Thursday, December 8, 2011

E Books Through OverDrive Make Their Debut at My High School

Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.

The issue of how, what, why, where, when & who of the eBook saga is a daunting one for many school librarians, one which I read, studied and pondered in preparation.  I followed the HarperCollins drama like my Nana use to do with her "stories", reading the blogs and articles as they posted that sent out a rallying cry  for boycotts and devising alternative means for bringing eBooks to their patrons.  I read about other school librarians like Buffy Hamilton, Wendy Stephens and Gwynyth Jones as they ventured into this new and uncertain territory.  I also absorbed the sage advice of Doug Johnson who I think in the end provided sound guidelines that helped me make my eBook lending decisions. ( In the end I had to put aside worries about willy-nilly publishers, digital rights, to purchase devices or BYOD, take the plunge and go with the choices that best fit the needs of my students, my school, and the community. 

I am fortunate to work in a school district that supports it's library programs and funds them well even in this time of proration at the state department level.  My school district understands that the funds allocated by the state for school libraries was and always has been meant to serve as a supplement to the funds allocated to school libraries by their local school boards. Unfortunately, many school libraries in Alabama have received ZERO funding for the last four years.

According to the Speak Up Survey last year over 70% of parents would be willing to purchase an Internet capable device for their child to use for educational purposes and our own District Technology Survey revealed that over 95% of our students already have access to Internet capable devices.  Teachers and students both had been bringing their smart phones, tablets, and other devices to school...they are not banned here.  Additionally, our public library took the eBook plunge this past summer creating the perfect segue for school libraries to follow suit. The time had come...the time was now.

In the end we decided to use OverDrive as our eBook provider for several reasons:
  1. To support our public library and use a format that the community was already familiar
  2. Based on surveys and observations a "Bring Your Own Device" option made sense, was cost effective and efficient
  3. OverDrive is an established leader in the eBook realm and as such better able to negotiate with publishers and ereader manufacturers as uncharted territory is mapped out and solidified (ie: HarperCollins, Penguin, Kindle, etc)
  4. Our students, teachers & community members expect access to the newest best sellers and OverDrive is best equipped to meet the needs of our patrons
Our OverDrive eBook program was introduced to students and staff this week along with the arrival of all of our brand new pretty print books as well.  For my teachers, I held a Web 2.0 Coffee chat session (we hold these once a month to intoduce new technologies in a casual, relaxed atmosphere) to show off our new books and train them how to use the OverDrive system for audio and ebooks. 

Students had been salivating over the new books as we processed them for circulation.  I let students rummage through the new books as we plodded through the processing task and let them put "Reserved For" stickers on the books for which they wanted first dibs. The day after the Web 2.0 Coffee Chat session for teachers all reserved books were delivered to students during their 1st Block classes.  This provided me the opportunity to quickly let classrooms full of students know about the arrival of new books and the OverDrive eBook program. 

Since then I have spent a good chunk of my day helping students and teachers with OverDrive and their personal devices.  My student library aides have also been spreading the word and assisting others with the download process.  I can say without reservation that the implementation of the OverDrive eBook Program has been an overwhelming success!


Library Media Handbook-page 29
Alabama. State aid for education has had a cumulative 18.5 percent cut in mid-year over the past two years. Due to the cuts, for the first time in recent history, the state has not absorbed 100 percent of the cost of increases to employee benefits. A portion of the cost of providing employee medical insurance was assumed by employees through increased premiums, co-pays and reduced benefits. Furthermore, there was no funding at all for instructional supplies, including textbooks. (CSALS 2010)
Other cuts included: 
  • Aid for basic school system operations
  • Student transportation
  • Instructional support such as teacher supplies
  • Teacher professional development
  • School library funding

(2) Library enhancement – an amount based on the number of earned teacher units, to be spent for books, cd-rom’s, computer software, computer equipment, audio-visual materials, newspapers, periodicals, recordings, video tapes, cataloging, and book repair in school libraries/media centers (currently $135 per teacher unit).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

ASLA Twitter Chat December 6, 2011 Wrap Up

Monday, December 5, 2011

Join the Party at Pinterest!

"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas." -George Bernard Shaw

One of my newest tech discoveries that now sucks up almost as much time as Twitter is Pinterest.  If you haven't discovered Pinterest you are missing out.  Even the renowned Technology Guru and featured speaker at Educational Technology Conferences, Leslie Fisher, has been sucked in by the allure of Pinterest.

So….What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard. It lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests. 

My Pinterest pinboards consist of not only recipes and arts & crafts, but also great educational blogs & websites and all things library related.  

If you are wondering whether Pinterest is a technology that can be used in an educational setting check out these great articles:

Four Ways to Use Pinterest in Education

The Teacher's Lane
Saturday Pinfest

Pinterest: A Social Catalog

Free Technology for Teachers
Thinking about Pinterest

Thanks, Michelle, for starting this Pinterest Party! 

Sam I Am

~ Michael Abrash

Sometimes, as a school librarian and the provider of PD for new technologies, I feel like Sam I Am.  If you recall, Sam I Am is the cute little guy with the plate of green eggs and ham who tirelessly encourages his friend to try them-just try them.

