Points of Interest


What does this article  concerning a “test” conducted by a Dublin university student to evaluate information accuracy and accountability say about information globalization and today’s information climate? On one hand, it goes to show how unreliable Wikipedia can be if so many were so quickly dupped by trusting the information there (and professional journalists no less). On the other hand, how do we encourage students to seek out more authorative information when it appears from such a study that newspaper sare also inaccurate, slower to correct information than Wikipedia, and are actually using Wikipedia as their primary source of information.

Currently, we are in the process of evaluating back up CMSs should our current system disappear completely in the lawsuit black hole. I’m noticing a couple of interesting things as I consider these systems from a librarian perspective.

First of all, there’s been a shift from calling these systems and software CMSs to LMSs, generally an acronym for something like “Learning Management Suites” (perhaps to end confusion between “Content Management Systems” and course or class management).

More importantly, I am pleased that most systems are beginning to recognize the need for roles outside the administrator-instructor-student standards that have dominated for so long. Many of the systems we’ve looked at offer multiple roles such a “guest” or “visiting instructor” or even “mentor” as well as customizable roles (which is great for creating librarian roles with specific priveleges). One thing that I find odd is that I haven’t actually seen a system with a “librarian” role. Surely there are many librarians out there actively working within CMS (or LMS) enhanced courses. I’m just surprised that there isn’t more demand for a “librarian” role that it becomes a standard feature of these systems.

Finally, I’m interested in the fact that a couple of systems are pushing the fact that they now not only provide the tools with which to create and structure courses but now they have partenered with companies that offer to provide content for those courses. Publishing companies are partnering with theses LMSs to push their content out easily through them. Here’s the question: How will that effect the resources we use? On one hand it will be great to have electronic materials that are easy to integrate into course sites. On the other hand, will a department that selected a textbook because they felt it was the best for their students feel pressured to pick the material produced by a partner publisher because of the ease with which it can be used in the CMS? And more pressing to me, how will this affect the aquisition of library materials? Will the library feel that kind of pressure too or will we be able to respond positively to a new and easier way for students to use our materials?

As you might imagine from this blog, I have a distinct bias in favor of WordPress, but mostly because of my familiarity with it. I attended an ECC Center for Enhancement of Teaching and Learning workshop a few weeks ago presented by Christian Zehelein on blogging for education. In the workshop, Zehelein recommended both Blogger and WordPress as good free blogs to get you started. I asked him if he felt one was better than the other and he said he wasn’t sure. So I decided to do a little research on my own. I found a Blogger v. WordPress.com Comparison Chart at the blog Pulsed that does a great breakdown of the features of both. One thing I really like about WordPress is the blog stats it tracks for you. With Blogger, you need to use a third party to track stats. For some this would be an advantage, but for me it would just be more work and I’m happy with the stats WordPress offers. In favor of Blogger is the fact that I found embedding non-Youtube online videos much easier, whereas with WordPress, I had to use third party vod-pod in order to embed a simple video. There are plus and minuses to both but I’d feel comfortable using either one for library communication and instruction.

I’ve always been curious about the work of the National Public Radio librarians and am excited to read about their new blog, As a Matter of Fact, in ALA Magazine. According to the site, it’s a “blog by and for the audio-loving, fact-finding, truth-seeking, pop-culture-fiending, news-addicted librarians of the world.” Count me in!

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