Monday, April 19, 2010

My Computers in Libraries 2010 Backchannel Notes

I spent this past week in Alexandria, VA at Computers in Libraries 2010. It was one of the better conferences I've been to in a while. Mostly because it's one of the first times, outside SUNYLA, where I've felt confident enough to really network and meet people.  I also got to spend time with some awesome relatives who live in McLean, VA that I don't get to see very often. Finally, and most importantly, because this conference gathers together many smart people with the same sort interests as me:

"emerging technology" and ("library services" or "information literacy" or transliteracy)

My notes from the 4 days of the conference (including a day of preconference workshops) primarily consisted of a large number of tweets.  I've gathered these tweets together below and got rid of some of my shorthand and added to them for clarity:

Day 1, Preconference Workshops:

[I took 2 preconference sessions (Embedding Libraries in Learning, and Website Usability) that were very informative. In the former, we discussed strategies (from the managing director of the Harvard Business School Library) to undertake sustainable strategic shifts via planning and design thinking. This has given me pause to consider how much the librarians at MPOW don't yet know about what Deb Wallace described as the "learning landscape" (all the elements that fill in the context of learning and teaching, such as the tenure process, curriculum design, etc.). Knowledge of these processes is crucial to bringing library services into better alignment with that landscape, the college mission, and learning outcomes.

On the Usability side, I am convinced more than ever that the library must soon undertake a usability study of our extensive library website and online resources. Our online presence is our library! Without understanding how our students and faculty use it, we cannot make effective design changes and service innovations. That session provided me with some really helpful guidelines and techniques that should allow us to undertake such a project with limited funds and staffing.]

Integrating Libraries in Learning: Creating Sustainable Strategic Shifts: Deb Wallace (Harvard Business School)
  • excellent discussion: collaboration, curriculum design, strategic shits, design thinking
  • strategic shifts take time - make your plan and its trajectory transparent
  • shifts: e.g., a chart/matrix that shows how all the parts fit together and are effected. Visual communication!
  • spend time making sure you have all the necessary capabilities to get from plan to goals: project management framework.
  • they created marketing materials & info to make sale to faculty: case-based structure (i.e., fit the information and communication style to a structure faculty are familiar with)
  • 1st step/goal: understand the learning landscape: librarians sit in classes, talk with faculty, students & staff to understand
  • provide visualized models of services/info products available to faculty (faculty love the models!)
  • use faculty materials when developing content (helps get buy-in). HBS: entrepreneurship = action ; 10% of librarian time / week spent on professional development (formalized)
  • manage faculty expectations - lay out plan components, position them as tools to make doing the work easier
My "real" notes:
  • Most important: know the learning landscape (context): how does tenure and curriculum design work at your institution. Design thinking. 
  • We need a mission: “research support curriculum” - keep strategy focused: less is more. Align to larger org goals. Idea: “research services” instead of “reference services”  
  • HBR library created a matrix to plan out (and communicate clearly to library staff and other impacted parties) their plans and targets for strategic shifts (develop this idea for us!!!). Charts changes over several years.
Innovation = ideas
challenges: resources/funding, time, commitment and energy, creativity and inspiration. Approach: clear vision, strategic plan, phases (feasibility study, pilots), org structure and culture.

Entrepreneurs = action :

  • risk takers
  • curious learners
  • self confident & tenacious
  • sense of urgency
  • less concerned with status
  • problem solvers
  • optimistic
  • sense of purpose
Service Design components:

  • learning landscapes
  • opportunity analysis (strategy alignment)
  • services description: benefit/needs met, development milestones
  • critical success factors: what capabilities (human & material) are needed
  • measurement and eval

Website Usability, Amanda Etches-Johnson (McMaster University Library)

  • iterative design instead of redesign (e.g., look at Amazon changes over time - they keep key functions in relatively same spots)
  • **best web design is showing as little design as possible to users #simplicity
  • whimsy design: intersection between surprise ("oh, that is cool") and clarity
  • when doing card sorting w/ users, host only 1 user at a time to avoid "group think"

More "real" notes:

6 Usability Tips:

  • scannable
  • concise, short URLs
  • ** iterative changes ** - don't redesign, maintain some structure if possible
  • match labels & pages
  • appearance matters: simplicity: try to display as little “design” as possible to users
  • watch people use your site!!!

AB Testing technique: get 3 ppl to test 2 altenative options

Some testing tools:

  • Be willing to forget current site (e.g. workflow, structure, etc.)
  • Gather planners
  • Determine audience (personas)
  • Assess & rank needs (card sort)
  • Compare personas
  • Outline steps
Personas exercise:
  1. 15 things user needs to do
  2. $100: divide the money between the tasks (how much value does each task get?)
  3. Card sorts: a) open: already defined tasks – categorize them  b) closed: already have main categories: see where users put tasks in that structure
  4. with users: only have one user at a time
  5. also have librarians do it: compare users vs librarian outcomes (often very different and can be used to reduce objections to changes?)
  • Mental Models: Young
  • Don't Make Me Think: Krug
  • The User is Always Right  (working w/ personas)
  • Letting Go of the Words: Redish
  • The Non-Designers Design Book
  • Elements of User Experience: Garrett

