Monday, December 29, 2008

Issuu: put it on-line!

Have you always wanted a way to put documents on-line in a way that looks like a book or magazine? There are a number of pay sites that will convert and host documents for you, but what about "free"? I stumbled across Issuu while I was looking for a solution to post student-made storybooks on a blog or other site. Issuu seems to be the answer to my search.

It is very easy to use. You create an account, upload the PDF version, mark it private, and then generate the embed code needed to past it into a blog or class website. You can even email a link to friends and family so they can view it apart from the blog.

So, just to show off, I've created a "Flower" album using iPhoto, saved it as a PDF, uploaded it to Issuu and embedded the link. (You can view it as full page if you like!) I think this has lots of potential. (Click on the "Open Publication" link or on the book itself below to view in larger format.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Apture: Add more context to your sites

Do you sometimes wish there was a way to add more content and context to your blog or website? You've probably seen the extremely cool hotlinks that pop up (when you mouse over them) with additional info, quotes, videos or PDFs. "Apture" is exactly what you are looking for. If you go to their site, you can easily create an account and add "Apture" functionality to your blog. Take the tour and see what it can do for you.

Monday, December 8, 2008 File sharing is so easy! is a great solution to the problem we all sometimes have: file-sharing in an easy, no fuss way. Imagine you have a class where you want to distribute a file or files to your students. Perhaps it's a photo that they will be modifying, a set of short clips to play with or documents to review. You could email them, but then you'd need everyone's address and depending on the file size, your email client may not be happy. This is where comes in. Using their easy interface, create an account, add a password (if you want), upload your files and tell your class the address. Students can easily download the files: no fuss, no muss.

Check out the following post for a more detailed description: arstechnica

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Scrapblog is another in a series of very neat Web 2.0 tools that I could see a teacher using with a class. Students would need their own account, but it allows them to create some stunning visual representations of what they are working on. It's like a slideshow, with extras. Imagine multiple digital scrapbook pages that you can email or embed. You can try it out by clicking on the "Get Started" button, but to save, print or export, you need to be logged in. (You can always take a screen shot of your creation using "shift-apple-4" on a Mac, and then use the pic in other applications.) Let me know if you try it with a class.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another way to look at the news

The internet gives us lots of different ways to see the news: you can look at the front pages of papers from around the world, you can subscribe to news feeds and get an updated list of stories delivered daily, you can visit digital versions of your favourite daily, you can check out video and audio clips of the big stories on CBC or CNN.

But all of these avenues are essentially text (and pictures) presented in ways we recognize. What if there was another way to look at the news? Using a format similar to tag clouds, Marumushi has created a clever way to represent the important stories of the hour by mapping out Google News items on a grid. The size of the story relates to how much it is being talked about. In their words: "In Newsmap, the size of each cell is determined by the amount of related articles that exist inside each news cluster that the Google News Aggregator presents. In that way users can quickly identify which news stories have been given the most coverage, viewing the map by region, topic or time." Yes, you can choose your country and even filter to exclude certain types of stories. (ie. sports or entertainment.)

Could this catch on? Take a look at their "NewsMap" and see if you agree.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Polyvore: design your life.

So my latest find is actually one of my daughter's current favourite sites: Polyvore (She's crazy about it and loves to create.) You can design "window displays" and create interior design or fashion design layouts.

The interface pulls objects from the internet (taken mostly from on-line catalogs so each object stands alone as a cutout image.) and you can then resize them and put them together collage-like. Take a look at this"artsy" example.

Layouts can be printed, saved, embedded etc.
(The vendors make their money by having every element you choose appear on the "shopping list" showing where the item can be purchased.)

Students can have fun designing displays on assigned themes, dreaming up a layout for another student after a fashion "interview" and using their creations to add to their virtual portfolio, especially if they hope to apply to a design program.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sumopaint, a WEB 2.0 paintbrush.

