Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Future is Now: Qwiki

There's been much talk the past few years about the multimedic (is that even a word!?) potential for textbooks, encyclopedias, etc. In the digital age, but few have Used that potential yet.

Well, check out Qwiki.

Monday, November 22, 2010

10 Steps to Better Searching

SweetSearch just published the Power Point embedded below (aren't we past that yet??) geared towards educators that teaches search tips we media specialists already know.  It's downloadable, so might be useful for any faculty workshops that you do. 

I just gave my search workshop to teachers, and I really wish I'd done it differently.  Basically, I just focus on search strategies, showing them the same techniques I show students.  However, having watched a couple classes come in over the past month, where faculty didn't talk to me first (it's a slow and ongoing process, isn't it??), and just told students "Go look it up,"  I now wish I had changed my focus. 

Teach the steps, yes.  But I would add a heavy component of also talking about students and searching:  how just saying "go look on Google" isn't enough.  The SweetSearch presentation has a lot of information on teen search strategies that would help faculty understand a) why students need more instruction than just "look it up on Google," and b) why it's a good idea to collaborate with the library any time they want students searching.  I think I'll talk to my boss about using one of our faculty meetings to give THAT workshop to everyone, while simultaneously promoting the library!

However, this is also good information to share with students, because they THINK they know what they're doing, and they really don't.  With that in mind, I'm revamping my search lessons to not only add the above information, but also to include pre and post lesson assessments.  I will post those and the Search Prezi tomorrow or Thursday.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Lesson: Cyber-Bullying on Steroids, Typical Media Hype...or Both?

I've debated for a day or two on whether I really wanted to wade into these waters, but decided to dive in, because it is a perfect example of so much of what we try to teach students about their online lives.

Now, I realize this is a much less inflammatory topic to discuss from the wilds of Mongolia than it would be at home, but here's a question I've been pondering the past few days: is the recent brouhaha over the Palin kids' Facebook posts a good jumping off point to discuss cyber-bullying, the media, and digital footprints?

The original post about Palin's reality show  drew what can hardly be seen as anything other than a personal attack (and the use of "gay" and "faggot" as put-downs raises another issue!),  and a not untypical example of cyber-bullying.  It quickly escalated into epic nastiness, drawing in other students.   A not uncommon online battle,  where the lack of face-to-face intimacy makes it incredibly easy to write slurs you'd think twice about saying in person.  All magnified 1,000-fold by the media hype.

Regardless of one's politics, the way this played out has been fascinating to watch, and the practically hour-by-hour media updates of the Facebook flame-wars make it a (potentially) great opportunity to examine and discuss how these things can escalate and become personal, if only one could keep personal politics out of the discussion!

I feel for all parties involved, as what should have been a local argument turned into a national storm, but that's also part of what we should be discussing with our students:  posting on Facebook is hardly a private discussion, even if you're not a Palin, and the nature of our online presence carries with it a certain responsibility, or at least a need for awareness.   The very "public-ness" of this particular example is what makes such a good topic for discussion--students would certainly be engaged!

Moreover, Facebook apparently deleted the initial thread from Tre (the first poster's) Facebook page, but someone had already captured a screenshot and passed it on to the press:  our online mistakes endure in perpetuity, digital footprints can go viral.

It's also a prime opportunity to discuss the media.  Why do serious journalistic enterprises give so much attention to what amounts to a typical teen tempest?  What are the effects, both on the participants and the national discourse?  What does it say about us as a nation that we are apparently more interested in that than in the serious problems we face?

Of course, it could also be a lesson in the current state of politics, where no corner of a person's life remains unexamined or off-bounds, and every family member is drawn into the maelstrom.

The whole thing's a mess, but would make a great lesson.  If only....

And if any of you have had the nerve to tackle this with your students, I would be very interested to hear about the discussion!

