GLEAN Goes Mobile; Oil Change Optional

Kia_Sedona_LX_SWBThis past Saturday, I found myself stuck at the car dealership.  My wife’s van was several hundred miles overdue for an oil change, the breaks were squealing, and starting about a month ago, we noticed that the transmission was occasionally hard shifting.  I met with a service advisor upon arrival, and after explaining the situation to him, he escorted me to the customer lounge.  As he turned to leave, I noticed him shake his head ever-so-slightly, his body language communicating what his mouth could not: “Dude, it’s the busiest day of the week.  You’re going to be here for a while.”  To say that I had a little extra time on my hands would be an understatement.

There are a few things I never leave home without: my wallet, my keys, and my portable devices.  Armed with my Lumia 820 (I happen to really like Windows Phone 8, thank you very much), iPad, and an unhealthy addiction to learning and information, I’m never afraid of idle time.  Bring it.  Naturally, with a couple of hours to kill at the dealership, I immediately hopped into learning mode.  What do I feel like exploring today?  It’s always the first question into my guided inquiry for constructively beating boredom.


That was the answer.  I wanted to take the upgraded version of GLEAN for a spin, and thanks to the mobile compatibility introduced with the Skillport 7.3 upgrade two weeks ago, I could now do that from a portable device.  For clarification, Skillport is the name of the learning management system that serves as the backbone of GLEAN.

I first tried accessing GLEAN from my Lumia via Internet Explorer.  It didn’t work.  However, when I attempted to log in from my iPad via Safari, I was taken to an aesthetically pleasing, albeit minimalistic mobile log in screen.  After entering my user name, password, and allowing pop ups, I was in Skillport Mobile.  I absolutely had a geek moment in the customer lounge, nerd laughing out loud and excitedly explaining to woman sitting next me that I was learning on the go.  She kind of smiled and nodded and went back to watching the X Games.


SearchSearch screen in Skillport Mobile.  It's a little naked.

The first thing I noticed was how bare it all was.  There is a search bar along the top and icons for Search, My Feed, My Plan, and My Progress along the bottom.  The rest of the screen is empty real estate to ensure fast operation.  With there being no option to browse the catalog from here, I entered in a test search term, marketing.  Even on a somewhat sluggish wifi connection, the 4624 results came back quickly.  Most importantly, the books, courses, briefs, and videos that the search retrieved are mobile-compatible by default.  If you want to see all of the content that fits your search – both mobile and non-mobile ready – just hit the Actions button and then Show All.  I went from having 4624 results to 5062.

Search ResultsMuch of GLEAN's content has been optimized for mobile; just look at all of those search results.

Accessing content was also simple.  For example, I was interested in trying out a course to see how it would behave on my iPad.  I expanded Courses from my results list and selected Marketing Essentials: Marketing and Ethics.  At the course overview screen, I was greeted with a description and also given the options to view course topics (called Section Hits), add it to My Plan, or play the course.  I decided to push play.  The class loaded into a sleek player that filled my screen when in landscape mode.  Although the course is the exact same version that you’ll get by using GLEAN on a desktop computer, I found that it just looks better and feels more intuitive on my iPad. 

Course PlayerDear Course Player: We like big buttons and we cannot lie.

Watching a video and reading a book were child’s play, because of the unified interface of Skillport Mobile.  Books 24×7 content is folded so neatly into the mobile experience that if you’re not a frequent GLEAN user, you might think that Books 24×7 was gone completely.  This is because you can view a book or video through Skillport Mobile without having to access Books 24×7 separately.  The players for videos and books are not as sleek as the course player, but they are functional and work flawlessly with touch.  You can even listen to audio books now without having to download them to a computer first.  Just do a search for “audio edition”, find something to listen to, and stream away.

Book The book viewer is woven seamlessly into the mobile interface.  

The three hours I spent waiting for my wife’s van to be serviced flew by.  I finished half of Marketing Essentials: Marketing and EthicsI listened to chapter one of Breaking Out: How to Build Influence in a World of Competing Ideas.  I even learned about AirDrop for iOS 7.  I was so stoked from geeking out on GLEAN’s newest feature that I forgot to feed myself before going home.  My wife couldn’t figure out why I was so happy when I walked in the house, but it didn’t take her long to realize why.  A few minutes later, she comes into the kitchen to discover me with my 15 month-old son on my lap holding my iPad.

