Welcome to iHCPL. This site was created as an adjunct to Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies and reward them for doing 23 Things. In addition to our staff, we would like to encourage our customers to explore these same technologies. The program is adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Week 10: #23 Is this really the end? Or just the beginning...

Please click here if you are unable to view the video.

Wow! Congratulations!! You've reached the 23rd thing. Be sure to give yourself a pat on the back for completing the program. Just one last discovery post.

For your last and final exercise for this program please reflect on your learning journey and post a few thoughts. Here are some questions to prompt you if you're drawing a blank.

  • What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?

  • How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

  • Were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

  • What ideas do you have for using these technologies at Harris County Public Library?

  • What else do you want to learn about? What other web 2.0 applications are you interested in?
We are most interested in hearing from customers who participated in this learning experience. If you would post a comment to this post with your thoughts on the program, we would find it most helpful. Thank you.

iStar would like to thank everyone who helped put together the iHCPL program and everyone who participated. Stay tuned...there's more to come!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Week 9: #22 Downloadable Media

Now it's time to take a look around OverDrive and downloadable content.

Downloadable eAudio, music, e-books and video are provided by a company called OverDrive and made available after being purchased by the library. There is no need to set up a separate login and password for this service. You simply use your library card at the HCPL digital media site. You will have to perform a one time download of software for the type of item you are interested in. eAudio, music and video use the OverDrive Media Console. Adobe Reader and Mobipocket Reader are the two different types of e-book software.

For this discovery exercise, you merely need to familiarize yourself a bit with the structure of HCPL's digital media site and get an idea of the types of titles you can find here. Take a look around and locate a few titles of interest to mention in your blog post.

Some sites offer audiobook downloading for free, like LibriVox. Other sites, like Wowio, offer free e-books. Take a look at these sites and compare them to what is offered by the library.

Discovery Resources:

Digital Media Guided Tour - Tutorial that offers step-by-step instructions for checking out and downloading digital media.

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Visit HCPL's digital site and explore the different types of materials available.
  2. Create a blog post about your findings. Did you locate a title that you might want to check out? Were there any differences between the library site and the free sites?

Try downloading a title from the library's collection. You don't have to have a portable player, you can also listen/read/watch on a computer. (optional)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Week 9: #21 Podcasts, Smodcasts!

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.

In 2005, "podcast" was named the "word of the year" by New Oxford American Dictionary and with the growth of podcasting it's easy to see why.

Podcasts take many forms, from short 1-10 minute commentaries to much longer in person interviews or panel group discussions. There's a podcast out there for just about every interest area and the best part about this technology is that you don't have to have an iPod or MP3 player to access them. Since podcasts use the MP3 file format, a popular compressed format for audio files, you really just need a PC (or portable device) with headphones or a speaker.

iTunes, the free downloadable application created by Apple, is the directory finding service most associated with podcasts, but if you don't have iTunes installed there are still plenty of options.

For this discovery exercise participants are asked to take a look at some popular podcast directory tools. Do some exploring on your own and locate a podcast that is of interest to you. Once found, you can easily pull the RSS feed into your Bloglines account as well, so that when new casts become available you'll be automatically notified of their existence.

Discovery Resources:

  • Wikipedia explains the history of the podcast.
  • There are many, many podcast directories and finding tools out there. Here are just three of the more popular ones that, unlike iTunes, don't require a software download: Podcast.net, Podcastalley.com, and Yahoo podcasts.

What? You want to learn how to be a podcaster too? (Optional resources for those who want to learn to create podcasts)

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Take a look at one or two of the podcast directories listed and see if you can 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. Create a blog post about your discovery process. Did you find anything useful here?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Week 9: #20 Discover YouTube and other video sharing sites

If you aren't able to view the embedded video, click here.

Within the past couple of years online video hosting sites have exploded, allowing users to easily upload and share videos on the web. Among all the players in this area, YouTube is currently top dog, allowing users not only to upload their own video content easily, but also embed clips into their own sites easily. With this year's presidential debates, YouTube has even managed to affect the political process.

Do some searching around YouTube yourself and see what the site has to offer. You'll find everything from piano playing cats and dancing comedians to a librarian career video from 1946 and many, many music videos. Of course, like any free site you'll also find a lot of stuff not worth watching too. But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't explore and see for yourself what the site has to offer.

When creating a video to post on YouTube, music and images do need to have copyright clearance or be licensed under creative commons. YouTube has a contract with Warner Music that allows users to play Warner (including Atlantic, Asylum, Elektra and Rhino) songs in their videos.

