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!

Infotention

It’s worth noting – I’m fascinated by the work of Howard Rheingold.  If I could capture just a small portion of his capacity to work with tertiary students I would be thrilled.

I really liked his small posterous ‘mini-course’ on infotention – what a cool way to share information.  I need to explore more….

Howard explains:

Infotention is a word I came up with to describe a mind-machine combination of brain-powered attention skills and computer-powered information filters. The inside and outside of infotention work best together with a third element ‹ sociality.

Watch  the video below – and learn how to manage your own ‘infotention’. Then visit Howard’s Mini-course on Infotention.

Thanks very much Howard for acknowledging that the need for librarians is greater than ever :-)

Work and learning

Effective working now requires an employee to recognize what information is required, to know how to seek out that information, evaluate it’s relevance and reliability, and to be able to translate that information into learning and actionable tasks. And this evaluation needs to be done constantly and consistently throughout an individuals career. Employers now have to accept that learning is an essential part of being able to get the job done – learning IS work.

Oh – at last! It’s worth reading perspectives from beyond the hallowed halls of education – after all, that’s where  our students are all heading in some way or another.

The rest of the post also has further gems in it.

via NoddleSoft.

Hybrid synergy – the future of school libraries

The Resources Centre

School has been busy – and so have I. Not many blog posts – but nevertheless  I’ve been busy mulling over the future of school libraries and how they should best be integrated into the education setting that we call “schools”.

Those of us who have been in ‘schools’ for many years remember when schools had no libraries!  Now it seems that some forward thinking people prefer to return to elements of schooling that were regarded as outmoded.  Get rid of libraries? Forget the role of libraries and teacher librarians? We don’t try and go backwards in other areas of education – so what’s the deal with this myopic view?

I have been busy watching the twitter stream #iwbnet10 where three of my colleagues are listening to some of Australia’s brightest talk about schools, schooling and the digital revolution at the Seventh National Interactive Teaching and Learning Conference.

By all accounts the conference has been brim full of ideas. But what strikes me about this and other conferences, such as ISTE2010 (that I very much enjoyed in Denver earlier this year) is the decided lack of discussion of what I see as an urgent need for a ‘new’ hybrid synergy between learning and libraries.  According to Designing for the Future of Learning

the school library remains one of them most symbolic, protected, and expensive ’spaces’ on any campus. But will future designers of school libraries be recreating sacred book spaces of the past or will technology and the ‘consumer’ inspire new design strategies for the future? For many, the library is the literal information bridge to the future.

It is very discouraging indeed to have conference attendees excited by one-eyed presentations of future learning needs.  Focussing on the digital revolution and ignoring the pivotal role that a good school library can play is to achieve only a percentage of what is possible – regardless of how good it seems , it’s just not good enough!

When I focus on my role as a teacher librarian, I ask myself a few leading questions:

Should we be immersed in new media and technology in our hyperlinked library?  Definitely.

Should we be working tirelessly to identify what is needed to think in ‘future tense’ and embrace the challenge of keeping ahead?  Most certainly.

Should we be leading the  conversation about social networking and digital identities? And how!

Should we be discussing the assessment problem in these media environments?  But of course!

I have the joy (and tears) of managing a school library that is open each week day from 8 am – 10 pm.

It’s a central hub for collaboration, technology, reading and writing.  It’s a place for change and about change. But with all that, it still has a long way to go  to achieve a hybrid synergy in our school. No different from most – we are evolving and responding to change!

This is important because  in an era of fast facts and short cuts kids have to become VERY literate in multimodal forms.

There are NO short cuts to literacy, and there is no replacement for the love of reading! No amount of gaming, movie making, sport, social networking etc can replace the cognitive gains to be made by allowing our students to become deep readers and deep researchers.  Technology has so much to offer in this thirst for deep knowledge and engagement with the ebook [r]evolution! However, technology is not a replacement for reading, researching, and the value that school libraries and school librarians can bring to our multimodal digital century.

Can you read this?

So while you get excited about technology rich schools, and while you focus on immersive and multimodal technology, don’t forget to focus on reading, literacy, information fluency and deep understanding.  What we need is a hybrid synergy between teaching, learning, technology, pedagogy, and the services of a school library/information services centre of learning and innovation.

Everything is a matter of degree. We do need to redesign our learning environments to address, leverage and harness the new media technology environment of our schools. We need to start redesigning our school libraries and the work of teacher librarians for these learning environments. We need to adopt learner centred e-teaching. We need to share, co-operate and collaborate because we now have an information ecology that can be open, self-managed, fostered and conducive to knowledge flow between content and connections.

As Michael Wesch explains,

Students need to move from being knowledgeable to being knowledge-able

Please look for ways to create a hybrid synergy in your school or academic institution. In terms of modern information and media skills, our practice demonstrates small, uneven pockets of best practice. We have no textbook for what 21st-century school library practice looks like.

Today I found a school that has grasped the need for hybrid synergy!  Not only do they have a school library that is the centre of learning and innovation – they will have in 2011 the perfect vehicle for synergy in 21st century learning by formalising the lead structures within their school.

Check out St Ignatius College, Riverview here in Sydney. They have realigned their library services to create a new hybrid synergy under the direction of the  Head of Digital Learning and Information Services, supported by several  Digital Learning Facilitators who will teach a subject, work with a faculty, as well as support students reading, learning, and research needs in the library.  Of course, with such a commitment to empowering student learning, there are other important roles such as a Library Manager, and library and media technicians.

Oh, but we can’t afford that at our school!

Maybe not – but you cannot afford to do without a library, nor can you afford not to adopt a hybrid synergy that will allow your teacher librarian to take charge of the digital revolution -  that is in danger of disenfranchising our students.

