Category Archives: Pretty Sweet Tech

NCompass Live: Who is Learning & Why?: Teaching Technology in the Library Series (Part 1)

Find out ‘Who is Learning & Why?’ as we start our four-part series, Teaching Technology in the Library, on next week’s NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, June 2 at 10am CT.

This four-part webinar series works with the Teaching Technology in the Library course offered by the Nebraska Library Commission. The course is designed to help libraries connect communities with technology and digital skills that matter at home, work, school and everywhere in between. The webinar series will introduce the topics and framework used in the course.

Course materials are available for free to libraries in and out of Nebraska. Only Nebraska libraries will be able to take the materials for CE credit towards Nebraska Public Librarian certification. One credit is earned by attending the introductory webinar, additional credits are earned by completing the course materials and contributing to a shared digital skills resource. Tackling technology is easier when we all work together!

This first webinar will cover the following:

  • How the course works to “choose your path” to Teaching Technology in the Library
  • User experience research techniques to uncover who is learning and why
  • Design thinking approaches to identifying problem areas and defining user needs in the library
  • How to provide course feedback and leverage course materials.

Here is a preview of the online course. The Overview is available now. Course content will become available by the start of each webinar as the material is continuously piloted and tested. Your feedback is greatly appreciated to make sure these materials work for as many people as possible. I look forward to teaching and learning with everyone!

Other sessions in the ‘Teaching Technology in the Library’ series:

Presenter: Amanda Sweet, Technology Innovation Librarian, Nebraska Library Commission.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • June 9 – Mental Maintenance
  • June 16 –How Do People Learn?: Teaching Technology in the Library Series (Part 2)
  • June 23 – Bedbugs in the Library?!
  • June 30 – Pretty Sweet Tech – Spatial for Librarians: A 3D Meeting Space
  • July 7 – History Nebraska: Taking History Online
  • July 14 –Finding Partners & Preparing Staff: Teaching Technology in the Library Series (Part 3)
  • July 21 – Accessing Census Data
  • July 28 –Marketing & Follow-Up: Teaching Technology in the Library Series (Part 4)
  • August 4 – Small Libraries Will Save the World! Implementing Sustainability at the Library

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech – Nebraska Libraries on the Web: Updates & Getting Started

Does your library need a website? Nebraska Libraries on the Web is a free way for Nebraska public libraries to get started with a WordPress website. Learn more on next week’s Pretty Sweet Tech NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, May 26 at 10am CT.

In this session you will:

  • Learn the basics about WordPress and Nebraska Libraries on the Web
  • Find out how to get started or revamp your existing website
  • See some examples of new website layouts and design

It is free to use WordPress through Nebraska Libraries on the Web. The server and “behind the scenes” maintenance is run through the Nebraska Library Commission. All you have to do is add content and update the website after initial setup. One-on-one assistance is available to plan, learn WordPress, and troubleshoot along the way.

This session will be helpful for anyone who wants to learn more about the program, see website examples, or hear about WordPress updates.

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • June 2 – Who is Learning & Why?: Teaching Technology in the Library Series (Part 1)
  • June 9 – Mental Maintenance
  • June 16 –How Do People Learn?: Teaching Technology in the Library Series (Part 2)
  • June 23 – Bedbugs in the Library?!
  • June 30 – Pretty Sweet Tech – Spatial for Librarians: A 3D Meeting Space
  • July 7 – History Nebraska: Taking History Online
  • July 14 –Finding Partners & Preparing Staff: Teaching Technology in the Library Series (Part 3)
  • July 21 – Accessing Census Data
  • July 28 –Marketing & Follow-Up: Teaching Technology in the Library Series (Part 4)
  • August 4 – Small Libraries Will Save the World! Implementing Sustainability at the Library

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech – Computers in Libraries 2021: Highlights, Tips, & Tricks

Learn some Highlights, Tips, & Tricks from Computers in Libraries 2021 on next week’s Pretty Sweet Tech NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, April 28 at 10am CT.

