Monday, September 13, 2010

Activity for Narrowing Down a Topic

Today I participated in a good class discussion about academic dishonesty, plagiarism, and narrowing topics down to a manageable size. I split the class in half, and had one set of groups talk about childhood obesity and how it could be broken down into a smaller topic for a 5-6 page paper. The other half of the class talked about "reality TV," and how it is influencing society. They were a great class to work with.

The whole activity took about ten minutes. In groups of 3-5 they discussed various aspects of the topic to consider how it could be narrowed down from a large, book-sized topic to a more workable essay-sized topic. After five minutes, a scribe wrote down answers from the groups on the board, and I inserted comments and suggested ideas. The scribe divided the board in half and wrote the ideas for obesity on one side and for reality tv on the other.

Then I suggested in general terms, that they can always narrow down a topic by population (a demographic), location (geography), and by time period.

Here are some of the results from the group discussions about narrowing a topic:

Childhood obesity

* parenting
* video games/TV (sedentary lifestyles)
* genetics (it's changing)
* future health
* junk food access/availability

"Reality" TV

* perception of reality
* distracts from life
* jackasses (society getting dumber?) Reminds me of Pinocchio movie where the boys play and do bad things, then they become jackasses.
* demographic influence

Narrowing Down a Topic (suggestions from the librarian)

* demographic = population i.e. age group, race, class, single-parent family, income, etc.
* time = last 5 years, last 10 years, the 90s, 19th century, etc.
* location = city, state, region, country, world--even urban, rural, 3rd world, etc.

For the plagiarism discussion, I used a PowerPoint presentation to drive the discussion. Each slide asked a question:
  • What is academic dishonesty?
  • What is plagiarism?
  • What is common knowledge?
  • How can you avoid plagiarism and academic dishonesty?
  • Where can you go for help?

With each question, students wrote down answers on their own piece of paper. Then they discussed their answers with a neighbor before we talked about each question as a class. This method of active learning seems to yield more participation. It leads me to believe that students will more readily accept what they hear from a peer than from their instructor. Also, students like to test their ideas on each other before sharing them with the instructor and the class as a whole.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Information-Literacy Quotes

On the information-literacy and instruction listserv, several librarians shared the following quotes about the need for information literacy in today's world.
"We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely."
by E. O. Wilson from Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
It is not the finding of a thing, but the making of something out of it after it is found that is of consequence.
by James Russell Lowell in My Study Windows
"My guess is about 300 years until computers are as good as, say, your local reference library in doing search," says Craig Silverstein. "But we can make slow and steady progress, and maybe one day we'll get there."
by Craig Silverstein, Google's Director of Technology and Google Employee #1

How important do think information-literacy competency skills are in today's society?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Promoting the Library's Learn Something Quick Workshops

Once I got going, these videos got easier to create. Here's one that highlights our Learn Something Quick workshop series.

What do you think? Did you catch any humor? Does that detract or make the video more digestible? Do you find this appealing or a good learning tool?

Succeed in the Oboler Library

Watch this longer video, which gives more in-depth information about ISU's Eli M. Oboler Library while also trying to mix in a little humor periodically. The characters' voices are machine-automated, so they sound a bit panned, or artificial. The video creator did forget to say that the reference desk is only open until 9:00 p.m. on regular weekdays.

Promoting the Library with Xtranormal Text to Video

I recently discovered Xtranormal Text to Video. It looks like it could be a fun way to promote libraries and information literacy competency skills. They do not charge money for the basic stuff, but if you want more character, actions, and settings, then you do need to pay some money. Check out this quick, introductory video:

Do you think this would be useful? How would you use this free online software? Could it offer good instructional help?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Google Sites Workshop

As part of the Library's Learn Something Quick programming, I taught a basic 15-minute workshop on how to create Google Sites. Following are some of the YouTube links worth looking at:

Introductory Videos
Google Sites Tour: it offers examples for how you might use Google Sites.
Google Sites: Simple, secure group websites: shows how to create the pages, how to allow others to edit the pages, and how to create group websites.
Google Sites #1: Creating a New Site: a series of videos created by individuals from Radford University.
Google Sites #2: How to Edit and Add Media to your Google Site
Google Sites #3: How to Change the Appearance of Your Site
Google Sites #4: How to Share Your Site
Google Site Search: Quick Tour (But you have to pay for this Google search box.)

Why use Google Sites?
  • Develop a pathfinder for a class or a site.
  • Share professional information, including a resume or CV.
  • Share personal or family information. It is possible to limit who sees it by invitation.
  • Research items and interests
  • Class projects
  • Work projects
  • Promoting the an organization or company, such as the Eli M. Oboler Library
  • Promote an event
  • More… Do you know other reasons why people use Google Sites? Please share a comment in the comment box.

Google Sites allows you to...

• Create page
• Edit page
• Site Content
• Privacy
• Site appearance
• Site layout
• Colors and Fonts
• Themes
• Subpages
• Insert: Images
• Links
• Calendar
• Share the site: collaborators, owners, and viewers

Types of Pages:
  • Lists

  • Web page

  • File cabinet

  • Announcements

  • Start Page