August 2009 Archives

Loss of Library advocate

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"The American Library Association mourns the loss of the great legislator, Edward M. Kennedy. Senator Kennedy was a strong proponent of libraries and worked tirelessly with our nation's librarians to make sure everyone in this country could get access to quality library services, no matter what type of library or where they were located."

Assignment: Baloney Detection Kit

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Have student watch the following:

  1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
  2. Does teh wources make similar claims?
  3. Has the claims been verified by somebody else?
  4. Does this fit with the way the world works?
  5. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
  6. Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
  7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?
  8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence?
  9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?
  10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim?

Then have students create a class Baloney Detection Kit--basically criteria for evaluating information and evidence they use in the class. Post this in the class site and ask students to find two sources (one credible, one not so credible or one website and one newspaper, or one .org and .gov) and apply the detection kit.


Do you use Wikipedia? Do your students? Do you trust the information? Do your students? Do you know how Wikipedia works? Do you students? Have them do research on Wikipedia to understand more of how the entries get created and edited. I have read about many examples of students becoming Wikipedia editors--this might be especially useful in Sci/Tech writing.

Wikipedia to Limit Changes to Articles on People
New York Times
Published: August 24, 2009

"The change is part of a growing realization on the part of Wikipedia's leaders that as the site grows more influential, they must transform its embrace-the-chaos culture into something more mature and dependable.

Roughly 60 million Americans visit Wikipedia every month. It is the first reference point for many Web inquiries -- not least because its pages often lead the search results on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Since Michael Jackson died on June 25, for example, the Wikipedia article about him has been viewed more than 30 million times, with 6 million of those in the first 24 hours....

Foundation officials intend to put the system into effect first with articles about living people because those pieces are ripe for vandalism and because malicious information within them can be devastating to those individuals....

Wikipedians have been fanatical about providing sources for facts, with teams of editors adding the label "citation needed" to any sentence without a footnote.

"We have really become part of the infrastructure of how people get information," Mr. Wales said. "There is a serious responsibility we have."

Read more:

UC faculty concerned over Google Book Settlement

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"Offering a crucial little-heard voice in the debate over the Google Book Search Settlement, 21 leading University of California faculty members have written a letter to the court asking for supplementary provisions to address their concerns. In the letter, the scholars speak on behalf of academic authors more interested in the public interest than in supporting themselves from their book revenues."

"We are concerned that the [plaintiff] Authors Guild negotiators likely prioritized maximizing profits over maximizing public access to knowledge, while academic authors would have reversed those priorities," the faculty members wrote. "We note that the scholarly books written by academic authors constitute a much more substantial part of the Book Search corpus than the Authors Guild members' books."

Read more:

Seeking: How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that's loopy.jpgdangerous.
By Emily Yoffe

"Seeking. You can't stop doing it. Sometimes it feels as if the basic drives for food, sex, and sleep have been overridden by a new need for endless nuggets of electronic information. We are so insatiably curious that we gather data even if it gets us in trouble..

So addicts become obsessively driven to seek the reward, even as the reward itself becomes progressively less rewarding once obtained. "The dopamine system does not have satiety built into it," Berridge explains. "And under certain conditions it can lead us to irrational wants, excessive wants we'd be better off without." So we find ourselves letting one Google search lead to another, while often feeling the information is not vital and knowing we should stop. "As long as you sit there, the consumption renews the appetite," he explains.

Actually all our electronic communication devices--e-mail, Facebook feeds, texts, Twitter--are feeding the same drive as our searches. Since we're restless, easily bored creatures, our gadgets give us in abundance qualities the seeking/wanting system finds particularly exciting."

This make so much sense....describes my husband (and his love of his iphone) to a tee. Does this describe you?

Assignment idea: Editor, Researcher, Copy Editor

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palin_speech.jpgAn interesting look at editing both for grammar and research--Palin's resignation speech--edited by Vanity Fair's editors. This would be an interesting model to have students use for "peer review"--I wonder if you could assign students to take on these different roles....editor, research and copy (and even use the different colors) and do multiple reviews...

that's "read dating"...not speed dating

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The first round is a mixer. You (along with every other participant) will draw a question such as "What was your favorite book as a teen?" and mingle around the room asking your question of other participants. The second round will be timed dating, when you'll discuss your favorite books (no more than three) in a one-to-one setting for a few minutes before moving to a new literary partner. At the end of the night, if like literary minds want to match up... well, that would be up to you.



* 6:00-6:30 PM Registration
* 6:30-7:00 PM Round 1: The Mixer
* 7:00-8:30 PM Round 2: The Read Dating

The event is suitable for single men and women. Please bring a book you love, hate, have recently read, or just want to talk about.

Co-sponsored by Reader's Advisory Round Table of the Minnesota Library Association and Spill the Wine.

Learn more:


Register for a workshop or view the calendar.

