Connecticut’s 23 Things

A Learning 2.0 Program

Week 9: Online Collaboration/Applications Tools

Posted by kabery on November 28, 2009

The availability and use of online productivity web-based applications (think word processing and spreadsheets) greatly increases our ability to collaborate!  Consider these benefits:

  • Users have the ability to create and share documents over the internet without the need of installed desktop applications.
  • Web-based applications eliminate the need to worry about different software versions or file types as you email documents or move from PC to PC.
  • They easily accomodate collaboration by allowing multiple users to edit the same file (with versioning) and let users easily save and convert documents as mutiple files.
  • Some tools such as Zoho Writer and Google Docs can be used to author and publish posts to your blog.  It’s this type of integration with other Web 2.0 tools that makes them so appealing.

Examples of some web-based productivity tools

For creating documents:

Write-Share-Collaborate. After you create an account with Google, choose the “More” options drop down menu and you’ll get to GoogleDocsCheck out Google Docs in Plain English, a Commoncraft video on YouTube

For creating flow charts:

Are you a freak for flowcharts? They can make concepts easy to grasp and solutions easy to find. When describing complex relationships or presenting a variety of choices and outcomes, they’re wonderful at keeping important points from getting lost in translation.

Create and share flowcharts, floor plans, network diagrams & SWOT Analysis. Take a look at the Gliffy example on the main page of this blog.

For creating Mind Maps:

Mind maps (an offshoot of flowcharts) are similarly useful, though they work better for the creator than the reader. They’re good at uncovering the relationships between multiple ideas and are not restricted to linear concepts like time and work flow

Take a look at the chart on the main page. View the Mindmeister Mind Map created for this project

Other Resources/Examples:

There are many other ways new internet technologies and websites are empowering users with the ability to create and share content.  Check out:

  • A short list (from Zoho!) of web-based productivity applications
  • Winners of the Web 2.0 Awards. At this site, it might be handy to first select a category that interests you (like Books or Personal Organization) and then simply select a tool/site to explore. Be careful to select a tool that is Free and that doesn’t require a plug-in or download. The majority of these free, so this shouldn’t be a problem

Web-based conferencing

Web 2.0 technologies also provide opportunites for conferencing from your desktop.  Take a look at

6 Free Conferencing Tools that Librarians will Love.

In addition check out WebJunction’s Quick Guide: Web Conferencing DLD uses WebJunction’s Wimba Classroom for meetings and Horizon Wimba for training sessions.

Learning Activities:

1.Take a look at Zoho Writer and GoogleDocs, choose one and sign up for an account.  Create a simple document and maybe invite some colleagues to collaborate with you. Document your experiences in your blog. If you’re up to the challenge, you might even export your document as an HTML file or publish it to your blog.
2.Choose a flowchart,or mind map tool and set up an account. Consider using (or at least testing) one of these tools with a real project that you may have coming up.
3.Explore some of the Winners of the Web 2.0 Awards

Considerations for your blog: How have you used these tools before?  Did you find any other fun web based application tools in your travels? What did you like or dislike about a tool? What did you create?  Can you see any application for these tools at your library?


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Week 10: Podcasts & Video

Posted by kabery on November 27, 2009

What is a podcast?

Enjoy  Podcasting in Plain English, a Commoncraft show, on YouTube

The word podcast is used to refer to a non-musical audio or video broadcast that is distributed over the Internet. What differentiates a podcast from regular streaming audio or video is that the delivery method for podcasts is often done automatically through RSS.

Podcasts take many forms, from short 1-10 minutes commentaries to much longer in person interviews or panel group discussions.  Since podcasts use the MP3 file format, a popular compressed format for audio files, you  just need a PC (or portal device) with headphones or a speaker to listen.

Where can I hear a podcast?

You may have heard of iTunes, a free downloadable Apple application that is the directory finding service most associated with podcasts, but if you don’t have iTunes installed there are still plenty of options. Here are three of the popular ones, that, unlike iTunes, don’t require a software download:

Of course, many websites also now include postcasts including:

How podcasts are being used in the library: 

Why podcast?

  1. For marketing purposes
  2. To enhance library services/web presence
  3. An added means of communication with the public
  4. Because your patrons want it

Check out the links below for ideas:

And for professional development:

Is it legal to use podcasts?

Take a look at Creative Commons Podcasting Legal Guide

How can I make a podcast?

