Friday, February 1, 2008

Common Threads; Cyber Bullying; and Google in Academic Research

Well, here's the three sessions I attended:

Common Threads: Social justice curriculum @ your school library:

The OSSTF (Ontario Secondary School Teacher's Federation) has been doing a series of research trips resulting in curriculum products related to current issues.

The first one, "Globalization, Sweatshops, and the Clothes We Wear", (apparently it was originally called "Common Threads," hence the name of the series/project) was based on a trip to Guatemala and is about sweat shops, child labour, and the social aspects of the clothes we wear.

The second one, "From Canada to South Africa Combatting HIV/AIDS Together", is - of couse - based on a trip to South Africa and is about the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The latest one currently available, "Tapped Out: The World Water Crisis" is based on a trip to Bolivia and is about the social and environmental aspects of water. (I'm suprised by how many don't know that Bechtel brought all the water in Bolivia in 1980, making it illegal for people to collect rain water, but that - due to a combination of consumer outrage in Europe and direct action in Bolivia - Bechtel withdrew from the contract.)

The fourth one should be revealed come April.

These all look like good resources; see Commong Threads: An OSSTF Initiative for more information.

Re-Wiring our Youth:

This session was really about Cvberbullying, the dark side of the web 2.0 if you will. And there's more than enough sad, scary and horrible stories to go around...but with people like Sgt. Robyn MacEachern on the case (she's currently the Provincial Youth Issues Coordinator with the Ontario Provincial Police and was the presenter of this session) there's good reason to have hope and a balanced perspective.

Sgt. MacEachern has lots of experience with the issues of bullying, internet saftey, and youth; if these issues are relevant to your work and you have an oppurtunity to attend one of her presentations, I'd definately recommend it.

My favourite tip from the session was how to create a password no-one can guess: simply pick a randopm sentence, then use the first letter from each word and add some numbers for the year...

Google in Academic Research and Library Instruction:

This session was about a survey by Charlene Sorenson and Candice Dahl from the University of Saskatchewan Libraries which asked how University librarians used Google in their personal practice compared to how they used it in their formal instruction and whether there was any Faculty influence in how they presented Google in their formal instruction.

With the exception of searching for sholarly inforamtion and journal articles, the librarians in the sample tended to use Google more often in their personal practice, as compared to often they used Google in their formal instruction. Also, there was a noticeable influence from Faculty not to use Google when instructing or assisting students.

I found this to be not suprising at all; but, as is the case with any issue, it's good to document it.

I also appreciated the authors' main reflection; which, if I can paraphrase accurately, was: "it's time to transcend the issue of whether the use of Google (and other similar technology) is appropriate for academic research, and move on to learning and providing instruction around the subleties of using Google etc."

1 comment:

richard said...

I think that you said something very key in your post.

You wrote that "there's good reason to have hope and a balanced perspective."

To me that is the teach how to use social networking online tools but along side this teaching tools on safe internent use and how to deconstruct information that students find from the net. Without that we might be doing a dis-service to our students