Talking with the Ed Tech Crew


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by hebedesign

These guys are amazing!

Ed Tech Crew 166 – Searching the Web with Judy O’Connell

It was such a blast to chat with Tony Richards and Darrel Branson.  These guys have been filling the ears of anyone interested in technology in education with wonderful podcasts from people around the world. I was lucky to be in podcast 166!

I’m in Sydney, and on one cold evening in July,  Tony (Melbourne) and Darrel (in the cold shed in the back yard in Ballarat) had a lively chat with me.

If you haven’t been following the Ed Tech Crew, then do add them to your must do list.

Google+ plus Deeper Web

Google Lego 50th Anniversary Inspiration

I have a feeling that there is still so much I have to learn about the ‘ins and outs’ of Google, Google+, whatever! What annoys me is how easy it is for me to miss or forget something important about the world of online search.

Here’s the thing –  I had completely forgotten that Google filtered my search results if I was logged into Google. My test run on a complex search showed me that Google cannot predict the information I need. Message to self – “log out of Google if you want to embark on some serious searching”.

So a comment from @hamishcurry today at the ScreenFutures conference  reminded me to share a ‘new’ enhancement of my Google experiences with Deeper Web – an innovative search engine plugin and an essential Firefox addon for Google. By my reckoning this is ‘old’ technology – a Youtube video pegs it at 2009, as does a bookmark in my Delicious collection from the same year.

Here is a Google+ experience of a different kind!  Who knew?

With Google Wonder Wheel retired (for a while anyway) I have installed this Google Search engine extension for a test run on my old MacBook.

Deeper Web results appear in the right hand of my search screen – though there are other options to choose from. Suddenly I have a way of filtering my searches on the fly – from sources and by tags, phrases, sites and zones. I can delete tags or phrases and the search results are automatically resorted.

I am also supplied with a series of window boxes below the tag window providing search results from a range of sources. I can hide those sources I don’t want to see e.g. Wikipedia, or Answers.  However, I do like the other collection options of ‘metrics search‘, ‘news search‘, ‘resources search‘ and ‘blog search‘. So I can see this needs further investigation – and perhaps I really should add this functionality to all my Firefox browsers on all my devices. I’m not sure what I am missing – but I must be missing something if this isn’t known or used more widely.

So while this is no direct replacement to Wonder Wheel, it seems a definite enhancement of my Google Search experience. Rather stupidly I am now  wondering what other tools or enhancements of my web search experience using Google I have forgotten or missed out on.

Please tell me if you know about something else that is pretty good. Tweet me, Facebook me, or Google+ me.  While the social networks go through a period of shakedown, I seem to have acquired another place to keep an eye on!

Too easy – with EasyBib


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Reeding Lessons
Here’s another tool that I have decided to make my own. After the post  by Stacey on Using EasyBib  I’ve given their EasyBib App a go. When it comes to collecting and storing information about resources I think this App has got to be considered cool!

With this App you can create accurate MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations in seconds by scanning a book bar code or by typing the name of a book. Once done, you can email your citations. You could also export your citations to EasyBib.com’s popular bibliography management service.

It’s also interesting to read that OCLC and ImagineEasy Solutions, LLC are collaboratingto create a customizable library version of the EasyBib.com service. The EasyBib Library Edition service has been rolled out with select OCLC member libraries. This is one to watch for schools too.  The Library Edition will offer a variety of features designed to extend library reach and usage, such as:

  • Library-branded interface
  • Links to library home page and catalog
  • Search box for easy discovery of additional resources at your library and beyond
  • Integration with virtual reference services
  • IP redirects to your library’s customized version
  • Deep links into a library’s OPAC
  • Integration with the OpenURL Gateway.

But in the meantime, I think my EasyBib app is a great way for me to keep a record of resources or create a reading list!

Have you tried the EasyBib App on your mobile device?

Stop turning a blind eye! Media literacy in action.


cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Cayusa

I’d like to think that all teachers and librarians are clever enough to know how to work well with images to promote creativity in learning. My post-grad students working on Digital Citizenship in Schools  have just completed a phase of their learning that included an investigation of how to find and use images in their work using free images online, and even using Greasemonkey and Flickr to speed up their image attribution. Media literacy is an important part of digital learning environments.

Media literacy education helps people of all ages to be critical thinkers, effective communicators, and active citizens. Media literacy is the capacity to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate messages in a wide variety of forms. This expanded conceptualization of literacy responds to the demands of cultural participation in the twenty-first century. Like literacy in general, media literacy includes both receptive and productive dimensions, encompassing critical analysis and communication skills, particularly in relationship to mass media, popular culture, and digital media. Like literacy in general, media literacy is applied in a wide variety of contexts—when watching television or reading newspapers, for example, or when posting commentary to a blog. Indeed, media literacy is implicated everywhere one encounters information and entertainment content. And like literacy in general, media literacy can be taught and learned. Using images is just one aspect of media literacy educaiton – but none-the-less a vital one. Media literacy education can flourish only with a robust understanding of fair use.

Fair use in education means that educators and learners often make use of copyrighted materials that stand ‘outside’ the general use e.g. in the classroom, at a conference or within a school-wide setting. When this takes place within school fair use indicates flexibility.  Each country has it’s own specific rules and regulations that apply to copyright. But for teachers, the aim should be not to teach or bend rigid rules, but rather to promote media literacy in action and help students learn HOW to use media to empower their work, and promote a creative commons approach to sharing and mashup works.