UPDATE:  With all of this, one final point (or points!) from Alex Knapp's Outside the Beltway:
But here’s the thing — Willow Palin hasn’t made herself into a public figure. She’s only famous by virtue of having a famous family....Put yourself in her shoes. Think about something stupid, mean, or hurtful that you said when you were 16 years old. Think about the shame you feel about it now that you’re an adult. Think about how embarrassed you’ve been when something stupid you’ve done was made public, even to a small circle of people. Now, magnify that — imagine that the stupid thing you’ve said has been a media focus for days. Internet, TV, you name it.
It’s not fair to her. It’s disgraceful. Willow Palin has not made herself a public figure, nor did she make a public statement. She’s 16. She’s entitled to her mistakes, and she’s entitled to not have the world talking about them.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2010 Edublog Awards

The 2010 Edublog nominations are now underway!  You can nominate your favorite educational blogs here.  My nominations:

Best Individual Blog:  Adventures of a Guybrarian

Best Educational Webinar Series:  Michelle Luhtala: Using Emerging Technology to Advance Your School Library Program

Best Library Blog:  Doug Johnson, Blue Skunk 

Best Resource Sharing:  Free Tech 4 Teachers (I'm torn on this... he tends to win it a lot, and I don't really agree with the way he's commercialized his site, but when you're good you're good, and he's making obvious efforts to promote only commercial sites he feels are useful, sooo....)_

Make Parent Evenings Interactive

Our 5th grade teacher came to me yesterday asking about using the library space for her PYP presentations to parents.  Of course that was fine with me, but in the nature of these things, talk continued and I learned she was interested in  running a Power Point slide show of student photos.

Never one to let that one slip by, I suggested some other options and eventually we decided on something I think will be pretty cool.

We are going to do a quick video interview with each student talking about their project and what they learned in the process of doing it. We will load each video clip into VoiceThread and project that in a loop. (Or try to loop it--I need to research that!  If not, I'll be there to keep restarting it.)

On a separate, nearby computer set up with a headset, we'll load up the VoiceThread in a generic account (since most parents won't have VoiceThread accounts), and allow parents to comment on their child's (or another child's) presentation/video.

Great encouragement and feed back for the students, fun for the parents (I hope!), and, of course, completely embeddable on the school website to promote your program.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Google for Librarians

Want some specific ideas for Google in the library?  Well, Google has a periodic newsletter geared especially towards that.  You can find back issues here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Live Blogging: iFollett Workshop

Attending the iFollett workshop in Macao.  I'll post interesting tidbits as they pop-up and elaborate on them later.

8:45:  Chris Smith, from, introduced us to Titanpad.  Powered by EtherPad (which I've blogged about before), it's a tool for setting up back channel chats for classes, workshops, etc.  Very powerful, and a great way to monitor and adjust, field student questions, etc.

10:40:   Ann Krembs--our job as librarians is to be risk-takers.  Technology is kids' language, and we need to learn it.

LOC photostream on Flickr.

11:00:  Edistorm--Wallwisher on steroids.
            Student Interactives from Read/Write/Think
            Kerpoof:   digital storytelling tool
            TypeWithMe:  similar to EtherPa; real-time collaborative writing
           ArtPad:  collaborative drawing

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mental Health Break

High speed video of popcorn popping. Awesome.

Documentaries Just Got a Bit Easier

A heads-up from my friend, MaryBeth.

Thanks to a partnership between the LOC,   and the Schools of Education at the College of William and Mary and the University of Kentucky, the search for primary sources to include in U.S. History documentaries became a little bit easier.

The group compiled a set of copyright-free documentary kits on eleven different topics, with more coming soon.  Each set includes primary source documents and media, and focuses around a research question. For example, the Civil Rights kit asks the question: "How did the actions of young people after the Brown decision help continue the struggle for civil rights?" whereas the kit on Chinese immigration asks "How was a national identity constructed by the American reaction to Chinese immigration?"

Personally, I think their questions need some work.  I would prefer to see research questions forcing students to develop an argument within their documentaries, rather than just reporting.   Simply removing the "how" from the questions above would improve them.  "How" merely requires a list, while "did" asks students to take a stance and defend it with evidence. Much higher level of thinking!

Even better, of course, would be to work with students to develop their own research questions.

Nevertheless, the kits are useful, if somewhat limited in topics at the moment; one hopes they will continue to develop more and more kits!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On the Road to Borneo...

It occurred to me, I posted that I was competing to present at the EARCOS conference, but never posted whether I was selected or not.  Whoo-hoo!  I'm going!  I'm definitely looking forward to it.  If nothing else, I'm sure that, after 6 months of weather well below zero, I'll be ready for the tropics!

Coming soon:  I'm creating a  test  to use with students pre and post research training.  I want to start documenting what (and whether!) they've learned.  Will post the Google form when it's done.