Friday, February 26, 2016
Hone your Fluency Skills.
Yesterday I led a workshop at the ICE Conference in St. Charles, IL for teachers, administrators and librarians on the topic of Internet Search Challenges: Google and Beyond.
The themes included competencies on which fluency depends, challenges that require these competencies, search strategies and techniques, how to use challenges with individuals and groups. We never were able to try all the Challenges during the 2.5 hour workshop--even though we never took a break. I shouldn't be surprised: 47 tutorial challenges were created for the workshop.
The tutorials are grouped into three categories: Locate, Evaluate and Cite. Locate is comprised of three sub-categories: Browsing, Querying and Pesky Search Challenges. All these categories are further divided into Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced Challenges. Elementary is suitable for young and new searchers (no matter what grade), Intermediate builds on those skills and Advanced represents skills high schoolers should possess before entering college (and beyond).
So what I told the participants, I'm telling readers of this blog: try out the challenges for yourself. Use them with individuals and groups. Experiment with them. Think about what works and could work better. I'd love to get your feedback.
Here's where to go to get started: http://21cif.com/tutorials/challenge/challenge-directory.html
An aside: The Internet went down 10 minutes prior to the start of the workshop and didn't come back for a while. You might imagine it's hard to teach Internet skills without the Internet. We actually filled the first hour offline with a discussion about what skills are needed at what grade levels, when to introduce skills, and how to teach students pre-Internet skills without the Internet. When you think about the Digital Information Fluency model, the first two questions ("What am I searching for?" and "Where will I search?") happen before touching a computer. So being offline didn't slow us down and was still productive.
Monday, November 16, 2015
Students smart on phones but going backwards in computer literacy
For example, the article claims:
"Year 6 students were asked to search a website to find appropriate material, format a document, crop an image and create a short slide show. Students in Year 10 were asked to design an online survey, use software to add two new levels to an online game and create a short animated video.
"By Year 10, just 52 per cent of Australian students were assessed as able to reach or exceed the proficient standard."
This represents a significant decline in this measure since 2011.
Better search engines aren't necessarily helping. Test your students' abilities. Here are some flash-based resources on the Information Fluency site for doing that:
Ethical Use Challenges
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
As the original blog states, Squishy Boolean represents a loss of user control:
"what we now have in most search systems is squishy boolean imposed upon us whether we want it or not, and often there is no way of finding out what algorithms have been used."Read the rest here: https://thelibrarycauldron.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/squishy-boolean/
I doubt if most users of Google, etc. would choose to return to a state where control is completely in the hands of the searcher. That would require a lot of work and thinking (and no time-saving). If one of Google's tacit objectives is to make searching as 'brainless' as possible, algorithms are the solution. Therefore, the search algorithm quickly does its work, although no one knows for sure (other than Google employees with a high level clearance) what's going on behind the SEARCH button.
It would be helpful to some, however, if there was a way to turn off the algorithm. But that would be like going back in time. Control or convenience? One has to dominate.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Just how to Finish An Investigation Report
I thought I'd check out this report, but when I did I got the 404 message: Page not found. Try the link yourself.
Can you find the report? It's still out there.
[Scroll down for an answer]
It's possible http://informationliteracysummit.org will fix the problem. But until they do, the report has been cached. If you've never used the cached feature on Google before, access it by clicking the tiny down arrow after "Uncategorized."
Friday, September 11, 2015
McDonald's Has A Secret Menu And Other Facts link
Digg's source is Lucky Peach, where Lucas Peterson gives the details, along with photos, of secret menu items:
- Sausage Egg Big MacMuffin
- Mash Brown
- Blankets in a Blankets
- The McLuminati
- General Ro’s Chicken
- Mommie Dearest
- The Burmese Python
- The Captain Nemo
- Satanize Me!
After all, other fast food places have secret menus, why not McDonalds?
One place to start is with the author. Lucas Peterson
Another place to go is Lucky Peach. What kind of publication is this? From skimming results, it's a
"cult indie magazine founded by chef David Chang and writer Peter Meehan" [link] about all things food. It is a "quarterly journal of food and writing. each issue focuses on a single theme, and explores that theme through essays, art, photography, and recipes." [link]. The style of the magazine is ad-driven with loud cartoons and other attention-grabbing stuff. So an article about a secret menu fits in, although no claims are made whether it's true or not.