Sumopaint is a great example of what is now possible using a web-based tool. This site/program offers the user a "virtual" paintbox, complete with layers. And if you create an account, you can save your work and open it up later, with the layers intact. Finished products can be downloaded as jpegs for use in other projects. The image gallery has a mind blowing array of samples created by members of the sumopaint community. This is a perfect way for an art teacher to introduce the digital medium, without having to install costly, proprietary software.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Literacy + Technology = ?

While technology solutions are not the answer to every teaching problem, sometimes there can be a great support in meeting a student need. Here's the scenario: what about a high school or middle school student who may have trouble reading the typical novel offering? The vocab is too difficult, the sentences too demanding. The student too easily loses the thread of the narrative. What to do? My suggestion is to check out Orca Books, especially the "Orca Soundings" collection. These are dynamic, exciting, relevant novelettes that speak to teens about issues that they find compelling, in a language that is very accessible. The authors are all well-respected YA writers (Carrie Mac, Norah McClintock, etc). So where's the technology?

Tumble Books has added a new horse to the stable: TumbleReadables. And as part of this offering, they have included titles from the Orca Soundings collection. (Check out this link to try some of the titles that are available.) Not only can you (or your teen) read the books on-line, even using a bigger font if needed, but selected titles can also be listened to. This is a great support for a student who has difficulty with the printed text. If you decide this is for you, you can get a subscription for your school or institution.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Quelques bons livres en français.

If you are looking for French titles to supplement your Immersion collection, and you are working in an "hors-Québec" Canadian school, you will often find that local booksellers have a very limited French selection. Chapters carries just a few books, and prompts me to order titles from Europe. If I choose the French version of, the titles I see are still mostly English.

My solution? I click on the website of Renaud-Bray . This well designed bookstore has suggestions for novels, movies, music and best of all, it's Canadian (good for me, as I am in Canada!) Order enough, and shipping is free. Great selection, and no-fuss shopping. One of my strategies is to select teen novels that have been translated from English. The students are always keen to read something from a series or an author they know.

What Time is it Mr Wolf? Timekeeping Tools

In one of my Masters classes, I was talking to a fellow student about ways to make the SmartBoard an on-going useful tool, rather than a once-in-a-blue-moon activity. I think the secret is to use this resource as much as possible, even if it's only for a simple mundane purpose initially. Then, once using it is built into your routine, you can add more applications.

Take for example the "problem" of timekeeping. Often, it's a great strategy to give students a time limit to reflect, discuss with a partner or work through a problem. This keeps the activity focused and avoids unproductive lulls in your lesson. The timers you can buy for the overhead can be quite expensive, but there are "free" on-line tools that will to the same this. For example, having these links bookmarked on your SmartBoard means you can pull it up at moment's notice.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm ready for my close-up

Want to edit red-eye, add some special effects or just tweak a photo before you use it? But you are not on a computer with iPhoto or Photoshop? Try this clever web-app: Fotoflexer. You can upload a picture from your computer, make the changes you want and then download the finished product to your local computer. Very slick!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Slide show sharing?

As we move to bringing more technology options into classrooms, many teachers and teacher-librarians are giving students the choice of creating Powerpoint presentations to demonstrate their learning. But I have seen some of those presentations, and many need work! How can we help our students do a good job?

Too many words, too many animations, reading the slides word for word, bar-graph overload, bad colours, no real content.... Jamie McKenzie has a great (even if it was written in 2000) article on avoiding Powerpointlessness. He includes many tips from planning to presenting, and assessing. Worth a read.

There's actually a funny clip that illustrates the bad techniques some designers use. Click below for the video.

Life After Death by PowerPoint

There are a number of on-line tutorials that teachers can consult to help students create an effective presentation. The important thing to remember is that the slide show simply highlights the points that the presenter is making: main points & key graphics, not pages of text!