“OK, son, you gotta check this out.  GLEAN is freaking awesome.”

Have you had an opportunity to try GLEAN on an iPad, Android device, or Blackberry?  If you need help, download the quick start guides for using Skillport Mobile on a tablet or smartphone.  What has been your experience?  How do you plan on taking advantage of learning on the go?

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A Novella for November

Hello, strangers.  It’s been a while since my last update.   Between any of my four kids getting sick, aggravating my sciatica, and visiting individual library systems to present at staff development days, having a moment to sit down and write has been impossible.  However, I’ve decided to make it a priority today to fill you in on a few GLEAN updates that excite me.  My selfish hope is that my learning geekdom is as contagious as my baby’s cold, and will spread on to you.  You know I like giving stuff away.

I’ll start by celebrating our early success with GLEAN.  October was our busiest month to date bringing in over 4,000 logins, 350+ course completions, and bumping our year-to-date cumulative system usage to over 1,400 hours of learning, which does not include use, or time I spend administering the system.  I’ve seen some successful e-learning program launches during my career, but ours is by far the strongest yet.  I admit that I’m biased, but the reality is that Georgia libraries have staffs that not only promote lifelong learning, but also practice what they preach.  We also opened up GLEAN to others in the library community during October, and I’m happy to see our K-12 library peeps, academic library staffers, and our partners at GALILEO coming on board.

November brings along even more changes.  The Skillport learning management system (, which is the backbone of GLEAN will be getting an upgrade before the end of the month.  While the end user interface will not change much, major improvements are being made to the backend that will enhance the system’s functionality.  Primary among these enhancement will be that the Skillport 7.3 upgrade will bring mobile optimization to the site.  I won’t go into all of the details here, but be on the lookout for me to host a few online overviews of the enhancements in the upcoming weeks.

We also have some updates to courses in our catalog.  First and foremost, I have finally fixed the ABLE courses the Idaho Commission for Libraries, so that they report completions properly.  If you are unfamiliar, these are excellent primers for people who are new to libraries or who have not attended library school, and the courses cover technical servicescollection development, and public services.  I’ve emailed the 400+ people who were enrolled in the problematic ABLE courses earlier today with instructions on how to rectify their completion statuses. 

I have also listened to an excellent suggestion from a colleague of mine at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.  She asked if it was possible for GLEAN users to receive notification of new “just for libraries” learning assets that have been inserted to the catalog.  While I currently do not have that capability, I have created a Recently Added folder to the Just for Libraries portion of the catalog, so that you can see only items that have been placed in GLEAN during the last 30 days.  New to the catalog this month with more to be added in the upcoming days are select sessions from the Library 2.013 Conference and a Carterette Series Webinar hosted by the Georgia Library Association.  These sessions are:

Librarians in the 21st Century (60 minutes)

Best Practices for Serving Non-English Speaking Hispanics in the Public Library Setting (41 minutes)

7 Ways Public Libraries Can Impact Student Learning (30 minutes)

Leveraging Visual Literacy for Communication (60 minutes)

I’ll end on a personal note by sharing my current playlist devoted to creating interactive e-books.  As a content creator (course developer, aspiring videographer, and web design tinkerer), I’m always looking for new ways to share ideas and promote learning without boring the crap out of people.  Interactive e-books have been on my radar for some time, and now that we have access to, why not turn interest into action?

So ends my novella for November.  Back to adding courses to GLEAN.   

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Getting Started With GLEAN

This presentation provides an overview to using GLEAN, the Georgia Library Education Access Network, for Georgia's library staff. Learn what you can expect to find in GLEAN, how to use portions of the system to manage your learning, how to contribute to community discussions, and how to take your learning on the go. 

Presentation developed by Karen Douglas from original source files created by Jay Turner.
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GLEAN for the Masses!

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You may have heard the buzz surrounding GLEAN — the Georgia Library Education Access Network — Georgia Public Library Service’s one-stop shop for continuing education and training, launched to public library staff across the state in July and offering self-paced courses, professional development ebooks, instructional videos, library-specific content, and a social networking utility for library staff to learn from, and with, each other.   Beginning October 10, 2013, GPLS invites all active staff of Georgia’s K-12 public school libraries, academic libraries serving Georgia’s not-for-profit colleges and universities, and employees of GALILEO to engage with Georgia’s public library staff by joining the GLEAN community!

