yourself a free copy of the Blue Book: A Consumer Guide to Virtual Worlds published by the Association of Virtual Worlds. It lists over 250 virtual worlds, their age appropriateness, and what kind of environment they are. Also, check out the Second Skin site. It is a documentary on virtual worlds through the lens of seven gamers.

Tomorrow from 5-6pm EST, Young Adult Author John Green will be in Second Life (*note this is the main grid of SL which is for those 18 and over). He will be presenting in audio. There are a few other ways you can listen to his presentation if you don’t have access to SL or don’t have time to fiddle with it. Visit the Bookosphere Radio here or go to the Library Loft web site here where streamed video and audio of the presentation will be available.

Last week, the House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee held a hearing “to obtain testimony on the nature and growth of online virtual worlds; the types of applications and services, both commercial and non-commercial, supported and offered in such worlds; and any policy issues raised by virtual worlds that may need to be addressed or monitored.” The entire audio recording is available here and the transcript will soon be available here. While the representatives of the virtual world were from Second Life and focused discussion mostly on the adult grid, there was a lot applicable to youth no matter what virtual world, especially in regards to questions Congress is asking and why they are interested in the first place. It’s not all focused on wanting to regulate the space but also to understand what it is being used for.

Acknowledged during the presentation was that with virtual worlds; the possibilities and applications are unlimited, individuals can connect with each other in new and creative ways, the way people and organizations can use the internet is changing, and there is far greater potential to make the real world a better place than with the ‘flat and isolated’ 2D internet.

Some of the issues the subcommittee was concerned about included keeping youth safe, fraud/gambling, addiction, educational, social and business uses, and the need for an abundance of bandwidth. Two of the most interesting comments I thought were that there is actually more of a lack of anonymity-which we might think would be the exact opposite given that our avatar can look like anything we want it to be but because of the strong identities created they are usually sustainable through repeated interactions online. Also, that virtual worlds might in fact be more police able and more maintainable than websites since it is a rigorously self policed (in terms of Second Life and other sites) and can be a staff monitored community in ways that websites can’t. While that is a broad generalization of all virtual worlds and nothing is 100% safe-it is a way to look at the environments many of our youth engage in.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Global Kids, based in New York, is offering a professional development workshop to get started in Second Life 101, January 22, from 10am-4pm, EST in New York. Registration here:

Global Kids are the leaders in Teen Second Life in terms of the funding they have received for their projects, and the programs and projects they are able to mobilize youth with. Check out some of their activities on their blog. Almost all of their activities translate into programs appropriate to offer at a library for youth as they are focused on a youth participation model and this is a great opportunity for continuous learning especially in a medium that is an effective learning space for teens.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usLibrarians around the world, in Second Life are organizing a Literary Festival for Saturday, February 2. Author presentations, a murder mystery theatre, and dress your avatar as your favorite literary character are some ideas. Authors audio (and even video) presentations can be streamed to the teen grid.
Also, don’t forget to create an avatar for YALSA’s Midwinter Gaming Festival with the help of your teens or TAGs. Due January 4, 2008!
It can be a bit of a humbling experience to have teens help you with your avatar (av), but in the end, hopefully it will be all for the good. I’ll share my story, feel free to share yours. I was on Teen Second Life tonight and had a hairstyle on my avatar that other adults have complimented. One of the teen ‘regulars’ however said to me, “what is that black void on your head?” It was then decided that a teen should shop for my av and give me some much needed hairstyles and clothing. As I got the hair and tried to put it on, I was told my head was too big for the hair. Indeed it was. I was pretty determined to just stay bald but after a few adjustments, and shifting of the head size, was able to wear the style. And was told by another teen ‘regular’ that “I’ve heard of Chinese foot binding, but head binding?” Okay-so too small with the headsize. I increased it a bit and guess it passed for okay. Humbling but was it worth it? Yes, definitely, and I learned things on the way thanks to the teens and promoted YALSA and the contest to the teens and the adults nearby. And now I have an av to enter into the contest! (it’s not this av pictured btw).

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Educators and Librarians in a Virtual Environment hosts a series of workshops designed to equip educators with the basics of Second Life, including communication, clothing, shopping, using your mouseview to explore, editing your appearance, and how to find useful freebies. You’ll receive personal guidance in a small group setting with other educators to help you find your way around SL, and learn about the educators community in SL as well. The first workshop is Saturday morning, November 17, from 8 to 10 am PST. Register for the free workshop here.
Librarians might be interested in taking this workshop, taught by educators and librarians, to network with others and become aware of organizations involved and learn tools to serve teens in your local communities.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki