Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Finish Line : )

Well, I've reached the end of this semester and the end of my MLS degree. This comes with great relief and great sadness. Relief because I will no longer have homework until I decide what my future will entail. Sadness because I relish opportunities to discuss my passion for learning about how people learn. My current line of thinking is that I will take a little time after graduation to decide where to go next.

The last activity of this course was to update my resume.

I also updated my electronic portfolio at:

I originally thought that I could probably submit the resume I had previously developed and be done with it. I was wrong. I had not updated my resume in such a long time I had great difficulties remembering the new activities that needed to be added. I had to scour the Internet to relocate info about conferences I attended. I also neglected to update my recent publication and decided to link out to the journal websites and the UB Library links.

I had a number of broken links on my website due to sheer neglect quite some time. I also took the opportunity to update personal sections of my site that have long been neglected. Usually, the only time I update my resume is because of a shake up or dissatisfaction at work. It's good to be prompted to keep up on this important task.

So, I've made it to the end of my degree. Somehow, I still don't feel very librarian like. Ask me again in a few weeks. I just ordered a new pair of bifocals. No, they're not the horn-rimmed variety, but they will at least make me look more like a librarian.

Thank You - for listening.  :  )

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Running in place

I just noticed that this will be my second last entry to this blog for the class requirements. This is a welcome realization. As much as I'm dreading the end of this semester, and therefore also the end of my MLS degree, the next few weeks seem so far away and way too soon. I feel as I'm crawling toward the finish line and at the same time I'm running very fast, but I'm running in place.

As I try to imagine a life as a non-student I realize how difficult it is to keep up the pace of a student. It is for this reason that I will keep this second-last post short. This last class of my MLS program has been very rewarding. I have had numerous opportunities to learn along with a great group of individuals who have similar interests to my own and who are asking questions and undergoing self-discovery about a number of topics that I'm also interested in.  I would like to find opportunities to continue this form of lifelong learning.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Actual conference participation

This week's post will reflect on the recent SLAWNY Spring Sharing event I attended. Overall, I enjoyed the conference and felt I learned useful information. However, I felt that I was out of my element. In my career I have come very close to working in the K-12 commuinty, but it has always been just out of reach. My initial interests involved developing educational multimedia for young children. I continued my interest in education and pursued a dual masters degree in communication design and education. I had vast exposure to the needs and desires of young learners. In my early career at UB I was closely involved in K-12 endeavors through my affiliation with the Graduate School of Education. Lately, my career has rarely involved K-12. I explored applying to the SLMS program but instead chose to pursue an MLS. The reasoning for this was that after nearly ten years at UB it's best to stick it out on the path that I'm currently on. Much of my life is invested in SUNY and I have a large accumulation of benefits and a sense of security that is very rare these days.

There are a lot of similarities between teaching in a K-12 environment and teaching in higher ed. A large portion of what I'm learning in this class is very applicable to the needs of a college classroom. However, there are many differences when considering learning and instruction in higher ed. I realize that life can always take unexpected turns, and who knows what might be around the corner. I'd like to be prepared for a possible unexpected turn. Will the road I'm on branch towards the libraries or to K-12? Time will only tell.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Virtual conference participation

I enjoyed the experience of taking a virtual travel trip to an online conference as a mid-semester break activity. Considering that virtually all my department's travel funds have been eliminated with a tight budget, it's good to know that there are plenty of very well done online conferences and professional development opportunities available. The K12Online conference was a great mix of presentations focusing both on technical aspects and non-technical aspects of the day-to-day aspects of integrating instructional technologies. I often view and listen to a number of online professional development presentations. This is one way to keep up with the ever changing landscape of instructional technology. My department at UB has also created and posted a number of online presentations. The presentations through the K12online conference had some post-production processing added to enhance the presentations as compared to the raw presentations that are often posted on the TLC website. The enhancement through the added use of visuals, and in some cases digital storylines, enabled their presentations to have an edge that successfully captured my interest.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Becoming a Librarian

I've elected to use my blog posts for this course to mostly reflect upon my fast approaching completion of my MLS degree and less on the specific topics of this course. I hope that this use is satisfactory. Since my MLS degree is less than two months away I'm finding that I am very often reflecting on this accomplishment and trying to make sense about what this means to me. This is not the first time I'm mentioning this, but I mainly took the courses in LIS so I could continue to learn about how and why people learn and less because I wanted to become a librarian. In the course of my LIS studies I have vastly increased a number of abilities that could be said to be attributed to being a librarian. For example, I now look very critically at information in order to determine its validity and authenticity. I feel my search strategies have vastly improved. I know the value of various search tools, but I still have difficulty understanding why true federated searching is not the norm.

