Archive for May, 2010

The Top 25 Librarian Blogs

May. 29th 2010

1. Never Ending Search – Winner of the “Best Librarian Blog” category for the 2009 Edublog Awards, this blog-version of the School Library Journal updates librarians and book geeks with social networking tips and interesting literature-related videos. SLJ is internationally known as “the world’s largest reviewer of books, multimedia, and technology” for youth.

2. Bright Ideas –  Runner-up for the “Best Librarian Blog” award, this blog is written by the School Library Association of Victoria, and educates readers on how to use technology in schools and libraries.  Also included on the site are various audio tools, and book reviews.

3. The Daring Librarian – This blog was the second runner-up as the “Best Librarian Blog” for the 2009 Edublog Awards. Posts are unique, colorful, and entertaining, and cover all aspects of librarian issues such as technology news and tips, Facebook, Twitter, and politics.

4. The Dewey Blog – Yes, there is even a blog dedicated to Dewey Decimal Classification systems. Readers get weekly updates on how to catalog certain book items on library shelves. You can’t get more librarian than this!

5. No Shelf Required – Blogger Sue Polanka from Ohio’s Wright State University Libraries writes specifically on the use of e-books in libraries, and discusses various related issues such as licensing, and the latest business models.

6. Social Networking in Libraries – This blog is packed full of lists, videos, and technology facts comprised by librarian/network marketer AnnaLaura Brown. Some of the posts include “50 Ways Librarians Can Make A Living Without a Job,” and “A to Z of Libraries of the Future.”

7. Peter Scott’s Library Blog –  Authors, books, international libraries, and technology news are only some of the post topics included on this blog. Author Peter Scott is not only the creator of the first electronic browser for Internet resources (HYTELNET), he is also a musician and Juno Award winner.

8. Resource Shelf – These daily posts are dedicated to the latest in librarian news, statistics, and topics concerning budgeting and staffing issues, and technology. The group of authors who write on this blog also produce a weekly newsletter.

9. What I Learned Today –  Coined as one of the Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers for 2007, author/writer/library association member Nicole C. Engard educates readers on librarian issues, and provides weekly updates on the latest in news and technology.

10. The Travelin’ Librarian – Although this blog focuses on various issues and topics concerning the future of libraries, such as copyright laws and technology, author Michael Sauers, who is the Technology Innovation Librarian for the Nebraska Library Commission, still manages to make his posts personal and entertaining by including comics, pictures, and videos.

11. The Law Librarian Blog – This blog is written by a group of authors who are employed in a variety of librarian fields. Posts are based more on statistical facts and polls, with a specific focus on law.

12. The Association for Library Service to Children Blog – Humorous, entertaining, and also informative, posts on the blog are dedicated to the latest in library news, lectures, and programs. The ALSC serves as a network of more than 4,200 librarians, children’s literature experts, publishers, and faculty members.

13. Library Link of the Day – The main page may not look like much, but each day the author posts one link to a book or library news article in a simple, yet unique format. Blogger John Hubbard is a Senior Academic Librarian at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

14. Library Garden – This blog is a great discussion medium for those who feel flustered about the future of libraries. Topics can be political, (such as the latest in budget cuts), and also cover the latest in technology issues concerning eBooks and iPads.

15. In the Library with the Leadpipe –  Full of interviews, statistics, and information, readers of this blog can get educated on various political and technological issues affecting the future of libraries. The blog is written by six different librarians as well as various guest authors.

16. A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette –  These posts range from how prepare for job interviews, comical tips on how to keep your library quiet, or how to entertain your students. (For instance, if students are drifting off during your library instruction class, the blogger suggests that you can always “lower the lights, turn up the heat, and consider getting a mentor to coach you through the intricacies of mass education.”

17. Tame the Web – This blog serves as an educational tool for librarians itching to learn more about the latest in librarian and technology news.  The posts are interactive, informative, and entertaining, and various pictures and videos are included in the content.

18.  Librarian By Day – Both informative and entertaining, this blog is authored by librarian/teacher/book nerd Bobbi L. Newman. Newman has presented at various local, national, and international library conferences concerning the use of digital services in libraries.

19. TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home – With a specific focus on technology and ebooks, this blog is a great site for those who want to learn more about technology, and how it is changing the future of libraries. The blog’s history goes back all the way to 1992, and posts are written by a number of different authors.

