Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Online Courses in Information Fluency!

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

Courses Starting Soon...

powersearching and wsi

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 Aug 4 (4 Weeks $99)

View as Guest | Enroll | Course Description

Website Investigator: An Introduction to Information Forensics

Next session starts Aug 11 (2 Weeks $68) View as Guest | Enroll | Course Description

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Library 2.0

If you're wondering how to implement a social library or just wondering what all this noise about Library 2.0 really means, I've got resources for you! I came across treasure trove of information with this title:

100 Free Library 2.0 Webinars and Tutorials

By Jessica Merritt

If you’ve heard the buzz about Library 2.0, but don’t quite understand how to implement it, you’ve come to the right place. The Internet is full of helpful webinars, presentations, and tutorials designed to help you take your library to the next level, and we’ve highlighted some of the most useful of these here. Read on to learn how your library can get with the times.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Special Event Notice: Conference on Literature in Virtual Worlds

On August 4th, 2008, and again on August 6th, Alliance Library System, in cooperation with LearningTimes, will offer a one-day conference exploring the possibilities of using virtual worlds to teach literature and to promote its appreciation for people of all ages.

The conference, entitled "Stepping into Literature: Bringing New Life to Books through Virtual Worlds," will be held entirely in the virtual world of Second Life, allowing participants to attend from any location with a computer and a broadband internet connection.

Whether you teach literature, or are just intrigued by the potential for learning in 3D worlds, we hope you will join us for a meaningful exploration of the instructional possibilities.

Cost to attend is US $65 per person. For group rates (5 or more) write to

Click here to register:
Or visit the conference website at:

Participants will take take part in a virtual book discussion, and take field trips into literature-based locations that have been created in Second Life. You may find yourself in an Edgar Allen Poe poem, visiting a "secret garden" or learning about gothic literature in an authentically spooky mansion.


Beth Ritter-Gluth (Desideria Stockton in Second Life) will be the keynote speaker and her talk is on "A Vision for Making Literature Come Alive in Virtual Worlds." She is the creator of "Literature Alive in Second Life" and teaches English and Women's Studies at Lehigh Carbon Community College in Schnecksville, PA.
The keynote author is Kim Rufer-Bach who will speak on "Using Virtual Worlds to Promote Real Life Literature." Kimberly is co-author of "Creating Your World: The Official Guide to Advanced Content Creation for Second Life" (Sybex, October 2007) and is currently at work on "The Second Life Grid: The Official Guide to Communication Collaboration, and Community Engagement."

Full conference schedule and registration information is available at the conference website,

Or register now at:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Website Investigator: Apple Learning Exchange Podcast from NECC 2008

The Information Forensics Podcast was recorded at NECC 2008 in San Antonio, Texas and produced by the Apple Learning Exchange. PowerPoint is also available from the NECC


For many students, online research just doesn’t come naturally. Most students have trouble locating relevant information. Even if they find good information, they lack the investigative skills needed to evaluate their sources.

The purpose of this session is to provide participants with an understanding of efficient methods for evaluating online information and to demonstrate effective ways to teach these information fluency skills in classrooms.

The new generation of NETS standards for students (ISTE, 2007), is based on the premise that efficacy and productivity depends on students’ abilities to conduct research and manage digital information fluently. An essential skill is the ability to evaluate information from a variety of sources and media

Online Course: WSI: Website Investigator: An Introduction to Information Forensics

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Website Investigator (Moodle Based Online Course)

Website Investigator: An Introduction to Information Forensics
begins Monday, July 14th. (2 Weeks $34) View as Guest - Register

A facilitated online learning experience in Web Site Investigation. Game Based, Challenging, Fun!

Joyce Valenza –21st Century Research Skills!

Navigating the Shifting Information Landscape

Interview with Joyce Valenza This interview is with Joyce Valenza, Springfield Township (PA) High School Teacher-Librarian and technology writer, who is a featured blogger and presenter at numerous conferences.

What are the greatest challenges for teachers and teacher-librarians when teaching the effective use of research skills/strategies? At this moment it is understanding the shifting landscape. The last two years saw dramatic change in the information landscape. The change forces us to examine new questions: How do we respect intellectual property in a mash-up universe? What do creative, effective information products look like? How do we balance issues of privacy and safety in an information landscape that busts through borders and invites us to share our ideas and our work? How do we use these new tools to participate creatively in global discussion? How do we best exploit exciting new opportunities for authorship and audience? What "old world" tools and skills need to be carried over into our new projects?

