Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Adding a chat box to pbwiki

As an experiment, I just added a Gabbly chat box to the Virtual Reference SIG wiki. Recently, the service I use for this wiki, pbwiki, rolled out a new WYSIWYG editor with a bunch of fun plugins. I added the Gabbly chat room plugin on the Virtual Reference SIG wiki in the sidebar, which appears on every page of the wiki.

Now, if you are viewing a page in the wiki, you can easily see if there is anyone else online viewing any other page in the wiki. Each viewer is given a generic chat screen name (gabbly415, gabbly83, gabbly269, etc.) You can launch a chat with another viewer at any time. The Gabbly interface gives you the option of changing your screen name from the generic "gabbly#" format to something more personal or meaningful.

I am eager to see if I bump into anyone reading the wiki at the same time as I am. If you happen to have a Gabbly conversation with someone on our wiki, please let me know that it worked for you by leaving a comment on this blog post (I'll do the same if I run into anyone else online). My hope is that this chat box will provide yet another way that the wiki can be used to created a shared space for those interested in chat reference, regardless of whether you're actually able to attend our quarterly SIG meetings or not.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Screencasts for chat reference training

A week ago, my library at Baruch College started officially sharing its subscription to QuestionPoint with the libraries at three other CUNY schools: Brooklyn College, Hunter College, and the CUNY Graduate Center. We are still in a soft launch period now, as the librarians at those other schools will need some time to get acclimated to doing chat reference as part of the 24/7 Reference Academic Cooperative that QuestionPoint offers.

For the purposes of training my colleagues in our consortium about how to use QuestionPoint for chat reference, I slapped together a wiki (I never seem to run out of reasons to launch a new wiki) with links to QuestionPoint documentation, contact info, and a shared schedule. I've also finally had a good reason to try using Macromedia Captivate, which had been installed on my machine for a month unused (!), to create some screencasts. My hope is that these screencasts will cut down on the time I have to spend on the phone or composing e-mails with step-by-step instructions.

So far, I've got a screencast explaining how to create personal scripts in QuestionPoint and another demonstrating how to assign a resolution code at the close of a chat session. I must confess to have really enjoyed the process of recording the screencast and then tinkering with the pacing and special effects. I hope to have a half dozen of these screencasts done by the end of winter. Any feedback (in the comments section) on what I've done so far would be greatly appreciated. If you feel like nosing around our humble little wiki, you can do so here.

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