The GLEAN Revolution Continues
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New GLEAN UI: Skillport 8

The GLEAN revolution continues on July 14, 2014. With a redesigned modern user interface, GLEAN will provide streamlined access to courses, books, and videos, tablet optimization so you can learn on the go, and improved community functionality for interacting with your colleagues. Register today and step into the future. The new frontier in library learning awaits.

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GLEAN Goes Mobile; Oil Change Optional
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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.

GLEAN

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
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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 Lynda.com 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 (georgialibraries.skillport.com), 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 Lynda.com 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 Lynda.com, why not turn interest into action?

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

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