I collected a good assortment of ideas from Computers in Libraries 2021’s virtual conference this year! The best part was virtually networking with robots. Robots are my happy place. This edition of Pretty Sweet Tech will dig into some of my favorite resources, themes, and things to pay attention to in the coming year (and beyond). Here is a sampling of the topics that will be covered:

  • Libraries and Workforce Development
  • Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Conversations
  • What’s Staying Changed After Covid?
  • Playing With Tech (including my robot friend)

So if you weren’t able to make it to the conference, or are still considering a Replay Pass to dig into what you need, this session will help. I hope to see you there!

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • May 5 – Adult Book Clubs During the Pandemic: Reports from the Field
  • May 19 – Going Solo in the Library
  • May 26 – Pretty Sweet Tech

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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NCompass Live: High Tech Makerspace Goodness

Explore some ‘High Tech Makerspace Goodness’, on next week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, March 10 at 10am CT.

Over the years I have researched and collected information resources and activity ideas that culminated in a resource for High Tech in the Library. It covers Robotics, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Drones, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality. This session is not going to dive into each of these topics individually, that is why the resource exists. Instead, this session is about how to leverage these tools and resources in your library. By the end of this session you will:

  • Explore a variety of ways to help patrons gain exposure to the technology of the future.
  • Be able to refer people to the right learning communities to navigate learning new and emerging technology.
  • Start brainstorming problems your community is facing and how this technology can help.

If you’re curious about the future of technology and how your library can help, this session is a good place to start. I hope to see you there!

Presenter: Amanda Sweet, Technology Innovation Librarian, Nebraska Library Commission.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • March 17 – Ways to Fill Your Shelves Without Draining Your Budget
  • March 24 – Friday Reads: Pandemic Reading
  • March 31 – Pretty Sweet Tech – How I Turned My Dad’s House Into a Smart Home Using Amazon Alexa Devices

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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NCompass Live: How to Make Tutorials with a Screen Recorder & Webcam

Learn ‘How to Make Tutorials with a Screen Recorder & Webcam’ on next week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar, on Wednesday, January 27 at 10am CT.

With the expansion of digital services in the library comes the need for more screen recorded tutorials. This session covers tools, tips and tricks specifically for making and editing videos with free screen recorders, free or low-cost video editors, and budget-friendly webcams. Basically, you will learn by watching me record and edit a video in live! By the end of this session you will:

  • Know how to use Flashback Express screen recorder to make tutorials.
  • Learn the basic functionality of Canva to edit videos together.
  • Access tips and tricks for setting up your webcam in common scenarios.

You will gain access to my behind-the-scenes planning documents to see how I plan, storyboard, and script my videos. Feel free to review these as you begin making your own tutorials. With these resources will be off to a running start on making your own screen recorded tutorials in your library! I hope to see you there!

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Feb. 3, 1pm CT – 2021 One Book One Nebraska: Prairie Forge: The Extraordinary Story of the Nebraska Scrap Metal Drive of World War II
  • Feb. 10 – Education Programs Leading to Credentials in Librarianship
  • Feb. 24 – Pretty Sweet Tech – How to Make Green Screen Videos Using Free and Low-Cost Tools

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech – Teach Kids to Podcast, or Start Your Own!

Learn how to ‘Teach Kids to Podcast, or Start Your Own!’ on next week’s Pretty Sweet Tech FREE NCompass Live webinar, on Wednesday, November 25 at 10am CT.

I have a large number of requests for podcasting resources and information, so I decided it is time for this podcasting webinar guide! You don’t have to be an audio expert to get started in podcasting. Beginners can get started with just a smartphone and a dream. Whether you want to guide patrons to start their own podcast, or start your own library podcast, this is the place for you!

By the end of this session you will:

  • Understand the basics of podcasting, from start to finish.
  • Have access to a set of recommended software & equipment.
  • Walk through and access my Podcasting Guide for Librarians.

I hope you see you there!

