Tuesday, July 28, 2009

OpenOffice.org has an Education Project

Just learned that the free, productivity tool OpenOffice.org has a site especially for educators and their students called the OpenOffice Education Project. Here is it's mission:
"Its purpose his to help teachers as well as students or anybody involved in education to enter the OpenOffice.org project and find a place where to contribute or to find information. Another aim is to be a central point for tools and initiatives around OpenOffice.org the product and the sources that can be shared by our international community and where students of any level can find a place to easily participate." For more information about this productivity tool, or to contribute, see the Education Project wiki.

Would this be a good project for a high school team of students to work on, with guidance from teachers and teacher librarians?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Blended Learning - Students Do Better with Mix of f2f and online instruction

eSchool News reports on results of a U.S. Department of Education study on Blended Learning. Bottom line: study reveals that students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.

Given the finding that students do better with a mix of f2f and online instruction, it follows that teacher librarians should work with their classroom teachers and district curriculum leaders to identify or develop curriculum-supporting tutorials or mini-courses. The CSLA web 2.0 tutorial for middle school students, Learning 2.0, is an example of a library-generated online course that addresses information literacy issues as it teaches 21st century learning skills. Another CSLA tutorial, Discovering Assistive Technology, is suitable for high school students as well as adults. CSLA members are encouraged to offer both to their students and classroom teachers, and to include on the school library website.

Friday, July 24, 2009

FTC resources

ALA Chicago Conference exhibits included the FTC - Federal Trade Commission. Here are some of the consumer protection resources they promoted that are worth including in Information Literacy lesson plans:
  • Homeowner consumer information - consumer protection and counseling. See FTC Money Matters website at http://ftc.gov/MoneyMatters
  • YouAreHere - a site for kids to learn how to be smart shoppers. The site is geared for 5th through 8th grade students and can complement lessons in critical thinking, writing, language arts, media literacy, business, civics, and social studies. Here is a sampling of topics covered in the virtual mall: Shuman’s Shoes (Lesson: Ads and Endorsements), Gr8 Gadgets (Lesson: False or Misleading Ads), Pizza Pizza Pizza (Lesson: Competition), and Triple Cold Creamery (Lesson: Mergers). The teacher and parent section includes a variety of ways for you to promote the site to students. Order free posters and bookmarks, copy and paste images (like above) or html for webpage buttons for linking to the site.
  • CURE-IOUS: be skeptical of websites hawking cures for cancer and such. Bookmark http://ftc.gov/curious
  • Bookmark on "6 Signs that your Scholarship is $unk" - scholarship scams

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Student Perceptions of their Computer Skills Compared to their Actual Abilities

A Comparison of Student Perceptions of their Computer Skills to their Actual Abilities
This report, published in the Journal of Information Technology Information, shows that students' perceptions of their word processing and spreadsheet skills did not match their actual skill level but their perception in the area of presentations did more closely match their skill level.
The study was done in North Carolina where all students are expected to pass an assessment on such skills before they graduate. Interestingly, showing mastery of these three areas is also a graduation requirement in my school district (Tamalpais Union High School District).

The Executive Summary of the report states the following:

In this technology intensive society, most students are required to be proficient in computer skills to compete in today’s global job market. These computer skills usually consist of basic to advanced knowledge in word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet applications. In many U.S. states, students are required to demonstrate computer proficiency early in their educational experience by means of passing an assessment test. This research was conducted in North Carolina where all students must pass a computer/technology skills assessment test prior to completing twelfth grade. This study explored U.S. college students’ perceived mastery of their computer
skills, evaluated their actual scores on a computer skills assessment, and compared the results to realign and enhance an introductory business computer applications course. Two instruments were developed to accomplish the objectives for this research: a survey to capture students’ perceptions of their computer proficiency and a computer skills assessment to measure their actual performance. The assessment tool evaluated their knowledge of three computer application skills – word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet – with three levels of proficiency – basic, moderate, and advanced. The survey and assessment instruments were administered to over 200 business students in a medium sized, public university with a required introductory computer applications course. The findings of this study indicate some differences in the students’ perception of
their word processing skills and actual performance, no difference in perception and performance for their presentation skills, and a significant difference in perception and performance for their spreadsheet skills. As a result of this research, the curriculum for the introductory course was redesigned to concentrate primarily on the substantial skill deficiency in spreadsheet skills while still allowing the students to demonstrate their level of proficiency in word processing and presentation skills through a mandatory online assessment test beginning in fall semester 2008. Any student who does not perform well on the word processing and presentation assessment will be required to obtain additional training to enhance these skills.

