Final App smash project and reflection

http://mnorthcote.blogspot.com/

Above is the link to my final app smash assignment. For my final project, I created a blendspace embedded into a blog (blogger.com). The blendspace mashed together YouTube videos, Google images, weblinks, Flickr images, and a link to an original Voicethread recording of myself explaining the blendspace.

The goal of my appsmash was to allow novice children’s librarians the chance to digitally plan a multi-age story time that involves many different components (books,  songs, finger plays, digital apps, crafts, etc.) as possible. Because I know that children’s librarians love to share ideas and resources from a lot of different curated sites (pinterest, librarian blogs, YouTube, etc.), I knew that I needed the primary platform to be something that brings together a variety of different digital platforms in one place. I thought about Thinglink, but while you were able to embed a lot of different media from a lot of different sites in one place, this platform didn’t help you clearly organize your thoughts as the hotspots appear scattered across the page. I thought about using snapguide, but that app was almost too rigid as your resources had to be listed in a sequential order or a series of steps, which is not really how you should think of a storytime. I decided on Blendspace because it allows you to share resources in one place in a very visual way and it also enables you to move your media around, reordering your resources until you get them in the order you feel most comfortable using for your story time.

I also liked that you were able to add your own written instructional text in between boxes with digital content. From the instructor end, I was able to write steps and tips for how to build a multi-age story time and intersperse these throughout the sample content I curated. The beginning librarians would be able to use the text feature to write in their own literacy tips that they hoped to share with the caregivers during the story time. This satisfied one of the objectives of the ALSC standards, which was “Integrates literacy-development techniques in program design and delivery, engaging and empowering caregivers in a culturally competent way.” Forcing beginning children’s librarians to type their literacy tips for caregivers into the blendspace lineup makes the beginning librarian more mindful of how they are going to incorporate these tips into their actual storytime.

Blendspace also helps librarians fulfill another ALSC standard, “Integrates appropriate technology in program design and delivery” by enabling librarians to link to their favorite digital apps that they wish to incorporate into their story times.

The most challenging part of this appsmashing project was figuring out an appropriate app to use for explaining the blendspace to my novice librarian audience. I first recorded myself giving instructions in Voki and Tellagami; however, I really felt that the cartoonish feel of these apps really undermined the importance of the message I was trying to convey in my introductory segment. So instead, I decided to record myself talking in Voicethread and used a picture of myself holding my favorite storytime puppet, Oliver. I felt this really made me feel more approachable and connected to my trainees as I was showing them that I am also a children’s storyteller and like to have fun with puppets too; I hoped this introductory overview would put them at ease and let them know story times really aren’t that intimidating to plan and are really a lot of fun! I loved how easy it was to embed this Voicethread clip into a link on my first block in my blendspace. I wish I could have imported the Voicethread instead of embedding it in a link so that everyone could see me and my rabbit in the first square of the blendspace instead of having to click on the link.

Finally, I decided to embed my completed blendspace in a blogger.com blog because I wanted to encourage my novice librarians to not only use this planning exercise as a tool to help themselves, but as an original creation which they should eagerly share with other colleagues. Blogs are a ubiquitous  and easy-to-use idea sharing tool in the youth services librarian world. By encouraging them to create a blog for this story time planning exercise, I hoped they will also be encouraged to continue building their blog with other chidren’s librarian content in the future. I didn’t do much to personalize my children’s librarian blog, but they certainly could to make it their own.

I felt my creativity was supported through this appsmash project, even more so than in previous assignments this semester. You weren’t as limited to using one image or creating one video of a certain length as you were in the digital storytelling assignment. You also could combine the concept of digital curation, as we practiced in our first modules, without being tied to using a content curation specific tool (like learnist, pinterest, etc.). And because you could smash so many apps together, the end product is certainly an interactive digital experience, as was the interactive poster assignment.

I was most proud of my decision to embed a Voicethread into the blendspace of me explaining blendspace . I think it really helped make my overall product and instructional plans come to life. In terms of my instructional goals, I think it was ideal that the workshop was designed around building a digital organization tool (blendspace) as I guided the amateur novice librarians through the process of curating content to create a story time. It was really important the the 2 hour workshop be really hands-on and interactive, so dividing each 30 minute segment of the workshop into 10 minutes of instruction and 20 minutes of them exploring the digital tools on their own would really help them learn what I was trying to teach them in an interactive way.  I was most proud of my instructional decision to have them cull through their own curated list of books, songs, crafts,  and apps, and have them select their best two from each category to leave in the blendspace that they would actually share in a blog with other children’s librarians. This really gave them an opportunity to think critically about the resources they were selecting to make sure they were sharing the best ones appropriate for a multi-age story time. Instructionally, this also fulfilled the ALSC goal which was, “Designs, promotes, presents, and evaluates a variety of programs for children, with consideration of developmental stages and the needs, interests, and goals of all children, their caregivers, and educators in the community.” I didn’t have to change any of my instructional plans as my appsmash worked nicely with what I described in my original blog.

In addition to using this instruction for a group of beginning children’s librarians at a public library, I could also integrate this instructional lesson around teaching elementary school librarians how to lead a 45 minute, digitally interactive story time for kindergartners. As a school media specialist trainer, I could hold a training at a county wide elementary school librarian meeting in a media center or I could teach this as a professional development lesson at a school librarian conference to those elementary media specialists who would like to attend. This would require the same amount of technology (access to a laptop or iPad) as would my original public library presentation.

Overall, I’m very pleased with my appsmash and the way it fulfills my instructional goals for teaching novice librarians how to build and plan a multi-age story time for the first time.

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