Learning and sharing

These days, I find that pretty much everything I learn has been shared by others. I try to share back through having the resources I develop for school open and public. Of course, many of the links on my school wikis (professional learning and online resources for students) are links to items that other people have shared. What goes around, comes around.

So it was really heartening to read the tweet from The Age reporter Jewel Topsfield that stated:

Here is the link for the wiki page Jewel used as a  source. Aitken Creek Primary School teacher Bec Spink agreed to my request to feature her use of Twitter in the classroom on the wiki page to share with teachers at my school. Jewel saw our correspondence via Twitter and voila, a story on Bec and her use of Twitter that was published nationally.

Congratulations to Bec on the recognition her trailblazing deserves. Read her post about the article here. Thanks too to Jewel for highlighting the great work teachers are doing. Got to love sharing.

Library to do list 2012

So I returned to work yesterday and very pleased to be back. I have a lot of things on my to do list this year and now I’m 0.4, I’ve got more of a chance of achieving them. So here goes:

Ereader survey for school website
Diigo for subjects, link to wiki
Pininterest for new books and topics?
Book blog using posterous? Add book trailers. Use that URL for QR code new books there too
Podcasts for wiki
QR codes for fiction
Add list of useful apps to wiki
Douchey’s podcasts for wiki biology page
Readers Cup. Do at years 7-8 and 9-10
Link blogs to Twitter using Twitterfeed
Investigate Overdrive with a visit to Jenny Luca’s school

This is above and beyond what will be required of me in terms of providing professional learning for staff. The good news is that the Heads of Library and English support the idea of the Readers Cup wholeheartedly; the Principal agreed to a library Twitter account and I’ve started that as well as a book and reading blog and Diigo account. I’ve linked the blogs to Twitterfeed and Diigo via Packratius. I’m pleased with my progress considering we had meetings until 2.30pm yesterday and I don’t return to work until Monday.

I’m also really pleased how supportive the admin are and most teachers seemed genuinely pleased to be back. I’m looking forward to what else might appear on my radar in 2012. I wonder what it might be? What’s on your 2012 to do list?

Making reading inconvenient

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with this statement. In fact, I couldn’t be more opposed to it. With all of the media options available to children, young adults and adults, we need to make reading more convenient, not less. Books and eBooks are competing against social media, online and console gaming, video streaming, video downloading and YouTube, podcasting, radio, television and more.

Time, of course, is limited. Reading and books have to compete for people’s time. So who wants to make reading inconvenient? Maja Thomas, a senior VP at Hachette (USA I assume). In a New York Times article published on Christmas Day entitled “Publishers vs. Libraries: An E-Book Tug of War”, the idea of public libraries lending eBooks to its patrons seems to be totally against (some) publishers’ policies.

Borrowing a printed book from the library imposes an inconvenience upon its patrons. “You have to walk or drive to the library, then walk or drive back to return it,” says Maja Thomas, a senior vice president of the Hachettte Book Group, in charge of its digital division.

To keep their overall revenue from taking a hit from lost sales to individuals, publishers need to reintroduce more inconvenience for the borrower or raise the price for the library purchaser.

To me, this misses the point entirely. In fact, it’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve read in a while. If reading is too inconvenient, people will select another, more convenient entertainment option. And what will publishers do then? And where does this leave school libraries?

Kobo no-show now no-go

Over a year ago, I started downloading eBooks for their ease of use; having a library with you when travelling without the weight or awkwardness of a pile of books was brilliant. Having a book in my possession moments after reading a great review was another bonus. Over the time, I’ve used the Kobo, Kindle and iBooks apps, all pretty much without incident.

Until this week.

I’ve been taking my iPad to the gym to read, it’s ideal for using on the treadmill as pages stay open (unlike a traditional book) and there’s a ledge on the treadmill that’s just perfect for it. But upon opening the Kobo app, several of my books had disappeared; including one that I was in the middle of. Kindle to the rescue for the moment and I was able to read something from that app. I went home and looked more deeply into the problem. Kobo issued a statement through the app explaining the problem and how to fix it.

It didn’t work for me. I updated my iOS, updated Kobo app. Reloaded library from website. No deal. The books just wouldn’t load from website to app. After several hours of faffing around, I sent an email to the Kobo help centre. I waited a while, giving Kobo time to reply, seeing that we’re in different timezones. Nothing. I tweeted. Nothing.