Friday, July 17, 2009

You really DON’T own your Amazon e-books

From TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home blog
This blog entry explains why you really don't own e-books on a Kindle--you only lease them from Amazon.
Interesting implications for e-textbooks!?

Animated Tutorial Sharing

ANTS - Animated Tutorial Sharing
I just joined this site which is subtitled: Libraries Working Together to Create Open Source Library Tutorials.
Haven't had much chance to explore it yet but the potential certainly seems to be there.
Take a look.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Will lawyers ruin cloud computing?

Will lawyers ruin cloud computing?
From a blog devoted to cloud computing at InfoWorld. What does the future hold?

Students Give E-Book Readers Mixed Reviews

Students Give E-Book Readers Mixed Reviews - WSJ.com
Another report on what college students think of e-textbooks.
Cost won't be coming down any time soon.

A Blog Worth Following: All Things Digital

All Things Digital
If you're not already following this blog you might give it a gander. Walt Mossberg is the guy who keeps Wall Street Journal readers up to date on technology issues.

Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled its Promise?

Starter questions for Ultimate Debate 2009 | David Lee King
"I participated in a panel at ALA2009 with some cool people called The Ultimate Debate: Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled its Promise? It was fun! I was sent “starter questions” beforehand – and of course, since this was a live discussion, we hit them in different ways."
This is a blog posting about the definition and uses of web 2.0 in libraries.
The author seems to be a public librarian and so most of the examples are from public libraries with a few comments about academic libraries as well. Although one of questions asked mentions school libraries there's really no comment about them.
Anyway, it's is a conversation starter and worth thinking about for school library folks as well.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NYPL Digital Collections

NYPL Digital Collections
Neat collections at the New York Public Library. They include audio, video and webcast files; images, prints and photography collections; and text collections as well.
Some of these are subscription databases but many are available free of charge.

16 bitchin' commands and shortcuts for Twitter

16 bitchin' commands and shortcuts for Twitter
I also find the Twitter Gadgets for Gmail and iGoogle very helpful at removing clutter from the desktop.

Follow up to AASL best Web sites for teaching and learning

AASL best Web sites for teaching and learning
Take a look at these websites/tools. Most should be familiar but the ones which I still need to explore include Simply Box, Mindmeister, Polleverywhere, Curriki, Our Story, and RezED.
I'll follow up when I get the chance.
Looks like some of these are ripe for adding to School Library 2.0.

Mimio - interactive whiteboard without the whiteboard

Here is a cool new technology from MIMIO seen at ALA Chicago Conference. A follow-up e-mail from the company is below:

The mimio Interactive system transforms an ordinary dry erase whiteboard into a fully-featured, multi-media capable interactive whiteboard—quickly, easily and more affordably than conventional interactive whiteboard systems. What does this mean for your school?
  • More interactive whiteboard-enabled classrooms within your budget. mimio puts its patented technology on existing classroom whiteboards saving your school hundreds of dollars per room.
  • No need to retrofit classrooms with new equipment. mimio Interactive systems work with your school's desktop and laptop computers and projectors.

  • Teachers can share mimio Interactive systems. mimio Interactive is small and portable and can be moved from one class to another almost instantly.
  • Full-featured interactive whiteboard performance. Control PowerPoint files, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and more. Browse the web and bring multimedia content onto the board and into the classroom. Annotate, mark up and edit slides and screens on the board.

Need more Information?

Get all of your questions answered in a free live online demo! Schedule your demo today!

Request special Educator Pricing.

Call us at 877-MY-MIMIO to schedule a demonstration at your school.

Check out our website to learn more about all that mimio has to offer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

ALA | AASL Best Web sites for Teaching and Learning Award

Recently noted in School Library Journal
ALA | AASL Best Web sites for Teaching and Learning Award

Shared via AddThis

Apple (iPhone and iPod Touch) Video

Today's papers are carrying an article about Apple's plans to take over the lead in video, leaving flip video in the dust. Soon, iPhone and especially iPod Touch will offer a superior video tool and allow for wireless downloading. What are the implications for schools? What's the word from CSLA members? Comments, please.

Also "heard on the street" and in the same newspapers is a rumor that China is busily manufacturing Apple netbooks or a similar device that will be offered this October. Anyone hear more on the subject?