December 2008 Archives

Google adds magazines and newspapers

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magazine.jpgThis isn't exactly breaking news but I am finally taking a little time to read about it (that is what break weeks are for, right?). This fall and winter Google announced that it will start digitizing thousands of historic newspapers and magazines.

Find magazines in Google's Book search ( The magazines include the scanned pages including advertising.

Find newspapers in the Google New Archive search ( So far this mostly seems to link to the New York Times archives--with a price tag. But the University Libraries does have the NY Times back to 1851 (see:

Let's see where this takes us...

Networked Student--

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I tripped across this YouTube video in another blog--don't know too much of the background but I think it does give a good overview of how web 2.0 tools can be used for learning--without focusing on the tools themselves too much.

I was pleased of course with the reference to research and library databases (do you know how to use Google Scholar to connect to the full text at the Library?). I am also thinking about the role of the instructor to teach information literacy--or how to critically evaluate information and also the idea of "information management". I am going to think more of the skills a student needs to be both a good evaluator and a good manager of information.

Next major search engine: YouTube?

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youtube.jpg An interesting post at the Read Write Web has my mind whirling a bit like the snow outside my window:

It contends that Youtube may be the next Google for the next generation--that they will prefer getting information from video than from text.

"Imagine a whole generation of kids growing up and learning about the world through YouTube. In the first half of the 20th century, people grew up reading books and newspapers. Then there was a generation that grew up on movies and television. The last shift was to the Internet. And now web video is creating yet another generation.

Kids no longer learn about the world by reading text. Like the television generation, they are absorbing the world through their visual sense. But there is a big difference. Television was programmed and inflexible. YouTube is completely micro-chunked and on demand. Kids can search for what they need anytime. This is different, and powerful."

I need to think more on this--what skills do students need to make use of information from video? How different are those skills from the skills needed for text?

grownupdigital.jpg"In “Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your World� (McGraw-Hill), Don Tapscott tries to shatter the negative stereotypes of the so-called Net Geners, who currently range in age from 11 to 31. His book gives parents from the baby boom generation — like me — reason for optimism."

Tapscott identifies eight norms of many members of the Net Generation:
*they prize freedom
*they want to customize things
*they enjoy collaboration
*they scrutinize everything
*they insist on integrity in institutions and corporations
*they want to have fun even at school or work
*they believe that speed in technology and all else is normal
*they regard constant innovation as a fact of life.

"Tapscott’s most severe criticism of Net Geners is that they are “undermining their future privacy� by giving away vast amounts of personal information along with potentially embarrassing photographs and videos over the Internet."

from the review in the New York Times:

Required to publish in Wikipedia?

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wikipedia_logo.jpgThis may be a glimpse of future publishing trends....beginning in the sciences...

"Anyone submitting to a section of the journal RNA Biology will, in the future, be required to also submit a Wikipedia page that summarizes the work. The journal will then peer review the page before publishing it in Wikipedia."

"The RNA wiki is a subset of a broader project, the WikiProject Molecular and Cellular Biology, which has marshalled hundreds of scientists to improve the content of biology articles in Wikipedia."

Read more at:

What do you think?

Thinking skills

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Here is a mini blog round up from a few blogs I have been following. Here are some of the quotes that jumped out at me as I read:

1. From an interview with Dame Lynn Brindley, Director of the British Library....
"We did a recent study on the information behaviour of the Google generation, which came out with some high - level messages. This generation who've never known life before the internet, who are our readers of the future of course, have mostly great technology skills but have quite patchy information skills - because they use the search engines a lot, they bounce around, they go very broad, they struggle to go deep. They don't have critical research skills to enable them to critique what they're finding. We're doing some major thought leadership on this. This reinterpretation of what are the skills necessary in this new environment is a very big theme and of big importance for the future role of professional librarians.

But it's not what we used to call user education. It is a much bigger theme of media literacy and critical thinking skills - not just trusting what Google gets you."


2. This is a post about search engine optimization and the need for Librarians to learn more about it, use it and then teach about it.
"And some more: do academic courses set people up for life outside? Irrespective of whether they do or not, does the library serve students on those courses well within the context of their course? Does the library provide students with skills they will be able to use when they leave the campus and go back to the real world and live with Google. (�Back to�? Hah - I wonder how much traffic on HEI networks is launched by people clicking on links from pages that sit on the domain?) Should libraries help students pass their courses, or give them skills that are useful after graduation? Are those skills the same skills? Or are they different skills (and if so, are they compatible with the course related skills?)?"

