Trends in Ed: Teacher Librarian of the Year

Submitted by Laura Costello on Fri, 10/07/2011 - 8:55am.
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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’s Wind Change

Submitted by Laura Costello on Tue, 10/04/2011 - 4:53pm.
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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.


EdLab Review:

Submitted by Laura Costello on Fri, 09/30/2011 - 10:59pm.
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Pros: 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.

EdLab Relevance:
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!


Trends in Ed: New Structure for Harvard Libraries

Submitted by Laura Costello on Thu, 09/29/2011 - 5:27pm.
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Harvard’s libraries have a new organizational structure meant to foster collaboration between buildings and units. Under the new vision, Harvard’s 90-some libraries will be separated into 5 affinity groups based on service and focus. The groups are fairly amorphous to allow for differences in mission, explanations from Harvard Magazine:

"libraries focused on application of theory in practice, including those of the schools of law, business, education, and government; a group focused on physical and life sciences with shared research responsibilities, including the medical school library and the science libraries; a group formed around content areas, such as the humanities and the social sciences, including major collections such as those of Widener and Lamont;
libraries of arts and culture such as fine arts, architecture, music, theater, and film; and finally, a group of special collections libraries such as Houghton and the University Archives."


Avast Ye!

Submitted by Laura Costello on Wed, 09/28/2011 - 3:07pm.
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A new website has sprung from the primordial internet soup of e-textbook piracy. Library Pirate aims to create a community around student file sharing in an effort to circumvent what the creators see as corruption in academic publishing. Their strategy is twofold, users can “rent a pirate” by purchasing a gift card for a semester e-textbook rental. Pirates from the site will rent the textbook using the gift card, strip the DRM and return the open pdf to the student for use and sharing.



EdLab Review: Pubslush

Submitted by Laura Costello on Fri, 09/23/2011 - 3:47pm.
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Pubslush has a lot going on. It’s gearing up to be the TOMS of books, with a buy one/give one policy. It also aims to be a Kickstarter of books, with crowdsourced funding and video solicitations. It’s wide-ranging and whiffs of some intense funding without a clear business plan, but it’s clear they’re spelunking into something and it’s pretty exciting.

The Interface is snappy and the overlapping dialogue logo is very cute. I am a fan of the concept, though Unbound may be doing it more feasibly. Though there are few entries for consideration right now, they are extremely wide-reaching. This may be the harbinger of an impossibly large pool of proposals, but at the moment it seems fresh and varied.


Trends in Ed: Just Good Marketing

Submitted by Laura Costello on Wed, 09/21/2011 - 4:33pm.
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The school library world has been in a state of jubilation over the surprise Kindle library lending launch today, with many headlines touting the promise of accessibility in 11,000 school and public libraries across the country. The general sentiment seems to be a favorable reaction to a new service. In reality, Kindle has simply become amenable to the Overdrive service though Kindle users have a variety of extra steps towards accessing the same old Overdrive content. The benefits of Kindle use are slim: Whispersync, Amazon’s marginalia holder and page numbers that correspond to print, in light of the fact that Overdrive has been lending books to other devices for years.


New Archival Site at the Smithsonian

Submitted by Laura Costello on Tue, 09/20/2011 - 4:07pm.
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Just thinking about the Smithsonian archives makes me swoon a little. A peek at the historical timeline feature on their brand new website may explain why. In its 165-year stint as the repository for America’s scientific knowledge, it has amassed a veritable menagerie of resources and artifacts. Many of these are available digitally and the website also provides clear instructions for physical visits. A snappy new UI with nice nesting collections and an awesome zooming picture viewer are just icing on the cake.


EdLab Development & Research Meeting: Vialogues & Language Acquisition

Submitted by Laura Costello on Tue, 09/20/2011 - 10:50am.
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Kate and I have been working on a series of Vialogues and an mSchool hub aimed at language acquisition. We’ve been chipping away at Mandarin Chinese with a series of videos and a moodle home in its nascent stages. You can see the videos we’ve uploaded at Vialogues #Chinese. This EdLab Development & Research meeting is meant to generate ideas and feedback, it’s still an early-stage project, but we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Activity #1: Pick a Vialogue

Activity #2: Find a Youtube Video
Find a Mandarin-based YouTube video
Upload to
Add relevant questions, comments
Add hash tag #Chinese & corresponding level for example: #Beginner, #Intermediate etc. as the very last possible time-stamped comment.
Tip: Be sure your vialogue is public!

Activity #3: Please navigate to our mSchool shell, called Vialogues Language Acquisition Hub ( The hub is meant to be a home for all our language acquisition resources and Vialogues as well as an evolving FAQ for how to use them. As you can see, it’s not quite done yet! Please help us improve by answering the following questions:


EdLab Review: Instebooks

Submitted by Laura Costello on Sat, 09/17/2011 - 12:55pm.
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Instebooks is but one among a crop of mobile photo e-book publishing apps, but has a few interesting features that set it apart from the pack. Instebooks lacks the weird mobile-to-print push that characterizes sites like Shutterfly and Blurb and subs in increased hand-holding, librarian cool extras, and high social network connectivity.

Reference books! Instebooks automatically indexes all your tags and in-text references creating a wonderful appendix of your people, places, and events. It also has an atlas option so you can map it up on you travels. It’s voice-to-text feature seems cool and useful, escaping tiny keypad typing makes it easy to maintain a record on the go. Instebooks also offers 50 pre-created apps with stock photo covers that’ll work out of the box for even faster creativity.

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