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Dec. 2 – Reading Diversely
  • Dec. 9 – Esports and Evidence-Based Connected Learning
  • Dec. 30 – Pretty Sweet Tech – Video Production: Tools, Tips and Tricks

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech – Computers in Libraries 2020 – Greatest Hits

Hear about the Greatest Hits from Computers in Libraries 2020 on next week’s Pretty Sweet Tech FREE NCompass Live webinar, on Wednesday, October 28 at 10am CT.

There were hundreds of great sessions at Computers in Libraries 2020 this year. This week’s Pretty Sweet Tech will highlight just a few of my favorites from this year’s conference. So if you’re interested in all things technology in the library, and you were not able to make it to that conference this year, this is the place to be! Here are some of the topics we will touch upon:

  • Libraries and the Future of Work
  • Closing the Digital Skills Gap
  • Makerspaces 2.0

This conference offered a lot of great ideas, and hopefully this Computers in Libraries 2020-Greatest Hits session will give you plenty of great ideas for your library!

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Nov. 4 – Letters About Literature
  • Tues. Nov. 10 – Creating an Open Educational Resource: Grenzenlos Deutsch, German Language Online Curriculum
  • Nov. 18 – Summer Reading Program 2021: Tails and Tales
  • Nov. 25 – Pretty Sweet Tech
  • Dec. 2 – Reading Diversely
  • Dec. 9 – Esports and Evidence-Based Connected Learning

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech – Revamping Your WordPress Website

We’ll be ‘Revamping Your WordPress Website’ on next week’s Pretty Sweet Tech FREE NCompass Live webinar, on Wednesday, September 30 at 10am CT.

There have been quite a few changes to WordPress, especially in the past year. Since the start of the pandemic, there has also been a growing need for online resources and activities. Now that people have had a taste for these online resources, the need for quality online material is growing. Your library can help!

This webinar will act as a guide to help you refresh your library’s WordPress website. Here’s what we will cover:

  • What is WordPress and what changed?
  • What should I put on my website?
  • How can I learn new WordPress skills?
  • Turning a planning page into a website.

You will walk away with a step-by-step quick-start guide for getting your website up and running. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect as you’re just getting started. You can add more as you learn more. If you’re in Nebraska, feel free to email me at amanda.sweet@nebraska.gov for a planning consultation and/or WordPress walk-through.

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Oct. 21 – Migrating to an Open-Source ILS in an Academic Library: How to Celebrate Successes and Bounce Back from Problems
  • Tues. Nov. 10 – Creating an Open Educational Resource: Grenzenlos Deutsch, German Language Online Curriculum

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech – Technology vs. Human Values: How To Take Control

Explore ‘Technology vs. Human Values: How To Take Control’ on next week’s Pretty Sweet Tech FREE NCompass Live webinar, on Wednesday, July 29 at 10:00am CT.

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

Have you ever felt a knot of fear and uncertainty in the pit of your stomach while using certain technology? I do. The first companies that come to mind are always Facebook, Google, and Amazon. These companies set the gold standard for technology, then teach others to do as they do, using free or low-cost tools. You may have heard the phrase: “if a tool is free, it means that you are the product”.

In this session, we will explore what it means to be the product of the tech generation. Is this really such a bad thing? Do the actions of technology companies reflect their values? Do these companies reflect our own personal values, and the desired values of our community? Or is the world being re-shaped by technology tools? To find out, we will explore major tech companies, dive into our own personal values, and see how it all stacks up.

At the end of the session you will have access to a variety of activities, discussions, and book group options designed to help you and your community align big tech with your own values. Keep in mind that these tools are experimental. As tech grows, we must all experiment with how to best deal with this changing landscape. Attend this session if you want to try something new and take control of how technology is shaping the world.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Aug. 5 – The Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund: Grants to Nebraska’s Small-Town Public Libraries
  • Aug. 19 – Drive-Thru User Testing

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech – How to Make Digital Literacy Less Boring

Learn ‘How to Make Digital Literacy Less Boring’ on next week’s Pretty Sweet Tech FREE NCompass Live webinar, on Wednesday, May 27 at 10:00am CT.