20. The Blah, Blah, Blah Blog –  Posts on this blog tends to have more of a focus Florida libraries because it is written by the staff of the Northeast Florida Library Information Network. However, this blog is still a great resource for any American librarians who want to get the latest updates on workshops, seminars, and webinars.

21.  Closed Stacks – Posts on this blog are as entertaining as they are informative. Written by a group of bloggers who all work in the librarian field, posts tend to have more of a focus on the latest in technology and social media news, such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

22. Handheld Librarian – This blog educates readers on the latest in “handheld” computer news, as well as a number of different issues concerning the future of libraries. The several authors of this blog work in various library-related fields, so the post topics are diverse and can range from digital libraries and librarian tips, to iPads and iPhones.

23. The Shifted Librarian – This blog is full of interesting history facts, related librarian articles as well as some personal pictures.

24. Connie Crosby – Authored by a Canadian law librarian and “info diva,” posts range from social media topics, legal research, and technology issues. This blog won a Canadian Law Blog Award in 2008, and was also a finalist for the same award in 2007 and 2009.

25. David Lee King – With more of a personal edge, David Lee King’s blog focuses on the future of digital technology and libraries, as well as the latest news, statistics, and trends in social media and politics. King currently works as a Digital Branch and Services Manager at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, but he is also a musician and songwriter.

Posted by alexis | in Education | 7 Comments »

Stanford University embraces bookless libraries

May. 27th 2010

Worrying about returning those overdue books will become a thing of the past for Stanford University students who use the Physics and Engineering library.

Stanford University is currently developing an electronic reference desk with four Kindle 2 e-readers, as well as an online journal search tool (xSearch) which scans 28 online databases and more than 12,000 scientific journals. The new library will be half the size of the current Physics and Engineering library, and will include “brainstorm islands,” a digital bulletin board, a group event space, and a self-checkout system.

Digitalizing books The decision was easy for university officials because the new digital library will save money on purchasing costs, as well as storage space.  (Apparently Stanford purchased up to 100,000 books a year, which totals to 273 each day). It is said that the books are going to be shipped to a storage facility in California, 38 miles from the campus.

But Stanford is not the first school to go bookless. The library at Carnegie Mellon University has been publishing online journals for years, and just recently started purchasing eBook versions of reference books. And Boston’s Cushing Academy adopted a digital library in 2009, and replaced 20,000 of its books with digital sources. They also spent $10,000 on electronic readers from Amazon.com and Sony, $500,000 on a “learning center,” $42,000 on three flat-screen TVs which will “project data” from the Internet, and $20,000 on laptop-friendly “study carrels.” (Obviously their motives weren’t entirely based on saving money, since they also spent $50,000 on a new coffee shop which has a $12,000 coffee machine…)

And in the past four years, more than 2 million books have been digitized from the UCSD’s International Relations and Pacific Studies Library, the East Asian Language Collections, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library, (the world’s largest oceanography library with over 100,000 volumes). In 2006, UCSD joined the Google Book Search Project, and in doing so, became the first southern Californian university to partner with Google and go digital.

Now all of the books from UCSD’s libraries are accessible by simply searching for them in the Google Book Search index, and readers can view and browse through the complete texts online.  (It is reported that over 7,000 people browse through the libraries each day). Since the Google Book Search Project was first established in 2004, Google has been digitizing more than 12 million books from various libraries and publishing partners.

The pros for going digital, according to librarians:

“Most of the libraries on campus are approaching saturation. For every book that comes in, we’ve got to find another book to send off.” – Andrew Herkovic, director of communications and development at Stanford Libraries. (source)

“Rare books [can be] scanned and delivered via the World Wide Web to scholars in places such as Argentina and Germany who could not visit the books. Electronic versions save wear and tear on using the physical book, which is important if you are a book from 1755 and your leather spine is dry and cracking…Our educational community looks to librarians to help them learn how to navigate the complex information landscape. A library is still a place to come to think, ponder, read, study with others, and other activities of learning. One of our main missions is to help students and faculty learn how to use different types of information and to access them and to use them efficiently.” – Mary Catharine Johnsen, the special collections and design librarian at Carnegie Mellon University. (source)

And then, the cons:

“I’ll look at a book and say ‘this is important work, but not currently used…When I look back, then there is a certain sadness for me. Any change is hard. And there are moments of joy, when I see bookplates of former faculty who owned and donated the book, and sometimes made notes on the side.” – Stanford Physics librarian Stella Ota. (source)