One way to have students present PPT and also make them available for the rest of the class to review later is to use a site like Slideshare. With this Web-app, students (and teachers) can upload short Powerpoint files, and then play them on any web-connected computer. While it doesn't support fancy transitions and dancing graphics, it's also a good way to archive student work. It will also allow you to add audio.

How To -ppt-design
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: ppt tutorial)

Another way to upload your Powerpoint with audio is to use "Authorstream" - it's a quick registration (And it's free.) Click here for the instructions.

And if you want templates galore to try, check out "Indezine".

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Youtube" for Picture Books! - LookyBook

[As of Mar 2009, Lookybook is no longer active.]

Elementary teacher-librarians will love this site I stumbled across: LookyBook. What's so great about this resource is you can use it to preview a title, or allow kids to re-read at home a book you've presented in the library. You can even embed your favs on your own webpage. See the sample below! (Clicking on the orange eyeglasses will take you to their site. )

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Plan Your Space!

There are so many super little tools on the web that do just one thing, but really well. Want to re-think your classroom arrangement, but don't want to get out the graph paper? Try this very slick site from Another fun use is to have students design their bedroom, drawing in the needed furniture with the draw tool. This makes a great math activity. The finished product can be printed.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Video Games and Language Learning

I'm always delighted when seemingly unrelated sources come together around the same topic. Case in point: my Masters' class had what is called an "institute" on Friday evening that gives the participants in the program an opportunity to see what everyone is working on.

One of the presenters spoke about the perception teachers have regarding "Educational Video Games" (EDVG) and their effect on language learning.

Coincidentally, I just read an article in School Library Journal about the future of books that contained an interesting quote about EDVGs.
"We all know that most teachers and schools are going to do everything possible to resist gaming in classrooms." (Do Books Still Matter?)

Both the tenor of this article, and the responses of the teachers interviewed for the Ma
sters' project were decidedly hostile to the value of video games in the regular classroom. Are we selling ourselves short by not capitalizing on students' interest in this phenomenon? In an article posted in the Ottawa Citizen entitled "Gaming Nation", the author reports that "[a]s many as one in three North Americans, or 120 million people, play video games for at least one hour every week [...] Canadians spent more than $933 million on video gaming last year [2007]. "

And when I talk to boys in my library, there is a lot of interest and knowledge about the different platforms, the games themselves, strategies, games sites, forums, etc.

So with all this "extracurricular" interest, does it make sense to pull some of this into the classroom? Do we have the hardware to do this? Do we want to?

Even if we are not prepared to have students "play games" during class time, we need to be more tuned in to the possibilities that video games can offer. For example, the very well-rounded and detailed worlds that some students inhabit can be an excellent source of inspiration for fiction and poetry writing. We encourage kids to write about what they know: for some students the world of the game is as real as any other. What about reading? If I know a student is interested in basketball, I'll look for a novel that is connected to that sport. For the video gamer, there are a number of novels that use the universe of the game as the backdrop for the story. These novels are so popular (I have a few in my library) that I can't keep them on the shelf and I have to keep replacing them because they are being "read to pieces."

The reading that gamers do in instructional manuals, strategy guides or message boards, though often cryptic and more technical than narrative, might serve as a “gateway drug for literacy.” [Constance Steinkuehler, assistant professor in the school of education at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.]

Reading and contributing to game forums is another way to involve students. And I even know of one young man who has purposely joined a French speaking gaming community (on what's called an "international channel") so that when he "voice chats" during the game, he is forced to practice his second language!

For more on this, read "Composition, Literacy, and Video Gaming" from "Computers and Composition", an on-line journal that looks at the impact of new and emerging media upon the teaching of language and literacy.

See also:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Experience the "Teaching"

I just finished reading "Experience the Message" by Max Lenderman. This book has a lot to say about how advertising and promotion is changing in the new 2.0 on-line world. The old ways of reaching the consumer are giving way to what Lenderman calls "Experiential Marketing" or XM for short. (You can read more about this on his website.)