Days later, still silence. I retried all of the suggested steps. Still no deal. I went to the settings on the iPad and decided to use an advanced setting “clear all local data”.

Set "clear local data" to on

Set "clear local data" to on

Upon opening the Kobo app, I needed to sign in and my library was totally empty. It was like I was using the app for the first time. However, once signed in, all of my books started to load. Yes, all of them. This step was not mentioned in any of Kobo help information.

A quick Google search today shows that there are plenty of people around the world having issues with Kobo customer service. My gripe is twofold:

  1. You expect to be able to read the books you’ve paid for when you want to.
  2. You expect some customer service for items you’ve paid for. I’ve had none.

The other thing that worries me is that as a teacher librarian, we’re pushing on with eBooks in schools and trying to convince the naysayers that they’re the future.

Issues like those I’ve had are not going to win eBooks any fans. And I can just hear the naysayers saying things like “that’d never happen with a real book!” And they’re right. For the public as a whole to take on eBooks as a default requires issues like these to be non-existant. Or fixed quickly.

I certainly won’t be recommending Kobo to anyone, let along buying anymore of their titles. I will stick with the Kindle and iBooks apps though, as I’ve not had any problems with them. It’s a shame as personally I preferred the layout and screen view of Kobo.

Jackie Chan death hoax a teachable moment

Last night (Australian time), some of the people I follow on Twitter were tweeting and retweeting that actor Jackie Chan had died. Before retweeting, I like to check whether or not news with such gravity is accurate.

There was nothing on news feeds such as Reuters, the ABC or even TMZ, the showbiz webiste that broke the news of Michael Jackson’s death.

What I did find, however, was that Yahoo 7 were reporting his death. Initially, I thought they had heard the rumours and jumped the gun a la Richard Wilkins on the Today Show re Jeff Goldblum in 2009. But on closer inspection, someone had used the Yahoo 7 logos, advertising and page template to make the report look authentic. Further investigation of the page revealed other bogus links and reports. As of 7am Wednesday 30 March Australian EDST, the hoax page is still up. The biggest clue to the site being a hoax is the URL.

The bogus site looks just like a Yahoo 7 news site

The bogus site looks just like a Yahoo 7 news site

MTV reports that Jackie Chan lives

MTV reports that Jackie Chan lives

Jackie Chan's official and verified Twitter account page

Jackie Chan's official and verified Twitter account page says he's alive and well. (Yay!)

As teachers, we can use this example of verifying sources and facts from multiple trusted sites with our students. 12 hours after initial reports of Jackie Chan’s death, “RIP Jackie Chan” is still trending on Twitter. An in-depth look at the hoax site and how it purported to be a Yahoo 7 site is also worth discussing with students.

Riding a motorbike through a supermarket is not good for your digital footprint

You’d think the heading of this post would be self-explanatory, wouldn’t you? That “digital natives”, who are supposed to know everything about technology would know better? Wrong.

Last night a young adult did exactly what the title says, hoping to become a YouTube sensation. (You can read a media report here.)

But what about the damage done to his digital footprint? News outlets named the youth and I can’t imagine too many prospective employers, etc. being too impressed with such a stunt. His public boasting via Facebook was another faux pas.

As we know, even when websites, videos, comments, blog posts and more are deleted, they can still be accessed.

We educators obviously have a lot more work to do with our students in terms of digital citizenship and positive digital footprints. If we think that because we might block or ban these tools at school, we can forget about them, then today’s news proves us wrong.

Many of our students know how to use these tools, but not the wide ranging implications that are part and parcel of social media.

Schools All Black Day

Following on from the Help Christchurch post on March 1, some more resources and information are now available about the Schools All Black Fundraising Day. Barb Braxton says:

“Joy Wilkinson has taken the time to make a moving video for those whose schools are getting involved in All Black Day on March 22, the one-month anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake.  She has invited us to use it.

Screen shot 2011-03-11 at 10.22.13 AM


It would make an excellent promotion on a loop through a screen in the library or the foyer where parents and students gather.

On behalf of the team and all Kiwis, thank you Joy.”

A reminder that the money raised will then by donated to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal http://www.christchurchearthquakeappeal.govt.nz/

Victorian schools kindly participating in the fundraising are asked to contact me by sending an @ or DM me via Twitter: @judithway or email me at myname1@gmail.com (replace ‘myname’ with judithway. For details of other state coordinators, please leave a comment on this blog or DM me.