“Unless every student has a Kindle and an unlimited budget, I don’t see how that need is going to be met. Books are not a waste of space, and they won’t be until a digital book can tolerate as much sand, survive a coffee spill, and have unlimited power. When that happens, there will be next to no difference between that and a book.’’ – Keith Michael Fiels, executive director of the American Library Association. (source)

“For literature students, you really want to see the original format of the work as received by its first public. Was it a fancy coffee-table book? Was it a cheap paperback or flimsy pamphlet? Was it a colorful book to tempt you in a Victorian train station or an airport bookstall?” – Mary Catharine Johnsen (again), who seems to go back and forth on the issue. (source)

And my personal favorite:

“43 percent of French students consider smell to be one of the most important qualities in printed books —so important that they resist buying odorless electronic books.” – Author Robert Darnton’s in “The Case for Books.” (He also goes on to mention that CafeScribe, a French online publisher, is giving customers a sticker that gives off a “bookish smell” when attached to a computer).

…for real?

Posted by alexis | in Technology | No Comments »

The Top 20 Teacher Blogs

May. 24th 2010

1. Cool Cat Teacher Blog – If you love to surf around the net for interesting and educational blogs, then you’ve probably stumbled upon this Georgia Cool Cat Teacher. Not only did this blog win an Edublog award for the “Best Teacher Blog” in 2008, it was also a finalist in the same category between the years of 2006 and 2009.

2. Making Teachers Nerdy –  Subtitled as “Tech Integration Tips and Web Links to Increase Your Teacher Nerdiness Levels,” this unique blog is full of insightful tips for teachers on how to integrate technology into classrooms and/or how to improve their teaching methods.

3. Two Writing Teachers – Winner of the “Best Teacher Blog” for the 2009 Edublog Awards, this site is full of advice and writing tips for teachers and writing nerds.  The blog is authored by two elementary school teachers who are also writing a book together which is set for release this Fall.

4. Dy/Dan –  This blog has two Edublog Award nominations under its belt: (“Best Teacher Blog” in 2008, and “Best Individual Blog” in 2007), and was also the winner for the 2007 “Best New Blog” award. Author and ninth grade teacher Dan Meyer was recently interviewed on CNN as part of their “Chalk Talk” series.

5. The Teaching Palette –  With a specific focus on the arts, this blog provides various video tutorials and instructions for art teachers, or teachers who would like to become more knowledgeable in art instruction. It was the winner of the “Best New Art Teacher’s Blog” in 2008, and was also listed as one of Scholastic Instructor’s Top 20 Educational Blogs.

6. Nashworld – Nominated as the “Best Teacher Blog” for the 2008 and 2009 Edublog Awards, as well as the “Most Influential Blog Post” in 2009, this blogger (who is also a biology instructor), creates discussions through his interesting blog posts which include quotes, lyrics, songs, videos, and pictures.

7. NYC Educator –  This blog won first place for the 2006 Education/Homeschooling Blog, was nominated as one of Edutopia’s top 10 Edublogs, and was #73 on OEDB’s Top 100 Education Blogs. The author writes about various educational and political topics concerning education in New York City.

8. This Week in Education – This blog is an excellent resource for those who want to read up on the latest in educational policies, news, trends, and politics. Author Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer, former Senate education staffer, and media critic.

9. Creating Lifelong Learners – Elementary school teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator Matthew Needleman educates his readers on how to integrate technology such as video production and podcasting in elementary schools.

10. Tween Teacher – This brand-spankin’ new blog is written by Heather Wolpert-Gawron, a California middle school teacher who also contributes to Teacher Magazine and blogs for the George Lucas Foundation’s Edutopia. Her site is full of interesting and humorous posts which range from teaching methods to technology tips.

11. Spencer’s Scratch Pad – This site is more than just a blog, it is also a library for various educational videos, pictures, podcasts, and resources. Blogger/author/teacher John Spencer describes his blog as “musings from a not-so-master teacher,” and his posts are as much creative and hilarious as they are informative.

12. I Want to Teach Forever – Written by a Texas teacher and for teachers, this blog provides great teaching tips such as how to improve communication between teachers and students, as well as the latest in technology and politics.

13. EdTech Solutions: Teaching Every Student – This blog is written by Karen Janowski, an Assistive and Educational Technology Consultant whose soul passion is to “remove the obstacles [of] learning for all students.”  The site is packed full of teaching tips, such as how to deal with dyslexia, or how to increase interactivity in the classroom through technology.

