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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

To read or not to read. Is that even a question?

Do you know why I love libraries so much?

Its got to be a toss up between 1) They're usually quiet places and 2) They're treasure troves of books, DVDs, video games, CDs, graphic novels, paranormal experiences! children's picture books, romance novels, science fiction and fantasy EPICS oh man!!! I could go on and on! Of course with 3 kids constantly underfoot (one of them a chatterbox... one a compulsive video gamer and the other a constant train wreck just waiting to happen) I suppose I could be sitting in a mortuary and still be at peace so long as the kids were quiet! LOL I understand that reading to most people is considered a leisure activity--unless you're in school or have to read a book for a book club... many people just don't make the time to sit down and pick up a good book and that makes me sad, because reading is important.

Reading is exercise for your mind; like we'd go visit the gym to exercise our bodies, we have the libraries to get us the books we need to make sure we keep our minds active. Even better than the gym, the library is FREE! There is no membership required and unless you're absolutely forgetful, you won't even have a monthly fee so long as you remember to return your books. We're told as parents that our kids need at least 15 minutes a day. Do we as adults even get that much time for ourselves?

I read an article in US Today dated back from 2007 that only 3 out of 4 Americans actually read books. What?! Why??? Of course, I'm biased because I love reading and I'm in library school, but honestly... I suppose one could equate not reading to... not running for exercise... or not taking an interest in cooking to eat! Maybe. Just maybe.

I had to look into this more... I mean 2007 was a long time ago. 5 years makes a big difference in the culture of American society--what's cool, what's not... what's in and what's out. What used to be a regular past time has been replaced by oh so many more things now that our lives are getting increasingly faster paced year after year. You could both blame and thank computers for that. I have my whole opinion on how we've damaged ourselves by becoming increasingly reliant on our digital worlds, social media and virtual spaces, but I'll save that for another post in another time.

A study done by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2009 at least reported a rise since 2007 in American readership. As of 2009, America was neatly divided into two nearly equal parts: readers and non-readers. One of the key points they make is that:
Reading is an important indicator of positive individual and social behavior patterns. Previous NEA research has shown that literary readers volunteer, attend arts and sports events, do outdoor activities, and exercise at higher rates than non-readers.

Come on America. Exercise those minds and pick up a book. When was the last time you finished a book and clutching it to your chest exclaimed: "WOW! This book was so good/bad/romantic/exciting/scary/funny!" What was the last thing you read?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Blech. Way to Kill the Mood, Dude.

My husband makes the most disgusting coffee. EVER.

I feel so strongly about this, I had to dedicate an entire blog to justify my feelings.

Before I go off in a total rant about this, I just have to tell you about my latest experience with school. I'm still geeking out over it. =)

I just finished my first online Elluminate Live! session--online conference using a headset and mic to get in touch with the rest of my virtual classmates--and man was it a totally AWESOME experience. To think, with the use of computers and social media tools, the whole "going to school" idea has totally and completely changed! I could literally go to school without going anywhere! I knew full well going into this session though that there wouldn't be video, still, I felt compelled to at least change my shirt.

So maybe this concept isn't new to you. Maybe you've had your fair share of teleconferencing and skype, vid-chat, creepy tech support where they take over your computer and test drive it to troubleshoot and whatever else is out there I haven't quite learned about yet, but to this House Troll, a whole new world of possibilities has just been opened up. Its really not all that different from the age old, AOL IM and your computer's basic "paint" to digitally scribble scrabble but the concept of using it as a classroom discussion tool complete with microphone was just so intriguing to me. Like I previously mentioned, I'm still coming down off my high--literally GEEKING out over it. *laugh*

[dot] [dot] [dot]

*serious face*

Needless to say, I had a very positive experience which was ultimately nearly RUINED by a pot of extremely BAD coffee.

I don't know why I forget every single time, but the man really makes such strong coffee you could add a whole cup of creamer to the stuff and it really doesn't change the color one bit. That's how you know it's really strong. Also, its so stiff just drinking it turns my teeth instantaneously BROWN for the rest of the day. Seriously. Hotness, I know. Everyone wants to be me.

To recap:

Elluminate = Good! Stupendous! Powerfully enlightening!!

Dave's Coffee = nuclear waste! Take-me-to-the-ER-to-have-my-stomach-pumped AWFUL!

Goodnight virtual world. At least one of us should get some sleep tonight.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Me. Myself. and I. Just so long as its not in a team... because everyone knows there's no "I" in team.

First of all, let me apologize if this response is a little verbose. I’m working on “trimming the fat”. =)

Module #5 is about Personal Skills. In this stream-of-conscious-like ramble I'm going to discuss how Personal Skills are very much a big part of Success as an Online Student AND how Personal Skills also carry over into a Team Setting.