What I found interesting, was that the 8 principles that he claims drive the new way of thinking about advertising work well as a metaphor for a new way of thinking about teaching. If you replace "experiential marketing" with teaching/learning, and "consumer with student, in the first 7 of his 8 principles, here's what you get:

  1. Teachers should clearly deliver a meaningful benefit to the student.
  2. Learning will be predicated on a "one-on-one" personal interaction between a teacher and a student.
  3. Learning will be authentic.
  4. Teaching is based on engaging students in memorable ways.
  5. Learning will empower the individual student.
  6. Teachers will deliver relevant communication to students when and where they are most responsive to them.
  7. Teachers succeed when they use innovative approaches and tactics to reach out to students in creative and compelling ways.
Because our students are citizens of this new world, and respond poorly to old, traditional ways of marketing, it might also be true that they respond poorly to traditional ways of structuring the classroom experience. I think Lenderman might have something to teach us after all!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bibme - the easy way!

Ask any student what the least liked aspect of any project work is , and you will likely get the same answer: the bibliography. When I talk about this with my students, it usually comes down to the same scenario:
"It's midnight plus 1 minute on a Sunday night. The project is done! Pictures taped on, sparkle glue applied, titles and underlining all done...but wait. Oh no! The bibliography!"

There are a number of tools that students can use. If the school library uses Destiny/Follet as its OPAC (my district does), then you can use it to generate a bibliography for any books used from the collection. This link explains how to create a list, and then print that list as a bibliography.

Citation Machine and Noodle Tools also help with the process making it much easier. But wait, there's something even better. My latest discovery is BibMe. ( As it says on the website: "the fully automatic bibliography maker that auto-fills. It's the easiest way to build a works cited page. And it's free." Once you've created a login ID (easy to set up), you can enter author or title or ISBN (with a scanner, it's a snap) and get a complete record for your citation list. Bibme will even save your results so that you can add to them later in a second or third fact finding session. It almost makes creating a bibliography fun!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Another eBook post: Stanza

Reading on a screen is not like reading from a book. But maybe, in some cases, it can be better than a book. Lexcycle has released a Beta of a new ereader called Stanza. The strength of this program is that you can view very readable formats on a variety of platforms. While it currently doesn't work with DRM formats, the website lists a great number of public domain ebooks that are compatible. Give it a whirl.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Flyers, pamphlets, brochures...Authentic tasks!

A brochure can be a great way for students to demonstrate their learning. Especially if the "target audience" is a legitimate recipient. Research on a country becomes a travel flyer, research on a disease becomes a Health Canada brochure, research on an ancient civilization becomes a pamphlet for a new History TV series.

Depending on your students' computer access, doing it all on-screen means that the finished product can be emailed, sent home for parents to see, or even projected "big" for the class to view.

Here are some helps for your brochures:

Brochure Word tutorial

Easy Word template:

Other Word templates to download

You can even try this software needed:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Timelines...a great way to present

If you want your students to present a timeline to the class, what's a great intuitive way to do it? Sure, you could ask them to use Powerpoint, or some other kind of presentation software, but why not try something new? I came across Dipity the other day. I can see some very interesting possibilities. If you explore the Dipity site, you can view examples by others: some serious, some not. Not only can it be used to present a timeline to a class, students can create them and then make them available for others to review at any time.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A "Novel" way to use Google Earth

So you're doing a novel with your class and you want your students to be more connected to the story and the places mentioned. How can you do this if your students have never been to the country where the action takes place? Not a problem if you use Google Earth.

Use GE to spice up your lesson. (A trip to GoogleLitTrips will show you some of the possibilities.) You can point out the major landmarks featured in the novel. You can calculate distances mentioned by the characters. You can even place "markers" with additional information useful to your readers. Just log in and create your placemarkers and then download the kmz or kml file to share or post on your teacher page. (This link takes you to an explanation of how to do this with the book "Hana's Suitcase". Click on the Quicktime icon to see the video podcast.)