For this reason I was excited AND disappointed with the newest enhancement to Google Images, mainly because in my experience teachers have continued to turn a blind eye in this area of media literacy action. Google has announced you can now sort Google Images by subject.

To see this in action, go to Google Images, conduct a search and look on the left hand side for the search option. Directly under the “More” link, you will find the default sort option set to “by relevance,” click on the “Sort by subject.” The results will then shift and group images by subject topic.

Decorating print and digital material with google images is pretty standard amongst kids – no attribution, no use of creative commons materials etc. Your students may be different – but I’m considering the general norm that I have seen, and now the job just got easier!

What interested me most though was watching the video about this new feature.  Notice how they’ve cleverly ‘covered’ the value of this new feature?  You’d use this feature to help you understand a topic better? pick a better dog! and perhaps add a nice image to presentation at school?

Sorting just made searching a lot more visual.  Yes.  No mention of copyright, creative commons, fair use. No mention of th Advanced Image Search, and the option to filter by license. So there are rules…and they did not promote breaking them. But they did leave the rest of the job up to us!

OK – so I guess it’s up to teachers and teacher librarians to get the fair use message across, as part of our media literacy education.

Will you stop turning a blind eye now?

Bonus:

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media LIteracy Education

Copyright Livebinder

Via search engine land

Digging into digital research

Over the past few weeks, I have been leveraging Zotero heavily in my work and general information curation. With deadlines knocking on my door I know I have to be organised. So while I make extensive use of Diigo and Delicious, as well as Evernote, when it comes to the serious academic stuff Zotero has to come up trumps.

Zotero is a citation management system, which allows for tagging, searching, note taking, collections, and shared libraries.  I admit, I don’t share my libraries with anyone – but I could if I was collaborating on a research paper of some kind.  Our students at CSU are introduced to Endnote, but I much prefer Zotero as it is a Firefox addon that collects, manages, and cites research sources from all my computers. It’s free and easy to use. There are other systems around, but for now Zotero is my workhorse.

More schools should adopt these tools too. In secondary schools it’s  time to move away from Pathfinders created in Publisher  to providing our students with strategies for information curation to support Guided Enquiry, or Project Based Learning or other tactics for deep engagement with information and knowledge.  Another similar tool that supports a school integrated approach is BibMe. An education institution account provides a customised for the school environment.

What do I do with Zotero that is different from social bookmarking or organising information with Evernote?

My most recent project has been to write a chapter for an upcoming IFLA/IASL publication. Right…folder for that!  I already had a few folders  being kept busy for other articles, presentations and course work,  but the book chapter became the priority.

As I researched deeply, in the various databases, in Google Scholar, in blogs, and other information sources, I was able to collect relevant information pertinent to my  topic of investigation. However, my ‘collection’ process was more than just bookmarking, or collecting a  screen capture. Zotero can extract key metadata from Web pages and insert them into citations, so I was also able to grab the citation information (neat metadata trick) directly from each of those sources (automatically) and link it with either  the pdf or  screen capture record of the document I wished, thus keep an authoritative information trail.  In some instances, I also added some notes as highlight or reflection of the content that I was interested in. I can go back to the original source as well, as the URL is also stored.

Then of course, Zotero synchronises with Word. Once I began writing, I was able to  insert the reference in the text in the appropriate manner drawing on my curated list. Finally, I was able to generate the Reference list automatically.

However, whenever I’m researching, I do also find things related to other topics I want to keep a track of. So while I’m busy with my folders, I also take time to use tags – and we’re all used to doing this automatically aren’t we? These tags allow me to filter information that I have collected at a later date for a different focus.  So Zotero allows me to organize my research into collections, and the collections are highly flexible, and better still,  an item can belong to multiple collections simultaneously.

So what’s cool?

  • Zotero is optimized for JSTOR, Flickr, YouTube, Google Scholar, ProQuest, EBSCO, and other online archives/databases. Click the Zotero icon in the URL address field to pull in key metadata.
  • Create citations for offline resources such as books, journal articles, and personal communications.
  • Organize citations by tag or folders; generate reports based on tags or folders.
  • Take notes and attach files (e.g., PDF or Word files) as needed.
  • Capture snapshots of Web sites and online images with metadata (note that there are interesting copyright implications).
  • Zotero supports the OCLC OpenURL Resolver Gateway protocol. Clicking the Locate button within Zotero will direct users to the appropriate database within the Libraries.
  • You can also sync your Zotero library, including all your references, snapshots of the HTML version of all your articles, and all the PDFs using the Zotero servers. This syncs your library to every other computer you’re using.

However, Zotero has a low storage limit – you only get tiny 100MB storage space for free. Never mind – Dropbox to the rescue, as you can also sync your library using your own WebDAV server.

Zotero is an excellent tool for any scholar, researcher, or student to have in their toolbox. Its utility extends well beyond preparing to write a paper, however, as it allows you to grab nearly anything off the web and insert it into the Zotero system.   Yep – that’s it…and my chapter is done!

Jason Puckett at Georgia State U provides an excellent Libguide for Zotero. His  Zotero: A guide for librarians, teachers and researchers  is coming soon from ACRL Publications and will be published in print and several e-editions including DRM-free formats.

There! Now I’ve shared my digital digging strategy. Now it’s your turn to give it a go and become a digital age scholar!