14. Engaging Parents in Schools – With a specific target audience of parents and teachers, this blog provides helpful tips and articles about how to improve relationships between teachers and parents. Written by a high school teacher in Sacramento, this blog is essentially a “follow-up” to a book titled “Building Parent Engagement in Schools.”

15. Gotham Schools –  Editors and staff reporters at the GothamSchools’ newsroom update readers on the latest in NYC politics, such as budget cuts and teacher’s unions, and write about various researched articles, surveys, and statistics. The sole purpose of this publication is to provide more insight on how to improve New York City’s urban schools.

16. Building Successful Parent-Teacher Partnerships –  This blog is a great site for parents who would like to become more involved in their child’s education, as well as for teachers needing tips on how to strengthen parent-teacher relations.  The blog’s author Natalie Schwartz also published a book in 2008 titled “The Teacher Chronicles: Confronting the Demands of Students, Parents, Administrators and Society.”

17. Computer Science Teacher –  Blogger Alfred Thompson has experience teaching computer science to K-12 students, and has written textbooks which educate high school and middle school students on Visual Basic. His blog is full of technology tips on how to use Visual Basic, Microsoft Excel, C++, and much more.

18. Bud the Teacher –  This interactive site is authored by a former high school teacher Bud Hunt, who blogs about social issues in the classroom as well as the latest in technology.  Hunt is also an instructional technologist for the St. Vrain Valley School District, and a teacher-consultant with the Colorado State University Writing Project.

19.  Teacher Leaders Network: Teacher Voices – Nominated as the “Best Group Blog” for the 2009 Edublog Awards, this site is written by multiple authors and teachers. There are a wide variety of post topics which include personal stories, interesting reads, or how to improve your teaching skills.

1.20. Practical Theory –  English teacher and Technology Coordinator Chris Lehmann covers various educational, technological, and political issues on his blog. His postings range from his personal beefs with the education system, to videos covering educational conferences and lectures.

Posted by alexis | in Education | 11 Comments »

Tweeting into history

May. 18th 2010

Twitter has long been the stepchild of social networking — often overshadowed by giants Facebook and MySpace. But the simplicity that has relegated Twitter to the lower echelons has also made it a powerful tool: As a barometer of popular culture and opinion.

Observers have long noted Twitter as a manifestation of the evolution of news: More people digest information in small bites. A line here. A fact there. Who has time to read a whole article any more? It’s also a manifestation of the 24-hour, on-demand news cycle.

But now it’s also an educational tool. Not only have people found ways to use it to have targeted discussions about educational issues, but educators and other organizations linked to education have found it to be a useful tool for connecting with more people.

And now it will be used as a tool for historical record-keeping. Last month, the Library of Congress announced that it would archive every public tweet since the inception of Twitter in March 2006. Daily tweets average about 50 million — so the project would ultimately digitally archive a mind-boggling number of posts.

But why bother?

A typical tweet — of 140 characters of less — revolves around the daily minutiae of a person’s life. What they had for lunch. What they thought about Lady Gaga’s performance on the VMAs. What music they listened to on the drive in to work.

Hardly seems like the stuff of historical significance.

In actuality, as a snapshot of a time in history or a culture, it really is the stuff of historical significance. Twitter — not to mention blogs, Facebook pages, and MySpace accounts — are the modern-day equivalent of the journal entry. Or the letter. Together, they create a digital image of popular opinion. Of culture. Of history.

Consider these tweets:

The very first tweet from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey:
just setting up my twttr

President Obama’s tweet on winning his history-marking 2008 election:
We just made history. All of this happened because you gave your time, talent and passion. All of this happened because of you. Thanks.

Tweets from a photojournalist who was arrested in Egypt and then freed because of a series of events instigated by hist Twitter account:
Arrested
and
Free

The Twitter archives will be part of the “Web capture” project at the library. The project — which began about 10 years ago — assembles Web pages, online articles and other documents that are connected to significant events such as presidential elections and wars.

In announcing the project, Twitter also explained some safeguards:

It is our pleasure to donate access to the entire archive of public tweets to the Library of Congress for preservation and research. It’s very exciting that tweets are becoming part of history. It should be noted that there are some specifics regarding this arrangement. Only after a six-month delay can the Tweets … be used for internal library use, for noncommercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation.

