With people around the world, our thoughts at this time are with all those affected by devastating floods. We are waiting anxiously to see how schools, libraries and infrastructure have been disrupted and how as a community we can help in the aftermath. This is not the beginning to 2011 that anyone expected when they closed their doors at the end of the school year.
Events such as this and the 2010 Canterbury earthquake in New Zealand have certainly shown the impact of online social media and crowdsourced, citizen journalism. It has been impressive to witness the community in action through twitter, facebook, flickr, YouTube and mapping tools.
The Wikipedia article on the 2011 Queensland floods is one resource ready for teachers addressing this issue with classes in a few weeks. Starting on 29 December 2010 Wikipedians have maintained updated summaries of the extent of the floods across each river basin, described the response effort and referenced over 80 sources. Viewing the history and discussion associated with development of this article provides a highly relevant starting point for an information literacy activity.
Celebrations of the relatively short history of this project are planned for many places around the world, and people are sharing their stories of what being involved with Wikipedia has meant to them. Wikipedia Timeline
Our stories: Wikipedia10
New TLF learning object special order files were made available this week. A new full file of all 2,782 TLF learning object records, as well as an update file of 503 new and updated TLF records can be downloaded from the Special Orders page in SCISWeb.
SCIS Special Order files allow schools to easily download groups of catalogue records for popular resources, such as TLF learning objects, websites and and Clickview files.
To review and select SCIS Special Order files for download into your library management system, you will need to log on to SCISWeb and then select the Special Order files tab from the navigation bar at the top of the page. From our menu page you will be able to download any of the SCIS Special Order files. Access to SCIS Special Orders is included in your subscription to SCISWeb.
For its sheer enthusiasm, one of my favourite blog posts of the new year was by Stephanie Zimmerman for the ALA Learning blog, on the subject of feral learning activities and personal learning environments (commonly referred to as PLEs).
Feral learning is autodidactism, in a nutshell – an individualised learning experience in which the user takes responsibility for their own training needs and education, while PLEs support the feral learning/autodidactic experience by allowing the user to create a highly individualised, digital environment where they can gather together a variety of resources in the same place.
More and more, the internet is becoming a source of readily available, credible professional resources, and a great first step in creating your own PLE is setting up an RSS aggregator (also more commonly referred to an RSS reader), like Google Reader, Bloglines, or Newsgator. RSS readers allow you to ‘pull’ information from different sites that have RSS feeds, and then display it all on the one web page – which means that instead of bouncing from site to site to find relevant information, you can have it all ‘delivered’ straight to your reader, as if it were your own personal online newspaper.
Adding sources to your RSS reader is as easy as locating a site that has an RSS feed (and most regularly updated sites do now), and then clicking on the RSS feed link to subscribe to it. Any new content added to that site will then automatically appear in your reader. Not for nothing does RSS stand for Really Simple Syndication – it actually is! There are numerous other tools available on the internet that can also be used to create and improve PLEs, but RSS readers are free, web-based (so you don’t have to download any special programs in order to start using them), easy to set up and use and they do a great job.
In their article, Things that keep us up at night (School Library Journal, issue 10, 1 October 2009), Joyce Valenza and Doug Johnson argue that modern practice in libraries is directly linked to equitable access to information, and that teacher librarians should be at the forefront in coming to grips with the changes in the informational landscapes. While we all know that in many schools unrealistic and occasionally absurd internet policies, and a lack of funding for professional development can make it difficult for libraries at times to live up to the best of modern practice, perhaps dangling the carrot of free professional development in front of the principal’s nose might be a way of combating a lack of flexibility in the school’s internet security policy? At the very least, we owe it to ourselves and our users to try, and setting up RSS readers for yourself and your library staff is a great way to demonstrate the ease with which Web 2.0 tools might be integrated into your school’s professional development programme.
The video below contains step-by-step instructions on how to set up your own Google reader account. Videos showing how to set up a Bloglines or Newsgator RSS feeds can also be found by searching on YouTube. For some interesting sites that also feature RSS feeds, check out our blogroll on the right-hand side panel of this page, and don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed!
A private preparatory school in New England has done away with it’s collection of more than 200,000 printed books in one of its campus libraries, in order to implement a digital learning centre (ie. library) that contains no printed material whatsoever. Scary? Just a little. The way of the future? Maybe not yet..
The Chronicle of Higher Education, By Jeffrey R. Young
Discusses the pros and cons of e-textbooks, and whether they’re really set to replace the printed text. The Arizona State University is participating in a e-textbook experiment supported by Amazon, using the Kindle e-book reader, and the results to date have been mixed.
A fairly general article about different initiatives being undertaken by public libraries in the U.S., and how the role of the library (and the librarian!) is changing in the face of new technologies. Hardly exhaustive, but it’s an interesting starting point for discussions about digital medias in the library.
The image of the ebook reader above is from Flickr creative commons.
Those of you who have Edublog accounts are probably very familiar with this excellent blog set up by the team at Edublogs and edited by tertiary educator and passionate blogger Sue Waters – and for those of you who are considering dipping your tootsies into the blogging waters it’s an excellent source of tips, tricks and links to information on how to go about setting up your own Edublog.
At the moment the Edublogger is running a competition to see who can post the most useful advice on using blogs with their students – and giving away sixteen Edublogs supporter 12 month subscriptions as an incentive for you to contribute your wee mite of advice for the masses! Those of you are considering how best to implement web2.0 technologies in your libraries and classrooms should also stay tuned to see some of the great ideas that come out of this competition.
Teacher librarians might find this fantastic blog created by the CMIS staff at the Department of Education and Training in WA to be a useful source of regular fiction news and reviews. Recent posts include the World Fantasy Awards nominations for which fabulous Australian picture book author Shaun Tan has picked up 2 nominations.