Julie's Blog for Instructional Applications of the Internet

I’ve been struggling this week to figure out and understand the difference between a Content Management System like Moodle and an instructional website.  I’ve visited the Moodle website and spent some time on their About page to gain insight into what it is all about.  I understand that teachers can upload course content, such as syllabi, quizzes, and links to educational websites, and they can organize it based on topic or date.  However, can’t the same be done on an instructional website?  I did an online search for Instructional Websites and did not really find anything that supports what we’ve defined in class as an instructional website.  (I did come across this design guide on how to create one that would have been helpful a couple weeks ago! 🙂 )I guess maybe it’s because we are posting some of the same content in both places that I’m not understanding the difference, but if someone can explain it to me, I would greatly appreciate it!


Most days, I love technology.  Whenever it is running smoothly, that is.  However, when things go bad, they go very bad!  Take last night, for instance.  Due to having projects due in two classes at the same time, me not budgeting my time all that well early in the week, and other things that popped up along the way, I found myself trying to submit two different assignments in the eleventh hour.  Literally.  One of those assignments was my podcast for this class.

The assignment was to create an instructional podcast that could be used as the first in a series.  We then needed to put the podcast on the web somewhere and send our professor the link.  I actually had finished the recording and editing mid-week last week, but wasn’t sure how to go about putting it on the web.  I figured I could always post it here, to my blog, if our professor did not have a specific place he wanted it.  I knew there was a way to do it, and it seemed easy enough.  Well, of course, I was forgetting the rule that states, “When in a time crunch and coming up on a deadline, technology will choose then to fail.”  I still can’t explain why, but I was unable to upload my podcast to the blog.  (I’m sure it probably has to do with the fact that I talk too much!  I think it may have been a size issue, although I never received any indication that was it.)


So I decided to try PodBean.  It is a free site that will host podcasts.  A couple people in my class had said it was fairly easy to use, so I figured that was a good place to go.  This time, it wasn’t so much a problem with technology as with my talkativeness.  My podcast was too big!  It exceeded the file size limit of PodBean.  Oh great.  Now what?  It’s now 11:15!


A quick Google search (what did we ever do before Google?!) helped me locate PodOmatic, another podcast hosting site.  I was able to create my free account and upload my podcast.  The problem this time?  It was showing it was going to take 28 minutes to upload, and I had to submit the link to my professor in 29 minutes!  While that was painstakingly slowly uploading, I did come up with a Plan B.  I figured, worst case, I could put my


 podcast in a Dropbox folder and submit the link to that.  I’m not sure it was quite what he had in mind, but I was quickly running out of options!

(Dropbox is a free file sharing cloud storage program that I don’t know what I would do without.  Click here to learn more about it.)

Thankfully, the podcast finished uploading with a problem.  I thought I was in the clear!  I should have known better.  When the upload finished, a dialogue box informed me that it could take up to 38 minutes for my podcast to be “published” and available.  AUGH!!!  By this time, I was literally down to seconds.  So I submitted the Dropbox link with a note saying I hoped this was ok, but I had had issues.  Timestamp on my submission: 11:59 P.M.  Assignment due date: 11:59 P.M.  Whew!  I had made it!  I am not a person who likes to cut it that close, so to say I was stressing would be stating the obvious.  I hope I never have to submit an assignment that close to the deadline again!

The rest of the story:  Just a couple seconds after submitting my assignment, I heard my e-mail chime.  I had an e-mail from PodOmatic saying that my podcast was published and here is the link.  Of course!  It couldn’t have been a minute earlier!  Oh well.  If you are interested in hearing my podcast, you can find it here.  I’m sure I’ll get a good laugh out of this someday.  Today is just not that day.  🙂



Posted on: July 3, 2013

2.0 Booktalks

I was going through my work e-mail tonight, cleaning out some things, when I came across this article from Junior Library Guild.  Since I had just posted earlier this week about creating a booktalk podcast, I simply had to share it, as it talks about creating booktalks using Web 2.0 tools.  Many of the tools listed, such as podcasts, blogs, and wikis are programs we have talked about in class.  However, there are a few the author lists that are new to me that sounds like they are worth checking out!

It struck me as I was reading the article at how much differently I am viewing my school’s library after only 3.5 short weeks.  By introducing me to the possibilities of Web 2.0 technology, I am now completely rethinking my library’s online presence!  Just this week I created a Twitter account for the library and have started “playing around” with what tween authors and such the library will be following and retweeting.  Thanks to us having to make a podcast for class, I have decided to start a podcast series of booktalks that students can record and submit, similar to the ones I posted about in my earlier post.  Thanks to another ITEC course I am enrolled in right now, I have finally figured out the value of social bookmarking and how that can be used in a library setting.  The problem I am having now is that I would MUCH rather be spending my time reinventing my library website to include all these tools instead of working on my classwork!  Hopefully with only one class during the next summer session, I’ll be able to take some time to get that site up and running before the start of school in August!

