Thursday, September 13, 2007

Time to Celebrate

Play 'Who's That Avatar?'!
That's just one of the games that will be played next month at the 23 Things victory luncheon in Allegany County. On Friday, October 5th, the group of finishers from ACLS will be getting together to share and celebrate their summer of 2007 learning experience. Not to mention that they'll be receiving their iPod Shuffles at the lunch as well! ACLS had a fantastic completion rate of almost 90% and it's hard to be put into the words the feelings of pride and satisfaction I have after being given the tremendous opportunity to work with the librarians in Allegany, Garrett, and Washington counties this past summer as part of the 23 Things program. Celebrations are also in the works for Garrett and Washington counties, who also had extremely high rates of participation and completion.
Already I have noticed a change in the vocabularly of the library staff - words like wiki, avatar, and RSS, have become part of the vernacular. Also, the level of comfort with these new Web 2.0 technologies has increased tremendously! Library staff have already started putting ideas into action by taking the concepts and technologies that they learned as part of the 23 Things program and applying them to library services. For example, the Teen Committee in Allegany County has recently created a MySpace page for its teen community. Many more ideas are brewing and soon to produce other innovative services.
Of course, the path to 'Web 2.0 compliancy', as we jokingly call it, has not always been easy. Feedback from staff has shown that the instructions were confusing and overcomplicated at times and that the time estimated to complete each "thing" was grossly underestimated. Library staff became weary of creating yet another username and password and have accumulated lengthy lists for the many accounts that they had to create for the program!
Yet all in all, the 23 Things program in Western Maryland was an overwhelming success. Many staff members worked on the program on their own time and deserve tremendous praise for their hard-work and dedication for learning about these new technologies. For my part, I not only was given the chance to build stronger relationships with the librarians that I serve, but I also was able to lay the foundation for future programs of this type in my region. Hurrah 23 Things!
Jennifer Howell

Monday, September 10, 2007

Training Stories

Even though 23 Things was a project that was intended as a self-paced learning experience, I have a few training stories to tell. Perhaps others do as well.

For the most part, the more technology-oriented folks seemed to take to 23 Things like ducks to water. Most of these people needed tweaking in the right direction when certain things just didn't work. An example of this is how the recorded message for Thing #1 included some forms that were not retrievable from outside the PLCMC's domain. Once issues like these were ironed out or explained, these users moved on quickly.

The more intermediate users seemed to need a "leg-up." With several of these people, I set aside some time to work with them on getting started with the stipulation that they needed to at least get through the first "Thing." Some of these users needed to understand precisely what they were responsible for doing. I explained how to find the "Discovery Exercises," how to report on them in their blogs, and how to record the activity in their 23 Things Tracking Form. Some of this group needed help understanding the concept of the "blog," so it helped that I was able to both explain and demonstrate. A few folks hadn't ever used a digital camera, nor had they ever used anything like Flickr, so I walked them through some of that as well. It seems that, once they got through #3, people seemed to take off on their own, though. What seemed to work really well for some was to then give them the time and space (training lab) where they could explore on their own without interruptions. Once people had gotten past #3, I got NO requests for lab instruction.

The remainder of my training took place in the form of 5- to 15-minute phone calls and emails. These came from users of all levels, and were generally the same minor issues. As these issues came to light, I posted them on the "Learning 2.0" page of our wiki, under "Hints and Tips." I'm not sure that other users really got to use this, especially before they got to the Wiki part of 23 Things, but it helped me to be able to point them to the page, or to copy and paste the instructions into an email.

Our time is winding down, so I expect to have some other training opportunities with my co-workers as they scramble to finish their remaining "Things." I'll add more to this post if anything new happens.

I'm interested in knowing if others had similar of different experiences with regards to training and the 23 Things.

A. Gaskins

Friday, September 7, 2007

It's time to share

It's been a rockin' summer/fall with these 23 Things. Lots of hard work for liaisons. Some great stories, though. Our conference call meetings have been filled with shares about the many creative ways that you have supported this program. Now it's time to blog your experiences on the 23 Things site! So, liaisons, what say you? Please share activities, successes and lessons learned. All liaisons will have editing rights to this blog so you can share your wrap-up via post.