Saturday, October 29, 2011

Technology Devices and Podcasting in the Library

I am a big proponent of allowing students to use the technology devices they have during school hours. There are so many opportunities to learn using these tools and while I understand the rationale for why they are often banned, I don't agree with it. There is never a wasted minute in my day because if I am in line at the grocery store /  in a doctor's waiting room / sitting outside my daughter's dance class, I am consuming information on my phone. I can't even begin to articulate the knowledge I've gained during these times.

In addition to learning how their devices could be used to help them consume knowledge, students could also be taught how their phones could be used to create knowledge. Here are three podcasting lessons that students could complete using their devices' podcast recording functionality:

1. Ask students to share their family history by conducting interviews with family members and building a Family Podcast. Students could be directed to the Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide ( for assistance.

2. Last year, I heard about a remarkable program in a NYLA SLMS conference session. West Seneca East High Librarian Sandy Eichelberger has created the award-winning Hometown Heroes Day (here’s a link to a SLAWNY publication with an article about the program - Eichelberger invites veterans into the library to share their stories with groups of students. They are designed to be interactive sessions with many questions and answers. In a similar vein, podcast interviewing could be used to capture these important stories from veterans. The LOC’s Veteran’s History Project ( wants your podcast interviews of veterans (and other artifacts) to save for their research. What an excellent opportunity this would be to help with ongoing LOC research projects.

3. Students from health class could create Public Service Announcements against drinking and driving, dangers of drugs, Internet safety, etc. In Rochester, we have a popular BOCES-sponsored school radio station. Perhaps we could speak with them to see if they would be willing to run the PSA’s on the station.

The projects above could also be conducted via a computer for those students who do not have phones with recording capability. This would be a great opportunity, though, to encourage students to create academic content with their personal technology tools. It might even motivate them to independently develop other content that would further augment their information literacy skills.

Do you dig Diigo?

I have been eating, breathing, sleeping and living Diigo the last few weeks as I worked through my technology collaboration project. You probably already knew it was a social bookmarking tool. Are you aware of its collaborative features yet? I wasn’t until recently.

If you have an educator email account, you can request a Diigo educator account. Oh and you might want to do that a week before you need it because it can take some time to get approved (not that I have any experience with any issue with that or anything). The educator account enables you to set up a bunch of student accounts without needing student emails. This is awesome as a librarian because you can set up 30 accounts. If you instruct students that these are for demonstration purposes only, you can then clear them out once your lesson is done and have fresh accounts all set for your next class. I did this while also showing them how to build their own personal Diigo accounts to use after our class sessions were done.

But I digress. We are talking about collaboration. In Diigo (both the educator version and regular Diigo) you can also create groups. Researchers can post their bookmarks, comments, highlights, etc. to the group. All researchers in the group can then see this collaborative research information. Group members can post comments to each other. There is a “Facebook”-like feeling interface where group members can post topics and have threaded discussions. You can even “like” things just like on Facebook. These tools are definitely worth learning more about.

If I’ve piqued your interest, check out the overview of Diigo’s collaboration features

Monday, October 3, 2011

RSS - does it do enough?

When I worked in information publishing, I was an avid user of our proprietary clipping service. Essentially, we could set up searches that would run at intervals we defined and receive a feed of updated material on my employer’s vast information databases that met the search criteria. For example, if I wanted to keep tabs on one of my products, I’d set a clip up with its name and every time its name was mentioned in the press, scholarly journals, etc., it would save a link to the content, aggregate all the links over my defined time period (usually one week) and send them via a concise email. I don’t work there anymore so this would be insanely expensive to continue (our customers pay by the search -- I didn’t know how good I had it!).

I wonder if there is a tool that works similarly for Blogs. That is a tool I’d definitely be all over. Maybe it exists in an RSS feeder, and I’m just not a sophisticated user. Please let me know if it does. This dream tool would run a search across all blog postings (not just for the ones I follow) looking for those that meet my search criteria. For example, let’s pretend that I was doing research on Web 2.0 teaching ideas. I could set up a blog clip that searches all educator blogs for “Web 2.0” and then probably a bunch of Web 2.0 tool names just to be sure I catch everything. This might help lead me to other blogs out there that I don’t even know I should be following.

If we were able to help students set something like this up to support them in their own research (and also maintain their safety), I think it would be easier to say which AASL standards it wouldn’t support than it would to identify the ones that it does.

Does this blog searching tool already exist?