Today my schoolwork has been focused upon the uses of podcasts in schools.  We talked briefly about them in one of my other master’s classes, so I already had some ideas of how a podcast could be used to reteach, or even instruct, specific skills.  That doesn’t help me that much, however, being a school librarian who does not really do any formal teaching.  So I, of course, start thinking about how podcasts can be used in the library.  

When it comes to podcasts in the library, one thing comes to my mind immediately, and that is using them for booktalks.  For those of you who may not know, booktalks are basically little commercials for books.  A librarian, teacher, or student, talks about a book they have read.  They may read short passages from the book, talk about the plot line, or what they liked or didn’t like about the story.  The purpose of a booktalk is to give others a brief idea of what the book is like, and if the booktalker has liked it, to encourage others to read it as well.  I have thought about using podcasts to booktalk a book after I have finished reading it, introducing 


books that are new arrivals to our library, or even just talking up quality books that are on our shelves that don’t circulate much.  To take that a step further, and make it 

more interactive for the students and less of me just talking, I had the idea that I could also have students record their own booktalks.  Either they could come to the library before or after school one day to record, or they could record one on their own time and send me me the file to upload to our library website.  I got excited about that, because between work and grad school, I have not been reading many middle grade or young adult books lately.  The ones I have read, it has taken me forever to get through them, so I would not be recording very much.  However, having the students record talks would allow me to post a wider variety of talks in a shorter amount of time.  And you know kids will listen to the recommendation of friends more than they will listen to what I have to say anyway!  🙂

Something I read today, let me know I was on the right track.  The author of our book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, Will Richardson (2010) suggested we listen to some educational podcasts on iTunes.  Educational podcasts are all well and good, and I’m sure there is good information there I could use, but none of them were about school libraries or topics that were immediately beneficial to me.  So I decided to do a search on booktalks.  I hit the jackpot!

One of the first podcasts I discovered is called Mr. Streit’s Book Talk.  The format he used is exactly what I could do in the library.  Mr. Streit is a middle school teacher, who, every week or every other week, “interviewed” different students about books they have read.  He also gave them the chance to read some short stories they wrote during the course of the school year.  What really makes them interesting is how he moderates the discussion with 3 or 4 students rather than just having one student talking about a particular book.  Each podcast lasted 2-10 minutes, which is perfect for middle school-aged children.  He also included a couple sessions with other teachers booktalking a book they are reading in class with their students.  I’ve only listened to a couple of his podcasts, but they were very informative and fun!  While there will not be any new pocasts due to summer vacation, Mr. Streit does plan on continuing with them in the fall.  I look forward to following his class’s progress next school year!

Another podcast I discovered was Mrs. Abernethy’s Cyber Chickens – Book Talks.  Since her students are 5th graders, some of the books they talk about are a little on the young side for my general audience, but it’s a great example of how 1 or 2 students can create their own booktalk podcast without an adult being there is mediate discussion.  You can definitely tell they had to write a script before they could record, which is one of the things I think adds to the charm of this series.

So after listening to these examples, doing my readings, and reflecting on what I have learned, I am seriously thinking about incorporating podcast booktalks in my library next school year.  It may not be anything regular or consistent, but that’s what makes podcasts so great.  It doesn’t have to be!


Richardson, Will. (2012). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tooks for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

In my readings this week, I somehow stumbled upon this article.  (Don’t you just love it when you come upon something, but you have no idea how you got there.  Because of this, you know that if you don’t read it/bookmark it/share it now, you’ll never find it again!)

Pew Study: Teens Still Love Print Media, ‘Traditional’ Library Services.

I think it’s interesting that most teens still prefer print media.  Even though three years have passed since it’s release, the 2010 OCLC Perceptions Report on how teenagers use the library had very similar results.

I find both of these reports to be consistent with the tweens I work with, although I do think it is starting to slowly change.  I had students complete a survey for me toward the end of this school year regarding eBooks vs. printed books.  I was trying to gauge their interest in our new eBook collection we had debuted just a few months earlier.  What I found is pretty much the same as this study’s – most of the students that responded liked the eBooks, and liked the ability to read a title as an eBook, but they still liked reading physical books.  I didn’t look at the results closely enough to see if the percentages fell in line with the Pew Study, but seeing as how it was totally unscientific, I’m not sure that would have done me much good.