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Explore YouTube and find a video worth noting as an entry in your blog.

  2. Create a blog post about your experience. What did you like or dislike about the site and why did you choose the video that you did? Can you see any features or components of the site that might be interesting if they were applied to library websites?

Try placing the video inside your blog using the copy and past code for the "Embeddable Player." Note: you'll need to use Blogger's Edit HTML tab when pasting this code. (optional)

Other popular video hosting sites:

NOTE: Videos, like music downloads, are bandwidth hogs. It is recommended that you complete this exercise during light internet usage times.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Week 8: #19 Web-based Apps: They're not just for desktops

The availability and use of online productivity web-based applications (think word processing & spreadsheets) has exploded over the past two years and with good reason! These powerful applications provide users with the ability to create and share documents over the internet without the need of installed desktop applications. Some experts speculate that this emerging trend may mean the death of Microsoft Office and other software-based productivity tools, while others think web-based applications have their place, but not in the office. But, no matter which side of the office suite platform you side with, on this both sides seem to agree; web-based apps have their place.

One large benefit to web-based applications is that they eliminate the need to worry about different software versions or file types as you e-mail documents or move from PC to PC. Another bonus is that they easily accommodate collaboration by allowing multiple users to edit the same file (with versioning) and provide users the ability to easily save and convert documents as multiple file types (including HTML and pdf). And, you can even use many of these tools, such as Zoho Writer and Google Docs to author and publish posts to your blog. It's this type of integration with other web 2.0 tools that also makes web-based apps so appealing.

For this discovery exercise, participants are asked to take a look at a web-based word processing tool called Zoho Writer, create a simple document and then document your discoveries in your blog. If you're up to the challenge, you might even export your document as an HTML file or publish it through Zoho to your blog.

With Zoho and other web-based applications, the possibilities are endless.

Discovery Resources:

A short list of web-based productivity applications put together by Helene Blowers in Zoho Writer and exported as HTML.

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Create a free account for yourself in Zoho Writer.
  2. Explore the site and create a few test documents.
  3. Try out Zoho Writer's features and create a blog post about your discoveries.

If you're up for the challenge, try using Zoho's "publish" options to post to your blog. (optional)

BTW: Here's a document put together by Helene Blowers listing beneficial features of Zoho.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Week 8: #18 Social Networking: Making friends in the comfort of your own home

If you aren't able to view the embedded video, click here.

Social networking sites, such as MySpace, Facebook, and Ning, are changing the human fabric of the Internet. With these services, anyone with access to the Internet can create their own pages and profiles, including personal information, photos and videos. Often the services that host the social networking sites provide several different ways for people to communicate with one another, including blogging and instant messaging features.

People can use these social networking sites to connect with someone halfway around the world or with someone in their own city who shares common interests. Many of the social networking sites have their own theme or personality that initially attracts visitors to join the community. MySpace is a popular social hub, Facebook was created for college students and still has that feel, Yahoo users can log in to Yahoo!360, LinkedIn is aimed at professionals and Xanga is a haven for bloggers. These are just a few of the general social networking sites out there.

Other online communities have grown out of special interest groups. Do you have a flair for decorating? Join the "Rate My Space" group on the HGTV site. Have a thing for opera? Here's the site for you. Maybe you're more interested in NASCAR? Try Infield Parking. Devoted pet owners can even create profiles for their dogs and cats at their own friend making sites. No matter what your interests are, there's probably a social networking site out there for you and others like you.

Remember the lessons learned in Week Four when using social networking sites.

Social Networking Sites listed above:

MySpace - http://www.myspace.com/

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/

Ning - http://www.ning.com/

Yahoo!360 - http://360.yahoo.com/

LinkedIn - http://www.linkedin.com/

Xanga - http://www.xanga.com/

Rate My Space - http://ratemyspace.hgtv.com

MyOpera - http://my.opera.com

Infield Parking - www.infieldparking.com

Dogster, Catster - www.dogster.com , www.catster.com

Discovery Resources

  • Watch this video -- Social Networking in Plain English
  • Take the Facebook tour
  • Newsweek article on the growth of Facebook
  • MySpace safety tips

Discovery Exercise

  1. Take a look around several of the social networking sites and make note of your likes and dislikes.
  2. Post your thoughts about social networking in a blog post. Were there any particular sites that appealed to you?

Create an account for yourself with the social networking site of your choice. (optional)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Week 7: #17 Blog About Technology

For this thing, simply blog about anything technology related. Yes, it can be anything that relates to technology! You just need to share a few thoughts.