Friday, May 27, 2011

Atlantic Book Club - on website, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblrrr 1book140

"The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood will be the first selection for 1book140, a book club established by The Atlantic that will incorporate the magazine’s website, as well as Twitter (hashtag #1book140), Facebook, and Tumblr, Mashable reported." Jeff Howe describes the book club here. Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood wins. I ordered the cheapest paperback I could find on Amazon. It may not come until the rest start their comments on chapter 1 on June 1, but I shouldn't get too far behind. I know I will be sorry that I didn't buy the Kindle edition.

Digital Public Library of America

I joined the Digital Public Library of America discussion list for their beta sprint. (Press release) The goal: "To define the vision for a digital library in service of the American public." The more talk, the less clear the picture for me. Is this going to be a Library of Congress for all? Or... If you pay, you play? If the library in your area, doesn't contribute funds, are you cut off from using material? No national library card? Gosia Stergios (and others) have looked a some other national models. (She also contributed a neat vision of how a digital library could be used: A Note on the Letters of Vincent van Gogh.) Should a digital public library of America separate the "public" from "scholars"? Sorry to report it sounds like "scholars" do not have much respect for "the public." The definition of "public" in the minds of some seems to be "patrons of public libraries who like to read current best sellers." I get the feeling from some posts that "public library" are them and "academic libraries" r us. Others are sticking up for the idea of a public that includes learners of all age. It's even possible that some scholars may read contemporary bestsellers. So should there be two DPLAs or one for all? If there's a public library DPLA and a scholarly DPLA are there more funding opportunities? Can work go forward on all fronts? On-going conversation.

On another note: A colleague and I attended (via Elluminate - now Blackboard Collaborate) Oakland University's e-Cornucopia. A stand-out presentation for me: Emily Puckett Rodgers on open.michigan. Her slides are available The Elluminate session should be up at some point. They've got the vision and the people power to make open access at University of Michigan work. (Other presentations listed here.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What I've been doing

I finished getting my course DETT 611 ready for UMUC's "pre-week" which starts Tuesday. I'm celebrating by looking for some interesting K-12 virtual world activities for a presentation I'm doing for an ed tech grad class in a couple of weeks. I found an old Second Life Teen Grid project - Knowclue's Greek Gods. Sixth graders developed commercials for the Greek gods: One god must be kicked off the island. the students were charged with creating persuasive commercials to make the case for a particular god or goddess. Eighth graders were charged with providing the sets and managing the projects to create the machinima for the commercials as ordered by the sixth graders. The 2011 project: Audition videos for the Egyptian Gods Hall of Fame. The 2011 work has been done on astragrid powered by Aurora-Sim. I'm betting the ed tech grad students are going to be wowed by these projects.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Seth Godin The Future of the Library

Seth Godin writes about The Future of the Library - the future of the public library - as a place that no longer warehouses books. Librarians should take on the role of teacher, data hound, guide, sherpa, passionate raconteur of information. The roles for public librarians that Godin suggests are excellent, but he seems to be saying that libraries no longer need books - or even licenses for electronic resources - since Kindles and Netflix are cheap. Is he really saying that even the poorest among us can afford Kindles and ebooks and Netflix subscriptions? Is he saying that everything's available for free on the Web so there's no need to license resources on behalf of users? Bobbi Newman's one of the librarians quick on the draw: She's already posted a response at Librarian By Day. She points out that even if you don't consider books for public libraries, the cost of proprietary databases, etc. is going up. Can we do without those resources? My experiences trying to find open educational resources for University of the People courses tells me no, not yet. Can we do without providing access to both print and electronic books? My experiences looking around for recent books I hear mentioned in the press and on TV tells me no not yet. Some books coming out this year are still not available in electronic format(!). And prices... If I personally had to purchase everything I'd like to read, well... I couldn't afford it. Does everyone but me really have an unlimited budget for books? As for the rest of it... librarians as teachers? I like it!

May 23: Catching up on my reading... I wanted to be sure to get a link to Kent Anderson's May 23 post "As Book Warehouses Vanish, Is It Time for Librarians to Stop Running Libraries?" I'm not quite sure if he's calling for an end to the profession or not...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Is a Well-Lived Life Worth Anything?

Is a Well-Lived Life Worth Anything? by Umair Haque, Harvard Business Review, May 13, 2011 pointed out by Stephen Downes. Haque says we should be "doing, achieving, fulfilling, becoming, inspiring, transcending, creating, accomplishing" - something other than acquiring.
See also America Is Bankrupt (But Not the Way You Think) April 20, 2011 and... "Someone who decides to become a pastor, a nurse, a social entrepreneur, or a teacher isn't doing it to WIN — but to matter." March 8, 2011. Any way to spread this around?

