Author Archives: Brenda Ellis

26th Annual Writing and Teaching Retreat

Last week, LIS liaison librarians Brenda, Stacy and Carrie attended a 2-day writing and teaching retreat for faculty, organized by the CTLR and held at the Mountain Top Inn in Chittenden. Along with Shawna Shapiro from the Writing Program and Adela Langrock from the Office of Planning and Assessment, we led a session called “Undergraduates as Researchers,” in which we reviewed the results of our 2012 assessment of student research and technology skills and discussed best practices for helping students develop strong research skills.

We  also attended workshops on syllabus design, developing and grading writing assignments, peer feedback, and foreign language pedagogy. We each were able to spend a few hours sharing assignment ideas and suggestions in small-group syllabus workshops, and we had plenty of time to talk with faculty and colleagues individually too.

Here are just a few take-aways from the event:

  • Some faculty expressed interest in community-based, collaborative research projects. It will be interesting to look for models (a few come to mind already!) and elaborate on technology options for these faculty.
  • If piloting a new initiative, program, or pedagogical technique seems daunting, try starting with a “lite” version. If that’s successful, you can scale up the next time around.
  • When assigning small group work during class time, ask each group to report out at the end. This could be an effective way for students to share their research success stories and challenges.
  • Writing is communication. When you write, take the time to imagine, understand, and speak to your target audience; ask students to do the same.
  • Peer feedback on writing is most useful when it asks questions about sections of a text, or raises big issues such as clarity and purpose. Line-by-line editing (in effect, telling the writer, “this is exactly how I would say it”) is less effective because the writer implements the directed changes without needing to re-envision the paper from the reader’s viewpoint.
  • Be intentional and design backwards.  Think of what you want students to be able to do and then provide the steps or “scaffolding” to develop the skill by sequencing assignments and instruction to achieve the goal.  This applies to research as well as writing skills.

Friday links – August 16, 2013

New Animated PNG Creation Tools Intend To Bring APNG Into Mainstream Use: While grainy GIF images can have entertaining uses, they aren’t the ideal animated image format due to lack of full color support and an alpha channel [for varied transparency]. Animated PNG doesn’t have these faults and has been available and incorporated in quite a few browsers since roughly 2004.

10 ways tech support has changed since the 1980s: Over the past 30 years, IT has seen some monumental changes — and they’ve had a huge impact on the field of tech support. See if you remember the way it used to be.

Touch Laptop Forecasts: Only 10-15% of laptops sold this year will be touch-enabled. Sales of touch-enabled Dell and HP laptops are declining, but Lenovo’s touch laptops will be 50% of their sales in the next 2-3 years.

What to Expect in WordPress 3.7 and 3.8: The 3.7 update will come in October and feature better internationalization support while 3.8 is planned for the end of the year and will include an overhaul of the admin interface and a new Twenty Fourteen theme. If you have thoughts on improving the dashboard take their survey.

Web Development

The New IE11 Developer Tools: Microsoft has improved the script debugger, added a memory analysis tool, and cleaned up the display of inherited styles in the DOM explorer.

uCSS and CSS Dig: Two tools that can be used to crawl a website and produce reports to help us clean up unused and redundant CSS declarations. This might be helpful in organizing our own stylesheets.

Libraries & Librarians

NPR’s Bob Mondello gave a nostalgic, sometimes humorous view of libraries last week: Libraries’ Leading Roles: On Stage, On Screen And In Song

Have online journals evolved beyond their readers? “… science has become abstracted away from practitioners. It has disappeared from the tangible world as journals have disappeared from tables, desks, and waiting rooms. …”

Other

Google’s “Opt-out village” (from The Onion) –

Wiki Wars: The ten most controversial Wikipedia pages (from CNN)

Friday links – June 14, 2013

From Cave Paintings to the Internet: Chronological and Thematic Studies on the History of Information and Media
This interesting website from Jeremy Norman “is designed to help you follow the development of information and media, and attitudes about them, from the beginning of records to the present. Containing annotated references to discoveries, developments of a social, scientific, theoretical or technological nature, as well as references to physical books, documents, artifacts, art works, and to websites and other digital media, it arranges, both chronologically and thematically, selected historical examples and recent developments of the methods used to record, distribute, exchange, organize, store, and search information.” (from About the Database).  Images and text (with links to wikipedia) are combined with geographical information to allow mapping of the information.

Friday Links – May 17th

Markham Nolan: How to separate fact and fiction online | Video on TED.com

~13 minute video talk by a journalist showing how news organizations verify information posted by users on the web (tweets, photos, videos) using technology such as Google Earth, etc.

How to Read a Book

Did you find an odd box with pieces of paper inside? It might be a book! Some of them still have real pages—and I’ll show you just how to read one.

The Business Value of Google Glass and Wearable Computing – Wearable computing is an emerging technology that’s affecting both the consumer and enterprise space.

Predatory Publishers Strike Back
Predatory publishing is what happens when open access publishing is subverted by manipulation, exploitation, and spammer mentality. Jeffery Beall is a librarian who uses his blog to expose predatory publishers, and they would rather he didn’t. Beall has written a Nature column piece  about predatory publishing, and his blog is Scholarly Open Access.

Open Access Journal PeerJ Publishes First Articles

From Library Journal / The Digital Shift:
“Multidisciplinary Open Access journal publisher PeerJ announced the publication of its first 30 peer-reviewed articles today. Co-founders Jason Hoyt, formerly chief scientist and VP for research and development for Mendeley, and Peter Binfield, formerly publisher of the Public Library Of Science (PLOS), launched PeerJ in June 2012. They quickly garnered support for the project, ultimately assembling an Editorial Board of 800 academics and an advisory board of 20—five of whom are Nobel Laureates…”
Full article.

Friday Links, Feb. 8, 2013

Worldometers: Real Time World Indicators
Watch the numbers change. Everything from current world population, CO2 emissions, to blog posts written today (hope they caught this one).  Strange, but no mention of the number of McDonald’s burgers sold?

The new library of Babel? Borges, digitisation and the myth of a universal library, by Christopher Rowe.  via First Monday.

Friday Links December 14, 2012

Marginalia, or The Roger Williams Code: How a team of scholars decrypted a secret language—and discovered the last known work of the American theologian. (via Slate)

Ithaka, the non-profit organization that brings us JSTOR, on Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Historians: This study, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, uncovers the needs of today’s historians and provides guidance for how research support providers can better serve them.

3D Printing:  Wondering what this technology is all about?  Read the latest CQ Researcher report “3D Printing: Will it revolutionize manufacturing?”  Trivia question: How was this technology used in the latest James Bond thriller “Skyfall”?

Some faculty and students have been reluctant to post undergraduate theses to Scholarship at Middlebury in part because they fear it could jeopardize their ability to publish the findings in journals later on. A report published in the Chronicle of Higher Education indicates there isn’t much cause for this kind of concern. (Read the comments too, where the validity of the conclusions is debated.) Putting Dissertation Online Isn’t an Obstacle to Print Publication, Surveys Find.