The five things I learned about myself from taking a MOOC

I  took the Coursera Gamification course in September for various reasons. I am interested in gamification in education. I am also interested in MOOCs and how they are going to change education. What better way of learning a teaching method than as a student, right?  I found I learned less about MOOCs, and more about myself and what I prefer in my education. These may not be what everyone needs, but in further assessments of teaching it is always good to know more about you. Here are the things I learned about myself:

1) I need accountability.

This isn’t new in education that people need to believe that someone is watching on level. Without any accountability, I did do lots of work avoidance. The online videos would tell me to go post a discussion comment on something, and I didn’t because I knew no one would know. When I peer-graded, I did as little grading as I could possibly do. It wasn’t malicious, I just knew (and saw) that my peers did the same thing.

2) I need grades.

We received evaluations on our assignments. I was taking the class for fun. There was nothing tied to the grade I got in the class. But somehow every week I was breathless to find out how I did. There was something still very emotional about getting a grade back, much more than any other evaluation I could have given myself. Perhaps it was my 18 years of education which had conditioned me this way.

3) I need community.

The way that MOOCs are currently designed, there is mass instruction, but not mass community. I go to school because I want to learn with other people. If I didn’t want to learn with other people, I would learn from a book.

Currently there is loads of noise in the MOOC system. It is who says the most interesting thing and more who is shooting that loudest that is heard. I tried to connect with people on the twitter hashtag, which was somewhat successful, but since tweet is somewhat fleeting, I quickly lost track of people I followed. There was no method for me to keep track of them. This was really disappointing for me and I felt very alone despite having a half a dozen of my friends in the class with me.

4) I need to challenge authority.

As an instructor, I am aware that instruction is an imperfect art. You often do not get it right the first time and for every student. Often in the course, I found I needed to be able to ask questions in context of what I was learning and found I could not. I also found questions that were badly worded and needed to be changed. But alas, I was one of 100,000 people taking the class. There was no avenue for critique. So in the end, I felt powerless in my own education. This, I think, is the exactly opposite of education.

5) I delight in learning.

Despite the feelings of powerless and aloneness, I really delighted in applying the concepts that I had learned. I learned more than I would have just by scouring the internet. I felt at times like I could have learned more if I had read a book about the subject but I also felt like with my busy schedule, I would never have read said book, so it was a moot point. Learning, even distanced with any sort of other incentive (such as a degree) is a delightful experience for me.

For this reason, I would definitely do a MOOC again!

BRASS Gale Cengage Student Travel Award

I had the supreme honor of being the Student Travel Award winner for 2012 for BRASS, the business reference section of ALA.

See the original press release.

My library school the University of Michigan School of Information also put out a press release.

Picture is myself and a representative from Gale Cengage Learning at the RUSA reception at ALA Annual 2012 in Anaheim. Since Gale is situated in Farmington Hills, MI (and I have done several projects with) it was a special delight for them to be the sponsor of the award. Thanks for Liz Markel for taking it and Leighann Wood for forwarding it to me!.

I also wrote a short conference report for the RUSA update.

It was a really great experience and I hope to become more involved with BRASS in the future!

Using Google Fusion Tables for Address Data

Data is out there. I would refrain from saying good data is out there, or even relevant data is out there. As Kim said we are in the “year of the infographic” we are equally in the “year of the unruly excel document”. When one is lucky to receive large data that is relevant, they may stare down at their excel or SPS document and then say: “Now what?”
One of the types of data become more and more accessible is addresses. More and more companies and organizations post their address online. They are aggregated up into somewhat tidy databases like RefUSA and OneSource, accessible on many college campuses and local public libraries. Once bound in the white pages, this address data is the meat of many new and exciting ways to research. With information about where companies are, you can find a great number of exciting things. For example, the location of food stores in Detroit can help you locate food deserts. The location of Targets in the United States can help you predict where next to put your big box store. I just had a chat yesterday with a professor who works how industry is affected by nature disasters, using location-based disaster data and addresses as well as other indicators.

Sold on address data? Excellent! We’re going to go over some tools for address data. Firstly, if all you want to do is take those addresses and put them on a map, BatchGeo is an excellent tool for taking all those address and putting them on a google map. You can code 150,000 address per IP per day, and creates a google map which you can then improve on the google interface, either drawing polygons or adding metadata. But what if you want to do some other visualizations?

Google Fusion Tables is an awesome product. Google Fusion Tables also can geocode addresses into a google map.

Why I like Fusion Tables:
• Different types of visualization
• Sweet, sweet fusion. The merging capabilities of Google Fusion
• Collaboration. You can share your data sets relatively securely via Google Fusion Tables with research partners.
• You can link it up to Google Refine for those more squirrelly datasets.
Here’s an example with some roughly 300 gas stations in the city of Detroit.
Here’s the data as it looks in excel. Ugly.

