Gaming and virtual worlds: Activities

This week, we have kept the activities to a minimum as we realise many of you are busy trying to catch up on previous weeks.

1. Gaming Activity

Find an online game, play it and blog about your experiences.

2. Virtual worlds and Second Life Activity

Attend the workshop or read through the handouts from the workshop.  Create a Second Life account, download the software, create an avatar and explore Second Life.

3. Activity for whichever topic you choose

Finally – please also blog your thoughts on the possible applications in libraries and/or higher education.


Week 10: Gaming and virtual worlds

Welcome to Week 10: Gaming and virtual worlds.  This week we will be taking a look at gaming and virtual worlds.

Please note, you can choose to look at gaming or virtual worlds – you do not need to explore both of them.

1. Gaming

Due to the focus of this week’s workshop being virtual worlds and Second Life, we ask that you do some exploring of your own on the topic of gaming and libraries.

Some good starting points are:

Jenny Levine – the Shifted Librarian and her presentations wiki

When ‘Digital natives go to the library

The McMaster University Learning 2.0 @ Mac week on Gaming and Virtual Environments

Or, with all of the knowledge you have gained so far on the programme – why don’t you do some research of your own?

2. Virtual worlds and Second Life

The content we cover in the workshop is all you need to look at and do for this part of the topic.

Remember, you can view all of the links referred to in the presentation via @

or via the PDF file Virtual worlds and second life reading and links

Social networking sites: Activities

Ok, this weeks activities are fairly straightforward.  The second one is optional.

1. Set up an account with Ning and join the Learning 2.0 Ning network

Create your own page.  Try to build in some features you have discovered so far in the Learning 2.0 programme.  You will receive an invitation to join the network via your hotmail address.

7 things you should know about Ning

2. Create a Twitter account and tweet for a week (Optional activity)

Twitter is a social networking site (that is also referred to as a microblogging service) that enables you to update your contacts on what you are doing at any moment in time.  It works in a very similar way to your status update in Facebook.

In this activity you are asked to post updates for a week and find some people to follow.  Try different ways of using Twitter – from your personalised homepage (e.g. Netvibes), from your phone, from your desktop or from a Twitter client.

What is Twitter and is there any reason I should care?

Twitter in plain English from Commoncraft

As a start to this activity try following Jenny – you can find her via email ( or by her username jennye

Week 8: Social networking sites

Well we have made it to Week 8 of the programme – this week we will be learning about and trying out social networking sites.

What is a social networking site?

Social networking as a broad term can refer to the entire ‘Web 2.0’ phenomenon, but what we will be focussing on this week are usually referred to as social networking sites.

Many of you will already using sites such as Facebook on a regular basis.  Basically, they involve you setting up an online account, and then building a profile to reflect your interests.  You then add friends or contacts who can see your profile and interests and vice versa.  The next step is to add various applications and join various groups if you are interested in doing so.

Check out this Commoncraft video for a quick overview of social networking sites.

Features of social networks

1. Choose your social networking site

This often comes down to what your friends and/or colleagues are using.  However each does have different features/strengths, for example if you are really into music then Myspace is more relevant.  Facebook has a more generic appearance, where as Myspace enables you to customise your pages.

2. Sign up for an account, build your own profile, personalise your pages (depends on the service as to how much control you have over this)

As with most of these tools/services – you go to the web page of the service you want to use and sign up for an account (another password to add to your learning 2.0 collection).

3. Add friends/contacts, join a group and add any applications you like.

Some people like adding applications, join every group they can possibly find and send lots of invitations to you.  Others just have their basic profile and don’t do much more with their account.  It is completely up to you.

Each site has their advantages and disadvantages – if you are not using any of them at the moment, it’s worth taking a look at  a couple to see what you think.

The major players are Facebook, Myspace and Bebo.  Others out there include: Ning, LinkedIn, Elgg and 6pages (created by Imperial students).

For a comparison of Myspace, Bebo and Facebook, see: Myspace Vs Bebo Vs Facebook – the Ultimate Showdown of Internet Domination

How libraries/universities are using social networking sites

There are loads of examples of libraries and higher education institutions using social networking sites in various ways.  This could be to set up an institutional network, such as the University of Wales at Newport who have a Ning site up and running as do the University of Bradford, or creating a library catalogue search option, such as the World Cat search for their facebook application.

See the Imperial College Library account for more examples, try the tag socialnetworking or facebook.  Or do some searching of your own and tag some good examples.

Further reading

Social networking software on the Library Success wiki

See Brian Kelly’s blog for a post on: Revisiting UK University pages on Facebook for more local examples.

Social Network Sites: Public, Private, or What?

Podcasts and multimedia: Activities 1 – 3 (4 is optional)

As the weeks go on we are discovering how many of the technologies featured in the programme can be integrated and enhanced by being used together.  So in this activity you’ll be having a go at utilising the technologies from previous weeks (blogs, wikis and RSS) with podcasts and online video.

