Archive for the ‘Integrated Technology’ Subject

Educators That Rock!: Helene Blowers

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Helene Blowers in a photo by Scott Weaver.

Helene Blowers is the digital strategies director for the Columbus Metropolitan Library in Ohio, which was recently rated a five-star library by Library Journal for the second year in a row. Named a “mover and a shaker” by the same publication in 2007, Blowers created the Learning 2.0 project, which has been duplicated by more than 700 organizations worldwide.

Blowers also writes a blog called LibraryBytes where she examines trends and offers constructive advice for other lifelong learners.

fE: What made you choose to become a librarian?

HB: By some people’s definition I may not be a librarian because I do not have formalized training. But I have worked in libraries for 17 years.

I work in libraries because I’m passionate about learning. I started as a library page at my hometown library when I was in high school and ended up also working in the library in college, processing interlibrary loans as part of my work-study program. My degree is actually in organizational communications and after college I started doing a lot of  technology training. That was in the early 1990s. From teaching technology at the community college, I then jumped back into libraries from an education standpoint, becoming Charlotte Mecklenberg’s public library’s first library resource trainer.

Now, I’m the digital strategies director for the Columbus Metropolitan Library and although my specific area of focus is mostly in the digital space, it’s really the learning  aspect that keeps me here.


Related Link Resources
Learning 2.0
Columbus Metropolitan Library
Library Journal
Library 101
Library Journal

Educators That Rock!: danah boyd

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

danah boyd in a photo by Gilad Lotan.

Last week, findingEducation caught up with Dr. danah boyd at the American Association of School Librarians National Conference in Charlotte, N.C. boyd is an internationally recognized social media expert researcher for Microsoft Research New England, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and an ethnographer, blogger and contributing author to the book “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media.

boyd explains on her blog that “there are a lot of reasons … some personal and some political” as to why she decided to omit the capital letters in her name. A keynote speaker at the conference, she drew from her research on social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook to explain how kids use these tools to communicate and to “create digital bodies” to express themselves.

In her online biography, boyd describes herself as a bored and rebellious student that went to “smart kids camp” in the summer but had trouble fitting in until she went online. “The Internet opened the door of possibilities to me. I found other smart kids year round … Strangers taught me so much about the world and about myself,” she wrote.

“Unstructured environments are critical to social learning,” boyd said in her talk. Educators must “work with the grain, not against it.” She told findingEducation, “It’s not about getting kids to be passionate about the things that librarians and teachers are passionate about, but using what kids are passionate about as gateways to learning.”


Related Link Resources "The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online"
American Association of School Librarians: General Sessions
apophenia: Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out

Dulcinea Media to Exhibit at AASL Annual Conference

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

The 14th American Association of School Librarians National Conference & Exhibition takes place Nov. 5 – 8, 2009, in Charlotte, N.C., at the Charlotte Convention Center. The conference aims to inspire and reinvigorate library media specialists as they implement learning guidelines and standards within their schools. According to AASL, it is “the only national conference devoted to the needs of school library media specialists!”

Many school librarians and teachers lack the time needed to create and update a complete a list of links to Web sites that their students may find useful. To support educators’ efforts to introduce their students to useful Web resources, we created our Web Links pages. These pages contain links to scores of useful Web sites, categorized by school level, and divided into teacher and student pages.

All of the links have been thoroughly evaluated and approved by Dulcinea Media’s staff of expert Internet researchers, or its librarian and teacher consultants. We hope the school librarian community adopts these Web Links pages as their own, and actively suggests new categories and Web sites.

Take a look at the Web Links pages today, and visit us at the AASL conference at booth #1069 on Nov. 5 – 7.

Related Link Resources
Web Links

Cultivating Kids’ Creativity Online

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Rather than merely watching media or reading information on the Web, kids today want to interact with media and information—and create their own. Fortunately, the scope and quality of Web sites that provide a forum for child-generated content has never been better. Are you looking for kid-friendly sites that are both educational and entertaining? Read on to find sites that provide a portal for content created by kids that will keep them engaged while they learn.

