Creation Club

Creation Club is an after-school club for middle schoolers who are interested in digital creation. At the FFL we have a room called the Creation Lab. In this room there are three desktop computers (2 PC and 1 iMac). On them we have audio, video, image, photo editing, and 3D modeling software. You can also find cameras, iPads, microphones, a green screen wall, and various other odds and ends relating to digital content creation.

Creation Club meets twice a month after school. There are usually short instructional workshops on how to do or use something in the Creation Lab at the beginning of the meeting and then the teens are given the rest of the meeting time to experiment with this new knowledge. Since spring of 2012, Creation Club has created stop motion videos, photoshopped themselves into their favorite movies/computer games, created 3D models, recorded podcasts, created original videos, and wrote and recorded an original song.

Starting in February of 2014, we changed it up a bit away from the purely digital and delved into how digital designs can be transformed into physical objects. The first week of February began with learning how to use the vinyl cutter in the FFL Fab Lab to turn line art into a decal. We used an image editing program they were already familiar with from the photo editing workshops last year  to create original artwork. Following that were two weeks of exploring 3D design using 2D drawings and the FFL Fab Lab’s laser cutter, and then a whole series on video game design (by popular demand).

Gamestar MechanicTo learn about video game design, we used Gamestar Mechanic. They actually provide an excellent set of teacher resources with lesson plans, so you can just jump right in with the kids having no previous knowledge of game design. For four weeks, the Creation Club played games to learn about game design and then had a chance to build their own games and have their peers playtest them and give appropriate suggestions.

Creation Club is now on break for the summer, but I look forward to starting back up again in the fall with some new and interesting projects.

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Digital Learning Day (#DLDay)

The FFL's DLDay display table with all our handouts and devices.

Yesterday was the first ever Digital Learning Day. It was a day to learn and teach about digital media and technology with an emphasis on trying something new. The Fayetteville Free Library put together a display table showcasing all of our circulating devices, new databases, and all the digital and technological services offered that patrons may not have been aware of already. The table was placed so that patrons were met by the DLDay display as soon as they walked in the door.

Our library regularly offers a special service called Tech Time which is a one on one appointment with a librarian to ask about any technology questions patrons may have. Usually this is something like learning to use a new e-reader or computer program. These Tech Time appointments are very popular and are fully booked at least 4 weeks in advance. One goal of our DLDay table was to give patrons a walk-up all-day open Tech Time. In the four hours that I spent manning the table with the librarians, I showed patrons how to download e-books from Overdrive, explained the various types of e-book readers we circulate and the differences between them, introduced many patrons to our new Mango Languages service, exchanged friendly anecdotes about digital and analog technologies, and basically had a great time geeking out with people who were interested in learning about technology.

My favorite experience was when a man walked in the door to the library and when I greeted him with, “Happy Digital Learning Day!” was told that he bought his first smart phone today. I was able to give him one of the bookmarks we had put together for DLDay with our top ten recommended free apps and he was really excited. There was also a young boy who became entranced with our new Playaway View devices so much so that he completely ignored the iPad on the table.

I learned how to use the Kindle Fire. I tried to check out an e-book using the web browser on a black and white Kindle and almost succeeded (failed because it doesn’t allow multiple web browser windows). I heard a funny story about “analog technology.”

What new technology have you tried?

Goodreads – A Review

For my class on Social Media, I was given the assignment to write a review of an emerging social technology and I chose Goodreads.

Goodreads Logo

A home for casual readers and bona-fide bookworms alike, Goodreads users recommend books, compare what they are reading, keep track of what they’ve read and would like to read, find their next favorite book, form book clubs and much more. – About Goodreads

Goodreads was launched in December 2006 and has grown to over 6.3 Million users who have shared reviews on over 210 Million book titles. It is the number one social media network for readers and book recommendations. Goodreads looks at the titles you have read and the ratings and reviews you have written to create reading recommendations based on those of members with similar tastes.

How to use Goodreads: 

As a Goodreads member, you have the ability to add books to your virtual bookshelves by browsing or searching for title, author, or ISBN. The Goodreads mobile app also allows you to search for books by scanning the barcode on a book using the phone’s camera (for iPhoneand Android). There are three default shelves: Read, To-Read, and Currently Reading. They are mutually exclusive, which means a title can only belong to one of these shelves at a time. However, members are able to build as many additional shelves as they would like, such as “reference” or “never finished”. Books can belong on as many non-exclusive shelves as desired. 

Once you have made 20 ratings, Goodreads will begin to make recommendations for you. The more books you rate, the better your recommendations will be. Recommendations are made according to genre as well as tailored to the contents of your individual shelves. The Goodreads recommendation engine is based on the principle that the best book recommendations come from friends. Unlike Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Goodreads recommendations aren’t based on sales data or skewed towards popular titles, they are instead based on the opinions and reading habits of members who have show similar taste in books (more about the Goodreads recommendation engine on Mashable). Yet another way to find new reading material on Goodreads is to add friends. All of your ratings and reviews will be visible to your friends, and when your friends perform any activity on Goodreads, it will show up on your main page in your Recent Updates feed. You can also link your Goodreads account with Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, and Blogger.

Goodreads lets people connect, regardless of geographic location, to share common reading experiences. One way to do that is to join one of the Goodreads Groups. Goodreads Groups are generated by members and are similar to traditional book clubs, but instead of meeting exclusively face to face to talk about the book being read, Goodreads hosts the discussion on a board (for example: The FFL’s Meet the Authors Book Club). Goodreads also offers trivia, fun quizzes, challenges, giveaways, and member generated book lists.

The Good:

  • Socially driven.
  • Recommendations based on actual reader opinions.
  • Interactive.
  • Free!
  • Easy to use.

The Bad:

  • More suited to social interaction than maintaining a collection. 
  • Cannot search by genre or topic. 

The Competition:

Librarything is another book-based social network. It has some of the same features as Goodreads such as adding books to a collection, writing reviews, and getting recommendations. Librarything is also sometimes used by libraries and other organizations to keep inventory of a collection. It is more focused on cataloging than social sharing.

Shelfari is the Amazon owned social reading network. It uses your past purchases on Amazon.com as well as your own additions to make recommendations. Because it is owned by Amazon, it makes every possible attempt to get you to purchase the books that are recommended to you. 

My Experience:

I started using Goodreads about two years ago. At first, I just liked keeping track of my to-read list. But then I realized how many other uses there are. I have added some friends whose taste in books I share, and found others who are interested in my recommendations. Right now I am working on developing a collection of board books for a local public library and I’ve been using Goodreads to see ratings and reviews of board books to determine if a title is worth considering. I’m also using Goodreads to keep track of the board books I have chosen to include in the collection so that other people or librarians interested in board books can use the work I put into evaluating titles to begin their own collection.

Conclusion:

With such a large number of members and integration with most popular social media networks, Goodreads will continue to be a fun and useful resource for book recommendations. The mobile app allows members to use all of the functionality of the browser based webpage as well as adding special features such as using your mobile device’s camera to scan barcodes. Goodreads has also recently introduced features to connect your e-reader with your Goodreads account. For example, if you have a Kindle: “It will automate setting your “currently-reading” and “read” shelf books based on what you’ve shared on your Kindle. It will also sync your highlights from the kindle to your Goodreads quotes.” Goodreads was not the first social media network to be built around the reading experience, but it has show such growth and adaptability to make Goodreads a useful and fun platform for reading-related social interaction.