Activity #1 – Pick your podcatcher and subscribe to some podcasts

In Week 3 you will have created an account with Bloglines or Google Reader and both of these readers can be used to subscribe to podcasts using RSS.

Or try something new and download iTunes and use that as your podcatcher.

There are podcasts on just about every subject under the sun so try and find ones which are of personal or professional interest to you – that way you’ll enjoy listening to them!

Step 1 – search for a podcast

Try using a couple of different podcast search engines such as iTunes, Podcastalley, Podcastdirectory, Everyzing and Podomatic and compare the results.  Remember you can also use Google or Yahoo; just add ‘podcast’ as a keyword in your search.

Step 2 – subscribe

When you’ve found your podcast you need to subscribe to it.  Look for the familiar orange RSS logo, or you may even see a handy button saying ‘Subscribe using iTunes, GoogleReader, Bloglines etc.  Alternatively look for the RSS feed URL and copy and paste that into your chosen podcatcher.

If you need a refresher on RSS then head back to the Week 3 post and activities on RSS, or contact the Learning 2.0 team.

Subscribe to at least 3 podcasts and then get your headphones on and have a listen to a couple.

Activity #2 – Create an account with YouTube or Google Video

Step 1 – register

If you’ve previously created an account with Google Reader then Google Video should recognise and you’re good to go.  Registering with YouTube just takes a few seconds.

Step 2 – search for some videos

Both Google Video and YouTube allow you to search for videos using keywords.  Have a go and see if you can find anything of interest. Try searching for ‘libraries’ and see what happens!

Step 3 – add some favourites and RSS feeds

Once you’ve found some videos you like try and make them a favourite, or set up an RSS feed so you’ll know when videos featuring similar content is added.

To find out more about these features go to the YouTube or Google Video help pages.

Activity #3 – Add media to your blog and wiki page

Step 1 – add audio to your blog

Follow these instructions to add audio files to your blog.  Think about copyright though!  You can find ‘podsafe’ music on Podsafe Audio, Jamendo and opsound.

Step 2 – add video to your blog and wiki page

If you haven’t done this already try adding a video to your blog and your wiki page.

Activity #4 – Become a podcaster! (Entirely optional)

If you think this podcasting lark sound easy then why not try it for yourself!

Step 1 – find out what you need to do

Try these quick tutorials which provide a good overview of the equipment and software you need to podcast, as well as tips on how to make your podcast great!

Step 2 – get some software

Audacity is free audio software for recording and editing your podcast.  It’s easy to use but these tutorials will help get you started.

Step 3 – podcast!

If you do podcast please let your fellow participants know and let them listen to your masterpiece.

Week 7: podcasts and multimedia

This week we’ll be looking at podcasts and online video.

What is a podcast?

The exact origins of the term podcast are shrouded in mystery, although podcasting started to catch on around the same time as the iPod so there may be a connection!

A podcast is an audio file (usually MP3) which is distributed over the web. A podcast may contain music, or not. It may be just a few minutes long, or last hours. It may feature one person, a conversation or a panel discussion. It may be recorded ‘live’ or carefully scripted and edited. It may be professionally produced or made by you and me on our PC (or Mac).

The term podcast is now often also used to describe an online video or ‘vodcast’. So you may find yourself watching a podcast, as well as listening to it. In this post we’ll stick to a podcast being audio only to avoid confusion.

How do I listen to podcasts?

The variety of ways you can listen to podcasts is one of the reasons why this technology has become so popular. You can listen to a podcast on your PC, or download it to an MP3 player/iPod and listen on the move.

How do I find podcasts?

Like blogs and RSS feeds, podcasts have their own search engines so you can easily find the podcasts you want. iTunes, Podcastalley, Podcastdirectory, Everyzing and Podomatic among others all offer the facility to search for podcasts, and may also host them as well. But you can just as easily use Google or Yahoo; just add ‘podcast’ as a keyword in your search.

One key feature of podcasts is the ability to subscribe to a series. You can download an aggregator, or podcatcher like iTunes or Juice. Alternatively, because serial podcasts have RSS feeds, you can utilise an RSS reader like Bloglines or Google Reader to subscribe to podcasts.

Can I podcast?

Yes you can! Podcasting, like blogging, is open to everyone as the equipment required is minimal. Got a PC? Got a microphone? Got something to say? Then you can be a podcaster. If you want to know more, check out the activities for this week.

Enough with the audio – what about online video?

The availability of faster and better internet connections, low cost online storage, cheap digital camcorders and home editing software has resulted in an explosion of video online. Content may be professionally produced, like the programmes you can watch or download from BBC iPlayer. But all it takes is a quick glance at video hosting sites like YouTube and Google Video to see that we’re all getting in the act. In fact YouTube’s slogan is ‘Broadcast yourself’ and we do, in our millions.

