Sunday, February 22, 2009

iTunes has a Reference section

iTunes has a Reference section

A couple of times, as I was promoting the LibX Firefox toolbar, I was told by librarians that we should not expect our users to take any extra effort to add functionality to their browser.

To them, I say, have you visited the Apple App Store recently?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Storytelling Games and Short Storytelling Games

This week I participated in an event called Talk20. I was one of six speakers who presented on the subject of Windsor in the style of Pecha Kucha: 20 slides at 20 seconds a piece. A video of my talk is above. I can't get myself to watch the video but my mom says that the audio is pretty good and my slides and speakers notes are here.

While the title of my talk was "The City As Playground" and the subject was "using games to discover new geographies of Windsor" most of the "games" I spoke about were less like traditional games and more like "story generators".

And just on the night of my talk, I discovered a new sort of game that I have a liking to. It's a thought-experiment designed to harvest and unravel predictions about the future of space. Like Twitter, players can only express themselves in 140 characters or fewer through a simple, elegant interface.

There are three rounds. While round one has already finished and the second experiment is set to launch on March 3rd. I'm in - my player card is below.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Leddy Library blog is robust

A few success stories
I’d originally thought of including all Robust blogs — but that’s too many blogs. Here are the 19 academic library blogs that were very fresh (a post within 2 days) and visible (GPR 5 or 6 as of December 2008), with quick notes, noting that in all cases “2007”
means March-May:

Leddy News, Leddy Library, University of Windsor.
17 posts in 2007 quarter, averaging 101 words each.

From Walt Crawford’s Shiny Toys or Useful Tools (pdf) []

Research is not about finding everything but

“Excuse me, but research isn’t about finding everything. That’s not really how it works at all … this idea of a single search that brings back every relevant item is not like the process of research as it is actually practiced. Research involves finding a few, or even one, good thing, then checking what that one thing references, and checking those sources … then branching out rapidly from there. Literature is not made up of a colection of items connected by having common keywords … a literature is composed of a collection of items connected by common ideas and a community of thinkers who are influenced by each other’s works. It’s about following the network of citations, really.”

Crowd : (nodding)

Me: (now all excited) ”So, what search should do is get your foot in the door, not hand you “everything” … Google works because it gets you some stuff, not everything..."

The above is from a post entitled Search and Research from Doug's Mind. I think his epiphany is worth expanding upon.

What if libraries tried to create a something that brought you some of the best starting points to research?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Should Lessons or Exploration Come First?

One thing that I have been meaning to do is to take the time to write down some of my thoughts and assumptions about teaching and learning in order to make some sense of it all.

I was reminded of this resolution after our now weekly family trip to public arena to teach our toddler how to skate. We strap on skates, a helmet, snowpants and other warm clothes to our son and stay close beside him as he makes small shuffling steps while on the ice. So we're not really 'teaching' him how to skate; we're giving him the opportunity to explore being on skates and in time, its hoped that he'll get a better sense of balance and movement on ice.

When I was a child, my parents signed me up for tennis lessons for two or three summers. The lessons were useful: I learned the proper techniques of tennis and did drills every week to reinforce them. The trouble was that I never actually got a chance to *play* tennis - except for the very last day of classes when there was an informal tournament.

In general, sports lessons are meant to supplement and strengthen play that you have to do on your own time. As well, generally we don't introduce lessons to children until after some period of letting the child get comfortable with the sport first.

So what? OK - here's the question that I'm chewing on: should this combination of lessons that follow and then reinforce self-directed play also apply to such activities such as reading, science, or music.

In the case of reading, I'm reminded of a story on Chicago school reform as told by Ira Glass for This American Life. The goal of the reforms were to get the kids to enjoy reading and writing. To do this, significant time was alloted for student reading everyday. Supplementing daily reading were were field trips to the library and shopping trips to the local Barnes and Noble bookstore. Simply put, it was not assumed that these children would have the opportunity or the encouragement to read at home. This is one of the reasons why its been suggested that inner-city schools should get rid of summer vacations.

Applied to libraries: bibliographic instruction is all lessons, no play. Information Literacy is the attempt to establish a culture of research through play and lessons.