Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category
Friday, November 21st, 2014
Each October librarians from across the United States and Canada gather at the Monterey Conference Center, the original home of TED Talks, to share ideas and learn about new and interesting technology related to library services. This year I was lucky enough to have a proposal I submitted on Moodle and Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) selected for presentation at the conference. For my presentation I shared ways the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, South Central Region (NN/LM SCR) had used new Moodle features to transform the online version of the Super Searcher class allowing more and more people to take part in the class and learn new content each year.
I also attended other sessions at the conference and used the hashtag #internetlibrarian to share what I was learning. Below you will find find some of the topics, presenters, and links I found useful.
Tablets in Public Libraries
Jezynne Dene, Library Director for the Portneuf Library in Chubbuck, Idaho presented on the Gizmo Garage. The Gizmo Garage is a joint project with the Idaho Commission for Libraries and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The aim is to provide hands-on experience with mobile technologies for library staff and patrons. Dene’s presentation provided great information and ideas for getting your staff comfortable with mobile technology. Using the Gizmo Garage staff were allowed to take devices home for personal or work use and try them out. They were then required to provide a review of the product including information about why they liked the device or why they didn’t. The results were great, staff became familiar with different operating systems and then felt comfortable fielding questions from patrons with devices.
In addition the project also funds classes for library patrons. Some good advice from the presenter included having a list of core competencies for tablets and mobiles, including some basics like how to turn the device off and on, how to use the camera, how to find and download apps and more. Another good suggestions was to have users with the same devices or operating systems in one class. Instead of mixing up Android and Apple iOS offer classes focused on one or the other.
Cyber Security is an issue that all organizations must continue to revisit, repair, and upgrade. A presentation by Tonia San Nicolas-Rocca and Richard Thomchick of San Jose State University provided some resources to ensure your website is secure. It is important for any organization to review their policies and standards when it comes to web security. It is also important that libraries continue to use web security measures to protect patron privacy. An important step an organization can take to ensure security and privacy is to use Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure or HTTPS to add a layer of encryption to ensure that information exchanges are kept private. Resources from HTTPS Everywhere can help you make sure your sites are secure. Another tool to check your website encryption and security is the SSL Server Test from Qualys.
Internet of Things
Evening session keynote speaker Lee Rainie from the Pew Research Internet Project provided an overview of the Internet of Things (IoT) and what the coming wave of connected things could mean to libraries. Rainie’s presentation left more questions than answers when it came to what the data is telling us about the IoT. While it is unclear if the IoT will lead to more job creation or result in the loss of jobs to new technology one things is clear, librarians will be able to help with training and education when it comes to the IoT. This new technology will require new skills and insights that libraries will be able to provide. In addition, global connectivity will create a larger marketplace for the exchange of goods, services, and ideas.
Another big issue related to the IoT will be concerns about privacy and the digital divide. Rainie theorized that librarians have the skills to help users understand issues related to privacy as well as the tools to bridge many people trapped by the digital divide.
Further information about the Internet of Things can be found in the May 14 report from Pew Research.
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
Yesterday, MedlinePlus released new versions of the MedlinePlus Mobile sites in English and Spanish. The mobile site URLs are http://m.medlineplus.gov and http://m.medlineplus.gov/espanol
Like the original versions of the mobile sites, the redesigned sites are optimized for mobile phones and tablets. Unlike the original mobile sites that contained only a subset of the information available on MedlinePlus, the new sites have all of the content found on MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus en español. They also have an improved design for easier use on mobile devices.
The key features of the redesigned mobile sites are:
• Access to all the content available on MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus en español
• Improved navigation using “Menu” and “Search” menus to access search and major areas of the sites
• Enhanced page navigation with the ability to open and close sections within pages
• Updated look and feel with a refreshed design
This new version of MedlinePlus Mobile is the first step in redesigning MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus en español to behave responsively. Responsively designed Web sites automatically change their layouts to fit the screen of the device on which they are viewed, whether that is a desktop monitor or a mobile touchscreen.
In 2015, the MedlinePlus team will release a fully responsive version of MedlinePlus to provide a consistent user experience from the desktop, tablet, or phone. This will remove the need for a separate mobile site. Users will then have one destination for MedlinePlus (www.medlineplus.gov) when using any device.
Until then, try out this first offering of MedlinePlus’s responsive design on your smartphone at http://m.medlineplus.gov and http://m.medlineplus.gov/espanol. Send us your feedback and comments about the new site via the Contact Us link that appears on every page.
Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
According to PC Magazine “Not having antivirus protection isn’t just a personal risk: Unprotected computers can be springboards for attacks.” It is important that any computer you use have properly installed and updated antivirus software. Antivirus software is computer software used to prevent, detect and remove malicious software from an infected computer. In today’s connected computer world viruses can quickly spread from one machine to the next if antivirus is not properly used or updated.
While may large organizations rely on antivirus solutions such McAfee or Norton there are other solutions that work just as well for little or no cost.
The experts at PC Magazine recently provided an online comparison of several free antivirus products they were able to test in a lab environment. Free editions of antivirus options such as Bitedefender, AVG, and Panda Cloud Antivirus all scored well.
