Thursday, January 15, 2009

If it's not one thing

Technology is great, technology allows us to reach users/patrons/students both in-house and over distances with regularity, technology facilitates classrooms around the globe, and most importantly technology is not infallible. I do not mean simple, or even complex, user error which happens. I do mean the times when severs are down, systems hiccup, and software updates to make things better make them, well, temporarily worse. That doesn't mean my love affair with technology is over; it does mean the relationship is complicated at times.

The library and resource center use Meebo chat/IM services on the library web site, IRC web site, and within many of our LibGuides (See Children's Literature Resources). All are strategically placed to allow patrons the opportunity to choose this mode of communication if they desire. This morning Meebo mysteriously went off-line for several hours. There are so many other ways to get help from a librarian that waiting for the problems to be resolved was only a minor inconvenience. Interestingly enough, the Meebo Blog post updating users was dated Tuesday and our service had been working all week.

We have been using LibGuides at AU since late summer. I am a BIG fan of the content management system and, along with other librarians on staff, have worked to create several education guides for a wide variety of topics. In fact, three AU librarians, me included, will be presenting a poster session at ACRL in Seattle, Washington and a session at the 2009 Learning, Libraries, and Technology Conference in Columbus in March. Since LibGuides has instituted updates the end of last year, there have been a few technology glitches to overcome. We have had issues with guides not displaying in IE (fixed for users, but still a problem with administrators), tags and the tag cloud functioning improperly, and our library header style sheet continues to not function within the LibGuide environment. Customer service is great at LibGuides and I am confident these problems will be resolved. But they are part and parcel with using web 2.0 technology.

This week was fraught with course management system "glitches." I am teaching two educational technology courses using Angel, both had serious glitches to start the week. Last week I set target dates to start (ie open to students) on Friday morning. Monday morning a quiz for one class and several discussion boards for another mysteriously set themselves back to the fall semester dates rendering them unavailable to students. Luckily, eagle-eyed students brought them to my attention and it was something that could be easily fixed. While I feel it is imperative when working with an online course the technology work the first time, part of using the technology is being able to trouble-shoot when things go wrong; because they will.

Before lunch I began editing a Content Cafe screen capture video created to highlight it's capabilities to students. I need to insert a few finishing touches before producing it for use. Ultimately, it will be posted on one the Book Reviews section of my Children's Literature LibGuide. I have registered for a Springshare webinar this afternoon and am looking forward to the session. As with any complicated relationship, there is always more to learn.

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