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

How would you describe Digital Literacy to a patron without making it sound dull as dirt? With more people turning to online learning and resources during the current crisis, Digital Literacy skills are more important than ever. Learning things like online privacy and security, how to effectively communicate online, and how to find and evaluate information online are all vital to our success in the world. Yet many patrons just don’t care. It’s boring.

In this session, I will provide some ideas of what has worked in libraries I’ve visited, and ask you what has worked in your library! We won’t cover all the topics in digital literacy, but you will get a general idea of how to convert a dry digital literacy category into an entertaining learning event! Instead of advertising a “How to Communicate Online” event, call it “What Are You Trying to Say?”

Don’t bring people together over privacy and security. Connect people through a shared desire to stay safe in the wilds of the inter-webs. Make it a game that parents can play with their kids. You are caught in the inter-webs! Avoid the digital obstacles to get you and your kids out safely. Make sure to end the session with a splashy handout they will want to stick on the fridge.

These are just a few of the tantalizing ideas you will encounter in this session. If you want to learn more, check out my Digital Literacy Guidebook. More resources and ideas are being added daily this month. If you’re in Nebraska, the course to Build a Digital Literacy Plan starts on May 25th.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • June 3 – Automating Virtual Student Library Cards
  • June 10 – Identity and Impostor Syndrome in Library Makerspaces
  • June 17 – Who are These People & Why are They in My Library? Using Empathy & UX to Understand Your Library Patrons

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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Pretty Sweet Tech: Building Media Literacy

PEN America and the EveryLibrary Institute are offering a Train the Trainer workshop to help librarians teach media literacy on May 27 and May 28 at 1pm Central. The toolkit they offer is versatile, however these resources are especially important as COVID-19 misinformation runs rampant, potentially endangering our communities.

As technology grows more complicated, so do the scams. In a world of social distancing, we are all becoming more reliant on technology to communicate, make purchases, and more. This workshop is about finding information online in a world filled with misinformation.

I just registered for the workshop myself. It is free and runs through Zoom. Before the workshop, take a sneak peek at Pen America’s Guide on COVID-19 and Disinformation.

Some of these tips are tried and true, others are borrowed, or might make us feel blue. But the information is necessary, helpful and timeless. Give it a try, you might learn something new!

If you want to see what the Nebraska Library Commission is doing to help build digital skills, check out my new Digital Literacy Guidebook.

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Pretty Sweet Tech: New Digital Literacy Course

For those who are adding or revamping new digital literacy offerings in your library, the Nebraska Library Commission is offering a comprehensive course to Build a Digital Literacy Plan for your library!

There is no one way to implement digital skills. However, we can explore what our community needs, and how the library can help through a combination of developing programs in-house, working with local and national organizations to meet each community’s growing digital needs. By the end of this course, you will:

  • Define digital literacy in your own words, with practical examples.
  • Identify a target audience to narrow focus and seek the best sources to meet tangible needs.
  • Explore a variety of digital literacy categories to determine what works best for you and your community.
  • Use planning worksheets and guides to build a digital literacy plan and prioritize what and how to deal with important items.

Along the way, we will share ideas and compare notes of what worked for others in the state. If you would like to register for this course, please go to http://nlc.nebraska.gov/scripts/calendar/eventshow.asp?ProgId=19463. I’m teaching the course, so I hope to “see” you there.

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Pretty Sweet Tech: 3D Printing Personal Protective Equipment

In this time of crisis, we are all looking for ways to help the healthcare industry do their job safely and effectively. Many homemade face masks, face shields, ventilators, and more have been cropping up. How do we help in the safest way possible?

How to Help

If your library wants to help, I recommend taking a look at the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s FAQs on 3D Printing of Medical Devices, Accessories, Components, and Parts During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Here are some highlights:

  • Most 3D-printed masks are generally not certified or tested as N95 compliant. This should be noted for recipients.
  • The mask may look like a normal mask, but a 3D printed mask may not provide the same level of barrier protection, fluid resistance, filtration and infection control.
  • The CDC is working with approved organizations to establish better 3D printing guidelines for those who would like to help the cause.
  • Make sure you practice quality control and sanitize your environment, according to these guidelines.

