Conference Takeaways: Bringing ALA Back Home for Fall

I attended (and presented at!) the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago this summer. ALA is HUGE (think 20,000 librarians), so it takes a while to decompress. Now that some time has passed, I am looking back and thinking about how to apply what I learned to the upcoming fall semester. Here are a few of the new tools I learned about, and some ideas for how to put them to use for projects this fall.

Show Your Work in New Ways

Bamboo DiRT
Digital Humanities is a hot topic here at Penn. Bamboo DiRT is a great resource for those who are interested in digital research and scholarship, but are unsure about where to start. This choose-your-own-adventure site allows you to start with a common research problem (such as, “I need a digital research tool to take notes/annotate resources“), and presents you with a curated list of tools that can help you get the job done.

Interested in presenting your hard work in an ebook format? PressBooks is a simple tool to help you create ebooks (EPUB and MOBI) and typeset PDFs. Create watermarked books for free, or pay a premium rate to remove the PressBooks branding.

Pick Up Extra Skills

Course Buffet
Search for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) by subject, across all the popular platforms. See also: Class Central. Take an entire course in your spare time, or just pick and choose pieces from individual courses and build your own curriculum. Taking an introductory computer science course at Penn? Challenge yourself to create a Python-based game in this course from Rice University. Maybe you’re an art enthusiast taking a religious studies class, and want to learn a little bit about Early Christian and Byzantine art. Working on a big group project? Check out the essentials of project management.

Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU)
P2PU encourages lifelong learning by offering courses in their Schools of social innovation, mathematical future, webcraft, education, open, and data. You can also easily create your own courses. Added bonus: for many courses, you can earn badges to brag about you’ve accomplished. The idea of “badging,” that is, digital versions of scout-inspired badges that indicate an achievement or competency, was discussed at ALA during this year’s Top Tech Trends session. Check out char booth’s blog post on the topic, and read the always wonderful 7 Things You Should Know About (Badges) doc from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative to learn more.

Enjoy the last few days of summer, and we look forward to seeing everyone back in WIC in the fall!

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