Audacity and LAME MP3 encoder are are free open source software that you can use to create a podcast.  Learn how at Super-fast Guide to Audio Editing

Learning Activities:

1. Take a look at one or two of the podcast directories listed and find a podcast that interests you. See if you can find some interesting library related podcasts here like book review podcasts or library news.
2. Add the RSS feed for a podcast to your Bloglines account.
3. Considerations for your blog: Was it easy to find a podcast? Can you envision a way you might use podcasts at your library?

Online video hosting sites allow users to easily  upload and share videos on the web. YouTube allows users to not only to upload their own video content easily, but also embed clips into their own sites easily.

All of the Commoncraft videos that we’ve watched have been hosted on YouTube.

Play around in  

The Connecticut State Library, the Colt Collection, and William Webb are all represented!

You’ll find everything from 1970s TV commercials and 60s music videos to library dominos here. Of course, like any free site you’ll also find a lot stuff not worth watching too. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore and see for yourself what the site has too offer.

How and why are libraries using YouTube?

  • To promote services and programs
  • To introduce or familiarize the library to the community
  • To enhance the libraries web presence

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Week 11: Social Networking

Posted by kabery on November 26, 2009

What is Social Networking

Social Networking encourages the creation of online communities of people who share interests and activities. More information at the Social Network Service entry in Wikipedia.

Enjoy the Common Craft video,  Social Networking in Plain English on YouTube

One of the Pew Internet and American Life Reports presents how important social networking is to teens.  (And these will soon be the young adults using our research libraries): Teens and Social Media: The use of social media gains a greater foothold in teen life as they embrace the conversational nature of interactive online media.

Popular Networking Sites and how libraries are using them

has literally thousands of interest groups for users. Each interest groups has a discussion board, areas for posting videos, photos, bookmarks and news events. There’s even a group wall on which Facebook users can leave  comments. Interestingly within that collection of groups, there are several hundred relevant to individuals in the library field.  Some of the more popular groups of interest to librarians are listed below.

Public Libraries utilizing Facebook:

State Libraries utilizing Facebook

is an online social network of over 25 million professionals representing 150 industries from all across the world. LinkedIn is geared toward professionals who are trying to network with one another.

Check out the CommonCraft video on LinkedIn at About LinkedIn

Library related groups on LinkedIn

  • Business Librarians
  • Strategic Librarians
  • Law Librarians

Check out 100+ Smart Ways to Use LinkedIn

is one of the leaders among social networking websites, with more than 300 million users and an average of 230,000 new accounts added daily. According to Wikipedia, MySpace has been the most popular social networking site in the U.S. since 2006.

Many libraries have begun using MySpace as an outreach tool to market to their teenaged patrons

was launched in 2005 as an online platform for users to create their own social websites and social networks.

How are libraries using Ning?

is a way to communicate and stay connected by frequently and quickly answering one simple question: What are you doing? Learn more at the Commoncraft Show, Twitter in Plain English

Twitter has also been called “micro-blogging“, but it is more similar to the status updates / link posts found in Facebook (or other social networking sites) than to traditional blogging activities. Get more ideas at:

Connecticut Twittering  Libraries

Learning Activities:

1. Set up an account with Facebook, LinkedIN or Ning. If you’re uncomfortable using your real name, use an alias (NOTE: It’s very easy to delete an account if you decide to).
2. Search for libraries, authors or people you know and add them to your friends list.
3. Considerations for your blog: What did you like or dislike about the sites. What do you think about libraries using these sites? How could your library utilize these tools?

OPTIONAL: If you’re not comfortable creating a Facebook, LinkedIN or Ning account, here is an alternate exercise:

1.) Find 2 or 3 articles on these or other social networks.
2.) Write a post on your blog about your thoughts on these tools and how libraries are using them.

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Week 12: IM Instant Messaging

Posted by kabery on November 25, 2009

Instant Messaging, “Texting” & More…

Instant Messaging: Introduction

Instant messaging (IM) is a form of online communication that allows participants to engage in real-time, (aka, “synchronous”)  communication over the internet, an internal network, or a mobile device. IM is primarily used for text-based chat in which participants converse by typing to one another. Today’s IM systems can also support voice, video and file-sharing.

IM Services

You can create accounts using the IM services found in the list below. There are several ways to use IM accounts. Usually, you access them through client software (which you can download for free), such as Yahoo Instant Messenger. For most IM services, there are now alternative, web-based methods to access the accounts, so installing software is no longer a prerequisite to IM-ing.

To IM someone, you must login to your account on the same network that they are on, then you can send a message to their screen name. You can add people to your “buddy list” which will allow you to see when they are available online for “chatting”.