Let your students become ‘knowledge-able’ through literacy, reading and information fluency driven by teacher librarian experts embedded in your multimodal learning environments.

Body in the library – a murder mystery of our own!

Last term the Library Team at Joeys excelled themselves in launching an amazing “Body in the Library” investigative program in collaboration with the Science and English faculties. I promised to share this after talking about it at EduBloggerCon 2010 in Denver.  So here are some more of the details!

Boy’s body found in the Resource Centre! Year 8 suspected!

The focus of the project was to facilitate deeper learning in our students by creating an ‘authentic learning’ experience to strengthen writing and literacy skills across the curriculum. In English, students learned about the literary conventions of forensic fiction in their crime novel, Framed,  and how to use them to solve a crime.  In Science, students learned about how use a variety of scientific methods including analysing dental records, fragments and fibres, fingerprinting, shoeprinting and DNA samples in order to solve a crime.

These skills were then put to the test when boys were asked to solve a ‘body in the library’ type crime which the library team spent weeks preparing!

To solve the crime, students viewed the crime scene, looked at photographic evidence, read various ‘official’ forensic and crime  reports, watched video-taped evidence of the crime in action; watched interviews of the suspects; read  testimonies of different suspects; and analysed many forms of written and physical evidence!  Students employed deductive thinking skills, analysed all available evidence and established motives for the suspects in an attempt to determine who committed the crime. Lastly, each student submitted their own police report on the crime and its investigation.

This collaborative activity raised an astounding level of interest from all 150 boys – as well as raising a lot of  interest from boys from many other years.

Here’s  a brief overview of the scenario::

A body is found in the library at the end of Period 4 on Tuesday. It is a Year 9 boy who has been hit on the head with a blunt instrument.  The body is discovered by Mrs O’Connell in the Fiction area. A coroner’s report puts time of death at recess/Period 3.

The murderer is Mrs Smith. In a fit of rage, she has killed the student for not returning an overdue book.  There are two other prime suspects: Mr Smith, the Yr 9 Co-ordinator, who is annoyed by the behaviour of the student, and Jack, the boy’s friend, who had a fight with the victim.

Each boy received a forensic workbook – containing a range of materials for examination such as crime reports, witness statements and a coroners report. In addition the ‘crime scene’ was taped off, with key evidence on display e.g. fingerprints, the location of the body, and places where DNA was found.  Photographic evidence included the injury reports (fake bruising and blood on the victim), video footage of the scene of the crime (staged by students and teachers) and also hard hitting interviews.  The students were able to go into our two discussion rooms (which have a plasma screen for collaborative work) and view the footage and interviews, and take notes about what they saw and heard.

All this analysis led to some fierce competition to solve the crime, and find the murder weapon – which was hidden amongst the library shelves.  You guessed it – a steel bookend (decorated with some fake blood).

If you want to prepare a scenario of your own, here is our  YEAR_8_FORENSIC_SCIENCE framework that set up the string of evidence and clues for our project.

A copy of the coronor’s report below will give you an idea of the level of detailed evidence provided for the students to analyse.

The rest you’ll have to create for yourself! Did I mention I have the best Library Team on the planet?  This was just such a fantastic experience!

Infowhelm

The 21st Century Fluency Project provides educators with an innovative resource designed to cultivate 21st century fluencies, while fostering engagement and adventure in the learning experience.

Here you’ll find useful guides and other resources. To assist us in cultivating these new skills in our students, they have built an interactive online lesson and unit planning tool and have a team of dedicated educators developing hundreds of lesson plans. I’m looking forward to the public beta.

Meanwhile, you’ll enjoy their video about INFOWHELM:

We live in a 24/7 InfoWhelm world. We have access to more information than we will ever need. This video will tell you just how much information there is out there. It requires a different set of skills than the ones we leave school with today.

Digital literacy across the curriculum

Digital Literacy across the Curriculum (pdf), from FutureLab, UK, is a 63-page handbook aimed at educational practitioners and school leaders in both primary and secondary schools who are interested in creative and critical uses of technology in the classroom. The handbook is supported by case studies (pdf) of digital literacy in practice and video case studies.

The handbook aims to introduce educational practitioners to the concepts and contexts of digital literacy and to support them in developing their own practice aimed at fostering the components of digital literacy in classroom subject teaching and in real school settings.

Developing digital literacy is important  because it supports young people to be confident and competent in their use of technology in a way that will enable them to develop their subject knowledge by encouraging their curiosity, supporting their creativity, giving them a critical framing for their emerging understandings and allowing them to make discerning use of the increasing number of digital resources available to them. p.10

Developing digital literacy in the classroom can allow students to apply their existing knowledge of creating with digital technology to learning in school and in the process be supported to think more critically and creatively about what it is they are doing. p.24

Fostering creativity in the classroom involves applying elements of creativity to subject knowledge. This can be done in all subjects across the school curriculum. p.25

This is an outstanding document that can be used as an information primer for helping schools develop a whole-school approach – particularly relevant in the current 1:1 laptop scenario in Australia.

The future of digital diversity

Think digital – it’s  a ‘doing’ technology.  Trends from PewInternet Research Centre indicate that teens are digital denizens.

While the research is not Australia, it points the way to the behaviours or our own teens, and signals a need for some major shifts in thinking about learning and teaching contexts.   The interactivity of the web allows students to move very quickly from one application to another – remixing, remaking and montaging ‘content’.  Learning is promoted most effectively when students are making, creating, building, simulating, hypothesizing – all desirable higher-order thinking activities.

So, give these figures some thought!