Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Learning and Gaming Earmarked Tuesday's Sessions

Another full day... Chad Boeninger, author of The Biz Wiki, talked about using free and open source tools to develop and maintain library instruction programs. He uses wikis and blogs in place of handouts. He can quickly add answers to students' questions, keeping the material fresh and up-to-date. PHPESP is an alternative to SurveyMonkey. He uses polls during class to encourage participation: Meebo widget is one example, and the WordPress poll is another. He demonstrated CamStudio, a free screen recording software that I've been playing with lately. All in all, a good session!

Quite by accident I ended up in "Search Tools Using Controlled Vocabularies". I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation by Tamas Doszkocs from NLM. He demonstrated how the latest search engines use a combination of controlled vocabulary and natural language to produce "intelligent" queries. The PolyMeta Smart Search is really too cool. He also pointed to the NCSU Endeca search engine.

I also dropped in on "Podcasting Possibilities for Library Instruction". The presenter, Rachael Clemons, said it takes her around 15 hours to create a 6 minute podcast. Chad Boeninger also uses podcasting for library instruction; he said between September and January, one library tour podcast was downloaded over 700 times. That's a pretty good return on the time used to create one.

My last session of the day was "Gaming and Learning". Shi Liu presented the theoretical side of learning objects. The poor Internet connectivity impeded her presentation, as it did ours earlier. Tammy Allgood discussed the creation of two different library instruction games. The first was a board game that has been refined through four versions. They are currently working with version 1.0 of an online game, called "Quarantined: Axl Wise and the Information Outbreak". I wish there had been more time for this session. Again the internet connection prevented our seeing a demo of the game.

Timing is a major issue-- some sessions seem to fit quite well into the timeframe; others clearly do not. For example, the "Gaming and Learning" session should have been two different sessions. Squeezing them both into one period was a disservice to both the presenters and their material.

I ended the evening with dinner at the Urban Thai with about 18 Second Lifers, and then caught the InfoTubey awards.

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