Using XR to Teach and Collaborate

Chad Mairn and Brian Pichman shared their incredible expertise in Extended Reality. We’re grateful they were willing to be part of our introductory pilot of Nexter Chats. Watch the chat to understand:

  • how Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are evolving to Extended Reality (XR)
  • practical ways to use VR and AR tools to teach, train and collaborate
  • what, Rumii, and other free and free companies offer today – and will be providing tomorrow.

Now is the time for libraries with AR and VR devices in their makerspaces and digital labs to use them with library staff and users to collaborate, meet, decide, learn and grow.

What’s a Nexter? Dysart & Jones Associates looks to next from now. Nexters are librarians, those in information and knowledge management, consultants, and anyone who guides people to next from now.

Chad is the Innovation Lab Manager at St. Petersburg College and a very active musician in 3 bands. A wild man – always know the best beer and is passionate about bringing people to new realizations using technology. Brian is the Manager of Personal Support Computers for Collegeis Education as well as the Director of Strategic Innovation for the Evolve Project. He has his Masters in Information Security and knows his stuff. He started Evolve to change how people perceive libraries; although he’s not a librarian, he wants people and suppliers to see libraries as trendsetters. Mon dieu – don’t we all!

Chad and Brian are Nexters.

Cybersecurity: 10 Apps to Protect you Working Remotely

SLA Canada’s first Chat is here for your viewing – and your protection. Cybersecurity is always essential and more so now, working remotely. Brian Pichman, Director of Strategic Innovation @ Evolve, and Manager, Personal Support Computing for Collegis Education, provides practical advice and links to 10 applications you can use today. He starts with TorGuard VPN and Opera webbrowser and works through the options to,,, and more.

Best Covid-19 Resources: Curated

Nothing makes librarians happier than being able to quickly and confidently turn to a reliable list of sources on a topic. Right now that topic is Covid-19. Communities, students, faculty – everyone wants and deserves current information on which they can rely.

Talk with Gary about finding news before you even know you need it on April 30th, 2020 @ 4:00pm ET. Register here. Free and reliable. Priceless.

Enter Gary Price, the prince of the web. His @Infodocket in Library Journal is a goldmine of links to the best sources, publications, and news on everything impacting libraries in all domains. And now he’s been curating Covid-19 news, publications and postings from the best sources in the US, UK, Europe – you name it.

I don’t know how he does it. I don’t care. He does it so libraries don’t have to. Here’s the first list and the second list.

Crisis & Opportunities

For several weeks I have been saying that our world is going to change significantly but I didn’t know how. This is the first article I’ve seen that starts to look at that how. Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently. Here’s How. I especially like the ideas around technology:

” use our time with our devices to rethink the kinds of community we can create through them … Cello master Yo-Yo Ma posts a daily live concert of a song that sustains him. Broadway diva Laura Benanti invites performers from high school musicals who are not going to put on those shows to send their performances to her. Entrepreneurs offer time to listen to pitches. Master yoga instructors teach free classes… together alone.”

” VR allows us to have the experiences we want even if we have to be isolated, quarantined or alone. Imagine putting on glasses, and suddenly you are in a classroom or another communal setting, or even a positive psychology intervention.”

Public libraries are now redifining their digital branches, collections, programs and services, for example the Edmonton Public Library (hope to have a link to CTV Calgary coverage soon), with such great things as: arm chair bird watching, virtual zoo safaris, aquarium tours as well as museum tours, open access digital collections which publishers are providing more and more for free (Audible & more), authors reading their works, children’s librarians doing online storytimes, average people sharing their reading of bedtime stories, and so much more!

For years Rebecca and I have talked about change happening when we are uncomfortable, and we certainly are these days. The amount of uncertainty about our future is almost overwhelming, but I hope we can all take the time to build positive scenarios of our future, to look for opportunities created by the “new normal” of our lives. So take care, be safe write down those positive opportunities and scenarios for the future — I’ll be asking you to share them!

Remote Socializing & Connecting

Jean Claude Monney, Digital Transformation Coach

What creative friends & colleagues we have! When I first met Jean Claude Monney he had an amazing knowledge management (KM) role with Microsoft and participated in KMWorld. He was a speaker for Internet Librarian & was the first to share that Skype could translate many languages so children (ando others) could communiciate with other children in other countries each using their own languages! Something I hope we will all use a lot more although there have been some changes with the platform. At any rate, here’s Jean Claude’s wonderful example of keeping in touch with friends and relatives!

