Summer will be approaching when you read this, and regional and national professional conferences, summer courses, and workshops will be coming up. I'm already working on the program for Internet@Schools West [http://www.infotoday.com/Internet@Schools/]. Coming soon to Philadelphia is NECC; coming soon to Chicago is ALA.
The constant conference presence is a good thing, since conferences and workshops lead to interaction with professional colleagues … which leads to idea uptake and exchange. For you, this leads to the infusion of fresh concepts and content into your library program.
Fresh concepts and content were heavily in evidence at our March Internet@Schools East conference in Washington, D.C. You can take a look at some of them, starting at http://www.infotoday.com/cil2005/presentations/default.shtml#schools_thursday, by following the presentation links to slides and Web sites prepared by our speakers. It'll give you a sense of what you missed if you weren't at I@S East, and what you can experience if you attend I@S West next fall—or either of the above-named, high-quality summer conferences, for that matter.
So make plans, attend a conference, meet your colleagues, learn a lot! And if you can't break away and travel, try a local workshop, or an online alternative such as the courses of the Online Professional Development for Educators program in the School of Education at University of Wisconsin-Stout [http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/courses.shtml]. Check out "Emerging Issues for Media Specialists," taught by MMIS columnist and library media specialist Mary Alice Anderson.
Fresh concepts and content I'd like to single out from this MMIS issue include the prolific Charles Doe's cover story, Cutting-Edge Tools for Teaching Writing: AI vs. the Pen, on page 22. Charlie takes on and successfully examines and explains the rapidly developing category of computerized essay correction technology as exemplified by products from Educational Testing Services, Pearson Knowledge Technologies, and Vantage Learning. And in the first of a two-part series, Barbara Fiehn looks at what four library systems companies—Follett, Sagebrush, Companion, and Dynix—are doing with their product lines to serve anticipated library automation needs of the K-12 market. The Voice of the Vendors: Futures in School Library Automation, Part 1, page 28 (watch for part 2 in July/August) is an interesting counterpoint to Barbara's The Voice of the Users: Perspectives on School Library Automation in the July/August 2004 issue of MMIS.
David Hoffman, Editor