Google also announced that it would use Twitter to help mark the historical record:

With the advent of blogs and microblogs, there’s a constant online conversation about breaking news, people and places–some famous and some local. Tweets and other short-form updates create a history of commentary that can provide valuable insights into what’s happened and how people have reacted. We want to give you a way to search across this information and make it useful.

What do you think? Is Twitter a useful tool, or simply another distraction for the self-involved “me” generation?

Posted by maria magher | in Technology | No Comments »

Universities struggle to control brand

May. 18th 2010

The Internet has opened up limitless opportunities for education — both for the actual learning process and for the institutions themselves. It has provided colleges new ways to connect with students — both current and prospective. Recent trends have professors promoting their courses online, students creating videos to supplement their applications, and admissions officials using various social-networking and promotional sites to reach out to prospective students.

The result has been greater access to information — both by students and by college professors and officials. Educators can use Facebook, Twitter and MySpace to get to know students beyond their test scores and admissions essays. And students can use the same tools to understand the culture and student life at the colleges and universities where they are interested in attending. Colleges and universities have been able to push much further with marketing into creating a brand for themselves.

But social-networking sites and blogs represent only a small portion of the ways that universities and students can promote and exchange information online.

Far off the beaten path is Second Life, a virtual 3-D world that allows users to create an avatar and interact with one another to socialize and exchange information. It is used by a number of organizations, both in business and in education. But one university recently found out how this new virtual outlet creates yet another obstacle for officials to control the flow of information and the brand image of the institution.

Woodbury University was banned from the virtual world after some online vandals believed to be associated with the university created some problems.

Officials say there is little evidence that the troublemakers were affiliated with the university, or that the university had in any way supported or condoned the behavior.

Though the situation involving Second Life presents a rare and small portion of the kinds of problems that universities face by maintaining an online presence, it does represent a picture into a new virtual world of possibilities as the Internet continues to grow and more and more businesses and consumers interact online — ultimately, in ways that have not yet been imagined.

Educators should take these cues to adopt a proactive position for their online presence. Not only will they then be able to better control the information that is available, they will also strengthen their reputations as innovators and leaders in education.

But with so many new online outlets available, controlling the flow of information presents a new challenge for educators.

Recently, Facebook made changes to its privacy settings and the way it links information from various pages — including linking personal interests to official Facebook or fan-created pages. Included in those changes was the implementation of “community pages,” which compile information from various sources including Wikipedia and Facebook posts.

The result is that uncontrolled information is making its way onto the page — including criticism from current or former students. Officials also worry that students will be unable to distinguish between the community page and the official page of the university. The community pages are even appearing higher up in Google searches — even before the university’s official Web site in some cases.

Some bloggers have already outlined how the changes will affect colleges and have suggested ways that educators can circumvent the potential negative impact of the community pages, including embracing the additional free publicity, maintaining social-networking sites, providing more authoritative information, and using the information as an opportunity to make improvements.

Posted by maria magher | in Technology | No Comments »

The Top 25 e-Learning Blogs

May. 16th 2010

1. Free Technology for Teachers - This site provides countless tools and tips for teachers who want to integrate technology into their classrooms. Blogger Richard Byrne has won more than one Edublog Award, such as “Best Individual Blog” and “Best Resource Sharing Blog” two years in a row.

2.  E-Learning Queen –  Voted as one of the “Top 50 Education Innovators,” and one of OEDb’s Top 100 Education Blogs, this blog updates readers on the latest in technology and provides interviews with different authors.

3.  Box of Tricks –  This blog provides educational resources, and discusses the latest in technology news. The blog has been nominated for several awards, including “Best Teacher Blog” and “Best Educational Tech and Support Blog” for the 2009 Edublog Awards.

4.  NCS-Tech – Designed for K-8 classroom teachers and/or students, this fun and colorful site provides resources for teachers who want to obtain more lesson ideas for their classrooms.

5.  The Rapid E-Learning Blog – This site provides great tips for educators who want to learn more about e-Learning courses. Various resources and tips for using audio, graphic design, and videos are included in the postings.

6.  iLearn TechnologyElementary school teacher Kelly Tenkley won the “Best Educational Tech and Support Blog” award for the 2009 Edublog Awards, and provides various tips for teachers on how to use technology in their classrooms.

7.  Take an e-Learning Break –  This blog provides book and product recommendations, Flash, Adobe and Apple tutorials, as well as videos and tips on the latest in E-Learning.