Although I did not enroll in the MLS program to become a Librarian, now that the end is nearly in sight, I'm very proud that I will join this important and elite group. I feel that my abilities have matched those of what are desired by the profession. It is unfortunate that in my career there seems to be an unlikely prospect in the near future of my job responsibilities becoming more in-tune with those of  the librarian profession.

One thing I would like to point out is that I clearly see my job as an instructional designer for the University at Buffalo to be extremely similar to the responsibilities of a school library media center. The main similarity is the need to collaborate with instructors to assist them in their quest to help students towards achieving a maximally effective learning environment.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

To the movies

I'll be going to view the movie "Hollywood Librarian" at UB very soon. I'm interested to see what the movie has to say about the librarian profession. Considering that I'll be a "Librarian" in just about two months it would be good to see this movie. Although I've been in LIS for a number of years going to classes one at a time, I find it difficult to picture myself as a librarian. I like my role as an instructional designer. I pursued an MLS to improve my knowledge and skills in this area. I feel I've been very successful doing this. I do think that life is capable of taking many unexpected turns. It is possible that a position could open up in a library that may entail many responsibilities for the utilization of my background. So, I'm off to watch the "Hollywood Librarian" to preview what possibilities may be in my future.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My strength

This past week I was able to draw on some of my strengths and knowledge about web design. This is an area that I feel I have a strong understanding of. Considering that I have taught a course for the Informatics program titled Collaborative Web Design I should be in my element when discussing website usability. It was not much of a stretch to take my existing knowledge about website design and usability and apply it to the needs of a library website catalog.

In contrast, when I need to rely on my knowledge about information literacy I am much more out of my element. If I'm asked to instruct someone on how to evaluate whether or not a website's content is valid and authoritative I am able to provide a few general pointers. However, in my own searching needs I can say that I am often swayed to trust sites that I should be much more doubtful about. I'm a member of the Information Literacy Task Force under the UB Libraries, but the team (which has a number of librarians on the committee) also has a hard time providing clear instruction to others about how they should evaluate the content they find on the web.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Inner commotion

It's been a week since I selected the new title for my blog. The more I think about this new title the more I like it. I often think that my emotions are a driver of my personality and they often result in inner commotion.

I'm finally starting to feel that I have some control over this semester. It took me a while to get caught up with my work responsibilities and my class responsibilities since returning from my "life altering" trip to China. Over this past winter break I had an opportunity to go on a two week study abroad to the cities of Beijing and Chengdu. I learned a lot on this trip. The main lesson I learned is to not take for granted the many of the creature comforts and freedoms that I have because I live in America. Although I won't go into details here (at least not now), I did learn that living in America does give me privileges such as freedom of speech, freedom to openly think thoughts of my own choosing, and the freedom to take advantages of luxuries including heat and abundant sources of energy.

What I do want to talk about in this post is the demands that my university studies is having on my life. This class is the last class that I need to take  for the MLS program at UB. When I was a course instructor a number of years ago one of my students told me that she expected the course to not be as taxing as it was and that I demanded a lot of my students in relation to the amount of reading and the course assignments. It was her last class towards her MLS degree. I bring this up because I'd like to offer a similar compliment (???) for the current course I'm enrolled in. I value the amount of work required in this course, and I value the amount of learning that I'm enduring.

I expect to graduate this May. When I was deciding to continue my studies at UB I was torn between working towards a doctoral degree or taking the easier route and just pursue a second Masters. At the time, a doctorate seemed so far into the future. Now that I'm almost done with the MLS I regret not choosing to pursue a PhD. I'm now considering what route I will choose once I'm done with the MLS.

I truly enjoy learning. However, I always have difficulty keeping up with the assignments and homework. You might ask why I don't just make my own course for learning and choose to self study. Well the answer is that I very much enjoy the social aspects of being in structured learning environments (even if it is in a distance learning mode).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New blog title - motions, emotions, & commotions

I've retitled my blog. It's now titled "motions, emotions, & commotions." I selected this title from a textbook I used more than a decade ago in the course Intro to Educational Psychology. The course was taught by Ron Gentile who was a fabulous and memorable teacher. I hope I can inspire as many fond memories in my students, as I'm sure Ron has done in the minds of his students.

I recently reminisced about the first class I had with Ron Gentile. He sang and danced to inform us about the idea of "rapanoia." Rapanoia is opposite of paranoia. Paranoia is an irrational fear of imaginary or unreal threats. Rapanoia, a term coined by Ron Gentile, is the fear of real threats that should be feared. It took me a while to recollect what the point was that Ron so deeply ingrained into my brain with his singing and dancing, but it is deep within my memory banks and it will stay with me for the rest of my life.

