Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Global Education Conference

As you get back into school and start planning professional development for the upcoming year, be sure to check out the Global Education Conference.

The conference (online and free) will be held November 15 - 19, 2010, at multiple times and in multiple languages. This innovative conference sounds very exciting. The two co-chairs, Steve Hargadon and Lucy Gray, are nationally recognized educators. As you will see, there are numerous opportunities to be involved –as a presenter, on an advisory board, an attendee, etc… and the site is still under development with more information being added regularly.

Monday, August 23, 2010

There's an App for that! Mobile devices for research

Check out this SlideShare Presentation from Yale University Science Librarian, Joe Murphy. Will students increasingly use smartphones to access databases? Our Gale databases can currently be accessed on the iphone! It will be interesting to interview students re: apps when school starts.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tools for the 21st Century Teacher

Just in time for the start a school: handbook of web tools for students & teachers:

Diigo - social bookmarking for serious web surfers

Diigo is definitely my bookmarking tool of choice. If you haven't yet tried it, take a look at the video to explore all the possibilities.

Diigo V5: Collect and Highlight, Then Remember! from diigobuzz on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Open Mic for Open Minds

We have been talking about the possibility of an open mike event at our library for a while. Here's a relatively short video of a recent program at Harold Washington Library in Chicago:

StudentSpeak Webisode 9 from Spotlight on Vimeo.

The students talk about their use of social media including FaceBook and Twitter to increase attendance. This event was profiled recently by Spotlight magazine which highlights projects and people funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative and covers the intersections of technology and learning.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Snap Shots (similar to Apture)

Just a heads up that I have added the Snap Shots feature to this blog.

Introducing Snap Shots from Snap.com

I just installed a tool on this site called Snap Shots that enhances links with visual previews of the destination site, interactive excerpts of Wikipedia articles, MySpace profiles, IMDb profiles and Amazon.com, displays online videos, RSS, MP3s, photos, etc which is similar to Apture.com It is supposed to save you time, both as the blogger and the blog reader. See Quick Start guide.

With Snap Shots, users can mouse-over links to get the most appropriate shot of content for that link. Snap Shots features: (from their website)

* Link to an online video and we'll create an inline player for it.
* For photostreams, we'll provide an inline photo album.
* Investment sites can get online stock charts.
* Like Google maps? We even put them in shots.

Snap Shots brings you the information without your having to leave the site, while other times it lets you "look ahead," before deciding if you want to follow a link or not.

So, you download an add-on to Firefox first. Use the latest version.

If you don't like this feature, just click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the Snap Shot and opt-out. Scroll down this page, for a further explanation.

Move your cursor over the following link to try it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/picasso

or try this photoshot from flickr: Move your cursor over the following link to try it. http://flickr.com/photos/.../345009210/

I am really experimenting here and hope that this does not get too annoying. Send feedback if you use it.

Monday, August 09, 2010

What do you do when you have 30 tabs open? Yikes! Look at Tab Candy

Tab Candy is a tasty new Firefox treat in development right now! My work style is completely insane to most and I end up very distracted by all the hyperlinks available. Maybe there is hope for me with this tool that promises to be incredibly useful.

Take a look at the video below, and let me know if you can't wait to try Tab Candy.

An Introduction to Firefox's Tab Candy from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

Can the edges move the center?

Can the edges move the center? In education!? What do you believe? How do you act? As you ponder the idea of change in education (What is the greatest need? What are the motivators? What are the barriers?), here are a few thought-provoking resources:

FIRST: Educause Review (July/Aug 2010), see especially "Questioning the Future of the Open Student" by Vicki Davis (yes, she blogs as Cool Cat Teacher). In this Educause article, she profiles an open student (wonder how proficient our students would be) and asks some important questions:

■ How can sources of open content be vetted, rated, and evaluated?
■ How can conversations and learning experiences evolve around open content?
■ Do students have the skill sets to use these learning environments?
■ Are the dominance of the English language and the lack of accessibility for those with disabilities creating additional hurdles?
■ Can learning through open content be validated?
■ Can content area experts emerge from open content environments?
■ Can colleges and universities continue to fund open content initiatives without receiving compensatory payback for their contribution to learning at large?
■ Should future technological innovations that more closely connect humans with the rote knowledge of the Internet redefine the content that is being delivered?

What do you think? Are you/your school on the edge(s)? In the center? Experimenting with change? Resisting it?

PLUS: Education Nation by Milton Chen -- I heard him speak last week on Steve Hargadon's Future of Education (full list of programs here). Chen categorizes the Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools as
1. Thinking Edge
2. Curriculum Edge
3. Technology Edge
4. Time/Place Edge
5. Co-Teaching Edge and
6. Youth Edge

Are you/your school on the edge(s)? In the center? Experimenting with change? Resisting it?

AND THIS: David Warlick recently (8/3) blogged about "The Value of Learning" where he says that "technology is simply the window".