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Kristin Gorski put up her presentation on MOOCs, Open Education and Implications for Online Schooling for Middle School/High School Students on Slideshare. MobiMOOC is winding up the six week run soon. Some people are already working on some projects, papers, presentations together. There's a group on Facebook and a Linkedin group... It'll be interesting to see what happens with the most memorably active participants.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Geraldine Brooks remembers using her public library

Geraldine Brooks is on the Diane Rehm show as I write this and a caller asked about books she read that influenced her. Brooks says that her family didn't have a lot of money so she relied on the public library where she grew up in Sydney Australia. Her parents were readers and read to her as she was growing up. The book she's discussing is Caleb's Crossing - a story based on the true history of a man who was the first Native American - a Wompanoag from Martha's Vineyard - to graduate from Harvard College - in 1665. Nice to hear in the midst of a lot of anti-intellectualism and pooh-poohing of public libraries.

Note: There are 112 holds on the three copies of Caleb's Crossing at the Tampa Hillsborough Public Library.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Curation = librarianship

Neat post curation by Flavie on the WSIS Communities: "Curation means selection of, care for & presentation of the objects entered into a collection." He says "content curators may provide personalized, qualified selections of the most relevant content on a specific theme out of the multiple information sources by sorting, organizing and editing information." Sounds like a role for librarians, doesn't it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Students: Consumers of Educational Products

Robert Jensen's article Delivering Educational Products: The Job Formerly Known as Teaching in the Texas Observer scores points! He attended session with reps from the Center for Educational Freedom (the Cato Institute) and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) who spoke about education as a commodity. He says in current discussions of the modern university "much to eliminate critical thinking that is connected to struggles for political and economic justice. The victory of the market model would be the end of real education, if by education we mean independent inquiry into the power that structures our lives." P.S. The Center for Educational Freedom has the express purpose of moving toward a "future when state-run schools give way to a dynamic, independent system of schools competing to meet the needs of American children." Let's hear it for the end of public education! The CCAP deals with "the burden that colleges impose on society." The affordability group is pushing for-profit education since "for-profit education serves other important functions, such as introducing a market-based approach to education and providing much needed competition for traditional colleges and universities." I have a feeling that they'd like to take my tax dollars that go toward federal grants and toward supporting state universities and throw it to for-profit higher education. Oh dear!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Instant gratification - or almost

I saw Sal Castro on Book TV broadcast from the LA Times Festival of Books at USC this weekend. Turns out that the USF Tampa Library has electronic version of the book Blowout! by Mario Garcia and Sal Castro from EBL, so I'm reading it (not on the desktop pc - not as good as on the Kindle, but we can't have everything). On page 45, Castro talks about listening to some Mexican singers when he was a kid. I made a Pandora station and I'm listening to Pedro Infante and others while reading the book. How nice! There's a little write-up on Castro's appearance at the Book Fair "Chicano activist and educator Sal Castro wows the crowd with his past -- and presence" He's got the kind of passion that's missing from a lot of discussions about the state of education. What happened? We seem to notice that things are wrong with education, but instead of radicalization, we just want to make sure kids aren't bored - and that the education they need to get a job doesn't pose too much of a financial burden... because after all, we need more consumers. Let them make videos instead of write papers? That's going to help the those in the underclass and those slipping into the underclass barely noticing the descent? That's going to help stave off being taken over by religious fundamentalists? I like technology, but tech doesn't seem to be the foundation of the revolution we ought to be having.

Off Campus Librarian - a new blog

Debbie Bezanson has started a nice, brand-new blog for off-campus librarians. See

Self-directed learning or networked-learning?

George Siemens in Moving beyond self-directred learning: Network-directed learning ( considers participants in MOOCs. Participants need to be self-directed - i.e. self-reliant. However acting along results in some partipants getting overwhelmed by a sea of postings and a wealth of information. Siemens suggests that networked-learning might be a better concept though I'm not sure he explains how that might be accomplished in a massive online course. Siemens mentions Wendy Drexler's Networked Student video which describes a student working on his own - who might get some comments from others, but it doesn't look like he's getting much help from anyone - though the teacher is finally mentioned at the end of the video. The teacher helps the student search for information, evaluate the information he finds, teaches the student how to approach experts, etc. Is that "networked learning"? (Speaking of course set-up: I'm enjoying MobiMOOC because there's enough traffic on the Google Group that I can track of the conversation of some very active participants. Going from blog to blog AND checking out discussion forums AND Facebook AND Twitter AND...and, and, and... doesn't feel much like a conversation. I'm sorry but blogs just don't feel like a discussion to me. In any case it gets to be a lot of work to track down all the places that participants are contributing. It's user choice, but makes it difficult to find out who's doing what. I'm doing my usual mostly-a-lurker routine in MobiMOOC, but I'm getting a lot out of it because there's a lot of discussion going on in one space - the Google Group.)