For designs that have been reviewed for clinical use through a partner of the CDC, visit the National Institutes of Health 3D Print Exchange. Please note that each design has a recommended material type.

Points of Note for Makers:

  • PLA filament, the 3D printer filament commonly found in most library printers, is not currently recommended for printing face masks.
  • The best way to help, using PLA, is by printing clinically reviewed Face Shields, or ear comfort guards.
  • Make sure you read other maker’s comments and test the durability of your designs yourself before sending them to healthcare workers.
  • Follow these instructions to disinfect your work environment and follow quality control. There is no need to transfer disease through the shield that is supposed to stop the spread of disease!
  • Make sure the printer is not open to the public. Public libraries can be germ factories!

If you or a local organization has been building your own 3D printed design, please consider submitting your design to be FDA approved and tested. This is the CDC recommended way to safely be part of the solution. As always, I hope this post finds you healthy and well in these unusual times.

Posted in General, Pretty Sweet Tech, Technology | Tagged | 1 Comment

Pretty Sweet Tech: Low-Tech Through the Mail

Today, I’m keeping it old-school. Many kids are stuck at home with nothing to do and libraries want to help! One option is sending printed activity packs, and digital literacy resource sheets through the mail. Here are the steps to get going fast:

  1. Post on your website, or social media, that you have Activity Packs for kids of all ages available through the mail. Or, call around and let people know this is a new offering (for those without computers).
  2. Ask these questions:
  • How old is your child, or children?
  • What subjects do they like?
  • What do they like to do for fun?
  • Do you need help monitoring what kids do online? (parents might be a bit more aware of the time their kids spend online when everyone is stuck in the house).
  • Do you have any digital resource questions?
  • What is your address? What name should I put on the envelope?

You can use Google Forms to post a link to a quick, free form online:

3. Go to these websites and find the appropriate resources:

4. Print and mail.

It’s time for libraries to get a little creative in reaching patrons at home during these unusual times. Libraries can make life a little easier using just a printer and a phone.

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech – Chatbot Demonstration Using Scratch

Let’s chat! Join us for a ‘Chatbot Demonstration Using Scratch’ on next week’s Pretty Sweet Tech FREE NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, March 25 at 10am Central Time.

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

I have mentioned chatbots quite a few times in the past. Today you get to see one take shape, one step at a time. We will be using Scratch, the drag and drop programming tool to make our chatbot come to life. This session is based on the tutorial from Raspberry Pi. You do not need a physical Raspberry Pi to be able to complete this tutorial.

After running through this tutorial, we will review a few tools that can be used to take our chatbots to the next level. There will also be a resource collection to learn more about chatbots and what to watch out for as the technology matures and grows into many different areas of life. By popular demand, there will be access to lesson plans and activity ideas galore!

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • April 1 – Beta Testing for Social Wellbeing
  • April 8 – How to Add Movement to Library Programming
  • April 15 – Amplified Advisory with Video Book Talks

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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Pretty Sweet Tech: Are We Used to Learning Online?

With more schools and libraries closing during the Coronavirus pandemic, we are made to focus on online learning and digital resources for both patrons and librarians. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

I put together a Digital Literacy Guide with plenty of resources to learn technology, digital skills, and life skills for any and every subject. The skills in the “How and Where to Learn Online” are helpful for both librarians and patrons who would like to expand technology, business, and a variety of other skills.

Elsewhere on this page are tips and tricks to study and stay organized when learning online from home. It seems easy, but time management can be difficult with distractions from family members and entertainment options. Learning online from home also requires a different level of concentration. Going on the computer at home is sometimes associated with leisure time, or other activities. How do we change the mindset to get stuff done and work towards a goal? The “Best Practices for Learning Online” section can help with these issues.

Finding health information, news sources, and evaluating information is also part of learning online. Find tips and tricks for this here as well.