So, a writer that can be serious (at least at times) and a magazine that can be serious (at times) have paired up and released this story. Is this one of their not-serious moments?
The investigation returns to those customers who have tried this. They should be able to verify whether any of the creations bulleted above actually exist (I personally believe any McDonalds can deliver on Mash Brown). Where can you find these people, these witnesses?
A search for #secretmenu (guessing that's been used) turns up hits for secret menus submitted by members. Down the list is an entry by Lucky Peach with a picture of Sausage Egg Big MacMuffin, captioned: "We like to have a little fun sometimes, too!" Not quite definitive, but a sign the article is more fun than serious.
What other evidence can you find--without actually going in and muttering, "Satanize me?" (Note: I suggest not actually trying this. Keep in mind: McDonalds crew members read the Internet--they might actually comply-- in which case it doesn't have to be an official secret menu, but an underground one.)
Monday, August 3, 2015
My name is Mrs Linda Walker and I work with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), I am writing you to let you know that finally your ATM Card worth $650,000.00 USD has been delivered through UPS to Mr Hart Leroy, who works with the IMF where it is going to be activated before final delivery to your home address. You can use the tracking number with the tracking site below to track the ATM Card to be sure it has been delivered to Mr Hart for activation.
UPS Tracking number: 1z2876490390947593
UPS tracking site: http://wwwapps.ups.com/WebTracking/track
Below is the contact information to Mr Hart Leroy
Contact Name: Mr Hart Leroy
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Number: +1 347 298 9752
You are to contact Mr Hart with his email address above then he will guide you on how your Card will be activated and delivered to your home address.
Note: The only fee you are to send for the activation fee is just $280 USD so make sure you don’t send him more than $280 USD. Your card is already with him and you can track it with the tracking details given to you above for confirmation.
Congratulations once more.
Mrs Linda Walker
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Before sending in $280 to activate this card, how can you check its validity? Here are some Red Flags:
On the surface,
Too good to be true: Experience teaches that few things in life are free.
It costs something: Be wary when a stranger asks for money.
It sounds complicated: Why would the IMF send a card to someone else at IMF that you have to contact? Why not just send you the card?
Below the surface,
Sender: If you look closely at the sender's email address you'll find this: "International Monetary Fund (IMF)"
email@example.com. IMF actually uses this email: @imf.org, which can be found on their Website.
No Data Found: If you look up whois.net registration information for sender.org, you won't find any. It appears to be a smoke screen.
Third Party Review: Copy the first phrase of the email: "My name is Mrs Linda Walker and I work with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)" and google it. There is an exact match from antifraudintl.org › Scam Mail Depot › Government scams.
There may be more Red Flags, but it's clear that this is not going to result in your receipt of an ATM card.
Have students identify Red Flags -- what others can they find?
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Wichita Public Radio's feature, "The School Librarian is Expendable in many Kansas School Districts" documents a large scale shift in responsibility for information literacy instruction. As the number of school librarians dwindles, information literacy is being integrated into classroom curriculum to be addressed by teachers. How effective this will be, time will tell. Another case of teachers being asked to do more.
Neighboring Colorado is similarly affected, with a nine percent decline in the number of school librarians between 2007 and 2011.
In Illinois, Chicago Public Schools reduced its librarian staff by 44 percent in just two years. Librarians are being reassigned to classrooms as teachers. Faced with a teacher shortage, it's a move that makes sense. But part of the problem of considering librarians a luxury comes down to this:
"There's no required amount of minutes for library instruction (in Illinois), so schools won't face any repercussions if they don't have a librarian or a school library." SourceFor the time being, other things are just more important. It's hard to make the argument that digital research skills are as important as learning how to learn when there is no reason to learn them other than they are good skills to have. When they are considered essential skills, the tide may start to change.
In the meantime, policy makers should see how proficient students in Elementary through High School are. This means assessment. The Information Fluency assessments we've tested show that students can't research challenging assignments and consistently make poor choices in the selection of information that is inaccurate, irrelevant, out of date, biased and is not held in high regard by trusted sources. If you are a librarian concerned about your job or a classroom teacher who just doesn't have the time to teach one more thing, request a free test for your students. The results could be eye-opening.