Thursday, May 05, 2011

Revisiting ACRL: To the Cloud!

I planned to 'live' blog during ACRL in Philadelphia, using Facebook and Twitter updates to keep track of sessions attended. I planned to upload session photos from my camera and iphone and publish wonderfully compelling blog narratives using the digital images and QR Codes saved to my RedLaser app. Both plans were stunningly simple, supported by technology, and made with the best of intentions.  Reality took a bite out of those plans when the end of the semester took center stage upon my return; I was oddly stunned to see as of today it has been five weeks since our Cyber Zed Shed presentation at ACRL 2011.

As mentioned here previously, To the Cloud: Exploring Tools to Enhance Teaching and Learning, focused on cloud applications we have successfully used within LibGuides and learning management systems. We used a LibGuide to present our session.  However, it was important the accompanying materials were presented so attendees understood they could be used in a LibGuide and LMS, as well as embedded in blogs, web sites, or information portals such as Netvibes.  We created 'mirror' sites to accompany our presentation, developing the presention on a Stark State College LibGuide and then duplicating it on a free Netvibes page.

Though initially concerned with presenting such an early session it was soon obvious CZS sessions continue to be popular, the room was full. We had a nice confidence boost before our presentation started when an attendee came up to our table, pointed to her highlighted program, and whispered "did we miss this session? It's why I came so early." It was exciting to see the session in question was ours and I was happy to reply, "No, we're next." She graciously wished us luck - and stopped us after the presentation with an additional question and business card request. Our time moved swiftly and soon there were questions to answer and it was time to move on to the next presenter. Several times that day we were stopped by attendees with comments and questions about the session, it was exciting to talk to so many interested (and interesting) people.

After the conference concluded, I read various online discussions (blogs, articles, etc.) regarding the location of Cyber Zed Shed sessions in Philadelphia - it was a large traditional room as opposed to the open area at previous conferences - and the possibility that it was a presentation format no longer in demand.  I will admit to missing the open area Cyber Zed Shed enjoyed in Seattle, it was a more informal location and provided opportunity for attendees to 'drop by' for a presentation or two. In Philadelphia the room doors remained open, there were tables with seating, electrical outlets for attendees needing to 're-charge,' and an assortment of pub-style tables were available for those passing through the sessions. If the number of attendees in sessions is any indication, the CZS has not lost any of its appeal.  These sessions remain a great resource for quick technology ideas. That said, I would recommend an effort be made to return it to a more informal venue for the next conference.

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