3. This is a blog which quotes a book chapter by LeRoy Hay entitled “Thinking Skills for the Information Age� in an ACSD book entitled Developing Minds A Resource Book for Teaching Thinking:
"In the industrial-age model of education, all students were expected to master the ability to recall and comprehend information. In recent years, we have added the expectation that students should be able to apply information to problem solving. But mastery of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation skills has been, and for the most part remains, the focus of learning for only the best and brightest. that must change if most of our students are going to be information service workers in the future.

No longer can we rely on a small segment of our population with college degrees to be the thinkers of society. The creme de la creme of our students leave our schools better educated than ever before, with the high-level thinking skills that will serve them well in the information age. The problem is that there isn’t enough cream in the graduating crop to meet the rapidly growing need for information workers. so the real challenge lies with the students in the middle. How can we improve their thinking skills so that they are prepared to succeed in the information-based society of the third millennium?"


The best of microblogging?

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A company is soliciting entries for the best "tweet"--the fewer than 140 word posts on the social messaging site Twitter (

"Gregory Galant, Sawhorse’s chief executive, says the idea behind the awards is to promote a unique form of communication that facilitates creativity and direct expression. “There’s a long history of one-line content dating back to the Ten Commandments,� he said. “By forcing you to make it short, omit words, it makes us all into better writers and occasionally forces a more profound statement than one with no word limit.�"

Read more at:

Can you see into the future?

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horizonreport.jpg Each year the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE produce the Horizon Report with trends in technology in higher education. They have recently released a preview for 2009.

It talks about technologies such as mobile devices, cloud computing, geo-everything, personal web, semantic-aware applications and smart objects and how these are currently impacting higher education.

Another thing that struck me was the "critical challenges":

1. "There is a growing need for formal instruction in key new skills, including information literacy, visual literacy, and technological literacy. The skills involved in writing and research have changed from those required even a few years ago. Students need to be technologically adept, to be able to collaborate with peers all over the world, to understand basic content and media design, and to understand the relationship between apparent function and underlying code in the applications they use daily. Questions of assessment and support of new literacies across the curriculum continue to surface."

2. Students are different, but a lot of educational material isn't.

3. Significant shifts are taking place in the ways scholarship & research are conducted, and a there is a need for innovation and leadership at all levels of the academy.

I won't even try to say it better than that.

You can also check out the progress for 2009 on the Horizon Report Wiki (

Teaching about digital books

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Google_book.jpg I just finished listing to the Digital Campus podcast on the Google Book settlement (

Although not everything is finalized in the settlement it seems to indicate that full text searchable digital books will be a much larger part of the research landscape. This settlement specifically dealt with books that are still in copyright but are out of print. Read more from Google:

The podcast above mentioned the idea of thinking about how to teach students to use Google Books and other large repositories of full text books. Here are a couple of questions I came up with:
*What do students need to know about these?
*Do search strategies change when you are searching the full text versus just the title, author, subject?
*How can you use these repositories to help solve citation questions?
*Do you cite the book or the page in Google books? Is it the same as the book?

Here are some useful details on a few sites:

Google Books:
*7 million books scanned
*highlighting of search terms
*"Find this book in a Library" feature to connect to Worldcat which displays close Libraries based on your zip code with the item (useful if full text isn't available for newer books)

Open Library:
*1 million+ books
*Good interface for reading larger sections of content, you can "turn the page"
*Can download the PDF for out of copyright items

E-books In the University Libraries:
Electronic texts:
*New books in copyright available
*Very strong holdings in science, IT, engineering, chemistry
*Have to search MNCAT or each collection to identify titles

Library integrated into your course?

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I am working on an exploratory group here in the Library that is working on trying to devise easy ways to include the library into online course components such as Blackborad/Web Vista, Moodle, class blog or wiki or other online spaces you use in your courses.

Do you have any ideas? What would work be for you? Please let me know if you have suggestions (!


Health Information Literacy

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"as many as half of all adults in all socio-economic levels struggle with health literacy"
—Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2003

Finding high quality health information can be one of the most challenging, but most common searches people do. Since advertising drives the creation of much of the information on the Internet--the quality quickly becomes less important than driving traffic.

The Medial Library Association has some resources on health information literacy.

Social networking for academics?

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academia.jpg Have you seen this? It is a portal of academics with a tree structure of faculty, post-docs and graduate students based on University/departments or research interests. It has an international focus and allows users to create a profile and citations to share research.

What do you think?