Strangely, the ASLA Twitter Chat topic vote for this week (Dec. 6, 2011 7CT/8ET #aslachat) was:

How Do You Get Tech-Reluctant Teachers and Administrators
To Use Technology Effectively?

It is also strange that the trending topic on Twitter this weekend was #pencilchat which pointed out the absurdity of technophobia:

Educational technology is nothing more than a set of learning tools…just like the pencil. If the excuse is silly for the pencil, it is pretty silly for the laptop, the iPad, or other digital device. 

The greatest thing about #pencilchat is that you can replace the word pencil with the word technology in nearly every #pencilchat tweet, and you would find the result to be comments many in the education technology world have heard from technology nay-sayers about the use of laptops, mobile phones, and other electronic devices in schools.

One excuse I often hear when introducing a new technology is how time consuming it is to learn and/or use. 

I'm just not tech-y enough to understand those pencils. I have enough on my plate already. #pencilchat
@surreallyno suggest that "Time consuming is a mindset. I would say time investing." 
Following this point of view tech teachers should strive to emphasis how using the new tech tool can actually save the teacher time. 

Another great concern among the technophobic is the worry over breaking something or that the students will "doing something wrong" with or while using the technology.

I don't trust kids with pencils. They end up doing sketchy things when I'm not looking. #pencilchat
#pencilchat I'm not using pencils until we have a team of experts to keep them sharp, and a policy about kids who break their pencils.

Not just FERPA... But COPA helps us understand that all educators are reckless for letting kids 12 and under use pencils.
If your kids have access to pencils in the classroom, what's your strategy to keep them from spending too much time doodling? #pencilchat
The legal issues are daunting: what if a student writes inappropriate content with his pencil? #pencilchat

Wondering if schools are responsible for students' out-of-school pencil behavior? Any good AUPs out there? #pencilchat

This school year has been especially challenging as we rolled out a major technology program, Moodle.  Moodle is a Learning Mangament System very similar to the systems used by major colleges and universities.  It gives teachers and students the ability to access all class resources, turn in assignments, grade completed assignments, send and respond to comments, etc. all online.

Here are some tips I have learned this year:

  1. eliminate tech jargon and simplifying steps
  2. begin with a narrow, focused presentations working within content/subject area peer groups
  3. train in shorter, more frequent sessions that include plenty of time for guided practice with content/subject area peer groups
  4. differentiating training into stages: beginning, intermediate, and advanced lessens feelings of intimidation, lack of self-confidence, and fear of making mistakes.
  5. model and demonstrate how the technology can be used effectively within the content/subject  area peer groups
  6. end by providing a well-developed lesson or activity that can be used  immediately upon returning to the classroom and set up a time to co-teach using the new technology
  7. be sure to follow up to encourage and congratulate staff members at even the smallest successful task
  8. pair staff members with a knowledgeable co worker who will continuously check on reluctant staff to assess if more training is needed and if staff is comfortable with technology
  9. be available for teachers to ask new questions that come up as they work with the new technology
  10. introduce new technologies in a fun, relaxed, "unstructured", social environment:

WHATEVER YOU DO---DO NOT introduce new technologies in the 1-4 hour session format typical in so many PD training sessions provided for staff members to learn new software/ hardware. This method is not adequate for staff to become comfortable with a new technology and only creates a negative atmosphere towards the new technology (and the presenter).

For more information about providing successful PD Training to the Technophobic I would watch:

No More Excuses! It’s Time To Overcome Your Technophobia

and PD With A Twist! from the TL Virtual Cafe

Before long you too will have your technophobes eating green eggs and ham and liking it!

Works Cited
Fryer, Wesley. "TechLearning: Working with Reluctant Teachers." Classroom Tech Learning, Education, PC, Mac, IPad, Bloomâ  s Taxonomy â 1 Apr. 2004. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <>.
Hogan, Patrick. "#PencilChat Puts Technology Arguments in Perspective | TheGazette." Eastern Iowa Breaking News and Headlines | - Cedar Rapids, Iowa City. 4 Dec. 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <>.
Hopkins, Gary. "Education World: Training Teachers Who Are Terrorized by Technology!" Education World: The Educator's Best Friend. 01 Nov. 1999. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <>.
Losik, Andy. "The Contemporary Educator - #PencilChat: The Absurdity and Genius of Twitter." The Contemporary Educator - an Edublog on Teaching Digitally by Andy Losik. 2 Dec. 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <>.
Plybon, Elaine. "Pencilchat Spreads through Education Community on Twitter - Dallas Educational Technology |" Welcome to | 2 Dec. 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <>.
Staff, Edutopia. "Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many | Edutopia." K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies That Work | Edutopia. 17 Mar. 2008. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <>.
Stansbury, Meris. "10 Ways to Change the Minds of Tech-reluctant Staff | ESchool News." ESchool News |. 18 Nov. 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <>.
Starr, Linda. "Education World: Encouraging Teacher Technology Use." Education World: The Educator's Best Friend. 3 Mar. 2009. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <>.