Civic Involvement and Social Networks

PBS’ Speak Out Web site, which launched during the 2008 presidential election, “is a youth collaborative project to create a digital open letter to our presidential administration.” The site encourages 6 to 12-year-olds to share their ideas on how President Obama should deal with important issues, such as health care and education. Ideas are voted on, and those receiving the highest number of votes are then “featured on in the form of a message to our President.”

Think social networking is only for adults? Not anymore. The My LEGO Network is a social networking portal for children that allows them to “create and control” their own Web pages. “You can collect, build, and trade with virtual items. You mail with your friends, and show off your creativity to the whole wide world!” the site explains. Users can also compose music and make stickers or virtual LEGO structures.

Documentary and Photography

BYkids encourages kids to create socially conscious films. Five kids per year are paired with “master filmmakers” that act as mentors in the making of “short documentaries that educate Americans about globally relevant issues.” Kids aged 8-21 are selected from around the world to participate in the month-long projects. Film subjects are decided on by “UNICEF and a group of nationally-recognized journalists, filmmakers, teens and non-profit leaders,” according to the nonprofit organization’s Web site. Once completed, the films are distributed at film festivals, for TV broadcast and “DVD distribution, school programs and web downloads,” targeting at least two million viewers.

The nonprofit organization Kids with Cameras “teaches the art of photography to marginalized children in communities around the world.” There are many benefits of photography, including empowering children by building their confidence and self-esteem, and giving them a sense of hope for the future by tapping into their imaginations, the organization’s Web site suggests. Kids with Cameras shares children’s photos in “exhibitions, books, websites and film,” and works to improve children’s communities by partnering with “local organizations” and donating print sales.

Related Link Resources
PBS Kids Speak Out
My Lego Network
Kids with Cameras

Educators That Rock!: David Lee King

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

taken by Amy Miller

David Lee King by Amy Miller Photography.

In Topeka, Kan., the library is the second favorite place for teens to hang out. “We’re sort of kicked out at the mall,” they tell David Lee King, the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library’s digital branch and services manager. As a result, the building, particularly the new media area and gaming room, are a little noisier than your average library. But King, a former DJ and assistant recording engineer, and now an author, blogger and librarian thought leader, takes pride in all the bustle. “Not too many people can say, ‘Yeah, teenagers think that the library’s cool.’”

On Oct. 28, King is launching the Library 101 Project with fellow information specialist Michael Porter. The project will include a music video, educator essays and 101 resources.


Related Link Resources
The Library 101 Project
Chris Brogan

Take a Leap Beyond Google to Other Search, “Knowledge” Engines

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

When Wolfram|Alpha announced its first-ever Homework Day, we took notice.

Homework Day is a live, interactive Web event that will feature step-by-step tutorials showing educators how to use Wolfram|Alpha in the classroom. It will also present panel discussions on the future of education. The event takes place tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 21, starting at noon CDT.

What is Wolfram|Alpha, you ask? That’s the best part: Rather than a search engine, it calls itself a computational knowledge engine that makes “it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything.” By collecting and curating objective data, models, methods and algorithms, the site aims to provide “definitive answers to factual queries” in the areas of math, physics, chemistry, geology, geography and even history. Simply enter your “completely free-form input” and the site promises to deliver “powerful results … with maximum clarity.”

The news media loves to ponder whether Bing or anyone else can ever dislodge Google as the top commercial search engine. But as Wolfram Alpha’s promise of “definitive answers to factual queries” shows, while Google may forever be the best search engine to use in most cases, there are a number of specialty search engines that will almost always produce better search results than Google in particular cases.

That’s why we created SweetSearch. It’s a more selective search engine that was built with students and academic research in mind. All of the 35,000 Web sites included in SweetSearch have been evaluated for content, quality and reliability. By combining human insight with search engine technology, SweetSearch excludes distracting clutter. It allows students to focus on determining which results are most relevant to their research, rather than waste time evaluating sites that are not worth their consideration. Due to the fact that SweetSearch only searches a small slice of the Web, sometimes a broader search engine will be a better place to start a search. But for research queries, SweetSearch will often display on the first page a “Eureka” result that may be buried many pages deep in a broad search engine.

Now educators and students have two tools to add to their online research arsenal, for times when a broad, commercial search engine doesn’t quite get the job done: Wolfram|Alpha for computations and SweetSearch for information.