In light of this information, it just reinforces for me that places like the Hunt Library at NCSU are on the right track with not getting rid of all their print materials, but are instead looking for ways to better utilize their space so that technology and print materials can coexist and work together.


I just finished reading a fascinating article on a research project that studied how teens use websites, and the things website developers need to be aware of when designing websites that are targeted to teens.  It really changed my mind and opened my eyes on how teens use and navigate websites.  

One example of this is the article cites how teens do not necessarily like sites that are glitzy and full of graphics and interactive elements.  Like most adults, I assumed they would be drawn to that kind of thing.  While they do like some of it, designers have to be aware of how much they are including on a site.  If it’s overkill, especially if it does not teach something new or help the teens in achieving their goal for being online, then forget about it.  You’ve lost them.

Another fact that surprised me is the finding that teens prefer using e-mail to share content.  According to this study, today’s teens are more protective of their personal information and are more cautious about who they share with than today’s college students.  With all the news about kids over-sharing, it was a huge surprise to me to read this.  I guess the fact that teachers and parents have been trying to teach these kids to be cautious is finally paying off?

One last item that surprised me was the information that teens do not like, nor have the patience for, fonts that are small.  Like was mentioned in the article, I thought only adults disliked small fonts due to failing eye-sight.  While failing eye-sight is not necessarily the reason why teens dislike it, I was surprised to read that they do not like it.  The reason that was given is that they try to skim things too quickly to have the patience to read small type.  That is not surprising to me!

Items mentioned in the research that did not surprise me include the fact that teens do like to scan sites quickly and don’t have much patience for things that are going to slow them down.  They also do not like being referred to as kids (I know, I did that earlier in this post).  Nor do they appreciate a site that sounds or looks “babyish.”  Anyone who knows or has contact with a teenager can tell you that!  The last item I want to mention was not a surprise, but it did give me something to think about when it comes to my instructional website design: Teens more often access websites with a mobile device (smartphone, tablet, etc.) or a laptop than with a desktop computer.  Therefore, websites should be designed with that in mind.  That will effect the overall look and level of interactivity on a website.

While an important finding in the research, the Age Group Differences chart, made me actually chuckle out loud:

Age Group Differences

The following table summarizes the main similarities and differences in web design approaches for young children, teenagers, college students, and adults. (The findings about children are from our studies with 3–12-year-old users; the findings about college students are from our study with 18–24-year-old users.)

  Hunting for things to click Tabbed browsing Scrolling Search Patience Animation
sound effects
yes no no no maybe yes
maybe maybe maybe no no maybe
College students
no yes yes yes no no
no maybe yes yes yes no
yes Enjoyable, interesting, and appealing, or users can easily adjust to it.
maybe Users might appreciate it to some extent, but overuse can be problematic.
no Users dislike it, don’t do it, or find it difficult to operate.

 If you notice, there is not a single smiley face in the Teens (age 13-17) row.  Every other age group has at least one smiley face, indicating that users enjoy or can adjust to a particular feature quickly.  This just proves that teenagers know what they want and are not willing to adapt or change in trying to reach it.  This article is extremely important and informative for anyone looking to develop/design a website for teens.  I know some of the items mentioned surprised me!

Ah, the teen years.  What a wonderful season of life!  🙂

I have not had a chance to watch all the videos in this post yet, but I hope to do that soon. I did watch the first one regarding the Hunt Library at North Carolina State, and all I can say is, “Wow.” It is well worth the 8 minutes it takes to watch it. What an incredible space! I was especially intrigued by the bookBot mentioned at around 4:30. More information about it can be found here: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/huntlibrary/bookBot What a cool piece of technology!

Talk about integrating technology! This library is doing exactly that. I may have to take a road trip one of these days to see it for myself!


Corrections Appended: July 12, 2013

The original version of this article included several quotes or statements that were not clearly attributed to the original sources.

This isn’t your childhood library. The Hunt Library at North Carolina State University is beautiful. The main floor looks more like a sleek Apple showroom than a stuffy library. And instead of a Genius Bar, there’s an Ask Me alcove, where you can get help on everything from laptops to flash drives.

Rather than the Dewey system, color-coded walls, stairs and elevators help you find not just books and research papers, but also media rooms, video game collections and even a 3-D printing lab to create plastic models. But the best part? Built with state funds and private donations, it’s open to the public.

Welcome to the library of the future.

“There’s a lot of talk about how libraries should change, but very few ideas…

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