Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cheers to Technology!

My use of technology this week has been an expansive high. One of the first reasons is that my laptop finally works after multiple fixes. I get accustomed to my personally designed shortcuts, favorites, and saved files. The familiarity saves me time and effort. However, what I have realized about myself this semester is that I can be flexible and resourceful.

The focus of technology function through the usability test is complex, challenging, and invaluable. The process of analyzing test purpose, goals, and objectives makes me consider the initial starting point of the project. Writing the test forces me to question what I ultimately want to know about user response. For instance, is the category hidden on the home page? Does the wiki navigate in a user friendly manner? The comments and feedback after the test offer constructive feedback. Sometimes when I am absorbed in my own project, my myopic view causes me to miss obvious aspects. What I find most interesting is the varied remarks about the wiki.

The other reason that I have had a positive week is that my team is in the final stage of wiki completion by posting the training materials. This is like running a race and catching a glimpse of the finish line! Last night I prepared an excellent Mexican dinner. The sharing a meal and conversation was the reward of a lot of effort. With the wiki, I also believe that through persistence and diligence, a beneficial resource was created for the library. The similarities between technology and cooking are simply that both have the potential to connect and to link others through community. It can be such a grand celebration when the end product turns out well!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

#11 Approach is everything!

This week I have focused on writing training material for the Managed Spaces of our wiki project. Though I was indifferent about what portion of the wiki I would be writing instructions, it seems to me that this particular area is by far the most complicated because it holds the heart of wiki management. The Space Contents, Settings, and Promotion include many brief subcategories that can have involved processes. Therefore, I constantly ask myself, “What is the most logical approach?”

I find the most intriguing aspect of technology is analyzing the user. I wonder how user personality and preference influence the depth and the breadth of technology training. For instance, I much prefer a global picture with instructions broken down into specific tasks. Others may be content with receiving a general overview of the area and locating more specifics when they need the material. Regardless of style, I believe everyone arranges, organizes, and prioritizes information in a manner that makes the most sense. The difficult area for me is figuring out where to begin and what kinds of directions will be the most beneficial.

It is comical to think that it was only a few months ago that I first viewed the class wiki. I remember feeling a sense of panic that I did not know where to go or what to do. The feeling of the novice is one of the things I must keep in mind when I write directions. There is a balance with providing too little or too much information during the initial experience. I find that there is a correlation in the simplicity to recipe instructions and those basic steps in training materials. Hopefully those who use the wiki will seek help and have a positive experience.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Distractions #10

I am one of those intensely focused people who can tune out a loud scream while reading. Most often brief interruptions have not interfered with my ability to stay on track. However, this week I have had numerous distractions that have pulled me away from my daily Internet current events and responding to e-mail. Over the busy weekend I do not know if I even looked at a computer and I was not even on vacation. The truth is that it felt fresh again to plunge in at the beginning of the week. I thought perhaps everyone should take a break from technology ruts and routines every now and then.

Over the past few weeks I have also learned through this technology class that I truly learn more working beside people than plodding along on my own. There is something about the dynamics of experimenting with others and taking risks that motivate me! Also, when I forget how to do some task, it’s reassuring to ask questions and to make learning connections. For instance, a book podcast captured my son’s interest in a particular reading series. Sharing similar experiences also provides meaning and purpose to technology use.

A similar analogy can be made with the fine art of cooking. I have learned far more being in a kitchen with others than I have by reading a cookbook or perusing cooking techniques online. In addition, I often find that when I have moments of reprieve from the daily grind that creative interest is renewed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

#9 Action Plan

This past week I sent my laptop back in for repairs for the second time within a 3 week period of time. Fortunately I have other computers to complete assignments. Each time I return the computer, I lose my data, my trust, and I am forced to reorganize my work flow. Therefore, the importance of a computer is that I depend on it to maintain my life action plan.

While using the Google spreadsheet this week, it occurred to me how often I take a lofty, substantial goal and break the tasks into chunks. Although not titled “project plan,” most of how I organize action is based through a similar thought process out of necessity. For instance, it is easier for me to globally view monthly calendar prior to formulating a menu or a shopping list. I can then create monthly, weekly, and daily meals. Sometimes this means purchasing bulk and cooking meat products once and freezing extra. Other times it is simply supplying ingredients as options.

