Instructional Design Resources

Librarians sharing cool stuff

Issuu – a great embeddable PDF viewer February 6, 2008

Filed under: tutorials,usability — ellenh @ 3:23 pm

Is your library like mine? Wedded to PDF subject guides? Or do you have other PDF tip or info sheets for students linked from your library website?

I just checked out Issuu which lets you upload your PDFs and provides a really great, user-friendly way to read them. You can even embed them into webpages, like this:

I think I’m going to have to work these into tutorials, course pages and our whole instructional webpages redesign. These are too cool!

Upon further reflection: For some reason WordPress is stripping the flash out of the code I copy and paste. It worked on other webpages I tried it on. However – one thing I don’t like about the embedding so much is that the hyperlinks in the PDF get stripped out, and in our subject guides we link to the catalog and to databases very often. That won’t work so much. I still like the idea a lot, though!


LOC + Flickr = awesome January 16, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — ellenh @ 8:08 pm

Wow. The Library of Congress and Flickr have partnered together to harness the power of Flickr users to describe and catalogue the LOC’s huge photographic archives. You can check them out here:

Most of these images are without copyright too – so go ahead, tag, describe, remix and reuse!


Two weeks with Meebo in our catalog December 17, 2007

Filed under: IM Reference — ellenh @ 4:36 pm

Two weeks ago, I read David Lee King’s post about how they put a meebome widget in their library catalog’s “no results found” page and thought “Hey, that’s a great idea, why don’t we do that?”

Fortunately, I work with a really responsive group of colleagues at the library here at Baylor, who are up for trying new things, so when that Monday morning after reading the blog post, I shot off a quick email about possibly trying this, a few hours later we had it up and running in our catalog.

We use Innopac from III, and the way it worked for us was to put the widget on the Advanced Keyword Search page, since that’s the page that patrons get redirected to when they get no results. At the bottom of this page there was, and still is, a list of ways to search – basically a list of library jargon – and I highly doubt patron getting no results would scroll down there and think “Adjacency and proximity! Why didn’t I think of that?” Having the meebo widget right there for out-of-luck searchers will be extremely helpful.

However, we needed to tweak the placement of our widget first. Originally, we placed the widget at the top of the page, before the advanced search form. And immediately (during the afternoon after we’d put the widget on the page) we realized that wasn’t going to work. People started putting in their failed search terms into the chat form. We got one phrase, one title and one ISBN, as instant messages at the information desk. Just that info, no “hey, I can’t find this, can you help me.” It was kind of hard to believe, but people were mixing up the search form with the chat widget. And these decontextualized IMs were somewhat confusing for some of the reference staff.

So, the next day, we tweaked the placement of the widget. We put it to the side of the search form rather than right at the top of the page. We also changed the language a little – now it says “Can’t find what you are looking for? Ask here for help” instead of “Ask here for help with BearCat.”

What have the results been? Well, aside from those first three random search term IMs, it’s hard to tell whether the IMs are coming from the catalog or not. Since we use Pidgin to aggregate our IM clients, we can only tell if IMs come from Meebo as opposed to AIM, not from the individual widgets we’ve placed around the library website.

However, it’s possible to tell from the context of a few IMs that they came from the catalog – for instance, the one that wanted to know how to search for an individual music score, the one looking for books on a particular subject “but I get no entries found,” the one who wanted to find books on the history of gerontology and couldn’t find any (I know that one for sure, since I talked personally with the student who asked later that day), and possibly the one that wanted to know how to export to Refworks from the catalog.

(Of course, due to Jenny’s post mentioning Baylor, we also had lots of queries from people looking to implement this in their own libraries. Shout outs to the librarians from Yale, Spain, Nashua Public Library in NH, Louisa from Youngstown (I’m working on an email to you), and a few others who didn’t leave their names…)

We implemented this right as finals were starting, so it coincided with the traditional decrease of reference questions, but I have a feeling we’re going to get a lot more, since we had so many right when it first started.

What I would love to see in the future:

  1. a way to put Meebo at other dead-end points in the catalog (in Innopac, if you get no results for a title search, it sticks you smack in the middle of a bunch of other titles, which is great if you just happened to misspell your title, but not so great otherwise)
  2. a way for meebome to automatically pop open a new window when you first send a message so you can navigate away from your original page and not lose your chat. (It looks like some folks on the meebo forums have been working on some hacks, but it would be a great feature for meebo to implement. Unfortunately, they’re not always so responsive on their product fora.
  3. some more training for our reference staff (we’ve only been providing IM reference for a semester now, it’s still pretty new) in dealing with some of the random IMs we could very possibly get in the future – fortunately, I’m in charge of IM reference training, so this could happen!

CSS Drop-Down Menus November 28, 2007

Filed under: css — ellenh @ 10:27 am

Find the how-to here! No javascript at all, people! I don’t have time to play with it right now, but if any of you do, let me know how it works out.

Update: reading through the comments, I’ve found this example too, though it’s got a teensy bit of javascript in it.


