Thursday, October 18, 2012
Monday, October 15, 2012
It's not just students. When starting research, even professors and librarians are known to use Google (or another web search engine). Despite the availability of higher quality sources, the ease and convenience of that simple single search box is very appealing. Results come back (often in millions of hits!), and the searcher quickly starts to become aware of what has been written on that particular topic on a very broad scale.
One big problem, however, is that the resources that a web search returns are not all at the same level in terms of quality. The searcher needs to take time and effort to sift through and weed out what was written by a high school student for a class project from what was published in a reputable online journal with a peer review process. Remember, anyone can publish on the Internet - this is a good thing and a bad thing.
Another problem is that many (most?) of the very best results, in terms of academic work, are completely absent from a search of the open web. They are hidden in proprietary databases that collect millions of journal articles. These databases are generally only available by subscription - with very hefty pricetags that only a huge institution could afford.
It is the mission of libraries to collect these expensive but vital resources and to provide access to them for their authorized patrons. At UDC, this means current faculty, students, and staff (and on-site users regardless of affiliation). There are hundreds of such collections that can be found in our A-Z Resource List. But where to start? Which to choose? Searching in one generally means ignoring all the others, and to find books (not just articles) that cover your topic, you would need to search the library catalog too. And each of those databases has its own interface, each with just enough differences to confuse you. Ugh. That single Google search box is looking better and better.
But wait! A new service provides UDC patrons with a simple single search box that checks both the library catalog (for books) and an index of millions of articles, dissertations, conference proceedings, and more. It is not 100% complete and never will be, but to start your academic research, there is no better place. Why? Because it weeds out those low quality sites from the open web and includes the high quality hidden subscription-only content, and it returns relevant books side by side with journal articles. Just what your professor asked for!
We are now talking about web-scale discovery - just like with Google, you will probably get too many results, but those results are much higher quality, coming from those expensive subscription databases and the catalog of books that the library has collected. And it is easy to use the refinement facets on the left-hand side of the search results to pare down your results until you are finding only what you want. Try it and see!
— Michael Fitzgerald, Electronic Services Librarian
Next time: how to collect and organize all those results
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Have you ever wondered how to you might use storytelling in the online or hybrid classroom? It’s a great pedagogical tool to facilitate deep learning while creating connections among students through the use of technology. Consider this:
Instead of asking students to post superficial comments about a topic or to one another, you might consider using digital storytelling to generate deep and authentic learning through reflective practice. Digital storytelling usually contains some blend of computer-based images, text, recorded audio narration, video clips and/or music. Digital stories vary in length, but like podcasting or audio discussions, should typically last between two and ten minutes.
Think about a more complex and effective way to get students engaged and reflective. By asking students to think about their own experiences and to use them in a constructive way to discuss their learning, you put the ownership of learning in their hands. As students reflect and generate their own story, making connections to content and their path toward knowledge, they become excited. This excitement grows after their story is posted and others read it and make constructive comments.
Other rich resources for Digital Storytelling include the Urban School of San Francisco, and The Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) in Berkeley, California. CDS has compiled rich resources as well as its Seven Elements of Digital Storytelling, which are often cited as a useful starting point as you begin working with digital stories.
CDS' Seven Elements of Digital Storytelling
1. Point of View: What is the main point of the story and what is the perspective of the author?
2. A Dramatic Question: A key question that keeps the viewer's attention and will be answered by the end of the story.
3. Emotional Content: Serious issues that come alive in a personal and powerful way and connects the story to the audience.
4. The Gift of Your Voice: A way to personalize the story to help the audience understand the context.
5. The Power of the Soundtrack: Music or other sounds that support and embellish the storyline.
6. Economy: Using just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer.
7. Pacing: The rhythm of the story and how slowly or quickly it progresses.
Educause which also has its Seven Things You Should Know Series on Digital Storytelling (http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7021.pdf). Educause concludes that:
“Digital storytelling can serve as a bridge between these groups, encouraging a historian, for example, to delve into multimedia applications while exposing a computer scientist to the ideas of narrative through family lore. Creating and watching digital stories has the potential to increase the information literacy of a wide range of students. Moreover, digital stories are a natural fit for e-portfolios, allowing students not only to select representative artifacts from their academic careers but also to create compelling resources that demonstrate the student’s learning and growth.”
If you are up for something new, give it a try and check out these examples to help stimulate your development of digital storytelling assignments to help students learn deeply.
Monday, October 8, 2012
Collaborize Classroom is a free, online stage for instructors and students to create structured discussions in a private online community. Collaborize classroom is different from the discussion feature in Blackboard because it allows users an ability to create different question types and/or display questions in an innovative manner.
One example is the “Vote or Suggest” style question in which instructors may ask students to comment on a particular topic. Other learners then have the option of voting for the answers they think are the most relevant and/or posting their own separate responses. This participation option is important because it provides students greater control over their learning process and makes them accountable for determining what constitutes valid knowledge.
Collaborize also provides a well-stocked topic library with hundreds of topics in the category “Higher Education” along with useful suggestions for discussion organization and facilitation.
Once a class discussion is completed, faculty can publish the results of the discussion to a results page. On the results page, the outcomes of student participation are published in an easy to read graphical format. There instructors can also add concluding remarks about the result of the discussion. Those results can then be fed back into other class activities that are face-to-face or online.
Collaborize classroom is not intended to replace Blackboard, but rather complement its functionality. The tool is free, private and secure. To learn more about Collaborize Classroom, go to: