I’m back (to posting here)

Part I: I talk about coming back

            Happy day-after-President’s Day to everyone. I hope you are surrounded by people you love and make you happy. After a 13-month hiatus from posting here, I am back. I hope to continue sharing not just useful online resources for school, but interesting insights about living and learning. I miss having a place to not just share my thoughts about the work I am doing, but actually documenting the ever-evolving role of the school librarian.  

            With that short re-introduction done, let me begin by saying that I am excited about relaunching this project that I began way back in December 2007. The things that have changed in that decade are huge, yet incremental, and therefore, sometimes difficult to note as you are living through them (see my previous post for some numbers).

            As with the original launch of this site, this is still an experiment in online librarianship. I view this blog as an opportunity to collect and connect. More than ever before, I hope that this page can be a launching point for teachers and students looking for reliable, fact-checked sources appropriate for school projects. Over the coming weeks, I will be rechecking and reorganizing the pages, links and recommended sites found here, making sure that they are all working, up-to-date and still worthy of your attention.

Thanks to the Way Back Machine (also known as the internet archive) there is a digital “snapshot” of what this blog looked like in its early incarnation. The post from October 2008 shows that Hulu.com wasn’t yet a subscription streaming service. How the times keep changing.

Part II: I recommend some Crash Course lessons

            I am always delighted when I am asked, mostly by our English teachers, to come into class to discuss how to do good academic research online. My presentations have changed over the years to reflect the evolution of the web and to address the particular needs of my audiences. No matter how much I may try, I always feel like I am leaving something out … because I have to.

A slide from my 2005 presentation shows that I was still recommending videotapes from our collection. We have since weeded out about 90% of that collection (mostly duplicates and programs taped from television).

            What began as a curiosity and a marginal technology, has grown into a ubiquitous and all-encompassing force in our daily lives. The web is where we do everything nowadays, but it wasn’t intended to be used mostly as an academic tool, and it shows. During simpler times, it might have been enough to look at the website URL, its domain extension and the About Us page to determine the reliability of the site. Things have gotten a little more complicated, nowadays, and I rarely have enough time to really cover everything you need to know to do good academic research online.

A slide from my 2014 presentation reflects my growing concerns with “aliteracy” (people who can read, but don’t) and the growing amount of bad information.

            Enter Crash Course, a YouTube channel I have recommended and talked about in the past, and even include on my Video Resources page here on this blog. In December 2018, they announced that they would be filming a series called, “Navigating Digital Information”, which I highly recommend to my students and teachers. In the roughly two-hour-long series, I expect that they will cover much of the same information I have presented over the years … checking URLs, using primary sources, avoiding sites that don’t credit their creators, references or link to other sites, etc.

            The fact that Crash Course, and their sponsors (which they prominently reveal and discuss), find it useful to create a series about dealing with online information as a student (and a citizen) speaks to the need we have for good online content that educates us about online content. I know, it begins to feel a little like a conversation in Inception, or with Russian nesting dolls (for you older folks in the reading audience). Prior to this release, Crash Course had a whole series on Media Literacy, which I also recommend in general, and specifically episode 4, Media and the Mind. This episode focuses on the relationship between people and their devices, and how we shape our technology and it reshapes us. I especially recommend the video since it discusses the intersection of psychology and technology, two areas of study that play out every day in our schools.

            In the past month, I have recommended these two series of videos to a handful of classes and hope they will turn to it as an online resource. I have also been advising my students to return to the print resources we have available in our library media center (LMC) collection.

Part III: I remind people of the HHS OPAC

            I will use this last part as a public service announcement to remind people that the HHS LMC OPAC (what a string of letters meaning our online catalog) is available at the bottom of our school’s Launchpad. Once you have reached our OPAC’s home page, you will find a simple search engine to look through our collection.

            I always remind students of the difference between a Keyword Search (general) and a Subject Search (specific), but lately, I have also been focusing on the Series Search to introduce students to a very specific kind of print resource. Many teachers have students write a persuasive essay, where they are able to pick a subject that interests them and research a position on that issue or idea. We have a number of book series that have short, pro-con type essays on a variety of subjects and, unlike information students may find online, these articles are all fact-checked, reliable and appropriate for school work. The series titles are:

  • At Issue (160 titles)
  • Contemporary Issues (20 titles)
  • Current Controversies (52 titles)
  • Issues in Focus (24 titles)
  • Opposing Viewpoints (185 titles)
  • Reference Shelf (104 titles)

Part IV: Closing thoughts and Bonus Find

            As you can imagine, I have more to say about doing online research, but I will save that for next time. If I don’t stop writing this post, I’ll never get it online … and that was one of the reasons I stopped posting for a year; because I never knew when or what to write or how much or for who, if anyone, I was writing. But I do like sharing this information, and so I will try to post every other week here, until the end of the school year.

            In the meantime, let me share one last video series I found on YouTube called “Blank on Blank”. This series’ homepage says it all, “Famous Names. Lost Interviews. Animated Shorts.” Amongst my favorites is Aldous Huxley on Technodictators. Enjoy.

 

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you found something interesting and useful.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2019. All rights reserved

About htwilson

born in brooklyn, raised in queens, massachusetts, that's where I be.
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