“Over the past 15 years, my social and family life has been divided across two continents. Thanks to the use of video technology I am able to maintain a great relationship with my best friends and family. For example, in order to accommodate the time difference between the two continents, we do “Lunner”, i.e. Lunch/Dinner video meetings.

Here’s how it works:

We choose a day and time for our Lunner. For example: noon in Texas and 7 p.m. in Switzerland. We bring our laptops to the kitchen and connect to the video call. Then we start chatting while we cook and have the aperitif. When the food is ready, we place the laptop on one side of the table and my wife and I sit on the other side, while our friends do the same. We eat, chat, drink, laugh and have a good time. Very quickly, we forget the distance.

In these disturbing days of COVID-19, let’s reach out to those who are alone and make “Lunner” or video lunch or dinner, when the time zone allows.

To ensure the compatibility between different platforms, you can use Microsoft’s free Skype video conference system that works on Mac, PC, iPhone and Android phones. Get it here. Skype allows multiple sessions at once and with Microsoft privacy and security is built in.

Alternatively, those of you who have their friends and family on Apple platforms you can use FaceTime which works well too. As for Microsoft, Apple also is committed to protecting your privacy and security.

A little trick if you have to manage multiple time zones. I use “Date World Clock meeting  planner”  to orchestrate calls time between our 4 children. One of our daughters lives in California, the other in Texas and our two sons live in Switzerland.

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More than ever it’s time to care about each other and we have the technology to do it safely. [Rebecca & I heartily agree!]

Peace to all, Jean‑Claude Monney, Digital Transformation Coach.” His original post on LinkedIn.

Remote Working: Staying Connected with Colleagues

I’m sharing from another friend an colleague, Scott Brown who posted this on Facebook as part of his continuing #lookingup! And it’s based on a great practice started many years ago by Cindy Hill, another friend & colleague!

“Many, many people are starting to work from home on a regular basis this week. There are many, many articles surfacing out there on how to work from home, so I won’t cover those. What I want to share is a simple practice that I learned from the wonderful Cindy Hill (and she’s a big part of the #lookingup today) at SunLibrary – a way to help maintain some team continuity and connection in a non-office setting.

It’s the “Where’s (name)?” email.

First thing in the morning, everyone sends an email when they’re on. Example for me:

Subject: Where’s Scott?
Body: Morning everyone, just signing in from Portland. Happy Monday! Working alongside my office companion, Desmond (the cat).

It can be as simple as this, or more elaborate.

At the end of the day:

Subject: Where’s Scott?
Body: Signing off for the day, everyone. Desmond’s put in a hard day of sleep…I mean, ah, work.

It’s a beautiful practice because:

1. It provides everyone visibility to “presence” online in a non-physical setting.
2. It’s not too obtrusive.
3. It’s a built-in way to connect, to share, and to stay connected.

Use it or introduce it if you like. It can feel awkward the first few days, but after a while, it simply becomes automatic, and honestly, it can become a bright spot in the day.

That’s the practice, thank you to Cindy for the ongoing value of this.”

And thanks to you Scott for sharing this practice!

Talk About Using VR & AR Now

Talk with Chad Mairn (St. Petersburg College, Innovation Lab Manager & Instructor) and Brian Pichman (Evolve Project) about using virtual and augmented reality technologies to deliver library services, teach courses and facilitate groups on Thursday March 26th @ 12:00pm (ET) at No registration or fee. Just come and join the conversation. Chad introduced me to this week – have a look!

If you are checking out who Chad and Brian are, do look at Chad’s documentary on the Maker BootCamp of 2016 (that’s how progressive he is — look at what they were doing 5 years ago), and Brian at Computers in Libraries helping #libraries mitigate online risks. Brian and Chad know their stuff — and their passion is to bring others along. YEAH!!!

Talk with Brian and Chad about how they use VR and AR now.

Remote Working: Caring & Sharing!

Dan Pontefract, Caring & Sharing on Remote Leadership & Working

Being kind & helping the world are two things my friend & colleague, Dan Pontefract, epitomizes. Following up on Rebecca’s last two posts, here’s what Dan just sent along to me & lots of others. Feel free to share!

“I know I promised that this newsletter would be infrequent and irregular. Two emails from me in less than a week is not my normal style, but I felt compelled to send another one now to ensure you were aware of another resource.