My title selection, "motions, emotions, & commotions," is used in Ron's book that describes the emotions associated with acts of learning. Through writing this blog I am experiencing many emotions. They range from anxiety about who will read my text, elation that someone may possibly  read my text, and dread that I'm writing this public yet privately reflective text.

Ron also uses this phrase about commotion in the section of his book that discusses classroom management issues. This is an area that I'm currently involved in developing a professional development conference to assist UB faculty to learn to effectively engage their students in order to minimize classroom disruptions. This is also an area where I have my greatest fears about my own teaching abilities. You might say this is where my paranoia derives, and this is where my rapanoia derives. I have real fears that I'm unable to effectively engage students.

Through this class about the use of computer applications in the School Library Media Center (SLMC) I hope to gain greater confidence about my role as an instructor in the classroom. With this new knowledge I'll be better able to assist other faculty to overcome their rapanoia.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A historic look at my career and future predictions

This LIS568 course is my final course before receiving my MLS degree. This will be my second masters degree with my first masters being an inter-disciplinary degree in education and communication design. For the past decade I have been an instructional designer for the University at Buffalo. The first half of my employment I worked with the technology division of the professional schools (Law, Social Work, Education, and Library & Information Studies. About 5 years ago I moved to the division that supports the entire university. A little more than two years ago my center transformed from a center with the main mission of assisting faculty to effectively utilize instructional technologies to a combined mission that also includes assisting faculty to gain expertise in general teaching effectiveness.

My expertise certainly encompasses the varied uses of instructional technologies for teaching. Using instructional technology has always involved knowledge about effective pedagogy. However, I feel out of my realm providing advice to faculty about how to improve their teaching. This is one of the reasons I have chosen to be a continual lifelong learner. I would like to improve my knowledge about how to guide faculty to improved teaching practices. The only way to do that is to continue to research what is being said in the field and by reading more about educational theories.

I also need to stay abreast about new instructional technologies. The rapid developments are very difficult to keep up with. This blog is a good example. I often recommend to faculty to use blogs in their classes to get students to communicate about what they are learning. But as I mentioned in my initial post, this is the first time I am writing in a reflective fashion for a public audience.

I've also never used Diigo. I used Delicious for a while but soon afterwards I reverted to using traditional bookmarks again. Reverting back to using bookmarks resulted from inadequacies I found in Delicious and by the discovery of the Xmarks tool. Xmarks is not a social bookmarking tool, but instead a tool to synchronize my bookmarks among a number of computers in a more organized manor. In this class we are asked to create a shared library in Diigo. I hope to again discover a new technology tool that improves upon my current methods. This is just one more example of needing to practice and implement what I preach. There are just so many tools out there, having the time to experiment with them all is unrealistic.

So, how does my upcoming MLS degree help my future career? I do not expect to leave UB at least before I can officially retire. Although I have only worked at UB for a little more than 10 years, I have secured a permanent position and a slew of built up vacation and sick time. It would be very difficult to locate an alternative position that would allow me to do as well as I am. I enjoy my job. This last sentence is the heart of it.

I can see myself moving to alternative positions in the UB Libraries with similar instructional responsibilities. I can also picture my days after retirement taking advantage of my MLS degree and becoming a part of a local library or school district. I'm finding it odd to talk out loud (or type out loud as I often like to say) about my retirement. Although I am still quite young, I now need to consider the next phase of my life.

Having requirements to use new tools and read current literature about effective teaching practices is very good for my career.

Blog intro

This is my first official blog posting that contains my reflections. I have posted to other blogs, but its mainly been as a comment to another person's post or to treat a blog more as a discussion forum. I am uncomfortable in this new realm. I fully understand the value of reflective thought, however, I find it difficult to do so in print and in the public eye. This will be a new experience for me.

To clarify why I have difficulties in this area I will describe further. I hope that the main audience for this blog is the instructor for my LIS568 course for which this blog is a requirement. I will try to open up and describe my inner thoughts. I may very well delete this blog after the course is over (of course keeping an archive). But I am very aware that whatever is said on the Internet is very possibly being said to the world.

I recently found out how to create Google Alerts. I have since created "alerts" for my name and a separate alert for my street name and town. I now receive emails whenever a new or old page is discovered and indexed by Google. I have been reminded of some "blasts from the past" - comments I made to listservs years ago. I've been kept up-to-date about news items relating to my neighborhood sooner than I would have found out through the local TV news or the newspaper. I've learned that a colleague borrowed some text from a recent PPT presentation I created. I was also recently honored that an important researcher had made a mention of me on his blog. And I learned that whatever is posted to the Internet is not private.

I'm also always self-confident about my writing and speaking my mind, although people who know me would never think this is the case. With that being said I will try to share my inner reflections about this course and how this course relates to my current and future career through this blog.

Here goes it!