Related Link Resources

Educators That Rock!: Joyce Valenza

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Joyce Valenza in a photo by Jim Graham.

This week, findingEducation spoke with Joyce Valenza, an information specialist and author who manages the Springfield Township High School Library in Erdenheim, Pa. Valenza is also a blogger for School Library Journal, a former tech columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and a lecturer on education issues and technology.

Valenza sets the bar exceedingly high for librarians. Inspired by the benchmarks set by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), she recently published “14 Ways K-12 Libraries Can Teach Social Media” (Tech & Learning, 21 Sept. 2009) and her own Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians, which calls for librarians to acquire the necessary skills to guide learners in new and emerging information and communications landscapes.

“If you call yourself an information professional, you have to be a professional in the information landscape of your time,” says Valenza.


Related Link Resources
American Association of School Librarians: Standards for the 21st-Century Learner
Springfield Township Virtual Library
Springfield Pathfinders
School Library Journal
Tech & Learning
Information Fluency Wiki
New Tools Workshop
The Future of Education

Educators That Rock!: Patrick Sweeney

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Patrick Sweeney with a model home and blueprints created by his fifth-grade students.

This week findingEducation sat down with Patrick Sweeney, a fifth-grade teacher at Boones Ferry Primary School in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District of Oregon. Sweeney teaches all subjects in his mixed-level, self-contained classroom. How does he keep 27 students with different ability levels engaged and excited about learning while covering the necessary curriculum?

Sweeney is a big proponent of project-based learning and teaming, both within and across grade levels. By bringing interests he’s passionate about into the classroom, and combining them with project-based learning principles, he’s come up with some pretty creative ways to get kids excited about coming to school every day.

fE: What exactly is project-based learning?

PS: Project-based learning is using open-ended projects, usually based off of research, as a model for teaching. You can also define it by what it isn’t. It isn’t where subjects are broken up into sections: Math is taught is in a math class or math block, and literacy is taught separately and technology is taught separately. Project-based learning takes all subjects and integrates them. You’re interconnecting them so that everything seems to have a sense of purpose.


Related Link Resources
Boones Ferry Primary School
Kids with Cameras
Green Dollhouse Project
Green Tech Architecture

Take a Tour of findingEducation

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

FindingEducation, an online educator tool, aims to help teachers find the best classroom resources on the Web, and share those resources with their students and colleagues. The tool is backed by findingDulcinea’s hand-selected and professionally edited education resource library.

Use findingEducation to:

  • Find the best online education resources, with full access to findingDulcinea’s library of online education content
  • Manage all of your links in one easy tool, and organize them by grade, subject or category
  • Create and distribute e-assignments for students by accessing links in your collection
  • Share best practices, lesson plans, e-assignments and link collections with educators from around the world
  • Help the environment by utilizing a paperless digital classroom

Ready to get started? Take a guided video tour of findingEducation to learn more, or visit our FAQ page to have your questions answered. If you still have questions on how to get started with findingEducation, e-mail us at

Related Link Resources
findingEducation video tour

Improve Students’ Online Research Skills With the On This Day Challenge

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

With today’s launch of the On This Day Challenge, findingEducation invited teachers and students to learn how to perform better Internet research and develop critical thinking skills while writing about important events in history.

In August 2008, Mary E. Shacklett asked the question, “Do Kids Have the Right Internet Skills?” for the Web site Internet Evolution. She spoke with Susan Brooks, cofounder of Internet4classrooms, to find an answer.

“Internet skills are like any concept which necessitates student instruction,” Brooks said. “Since these skills are not tested by many states, other areas of instruction that are tested get class-time priority. Because of this issue, many students may not have had direct instruction on how to perform research, and their skills reflect this.”

The On This Day Challenge provides the direct instruction that students need. Through tutorials, students practice their Web research skills and learn how to find reliable information on historical events. Using critical thinking and analysis skills, students then organize their research and write articles that may be featured on

Each month, a drawing will award a $100 gift card from a national retailer to classes that have submitted at least five articles that month. A grand prize drawing will award a cash prize of $1,000 to a class that has submitted at least 25 articles during the school year.

Get complete On This Day Challenge rules and examples of project submissions.

Related Link Resources
Internet Evolution
On This Day Challenge