To succeed in an Online Learning Environment, I understand I’d definitely need to have both strong time management skills coupled with strong organizational skills. Some people assume that since you’re taking a class “online” that it’s going to be a ‘cake-walk’. Sooooo much easier than actually attending in person and putting in some REAL face-time. To those people, I’d have to chuckle and say “try it some time—let’s get together once you’ve finished a class or two and re-evaluate”.

This being my first foray into online learning, I have to admit it is definitely harder sorting through the information you’re peppered with. You have an infinite number of windows to sort through, not to mention the maze of hyperlinks, help desks, log ons, screen names, emails systems, data systems, etc. You have to be able to manage your time in entering your virtual learning communities BECAUSE you’re not putting in face-time in a real class setting. Organizational skills go hand in hand with this for the most obvious reasons I just stated.

You have to be self-motivated because for the most part, you’re not going to have someone tugging on our arm to get you to class and meet up for a coffee afterwards. You are your own cheering section. =)

Lastly, the fact that you have to be comfortable working with technology is pretty much a no-brainer in an online learning environment. I mean, you don’t have to be an IT whiz but it helps to understand your basic telecom. Let’s face it… that’s just the direction the world is turning.

Back to the assignment at hand: Online students need to be armed with a variety of personal skills such as time management, organizational skills, self-motivation, comfort with telecommunications because at times it is often very lonely work seeing your classmates on the other side of a computer screen in black and white text. I suppose in order to make up for the lack of camaraderie a regular student would have attending classes on site—the whole topic of Team Success Strategies are discussed in this module as a way to make even the whole experience and bring a certain roundness to our virtual world.

Enid Irwin, part-time SLIS faculty member and Librarian, mentions in her short power point entitled, The Monster Inside Library School—Student Teams is that “You start your careers when you start your classes. The Behavior you show now is the behavior you’ll be remembered by.” Learning how to work in a team is not just important to your online learning process, it’s a strategy commonly utilized in a variety of different work situations and places.

Individuals are extremely visible in an online process and each individual’s attitude and commitment to planning play an integral part in the success of each team.

Dr. Ken Haycock’s lecture on, Working in Teams, highlights the importance of INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTABILITY in maintaining a functioning Group Goal. In a situation where every team player contributes equally in time and expertise, relationships are built, trust can grow. When every player has something valuable they’re allowed to contribute, individuals feel they have personal stakes in the finished product and therefore “greater commitment leads toward implementation”.

Both Irwin & Haycock discuss that knowing ahead of time that there are going to be roadblocks—differences of opinion, varying expectations, egos to deflate, etc. etc—will help team members to realize the growing pains in forming a successful team. The pains will come. Recognize it. Get over it. Get on with the show.

Both lecturers underline the importance of creating common goals. Establishing ground rules is a MUST. Maintaining clear channels of communication where every team member is given the right to speak up and contribute--essential. Participation: KEY. Successful teams not only encourage team members to contribute, they are expected and are therefore rewarded by benefiting the unit as a whole.

Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, individually and in a group setting, is fundamental to your own personal growth as first a student then later (hopefully) a mentor. It might have seemed silly to have to spent so much time thinking about my own personal skills and how to be a successful team member in a successful team setting, but in retrospect, I certainly learned a lot from this module. Classifying things, categorizing them and calling subjects out for what they are—these are all what Librarians do. Identifying that “Monster” as Ms. Irwin so eloquently pointed out is the first step towards progress: Point it out and put it to bed.

On to dreaming of more productive things.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Starting Over

I needed to create a blog for one of my school assignments. I typed in fully prepared to start fresh and register a new account and lo and behold... one of my old blogs are staring me in the face. I totally and completely forgot about this lame attempt at online journaling. I wanted to be like Doogie and have a digital journal, and look how far I got. One post.

LOL. OK. I'm starting over. This post is officially for LIBR 203.

Hello world!

The hardest part of starting anything new is fundamentally that. STARTING.

Since its school that's prompted me to turn off the Sims and shut off my Wii, I suppose I should begin by writing about how excited I am that I have this opportunity--nay, drive--to go back to school and work on MY dream. You know, there were so many times I felt going from pregnancy to pregnancy, toddler hood to preschool to grade school that I was just swimming in poopy diapers, temper tantrums and extremely unflattering nursing bras. I forgot how smart I used to be!

I love my kids. Its actually the understatement of the century.

But this post isn't about me loving my kids. Its about me going back to school. I was so excited last night, I could hardly sleep for knowing I could log in to my school account and start my very first class today.

I mean. I'm going to school to become a librarian. I'm imagining a public library. My most favorite one right now... its the La Mesa branch... great lighting, cute children's area... clean bathrooms with soap that just spanks almond cream. Its my happy place. If I were a dragon, this would be my treasure cave. Rows and rows of old books, new books, big books, small, hard cover, soft cover--all neatly stacked and organized for my borrowing pleasure. Its quiet, people are reading... they're wi-fi'ing... everyone's learning. Knowledge is growing.

Did I mention how GOOD the bathroom soap smells?

One of these days, I'm going to get to work in a place like this.