8.  Edgalaxy –  Nominated as “Best New Blog” and “Best Resource Sharing” Blog for the 2009 Edublog Awards, writer Kevin Cummings takes his readers on a technological journey with the latest gadgets, tools, and toys.

9.  e-Clippings – If you need to take a break from all the educational mumbo-jumbo, then check out this interactive and humorous blog. The author-turned-blogger Mark Oehlert focuses on a wide range of controversial issues, such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, electronic textbooks, and even politics.

10.  eLearning Technology –  Former teacher Tony Karrer knows firsthand the technological opportunities that are available for teachers and students. His blog was nominated as “The Best e-Learning/Corporate Blog” for the 2008 Edublog Awards, and provides numerous links on educational strategies.

11.  E-Learning Acupuncture –  Blogger Eric A. Tremblay provides fun and interactive posts which focus on educational technology, and cover a wide range of topics, from video games to careers, or even Wikipedia.

12.  Weblogg-ed – This informative blog provides various articles which focuses on the latest in K-12 student learning, weblogs, wikis, audiocasts, and much more.

13.  Online Learning Update –  With an abundance of informative articles, this blog has been publishing daily posts since 2001. The site is geared towards the more intellectual reader, specifically college and university students or professors.

14.  Gate’s Computer Tips –  This fun and interactive blog provides various tutorials, videos, and articles on the latest in technology. The site also won the “The Best Resource Sharing Blog” award for the 2007 Edublog Awards.

15.  Kirsten Winkler – Winner of the “Best New Blog” category for the 2009 Edublog Awards, Winkler provides her readers with the latest trends in technology.

16.  Dangerously Irrelevant – Author Scott McLeod’s blog has a specific focus on technology leadership issues as well as changing developments in teaching and school districts.

17.  EmergingEdTech – This engaging blog is full of resources reflecting the latest in online and e-Learning news.

18.  E-Learning Journeys – Nominated for the 2009 Edublog Awards as “The Best Educational Use of Social Networking Service” award, this blog educates readers on the latest in technology and social media.

19.  Corporate eLearning Strategies and Development - Brent Schlenker uses his blog as an interactive tool to educate his readers on the latest in technology. He includes discussions about Twitter, Youtube, and literature, and occasionally adds entertaining Youtube videos into his blog posts.

20.  George Siemens’ elearnspace – Siemens has been blogging on this site since 2002, and provides small yet informative snippits on the latest in technology news.

21.  Social Media in Learning - Blogger Jane Hart provides daily tips, articles, videos, and tutorials on how to use technology in a workplace.

22.  Kapp Notes – Readers are educated with step-by-step tutorials and resources on how to use various technological tools such as PowerPoint or 3D interfaces.

23.  Clive on Learning – This blog is full of detailed blog posts on the latest in technology and e-Learning. Writer Clive Shepherd provides his readers with informative information and includes important statistics in his posts.

24.  Experiencing E-Learning –  Focusing on how the use of technology can be an educational tool, blogger Christy Tucker provides weekly links of technology-related articles.

25.  Open Thinking – Although updates are scarce, this blog provides tips and resources for those wanting to learn more about education and technology

Posted by alexis | in Technology | 2 Comments »

Twitter users discuss educational issues through Hashtag Chats

May. 15th 2010

Twitter chatsOver the past few months, Twitter “hashtag” chats which focus on educational issues have become increasingly popular for teachers, parents, students, education geeks, and Twitter users around the globe.

By typing in a particular Hashtag (tag) into your Twitter search engine, such as #moviequote or #ilovecanada, you can view each and every tweet which mentions that particular word or tag. If you would like to become involved in the conversation (for example, if you have a great movie quote you want to share, or if you want to talk about your love for Canada), simply add the tag at the end of your tweet so others can view your comments. You can also add a column for the tag in your TweetDeck browser, or you can use TweetChat so the tag is automatically added onto your tweet. The Tweetgrid and Twitterfall applications also allow you to view all the messages in each tagged conversation.

When the chat starts, Twitter users can post their thoughts or questions using these hashtags, and can view the comments from other Twitter users who are engaged in the conversation. Participants can also suggest future topics for the weekly discussions.

