Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Searching Modernized

In this school library, we have only one computer solely dedicated to searching the catalog.  That is absolutely all you can do with it. It's always on and ready to search.

But one is not enough.  Space limitations prevent us from adding more dedicated computers.

We also have 26 other brand new iMacs.  They are most frequently used by classes doing research, but they are also available for independent use.  Students who want to search a book are required to login to their individual user accounts, access the internet, find Destiny (if they haven't bookmarked it) and then conduct their search for books.  

Too many steps.

A cart of iPads is available for teacher check-out (which includes me).  Students have learned to use the Destiny Quest app, but they cannot checkout iPads individually.

Students won't search if it is too difficult, so we needed to find a simple solution. 

This is what we came up with:

The mount was purchased from Smart Things.  

Locking the iPad to one app is called Guided Access.  To set it up, go to:
  • Settings
  • General
  • Accessibility
  • Guided Access (near the bottom)
  • Turn it on & set 4-digit passcode
    • Go to the app you want to use and triple-click the home button
    • At this point you can circle any areas you want to restrict and there are additional options for disabling the sleep/wake button, volume buttons, touch control, and motion control.  We did not need to change anything here.
  • To change anything or disable restrictions, just triple-click the home button, enter your code, and make your changes.

This has been such a success that we are looking for other locations to mount them... and the funds to do it with.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Baby Steps to creating a Makerspace in the Library

Makerspaces in Your Library

When I entered Fields Elementary Library, it was traditional in every way.  Slowly, I have worked to make it a learning space, one where I can share technology and create a community of shared learning. Gone are the days that the library is just a place to check in and check out books.  Since McAllen ISD is a 1:1 district, I am thrilled to see the potential every student has in this space. 

When I interviewed a month ago for this library position, my principal asked what my vision was for the library.  I told her I envisioned a makerspace, one with a 3D printer, Lego Mind Storm sets, robots, and the opportunity for student's imagination to unfold.  That is a tall order when you have a small budget, but she had access to some grant funds that may

make that 3D printer materialize along with other tech gadgets. So, until then, I am starting out small.  It begins with creating a designated space with the potential to grow.  

The exciting part of this whole concept is that the library holds the potential for collaboration between students in other parts of the country or world.  Imagine students from one makerspace to another makerspace via Skype in Education or Google Connected Classrooms.  What if students worked with other students to solve problems together or create models together within their respective maker spaces?  The video below shows how one public library group is doing in their makerspaces via Google Hangouts.


For now, our small maker space (Fields Fab Lab) has tools for students to build or experiment with simple materials.  When that 3D printer comes in or the Lego Mind Storm kits, the possibilities are endless.  Who else out there has a maker space or is trying to set one up?  Please share your comments below!