To get in on the fun, beginning October 10th, just visit the CE page on GPLS’s website at and click the “Request an Account” link under the Access GLEAN heading.  Be sure to browse the blog posts  while you’re there for the latest and greatest news in library learning.  There is even a GLEAN preview while you can watch while waiting for access to open on October 10th.  You may also see the GLEAN FAQ for more details about all GLEAN has to offer. 

I will be presenting an informative session, GLEANing the Riches of Continuing Education with GPLS at COMO on October 10 at 2:30pm.   Consider attending my presentation to learn the myriad ways you can use GLEAN to support your personal and professional development goals.

Hope to see you at COMO – or in GLEAN – on October 10th.


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Finally, A Date With Lynda

You know you've been eagerly anticipating this moment with baited breath for several months; now, that moment is almost here.

But first, the bad news.

The bad news is that I can't promise you a hot date with a woman named Lynda.  

The good news, however, is that I can do something even better.  GPLS is going to hook you up with the highly-acclaimed, smoldering library for the low-low price of free ninety-nine  That's right, beginning September 26, 2013, free access to will become available to public library staff with “active” GLEAN accounts.  

Active GLEAN users will be invited by email to accept a license to, which will give learners the ability to take more than 2,000 courses and 100,000 videos on a broad range of subjects, including business skills, photography, design, music and video, home computing, animation, and web design and development. New courses are added every week.

Log in to the library 24/7—even from your iPhone, iPad, Android device, or mobile phone—and watch entire courses or single tutorial videos as you need them. Exercise files let you follow along with the instruction as you learn, and bookmarks help you keep track of what you’d like to watch.

Learn something new or brush up on essential skills with, the latest addition to GLEAN!

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In the Future, I Will Have a Mind-Controlled Tail, I Won’t Own My Data, Robots Will Have Rights, and I Will Admit Myself to Detox Regularly

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOK, so maybe all of those things won't happen, but according to Stacey Aldrich, Deputy Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Education Office of Commonwealth Libraries – and futurist to boot! – these are areas that we library folks should be watching (with the Google Glasses none of us can afford).  I recently had an opportuity to hear the effervescent Aldirch deliver an amazing keynote address to state library CE coordinators from across the country and in her thought-provoking discourse, entitled Future Forward, she offered a glimpse into early signals that we are seeing now that may intimate sweeping changes to come.  After beginning her speech with an assumption-challenging and somewhat eerie story that paints a vignette of a possible future, Aldrich mapped out four areas she believes that libraries should be closely monitoring, as they may have implications for our future.  These four areas are:

1.  Wearable Technology: Wearable tech has been on an upswing in recent years, as devices have become more comfortable to wear and less distracting to the fashion-focused among us.  While Google Glasses might not be in the immediate future for many of us, we see people rocking a Fit Bit all the time or have seen commercials for a certain insurance company that might be able to lower your insurance rate if you provide a thirty-day snapshot of your driving habits.  Aldrich believes that while wearable tech can give us large amounts of relevant data about our behaviors – and can ultimately help us change our behaviors by having an instant feedback loop – there will be significant issues in the future related to privacy and who owns the data.

2.  Robots:  Robots have been working alongside man for decades, but rapid advances in computing are enabling robots to perform more cognitive tasks that previously could only be done by humans.  Humans are offloading a range of tasks to robotic assistants, ranging from using robots to sort, shelve, and retrieve books to serving as highly specialized operating aids in the surgery suite.  Aldrich believes that the game changer will be the realization of artificially intelligent machines, although that time may be decades away.  Can we say robot rights, everyone?

3.  Transhumanism:  This is the intersection of man and machine, in which mechanical parts are used to replace or enhance human organs or appendages.  Advances in science and engineering have brought about better prosthetics and even the ability to 3D print a human ear.  Along with the improvements, however, has come debate surrounding the morality of engineering people and heated discourse in some communities surrounding the possibility that prosthetic limbs may produce a competitive advantage.  According to Aldrich, there may come a time in the not-so-distant future when people will be able to choose the installation of augmented body parts for personal gain.  As an aside, if you’re thinking about what to get me for my birthday, I’ll take a Shippo, please.

4.  Tech Detox:  There is a wave of people who are electing to temporarily disconnect and unplug from technology in an attempt to better manage information overload or to reconnect to important people in their lives.  Cottage industries are popping up because of this, such as secluded retreats that bill themselves as tech detox zones.  Libraries of the future might have tech free areas in the building that promote self-reflection or face-to-face communication with others. 

This quick summary does no justice to Aldrich’s exceptional keynote address; however, as a total dork with an interest in technology and a love of libraries, I thought I’d share.  What signals are you seeing on the horizon that may have implications for libraries?  I’d love to hear them.

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“The Empress Has No Clothes” and Neither Do I

Empress-Cover-largerSo, I have a confession to make – I play cool on television, but inside, I often feel as though I’m holding my breath, treading lightly where I walk, lest they find out I’m not as put together as I pretend to be.  You know what I’m talking about: that dreaded feeling that many of us constantly agonize over, that someday our friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, bosses, pets, grocery store workers, the stranger on the street rapping to himself on a sidewalk (you get my drift), will discover that you are a phony.  It is this perpetual self-doubt, this “imposter syndrome” that can derail many careers mid-stream or sabotage them before they even get started.

I was immediately fascinated by Joyce Roche’s book, The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success, when it was recommended on inGenius by my colleague and former boss, Beth McIntyre (Executive Director, Piedmont Regional Library System).  In this business memoir, Roche details her journey from humble beginnings to rising to the top of the C-suite.  As you breeze through the pages, Roche earnestly (and quite wittily on several occasions) shares a cocktail of her own experiences, valuable lessons learned from other business leaders, and research about the imposter syndrome.  Even if you don’t have time to read the work in its entirety, there are insights that can be gleaned from any one of the twelve chapters in the book.   

Instead of monologing into the ether about what I’ve learned about myself from reading this book and the golden nuggets of knowledge that I plan to apply to my life, I’d like to invite my fellow GLEAN users to engage in a conversation around The Empress Has No Clothes From now until August 31, let’s use the Notes and Comments features of inGenius for a virtual book discussion.  Getting started is easy, and can be done by following the process below (Visual learners can click the links in each step to view short instructional videos.):

1.  Log in to GLEAN and activate inGenius if you have not done so already.  Set your profile to “visible” if you plan to participate in the discussion.   

2.  Go to Books 24×7 and search for “The Empress Has No Clothes”.   If you have not accessed Books 24×7 previously, you will be prompted to accept a license to the site.

3.  Read the The Empress Has No Clothes and interact with fellow readers by adding notes and comments from within Books 24×7, not the main GLEAN site.  inGenius is currently not functioning properly from the primary GLEAN interface and comments/notes posted there will not be visible to other inGenius users.  This issue is being investigated by tech support, and I’ll post an update to the CE blog when it is working again.

4.  Stay current on the discussion by regularly checking your inGenious feed and notifications in Books 24×7, or by updating your Books 24×7 notification options.  Notification settings can be changed by going in to Books 24×7–>Account Info (a tab in the upper-right corner of your screen)–>Notifcation Options (under Settings in the left navigation pane). 

I look forward to our first ever book discussion powered by inGenius and hearing what you think about The Empress Has No Clothes.   

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Jay Turner Selected for Competitive New American Library Association Leadership Institute

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Jay Turner, director of continuing education and training at Georgia Public Library Service is one of only 40 librarians  selected from a highly competitive national pool to participate in Leading to the Future, a new four-day immersive leadership development program for future library leaders hosted August 12-15, 2013 by the American Library Association (ALA).

“I’m excited for the opportunity to participate and learn more about leadership with my peers from around the country.  Although I am a department of one, my work often places me in a leadership role in committees, teams, and task forces — both locally and nationally — whose outputs can have far-reaching consequences.  By participating in Leading to the Future, I hope to learn best practices for assessing needs, engaging stakeholders, and implanting solutions to affect meaningful change in libraries.” 

The selection committee looked for a diverse participant mix based on type of library (public, academic, school, or special library), professional responsibility, geography, gender, and race/ethnicity, as well as demonstrated leadership potential, readiness for increased responsibility, professional achievement, and community or campus involvement.  Participants are expected to return to their library equipped with new skills for leading, coaching, collaborating, and engaging within their organizations and in the communities they serve, and prepared to identify, develop, and implement solutions which benefit everyone.

Led by leadership experts Maureen Sullivan (2012–2013 ALA President) and Kathryn Deiss (Content Strategist for the Association of College and Research Libraries), the institute takes place in August and is designed to help participants develop and practice their leadership skills so they can better help the libraries and the communities they serve thrive in a future that promises continued turbulence and uncertainty. 

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

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