Friday, April 10, 2009

I just read the article by Will Richardson, "The New Face of Learning: The Internet Breaks School Walls Down". I found his thoughts to be very similar to my own when thinking about Web 2.0 and traditional education. I agree that there are educators out there who are intimidated by the big, bad internet and are not using the resources available to them because of their fear. However, there is a new generation moving into education and we are trying to change the idea that Web 2.0 does not have a place in school. A major role of the LMS is to make sure that technology is being taught and incorporated into lessons in the library. If there are teachers and administrators that are not familiar with these tools then they are most likely not going to use them in the curriculum. If the LMS stays connected to current technology then the students will be able to count on the library for their Web 2.0 needs. This is a great way to promote the library as well. Advertising our skills to teachers and students can only increase library use, especially when teachers do not want to teach technology in their classes.

We must reevaluate what literacy and education is in a time where information is plentiful. If this is the kind of education students are flocking to then we need to support that and make sure they are given the tools to successfully evaluate this information and use it responsibly.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I have this friend who I have known since college. He loved to talk books and stay up all night discussing the latest novel he was reading. Since college he has been working with computers. Now when I talk to him and ask him what he's reading he says "I haven't really read anything lately besides the news online". I continue to tell him that that is just not like him and he really needs to read a book! He tried to convince me that when he tries to read books now his eyes get tired easily and he can't focus after a couple of pages, no matter how interesting the book is. I just don't believe it. In fact, I get frustrated with him when he makes excuses like that. Get glasses, focus more, do something!

Then I read the Carr article and he is making the same excuses. I understand that after spending years on the internet doing research that your skills become more honed in that area. I just can't bring myself to believe that the internet is changing our brains. I spend a lot of time on the internet and I am able to read books without losing focus after a few minutes. I need more research to be convinced of this.

On another note, I am a Google lover. I love having a random question that can be answered in minutes. I love being given choices when I Google a topic and seeing what kind of information is available. My husband, on the other hand, thinks that Google is an evil spy. He does not like that Gmail can "read" what you're emailing about and then put up advertisements for it. "This is just the beginning of Google's evil plan to take over the world". I must say, it makes me laugh. Maybe he's right but it just doesn't bother me yet. I love too much of what the Google genius' have offered me. GoogleDocs, GoogleMaps, GoogleSketch, GoogleEarth; I could go on and on. Ok, so it's a monopoly but is a monopoly so bad if they're producing really cool programs? I'll revisit this question in a few more years and see where Google is at...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wiki World

Just the other day I was discussing wiki's with a teacher at my student teaching venue. He is beginning a unit on primary sources and wanted a place where the students could post ideas, articles and resources and be in conversation with one another for all to see. I explained how a wiki could work for him with this assignment and showed him some class wiki's that I have used in the past. He was pretty excited about being able to use this tool and introduce his students to it. He was sure that the only wiki they were familiar with was Wikipedia.

This is not the only time I have introduced someone to the idea of using a wiki for collaboration. I find myself promoting wiki's to teachers and students who are working on projects together and want to keep all of their information in one place. Most importantly they want to be able to add information or make changes to the information that is already there.

I have been using wiki's in graduate school for various tasks and assignments. Because of this I have become a huge fan of how wiki's can be used, and I know I'm probably not even using them to their full potential (this is quite common with most of the technology that we use).

More specifically, I love what Wikipedia has offered us as a society. I understand the concerns of educators of why Wikipedia should not be used, etc. However, I'm not addressing those issues in this blog. I am not a Wikipedia hater, there are just too many of them out there. Someone in this field has to be a supporter! Wikipedia has defined mass collaboration. In fact the definition from Wikipedia is: "Mass collaboration is a form of collective action that occurs when large numbers of people work independently on a single project, often modular in its nature". When I think about what actually happens to make Wikipedia exist, I admit, I get a little choked up. Mass amounts of people working together to provide information to others; It's like they are all librarians at heart.

As far as Wikipedia in schools are concerned I think there is a lot more we can do than just say "Don't use Wikipedia!". Perhaps explaining why Wikipedia is not a good source for certain information is a better way to approach this issue. An effective library lesson could be to have the students enter an article on Wikipedia to show how easy it is for others to post inaccurate, and accurate, information. This kind of lesson seems to be successful in driving home the message.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Breaking up on Facebook

2 weeks ago my 15 year old cousin started her first tumultuous teenage relationship. 1 week after that, her boyfriend broke up with her on Facebook. She called me very upset wondering what to do. "Why would he break up with me on Facebook? Why doesn't he have the guts (although she used different words) to call me or do it in person?" The thing about my cousin is that she is a hard core Facebook-er. Every move she makes is posted on Facebook for all to see. But when it comes to someone else posting something private about her she becomes infuriated and upset. The teacher/adult in me wanted to ask her questions about privacy and control over privacy but I knew all I could do is help her figure out how to get through this public breakup. Since then I have been asking myself questions about privacy and how social networking sites are effecting us as a society. Most importantly I am curious about how these sites are effecting teens.

