Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Week 7 Collaboration

Group projects were never my favorite thing to do in highschool and undergrad... There was always that one person who did not do their share of the work, riding the coattails of the rest of the group. It was also a frustrating process to pick a time for everyone to meet and work on the project together... Once the project was completed though, it always seemed that I had learned more than if I had done it alone. I had learned from my peers. Everyone brought his or her past experiences, individual perspectives, and search strategies to the project (for the most part :) and we all benefited from it.
Now, for our project with the Google doc this week, many of these frustrations have been alleviated thanks to technology. We are able to work at our own pace and mesh our thoughts in real time. I really like this application for this reason. There are still difficulties involved with working in a group. Splitting up work or making suggestions is always somewhat of a challenge, and requires tact and imagination... but this is the way of the future of education. I am planning on implementing this type of assignment in a school library, and I need to be able to collaborate well with my peers before I can instuct students on how best to do it with other students.
For my part this week, I am focusing mainly on usability in regards to library websites. The website is an all-important part of the library facility. It provides an access point for students and parents to utilize the school library from anywhere. I have seen too many library websites that are underdeveloped or simply out of date (e.g. links no longer work). This is an unfortunate reality that I believe really speaks badly for the school library. SLMS need to take initiative to educate themselves on webpage design and upkeep as a professional responsibility that will aide students in their search for and access to information.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Week 6 Internet Safety

Internet safety has been the topic so far this sixth week into the semester. This is a subject that is very relevant not only in schools today, but in almost every home across the country.
The Problem
Anyone with a computer is at a risk for leaving a trail on the web that could bring them some type of harm (identity theft, predators...). Children are especially vulnerable because they get lulled into a false sense of anonymity on the web. They always think "no one will ever see this," when in actuality, virtually anything written or posted online can be viewed by anyone else and it is out there permanently. You cannot take it back. Social networking sites encourage children to release personal information by creating a "profile" that prompts them to post pictures, give their name, location, age, etc. Predators are lurking, just waiting for enough information to cause harm.
The Upside
With that just said, it would seem prudent to discourage children from using the internet at all costs. I take the same stance as Doug Johnson did, saying that the computer applications themselves do not cause harm and do not cause risk, students should just be taught how to use them properly. I have started the iSafe online tutorial in order to learn how best to teach internet safety to students. I have found that I am learning alot myself in the process! Web 2.0 is a revolution in how people use and view the internet. It comes with its risks to be sure, but when students are taught to minimize their "digital footprint" there are some really neat and interactive tools available for them to use.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Week 5 Searching Tools

Cataloging has always been viewed as the most boring class in the library science field. I have even been told by several SLMS essentially to "get ready to nap through that class." Despite its monotony, I can see through our activities in Computer Applications this week the importance that things like keywords, subject headings etc. have in regards to utility, accessibility, and general user-friendliness. This week we looked at searching tools, both on library website and general search engine tools, like Google. The amount of information available out in "cyberspace" is so vast its unimaginable. The task of organizing and making this information usable is quite daunting. Google has done some exciting new things lately. I really liked the Google Squared feature. It is in its early stages, but I can already see its potential as it makes searching for information on a certain topic a one-stop-shop process.
As an information specialist, I would hope to encourage students to access information from other sources such as books and databases. In order to get these students to do this on their own (instead of "googling" it), we need to make library search tools as user-friendly as possible. As was discussed in the discussion boards this week, perhaps keeping a simple search interface will help. But I believe demonstrating to students the quality of information that they can receive through library search tools as compared to Google searches will help to increase their information literacy skills.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Week 4 IL/ICT

Week four, thus far, has been one of the most intensive weeks of the semester. When I opened up this weeks "weekly materials" for Computer Applications, I was admittedly a bit overwhelmed by the amount of materials available for us to go through. The webquest itself was an amazing resource on IL/ICT. I feel as though everyone who is going to be a SLMS or is currently, should have this entire webquest in their professional toolbox because even though it is large, it breaks down and somewhat condenses this issue of information literacy and ICT and its place in the curriculum. This is our whole job as SLMS! Information literacy is our curriculum... It is extremely important that we know this issue inside and out so that we can defend our role as an integral instructor.
I do believe that there is a common misconception today that all young children are computer whizzes and can make use of computers to find any information. Now, there is no doubt that kids are constantly on the computer (or some other technological device), but that does not necessarily mean that they have the ICT skills necessary to promote their education. ICT skills need to be explicitly taught. It is too easy to simply type in a word, sentence etc. into a search engine and simply choose from the first few hits on the web and call that "doing research." I have seen this done not only in elementary or secondary schools, but sadly I have seen it many times over in colleges and universities as well. Children need to be informed as to why this does not work and how best to find information (even if there are a few more steps involved and it requires more brain power).
This week so far has been a great learning experience for me. I am looking forward to continuing to learn about technology and its relation to this profession in the weeks to come!