If you are teaching Geography or History, why not use Google Earth to take your students on a virtual fieldtrip. (The Apple Learning Interchange has some great pointers.) Follow Hannibal or Gandhi's march or the Crusades or a WWII battle. Sometimes seeing makes all the difference.

Friday, September 12, 2008

RSS? Bookmarking? Twitter? Wikis?

If you work with computers, every so often you will get asked by a teacher or student to explain some aspect or feature of the Web 2.0 world. But what if you are not available, or if the person just needs a quick refresher? I've often thought of creating a "short & snappy" series of video clips that give a quick overview in clear, easy to understand terms, that I could then post for my students and colleagues to refer to.

Well, guess what...someone's already done it...and it's great. Check out "Common Craft": a website that provides, in plain English, with a snappy video clip and engaging patter, just what I was looking for.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Google me this Batman!

This past week, the Teacher-Librarian group that I belong to put on its annual "welcome-back-it's-September" mini-conference. Our keynote presenter (Maryam Moayeri) is doing her doctorate on how teens use the web. She had some very interesting things to say about how poor teen searching skills are and how little time is spent considering search terms, and evaluating the usefulness of sites. Teachers and TLs need to show students how to find what they're looking for!

Here's a page from "that search engine" that explains how to get what you want and need.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jumping Jack ....Flash!

My latest course is on Cognitive Tools. As part of our work, we are looking at Learning Objects, and will be designing a Flash project for our group work, and a second Flash project for our individual project. Great! Except for one small detail, I don't know flash about Flash.

My EDUC 892 blog has some good tutorial links, and I've been working through them to bring myself up to speed. I'm very intrigued by the many features Flash has going for it.

Our group project is going to be a learning object to teach Grade 5 students about BC habitats. Something similar to the Langara Wetland Project. (But maybe not so slick!) As for my own Learning Object...stay tuned...I'm still trying to come up with a brilliant idea.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bibliography woes? Try Zotero!

The battle against plagiarism continues: I happened to stumble across "Zotero" today. It has so many great features. While at first glance it seems like another Google Notebook or, it has a great way of building your set of references so you can quickly generate a "works cited" page, or bibliography. I think that I need to show my high school students this Firefox add-on. They might be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to "do the right thing" when it comes to giving credit. (BTW, the home site has a number of other interesting tools to explore.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mapping out your fav author.

One of the things I like about LibraryThing, is the way it connects you with readers and novels that you are likely to enjoy. Once you've begun entering in some of your titles, you can look to see who else has your picks, and then you can browse their selections to see if anything grabs your fancy. LT also has a "Suggester" that takes a title or author and tells you "if you liked that, then you might like this."

Just this week, I came across an interesting twist on the "Suggester" that uses a very cool interface: The Literature Map. What's great, is that you simply type in an author's name, and the site generates a name cloud of similar authors...names that are close are most similar. (...although, that may be up for argument!) It's a fun way to explore literary connections, in a "six-degrees-of-separation" kind of way. Take a look.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Your own "relevant" place

I spoke to a student-teacher about using a current event to "jazz up" class discussions and spark student interest in science. But where would she get a good source of articles?

I suggested she could use an aggregator to pull together science items from a number of news sites. That way, all she needs to do is check one site, her own, and she will have it all at her fingertips. There are a number of ways to do it, for example, iGoogle lets you add news widgets, among other things.

Find some aggregators here. And here's a good explanation of how it works.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"What do you read everyday?"

This was the question a colleague asked me the other day, and got me thinking about the role of my library website. Can (or should) my site be more than a placeholder for my library's existence on the web. Should it be more than a convenient place to find the on-line catalog? Can it ever be "relevant" in the lives of my high school students?

One way might be to make a concerted effort to blog on the site. The best example (if you'll pardon the pun) is Dr. Charles Best High School and the library (blog) site created and managed by the TL, Judith Comfort.

