Monday, October 22, 2007

I have decided to resuscitate this blog as a record of professional learning.

In the past three months, I've learned plenty. I have been tasked by my employer, the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, with researching ways the library can use online conferencing technologies. In the next three months, I will have to take what I've learned and implement a new public service offering using this new medium. Other libraries and businesses are already using web-based conferencing products for staff training and meetings. My project has a limited scope - just six months - so I'm trying to get something up and running quickly. I plan to launch a series of adult library programs that can be delivered in this new medium. My model would be a local public radio talk show - but with graphics. I could interview authors, highlight library resources, hold book discussions. Among other goals, I hope these programs will inject an awareness of the technology into the library system. Once people know about it, creative folks can see how to use it in ways I haven't imagined or worked on, and the library will enjoy an additional channel of communication.

In studying these services, I have learned that they offer similar packages of features. Some have more bells and whistles, but each offers audio and text chatting with a shared space for viewing slides, a whiteboard, and shared web-browsing. Some of these have little windows for displaying videos, but none of them offers true videoconferencing: live interaction by video. I read a blog post about videoconferencing, in which the librarian/blogger noted that unless it looks really good, videoconferencing is too distracting. Television has given us high standards for that kind of thing, (unless it's YouTube and the participants don't claim to be anything more than amateurs).

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