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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Research 2.0



Eric Hoefler has done an OUTSTANDING job with his Research 2.0 wiki. (I would add one additional resource on safety, www.look-both-ways.com by safety expert Linda Criddle.)

Thanks, Eric, for giving me these resources below!

Great Legal Info for Bloggers & Schools
"Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn't use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That's why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom."
Alas, international readers, this guide is meant for an American audience, however, I believe that EFF's should be started in every country to produce similar guides. This is a great community service!

Check out their Bloggers Intellectual Property FAQ and their FAQ about Student Blogging.

Don't think that disallowing blogging makes you untouchable

Of particular interest is how public schools that do not even allow blogging, may have limited control over the private blogs of their students:

"In Emmett v. Kent School District, 92 F. Supp.2d 1088 (W.D. Wash. 2000), the court held that public school officials had violated a student's First Amendment rights by punishing the student for his personal website, the "Unofficial Kentlake High Home Page.""

Why?

"The court held that "[a]lthough the intended audience was undoubtedly connected to Kentlake High School, the speech was entirely outside of the school's supervision or control.""
I think this is yet another reason to discuss the ethics of blogs and allow it. If they blog all day at school, are they less likely to do something like this?

Blogs give students power. A power that is greater than most will admit. The power of blogs is inescapable -- teach the cat or ... well, look at the picture. (hint: schools are the mouse.)

Blogs are to our society as printed pamphlets were to the American Revolution... the spark for change.

The Ecstasy of Influence
And then, I came across this beautiful piece entitled the Ecstasy of Influence as published in February 2007 by Jonathan Letham.

This brilliant piece of work ties together both a current topic (plagiarism), history, literature, music, and Internet literacy. It could be used in an upper level high school classroom for several reasons:
  • incredible use of vocabulary
  • numerous references to many great musicians, works of literature, and history
  • a writing style that is often seen in college -level journals
  • Great prep for SAT passages.
For those who think that they cannot discuss internet literacy in an English classroom, this piece is proof positive that they are wrong. I am going to print it out and read it with a highlighter because it is almost too much to take in on screen.

Those Dark Hiding Places
I also enjoyed Those Dark Hiding places where author Robert J. Lackie discusses the THREE methods researchers can use on the web:

He says:

  • Directories and Portals when you:
    • have a broad topic
    • want selected, evaluated, and annotated collections
    • prefer quality over quantity
  • Invisible or Deep Web [searchable sites and databases] when you:
    • are looking for information that is likely in a database
    • are looking for information that dynamically changes in content
  • Search engines [general and specialized] when you:
    • have a narrow topic
    • want to take advantage of the newer retrieval technologies
This is fascinating because I think we often have a one stop- Google finds it all approach and that using multiple sources is an essential aspect of information literacy.

The Eyes Have it

Finally, I just have to mention the new eye tracking study that I saw today from the Online Journalism Review. Using the famed usability scientist, Jacob Nielson's eye tracking technology, the study shows how pages can be redesigned to increase retention while decreasing the amount of time it took to read an article:

"What if you could engage users in a story for about half the time, yet have them remember about 34 percent more of the content?"
The study sample only included people from 18-64 so we cannot say it would work for our page design for our students.

However, I must ask the question,

Shouldn't we be doing eye-tracking usability studies to determine the most effective web page design for learning with students?

And, if you want to see the pictures that has the whole blogosphere literally abuzz, scroll down to the bottom of the page and look at the results when they showed the picture of a baseball player on the screen.

I think we can deduce this -- edit our stories and make them shorter (I know I know -- I need to work on it myself!) and use graphics to stimulate interest.

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