Saturday, November 08, 2014

A Journey through a revolution ...

From Cambridge University Press, Computing Universe by Tony Hey and Gyuri Papay was just released this week and I have been leafing through a digital version of its pages which are “intended to be intelligible to both high school and first year university students and to stimulate their interest in the wide range of opportunities of a career in computer science.”  The book covers developments related to computers from the 1930’s to the present day and includes discussion of topics like semiconductors, the rise of robots and computer games. 

As I started reading, I thought of my review of Innovators by Isaacson and although that book covers a much bigger time period, both titles focus on pioneers like Alan Turing.  And with The Imitation Game movie coming soon, there seems to be plenty of general interest.  Authors Hey and Papay make frequent reference to [Gordon] Moore’s law, lectures and contests from Richard Feynman, and predictions from Michio Kaku which will hopefully promote exploration of and greater familiarity with work by those distinguished scientists.  I also enjoyed the section explaining how algorithms were developed for IBM’s Watson, the eventual Jeopardy! champion.

Computing Universe includes plenty of pictures, but still seems a bit “dry” and “textbook-ish” overall.  I am wondering why publishers are not building more links and interactive elements into their books, especially on a subject such as this one; certainly, that would increase the appeal for their intended audience.

For example, Maria Popova at Brain Pickings created a terrific visual review  (check out #27 about Hedy Lamarr’s contribution to wifi type communication; who knew?!) of 100 Ideas that Changed the Web by Jim Boulton.  Or look into The Gentleman who made Scholar and be sure to investigate 12 Lesser-known Google Projects that are Absolutely Amazing.

A favorite quote found in Computing Universe is “every 30 years there is a new wave of things that computers do.  Around 1950, they began to model events in the world (simulation) and around 1980 to connect people (communication). Since 2010, they have begun to engage with the physical world in a non-trivial way (embodiment).”  I look forward to a future edition of Computing Universe filled with engaging, interactive elements.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Phi Delta Kappan archives currently available

I was very excited to see that the November 2014 issue of Phi Delta Kappan focuses on the theme of Literacy Instruction in a Brave New World. 
And I was even more excited to learn that this issue and past ones are currently available through FREE online access to celebrate the addition of Phi Delta Kappan to SAGE Journals
Here is a sampling of some of the November articles: 
  • Michael C. McKenna:  "Literacy instruction in the brave new world of technology"
  • Joan Richardson  "Maryanne Wolf: Balance technology and deep reading to create biliterate children" and 
  • Christopher Harris "Fact or fiction? Libraries can thrive in the Digital Age"
A full Table of Contents with links to November articles is available as well as an archive of all online issues (Sept 2000 and after).

A discussion guide accompanying the November issue is available as well as discussion guides for past issues on themes like "Exploring Classroom Management," Student Learning: Engagement and Motivation," "Obstacles and Strategies in Spreading Innovation" and many more.  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How We Learn by Benedict Carey

I love that author Benedict Carey actively encourages us to play as we read about his research  andreflect on our own learning. As a high school teacher/librarian, I was originally interested in How We Learn because of its subject matter, but I have been recommending it to others due to Carey’s many examples, anecdotes and overall engaging style.  Additional reviews have appeared on NPR (with chapter excerpt here) and Mind/Shift, including a fun online quiz.   

Carey begins with an overview of neuroscience and how the brain works – educators will be familiar with most of this material, but it could be of interest to parents and some students. In chapters with titles like “Spacing Out,” “Being Mixed Up,” and “Learning Without Thinking,” he goes on to explore study routines and practices.  He notes, for example, that “making your memory work a little harder – by self-quizzing, for example or spacing out study time – sharpens the imprint of what you know.”  Throughout, he acknowledges that we all learn differently. Therefore, I think this relatively slim volume would make an effective summer read for rising Seniors, especially those taking Psych/Soc or Lit/Psych.

