Monday, August 13, 2018

Database Tutorial Reflection

Before starting this assignment, I was not looking forward to screencasting and recording because, like most human people, I do not like hearing my own voice played back at me. Having to use voice overs in our Digital Storytelling assignment helped get me more comfortable with it, and once I had a basic script and went through my database routine a few times, I was ready to try it out.

I used Screencastify because it has such an easy interface for my Chromebook, and videos are saved automatically to my Google Drive. I found the process super quick and easy, and did a practice run of my tutorial. Take 1 helped me decide what was useful and better ways to click through the pages and options of my chosen database (JSTOR), and with a few notes to myself about enunciation, I was ready for Take 2. An almost immediate word flub sent me to Take 3, which gave me a pretty solid final product.

So solid, in fact, that I thought to myself, "I bet I could improve a few more things and streamline the process." BIG MISTAKE. The number one thing I have (re)learned with this assignment: a good and done job is better than great or perfect and not done. I should have been happy with Take 3 and its minor word stumble because Takes 4-7 all had technical difficulties (my laptop took extra time loading pages, the sound cut out at one point, and I could not get the Screencastify extension to stop recording, leading to 30 extra seconds of silence at the end of one video).

After a short break and a few deep breaths, I was ready to try again and take whatever okay product I could get. Luckily, Take 8 was the charm and here I have a Final Product.

From now on, I'll be extra forgiving of online tutorials with minor mistakes or flubs (including my own) - probably the creator of those just wants the product done and out there to help others, and has gone through multiple takes of even worse videos or just okay videos that they wanted to improve. As a lapsed perfectionist, I understand that done is better than perfect, but it's always a good to be reminded of that in practice!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Digital Storytelling Reflection

Similarly to creating book trailers, the process of digital storytelling can be both fun and overwhelming. There are so many options and ways to tell your library's story! A person has to know their own style, or their library's style, to help narrow down editorial choices and make sure that the video is reaching the right audiences.

Speaking of audiences, something to think about when creating digital media like library tours, interactive reading lists, or other video-based content is who the content is for. What age? Parents or the students/youth themselves? And beyond that, what level of familiarity or comfort does this audience have with media - that is, what is their media literacy? Will the audience be able to access your video and understand it? Does the video have both visuals and audio? Not all tools will be useful to all library patrons, so it's helpful to use a variety of them to reach the largest audience.

Overall, using digital storytelling to create short videos was a simple process that has many uses within the library and on a library's website. I'll definitely be thinking of ways to use digital storytelling in my own librarianship!


Prezi Reflection

While I've seen Prezi presentations and heard various views on its usability and merit, this was my first time creating a Prezi. I found it fairly intuitive and easy to get started with, but the more I explored, the more there was to do and work with. Overall, Prezi seems like the type of tool that is easy to learn, but difficult to master.

The collaborative element of Prezi was very handy, as I could see live updates as my group mates worked on their sections. One of us could upload an image or type out a section of text and have the rest of us okay it or proof it for them on the spot. There weren't any issues of saving progress and sending updated files, or worrying about others' contributions.

As an option for presenting alongside Google Slides, Prezi does offer some cool elements - the movement of "slide" to "slide" being its most distinctive. I like that with Prezi, a presenter can jump around from topic to topic depending on where their presentation is going (hopping back a topic to answer a question, or skipping a topic that may not need to be covered, for example) without skipping through each individual slide. That same feature is one of Prezi's downfalls as well, as all the jumping and hopping may leave audience members a bit woozy. I think that Google Slides will always be my go-to out of comfort and ease of use, but I'll definitely keep Prezi as a backup for times I want to present things in a more holistic versus narrative way.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Makerspace Inventory Reflection

The kind of makerspace that comes from the combined imaginations of a school, academic, and public librarian is both fun and flexible. While my groupmates and I all agreed that new technology is super cool and useful, we wanted our space to reflect more hands-on making with technology as a bonus. We also felt that our space would be most used and useful if it was mobile and able to support various library programs. Many libraries have a community room or all-purpose room that could be temporarily set up as a makerspace, then put back to common use when no program is in session.

Once we had our basic parameters set, it was off to shop for our various programs. I had the idea of incorporating a community garden, so I searched for ways that could work and looked at other libraries' garden spaces to see what I liked and didn't like. This garden tower on wheels seemed simple and fun, and I liked that I could get a starter kit with seeds and potting mix. A system like this one could be used indoors and out, and year-round to grow different plants, specifically fruits and vegetables. While we paired it up with a Jack and the Beanstalk program for our mythical Summer Reading Program, it could also be used for programs with food, cooking, plant biology, composting, erosion, community development, or geology themes.

After finding my big ticket item, I also shopped around for other gardening and garden craft supplies. Some things I knew would last more than one summer/programming year, while other items I found were consumables, which would need to be noted in the budget so they could be replaced. That was a learning curve for me during this project: how much of our $3,000 would we spend on investment items versus things that would be used up? Art supplies will always get used, but then money has to be spent to replace them. Cameras and iPads last longer, but they cost more and what if they don't get as much use as you'd like? This is clearly an issue of both balance and knowing your own library/library patrons. It's also a good argument for renting equipment or sharing with other nearby libraries, at least until you know how much your patrons will use something.