Promoting IM Reference

Filed under: IM Reference,marketing — ellenh @ 9:42 am

Yesterday, the reference librarians at Baylor went to the university’s weekly “Dr. Pepper Hour” and set up a table to promote some of our recently launched services, including our 1-semester-old IM Reference service “IM your BaylorLibrarian”.

Little did we know when we booked the table that this particular Dr. Pepper Hour was open to numerous campus rental property companies to promote their apartment building complexes, lofts, condos and duplexes.

We felt a little strange at first, our little table of candy and IM stickers getting lost among the flashy tables giving away t-shirts and raffling off Wiis, iPods and even an iPhone (I put my name in for that one…) but we eventually came up with a good pitch:

Hey, did you know that whatever apartment you choose to live in, you don’t have to walk all the way across campus to get help from the library! You can IM us from your apartment! Just add “BaylorLibrarian” to your buddy list.

We got a lot of great responses from students who thought it was the coolest idea ever. We especially liked the student who stuck the sticker on the back of his cell phone, showed us and said, “This is how important you guys are to me.”


IL2007 Closing Keynote: From Physical to Virtual and Back Again – Blurring the Boundaries. October 31, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennym @ 5:43 pm

Liz Lawley

Came dressed as one of her World of WarCraft characters (really)

Became interested in WoW in 2005 and was asked to join a guild of virtual worlds researchers (made up of people who all know each other in real life and have a significant research interest in gaming and virtual worlds – a close knit professional community)

  • Professional networking here was real – Liz was invited to become an author on this community’s blog (Terra Nova) soon after

Guild Drama

  • Where do you draw the lines professionally and personally when it’s not just your friends, but also people who are reading your grant proposals or students who are taking your classes

Games, Learning and Society Conference (Madison, WI)

  • People sharing both physical and virtual spaces

Colleagues in real life are playmates in virtual life

Is WoW the “new golf”?

  • Many accomplished professionals are spending upwards of 20 hours a week on this game

Why does WoW work?

  • nearly a million concurrent primetime US users — they’re obviously doing something right

Amy Jo Kim on Game Mechanics

  • “putting the fun in functional”
  • 5 game mechanics:
    1. collecting
      • we want to have things AND be able to see/show people these things
    2. points
    3. feedback
      • how do we know we’re doing the right thing?
      • this is a huge part of what makes an experience work – feedback needs to be quick and transparent so that we feel motivated to stick around
    4. exchanges
    5. customization

Lawley isn’t interested as much in how we can make games like the real world (like Second Life), but in how we can make the real world more like games – how can we be as engaged and delighted by real world tasks as gamers are about games?**

WoW demo: creating a new character

SecondLife demo: creating a new character

  • Lawley’s not a big fan b/c there’s nothing she can do here that she can’t do anywhere else — it’s a solution in search of a problem
  • Reminds me of what Paul Jones said a few weeks ago: you’ll get nothing out of Second Life if you’re not a builder

Game Mechanics and Goals: The first Five Minutes

  • Understanding
    • Back story, context, information from characters
  • Accomplishment
    • most things in life are never done (laundry, dishes, etc), but in the game, you can check things off; they’re finite
  • Progression
  • Acquisitions
  • Communication

Nick Yee’s MMO Player Stages (managers also need to think about this — how can we take people through burnout and into recovery, where they can feel willing to accept the grind b/c there’s enough that’s interesting and challenging)

  • Entry
    • newcomer euphoria
    • playing with someone
  • Practice
    • ramping up/ progression
    • solo to group
  • Mastery
    • leadership
    • competition
    • high-end content
  • Burnout
    • grind burnout
    • nothing left to do
  • Recovery

Pokemon – why can’t learning be as much fun as Pokemon for children?

  • Why power through the grind?
    • b/c there are rewards
    • along the way, you also build expertise

Real world games

  • summer reading
  • super sleuth

Implicit Online Games

  • ebay feedback
  • MySpace/Friendster
  • page rank
  • Google Smackdown

Games that Blur Boundaries

  • PMOG (passively multiplayer online game)
  • Chore Wars (get points for doing chores)
  • Seriosity’s Attent

Social Genius

How can we deal with the issue of burnout? There’s almost nothing that can’t be turned into a game, but it requires thought. How can we make people keep coming back to the catalog, tutorials, the library, etc? Can we design game-like activities that keep our users interested and engaged?

A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster

**I like the way she puts this; it’s one of the main reasons that I’m so fascinated by gaming and immersive technologies as tools for learning. As Chad Boeninger said yesterday, games are undeniably hard. But they’re still fun and people will totally abandon their lives for a few minutes (or hours, or days…) to learn how to master them. Is there a way we can make research more like this? Now, I’m not totally naive. I’m aware that the motivators for starting a research project for most of our users are much different than the motivators for starting a game (boils down to: my professor wants me to vs. i want to). But I’m not ready to just give up and say, “oh well, research will never be as fun as gaming, so why try?” Still, it’s difficult to know exactly how to go about bridging — or attempting to bridge — this gap.


How ironic

Filed under: IL2007 — ellenh @ 5:04 pm

I’m sitting in the closing keynote session for IL2007, by Liz Lawley on “Gaming, Learning, & the Information World” and at the same time, reading the Annoyed Librarian’s rant on Gaming.