How can Organize all my I.M. streams?

You can also use the Meebo web-based IM service to tap into any/all of your IM accounts and to facilitate IM sessions with web page visitors who do not have IM capabilities.

is a web based IM that lets you log into your IM networks from any computer with a browser and internet connection. Meebo also offers other services such as a chat room client and a personal IM client for your personal/corporate web pages Meebo Documentation Wiki

Once you’ve created a Meebo account, add in your IM account names and passwords and you will be able to monitor all of them simultaneously (e.g., including your Yahoo IM, AIM, MSN, Google Talk IM accounts) via Meebo. You can also use a MeeboMe widget to allow people to IM you from your web, wiki, or blog page. Your page visitors do not need their own IM accounts to use MeeboMe!, but you must be signed in to respond to them.

There are also pieces of client software that can be downloaded that allow access to multiple IM accounts, such as Trillian and Pidgin.

Going Mobile

Mobile IM

Originally, IM was tied to your computer. If you wanted to do “online chat”, you were tied to the computer/laptop you’d installed your IM client on. Today, there are new options for accessing IM from multiple different computers and/or other online devices, like cell phones and video game systems (like the Microsoft Xbox 360).

“Texting”, SMS, MMS: Asynchronous Mobile Messaging

The most common way people message each other on their cell phones is by using SMS (SMS stands for Short Message Service). SMS (aka, “texting”) is a feature that must be supported by the cell phone user’s device and service plan in order to function. It is not “synchronous” the way IM is. Instead, a very short text message (limit = 160 characters) is sent to the cell phone using the SMS service. The cell user can view it and respond immediately, or it will stay on their phone until such time as they decide to deal with it. So while a “text” conversation can provide a quick back and forth like an IM conversation if all parties are online and participating simultaneously,  it does not require all participants to be available at the same time in order for a dialogue to take place.

IMing vs. “Texting”

So what’s the difference between IMing & SMSing (aka, “texting”)? SMS usually happens on your phone. It is cell service-based, limited to 160 characters, and has a cost associated with it (depending on your cell phone service plan). SMS messaging does not require creation of a separate account. Instead, it uses your cell phone number.

IM is a service that runs over the internet itself, has no limits on the length of messages, and usually costs nothing. IM requires an internet connection, software/a web browser, and an IM account.  IMing usually requires a computer, though smart phones and other devices are now able to take advantage of IM services.

SMS is “asynchronous” – the conversation among SMS users is not occurring simultaneously – whereas IM is “synchronous” and requires participants to be available at the same time. For more details on Mobile IM vs. SMS, see the article: SMS vs. Mobile IM

Some instant messaging services now offer integrated IM-SMS services. (Example: for Yahoo’s web-based IM & SMS IM options. Or, go directly to “Yahoo Messenger for SMS” at

How Libraries are using IM & SMS

David Lee King at the The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library has integrated Meebo into their online library catalog. A Meebo chat widget has been embeded into the unsuccessful keyword search results page, so that when patrons can’t locate a particular resource, they can contact a library staff member via Meebo instant messaging. The library telephone number is also displayed beside the widget. This is just one example of a way to offer an Ask a Librarian service, right when patrons need it!

SMS – cellphone-based text messaging – is designed for short messages, but SMS can be deployed in a variety of ways, ranging from quick reference questions to circulation system alerts (due dates, overdue messages, notices that items are on reserve, etc.).

Learning Activity:

This activity includes the creation of 2 accounts – a Yahoo IM account and a Meebo account. The MeeboMe widget will be added to your blog page.

  1. Since it’ll be ideal for everyone to get the same type of account so we can add our colleagues to our buddy lists, please sign up for a free IM account at Yahoo Messenger (
  2. You’ll be able to chat using Yahoo’s interface, and you won’t have to download any software.  As a matter of fact do not download any software – it’ll only slow up your machine.
  3. Chat with colleagues on Yahoo

Through Meebo – monitor multiple streams of IM – your Yahoo IM & a Meebo Me account :

  1. Create a Meebo account at
  2. Add your Yahoo IM account
  3. Chat on your Yahoo IM account with colleagues using Meebo
  4. Embed a “Meebo Me”  widget into your blog, so ANYONE can IM you from your blog page, without needing to login to an IM account as long as YOU are logged into Meebo
  5. Monitor your Meebo  – “chat” with people who land on your blog page

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The End

Posted by kabery on November 24, 2009

T H E letter E n letter D

I hope everyone had fun participating in Connecticut’s 23 Things program. For questions about the program, contact

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