You may recall that I launched a REMOTE LEADERSHIP TOOLKIT on March 16. There have been over 3,000 downloads thus far. Glad I could help somehow in this the age of a modern-day pandemic.

I had several requests from people asking if I was thinking about putting together a similar version for employees. A “tips and tricks” series of sorts. I wasn’t. But then I thought about it. I should.
So I did.
Same deal. You’re the first to know. It’s free (again) but if you feel compelled to “chip in” via my SQUARE account that would be fab. 20 percent of all proceeds are being donated to charities supporting those affected by COVID-19.

Otherwise, please feel free to access the employee toolkit here and spread the news.
There are six videos and job-aids to be downloaded or viewed as follows:

  • OMG! I’ve Never Done This Before
  • Setting Up Your Home Working Space
  • Getting Organized & Being Productive
  • How to Participate in Virtual Meetings
  • Using Technology Like a Champion
  • The Importance of Staying Connected

In the meantime, stay safe, healthy and take care of each other.
Cheers, Dan” @dpontefract

Rebecca and I agree, stay safe, healthy & take care of each other. Wash your hands often and well too!

Work Virtually: 9 to do’s

Working virtually is all about connections. Jane and I have been working virtually since 1992. At Imperial Oil Ltd/Exxon virtual work had already became the norm in Canada in 1988 with video-conferencing. This post is to share what we’ve learned about the holistic “connections” which, when you get right down to it, are more important than the technology connections. The technologies keep changing; the thinking and approach stays much the same.

1. Change your thinking. Ok, the popular term is #WFH WorkFromHome. But that creates thinking that you are at home first and foremost. Change your mental model to working virtually. It just so happens that you are working virtually at your home. But what’s most important is that your mindset is that you are working virtually. It doesn’t matter where you are physically – you are “at work.”

2. Be at work. That’s not as simple as it sounds. Well, for some of you it might be but for me it wasn’t. For many years I dressed for work, kissed the kids goodbye, went out the front door, locked it, walked around the house and entered through the back door striding directly to my office. If the kids weren’t at daycare or school (which, of course, right now they wouldn’t be!), I’d ask my husband to distract them in a different room while I came in. I ignored the dirty dishes, the call of the washing machine and the languishing laundry piles. I strode to work. Door closed. Mind open. Well, kinda open. Ready, anyway. I know some people work in their pj’s, and it if works for them – terrific. I found that working virtually was like an exercise program. I had to form new habits, new behaviours. Once I had the behaviours in place I could replace the office dress with jeans. I’ve never made it to the pj’s stage.

3. Open your virtual platform.  Over the years I’ve used Hangouts, Skype, Netmeeting (remember Microsoft?), Slack. Now I use Zoom.  I keep it ‘on’ when I’m not writing or deep in analysis. My Zoom is open as my office; the ‘door’ is open. I may have to excuse myself for a meeting or work, but anyone is welcome to “come into” my Zoom office at   My zoom is open the entire time I’m in the office.  I also use the waiting room, so if someone wants to come into my Zoom office and I’m already in a meeting, they are directed into a waiting room. I’m alerted that they are there and can go talk with them for a minute or arrange a time to talk.

In my Zoom office.

4. Let people know you are in. Post a message to your colleagues in whatever platform you’ve agreed to use saying “Good morning! Beck is in!”  Jane and I used an emoji of a coffee urn for years! You may want to give a brief overview of your day to let people know when you’ll be busy or how work on projects/tasks is progressing.

5. Be seen. Cameras are essential.  Every phone has a camera, it’s time people use cameras to communicate. Voice alone is not enough – we know that from every communication course. And email sure isn’t enough. A basic camera is about $40. I have a new one that I got on sale for $90Cdn.  Play with your camera. Ensure it shows your face. As much as people like you they don’t want to see just your stomach, up your nose or your forehead.  You can see what your camera is transmitting, so adjust it. Play with it – be curious. You can even try out some backgrounds (Zoom has a few free backgrounds) if you want to hide the laundry pile!.

6. Have a regular virtual check-in during the day. Just as agile and scrum advise that standup meetings are essential, so too are virtual check-ins with your teams or colleagues. Set a time for everyone to ‘come on’ to say hi – check in with each other, etc. Eat lunch together! This is your workplace – be social. Check in with each other.

