Sunday, September 28, 2008

21CIF YouTube Channel

We created some short tutorial videos on Google power operators and uploaded them to YouTube.

Here's our channel:

Here's a sample video

Google Operators: filetype:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I came across a blog by Wes Freyer today in which he tells his story about searching for an elusive Apple iTunes commercial.

When he tried the query january 2007 itunes commercial he was able to locate it (#2 in the ranking). I commented in his blog that this is a good example of the power of proper nouns (january itunes), numbers (2007) and minimal operators in searches. Until he recalled the month and year when he'd first seen the video,

Wes couldn't retrieve the information.

Or could he?

If you've spent time around our resources, you might suspect there's a shorter query that could work. Here it is: itunes commercial. The two-word query retrieves the same page (#3 in the ranking) without having to remember the specific date information.

This illustrates nicely how reducing queries to the bare minimum is an efficient, effective means of finding information. One keyword is rarely enough, but two is often the most elegant solution, even if it comes in ranked #3 instead of #2.

~ Dennis 21cif

Knowing your Audience? Or I should say, knowing the audience of your audience?

In the first issue of our newsletter we begin a series about what the current crop of kids (i.e. digital natives) know and don’t know. Our research tells us they don’t know much about the formal strategies of searching. (See Five Things Digital Natives Cannot Do (and what you can do to help, coming soon!)

We as educators, do know a bit about this generation of students. I found this link on Gary Price’s Research Shelf to Lee Rainie’s March 23rd speech: Life Online: Teens and technology and the world to come. This speech was given to the annual conference of the Public Library Association of Boston. (Teens and Technology.pdf) Rainie describes our students as the Millennials (born 1982 – 2000). He then shares eight recent findings of the Pew Internet & American Life Project that he directs.

I will provide a few direct quotes from Rainie’s speech as a teaser! ~ Dennis O'Connor, 21CIF.

How Millennials Approach Research:“For your purposes, it’s important to note that Millennials’ devotion to the internet has greatly shaped the way they approach research process. In many cases, they start projects by going online and browsing around. When they have questions, they will often ping their social network for advice and guidance.

They approach research as a self-directed process. Those who want to serve them would probably do well to think of themselves as “info support” in the same way all our offices have “tech support”: on call and ready to deal with problems, but not in my face showing me every possible function and setting on my computer.”

Brave New World?The 21 st Century Information Fluency Project plans to adapt and grow to meet the needs and demands of ‘new workers and consumers’ in the coming age. It is a great feeling to be out here on the bleeding edge helping to define this reality.

"I can’t tell you precisely how different this work and research environment will be – and I would be very wary of anyone who claims to know for sure just how much change will occur.

I think it is safe to say, though, for the new workers and consumers coming of age in the 21 st Century, learning and research will be:

  • More self directed and less dependent on top-down instructions

  • Better arrayed to capture new information inputs

  • More reliant on feedback and response

  • More tied to group outreach and group knowledge

  • More open to cross-discipline insights, creating its own “tagged” taxonomies


  • More oriented towards people being their own individual nodes of production.

As a researcher, I see this new world as a fantastically target-rich environment for things to study.

Your role is much more complicated, scary, and exciting. You have the privilege of reacting to and shaping the new environment for these emerging workers.

As the parent of four of these neo-workforce participants, I would only ask you to be brilliant at what you do."

~ Lee Rainie

So What Do You Think?

Does Rainie's description of the new generation jibe with your personal experience? Are the kids in your classes the fluid digital natives that the Pew Internet & American Life Project so richly describes?

Library Media AASL survey of State Staffing Requirements

Doug Johnson, recently sent important information to the ISTE Media Specialists Special Interest Group about state requirements for staffing.

Doug has created a Wiki and invited all media specialists to update specific information about their states.

"I hope readers will add to or correct any information about their states. The editing password for the wiki is WORLD.

All the very best and thanks, Doug "

Check it out and consider adding important information to this resource!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Essential Role of Information Fluency in E-Learning and Online Teaching

I've been researching and writing about Information Fluency since the turn of the century. My work is published on the 21st Century Information Fluency Portal: You'll find modular online learning content including games, micromodules and assessments on the portal. (Free for all educators.)

I include information fluency training in all of my online classes. I introduce power searching and website investigation to the graduate students studying in the E-Learning and Online Teaching Certificate Program at UW-Stout ( ) because I believe that Information Fluency is a foundation skill for all online teachers and learners.

dif model

What continually surprises me is that most educators (including those with advanced degrees) lack formal training in this field. Unless I'm working with a Library Media Specialist, most have little experience in searching, evaluating, and ethical use of digital materials.

Curiously, most educators think they are competent searchers and evaluators, when they are really just beginners. Their disposition is to ask for help rather than search for answers. With simple instruction many radically improve their ability to search, and evaluate. This is empowering and greatly increases learner satisfaction. Instruction in copyright and fair use is also part of the program.

At the same time I push the idea that it is everyone's duty to teach website evaluation and ethical use as part of any online curriculum. Too often educators assume someone else should have done the job by the time their students walk through the door. The application of information fluency to all curriculum areas is profound. Students given even rudimentary instruction in Information Fluency immediately benefit.

As online teachers and learners we work in a computer where information is just a few keystrokes away. I hope we can promote the disposition in all online teachers and learners that skilled use of Internet resources is the essential learning skill of our times.

Dennis O'Connor
Program Advisor
E-Learning & Online Teaching
School of Education
Online Professional Development
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Wisconsin's Polytechnic University
530-318-1145 (Cell)
Skype: wiredinstructor2

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Information Fluency Online Classes

Search Help, Evaluation and Digital Ethics for School, Business and Home

Courses Starting Soon...

Need to create a back to school training?

Use our modular content to snap together your own unique training course.

Power Searching in a Web 2.0 World

Next session starts September 22, 2008 (4 Weeks $99) View as Guest | Enroll | Course Description

Website Investigator: An Introduction to Information Forensics

Next session starts October 6, 2008 (2 Weeks $68) View as Guest | Enroll | Course Description

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