Day 2, Conference Sessions:
Information Fluency Strategies & Practices
Libraries & Transliteracy
Website Redesign: Two Case Studies
Gen X Librarians: Leading from the Middle
Digital Managers Sound Off

  • use instructional portfolios for critical thinking
  • information fluency is critical thinking and evaluation: higher order skills
  • 61 second timer: "Ask Us" IM widget pops up for users who linger on web pages
  • twitter moment for audience: wonder if display of student tweets as backchannel distracts or focuses their attention?
  • diigo assignment: find main theme and highlight it in the document via Diigo sticky notes: instills knowledge of peer review, critical thinking, reflection

  • screensharing done via yuuguu (we are using Dimdim)
  • #transliteracy  wonder if it's better to use new term (transliteracy) or redefine old to encompass 21st century skills (information literacy)?
  • transliteracy is not a destination; its an ability to adapt
  • transliteracy as new 3 R's: essential educational & lifelong learning skills
  • @buffyjhamilton  is fab speaker, thinker
  • some IT dept's go into siege mode w/ all free stuff now available to all of us; spotlight is on them to keep up with/support all this? they're not used to it
  • An idea: an iTunes-like genius bar for library research? Put in your needs and a couple of sources you've already found and it recommends similar tools/resources. Who wants to call Apple and get on this? :-)
  • accessibility: Firesizer, etc
  • usability in site redesign: if possible do it repeatedly, continuously
  • Drupal used as content management system; they use 30 diff erent Drupal modules!
  • Gen X session with my Immersion peep Karen Sobel
  • Gen X'ers are a transition, bridge generation: web and social technology bridge between Boomers and Millennials (who've grown up with all this), etc

Day 3:
Training in the Cloud, or Mobile Labs!
Virtual Learning and Training: From Classrooms to Communities
Instructional Technology: It's a Team Thing

  • 30 boxes or Doodle for scheduling
  • virtual learning with Meredith Farkas and Joan Petit starting in 5 min
  • virtual learning: participation, wisdom of crowds, social constructivism
  • learning management systems are too structured
  • uses Drupal front page to display student content & discussions
  • each student gets own space via blogs; good community building; they feel connected
  • Cairo project: blogging forces reflective learning; participation; debate
  • problems w repressive culture; blogs had accidental free speech learn effect? Tres cool!
  • almost failed w blogs: overwhelming technology at first, getting librarian buy-in: meant more work for librarians
  • student love of blogging saved project; assessed via a final assignment: how did they feel about blogs?
  • students should have feeling of owning the learning space - YES!!!
  • they did a staff environmental scan: what skills can we tap, what do we need to accomplish goals?
  • chart/matrix of project's low/high impact x low/high effort
  • use "collabratories"
  • team: flexibility is key; innovation important too
  • presentation style used (2 at mic for some) reinforces their "team approach" message
  • if you make something cool, strive to make it available to all for re-purposing
  • Libraries and Transliteracy Group on Facebook 
  • Participated in my 1st live T is for Training podcast (ep. 44) over audio (have done it via chat before)
  • theme I've taken away so far: fearless, continual innovation

Day 4:

Persuasion, Influence and Innovative Ideas
From Podcasts to Blogs and Beyond!
Ebooks: Landscape and Implications

  • your ideas = change for others; change is scary for most unless there's something in it 4 them: 2 make sale on idea: clarify that
  • you must divest organization of some services in order to add new services
  • every organization has naysayers and yaysayers; sometimes we need to just let the 16% of staff who can be considered laggards go [technology adoption lifecycle]: they may not change
  • influence: competence + clarity + relationships
  • in podcasting session w/ @butternutsquash  and @jazzmodeus
  • podcasts: RSS + mp3 (many people use the term more broadly, such as with YouTube videos, but to be precise, the RSS part is important - i.e., you're not "casting" it anywhere if users can't get hooked via an RSS feed subscription)
  • podcasts = serials ; YouTube video or audio = monograph (a metaphor used to describe difference to librarians not familiar with podcasting)
  • podcasts: blue snow portable microphone for recording in 360 deg; free audio tool: audacity (or garageband for Mac users)
  • podcasts: put some creative commons music at beginning and end: makes it slicker: easy to do
  • **podcasting best practices**: keep it short, never read from a script (audience can always tell if you do), 2 or more people talking, having a conversation, is better (conversation makes it much more listenable)
  • use podcast as pre-assignment for one-shot sessions (work with faculty to assign it?)
  • marketing podcasts is key, use some humor if possible, partner w/ Marketing dept?, track subscribers; put into iTunesU
  • podcasts: informal, conversational: Adventures in Library Instruction: best podcast around (along w T is for Training)!
  • collaboration tools for podcasters at a distance: skype, Blogspot, Audacity, Internet Archive, Feedburner, DropBox, iTunes
  • podcast uses in libraries: teaching, orientation/tours, service promotion, archive events, booktalks
  • @librarianbyday  (& others) say ipad may be ebook game changer.
  • @jasongriffey  via video recording showing off ipad
  • @griffey predicts publishers will eventually come around on DRM-less content [I have my doubts about that]
Overall, I loved this conference and will certainly go again next year. But as others have commented, it was really at lobby-con and through other informal conversations over meals and events that I learned the most. Thanks go out to all the CiL and LSW vets and my formerly know-online-only peeps who made me feel so welcome!