Monday, September 3, 2007

Assignment for Me and For My Students!

Eons ago when I taught 7th grade Language Arts, I would often tell students that I should not give them an assignment that I was not willing to do myself. So if they were assigned a topic upon which to write, I would assign myself the same task. Students seemed to like the idea that I was doing the same work they were asked to do, and of course I would "turn in" my finished product to them. I also did this from time to time as a librarian. I drew the line at doing a science project, but I would tell them that I had conducted research in the same manner and on the same topics as they were being asked to do. Of course in any school library, the assignment should start with the collection/available materials in order to be sure it is reasonable for students to complete, so that makes plenty of sense.

Well, the other day I got an idea for updating an assignment for students in my class, Internet for School Librarians. The purpose of this assignment is to get students to explore educational Web 2.0 resources. My experience is that many of them have little or no experience in this rapidly growing area. They may be familiar with the term "blog," but most seem lost when I mention "vlog," "twitter," or even "podcast." Many are quick to tell me that MySpace is BAD, but admit they have never visited the site at all. This is the gist of the assignment:

1. Visit Wikipedia and report back. Tell about at least two entries. One should be an article that you would allow students to use and another an article that you would not recommend.
2. Visit MySpace. Describe one good and one not so good page that you see.
3. Visit one educational podcast. Describe.
4. Visit one educational wiki. Describe.
5. Visit one educational ning. Describe.
6. Visit one educational twitter. Describe.
7. Visit one educational podcast. Describe
8-9. Visit two outstanding blogs: librarian or teacher. This is three separate entries, one per blog. Tell about them each in turn.

In addition to asking students to report on their impressions of these sites, I am pledging to do the same. Thus, in future postings I will report my feelings about the above mentioned resources. Not everything resonates with everyone. While I find all aspects of online communication interesting, some to not appeal to me personally. This is as it should be! If we all try to blog, vlog, podcast, twitter, IM, email, and otherwise express ourselves, we will spread ourselves far too thin! As I go on my personal odyssey through various online entities, I will share my impressions. Meanwhile I wonder, which ones resonate with you?


  1. As a former colleague that has been retired from teaching and somewhat out of the loop....I plan on doing the assignment to get up to speed on the latest. Dr. Bell is always looking and keeping up with what is new.

  2. Hey Dr. Bell!
    As a new employee of Harris County Public Library (YEA!) I wanted to share this bit of "real world" education with you. Employess must have 20 hours of training per year and one of our training options is this:
    23 Things that you can do on the web to explore and expand your knowledge of the Internet and Web 2.0. The iHCPL program has been adapted by a committee from the Learning 2.0 program, designed the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. The program is loosely based upon Stephen Abram's article, 43 Things I (or You) Might Want to Do this Year
    (Information Outlook - Feb 2006) and the website 43Things.
    Week 1: Introduction
    Read this blog & find out about the program.

    Week 2: Blogging
    Set up your own blog, add your first post, & register for the program.

    Week 3: Photos & Images
    Explore Flickr and learn about this popular image hosting site.

    Week 4: RSS & Newsreaders
    Learn about RSS feeds and setup your own Bloglines newsreader account.

    Week 5: Play Week
    Play around with an online image generator. Take a look at LibraryThing and catalog some of your favorite books. Sign up for Library Elf and get account updates by email, RSS, or text message.

    Week 6: Tagging, Folksonomies & Technorati Learn about tagging and discover (a social bookmaking site) Explore Technorati and learn how tags work with blog posts.

    Week 7: Wikis
    Learn about wikis and discover some innovative ways that libraries are using them.

    Week 8: Online Applications & Tools
    Take a look at some online productivity (word processing, spreadsheet) tools.
    Explore Social Networking.

    Week 9: Podcasts, Video & Downloadable Media
    Discover YouTube and a few sites that allow users to upload and share videos.

    Week 10: Summary