7. Establish some ground rules for how you’ll work and how you’ll work with your team; what’s the turn-around time for responding to emails? or calls or messages? What are the protocols for instant messaging – what platform are you going to use as the standard platform? Where are files? Box.Net? Sharepoint? Google? Dropbox? Asana? Trello? What’s the turnaround time for editing or responding? These norms are as important for you as they are for those with whom you are working.

8. Set daily goals, meet them, go “home”. Well, do your best to meet the goals. You are at work, right? How often do we accomplish everything we set out to on a day when we are in a physical office setting? The same is true for working virtually. While you need a list of priorities for sure, don’t set your expectations any higher than you would in an office or library environment. It’s the last bit I want you to pay attention to: go home. Leave the virtual working environment and go home.

I know, I know – the pot calling the kettle black. Jane must be laughing her head off reading this. I am, for sure, a workaholic, working tirelessly towards my recovery. AND – I know how important it is to shut off the work and turn to family, Words with Friends, etc.

9. Managers – be there. For those of you who are in management and suddenly find you are responsible for people who are working virtually, be there with them. Keep in mind that “Leadership is not about the leader — it is about the ship. (Phil Sandahl) . Your ship is in uncharted waters. Work with the team to build the realization and comfort that this is the new office in which everyone is working together. If you are responsible for a library, it’s perfect! Libraries are learning environments and you are all learning together. In the same way that you’d make sure someone has a decent chair in the physical workplace, make sure they have a decent chair! And a laptop or device with a good camera or sound system, and strong bandwidth to support the virtual environment. People are in a new work environment; leaders must model this learning and adjustment, just as they would model this in moving to a new library. I recognize this will take time. Getting these basics in place, establishing the platform, the ground rules and the check-ins will keep your ship headed in the right direction.

Hope this helps. These are just the basics, and there are many people out there who can share their experiences and advice.

In virtual teams there can be shift in power and authority (I’ll post that tomorrow). For right now, let’s get everyone comfortable, confident and connected.

Game changers! 3 Ways for Everyone to Win

With public, academic, corporate and other work spaces closed, librarians and information professionals can create the engagement environments that we have as yet only imagined. More than ever we need to be there for people and with people with facts, programs, answers, guidance and learning sources and platforms. The technology is there. Let’s match the technology with our know-how, our values and our innovation. This will be the game changer for everyone.

4 Inventive Examples of Virtual Reality in Education

3 ways to Change the Game:

  1. Transform work processes and business models from being a public gathering space or the physical heart of the academy to being that space virtually. Use technology to virtually engage with students, faculty, the community, virtually. Use Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facetime – at the very least, and, at the most – try out AR or VR (augmented or virtual reality). Check out Spacial.oi that let’s you try their services for free for 4 people. Chad Mairn, manager of the Innovation Lab @ St. Petersburg College in Florida and Brian Pichman is the Director of Strategic Innovation for the Evolve Project have been experimenting with AR and VR for years; follow them and talk with them. They are both incredible and very candid. Chad just showed how using Spacial AR with 10 people around the world was akin to having everyone in the same room.
  • 2. Equip everyone in your workplace with the know-how and devices. It’s the role of everyone working in libraries and information management functions to, in one way or another, help people engage with information. That ‘information’ may be in a paperback novel, a DVD, a learning object in the university’s LMS, or it may be guidance in learning how to use a device or locate directions. People use libraries and information services to learn something, solve a problem, make a decision, or for entertainment. Every staff member, regardless of their job, should be able to meet people where they are and confident in guiding those people – even if that guidance is to another staff member. And where are people? Very often they are on a phone or some type of device — all with camera and audio. How many staff in your library or work area have the equipment and confidence to talk visually with people on any device? It’s time. Cameras for desk-tops or laptops, when purchased in bulk, are about $25 (Cdn……in the US it is considerably less). We are reallocating work; we also need to reallocate resources and funds.
  • 3. Risk some hiccups to learn, laugh, improve and repeat. Will your efforts to virtually engage storytime or tutoring or programming work perfectly the 1st or 2nd time you try? Probably not. Will you learn anything until you try it? Pretty difficult. Are libraries and information services places of learning and innovation? There ya have it. I don’t even need to put an answer to that last question.

We are perfectly situated to continue to fulfill our mandates and realize our visions with different service models. We have the passion, the know-how, the know-that, and the drive. Just because the game field is torn up a bit doesn’t mean we stop playing. Let’s make it a level playing field for more people. Let’s change the game so that everyone wins.