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One New Thing
Monday, October 31, 2005
One New Thing:Thoughts on changing teaching methods, and libraries.

A new-to-me blog I stumbled on tonight (following more links from Teach and Learn Online) is Dave's Educational Blog. Looks like a good place to go if you are interested in thinkings and theories of education and e-learning. As a librarian I’m intrigued by Dave’s idea of the feedbook. We already have the technology, and judging by the blogs, Wikis, and wikibooks that are already being constructed by experts in their fields, this is the kind of proposition that could be put into practice any day now.

In any library, could librarians be involved in the selection or dissemination of information provided via this or a similar model? It bears a vague resemblance to a scholarly journal: one “publication”, multiple authors. In the same way that online provision of course reading lists, lecture notes and assignment topics has made it easier for academic librarians to find out what resources students need access to throughout the year, imagine being able to quickly access exactly what they are covering in class on a day-to-day basis. Imagine, in fact, “books” where the information is up-to-the-minute. (Imagine a bibliography where timestamp is a required annotation!)

I can think of many impacts on libraries when would-be library patrons can have more direct access to information straight from the experts – widening of the digital divide, information literacy needs, fee vs free publications - all of which we are already aware of and will probably hear a lot more about as technological and pedagogical opportunities present themselves.

I hope the librarians, educators and IT staffers in institutional environments are chatting to each other about…possibilities. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
One New Thing: Evidence Based Librarianship.

The EBL (Evidence Based Librarianship) conference was held last week in Brisbane and although I didn’t get to go to the actual conference, I was able to see a couple of the presenters doing a shortened summary of their papers. The concept of EBL is fascinating to me: it’s really so simple – practising librarianship based on evidence revealed through research, statistics, and client feedback. Yet applying EBL theories to particular projects for the libraries and librarians who presented has been very successful for them. My particular favourites of the papers I saw presented were Transaction log analysis @ State Library of Queensland (pdf) by Scott Hamilton / Helen Thurlow, and What can students' bibliographies tell us? - Evidence based information skills teaching for engineering students (pdf) by Fei Yu / Jan Sullivan / Leith Woodall.

Sunday, October 23, 2005
Some New Things:

Leigh Blackall of Teach and Learn Online has some interesting thoughts on Everything You Need to Teach and Learn Online (there’s a part 1, 2 and 3 – this link is to Part 3 so you can work backwards). If you’re delivering course content online, you could do it entirely using freely-available tools such as Blogger, Gmail, Flickr…the list goes on. Interesting thought, particularly for those of us involved in any way with the world of commercial courseware.

Leigh always has lots of interesting stuff popping up on his blog: this essay on Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age is an article which extends on some themes about learners and how they learn that I remember from my studies in teaching a few years back: except this looks at how this fits into the trend towards the use of digital resources in teaching.

Another interesting article is Lawsuit Charges Online University Does Not Accommodate Learning-Disabled Students, a story about a student filing charges against an institution following their implementation of WebCT, because he has learning difficulties which made it hard for him to learn to use the software. It’s thought-provoking to look at how many web standards are in place for users who have physical disabilities, and then to think about the lack of guidelines for users with other disabilities. Particularly with commercial learning management software, where end users don’t really have a lot of choice in the way the courses or the communication/assessment tools within them are accessed are constructed: you have to take what they give you, for better or worse.

Sunday, October 16, 2005
One New Thing: Firefox, Google and Prefetching.

Google has introduced a new “feature” for those using Mozilla browsers: prefetching the first hit in your Google results list.
A post from LISnews on the issue points to: Google's new feature creates another user privacy problem. If you’re a Mozilla user, read it now!!