Warlick differentiates between "the textbook equipped classroom, with the teacher in the front of the class, leading the way....[And] a classroom that is equipped with networked, digital, and abundant information, ...[where] the teacher stands behind the learner, looking over his shoulder, suggesting questions, provoking conversations, rewarding success and celebrating mistakes, and, expressing the wonder that new learning causes — because she, perhaps, might be learning something new as well."

What about in the classroom? Are you on the edge(s)? In the center? Experimenting with change? Resisting it?

FINALLY, After ISTE (7/7) Warlick blogged about Doug Johnson and his thoughts On Change from the Radical Center. Johnson lists these principles:
1. Adopt an "and" not "or" mindset.
2. Look for truth and value in all beliefs and practices.
3. Respect the perspective of the individual.
4. Recognize one size does not fit all (kids or teachers).
5. Attend to attitudes.
6. Understand that the elephant can only be eaten one bite at a time.
7. Make sure everyone is moving forward, not just the early adopters.
8. Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know."
9. Believe measurement is good, but that not everything can be measured.
10. Know and keep your core values.

Relative to Davis' open student, to Chen's Education Nation, to Warlick's classroom vision, to Johnson's principles, are you/your school on the edge(s) and in the center? Experimenting with change while resisting it?
Can the edges move the center?

Saturday, August 07, 2010


At xtranormal.com, you can easily create animated movies and share them with your audience, friends, classroom or family. "Our revolutionary approach to movie-making builds on an almost universally held skill—typing. You type something; we turn it into a movie. On the web and on the desktop."

About: From the website:
"Xtranormal.com is a web-site powered by Xtranormal's text-to-movie™ platform—a web-based application used to create short 3D animated movies from simple text-based movie-scripts. The characters in the movie speak the dialogue in the script, and react to performance triggers—icons that are dropped directly into the script, just like smileys in IM/chat. Movies can be shared through e-mail, blogs and online video sharing and social networking sites such as YouTube™, MySpace™ and Facebook™ and Twitter."

The almost 9 million projects which are meant to be shared and re-mixed. Watch some of the projects on the Xtranormal YouTube channel. There is a robotic quality to the voice/audio but it doesn't seem to detract from the story and it seems to compliment the animation.

Good news for language teachers. Students can log in, create an account and use
English, French, Chinese, Italian, or Japanese. Again, I am surprised there's no Spanish here.

It's ridiculously easy to use. I sampled it with a silly one minute script. It takes a little while to render the video because it's higher quality than the preview. So, if the preview looks a bit pixelized don't worry.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Attention: English teachers

Check this out from today's New York Times: "10 Ways to Use The New York Times for Teaching Literature".

At New Trier, we already do much of this and more -- and they are interested, as the post says, "What other ways do you use The Times to complement your teaching of literature? Share your ideas here, and we (The Times) may feature them on the blog."

Looking for ideas in other subject areas? Here you go.

NookStudy seems Disappointing

Well, I have been trying Barnes and Noble's NookStudy and still have more investigating to do, but I will say that I am disappointed with the materials which they are making available in the starter kit. Take the 10 Free Spark Charts -- I looked at the Research Style and Usage one -- it has a copyright of 2004 which means that the information it offers is not correct and up-to-date -- instead of being "free" it is actually of negative (wrong) value.

I randomly checked a few other charts and they, too had 2004 or 2005 copyrights - from before this year's college freshmen even entered high school -- not very state of the art, are they?

I do like the color and the highlighting options relative to using the Kindle, but the NookStudy feels much more "commercial" to me -- FREE downloads require entering a user name, password AND credit card (they say to be used as a default for future purchases). It just doesn't seem that they are considering educators who are not necessarily going to use their personal credit cards and who may not have access (or rights) to share an institutional card.... and that is not even discussing how we might help students experiment with a tool such as NookStudy. There is learning here when experimenting which is good in itself, but I think that if Barnes & Noble really want to see adoption of their product they should have fewer barriers to using it. Time to investigate some other options....

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Alternative Search Engines - Slideshare Presentation

Some goodies here! You'll definitely want to book mark some of these. Watch it full screen on Slideshare.

Remember when I posted the other day and said: "This was shared on Bright Ideas , a blog by the School Library Association of Victoria(SLAV)"? So much good stuff on this blog. I am recommending again that you subscribe.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

More on Tumblr

I have been experimenting with Tumblr and am finding it quite easy to use. It's a much shorter form of blogging and has more of a community aspect to it like Twitter. It's also like a Ning in the way that Tumblr blogs are connected so that all users can also learn while they are sharing.

Wikipedia’s description of a tumblelog:
A tumblelog (or tlog) is a variation of a blog that favors short-form, mixed-media posts over the longer editorial posts frequently associated with blogging. Common post formats found on tumblelogs include links, photos, quotes, dialogues, and video. Unlike blogs, tumblelogs are frequently used to share the author’s creations, discoveries, or experiences while providing little or no commentary.