How do I find online video?

We’ve already mentioned YouTube and Google Video, but other search engines like Blinkx, Exalead and Yahoo offer video searching options. Or you can just add ‘video’ as a keyword in your search on most engines to get results.

Can I YouTube?

You can create accounts with YouTube and Google Video (in fact, if you set up an account with Google Reader in Week 3: RSS, you can use the same username and password to access Google Video.)

An account allows you to upload your own videos to these services, as well as create favourite lists, set up RSS feeds etc.

If you’ve bought a PC or a Mac recently you’ll probably find digital video editing software like iMovie and Windows Movie Maker pre-loaded; ready and waiting for you to create your masterpiece.

The L20 team has a YouTube account and we’ve loaded the short video tutorial we made on setting up your blog.

As you can see the quality isn’t great as the tutorial wasn’t created for YouTube – but it demonstrates how easy it is to join the online video club.

What’s in it for libraries?

Podcasts and online video provide a new medium for libraries in teaching, learning and marketing services to students and staff. Libraries are increasingly using these technologies to complement and supplement printed guides or face to face contact.

Take a look at the Imperial College online lecture page. By using podcasts and video the College is opening up these lectures to everyone – not just the people sitting in the lecture theatre. Many departments are now recording lectures and making them available as podcasts.

The library dipped its toe into the podcast waters last summer and created an audio library induction.

Click play to listen.

More podcasts are planned for the new academic year; there are more details about this on the intranet.

To see how other libraries are using podcasting visit the Library Success Wiki which has a long (mostly US based) list of library podcasts.

Over this side of the pond Cardiff University Information Services worked with the student radio station to produce a six part series on essay writing.

Librarians are also using online video, mainly in the form of screencasts which capture the activity on your PC monitor. Screencasts are particularly useful for demonstrating online resources such as databases. The L20 video mentioned above is an example of screencasting.

Get your ears ready – time to start the activities for this week.

Remember to add a post to your blog about this week’s activity!

Further reading (and watching and listening)

Podcasting in Plain English from the Common Craft show – all you need to know about podcasting in three minutes.

Podcasting: if Terry Wogan can do it, so can we … by Claire Molloy and Elaine Shallcross – the library ‘podsquad’ from the University of Aberdeen discuss their experiences of producing podcasts and vodcasts

Listen to University of Aberdeen podcasts

Watch University of Aberdeen vodcasts

Beginner’s guide to podcasts and podcasting (plus: how to create a basic podcast of your own) – discusses what makes a good podcast and what you need to become a podcaster yourself

Online applications and tools: Activities

As there’s such a variety of options this week – we haven’t always given you more than one activity in each section, as there will be enough there to keep you going and hope that this may give you time to explore some other areas too.

1. Personalised homepages activity

2. Mobile phones activities

3. Web browsers activity

4. Google documents activity

5. Toolbars activities

6. Widgets activity

7. Mashups activities

1. Personalised homepages activity

Set up your own personalised homepage in iGoogle, MyYahoo, Netvibes or Pageflakes. Add some (gadgets, widgets, flakes, modules) including (if possible) one of the tools you have discovered so far in the Learning 2.0 programme (such as an RSS feed, your email account, your bookmarks, your Flickr photos).

If you want some extra guidance on setting up your homepage check out these videos:


My Yahoo



2. Mobile phones activities

1. Blog about what you think the potential is for providing services via mobile phones to library users in the next couple of years. Next, find out about how one of the technologies you have learned about so far in the Learning 2.0 programme is being provided via mobile phone.

2. Take a photo with your mobile phone and upload it to your blog. As an optional extra try looking at a website via your mobile phone and blog about the experience (and it’s success or failure).

3. Web browsers activity

Assuming you use Internet Explorer download Firefox. Read up about extensions and add-ons, find a few you like and add them to Firefox.

If you already use Firefox, try downloading Opera. When you have installed it, check out their widgets page and download a few.

4. Google documents activity

1. Go to Google docs and sign in with your Google account details (if you haven’t already got a Google account, you will need to create one).
2. Create a new document or upload an existing document.
3. Share this document with others – ask them to make changes to the document.

5. Toolbars activities

1. Customise your toolbar within IE, Firefox or Opera.  See Customizing Internet Explorer toolbar or Firefox or Opera for further information.

2. Create your own toolbar using Conduit

6. Widgets activity

Create your own widget of all of your Web 2.0 identities using the Show Yourself widget or Widget box.

7. Mashups activities

1. Spend some time exploring some of the award winning mashups at Mashup Awards

2. For those of you who really want a challenge, try creating a mashup using Yahoo Pipes or another mashup editor you discover.