teaching & learning


Education Week  is sponsoring a free live chat — “Are Digital Textbooks Starting to Click?” on March 9, 2010 at 2:00 PM. This is a text-based chat, so there are not technological requirements other than an internet connection. No prior registration is required.

icann_meeting_sel_logoBig news out of ICANN’s recent meeting in Korea, as the ICANN  (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) board approved a process for registering new Internationalized Domain Names using the “Fast Track Process.”   Currently, international countries use Latin characters for country domain extensions  (like .jp for Japan, or .kr for the Republic of  Korea) , the new process  “allow nations and territories to apply for Internet extensions reflecting their name – and made up of characters from their national language.”   Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s President and CEO explains the historic  step this way:  

“This is only the first step, but it is an incredibly big one and an historic move toward the internationalization of the Internet …The first countries that participate will not only be providing valuable information of the operation of IDNs in the domain name system, they are also going to help to bring the first of billions more people online – people who never use Roman characters in their daily lives.”

Although this is just the start of a launch for numerous IDNs, this “first step”  comes at the end of  at least seven years of  research, development and tests conducted by volunteers and ICANN professionals, under the guidance of  ICANN’s  Senior Director of IDNs, Tina Dam.

A neat video explains the importance of this historic decision for ICT literacy and greater access to information around the world;  of course such changes will also have an impact on web-security and web-developers , among others.  Check out the ICANN blog, website, meeting proceedings and the IDN fast-track page for more information

Generation X, Generation Y (now the Millenials), Generation Z, the MTV Generation (between X and Y), and Generation Next (between Y and Z) – the labels keep popping up, slicing generations into ever smaller groups. We seem to be in a rush to name generations and ascribe behaviors, attitudes, and character traits to them – but is that useful in higher education or primarily for advertisers and pop culture? In a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (More than ‘Millenials’: Teachers Must Look Beyond Generational Stereotypes, Oct. 11, 2009), Mano Singham discusses how the accelerated naming of generations may be giving us a false sense that we know our students by learning the traits ascribed to their generation.

Fundamentally, when we stop to think of it we know that can’t be true. We’re stereotyping these groups based on their age, which is something of a shift that began with Generation X. The Baby Boomers were defined not by generalizing their character traits and behavior, but by significant demographic trends. Interestingly, Singham points out that while we’re generally very sensitive about racial and gender stereotypes, we rarely recognize generational stereotyping. So what does that mean for those of us in higher education?

It means that we’re doing a disservice to our students by assuming that we know what ‘Millenials’ think or how they will act. We should remember that students are individuals, not generalizations, and make the personal contacts with them that we – and they – will remember and appreciate into the next generation, whatever we call it.

Newspapers accessible through ProQuest Historical Newsapers

Newspaper articles accessible through ProQuest Historical Newspapers

Once again, Ken Burns has created a series which re-invigorates interest in an aspect of history that is uniquely American.  If you have been following his most recent series on the National Parks, the pictures and fact-checking which support the fascinating narrative are the result of academic research through lots of primary resources. 

Marvel at Muir?  In a lather about Mather? Awed by Albright? 

Check out our Historical Newspapers collections and discover history as seen though the eyes and reports of the people who lived through it!  Or search through personal letters and journal entries compiled in biographies or autobiographies of the Park heroes  themselves.  They are available in many formats: electronically, in print form, and in microform.   Perform a catalog search for the author,  and use the links on the left-hand side to narrow your search.

We noted in a prior blog entry that Open Access Scholarship got a boon in early 2009, when Harvard faculty decided to make their scholarship available in Institutional Repositories.  It marked a point where one of the premiere US Institutions of higher learning explicitly recognized that access to scholarship shouldn’t be limited to those Universities which  can pay increasingly prohibitive costs for access through publishers and vendors.  Six months later, and on the other end of the access spectrum,  Harvard Business Publishing is trying to charge Universities even more to deep-link to articles for which most University Libraries have already paid both the publisher and the EBSCO vendor.

open lockAcademic librarians have long questioned the economically voracious model of publishing in academia — Cornell’s public break with Elseivier is probably the most widely known rallying point, and they in turn are vocal and active proponents of OA Scholarship.   The recent buzz around making NIH-funded research publically available helps bolster the argument for Open Access among academic publishers.  Like government-funded publications, most University research is  funded, at least partially, by the  University itself, in addition to private or public grants.  The traditional commercial publisher model charges that author’s University Library a large subscription rate to have print access and then works with vendors to charge libraries for the convenience of electronic access to that research. Generally a publisher justifies the price by saying that they add value through editing, through sponsoring the peer-review process, and through volume printing costs.  With OpenAccess publishing (along with Open Journal systems that can automate peer-review work-flows for scholarly presses), these “added values” are becoming less valued.  

The basis, if any, for charging more to have a deep-link to an article, when the professor can aways link to the Library’s vendor-provided abstract (with PDF link or full-text-search link)  is unclear.  While HBP’s desire to charge for deep-linking to the article in EBSCO doesn’t exactly parallel the motives behind another linking-suit filed  against Georgia State University by Oxford, Cambridge and Sage, it appears that they are both related to lost revenue on Course Packs.   In the latter suit, the 3 presses claimed that Georgia State University made electronic versions of articles available in  online course reserves without proper permission. Ostensibly, their suit was based on the fact that access was not behind a password protected course-page; however, in the course of subsequent statements, they questioned whether “Fair Use” extends to electronic copies hosted on CMS and Library e-reserves (which would both be behind password protections and could be linked to vendor-database links).

The Magna Carta, the Diaries of Anne Frank, the League of Nations Archives, and the Library of the Cistercian Abbey of Clairvaux are among the 35 new items which have recently been added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.

 The Memory of the World Register features documentary heritage identified by the International Advisory Committee and endorsed by the Director-General of UNESCO as corresponding to the selection criteria for world significance. 

To see detailed information on new inscriptions and the photos of collections, please click here.

We are lucky enough to have the Magna Carta “visiting” us in New York City starting September 15th at the Fraunces Tavern Museum, (where our Outreach Librarian, and fellow LIBlogger, Caroline Fuchs, is a docent).    The exhibition will last through December:

“MAGNA CARTA and the Foundations of Freedom” will also reveal how the roots of the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and more all reach back to Magna Carta. It will also trace the freedom struggles of the diverse peoples making up the American social fabric.

For more on the Magna Carta and its impact on Democracy in America, check out the National Archives page dedicated to the Magna Carta.

Now in Session: The Library of Congress on iTunes U

Interior of Library of Congress

Interior of Library of Congress

In an ongoing effort to make its digital educational, historical and cultural resources available to web users across a broad spectrum of platforms, the Library of Congress today launched “The Library of Congress on iTunes U.”

At its inception, the Library’s iTunes U site includes historical videos from the Library’s moving-image collections such as original Edison films and a series of 1904 films from the Westinghouse Works and original videos such as author presentations from the National Book Festival, the “Books and Beyond” series, lectures from the Kluge Center, and the “Journeys and Crossings” series of discussions with curators.

It also includes audio podcasts, including series such as “Music and the Brain,” slave narratives from the American Folklife Center, and interviews with noted authors from the National Book Festival; and classroom and educational materials, including 14 courses from the Catalogers’ Learning Workshop.

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