New Tools Wiki is worth more than the price of admission

Newtoolsworkshop, a collaboratively built site can serve as an introduction to social media or as a continuing education venue for the more advanced user. Suitable for all ability levels.

Contributions to http://newtoolsworkshop.wikispaces.com are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License.

This was shared on Bright ideas , a blog by the School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV). This is an extremely active blog which I read almost daily. It is well-worth subscribing to; I discovered it because it was a 1st runner up for the 2009 Edublog Awards: Best Library/Librarian blog.

Monday, August 02, 2010

News Search is Changing Rapidly - try a cool journalist tool

Here's a new tool to help researchers and journalists find a real time news stream from 10,000+ vetted sources and set up unlimited searches/alerts. Today's business section of the New York Times reports that: "On NewsBasis, sources can also add a footnote to articles across the Web, so when reporters are doing research using their Web browser, a tab will appear indicating that a NewsBasis source has offered a different point of view or corrected a fact."

How can NewsBasis help with search? This new website (in beta) offers those who create a login to:
  • Journalists can discover new angles for stories; discover and connect with valuable sources and find answers and information
  • Non-profits can embed their experts' point of view directly in articles journalists read & help shape their story by footnoting articles across the Web with their points of view.
  • Consultants can respond directly to journalists' requests for expertise or sources and generate media mentions
  • PR agencies/publicists can embed their clients' point of view or corrections directly in articles
Sounds like powerful stuff that they'll soon be charging fees for!

I signed up as a "representative" of an academic institution.  Hoping they allow me to login and try it.

Using Technolgy in Teaching

These graphs, published last week by The Chronicle of Higher Education, are based on a survey with 4,600 faculty. Wonder how your school would compare? Are K-12 teachers integrating technology differently?

Assigning Inquiry - Study Findings

Have you read the recently (July 12, 2010) released Project Information Literacy Progress Report? It’s worth your time to review it and to reflect on what it means for our practices, particularly with so many sources newly available.

The report, titled Assigning Inquiry: How Handouts for Research Assignments Guide Today’s College Students, notes that "handouts for academic research assignments provide students with more how-to procedures and conventions for preparing a final product for submission, than guidance about conducting research and finding and using information in the digital age."

After analyzing 191 undergraduate research-assignment handouts culled from 28 colleges, the authors found these sources to be required/recommended:
60% - Library shelves (physical sources like books, print journals, videos);
43% - Library online sources (catalog; subscription databases);
34% - Course readings
33% - Primary Sources
26% - Web sites (other than Wikipedia)
13% - Librarians
12% - Search Engines
3% - Blogs

In fact, the majority of handouts did not even mention sources other than library shelves. This is in sharp contrast to the details which were provided on mechanics:
76% - required age length noted
66% - instructions on structure (such as introduction, bibliography, etc.)
61% - proper citation style
57% - number of citations required

If this is the type of assignment that teachers see during their college careers, perhaps it should not be a surprise that they are not more actively encouraging their high school students to use library sources, especially digital ones, to a greater extent. The good news? We have a 'teachable moment', both with faculty and students.

Here’s another quote from the report which should get us thinking and talking with colleagues about committing minds to inquiry:
A science professor described the gap between students’ perceived research competencies and their actual skill sets. "In one of my classes, I actually give a pre- and post- survey test to the students…. In the pretest— the self-assessment — I ask students to evaluate themselves on about 30 variables regarding their skills. Students typically express more confidence in their ability to do research, write papers, do analysis, present their results, than they do when I give them the post test at the end of the class. At the end of the class when I administer the post survey, students realized there was a lot they didn’t know."

A Nice Bridge between Facebook and Twitter

Today's New York Times article "Media Companies Try Getting Social with Tumblr" explains how media outlets such as The New Yorker and the Huffington Post are using the Tumblr blogging service to push out content simply and effectively in ways that complement their Facebook and Twitter sites. If you examine these sites, they are almost like "trailers" to the larger content provided on the main website.

Why would they bother using a third type of social media? Folks are already following them on Facebook and Twitter.

For one thing, they can integrate their Facebook with Tumblr, offering their Tumblr blog readers the opportunity to post comments directly onto their Facebook site. This cross-fertilization can bring more readers on board. "Notes" are also added which reveal who liked the posts and who "re-blogged" them. Readers may be able to find those with similar interests more easily.

Comic by rivv
Secondly, they are not limited to such short posts, they can add video, bigger and better pictures!, and more enticing snippets connected to their longer stories from their main websites. Tumblr makes it really easy to share not only text, but also photos, quotes, links, dialogues, audio, video, and slideshows.  

Tumblr themes are available in 5 languages: English, German, Japanese, French, and Italian with the promise of more in the future. No Spanish?  No Chinese? I think this blogging platform would be great for our world language teachers.

Mobile apps are proliferating, but right now they are mostly for Apple products and Blackberry. I did not find Droid apps on their site.

I really like the look and feel of Tumblr.  Could it be that I'm getting bored with Blogger? Any support out there for switching our New Trier Library blog to Tumblr?