There are many choices for free antivirus solutions available and this review highlights the strengths and weaknesses of many. It is important to install and run antivirus protection not only for the security of your computer but also for the security of those you network with. Don’t let an unprotected computer infect others! Be sure that the antivirus software you use is updated regularly as new viruses are frequently created.
Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
Due to recent software updates on National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) websites at nnlm.gov, Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) is no longer supported. Some read-only sections of nnlm.gov will continue to be available via IE8. However, anyone using IE8 will probably not be able to submit assignments in online courses utilizing the NN/LM Moodle framework, and may not even be able to access and log into Moodle courses. Other nnlm.gov services that require data to be posted to the server are also likely to fail. In addition, DOCLINE will not support IE8 after the end of 2014.
Please visit the NN/LM System Requirements page to see a complete list of supported browsers. For best usability, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) recommends that libraries begin talking to their local IT departments about upgrading their browsers to at least Internet Explorer 10.
Starting January 12, 2016, Microsoft will drop support, including security updates, for older Internet Explorer browser versions. Only the most recent version of IE for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates. Microsoft’s Stay up-to-date with Internet Explorer blog page provides a good explanation of why IE users should upgrade to the most current version.
Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
The terms usability and accessibility are closely related and frequently used by those in web design fields. You may have even heard someone on your staff bring up these terms when discussing your organization’s website. These terms have very different meanings but when the principles of usability and accessibility are applied correctly they can enhance a website and lead to better overall use and broad access to your organizations information.
According to the W3C Organization “usability is about designing products to be effective, efficient, and satisfying. Usability is part of the human-computer interaction (HCI) research and design field (which is much broader than usability testing). For web developers, a key aspect of usability is following a user-centered design (UCD) process to create positive user experiences.” As you can see by this definition there is a strong emphasis on the user and how the user will be interacting with the product, in this case a website.
Usability testing is one of the best ways to find out how a user will try to access information from your resource. While usability testing can most effectively be done with the help of a trained professional there are may ways to prepare for an effective usability test. Usability.gov provides a wealth of information on usability including a brief overview for Planing a Usability Test.
There are a variety of free and for-cost online tools that can help you and your organization with usability testing. A list of 22 Essential Tools for Testing Your Website’s Usability was created by Mashable a few years ago. While some of the services on the list of have merged with others, the list is still a good overview of the type of online tools to help with usability testing.
While testing website usability is the key to ensuring that the users who visit your site are able to quickly and easily find the information they need, accessibility ensures that the widest range of users can access the information on your site. According to the W3C Organization “accessibility is about ensuring an equivalent user experience for people with disabilities, including people with age-related impairments. For the Web, accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with websites and tools, and that they can contribute equally without barriers.”
As we saw with website usability testing is important. The same is true for accessibility. There are a number of standards that website designers should follow to ensure that their site is accessible through Section 508 Compliance. Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that requires Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. However, trying to keep all the accessibility rules straight can be difficult. For this reason there are a number of tools that you can use to help create an accessible website. A Complete List of Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools is available for free from the W3C Organization. The W3C Organization also makes available some useful guiding tutorials on various topics related to accessibility.
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Are you using technology to track personal data including health and fitness? If so then you are taking part in the “quantified self” movement. The term quantified self was coined by Wired Magazine editors Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly in 2007 but the idea of using computer technology, especially wearable self-tracking sensors, to record data began in the 1970’s. Today’s wearable technology including fitness trackers and smart glasses, products like Google Glass, combined with increased access to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are revolutionizing the way we track, store, and use personal data.
By tracking, collecting, and analyzing data about their daily life users can increase their self-knowledge and possible improve their well-being. In April Susannah Fox of the Pew Research Center spoke at the first Quantified Self Public Health Symposium. In her presentation Fox presents the idea that health outcomes, especially for patients with chronic conditions, can be improved through tracking. According to the data from her research 7 out of 10 American adults are tracking health data in some form but only a small percentage are using technology to track their data. In addition to personal health tracking Fox also found that caregivers are often tracking health data for loved ones. Overall, the presentation demonstrates that there is a need for new and better technologies on the field of tracking, especially for health data. The video of her presentation can be found below.
One result of data tracking through the idea of the quantified self is that it can result in too much information. A recent post from NBC News addresses the issue of information overload and the quantified self. While some people are already tracking and using technology the post demonstrates that the field is expected to see continual growth over the next two years.
While the idea of the quantified self and increased self-knowledge can mean access to more data it may also mean that individuals may have more difficulty interpreting the data in order to make lifestyle changes that improve overall health. While wearables have potential the post also provides insights into how each device quantifies things differently which can make interpreting data even more difficult. In addition most trackers and devices do not have a way to share information easily or confidentially with healthcare providers, another potential problem.
The concepts of the quantified self and wearable technologies are addressed in the updated Geeks Bearing Gifts class.
Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
The concept of the flipped classroom has been around since the 1990’s but today’s technology is helping educators more easily adapt their teaching environments to the flipped or blended learning style. With a flipped classroom students learn new concepts and content by watching video lectures and then doing “homework” in the classroom, allowing the teacher to have more guidance and interaction with students. This model inverts the traditional education model in which content is delivered via lectures in class and reinforced through homework outside of the classroom. The flipped classroom concept has also been seen as one the top educational trends for the near future, as outlined by the 2014 Horizon Report. Current trends demonstrate the success of the flipped classroom model in areas of high school math and science. Learders of the flipped classroom movement, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, recently released their book Flip Your Classroom, which is now available from the NN/LM SCR Lending Library.
Using flipped classroom techniques can be challenging, especially when applying the concepts to library workshops and instruction. A recent post on ACRL’s Keeping Up With… Series focused on flipped classrooms and highlighted some ways to bring flipped concepts into library instruction. Authors Candice Benjes-Small and Katelyn Tucker provide sound advice for librarians interested in flipping library instruction. They suggest working closely with teaching faculty and ensure that students complete online assignments before coming to the class or workshop. Additionally it will be important that students who come to class be held accountable by the teaching faculty and in the preparation process some plans should be made for what to do with students who come to the class unprepared. Can they use a computer and headphones to view the content and catch up? Is there an alternative way to get them involved in the class if they did not complete the assignment?
In preparation for flipping library instruction librarians may want to consider the use of online tutorials or materials that they or others have already created. A quiz or worksheet may need to be created to ensure that students have completed the online preparation assignments before diving into class work. Once students are ready class time with the librarian can be devoted to searches that the students are considering using for their research topic. The librarian then becomes a “guide on the side”, standing by to provide examples and collaborate with students for successful searching.
Friday, July 18th, 2014
How do HIPPA, Personal Health Records and Online Health Information Sharing impact your library? What is the role of encryption and secure wireless networks in maintaining online privacy and security? What are password management tools and how can they affect your private information?
Want to know more? A recording of the NN/LM SCR’s free monthly webinar, SCR CONNECTions entitled, Health Information and Online Privacy for You and Your Organization is now available in the archives.
This webinar will be available for one hour of Medical Library Association (MLA) Continuing Education credit. View the recording before August 1, 2014 to receive MLA CE.
Friday, July 11th, 2014
Please join us Wednesday, July 16, 2014, from 10:30 – 11:30 am (CT) for the NN/LM SCR’s free monthly webinar, SCR CONNECTions.
The topic for next week’s presentation has been changed from what was previously announced.
Technology Coordinator Emily Hurst will present on online privacy and security. In May Emily spoke about online heath information and privacy as part of a panel for OCLC’s Web Junction webinar series Health Happens In Libraries. For Wednesday’s SCR CONNECTions Emily has expanded on this topic to address issues related to health information online, password creation, wifi security, mobile devices, and more.
This webinar will be available for 1 hour of Medical Library Association (MLA) Continuing Education credit and will be archived for future viewing.
How to Log In
Go to https://webmeeting.nih.gov/scr/, on the log in screen, choose “Enter as a Guest” and type in your name.
Once the room is open the system will be able to call you to connect to the audio.
Use *6 to mute or unmute your phone.
**Do Not Place Call on Hold**
Contact the Regional Medical Library (RML) office at 713-799-7880, or 800-338-7657 (AR, LA, NM, OK, TX only).
As always, our webinars are free of charge and open to anyone.
Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
Dazzled by the latest smartphone? Interested in the Internet of things? Heard the buzz about biochips? Each year new and emerging technologies make headlines, often promising new and better ways to improve lives or industry. But is all just hype? Do any of these emerging technologies really make an impact? Information technology research and advisory firm Gartner take a look at emerging technologies each year and have devised a way to better understand the hype around the new trends. “Gartner Hype Cycles provide a graphic representation of the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications, and how they are potentially relevant to solving real business problems and exploiting new opportunities.” Gartner creates hype cycles for various aspects of technology but their emerging technology hype cycle can be used to better understand the impact of new technologies in general.
Each Hype Cycle drills down into the five key phases of a technology’s life cycle:
- Technology Trigger: A potential technology breakthrough kicks things off. Early proof-of-concept stories and media interest trigger significant publicity. Often no usable products exist and commercial viability is unproven.
- Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early publicity produces a number of success stories—often accompanied by scores of failures. Some companies take action; many do not.
- Trough of Disillusionment: Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.
- Slope of Enlightenment: More instances of how the technology can benefit the enterprise start to crystallize and become more widely understood. Second- and third-generation products appear from technology providers. More enterprises fund pilots; conservative companies remain cautious.
- Plateau of Productivity: Mainstream adoption starts to take off. Criteria for assessing provider viability are more clearly defined. The technology’s broad market applicability and relevance are clearly paying off.
Gartner uses proprietary research processes to explore the impact of technologies and make predictions. The image below shows the 2013 Emerging Technology Hype Cycle from Gartner, the latest version of the graphic. The Hype Cycle and topics covered in the Hype Cycle are discussed in detail in the updated version of the Geeks Bearing Gifts class.
According to Gartner the Hype Cycle Can Help You:
- Separate hype from the real drivers of a technology’s commercial promise;
- Reduce the risk of your technology investment decisions;
- Compare your understanding of a technology’s business value with the objectivity of experienced IT analysts.