Google and Pearson are joining forces to birth the newest LMS on the block. Their website is just a shell at present, but expect it to be big and sleek (check out the fun slide-y signs and hilarious desert-chic vibe.) The site promises to be fully integrated with Google Apps for Education, free, open, and “ridiculously easy.” Perhaps the most significant shift in this new style of LMS versus something like Blackboard is the focus on social. Google has made a concentrated push towards online identity with Google + (even now that they allow pseudonyms) and this might just make online learning more meaningful. Our recent conversation (blog entries by Joanna, Kate, and Skanda) around personal connection and the importance of humanity in learning make me think that a learning system organized around class members might make a bigger impact than the current content-centric systems.
Check out this new Chrome experiment for Google Books. I’m happy that Google Books is thinking about their display. I love to judge books by their covers but I’m too spoiled now to read books that don’t light up. It’s not extremely pretty, but it’s a nice digression from the bookshelf view used by most e-book sites today.
Paperight aims to bring print on demand out of the warehouse and into homes and small businesses around the world. Specifically aimed at the small-scale consumer, Paperight allows users to purchase printing rights to backlist titles for a nominal fee for download and one time printing.
Paperight’s license system is easy to understand and they seem to be devoted to customer (both publisher and home printer) support with a hearty blog, clean UI, and great advice for users who are new to POD. At the moment they are testing with a series of titles aimed at public health, but as their catalog grows so shall their usability. They seem to have built a good base site that has the potential to revolutionize the POD industry as we know it, traditionally an expensive and slow process for publishers.
PBS TeacherLine, an online professional development service for K-12 teachers, has partnered with the Library of Congress to produce Teaching With Primary Sources a course for integrating primary source research in to the classroom. The Library of Congress has a long history of partnering with educators in their initiatives. The American Memory Fellows project ran for several years in the late 90’s and focused on primary sources based out of the Library’s American Memory Project. Their more recent project, An Adventure of the American Mind had over 1,000 teachers identifying collections for classroom use and focusing on the creation of unique digital primary sources from classroom material.
While primary source content may not have changed greatly, access portals and organization of this content is increasingly important in education.
I find all news items about Overdrive’s new service, WIN inherently funny. So few of them are actually win. Consider this one: Overdrive is debuting discovery records for all publisher offered titles, whether or not your particular library can afford to purchase access. You’ll be able to see a title, read a snippet, and then...not have access! This might be a precursor to public library DDA, which would be a win, but for now it just seems frustrating. Overdrive has been busy lately and I look forward to seeing what they’ll debut this year, but their offerings for WIN at Frankfurt were underwhelming.
Inkubate aims to digitize the slush pile with a portfolio-building site for writers. Publishers and agents will subscribe to the service and pay to access portfolio materials from authors.
The site is clean, adorable, and simple to navigate. The focus of the frontpage is a visualization of the connection process echoed in the logo. The site also has many librarian-approved features including snippet-view for manuscripts, a hardcore database search, and “document audit” so subscribers can see the portfolios that have attracted attention from other publishers. There’s a lot of information on the site for a beta. The blog is already pretty substantial and is aimed at attracting authors to the site with user profiles, news, and tips for aspiring writers.
Mega academic publisher Springer has just announced that they will be digitizing their entire backlist of an estimated 65,000 titles. The list dates back to the 1840’s and includes headliners like Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Sir John Eccles, Lise Meitner, Werner Siemens, and Rudolf Diesel. Unlike most digitization projects, which focus on orphan or public domain works, many of Springer’s authors are still in-copyright and the service will likely be offered as a subscription. I wholeheartedly agree with Springer’s quote that, “a book will never die, but out of print will.” They hope to debut the service before the end of 2012 and it's sure to be an enticing offering for research libraries.
Washington state recently announced their teacher of the year and it’s not who you’d expect. Amid mass layoffs and growing reliance on paraprofessional and volunteer management of school libraries, Washington’s choice of a teacher librarian as an example of excellence in education is even more poignant. Mark Ray, the librarian in question, works at Skyview High School in Vancouver, WA. He’s led his school in tech literacy, pioneering “BYOD” a program that encourages students to bring their own devices and become familiar with a variety of platforms for accessing information and assistance.
His principal describes him as a “slayer of ignorance,” which is pretty core and he seems to represent a paragon of school librarianship in his classroom involvement and attention to validation in reference transactions. He’s a member of a dying breed, but for every Mark Ray, there’s an isolated school librarian being thrown out with the p-book bathwater. It’s imperative, especially in a tight-budget climate, for school librarians to embrace teaching information literacy and providing technology assistance. I think school librarians face much confusion over their role in education but have an opportunity to impact opinions about librarian roles in the future. I’m surprised and glad that Washington state has recognized a librarian as a truly innovative and adaptive member of their educational community.
Vook, formerly a publisher of video enhanced e-books, has changed its focus from content to platform. The new incantation will allow individual authors and groups to build their own vooks on a tried and tested system. The first project is a line of instructional v-books for yoga company Gaiam. The move from content-production seems prudent for a company like Vook, their produced content was amusing and informative, but limited. Their new business model utilizes their expertise in the creation of video e-books and opens up new content possibilities.
Scoop.it is a blog site without all the tedious writing. It allows users to curate a home base around a topic of interest and makes it easy to contribute content with a browser extension and in-house feed aggregator. The result is a cool-looking, newspaper-esque front page that’s maximum bang for minimum effort. It’s also adorably French.
The site is pretty slick, but the name could be better. I’d also like to see more customization in the pages. Users are able to change the banner on their front page, but not any of the look elements and that leaves most pages looking depressingly similar. That said, it’s a good look. Large, colorful pictures and pleasant size difference between stories gives a very credible newspaper look.
Kate’s on it! It’s great to see new sites and ideas aimed at curation of information. I have a feeling that’s going to be a big trend as the pool continues to deepen. Maybe it's the librarian thing, but I'm irresistibly drawn to technologies that facilitate the corralling of resources. Move'em on! Head'em up!