Here it is geocoded:


Another view (this time using some sales data as well)

Another view (more pie charty). I understand this is a terrible pie chart, but it’s very aesthetically pleasing.

For a relatively boring but very effective run-through what makes Google Fusion Tables wonderful, see below.

HackLibSchool Post in Quasi-Con 2012: “How to Hack the Academic Conference”

I was lucky enough to be part of the planning of this last year’s first ever quasi-conference, and even more lucky to be part of the writing team for this blog post: How to Hack the Academic Conference. This article outlines the process of running a conference/conference as a student, with potential benefits and lessons along the way.  Check it out!

From Dead Media class

“The collector delights in evoking a world that is not just distant and long gone but also better — a world in which, to be sure, human beings are no better provided with what they need than in the real world, but in which things are freed from the drudgery of being useful.”

Walter Benjamin, “1939 Exposé”

Picture used without permission from: http://minniesboys.blogspot.com/2009/03/lydia-tattooed-lady-revealed.html

ALA quasi-con!

As you may or may not know, the ALA Future of Libraries “quasi-conference” is next Saturday, run by me and a wily group of wonderful students.

Quasi-Con is a day long conference run by students but for the whole community.  It was originally one of my ideas to run a small conference as ALA President last Winter. This event went through a myriad of stages and has been very interesting to help develop. When I started planning it, I imagined something perhaps less complicated and interesting than what it has eventually become.

Planning a conference is much more of a group effort than I thought it would be.  Something I had not really comprehended before I started this conference process is how much a conference is changed by the people involved. It’s more than event planning. Creating something as conceptual as a conference of ideas requires multiple standpoints, multiple values, multiple skills. You cannot create that conference mindset by yourself.

Students (especially librarians-to-be) spend every day thinking about the future of libraries, for example. But we think about it in so many different ways. About halfway through this process, it became clear how much this would be participant-driven. Everyone had something to share.Because in a perfect conference world, everyone confers.

I hope they do this next year because I have some ideas on how to improve it. Firstly get your steering group started early. Because there is nothing more useful than bringing a group of people (separate from other parts of your organization) just to plan one thing. I think this event really became a reality for the Steering Group started meeting. Also, don’t be afraid to dream big. Build it and people will come.

I will try and do a post after event to let this blog know how it went. I will be presenting at the conference on free GIS resources. Will be sure and do a wrap-up of resources after the talk!

Data Source: Yahoo! Finance

As you may or may not know, I work at the Kresge library at the University of Michigan, and every once and a while I like to share really useful websites that I use often on the reference desk.

Yahoo! Finance is one of the top financial websites in the United States. Yahoo! Finance has daily ticker information going back into the early ’00s for free. It also has press releases, financial reports, and some hosted tools for personal finance. I use it most often for looking up tickers.

The great thing about Yahoo! Finance (which you don’t find on many paid sources even) is that is keeps historic tickers. Meaning that it will have stock information for companies which are no longer public traded. This is often useful for troubleshooting why a patron may not be finding the information they are needed. Often databases purge this information to disastrous consequences. A great example is GM and Ford, where literally decades of information was lost because they declared bankruptcyor were not longer publicly traded.  Their information, though not useful for trading, is often very useful for people doing academic or analysis work.

Market stats, great visualization tools, SEC filings and amble analysis and information, I will often send people here before places like Bloomburg or WRDS because of its user friendliness and the fact students can use it after they graduate, no matter who they work for.  I’ve included a quick screenshot of Ford so you get an idea of the sorts of things you can get.

17 Best Albums of 2011

So it here it is, late as usual. I almost made it to 20 this year, but I only made it that numerous because I got 20 extra dollars and spent it all on albums which goes a surprisingly long way on Amazon Music. 2011 was a good year for music, and for me, a year of travel (New York, New Orleans, Florida, North Carolina, etc) so most of my favorite albums were ones I listened to while driving, while flying, etc.  I got videos of some of my favorite songs so you listen/ see as well!

17. Ceremonials- Florence and the Machine

I still haven’t decided on whether I actually like this album. Certainly I usually like Florence and the Machine. Somehow they went less “My Boy Builds Coffins” and more “Drumming Song” and someone needs to tell Florence that as much as she likes going outside and making mud pies and getting a little dirty, she’s not Alice Cooper. But I do like the angry singy song songs on the album, so number 17 it is. Best song: Shake it out.

16. English Rivera- Metromony

I only started listening to this album in the last week seriously, but I really like it. They do a bit of things on a computer than make some good noises. Really good production on this album. Best song: the Look.

15. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks- Mirror Traffic

Stephen Malkmus gives me a deep sense of stranger danger. Not in Pavement, but in this album he creeps me out a little. He sings so good though. Best song: The Senator. The video features a raunchy Jack Black.

14. Rise Ye Sunken Ships We are Augustines

We are Augustines like to yell a lot. They have some nice bass moments in the background of their screaming. Favorite song: Chapel Song.

