Technology<br /><ul><li> Importance of mindtools: </li></ul> My definition of Mindtools are computer programs that support and enhance the higher order thinking skills in students (HOTS). Mindtools is a concept developed by David H. Jonassen. Mindtools help students think “outside the box”. Mindtools allow students to create and develop ideas and to share those ideas with each other electronically. The following “tools” make up the overall concept of mindtools. Each tool is described with an example of how learners can use the tools to enhance their critical thinking skills:<br /><ul><li> Semantic Organization Mindtool: “Semantic networking allows the user to draw visual maps of concepts connected by lines.” (Jonassen, 3) Microsoft word is an example of a semantic mindtool. (Specific tools are Shapes, and SmartArt)
Dynamic Modeling tool: “This is a spreadsheet capable of numeric record keeping designed to replace paper based systems.” (Jonassen, 5) Microsoft Excel is an example of dynamic modeling tools.
Information and Interpretation tools: “This is a search engine which locates relevant resources for learners.” (Jonassen, 9) Google is an example of an information and interpretation tool.
Knowledge Construction tool: This allows the user to construct flyers, calendars, brochures, newsletters and other graphics. Publisher is an example of a knowledge construction tool
Conversation and Collaboration Mindtool: “This allows for supporting interpersonal exchanges among students collecting information in group problem solving.” (Jonassen, 11) Instant Messaging is an example of conversation and collaboration mindtools.</li></ul>I consider my use of mindtools as a strength. Dr. Kuon showed us the utility of mindtools in LS 570, Instructional Design. We learned how mindtools engage the learner. The learner’s skill continues to increase as they apply the concepts of mindtools. I am comfortable using mindtools. The more librarians use mindtools in their instruction, the more learners will be engaged, and critical thinking skills will expand. It is my goal to have students use mindtools as they conduct research in the library. <br /> <br /><ul><li>Basics of design for multimedia</li></ul>“Evaluation is an important phase in the automation process life cycle. This phase involves a complete review to evaluate project success, learn from the experience, and identify future opportunities for automation enhancements.” (Schulz-Jones, 215) The first step in evaluation is assessing system effectiveness. Assessing system effectiveness before accepting the system from the vendor is of paramount importance. This process is not about assessing blame if the automation is not effective, but insuring that the issues have been identified and a plan is in place to fix the deficiencies. It is also important to assess user satisfaction and assess the project experience. Ask “What went well, and what caused problems?” Finally, a final report should be compiled and results disseminated.<br />I consider this area a weakness. Although Dr. Weimar provided excellent instruction in LS 539 Computer Science, I find automation a difficult concept to completely understand. As a “digital immigrant” I find automation speeds ahead at a pace beyond my ability to grasp the concepts. I am undoubtedly more capable with implementing and understanding automation systems today, than I was at the beginning of the MLS program. I appreciate the skills and knowledge that I have acquired over the past 18 months. I do plan to become actively involved in the evaluation and implementation of automation when I begin my role as a school librarian. <br /><ul><li>Importance of safe and smart searching</li></ul> Safe and smart searching must be taught to children at school, and hopefully reinforced at home. The school librarian must take the lead in teaching students how to navigate the internet in a safe and productive manner. The first step is teaching the contents of the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) to students. It is not enough to have them read through the AUP quickly, then sign and date. Students should be taught what makes some sights safe and others unsafe. They should be informed as to why a school district has restricted access to some websites. Students should be given examples of how searching some websites has leas to catastrophic results. As for smart searching, students need a plan as to how they will conduct research. The Google search engine is a great start, but smart searching involves more. Students should be aware of the databases available to them, and how to use them. The librarian must teach the students the rigorous process of how to conduct research in the elementary grades to insure that they are well prepared for more difficult research as they continue their academic growth.<br />I consider the importance of safe and smart searching to be a strength. I am comfortable with understanding AUPs and how to evaluate a website. I plan to make this a priority when instructing students. This should not be a one time class, but should be ingrained into the way students and staff think about technology.<br /><ul><li>Knowledge and importance of how to evaluate websites for use with students and students evaluating websites for use to gain knowledge</li></ul> Website evaluation is an important component to student education. As students conduct research using websites available through the internet, it is of paramount concern that the students can distinguish between a good website and a bad website. What distinguishes the good website from the bad is the quality of the information they are presenting. Peer reviewed articles through school data bases are the most reliable sources of information. However, it is more likely that students will use a search engine such as Google to acquire their information. The information available through these data bases range from excellent to terrible. A good starting point for a student to evaluate a website is a worksheet that asks the student important questions. Who is the author of this website? Can they be contacted? Is the information verifiable elsewhere? Is there little to no advertising? By answering yes to these questions, students can begin the evaluation. Examples of hoax websites abound on the internet. Sharing these sites with students along with other prejudicial websites is a good start in preparing the student to think critically about website evaluation. Not all websites are created equally.<br />I consider website evaluation a strength. During my internship, and under the direction of Dr. Bell in LS 591, I successfully taught a class on website evaluation to the students of Boerne Middle school North. I had the opportunity to collaborate with teachers and better understand their thoughts about website evaluation. I plan to continue librarian/teacher collaboration in my future role. Collaboration is truly the key to success for the successful librarian.