I hope you all stay safe and well during this pandemic. If you do get quarantined, try to see it as an opportunity to build new skills online. You can come back stronger, smarter and prepared to take on the world!

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Pretty Sweet Tech: Lesson Plans for Community Planning

As the population grows in Lincoln, we are faced with growing transportation, housing, environmental, economic, and a variety of other problems. Similar categories are found in areas across the state and around the world. These problems are not always seen as the most pressing or fancy problems on the planet, but they are important.

Many of the problems facing us now and in the future require us to look at the problem from many different angles so we can solve the problem for everyone, not just a vocal few. So I’m planning a set of lesson plans that are interdisciplinary, and is not locked down to just one piece of technology. This lesson plan mimics the way we would encounter technology in the real world. Life doesn’t happen in subjects. The community is our classroom.

Over the next several blog postings, I will be building the foundation for this series of lesson plans.

Introduction

Our goal is to find ways to build a better community. Consider this scenario: Your city is planning a new housing development and wants to ensure this new area has room for upward mobility, access to resources, and is sustainable in every way. The city wants to encourage ride-sharing, provide quality affordable housing, job options, and sustainable living. As city planners, you can help make that happen.

First we need to learn more about the people who will live in these houses. What do they want out of life? How do they prefer to live? What is and isn’t working with what we are doing now?

Lesson 1 Overview: Dreaming

In this lesson we will consider what makes a good community living arrangement. What are the life goals of the community members? Is the current environment helping, or hurting? How do we live now, and how would we prefer to live? Not just the housing itself, but the full community. What makes a good place to live?

Lesson 2 Overview: Planning & Demographics

It’s time to do a bit of research and planning for this new community. We know what we want in a community. What about others? Which income bracket needs housing? Is there room for upward mobility? What are the current and/ or desired demographics that make up your community? Where are the local businesses? Where do people work? All the questions.

Lesson 3 Overview: Outside Influences

What are the systems at play here? Here we will use the Sustainable Development Goals as a rough guide to determine which systems are at play. It helps to have a full picture of what our community members are dealing with when designing and building the best community possible.

Lesson 3 Overview: Potential Solutions

It’s time to decide which of the factors we discovered are most important. We can’t make everyone happy, but we can do the best we can with what we have available. Start designing solution concepts. Which other systems do we need to work with to accomplish our goals? Build teams.

Lesson 4 Overview: Try It & Adjust

How do we knew our plan is working? What do we need to learn along the way to build a better community? Which tools, technologies and systems would make our lives easier?

It is at this point that we can introduce technology tools and instruction. The next sections of this lesson plan will focus on a variety of technologies and how to assess applicability, sustainability, and identify tools that help.

Without laying the foundation above, we are simply learning new tools. How do we know these tools are making a positive contribution to our communities if we don’t know what kind of community we are striving towards? Let’s see how this idea shapes up over time.

If you’re interested in testing this series of lesson plans in your community, please contact me at amanda.sweet@nebraska.gov. Let’s try something new.

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech – Which Coding Language Should I Learn?

Which Coding Language Should I Learn? Find out on this week’s Pretty Sweet Tech FREE NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, February 26 at 10am Central Time.

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

My brother is a software engineer. About four years ago, I asked him which coding language people should learn in the library. He looked at me blankly and asked “well, what do they want to do?”. Honestly, lots of things. Building websites, programming robots, learning the internet of things, building video games, designing virtual reality, learning the basics of artificial intelligence. You know. Coding.

I thought his head was going to explode, there were just so many variables and approaches to each one of these concepts. I had overloaded his processor! Over the past few years, I narrowed down this question of “which coding language should we learn?” and approached everything from an absolute beginner level perspective. I organized the information into buckets based on what people want to learn.

This session is all about where to get started with the most popular technology skills in industry right now. Want to learn websites? Easy: HTML, CSS and Javascript will get you started. Want to learn robotics? Try Python, then work your way into C++. Augmented and Virtual Reality? Start with HTML, CSS and Javacript, or launch right into C#. What about artificial intelligence? Start with Python in Tensorflow. This session will be jam-packed with tools and resources to ease learners into complex technology from an absolute beginner’s standpoint. Some of these tools can be used in library programming, while others are geared towards the self-directed learner who wants to know how to take the next steps on their own.