13. Wild Flag – Wild Flag

Wild Flag rocks! I first heard them on NPR first listen. At times they remind me of Letters to Cleo if you listen very, very hard. Girl band power! Best song: Electric Band.

12. Thao and Mirah- Thao and Mirah

This year Thao  did some music stuff with another lady named Mirah. I don’t like it as much as Thao’s other work. There’s a little too much not Thao in it. But it is angry Thao with angry female accompanist,  which is something I can get behind.  Best track on album: Rubies and Rock despite the fact that Thao doesn’t sing it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFqCPpcLinA

11. Father, Son Holy Ghost- Girls

I have a theory about Girls. I think early in 2011 they hatched an elaborate plan wherein they kidnapped Wilco and made Wilco record their (Girls) album under duress. This explains two things: why they sound just like Wilco, and why Wilco put out a flippy floppy album in 2011. Perhaps Wilco is too afraid to record good music now. The perfect crime. Best song: Honey Bunny.

10. Days by Real Estate

Real Estate sounds like going to the beach in the rain. Best song: younger than yesterday.

9. 50 Words for Snow- Kate Bush

This went onto NPR  first listen at the exact right time in my psych this last semester and made everything click. No favorite, but I like Wild Man.

8. Veronica Falls- Veronica Falls

Veronica Falls is this years’ whispy, girl pick for me. There’s one every year, and this is this year. Best song: Found Love in a Graveyard.

7. Nightlife- Phantogram

Phantogram is one of the two bands I saw live this year (the other being the Eels). I saw them over at the Blind Pig with Candra Gill and it was crowded but loads of fun! This is just an EP, but a good one. This group is great for my productivity, I listened to this a lot when I work. I really like “Don’t Move” on this EP.

6. Bon-Iver- Bon-Iver

For me, Bon-Iver is to the Michigan Winter what the Postal Service is to Seattle Rain. There’s something quietly perfect about the moment of the music relating to the pace. This new, not very originally named Bon-Iver album makes me smile on the inside. My favorite song: Towers.

5. Showroom of Compassion- Cake

Every year with a new Cake album is a good year for all of humanity. It sounds like every other cake album. But it’s new! Best song: Federal Funding. Incidentally I found this album when I was taking grant-writing, so it was especially ironic.

4. Shangri-La- Yacht

Yacht is another one of my NPR first listen albums. But this one stays with you. At times sounding like an obscure ‘80s tribute album, at other times fancy free with the greatest of electronic stylings. The lady in Yacht has a deep voice that often made me think she is a man. Best song: Shangri-La

3. The King is Dead- The Decemberists

My boyfriend Matthew Stonebraker said it best: after only a couple of listens, you are singing along with the Decemberists albums. Just to show us he still had it, Colin Meloy turns his lyrics to old’ US of A with appropriate uses of mandolin and electric guitar. While not as great as Crane Wife, it’s certainly much better than Hazards of Love. It is home to my current favorite Decemberists song: Rox in the Box.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATvVX_QQ4fc

2. Blood Pressures- The Kills

I went back and forth between The Kills and Blue Scholars this year. If Top 10 Lists were diving competitions, I feel like this album would win on a technical best from Czechoslovakia. The Kills have been no slouches in recent years for sure. In this album, they go more diva, with less drum solos and more torch songs. Their music reminds me of that sticky, unsanitary feeling of being in the middle of a crowd at a concert you are really enjoying. I like this whole album, but “The Heart is a Beating Drum” is one of the best.

1. Cinemetropolis- Blue Scholars

I must have telepathically sent Blue Scholars a list of everything I loved about them and they took that list and exclaimed “By jove, let’s do it!” (or whatever Hip-Hop people say). Gratuitous name checks of Seattle neighborhoods, business and basketball players. Upbeat songs about social justice. A good bass and a beat you dance to. I must have listened to it over a 100 times this year. It accompanied me down to Florida, back from Florida and on all the small road trips in between. I really like the theme of this album, an ongoing thread about films and filming throughout the whole album. Non-Seattle people I know don’t get it. It’s kind of like Dick Hamburgers… there’s something there beyond the food. There’s community. Best Song: Lalo Schifrin.

On Self-Archiving

Self-archiving to me is an oxymoron. The act of archiving involves an institutional commitment to preserve knowledge and culture beyond political and technological changes. In the case of research, data archives represent institutions dedicated to the long-term preservation of data. Ideally, data archiving is a process throughout the life cycle of research and involves the full range of contributors to a research project. While sole investigators still contribute to the overall output of research, increasingly research projects are organized around teams, especially research that is inter-disciplinary, comparative, multi-national and large in scale. Consequently, the idea of an individual being her or his own data archivist runs counter to the way major research is being performed nationally and internationally today.

The Preservation of Research Data in a Postmodern Culture IASSIST Quarterly Spring 2005