All-in-all, I enjoyed creating a pretend program and shopping for it, and my groupmates both agreed that we wish we could have our makerspace and made up summer reading programs for real. It also got me looking around to see what local makerspaces are doing, and if I can learn anything from their experiences.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Friday Night Links 41

Okay, it's been a long minute since I've shared a list of links here (like, a year)...but I've been saving these up for this exact Friday. My very last Friday as a 20-something. !

As if my to-read list wasn't long enough...48 books to read in my 30s. (I've already read #s 19, 20, 43, & make that 44 (more) books to read in my 30s.)

How 30 YO feels around the world.

Thirty from another blogger's perspective: "I want my thirties to be about having less, in the best possible way."

What's a birthday without a few charts? 30 in charts and graphs.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Book Trailer Reflection

While I think the final products are pretty neat, creating book trailers can easily turn into a rabbit hole of finding music, images, and video. I think that if I'm going to continue with them, I'd need a way to streamline the process - namely, a way to not get distracted by all the flashy options and the overwhelming directions one could go with 30 seconds to a minute of time.

Choosing the book to trailer was easy - The Forgotten Book is a new YA title that I recently finished, and it's an easy sell to the right reader. Anyone looking for a contemporary Pride & Prejudice retelling set in a boarding school in the German countryside will want to check it out. Also, there's a book that makes the things you write in it come true, a missing schoolgirl, and other fairytale-esque details.

Then came choosing the video platform. Animoto was simple, though even with its pre-made storyboards and limited design control, I still found myself spending ample time sorting through songs, trying out different images, and reworking my final product. I could see myself using this platform again, and I think that once I've made a few different videos, knowing which storyboard/song/etc I want will come easier.

For my second trailer, I choose to use WeVideo since it had the easiest sign up/was the most clear about having a free plan. At first glance, WeVideo seems to give the user more freedom. The video editing and effects tools were easy to play around with, and I had more control over the music as well. Once I realized I was "trying out" a few premium features, I had to dial back a few of the edits I had made, but there were still enough tools for me to create. I modeled my WeVideo video after my Animoto one to keep things simpler, but was still able to personalize more aspect (the option for multiple songs, fading in and out of each screen).

I've usually seen book trailers done by students or teens for either an assignment or because they love a book that much, and I can definitely see how this platform could be useful for a teacher or librarian to engage kids with different technology in relation to something they are reading. In a public library setting, it would be cool to use one of these platforms in library programming - technology or makerspace-wise, then let kids play around with it and create their own book/movie/etc trailers that the library could then share via social media or embed to a website, similar to what the Chicago Public Library has done using its YOUmedia space.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Promotional Flyer Reflection

In creating this week's assignment (a promotional flyer for library programming or an event), I pretty quickly narrowed it down to Teen Read Week. I felt I could explore this year's theme, "It's Written in the Stars...READ!" with a sort of "teaser" flyer. If this was an event I was organizing for my library, each individual event would get its own promotion as the week itself got closer, and I would stick to my star background theme.

I used Canva for both a printable and digital flyer, though in reality, I'd stick with Canva just for digital use and/or if I needed a template. In the past, my design process has consisted of me sketching something out on paper, maybe printing out some text or graphics, then cutting and pasting the whole thing together. Obviously, this creates issues for repeating the process in the next month or year when a similar event happens (or if I am not around to recreate the promotional item), but if I am in charge of creative promotion, my talents lie in physical design - it's not that I'm digital design averse, I just have more skill in freehand design. The more I work digitally, the more intuitive these programs will feel, but I'll always enjoy creating with my hands.

Of course, I can (and do) start any digital work on paper, then do my best to translate it onto the screen, which is what I did here. I knew I wanted a starry background with text literally written "in"/onto it. I started with fewer stars, and put text inside, but that looked disorganized and was difficult to read/follow on the page. Instead, I made a path of stars across the page with the text over it, and I made an acrostic out of the main text. For the printable flyer, I kept the background white, with muted stars. The digital version has a black background, since I felt that would pop more onscreen.

I'd change a few things about this flyer in later versions (after more digital practice). Namely, I'd lean in to my acrostic more. I went back and forth on keeping it subtle, so you'd see it if you were looking, versus making those first letters larger/setting them apart in some way so it was obvious that "READ" is written in the stars, and after sitting with the design for a bit, now I wish I'd made it more obvious. I'd also play around more with the type - picking out fonts is both my least favorite and least exercised skill (again, since I prefer hand-lettering), but I'm sure I could create more contrast in the size or type.

What I truly appreciated about using Canva was the ease in which I could decide how to publish. I could download it as a PDF for printing, I could download it as a JPG or PNG for use online, and I could even embed the flyer straight to social media. Sharing a handcrafted flyer in all those ways would be difficult and look less professional, which means I'll be practicing lots more to bring my digital design skills up to speed!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Marrow Thieves

The Marrow ThievesThe Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've thought about this book a lot since reading it a few months ago. It's a YA dystopic sci fi novel, but with cultural depth and historical significance. It's beautifully written, with characters I cared about, and the futuristic story line stays close enough to our current reality that I had no troubles suspending any disbelief.

I was especially pulled in by Dimaline's descriptions of Indigenous culture - its familial structures, rituals, and history - paired with protagonists' social and political commentary in their dialogue and actions. Many parallels can be drawn between the history of North America, the (continued) atrocities committed by colonizers and white supremacists, and the bleak and dreamless future of the book.

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