Who is this session geared towards? Makerspace librarians, children’s and teens librarians, and anyone interested in connecting library patrons with resources to learn technology concepts.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • March 4 – The Healing Library: Responding to Trauma in Your Community Through Nontraditional Lending
  • April 1 – Beta Testing for Social Wellbeing
  • April 15 – Amplified Advisory with Video Book Talks

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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Pretty Sweet Tech: Auto Complete Lesson Plan

Not my hands

I was typing an email on my phone last night and Google kept trying to put words in my mouth. Some of them were things no human being would ever say, others were eerily close to what I was planning to say. I have a Google Pixel smartphone and I recently found out this feature is called Smart Compose. Instead of only recommending the end of a word I’m typing, the system might recommend a full sentence.

I decided to try an experiment. Every time those light grey recommended words popped in, I tapped on them to accept the recommendation. I got some interesting results. Some were way off, others were eerily accurate. I tried it with responses to emails, and fresh email drafts with no recipient. Here’s what I started to notice:

  • Responses to emails resulted in longer recommended phrases
  • Initial email drafts with no recipient resulted in small, one-word recommendations to the end of sentences.
  • Business formatted emails resulted in long recommendations of formal sentences
  • Casual emails resulted in off-the-wall recommendations of things I would never say.

Good times were had by all. Anyway, the lesson plan idea is pretty simple here. Have learners observe their auto-response texts and emails for a while. If the person has auto-response deactivated on their device, temporarily reactive the service. It can be turned off later.

This observation can be done over the course of a brief lesson, or observed over the span of a week. Just ask people to write an email or text, then choose the autocomplete option. Highlight or mark out the autocomplete section so it can be identified later. This activity can only be done with Gmail or another Google service that has Smart Compose enabled.

Ask people to consider these questions:

  1. Would you ever say any of the things Google recommends?
  2. Did Google’s recommendation change what you were originally going to type?
  3. Was the recommendation better or worse than what you had planned (consider phrasing, politeness, grammar, etc.)?
  4. Do you like the Auto Complete option?
  5. What do you think Google is looking at to make these recommendations?
  6. How will this change the way we communicate?

Additional Resources

Gmail Autocomplete Feature Unveiled (YouTube): See Smart Compose in action and hear from the team that made the feature.

Here’s How to Use Gmail’s Smart Compose: The Verge shows you how to enable Smart Compose if you haven’t upgraded to the new Gmail yet.

Google’s AI-powered Smart Compose feature is coming to Google Docs: The Verge describes in more detail how the system works and how to use the beta in Google Docs.

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech – Technology Solving Real-World Problems

‘Technology Solving Real-World Problems’ is the Pretty Sweet Tech topic on next week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, January 22 at 10am Central Time.

Special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

Technology guides everywhere have been saying we all need to use technology to solve ‘real-world problems’. What are these problems you speak of? In this session, we’re going to take a look at ways emerging technology has solved large-scale problems around the world. It’s time to think big.

We will look at tree-planting drones and robots, medicine-delivery tracking systems, artificial intelligence to stop deep fakes, smart transit systems, and a whole lot more. As we dive into technology, the focus will be on how to analyze this existing technology and pluck out the general concepts of how it all works. The real power of technology is adapting existing applications around the world to solve both local and global problems.

This session digs into how to bring real-world technology solutions to your community. You will walk away with a set of lesson plans and other resources you can adapt to suit your needs. Innovation starts with ideas. Do you know what exists? This is a start.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • Jan. 29 – Community Engagement: Straight Talk
  • Feb. 5 – Best New Teen Reads of 2019
  • Feb. 12 – Legal Research for Non-Lawyers and Librarians
  • Feb. 19 – 2020 One Book One Nebraska: All the Gallant Men

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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