<br /><ul><li>School Library web site evaluation for effectiveness of purpose</li></ul> The most important purpose for a library website is to provide timely information to the users. This information should include: Name of the librarian, contact information, library hours, staff links, parent links, and other available resources such as library catalogs and other reference information. The site should be visually appealing and engaging for the reader. Pictures should support the written information and the font size and type is important to meet the user needs. Audio would be a helpful tool to support any sight impaired users of the library. The goal of the school website is to be accessible to all, and to provide updated and important information. <br />I consider evaluating a website a strength. Dr. Weimar provided excellent examples of school websites in LS 539, and I had the opportunity to evaluate an elementary and high school website. I noticed the difference in information, but found the design of exemplary websites to be similar. As a school librarian, I plan to evaluate my library website, and make appropriate changes to insure it meets the high standards of an exemplary website.<br /><ul><li>Significance of Acceptable Use Policies</li></ul>Acceptable Use policies (AUPs) are essential for communicating to students, faculty and staff guidelines for computer and internet use. The AUP can be written at the local school building level, if approved by the administration, but is usually written at the district level and covers all schools from elementary to high school. Most school districts have students and staff members sign an acknowledgement that they have read and understood the AUP. Because schools have not been effective at establishing a “firewall” to protect students from websites most members of the community deem to be unacceptable, , AUPs tend to be very precise in language, specifically stating what sites are inappropriate for student use. AUPs tend to use precise language to describe punitive actions for inappropriate behavior. As societies continue to struggle with what is acceptable for student use, and at what age certain material becomes appropriate, the AUP is a critical tool to communicate to all members of the community what is expected when faculty and staff use the computer, and specifically the internet. One would expect AUPs to evolve over time to meet new community standards, and to keep up with ever changing technology. <br />I consider understanding the significance of AUP policies to be a strength. Dr. Bell provided multiple opportunities to critique AUP s in LS 591; Internet for School Librarians. I found that although many AUPs have similarities, each district tends to focus on different criteria that they want to emphasize. I also found some districts are more punitive in their AUP. I plan to give instruction to students about why the policy is in place. If students understand why it is important, they may be less likely to bend the rules.<br /><ul><li>Evaluating and Implementing Automation</li></ul> “Evaluation is an important phase in the automation process life cycle. This phase involves a complete review to evaluate project success, learn from the experience, and identify future opportunities for automation enhancements.” (Schulz-Jones, 215) The first step in evaluation is assessing system effectiveness. Assessing system effectiveness before accepting the system from the vendor is of paramount importance. This process is not about assessing blame if the automation is not effective, but insuring that the issues have been identified and a plan is in place to fix the deficiencies. It is also important to assess user satisfaction and assess the project experience. Ask “What went well, and what caused problems?” Finally, a final report should be compiled and results disseminated.<br />I consider this area a weakness. Although Dr. Weimar provided excellent instruction in LS 539 Computer Science, I find automation a difficult concept to completely understand. As a “digital immigrant” I find automation speeds ahead at a pace beyond my ability to grasp the concepts. I am undoubtedly more capable with implementing and understanding automation systems today, than I was at the beginning of the MLS program. I appreciate the skills and knowledge that I have acquired over the past 18 months. I do plan to become actively involved in the evaluation and implementation of automation when I begin my role as a school librarian. <br /><ul><li>Facilitating the use of the automation system with all users</li></ul> To facilitate the use of the automation system, it is imperative to receive feedback from all users. In a school environment, both students and staff should be queried. A simple survey is an excellent tool to provide feedback and gain data. “Design the survey to make it easy to read and complete, with an introduction that thanks them for their input. Include open ended questions so users have the opportunity to provide comments.” (Schultz-Jones, 218) Open ended questions in the survey are imperative. Experts who work with automation daily, often forget that some users have very basic questions about automation that others would never consider as a concern. Although “digital natives” tend to support automation implementation, it is the “digital immigrants” who often get overwhelmed when putting automation into practice.<br />I consider this area a strength. Dr. Weimar effectively presented these concepts in LS 539, and I am aware of the importance of facilitating the use of automation. I often can assist students who are struggling with the use of automation systems, because I have struggled myself. I found this to be true during the internship, and I enjoyed working with the students to solve their problems. I plan to continue in this role as school librarian.<br /> <br /><ul><li>Ethical issues surrounding technology</li></ul> The principles of Information ethics as relevant to the information age include : 1) respect for intellectual property 2) respect for privacy 3) fair representation, and 4) non malfeasance. The AASL states that school librarians must teach these principles. Along with ethical behavior surrounding the use of information, there is also a concern for students and staff regarding other principles of ethical standards in technology to be considered. How much censorship should a school district impose to keep its students safe? Should schools ban emerging technologies from schools (i.e. cell phones) because they are not sure what role, if any, these emerging technologies should have in a 21st century classroom? School Districts will continue to struggle with ethical issues concerning emerging technologies. Censorship has not been effective, but most communities place a high level of emphasis on keeping children safe. It will be the role of school boards, administrators, and community members to resolve these difficult issues as technology expands its reach into modern day society.<br />I consider understanding the ethical issues surrounding technology to be a strength. Dr. Bell’s instruction in LS 591 Internet for School Librarians broadened my understanding of the ethical issues facing students and staff. I believe the school librarian should be the primary instructor for ethical issues, with the teaching staff reinforcing these concepts in the classroom. I plan to take this responsibility seriously upon becoming a school librarian.<br />.<br />