Introduction to Citation Managers
Time: Monday, August 24, 2009 10:00 AM -- 11:00 AM
Location: Walter Library 101

Grant Funding - Search Tools and Resources
Time: Monday, August 24, 2009 2:30 PM -- 3:45 PM
Location: Walter Library 310

Formatting Your Dissertation in *Word 2007*
Time: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 10:00 AM -- 12:00 PM
Location: Magrath Library Instruction Room - St. Paul

Gather News and Updates in One Place with Web Feeds like RSS
Time: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 2:00 PM -- 3:00 PM
Location: Magrath Library Instruction Room - St. Paul

Zotero: Basics
Time: Thursday, August 27, 2009 10:00 AM -- 11:00 AM
Location: Walter Library 310

Google for Researchers
Time: Friday, August 28, 2009 1:00 PM -- 2:00 PM
Location: Walter Library 310

Penn puts a new spin on the freshman project

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"Incoming freshmen to the University of Pennsylvania, as at many schools across the country,painting.jpg typically start their college careers reading a common book and then discussing it - an orientation activity meant to unify the class.

This fall, the 19-year-old project takes a new twist at Penn: Students will study and discuss a painting, Thomas Eakins' The Gross Clinic.

Penn officials said they think they are the first to use a painting for the orientation project, and national officials knew of no other school.

The university is changing its approach as part of a new campaign it will officially launch next month, called "Arts & The City Year."

In addition to the orientation project, Penn plans "arts crawls" around the city, and an arts "passport" to art and cultural institutions with discounts and prizes for students. An "art in public health" series, arts seminars, and a variety of other programs also are planned to put students more in touch with the art venues on campus and around the region."

Read more:

Top 5 citation apps

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How do you organize your research? There are more and more tools to help:

1. BibMe
2. Citation Machine
3. EasyBib
4. OttoBib
5. Word 2007

Check our our new comparison chart of the citation managers recommended through the libraries: Introduction to Citation Managers Chart

Let me know if you have more questions!

how do you write a digital textbook?

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npr.jpgI have seen a couple of things today that have made me ask that question. I read something about National Public Radio that talked about their website redesign ( and how their content is beyond "radio" and that the goal is to make their content work on multiple media (website, radio, blog, etc.). As these barriers between form/genres is continuing to does that change how writing is taught? Or does it?

Here is a story about digital textbooks and how many K-12 schools seem to be moving in this direction:

"Kids are wired differently these days," said Sheryl R. Abshire, chief technology officer for the Calcasieu Parish school system in Lake Charles, La. "They're digitally nimble. They multitask, transpose and extrapolate. And they think of knowledge as infinite.
"They don't engage with textbooks that are finite, linear and rote," Dr. Abshire continued. "Teachers need digital resources to find those documents, those blogs, those wikis that get them beyond the plain vanilla curriculum in the textbooks."

Most of the digital texts submitted for review in California came from a nonprofit group, CK-12 Foundation, that develops free "flexbooks" that can be customized to meet state standards, and added to by teachers. Its physics flexbook, a Web-based, open-content compilation, was introduced in Virginia in March.

..."The good part of our flexbooks is that they can be anything you want," said Neeru Khosla, a founder of the group. "You can use them online, you can download them onto a disk, you can print them, you can customize them, you can embed video. When people get over the mind-set issue, they'll see that there's no reason to pay $100 a pop for a textbook, when you can have the content you want free."

What do you think?

First Year Writing and the Library

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Here are some highlights from a draft report on FYW and the Library:

  • After piloting Unravel the Library 2: Finding Scholarly Articles online tutorial in late spring and summer 2008, we rolled out the session in fall. We used Moodle to administer the quiz in both the Face-to-Face and online environments.
  • Overall, in 2008-09 we increased the number of students we taught with the Unravels series by about 30%.
  • We saw good acceptance for the online modules: about 50% of students that completed Unravel 2 took the online version.
  • The average quiz scores in Unravel 2 were between 85% and 87% overall. We define a score of 80% and above as successful thus student learning was achieved in both the face-to-face and online sessions.
  • We need to increase tracking of who is completing the Unravel the Library workshops to better assess how well we are reaching First Year Writing students.

Read the entire report here: FYW_Library_Report_Fall08_Spring09_2.doc


Assignment idea: Rating the news

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I tripped across Health New Review: (published by Gary Schwitzer
Associate Professor, University of Minnesota School of Journalism & Mass Communication, Health Journalism MA program).healthnews.jpg

I think the site itself is great but how about modifying this for a class project? Have students find materials on the class topic and then rate and evaluate what they find. I think the star rating system would help student begin to build a mental spectrum of quality as it helps them learn about a topic. You can also develop the "criteria" as a group at the beginning of the semester. You could require students to find a variety of sources individually or in small groups (e.g. newspaper, journal articles, magazines, blog posts, radio or new programs, etc.).

Interesting...very interesting...