Trends in Ed: Old-Fashioned American Ed Tech

Submitted by Laura Costello on Fri, 05/04/2012 - 1:39pm.
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Photobucket is part of an emerging trend, but draws heavily from analog business. While Salman Khan was but a student, Lynda was already producing solid, sustainable video tutorials on a variety of subjects. The most popular videos on the site are aimed at adult education, with a stunning catalog of detailed tutorials explaining media technologies, business, and development/computing. The courses appear like the table of contents in a textbook and the content creators are treated like authors. Trainers submit a proposal and if they are approved, receive an advance for production. After the videos are produced, trainers receive royalties based on how many users view their content.’s other element of the old school is their staunch refusal of outside funding.



Submitted by Laura Costello on Wed, 05/02/2012 - 6:02pm.
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Google is dipping its toe into information literacy training with the launch of Google Search Education. The new site contains very detailed lesson plans arranged by level and subject. The content of the plans skews heavily towards search strategy over resource evaluation, but does a good job of explaining tips and tricks for becoming a more efficient searcher in an increasingly searchable world.

The site also contains some terribly sad webinars aimed at teachers, worth a look if you like to see the big G in raw form. Google is so influential in the search world, it’s nice to see the influence of information education reflected in Google (there are even librarians in the video!) The bonus is that Google’s influence has made the skills learned in these sessions translate to all the single keyword box, filterable clones.


Research Digest: Representing Non-Traditional Publications

Submitted by Laura Costello on Fri, 04/27/2012 - 11:41am.
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Bradley, J., Fulton, B., & Helm, M. (2012). Self-published books: An empirical “snapshot.” The Library Quarterly, 82(2), 107-140.

Bowker’s 2009 report found that non-traditional publishers are now far surpassing the output of traditional publishing. This is nothing new, for many years the combined output of non-traditional venues like POD, republishing of public domain content, and vanity presses have surpassed the highly-structured and vetted process of major publishers.

The developing difference is described by Laura Dawson in her 2008 paper The Role of Self-Publishing in Libraries, “it’s no longer a given that large publishers are the arbiters of what books we find useful.” The recent successes of non-traditionally published authors such as Amanda Hocking and E.L. James illustrate the point, but the dramatic output and general lack of established rating criteria make access to these titles a challenge for acquisitions librarians. The study in the paper reflected this. OCLC holdings revealed that libraries had acquired a smaller than expected percentage of non-traditionally published titles. This could be due to a lack of acquisitions pathways and structures for library lending of these publications.


Trends in Ed: Lighting the Path

Submitted by Laura Costello on Thu, 04/26/2012 - 6:07pm.
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It’s not every day that I get to say nice things about the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation, but their new “umbrella license” is a slam dunk for libraries. A workaround for what used to be a tedious, difficult, and expensive venture, the license allows libraries to purchase a yearly subscription that includes performance rights for nearly 400 production companies including 20th Century Fox, Discovery Channel, A&E, The History Channel, and Sony Pictures Classics.

The license is unlimited and covers individual viewing on library grounds and ambient use as well as library events. Pricing is based on service population and seems extremely reasonable, especially for libraries used to paying individual performance fees.


And When Rome Falls...

Submitted by Laura Costello on Tue, 04/24/2012 - 2:11pm.
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Big things have been happening at the Harvard library lately. In September they announced a system restructure around affinity groups, at the end of January they revealed that plans for the reorganization included significant staff downsizing and the fallout from that announcement meant protests and backlash from the library community throughout March. Earlier this week the Faculty Advisory Council made an announcement that rocked the library world, yet seems rather obvious: electronic subscriptions are too expensive. The rocking part is that Harvard is the Bill Gates of libraries. The Atlantic describes it as the “second-wealthiest nonprofit institution in the world (right behind the Catholic Church)“ and Harvard’s library swings a $3.75 million serials purse. Harvard’s boundaries in this area carry a lot of clout. The other scandal is that for all the hand-wringing subscription librarians do around conglomerate packages and steadily rising prices, it’s thought that Harvard is the first to plainly state that the current prices are more than they can bear.


