I don't think I've ever pitched for a product before that wasn't online and, if not free, at least VERY inexpensive. It's not a trend I want to continue, as I like to see myself as the Consumer Reports of the ed tech blogosphere. (well, I'm having delusions of grandeur there, but you know what I mean!) That's one reason I won't run Google Ads on the blog.
But I saw a demo of Gale's new Global issues database at NECC, grabbed my computer and immediately emailed my rep to sign us up--even though it won't be released until November! If it does everything Gale promises, this database will be something very different, and very cool.
I should preface this by stating my school is very big into multiculturalism and building global awareness; thus, this product grabbed my attention, in that it is the only high-school oriented, issues-focused database out there that doesn't present a U.S.-based perspective. (If you're aware of others, please let me know!)
Want to find out what Saudi Arabians think about Al-Qaeda? The database offers newspapers and videos from the Middle East (think: Al Jazeera in English, among others). Need a Chinese perspective on human rights issues? It's there.
The topics range over 400 issues and 193 countries, with interactive maps, downloadable audio, and RSS feeds to keep up on recent additions. The database also includes student research tools, including the ability to post comments and content from over 400 international journals, magazines and newspapers, selected by country-based experts. Best of all, it presents multiple points-of-view, allowing students to draw their own conclusions. I'm so tired of databases that present a "This is what happened" approach to history, virtually ignoring the unceasing complexities to any human endeavor.
Most interesting, the homepage boasts a customizable interface allowing the librarians to choose what content to show.
Like most Gale databases, this one is not cheap. But Gale is running a pre-release sale that offers a pretty hefty discount if you sign up in July or August.
In an increasingly global economy, it is imperative for us to encourage in students not only a broader world view, but a deeper understanding of other cultures and other perspectives. The U.S. is internationally infamous for its "Let them learn English," (and American English, at that!) attitude.
We were able to get away with it in a post-WW II world where we had little competition. In the 21st century we are doomed if we don't foster global knowledge and understanding in our students. We will, quite frankly, become a quaint anachronism, a relic from the not-so-distant past.
One database can't overcome all the educational challenges we face to accomplish this goal. But it's a good start.