Last August, over 100 educators participated in an “#edchat” session, and it became the No. 5 trending topic on Twitter. “Edchat” has been defined as a “collaboration of educators, parents, and students finding solutions to the challenges facing every educational system worldwide.” Discussions can include suggestions on how to improve schools, and some Twitter users provide free resources for others to follow. Last December, the discussion won an Edublog Award for the Most Influential Tweet Discussion.

To follow along with each of the conversations, or view past discussions, click on any of the following popular education tags, or type them into your Twitter search engine. You do not need a Twitter account to read any of the comments, but you will need to sign up for one if you want to join in. (To view a complete list of all the educational hashtags, click here)

#musedchat – Music in education, every Monday at 8 p.m. EST

#hsc –  Homeschooling issues, every second Monday of the month at 9 p.m. EST

#ecosys – Changes in public education, every Monday at 9 p.m. EST

#edchat – Educational issues, Tuesdays at noon and 7 p.m. EST

#ptchat – Parent and teacher chat, every Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST

#DistEd – eLearning issues and discussions, every Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST

#ntchat – Teachers and teaching issues, every Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST

#onecom – The One Comment project about educational issues, every Thursday at noon and 7 p.m. EST

#innochat – Innovation in educational issues, every Thursday at noon EST

#SAchat – Student affairs, every Thursday at noon and 7 p.m. EST

#Lrnchat – Learning issues for educators, every Thursday at 8:30 p.m. EST

#BlackEd – Black education, every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST

#gtchat – Gifted student education, every Friday at noon and 7 p.m. EST

#ellchat – English Language Learners, every Sunday at 2 p.m. EST

If you are already involved in any of these Twitter chats, feel free to comment below about your experiences.

Posted by alexis | in Technology | 2 Comments »

Book digitization project doubles to serve visually impaired

May. 8th 2010

While Google still struggles with its digitization project, another service has doubled its collection of online texts for the visually impaired in its first week of operation.

The Internet Archive has been digitizing books since 2005, but it introduced a new service Thursday that makes books accessible in a special format for the blind, dyslexic or otherwise visually impaired.

“Every person deserves the opportunity to enhance their lives through access to the books that teach, entertain and inspire,” said Brewster Kahle, the founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive, in a press release. “Bringing access to huge libraries of books to the blind and print disabled is truly one of benefits of the digital revolution.”

The service now offers over 1 million texts for the visually impaired, which are part of a larger collection of 2 million digitized books. The books available for the visually impaired are scanned from hard copy and digitized using DAISY — a format that makes it easier for them to read. The books are presented in electronic format just as they would be seen holding a hard copy in hand: there are two pages side-by-side, and all the pages and information are included, from illustrations to title pages.

Older texts are available for free, but newer texts must be accessed through a special pass code given to qualified users.

Potential applications

Besides the great benefit to the visually impaired, the service can have an impact for the general population, as well.

Because The Internet Archive — both its general database and its collection for the visually impaired (whose open content can be accessed by anyone) — has a large number of classic literary and historical texts, the site could easily be accessed by college students who either prefer the medium or who would simply like to reduce whatever costs possible in overall education expenses. The site could also be beneficial to professors to use in class or to select available texts as a way to ease some financial burdens for students. At the very least, it’s one less book to lug across campus.

There are some issues with access, however. Not all students will have access to a computer or to Internet service in order to access the site.

The scope of potential is also limited in that the service can not easily be applied to textbooks, which typically have more complex formatting such as tables, charts and other graphics. But digitizing textbooks elicits a much greater debate.

Institutional changes

The digitization of books can have a sweeping impact on libraries at colleges across the country if progress continues to move forward and predictions about the eventually of virtual learning are realized.

Many libraries are working on long-term projects to digitize their collections — either in whole or in part — including the University of Michigan, Princeton University and the University of Texas at Austin. Many universities involved in such projects, including those listed here, have partnered with Google in its efforts.

Carnegie Mellon University has also begun its own Million Book Project.

Microsoft has its own book digitization project, and numerous other initiatives are being developed.

The progress made by the Internet Archive was announced in the same week that Southern Methodist University announced that it would suspend its University Press. Though the two do not have a direct correlation — one being about the business of producing books and the other about the business of books already published — it does provide an interesting entry way into a larger conversation about the economics of virtual books, and even the direct-to-virtual publication of books as a mainstream practice — not just the realm of the self-published.

Virtual books could provide a solution for publishers and libraries alike to save their bottom line.

Posted by maria magher | in Education, Technology | No Comments »