I think if you follow my rants, I often talk about the restrictions to various social media sites. My practicum sites and the school I work in are in NYC. The NYCDOE uses something called WebSense to filter student access. It’s a horrible filter, practically blocking all social media sites. Mary Ann Bell has basically voiced a lot of my frustration with filtering in her article “Do You Want Kids to Be Safe Online? LOOSEN Those Filters!”
A teacher wanted to show some videos from Youtube, only to find out that he was blocked by WebSense. Fortunately, I have an administrative line that doesn’t go through WebSense. I was able to get him the videos before his class. At my first practicum site, they didn’t even know about the administrative line until I told them about it. They requested one when I was there for my fieldwork in September 2010. When I went back in April-May 2010 for my practicum, they still have not gotten it yet.
I’ve seen students who wanted to learn more about something from class and being stopped by WebSense. Recently, I talked to a student who tried to access Wolfram Alpha. It was blocked. I really don’t understand why certain sites are blocked.
It’s nice to see how far the barcode has evolved. I don’t think I’m that excited about QR codes compared to the next person. Sometimes, being a Computer Science major ruins the fun.
I’ve read a lot about how other people have used these QR codes for scavenger hunt activities in the classroom. This might come in handy in a library online scavenger hunt.
For me, this technology has more value as a marketing tool. There are three things that come to my mind. The first thing I would do is put QR codes on free bookmarks, a link to the library’s website (new arrivals) and a link to book recommendations/reviews. Then I would add them next to books we are displaying/featuring. The QR codes would link students to reviews on the book (hopefully, reviews written by other students). Lastly, I would add them to newsletters to the parents, links to any special activities/events in the library.
I often see a lot of teachers assigning group assignments. Google Docs would be a great tool for collaboration between group members and help put their paper together. Once the group is done with the group paper, they can share their findings with the rest of the class on a wiki.
I’ve always wanted to an assignment where students will create wiki pages where others can edit it. Once a student creates his/her wiki page, a second student will edit the page and input some errors. A third student will review the page, locate the errors, and locate sources that will explain why they are errors.
Students will hopefully pick up some very useful information literacy skills.
It’s difficult for me to enjoy reading linear text. I’ve always struggled with linear reading, forcing myself to go through everything, but taking a long time to do it. I have an overwhelming urge to say that my brain is wired for nonlinear reading. I need to be able to gather all the important bits and pieces first. Afterwards, I can determine whether there’s something important that I might want to focus on. In that case, I would go back and try some linear reading.
I think nonlinear reading is following to how we operate as a society. Many things have focus on speed and efficiency. It’s similar to that saying, “Don’t work harder, work smarter.” Linear reading can become tedious, especially for people who have short attention spans.
As much as I support nonlinear reading, I do believe that linear reading is important. Whenever I get motivated, I am able to do some linear reading. I was surprised that I was about to finish one of the Percy Jackson books within a few days. It’s something that usually takes me over a week.
I visited Bookshare.org this today. I was surprised to find that they have quite a collection. Just looking at their most popular books, I see classics like Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Catcher in the Rye to popular fiction series like Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
I was curious to know how a person can qualify for their services. The requirements are strict. It basically comes down to whether a person can enjoy a normal book like a typical person. The more trouble a person has with reading, the more likely he or she is qualified for membership. They even mentioned that they probably only serve about 2% of the population. Since they are serving such a small percentage, they are exempted from U.S. copyright laws.
Membership required some proof of disability. It will require some sort of certification from a medical expert. Many learning disabilities might not qualify, but if it is severe enough, they might. That seems subjective.
I started to think about all my students. The interesting thing is that I always proctor the exams for all the students with some kind of IEP. I have a pretty good idea of all the students with a special need in my school. With over 3600 students, there might be about 40 students with a special need. Of these 40, I can really think of 5 that might even qualify for membership with Bookshare. One of them is severely visually impaired, but has an impressive writing skill. I often look for his articles in the school newspaper. If I bump into him, I think I would see if he uses Bookshare.
RSS is not going anywhere. It’s a little overshadowed by Twitter, but there are some major differences. RSS is more organized. I can organize the links in a matter that suits my needs. Twitter can become a bombardment of links. It can become difficult to know what’s going on with Twitter. RSS is not a marketing tool like Twitter. The bombardment of links might include spam.
In my opinion, there will always be people who will need RSS. It comes in very handy for people who like to receive organized information. *coughlibrarianscough*