Thursday, August 26, 2010

Brainfuse Training, 8/26/2010

Posted on behalf of Keela Pfaff (Ruth Enlow Library of Garrett County).

Brainfuse Webinar
Thursday, August 26, 2010 will soon be replaced with Brainfuse. Brainfuse appears to be a user-friendly database with features for students of all ages. In particular, this resource could be of great benefit to older homeschoolers who may need additional assistance with advanced topics..

All tutors have at least a Bachelor’s Degree and are subject to a background check. Tutors must also pass Brainfuse tests in the subject areas for which they would like to specialize; these are the only subjects for which they may provide tutoring. Live chat sessions with these tutors are offered from 2:00 PM until 12:00 AM each day.

Students can receive answers to specific questions or tutoring for a specific skill set via a live chat session. By creating a username and password [no other information is required], patrons can view past sessions which never expire from their account.

Students may also submit writing samples for review; tutors will respond with comments and/or other feedback within twenty-four hours. The “24/7 Help” feature allows students to send specific questions on any topic to a tutor outside of normal operating hours.

Brainfuse recognizes that learning does not end with high school. The “Adult Skills” portion of this database offers assistance with the GED, US Citizenship Test, resume writing, and Microsoft Office, along with standard subject areas.

Practice tests are offered in a variety of subjects. Users may also select “Standardized Tests” to practice taking the SAT or ACT.

Brainwave is a function which allows the user to create movies. For example, you can record a multi-stop math problem which can then be viewed any time you wish and/or sent to others via e-mail.

I am glad to have participated in this webinar. It was easy-to-follow, brief (under 45 minutes!), and very informative. I look forward to sharing this resource with many of our patrons.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Building the Digital Branch

Staff member: Tracy Carroll
Original event date: August 3, 2010
Original event time: 2:30-4:30 pm
Speaker: David Lee King, Digital Branch & Services Manager at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

Building the Digital Branch with David Lee King provided lots of insight on how to approach redesigns, which are coming up soon for a few libraries. One thing that he suggested in usablity studies is to make it short and sweet, no more than 5 minutes to complete 8-12 questions and to ask questions like "where would you go to find..?" to see if patrons can find stuff. He even suggested special computers (like the lab) to take the survey.

In focus groups try to "weed" out what can be combined or just removed from the sites. He suggested going to the public to find out what they call stuff and rename parts of the site based on what they call it, which was a great idea! Like what do patrons or students call the "databases" page? Making things that patrons are looking for more prominent, like a "Fee Information" bright and bold on the front page.

I also found out that I'm not the only person who is doing it solo, there are a lot of libraries where there is only 1 person doing the web, if they even have a web presence. He suggested getting a good CMS (Content Management System) to make life easier. After my Drupal class I'm convinced that I need to carve out more time to get to know more about Drupal.

I have to go back and review the webinar again because between the instructor and the chat, there was so much information being passed around I need to go back and catch what I missed.

Looking forward to the next redesign and will definitely implement the suggestions from this webinar. Here are some notes and handouts that I will be using for my next redesign.