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Friday, March 27, 2015

Reviewing Apps

Photo credit:  Quite Adept
At the New Media Training I attended last week, I was excited to explore some apps that really invite joint attention between a parent and child, are engaging and interactive, and allow kids to explore early literacy and math concepts in a fun way.  There are so many apps in the App Store--just sifting through the thousands of "educational" apps proves to be a pretty time-consuming process, and sometimes dishearteningly fruitless.

Carissa Christner and Anne Hicks, our trainers from Little eLit, had a few suggestions for places to look for reviews.  Here are some of my favorites:

Common Sense Media ranks apps on a variety of criteria, including ease of play, consumerism (including in-app purchases), privacy and safety, violence and scary stuff, etc.  The reviews discuss educational value, give details on the rankings, and give suggestions for parents for further discussion with their kids based on the app's content.  You can limit the results to make searching easier.

Carissa reviews apps for the Madison Public Library, so watch that website for updates.  Carissa has a lot of experience looking for good apps, and her reviews are relevant and come from a smart librarian's perspective.  You can also limit results to make searching easier.

Little eLit is a stand-by, reviews are mixed in with articles, written by librarians who can tell you how they have used the apps and what works (and what doesn't work).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Inspired for Outreach with Impact

I just listened to the archived recording of a UW-Madison SLIS Continuing Education webinar by Yee Lee Vue of the Appleton Public Library.  She was talking about library outreach to the Hmong community.  She spoke specifically about their project to bring Every Child Ready to Read information to Hmong families.  I recommend listening to the webinar--it is truly impressive to learn about the number of people they have reached, and the meaningful outcomes they have achieved.  However, many of her suggestions are useful for any outreach effort.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Next time you have an opening, strongly consider recruiting someone from the community you are trying to reach.  This helps address language barriers, and makes many facets of outreach easier and more effective.
  • Even without someone on staff who speaks the language, there are crucial things you can do to enhance your outreach efforts:
    • Develop relationships with trusted agencies and people that already are serving the community you want to reach (churches, mutual assistance associations, etc.)
    • Take time to develop relationships in general.  Let word of mouth work for you.
What are you finding helpful for outreach?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mark Your Calendars

I just got back from a very stimulating and invigorating training with Carissa Christner and Anne Hicks, both contributors and trainers for Little eLit.  So much to sort through and think about and delve into further!  Look for more blog posts in the coming days about some of the great things I learned from this training.  In the meantime, mark your calendars for 2 terrific training opportunities coming up next fall, funded by a Library Services and Technology Act grant,  that will help us all feel better equipped to act as media mentors in our own communities.

September 18 at WITC in Rice Lake, Carissa Christner (of Little eLit and Library Makers blog fame) will demonstrate the hows and whys of incorporating digital media into storytimes and other programs, talk about evaluating apps, and discuss favorite ways to discover new apps.  This training will be geared toward librarians (though others are welcome to join us).   Carissa is a really smart, interesting, creative and engaging presenter, I think you'll love her!  (Watch for more details, but mileage subsidies and lunch will be covered by the grant)

October 6 at the Florian Gardens in Eau Claire, Chip Donohue (Erikson Institute and nationally sought-after consultant and trainer about early childhood and media) and Erin Walsh (Mind Positive Parenting, based in Minneapolis), will talk about media in the context of brain development, and help us get a better handle on how we can provide information, training, and resources to families and caregivers about media.  I'm hoping that we'll draw a broad audience of early childhood professionals to this training!  (Watch for more details, but mileage subsidies and lunch will be provided by the grant).