Dana Boyd's article entered my life at the perfect time. I feel that her article helped me work through some of my own thoughts and questions about SNS's.

I have watched my aunt and cousin work through rules about Facebook and social networking sites. My aunt warns my cousin constantly about the repercussions of doing something "stupid" and having it come back to haunt her. At 15 my cousin is struggling with the idea that when she goes to college or applies for a job someone will be able to access her Facebook page and see what kind of person she is. Fortunately she has a person in her life who is talking to her about this issue. If she was not getting this education at home, who else would be talking to her about it? From what I understand, there are not a lot of discussions at her school about SNS behavior. Boyd offers helpful advice to educators on how to talk to students about social networking without lecturing about the dangers.

Before I read the Boyd article I was thinking about how sites like Facebook are teaching teens about socializing and relationships. I have defended SNS's numerous times to teachers and parents about Facebook and it's benefits. I have said very similar words to Boyd in regards to this issue. Boyd says that there is a lot of "informal learning" that happens outside of school that is essential to teens. Facebook is where that learning is now happening. My cousin had to learn how to deal with a breakup over Facebook instead of in the hallway at school. This breakup ended up working in her favor because once her network of people found out about it, they joined together and posted comments about the situation. This group also posted many comments on his wall about his behavior. The FB breakup provided a space for friends to express themselves publicly about what happened. There was also no "he said she said" debate because the conversation was posted for everyone to see. So much for private conversations!

As far as my own Facebook experience, I have loved every minute of it. I have reconnected with old friends and am able to see what is happening in their lives. I also enjoy posting pictures of my life for my network of friends and family to view. I use Facebook as a tool to stay connected to people. Sometimes I use a more

voyeuristic approach although occasionally I will post a status update and new information about myself. Since I am a school librarian I always keep in mind that students might be able to see my profile at some point. My privacy settings are set so only Friends can see anything about me however I am searchable by anyone. I want to be found but I want to be in charge of who is able to view information about me. This is what works for me at this point in my life.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Final Project Thoughts...

I have started thinking about final project ideas and so far I keep coming back to the idea of teaching a lesson on information seeking strategies. It seems that a lot of people in my library world are talking about how students' information seeking skills are lacking. There are many reasons that students are struggling with the development of these skills. Some students just do not want to take the time to search for information, other students really don't know where to look (besides Google and Wikipedia of course). I would like to develop a lesson that shows them HOW and WHERE to look for information. I also think this needs to be done in a more creative way than just giving them a topic to find information on and having them regurgitate that information back to you. I want to stress the PROCESS and not so much the actual information. I have been going back and forth (with myself) on what I want this lesson to look like but I think talking to colleagues about it might give me some clarity.

I haven't figured out which age group I would like to gear this towards. Right now I am working with K-12 students so I can really apply this skill to any and all of my students. I am curious to see if anyone has thoughts on this lesson or would like to collaborate with me for the final project.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Journey vs. Destination

Notes on Convergence Culture reading:
-Media Convergence
-Collective intelligence
-I had no idea Survivor had such an intense following. I am intrigued by this group of people.
-P. 54: Collective intelligence- it's not about possessing the information and knowledge, but more about HOW they got the information. PROCESS!
-Fantasy of empowerment
-powerful consumers

As I sit down to write I find myself keep going back to this one particular part of Jenkins' book. He states that what keeps a collective intelligence together is not just owning the knowledge and information but the process of obtaining it. This idea of process resonates with me because this is part of the challenge when teaching information literacy. I had a student come to the library this week looking for information on World War II. Obviously this is a very broad topic. I asked him some more specific questions about this topic hoping to find out where he was headed. I explained to him that we have various resources on World War II and we should use the catalog to find where they are located. Side note: Most of the students I work with have not ever used an OPAC before. As soon as I mentioned that I was going to show him how to find the WWII resources he was not interested in having me help him. "No, no, that's OK. I'll just go look on the shelves". I tried to explain to him how much time it would save him to learn where to find the information instead of blindly searching the shelves. I realized that he didn't really want my help, he just wanted me to show him where the books were that he could use. He wasn't interested in seeing what our collection had to offer on WWII, he just wanted me to hand him a book and say "here, this is about WWII, use this". I wanted to teach him HOW to find information and he just wanted to acquire the information. At times, the students I work with are not interested in the process of obtaining information. They would rather use Wikipedia as their primary resource because it's fast and easy to find information they are looking for.

I am working on developing a unit on the process of information acquisition. Ideally I would start this unit as early as possible in their educational careers. However, my main concern right now are the high school students who are moving on to college in the next few years. I feel that I can further develop their information seeking strategies so that their information literacy skills will be strong when entering the world of higher education.