Although one of the benefits of an overall wiki project plan is the ability to view results, another positive is that the software allows me to plan by accommodating various changes. I appreciate the feeling that the plan is not wrong, just constantly being updated. This will be a useful experience in the future of working in a library as sections of work can be delegated, expanded, or divided. In addition, the big picture allows team members to visualize steps and recognize individual efforts. This emphasizes the importance of working together as a team.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

#8 Persistence

Within any course of daily events or plans, I expect and anticipate various obstacles. Technology is just another one of the areas in my life that require a lot of resolve. There are 2 instances that cause me to have a considerable level of patience this week. The first is in trying to figure out some details with the wiki. As a means to correct my misunderstanding, I seek help at Wikispaces through e-mail. This person gives me information, but the same general information on the help site, and does not answer the specific question that I have asked. For instance, I do not want to change a password, but I want to know why I am not signed in as an organizer? I think the key component to assembling a project is getting the right questions answered within a prompt time frame. Needless to say, with 5 e-mails, I was finally able to explain what it is I wanted to do and I was able to see myself as an acpl organizer. It truly is the simple things in life that cause so much frustration. The positive side is that this persistence causes me to be brave about exposing what I know and do not know about technology. There is also a feeling of accomplishment when a person endures the process and is satisfied with the result.

This past month I have also been having difficulty signing in as a guest at IPFW. This has also taken an enormous amount of time and energy. My first attempt, a person working in the library informs me that IUPUI students cannot have Internet access. Since I realize this is not true, I muster up more stamina and spend an hour on the phone trying to get my password entered into the computer. Knowing that everything is properly set up, I then begin to follow Windows Vista directions. However, despite my best attempts, I am still unable to connect. I then make a trip to the IT department in person to have someone personally assist me through this. After 3 more tries, we were finally able to get me online. Technology takes determination. The same can be said of cooking. There are times when the effort may seem to outweigh the enjoyment. However, there is also a sense of pride in learning and working diligently and savoring the victorious moments when there is a favorable outcome!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

#7 The Scoop on Scope

Last week in class Dr. Ball discussed the importance of scoping a project and the necessity of tasks, resources, and due dates in order to put the arms around the project’s depth and breadth. I think scope is especially important when approaching technology as there are confined areas within the software or hardware that pose limitations within any project. It allows expectations to be aligned by all parties involved. In addition, technology offers endless possibilities that may need defined operational, cost, and time guidelines.

As I was pondering this cooking analogy, I consider similar questions as I begin the planning phase for an upcoming party. A milestone party is somewhat like a project in that it is temporary with a definitive beginning and an end. The duration and extent of planning revolves around essential questions such as the number of guests, the magnitude of who will be involved, the expense, and the breakdown of tasks and time frames. These factors impact food planning and preparation in order to determine what food will be purchased or made. The invitation also phrases the scope of the party with pertinent information. When there are organized and coordinated processes of steps, the final event becomes less daunting.

However, with all projects come unknowns and unforeseen difficulties. This is also noted in Chapter 2 of The Project Management Context, “Because projects are unique undertakings, they involve a degree of uncertainty” (p.11). Technology isn’t reliable and often breaks during critical moments. For instance, during our last class I was excited to participate with my laptop and to show my teammates my personal wiki. I was experimenting with creating and editing pages with pictures and adding links. Although I merely had basic entries, I was thrilled at the ease of maneuvering and navigating through a wiki. However, despite numerous attempts, my computer would not turn on and in my frustration; I wanted to throw my laptop out the IPFW window. This reinforces the value of having a well-developed plan in advance that takes time delays into consideration. Scope’s alignment creates security, encourages a favorable outcome, and leaves a lasting impression of the project (or party).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

#6 Fun Times

Fun motivates. There is something amazingly powerful in experiencing something that is truly pleasurable. Often I wonder why I prioritize, participate, and tackle the myriad of daily tasks. In the mundane are the sprinkles of delights that bring pleasure. For me, the thrill of cooking is found in the fun of creating and making a mess.

As a young girl, I would often stand on a chair in order to reach the countertop so that I could mix, get my fingers sticky, or cut out cookies. From an early age I learned to appreciate the value of fun connections. Similar to technology, there are moments when I turn on the device not only to learn, but for pure amusement. For instance, this week I paused to enjoy a slideshow from various pictures taken from the past 2 years. Digital photography captures moments that can be more easily shared with others. There are endless examples of how my life is enriched and expanded by the diversion of technology.

In addition, this week I took the time to relax and simply enjoy technology instead of spending so much time trying to figure it out! I’ve read funny articles, viewed movies, downloaded more tunes, and actually smiled while viewing the numerous widgets. For the same reasons as cooking, I think many people are drawn to technology because it offers an engaging approach. I came across a humorous site in the Houston Chronicle at: in which people are encouraged to write a novel in 6 words. I am still trying to pen my own and I am inspired by the idea. Technolology inspires fun!

So far…Love willingly sacrifices one’s own life.
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