Wednesday, April 05, 2006

OPAL: Online Programming for All Libraries

OPAL: Online Programming for All Libraries
Participant Guide

OPAL is a collaborative effort by libraries of all types to provide cooperative web-based programming and training for library users and library staff members. These live, online events are held in an online auditorium where participants can interact via voice-over-IP, text chatting, and synchronized browsing. (Synchronized browsing allows you to see the same screen the presenter sees.)

Public OPAL programs
Examples of public OPAL programs include book discussions, interviews, art presentations, library training, memoir writing workshops, and virtual tours of special digital library collections. Programs are hosted by member libraries, such as the Library of Congress, state libraries, and individual public and special libraries. Everyone is welcome to participate in OPAL programs. Public OPAL programs might be held in any of the OPAL “rooms” such as the auditorium, the atrium, or a member library’s individual room.

Public OPAL programs: Click on the title of the program to enter the online room when the program is scheduled to begin.

OPAL-based meetings
OPAL member libraries have their own “private” meeting rooms which can be used for public or private programs and online meetings to save travel and teleconference costs. If you’ve been invited to a meeting, the presenter will send you a link or instructions for accessing the room. All OPAL meeting rooms are listed at:

Live programs, archives, and podcasts
Don’t have time to sit by your computer? Are programs scheduled when you’re not available? You can check out the archive of past programs, and listen and/or view the past events at your leisure. The only difference between the archived versions and the live programs is that you won’t be able to interact directly with the presenter and other participants with the archive. You can also subscribe to the podcasts of past programs at:

Etiquette & tips for participants
Log into the online room a few minutes before the presentation starts so that you can test your microphone and speakers/headphones and adjust your volume as needed.

You can ask questions and interact with the group by text-chat or voice. (Hold down the “control” key to speak—the little aqua bubble will appear when you have the floor.)

When ready to speak, hold down the “control” key, and give it a second before you start speaking. When you’re finished, hold down the key a second longer after you’re done talking.

If you’re speaking, be aware of other participants wanting to ask questions or interact. When someone else clicks the control key to speak, the little aqua bubble will appear and indicate the order in which they requested access to speak. When you’re finished with your point or question, lift up on the “control” key to give someone else the chance to speak.

If you’re speaking, be aware of other participants asking questions via the text-chat, and repeat their questions or comments aloud before addressing them. (Visually impaired participants might not be aware of the text-chat comments or questions unless you repeat them aloud.)

If you have a question for the group, ask the group. However, if you have a question for an individual, you can hold side conversations by text-chatting with others in the room privately.

If it seems as though the presenter is referring to a screen, Web page, or image you don’t see on your screen, speak up. Often presenters are unaware of these issues unless participants alert them something is amiss.

Have fun! OPAL programs and meetings are usually informal and presenters encourage interaction.

Great upcoming OPAL programs for librarians
Michael Stephen's Ten Top Technologies for Libraries in 2006
Thursday, April 6, 2006, 2:00 p.m.
We'll be broadcasting this from the Wichita Public Library, 3rd floor
(Right across the street from Century II)

ICED Coffee Monthly programs:

Monthly OPAL continuing ed series, starting in April...


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