Friday, March 27, 2009

Google -- Show Options...

AL Direct, the online journal of the American Library Association, recently (Mar. 25) had a link to a Google Blogoscoped posting about an experiment Google is running which gives more search options using regular Google search "Tony Ruscoe and Philipp Lenssen write: “Google is running an experiment in their search results, apparently shown to a portion of their users. On search results, say for the query comic books, a link in the top blue bar will read ‘Show options.’ Click it, and a side bar full of options expands to the left. One of the most interesting experiments is the ‘wonder wheel’. This will show a Flash-based interactive mini app which starts with your keyword in the center, and related terms around it.”..."

The technology involves downloading a cookie to the specific computer so the blog posting gives the code that needs to be sent to Google to put the "Show options..." into effect.

For a long time I've been waiting for Google to become more graphical and this is an admittedly baby step in that direction.

Some of the other options allow the searcher to limit the search by media type and date range. There is also a tool which give a time line of the search terms.

How useful all this is waits to be seen but it's always good to see what Google engineers are working on.

BTW, there doesn't seem to be anything at Google Labs on this topic/tool yet.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tips for Teaching Online + a fun video

Here are my notes from Friday's 3/20/2009 presentation by Dr. Patricia James on
"Putting You in your Online Course". Dr. James is Dean of Instruction, Library and Technology, and Distance Learning, Mt. San Jacinto College

INTRO: It takes about 3 semesters to get used to teaching online.
1st Semester- gulp!
2nd Semester- get rhythm and fix things that didn't work
3rd Semester- OK!

1- Set aside time to do research each week.
2- Consider setting up a outside your course management system as a "backup" to meeting space.
3- Make students responsible for backing up all their own work.
4- Set up your e-mail that automatically sends a "receipt" for student work.

See fun video "Can't Help Teaching Online.wmv" see

5- Add your voice. Use or camptasia (allows screen capture and voice over at the same time)
6- Note that MOST students do not print out info from online. Often they read from a smartphone.. So, when putting information online, use 60 characters across, background buff (not white). Also fonts for online should be san serif, verdana, or helvetica.
7- Add your own photo and other, somewhat related photos.
8- Each new week, make announcements. Provide regular, effective contact.
9- Welcome each student the first week
10- Read and Grade as you go. (don't spend time going back and re-reading)
11- Use CCCConfer (uses Elluminate webconferencing platform). Now you can save what you do as a webcast as mpeg file. This is ideal for tutoring or Office hours. If you use it during the week, CCCConfer will caption it for you.
12- More tools. is a free screen capture tool and can capture video too! Download You can annotate images and do voice-overs. Create an ePortfolio if you have an .edu address it is free.

RESOURCES: -> online learning -> faculty resources -> general Distance learning resources. See also

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cyberbullying and Bullying sites

I saw these resources in the new Boy's Life magazine. Check them out.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Gaming in Libraries Resource from ALA

Here's a comprehensive guide to gaming and literacy in libraries (or games in libraries!) from the American Library Association website. It covers all sorts of games from simple board games to the most sophisticated online role-playing games.

There is a great video introduction to the site by Beth Gallaway, the head of Information Goddess Consulting and a consultant to the project.

One of the participants is Christopher Harris, Coordinator of the School Library System of the Genesee Valley Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).

Here is the introductory statement from the site.

What is the Connection Between Literacy and Gaming?

More about the gaming and literacy connection can be found on the Literacy 101 page, and each model program has literacy components as well.

As new technologies, tools and toys have burgeoned over the last 20 years so has our understanding of what constitutes literacy. Libraries of all types have provided collections, programs and services in support of these traditional literacy skills for centuries. Today, concepts of literacy include digital, information and communication technology (ICT), media, programming, and visual.

Reading and understanding information is still vital, but so is evaluating and thinking critically in the multiple literacies just listed.

Libraries of all types promote the development of these literacy skills in numerous ways: information literacy classes in colleges and universities, gaming programs to promote problem solving and the development of higher order thinking skills, and services that improve technical and literary fluency. Regardless of the type of service libraries may provide, they are all important in strengthening these multiple literacies. Gaming in its various forms presents an additional service that supports and strengthens these literacies.