EdLab Review: Paying for College

Submitted by Laura Costello on Fri, 04/20/2012 - 1:58pm.
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Paying for College is a site recently created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The project is part of a larger legislative push towards education on both sides of the loan with a tri-focus on student debt, credit cards, and mortgages.

This site lets students compare the average prices of up to three schools, with good breakdown and a dash of other relevant information like default and graduation rates per school. The information is presented in a very clean and straightforward manner and the data is pretty sound and well-explained.

The site is definitely in beta, features like switching from on-campus to off-campus projections don’t always work. The organization of the site could use some help too, the absence of a menu or breadcrumbs of any kind make it difficult to visualize the resource as a whole and differentiate it from the other offerings on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau page. The site is also very text heavy, it would be nice to see more data visualization.


Trends in Ed: For the Love of Print

Submitted by Laura Costello on Thu, 04/19/2012 - 6:53pm.
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A recent study conducted by the Book Industry Study Group examined faculty attitudes about the role of textbooks in teaching and reluctance to explore digital formats. The study rather unsurprisingly found that 93% of professors believe course-assigned reading is important for classroom success. Only 32% of those surveyed said that they were open to making required readings available in electronic format and this could be an availability issue, respondents mentioned they were worried about access issues and diversity in electronic offerings. The percentage of students and faculty that prefer electronic content to print was also relatively low, 16 and 12% respectively.


Research Digest: The Reinvention of USC Library

Submitted by Laura Costello on Thu, 04/19/2012 - 5:27pm.
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Quinlan, C. & McHarg, H. (2012). The emerging library: Structure, culture, and lessons learned from the dissolution of a combined libraries–IT organization. Journal of Library Administration, 52(1), 147-161.

In 1997 the University of Southern California’s libraries joined campus technology to become the USC Information Services Division. The merge was part of a growing, largely librarian-motivated trend to hitch libraries to the accelerating wagon of personal computing and internet usage. In 2006 the two entities went their separate ways, the digital information landscape had become roomy enough for both organizations to exist side-by-side. The first shake out of the library staff in 2007 revealed a hearty enthusiasm for the re-emerging space, staff identified over 200 action points towards providing better library service. The transition team organized these into 14 overall objectives which became the 2008-2009 strategic plan for the library.


Research Digest: The Outsourcing

Submitted by Laura Costello on Thu, 04/12/2012 - 6:08pm.
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Ballestro, J. (2012). Losing your control: Acquisitions and outsourcing. Technical Services Quarterly, 29(1), 113–121.

As part of a cost-saving experiment, Southern University’s Morris Library did a use study of monographic preprocessing suss out the areas of outsourcing efficiency. Staff reduction and stagnant budgets have caused many library technical departments to cut services and seek alternative workflows, primarily through outsourcing and Morris’ aim was to compare this new workflow with the cost of in-house processing.

Morris chose a shelf-ready processing plan from YBP. With this service, ordered books theoretically come barcoded, labeled, and security-enabled to the library’s particular specifications. Their first invoice pre-processed through YBP showed significant losses, $7,469.25 to an (optimistic) in-house estimate of $2,843.36, the outsourcing number includes nearly $400 in staff time pay for negotiating technical difficulties. For their preliminary test, Morris did not adapt their expectations to the outsourcing process and the conclusion suggests that resistance to change might be an issue in managing the switch effectively.


Latest News in School Librarianship

Submitted by Laura Costello on Mon, 04/09/2012 - 4:57pm.
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The D.C. public school system recently released budget guidelines for the coming school year and the results are not pretty for librarians. Last year, schools with fewer than 250 students lost allocated funding for an in-house librarian. This year the bar has raised to 300 students and the funding has become flexible, allowing principals to make the call if they’d like to forego a librarian. On the heels of that announcement came the news that a school board in Nova Scotia has opted to forego all librarians in the coming year due to budget cuts.

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