Yes, we deleted the VHS collection.

Discussion in my office last week.

“Jenny, did I hear you correctly when you said that you had deleted the entire VHS collection? ”

“Yes, you did.”

“Does this mean that the Maria Callas version of Medea isn’t there?”

“Yep, that’s right. It’s gone.”

“Oh dear. You know it’s just what I need for the students……….”

“How about we take a look at YouTube and see what’s there?”

“I’ve never used YouTube. Do you think it might be there?”

So we took a look. And guess what? It’s there. Uploaded in 10 minute parts. Perfect for this teacher who only needed a 10 minute segment that spanned part one and two. Even though YouTube streams really fast at my school I downloaded these parts to ensure that the teacher would have no trouble when using it in class this week.  Result: Happy teacher who now can see the positive use of YouTube for instructional purposes. 

Deleting the VHS collection has been the cause of some angst for members of staff, but the final nail in the VHS coffin had to be hammered in. You can’t sustain a dead technology. VHS players aren’t available anymore and we can’t keep pretending we can rely on old resources. I know some of them were good and probably worth keeping, but we’re just going to have to try and source them via other means. Conversion is a time consuming labour intensive exercise and I could not justify the work involved to facilitate this. YouTube and TeacherTube are amazing; the content that is there is pretty mind boggling really.  Australian Screen and resources available from The Learning Federation are other fabulous source points for video that teachers could be using with their classes.

Don’t get me wrong. VHS tapes still lurk in offices around the school. But they are not in the library and not part of our catalogued resources. They’ll die a natural death when the players that support them curl up and die.

We’re at that point in Libraries where decisions need to be made about what stays and what goes. Non fiction purchasing is the other area where we as a library staff have questioned purchases. We are waiting to see what happens in the e book market and how the handling of that is going to equate with Library delivery of services. There are huge question marks around all of that right now and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone with an answer just yet. It’s been announced that the Amazon Kindle will be available internationally in the near future. Right now, my money’s on the predicted Apple tablet as being the frontrunner to take the lead with e book delivery. It seems only natural to integrate the book publishing market with their iTunes library.  

Interesting times and huge ideas for Libraries to grapple with. It is hard trying to predict where things are going and what the best course of action is to take. What is clear to me is that you can’t sit on the fence forever. At some point tough decisons need to be made, even if it does cause some angst.  

You know, I’ve been thinking. I think all teachers should be provided with a copy of Who moved my cheese?” and it should become mandatory reading. If you haven’t read it, get to your local library and check out a copy. Well worth it.

School’s out Friday

I just turned on my computer, opened Twhirl (my twitter desktop client) and saw a tweet from Breaking News announcing Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.

When he was elected into office I felt hopeful. He is such a marvellous orator. Someone who makes you stop and listen carefully to his words. It’s interesting discussing his influence with the students in my class. They too feel hopeful about world politics with Barack leading the United States. The Nobel committee said this about him;

“Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future”

and this;

“His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”

When the committee was asked why they awarded the prize only 8 months after Barack had taken office, the reply of committee head Thorbjoern Jagland was;

“It was because we would like to support what he is trying to achieve. It is a clear signal that we want to advocate the same as he has done”

‘The values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population’. Yes, we are more similar than we are different. People everywhere love their families and friends and want the best for them.  Here’s hoping this message sent by the Nobel committee will help diplomatic relations between countries and engender a new form of leadership.

Have a good weekend. Do something with friends and family.

Google Wave explained

Like thousands of others, I was waiting for a Google Wave invite, but none arrived. Even publicly begging for one on Twitter didn’t do me any good. Here’s hoping I will get one eventually, because it does look really interesting. The above video explains what Google Wave is and what it can do. The people explaining it are developers from Google and I think they do a pretty good job explaining it in a way that most would understand.

Epipheo Studios created the above cool little video that is doing the rounds as well as a means of explanation of Google Wave. I wonder if they have got their invite yet considering they have had over 200,000 views of this on YouTube! They are most definitely helping Google out in terms of promotion.

Waiting to join the wave. In the shallows right now. Not even close to catching one I bet!

Misconceptions

Seth Godin’s latest blog post reminds us how we can be relaying misconceptions to the students we teach.

The internet certainly presents us with possibilities. We can become creators and have our work appreciated by others. We can make a name for ourselves and reap the rewards that come from this. But we can also become part of the long tail of creators who are vying for voice and attention who don’t get noticed and don’t reap rewards.

Seth quotes a report from Charles Blow in the NY Times about the music industry;

“A study last year conducted by members of PRS for Music, a nonprofit royalty collection agency, found that of the 13 million songs for sale online last year, 10 million never got a single buyer and 80 percent of all revenue came from about 52,000 songs. That’s less than one percent of the songs.”

Pretty staggering figures really. So for every young band out there vying for an audience, the odds are pretty much not stacked in your favour.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t be encouraging our students to use this medium to be heard. What we should be doing is presenting them with the   realities of  the medium. You can’t expect that loading your latest and greatest effort onto YouTube is your entry point to worldwide noteriety. You need to face the reality that if you are going to take a crack at it you need to explore the medium to it’s full potential. You need to know how to market your online presence to full effect.

Even more reason why educators need to get up to speed. These are skills that need to be taught. The business model is changing.  It’s a new world out there.

School’s out Friday

Some of you who follow me on Twitter might have noted the tweets I sent out yesterday related to a lawnmower incident. No body parts missing unlike the video above! If you missed them here’s a bit of a recap;

Lawnmowing_incident-_Twitter_update 

It was pretty dramatic at the time I can tell you. This was the second time (ever!) that I had mown the lawn. I was removing the catcher and noticed a big clump of grass still left inside the lawn mower. I naively thought I’d just reach in and remove it. It didn’t cross my mind at all that the reason it’s called a lawn mower is because it mows the lawn and has sharp rotating blades inside to enable it to do this! Suffice to say, it wasn’t long before I discovered this fact. Lawn mower was left running after I’d extracted my hand, saw the blood and ran to the kitchen sink all the while screaming ‘Oh my God, Oh my God’, or something  to that effect.

Thankfully, my finger was intact, just badly cut and badly bruised. After receiving  some much needed comfort from my children, I was back out there finishing off the job. This time, when removing the catcher, I decided to leave the offending clumps of grass to their fate!

A birthday for me this weekend then back to school on Monday.  Have a good one and stay safe!