Odds & Ends (04/12/09)

Wired: “Where Gadgets Go To Die: Facility Strips, Rips and Recycles” – interesting look at how a facility sorts and recycles old electronic equipment.

Library of Congress YouTube Channel – “Timeless treasures and contemporary presentations from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. As the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, we are the steward of millions of recordings dating from the earliest Edison films to the present…

World Digital Library – looks interesting and will become active on April 21st.  “The World Digital Library will make available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world, including manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, architectural drawings, and other significant cultural materials…”

New York Times:A Story of a Teenager’s Suicide Becomes a Best Seller” – article about the origins of the book TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY by Jay Asher.  This title is on our South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee list this year.  The article also mentioned the YouTube video campaign that shows someone listening to Hannah Baker’s tapes.

Chicago Tribune:Annoying ‘mosquito’ noise keeps students moving” – the article shares how an Indiana high school uses the mosquito machine to deter students from socializing in an area of the hallway between classes and instead get to classes on time.  I’ve written previously about this machine here and the mosquito ringtone here.  I am opposed to this device being used, especially INSIDE a school, and not just because I can still hear the tone.  There are other ways to ensure students keep it moving in the hallways – HELLO, teachers, stand at your doors and don’t let the kids stop to chat.  When I stand at the library doors, the students don’t loiter between classes.  When I’m not there, the do – doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out.

Should personal (student) laptops be allowed in school?

A couple of recent posts by Linda Braun and Scott McLeod have got me thinking (not always a good thing) about the concept of the ‘digital divide’ in my school/community and how that impacts my library program as well as student learning.

Typically when people discuss the issue of the ‘digital divide’ they are referring to rural vs. urban access to computers and the Internet.   In Linda Braun’s post, “The Other Digital Divide,” she refers also to the ‘digital divide’ in software access (typically MSOffice products) between what is available at school (or not) and in students homes. She makes the argument that these technologies and access should be made available, not limited or eliminated, in our libraries BECAUSE they aren’t available to teens at home – this includes access to social networking sites like Facebook, to iPods/mp3 players, and to audiobooks/electronic materials!

Scott McLeod‘s post asks “would you send your child to school with a laptop from home?“  His concern seems to be would the child feel awkward if they were the only one with a laptop?  Which is a high probability in my school!  Comments on the post are mixed and bring up interesting points.  The ones that caught my attention:

  • laptops are/can be a distraction and detract from student participation in class
  • puts the responsibility and care of the technology on the student/parents instead on the school for up keep and reduces tech cost to the school
  • concerns for damage/theft/liability
  • teacher buy-in and training on how to integrate the tech in the classroom
  • educating students in the appropriate use of the tech during school
  • if it’s just one more thing in a kids backpack it’s just another burden – however, if all of his/her textbooks were on it instead of hardcopy – how cool would that be!
  • wireless access?  server security issues?

While most of the comments seem to bring up more concerns than positives, I have to say I lean on the side of why not let them bring them to school?  Of course the point is pretty much irrelevant in regards to my school, since we are a very rural and low socio-economic community – desktop computers and dial-up are are the norms.  I would be more interested in our district/schools developing policies/guidelines for using cell phones in the classroom – as I believe that the vast majority of our students have those mini computing devices instead!  Add iPods & MP3s in the mix and now we’re talkin’!  Unfortunately, all personal electronics are verboten. :-(

Still what I take away from these discussions are that I need to push for technology, no transformative access for my students.  I need to look into the possibilities of iPods/MP3 players and downloadable materials, audiobooks/Playaways, relevant software, online access or cloud computing alternatives, filter overrides/unblocking of resources, etc. be made available in our school library.  Maybe I’m out of touch with my students and their needs.  Maybe it’s time for me to run a student tech and interest survey?!  Shoot, I should have done this last month before Teen Tech Week!  *sigh*

Photo Credit: “Laptop” by laRuth on Flickr

Odds & Ends (12/13/08)

Yahoo! Messenger Emoticarolers – Send an electronic greeting to your friends and family with Yahoo’s Emoticons as carolers.  Here is mine to you guys!

BBC News:Earth enjoys full moon close-up” – Driving in this morning, the moon looked like it was within reach AND was huge!  I tried snapping a picture with my cell phone, but of course it didn’t turn out.  *sigh*  However, there is one in this BBC article.

Lifehacker:Forty Inspirational Speeches from the Movies in Two Minutes” – Totally cool video…how many of the movies cliped here have you seen?

Ypulse: Speakaboos Beta – From the about page: “Speakaboos brings classic children’s entertainment into a digital world. Beloved characters and treasured stories are given new life through amazing celebrity performances, beautiful illustrations, and original music. At Speakaboos, children develop literacy skills while learning about technology in a safe and fun environment.”  While the little I’ve explored is cool, what I didn’t like was how The Christmas Carol by Dickens was adapted.  While the story is essentially the same, there were enough differences to upset me – since this is one of my favorite stories. :-(

Library Stuff:FCC commissioner: Warcraft is a ‘leading cause’ of college dropouts – BoingBoin” – Follow the link trail to see the comments of how online gaming is contributing to college student dropouts.