Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Digital Public Library of America

Micah Vandegrift has written a piece on the Digital Public Library of America - what it is - and what it isn't - and what it might become. See http://www.inthelibrarywiththedpipe.org/2013/dpla/ Micah discusses joining one of the early discussion lists concerning the DPLA. I was on the list for a while as well (dpla-discussion@eon.law.harvard.edu) and my impression was that a lot of brilliant people had very interesting ideas about presenting digital collections - and terrific capabilities. They seemed mainly interested in presenting digital library content to scholars - other people just like them. Some of the participants in the early discussions didn't seem all that interested in including public library collections. Some of the discussants didn't seem all that interested in any user not affiliated with a research-intensive university. Public librarians were working hard to be heard. I was put off. I was hoping for the emergence of a digital public library of the world with no silly political or geographic boundaries. While I continued to read about the DPLA sporadically, I stopped following the day-to-day discussions. Now the first iteration of the DPLA has launched. Robert Darnton and John Palfry - both leaders in the DPLA were guests for a recent Special Event for Terry Fisher's CopyrightX course. Both talked about the a grand vision of what the DPLA could become and how it could become the digital library for all of us. I'm looking forward to DPLA developments!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Oprah's Life Class - a kind of MOOC

How to create community with participants from 51 countries:

Check out Oprah's Life Class web site.

Classes. Your homework. Check-in. (While registration is required to participate in discussions, there are no other entrance requirements.)

Daily Life Work; Videos; Weekly Question (with a spot for responses); Webcasts.

The website has a place for "My Notes" "Enter your thoughts in your personal online notebook".

There's a Facebook page.

Oprah's Life Class asks people to upload their photos via Instagram. The photos are broadcast so there's a sense that they are the visible part of the TV audience.

Ambassadors use Twitter to announce TV events beforehand and keep things going with lively tweets. The Twitter stream is available in the auditorium where the broadcast is taking place. Oprah tweets to her Tweethearts during the broadcast.

The audience in the auditorium interacts with the life coach and Oprah. Skype is used to bring remote students into the classroom to interact with the life coach of the day - and Oprah.

There are no grades.

What strategies can we borrow for our courses? (Is Oprah's Life Class a sort of MOOC?)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

More MOOC lurking

Report from the MOOC front: Ohio State's Writing II: Rhetorical Composing is starting on Coursera on April 22. The instructors are by Susan Delagrange, Cynthia Selfe, Kay Halasek, Ben McCorkle, and Scott Lloyd DeWitt. The instructors address the concept of "global Englishes" in their introductory material. I'm excited to see the instructors acknowledge that these courses have a global audience! In response to the introductory videos, one of the very first students to post asked if accepting more than one "English" will water down the course. A staff member replied and noted that this course will "foster a learning community that welcomes English speakers from all around the world." This is a great question to have raised and discussed right up at the beginning of the course. This may head off some problems that have developed in other courses where U.S. students have not known how to deal with writers from other regions. The instructors say that they will be spending time suggesting ways to give feedback. Official hashtag for the course: #wexmooc

In the meantime... I've continued to check out the discussions in Duke University's English Comp I (also on Coursera). One student noted that the instructor in one video referred to "inches" when talking about indenting citations. There was no corresponding equivalent for "centimeters" mentioned in the video. The student's version of Word uses centimeters. Another student supplied the conversion to centimeters, but there you go! The question about what to consider when developing a course for a global audience was raised! While APA and MLA citation styles mentioned in the course are used in many situations, would it have been worth mentioning styles used in other countries? For example I gather that ABNT (Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas) is used in many universities in Brazil. Maybe acknowledging the existence of some other styles would be enough?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Student Loans - Paid off!

Last week I paid off the remainder of my Federal PLUS Loan for daughter number two. We had that average $25,000 in loans when she graduated five years ago. Done! I'm happy to that she and I are both out of debt (at least for the moment). I would love to chronicle how paying for her four years at Pratt Institute went down, but every tuition bill was confusing and every financial aid letter was confusing - and it was just generally... confusing. So how much did those four years cost? A bunch - but I don't have a total. Nevertheless we got through it with her work study grants, some scholarship awards, my part-time work teaching online in addition to my full-time librarian job, some help from my dad...and some federal loans. I'm glad to have that financial episode concluded!

I know adding info to posts after the fact is not a great idea, but I saw this and wanted to tack it on here...
NASFAA National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators put out their consumer testing of financial aid award letters report. No clear winners http://www.nasfaa.org/EntrancePDF.aspx?id=14078