Wednesday, April 16, 2008

23 Things!

Welcome to Fontana Regional Learning, an online self-discovery program for Fontana Regional Library staff members. The program is intended to encourage the exploration of web 2.0 tools and new technologies, specifically 23 different Things. This program is based on one that was originally developed and launched for the staff at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in August of 2006. The Learning 2.0 program was designed by Helene Blowers, former PLCMC Technology Director.

If you're not a Fontana Regional Library staff member, but happened to have found this page--feel free to join us in our exploration! However, we CANNOT provide non-employees with the incentives. Sorry!

The objectives of this program are:

  1. Encourage exploration of Web 2.0 and new technologies by FRL staff.
  2. Provide staff with new tools (that are freely available on the Internet) to better support library operations and to explore new ideas.
  3. Reward staff for taking the initiative to complete 23 self-discovery exercises.

Listed below are 23 Things (or small exercises) that you can do on the web to explore and expand your knowledge of the Internet and Web 2.0. Staff are encouraged to complete all 23 items on this list by July 31st in order to get their prize. To receive the prize, you must record your experiences with each Thing (beginning with Thing #3) in your own blog. Entries should be substantial--at least 125 words. We want you to really reflect on your own learning process and the possibilities these tools open up. You'll also find a list of participating FRL staff members here, so that you can read each others' blogs and make comments. We will be monitoring and tracking participants' progress by means of the blogs--so make sure to update them to get full credit!

As a helpful tip, right click on the links in blog posts and select "Open in New Tab". Then, as you are exploring the sites, you can just switch from tab to tab to check on the original exercise requirements without having to backtrack.

If any sites are not working properly, or if you run into blocked pages due to FRL's filtering, please let Sarah know immediately! She can be reached by phone at Cashiers Library or by email (sskrobis at

Very important note (updated 4/22): We'll take these exercises one week at a time (don't want to overwhelm you!). Each week, you'll find links to new posts that have all the details for that specific Thing. Check back every Wednesday to get the newest updates. If you're working ahead (which you're free to do), please double check to make sure you've completed the requirements for each item!

Week 1: Introduction (officially starting 4/16/2008)

Thing 1: Read this blog & find out about the program.

Thing 2: Discover a few pointers from lifelong learners and learn how to nurture your own learning process.

Week 2: Blogging

Thing 3: Set up your own blog & add your first post.

Thing 4: Register your blog by emailing Sarah and begin your Learning 2.0 journey.

Week 3: RSS & Newsreaders

Thing 5: Learn about RSS feeds and set up your own Google Reader account.

Thing 6: Locate a few useful library related blogs and/or news feeds.

Week 4: Photos and Images

Thing 7: Explore Flickr and learn about this popular image hosting site.

Thing 8: Discover some Flickr mashups & 3rd party sites.

Thing 9: Play around with an online image generator.

Week 5: Play Week

Thing 10: Take a look at GoodReads and catalog some of your favorite books.

Thing 11: Explore user-voted worthwhile news stories via Digg.

Thing 12: Create a blog post about anything technology related that interests you this week and pick out the incentive you'd want to receive once you finish all 23 Things.

Week 6: Tagging, Folksonomies, and Digitization

Thing 13: Learn about tagging and discover (a social bookmaking site)

Thing 14: This one has been changed! Instead of explore Technorati, we'll look at Google Books to see what current digitization projects are doing.

Thing 15: Read a few perspectives on Library 2.0 and the future of libraries and blog your thoughts.

Week 7: Wikis

Thing 16: Learn about wikis and discover some innovative ways that libraries are using them.

Thing 17: Add an entry to the Fontana Regional Learning wiki.

Week 8: Online Productivity

Thing 18: Take a look at some online productivity (word processing, spreadsheet) tools.

Thing 19: Explore any site from the Web 2.0 awards list, play with it and write a blog post about your findings.

Week 9: Videos, Podcasts, and Downloadable Audio

Thing 20: Explore YouTube.

Thing 21: Discover some useful search tools for locating podcasts.

Thing 22: Take a look at the titles available on NetLibrary and learn how to download audiobooks.

Week 10: Finale!

Thing 23: Summarize your thoughts about this program on your blog. This is it! You're done after this Thing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Will there be any training classes offered to show staff how to do this?

No, this is a self-directed learning program. If you feel you need assistance with an item, you are encouraged to be resourceful and to find a co-worker or another staff member who can help. Reading other staff member's blogs can help, too. If you're absolutely struggling, please let your library's Staff Development committee representative know.

I've seen the list of 23 Things on the website, but how do I know what to do with them?

Each week, two or three posts will be added to the Learning 2.0 with details about the discovery exercises for that week. Check back on the list above to see the items that are activated each week. The reason for this staggered approach is to allow participants the ability to focus each week on a different area without feeling overwhelmed. There will also be an extra five weeks at the end to give you enough time to complete them all.

Can I work ahead through the list of items on my own?

Yes, of course. You are encouraged to self-direct your discovery process! However, if you do work ahead on some items, be sure to check back on the exercise details for each item once they are posted so you can be sure to receive full credit for its completion.

What if I need help - who can I call?

Since this program is self-directed and is being completed by many staff members throughout the system simultaneously, you are encouraged to work with colleagues along your discovery journey. To find a list of staff participating see The Participants. And remember to talk with your Staff Development Committee rep if you're really lost!

I would like to earn the prize, but don't feel comfortable with my co-workers reading my blog, can I participate anonymously?

Yes and No. Since you control all the information that you share on your blog, you can choose to use a screen name to identify yourself to keep yourself anonymous. However, in order to receive the reward, you will need to identify yourself by emailing Sarah your blog's name.

And most importantly--have fun!