You have spoken of students as being either "sponges," absorbing information passively; or "miners," actively searching for information gems. How can educators structure research assignments to help students become “miners” instead of “sponges”? If they haven't already done so, every district should ban the "report." If you asked me to write a report on Pennsylvania, I'd likely print you an encyclopedia article. That work has already been done far better than I could do it myself. Students need to use information to imagine, to solve, to analyze, to propose, to invent, to create. Give me a challenge or allow me to create my own information challenge based on my own questions and passions. Ask me (or allow me) instead to create a commercial promoting travel to my state and post it on YouTube. Ask me to make a decision (based on criteria I myself develop) about whether to move to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. Ask me to collaborate on solving a local problem in a wiki and to present my solution using a media slideshow I could share on the Web.

How can Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis,, and GoogleDocs enhance and transform the teaching of K-12 information literacy/fluency skills? Among the most powerful applications we've used so far: Blogs to record, manage and reflect on major research projects. These make the chaotic process more transparent and more interactive. They allow teacher, librarian, mentor, and peer intervention. They can also prevent research disasters. Wiki pathfinders allow teachers, librarians and learners to collaborate as they construct guides for projects and lead students to sources they might not discover independently. We've moved most of our lit circle activity to blogs. Each circle manages its discussion, setting up timelines, establishing categories. Our teachers love that they can easily assess the level of participation and quickly gather what any group or student had to say regarding characterization. We love using tools like Animoto and Voicethread for preparing powerful media presentations.We use GoogleDocs for group writing and to allow teachers and librarians to suggest edits. We are exploring ZohoPolls for original research as well. Students work hard to craft solid questions and make sense of the data they collect.We've recognized what our misuse of PowerPoint has done to our school. We are considering new presentation options and tools, as well as the concept of "presentation zen." How can we best connect with an audience? What does effective storytelling look like in the 21st century?

How can we help our students create their own meaningful information spaces to support their work as learners? I think we may need to guide them to widgetizing their personal desktops. This year we asked our seniors to use iGoogle as a tool to organize their senior projects. I see more tools like that emerging. Now students can open an interface and be presented with their favorite online dictionary, foreign language tools, mapping tool, thesaurus, calendar, to-do list, while they push research-relevant RSS feeds to them through a reader. They choose their theme. Their little game applets are there too. This was perhaps the "stickiest" activity they've done yet this school year. The spaces continue to grow more personally meaningful.

I look forward to the day when we can offer more widgetized library tools. So the student who needs the American History database this semester can drag that widget onto her desktop and replace it (or schooch it further down) to substitute a science database widget next semester. We also ask students to consider their research blogs as their own information spaces. Blogs help students organize, categorize, reflect. They can be customized learning spaces.

Tech Tip: Personalize Your Desktop With Gadgets and Widgets A host of free “mini-apps” are available to personalize your computer workspace for fun and productivity, and to gather your frequently-used information resources in one spot. In Macintosh OS X, these are called “dashboard widgets”, in Yahoo they are “widgets”, in Windows Vista they are “sidebar gadgets” and in iGoogle they are simply “gadgets”. Since there is no universal format for widgets/gadgets, a widget designed for Mac’s OS X Dashboard won’t work in iGoogle or Vista, or vice versa. However, there are options for converting Google gadgets to Dashboard or Vista Sidebar formats.

Here are links to directions and galleries for adding widgets/gadgets to Mac OS X, iGoogle, Vista, and Yahoo.

Announcement Download our new poster for your bulletin board at: Are you looking for graduate courses that support your professional development goals for changing salary lanes, licensure renewal or advanced certification? January classes are filling now. No payment is due until the beginning of the semester. SEARCH/BROWSE LIST OF NEW COURSES REGISTER ONLINE AT: Educators who are registering for an online course do not need to apply for graduate admission to the university unless you are beginning a Masters degree program at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

(Republished with Permission from UW-Stout Infobytes: Karen Franker Editor.

Privacy & Google: Take a look at the tech side.

This YouTube video provides a good basic introduction to just what information Google is tracking when you make a search.

Keep in mind that if you have a Google Account (which I do) you are providing Google with far more than IP numbers and cookies. When using Google tools we pay with data, not money. Each 'Free Tool' provides a stream of information that Google is very adept at turning into advertising profit.

I'm quite comfortable with this symbiotic relationship. Are you?