Chapter 6, “The Upside of Distraction,” seems particularly pertinent to review as we move forward with a 1:1 mobile initiative. There, Carey refers to the importance of motivation, the theme of this month’s Educational Leadership issue from ASCD which contains an interview with author Daniel Pink.
How We Learn also stresses the importance of sleep, a topic which frequently intrigues students. Clearly, Carey’s connections apply to lifelong learning with even the Wall Street Journal recently (9/18/14) noting that “A Full Night's Sleep Can Really Pay Off--In Salary and Investments.” How We Learn will be appreciated by fans of Moonwalking with Einstein and readers of works by scholar/practitioners such as Clayton Christensen, Peg Tyre, and Daniel Kahneman.  As more colleagues read How We Learn I am looking forward to several fascinating discussions about continuing to shift our focus from how we teach TO how we learn and how we facilitate learning.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Reading news ...

We have been having numerous conversations about reading this year, sharing favorite titles and brainstorming ways to promote reading amongst faculty and students.  Here is a great story shared by Angela which she found on CBS News.

Today's Wall Street Journal also had an intriguing article called "Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress." Containing this graphic, the article recounts how just 30 minutes with a book or eBook helps.
 It also links to an interactive reading exercise.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

It’s Complicated by danah boyd

I have wanted to write a review of It’s Complicated by danah boyd since it was published about 6 months ago.  Now I have some added incentive because she will be speaking in Chicago on Sept. 22nd.  Having previously heard boyd speak locally, I would encourage parents and educators to attend. That evening, boyd will be joining former physics teacher Sam Dyson in a panel on “Re-imaging School: opportunity, safety, and privacy in the social lives of networked teens” at the Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater from 6:30 to 8:00pm. Register here for the program sponsored by Golden Apple, National Louis University and the MacArthur Foundation.

Even though it is a fairly scholarly work – based on qualitative research and interviews with 166 teens and with almost 50 pages of notes and bibliography -- It’s Complicated should be explored by both parents and educators.  Boyd describes her objective as follows: “I hope to help the public better understand what young people are doing when they engage with social media.” She is certainly knowledgeable and passionate about the subject.  boyd discusses multiple aspects of online behavior including privacy, addiction, bullying, inequitable access and literacy. She effectively uses numerous examples and quotes from teens to provide context and to support her argument.

For example, boyd quotes Northwestern Professor Eszter Hargittai whose own recent (March, 2014) research concludes: “Findings suggest that simply having grown up with digital media does not result in either universal know-how about the Internet nor universal online engagement suggesting that interventions are important to make sure that people from all backgrounds have the necessary skills to take advantage of all that the Internet has to offer.” As librarians, we are constantly debating this issue as we explore and refine lessons on information literacy.

If you cannot attend Re-imaging School on September 22nd, grab a copy (downloads available) of It’s Complicated and/or listen to boyd discuss the book in the video below:

New Image Library to fellow librarian, Matt, and our AV Multimedia Manager, Tom, for separately forwarding articles which discuss the Internet Archive Book Images.

Here are the titles of the articles from the Chicago Tribune ("U of I alum gives historical photos life on the web" - restricted access) and from the BBC: "Millions of Historical Images Posted to Flickr"

We will be adding the link for Internet Archive Book Images to our Images and Photographs page on Web Reference; check it out for curated and recommended links on a great variety of subjects.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Digital Shift is back for 5th year

Digital Shift is an all day online event produced by Library Journal and School Library Journal with numerous co-sponsors.  This professional development opportunity (scheduled for October 1, 2014) is self-described as follows: "Now in its 5th year, The Digital Shift: Libraries @ the Center virtual conference will focus the attention of library professionals on libraries’ central role in the transformation of our culture from analog experiences to digital experiences."

I have attended in the past and highly recommend registering - the keynotes, presentations and live chats are valuable -- and if you cannot attend the entire time, archives of sessions are usually available to registrants until the end of the year. This year's theme is Libraries @the Center and that promises some intriguing work on how libraries can adapt and adopt changing technologies.