The other way is to look for fresh, current content that is updated daily or hourly. RSS and customizable newsfeeds give us that ability. I guess I'm going to have to think about what my library site needs... For now, it gets a Feedzilla widget. (Top World Stories.) We'll see how that goes.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Close encounter of the eBook kind.

So, are you ready for the next step in reading evolution? There's lots of hype around the ebook, even though we've been talking about it for a few years now. The Times has a recent article on the success of these gadgets. With the advent of e-Ink, cool interfaces and good infrastructure support (ie Kindle), I think we may be seeing more of these types of gizmos in bookstores everywhere in the near future.

My own recent eBook experience happened as a result of an accident with my Palm TX. A couple of weeks ago, the darned thing stopped working. I wasn't able to reset or recharge, and so it needed replacing. When my new Palm (another TX) arrived, I reloaded all my software, along with an app called "PalmPDF". I had installed this program many months ago, but could never get it to work.

Well, lo and behold, it's working now. I quickly downloaded a couple of freebee eNovels and eComics as well as Lessig's "FreeCulture" (available as a free PDF download.) Lots of fun!

Now, I know the screen is not very big, but the resolution is pretty good, and until a better, inexpensive option comes along, I'll be reading e-versions of whatever I can get my hands on. I'll be interested to give it a try with some digital papers as well. (i.e. the 24 Hours and the 24 Heures dailies)

As a side bar, many of the readings for my Masters are PDFs. (This could be very handy indeed.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Building your library "on the fly"!

Do you sometimes feel that the pace of information technology is so quick that it is hard to keep up? Just when you think you've got your head around some brand new "tech thing", there's an even newer "new tech thing" on the horizon. (blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, paper-mills, mashups....and so on.) I was presenting at a "winter tune-up" for teacher-librarians, and the topic was "Building Your Library Website". After the workshop, one of the TLs said to me that she felt like she didn't have a moment to stop and think, that things seem to be moving so fast. I replied that it reminds me of the commercial where the workmen build the plane while it is in flight. Funny clip, and in some ways, too true!

In some strange way, I find it all very exciting. There are so many new things to learn and try that I can never say that my job is boring! ("Pass me my parachute.")

On a similar topic, but with a divergent viewpoint, read Patrick Welch's observations about his school's addiction to gizmos.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Graphic Novels and Philosophy

Who says that graphic novels (and comics) can't tackle more "serious" subjects. My son sent me a link to a site that, among other topics, has an episode entitled "Dungeons & Discourse". I thought I'd mention this link because my Masters' course has been delving into a more philosophical approach to learning, and it seemed very appropriate.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Just "Google" it?

A listserv that I belong to sent me a link referencing a study commissioned by the British Library.

The study is interesting, especially in its conclusions about the "Net Generation." For all the talk about the sophistication of our young people, and their supposed techno-savvy-ness, it seems that, like in many things, they need some instruction! (Go figure.)

Perhaps there is a role for teachers and teacher-librarians after all.
Here's a quote from the article published in "Library Journal".
  • A new study commissioned by the British Library and JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) says that the "Google Generation"—youth born or brought up in the Internet age—is not particularly web-literate, and their research traits—impatience in search and navigation and zero tolerance for any delay in satisfying their information needs—are becoming the norm for all age-groups.
I must say that this has been my experience working with students at the high school level. While many kids are avid users of IM and Facebook, and some are experienced gamers, when it comes to putting together a good search, they are often at a loss how to begin. (An Elementary level colleague recently reported the same thing!)

Instead of libraries being a thing of the past, maybe our work has just begun!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bio Lit Crit

I just finished reading "Madame Bovary's Ovaries". The authors (Barash and Barash) lead the reader on a delightful journey through many of the classics of literature. The twist is that they approach each fictional character as if they were real people, driven by Darwinian imperatives. Why was Othello so jealous? Genes explain everything!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Open Source Textbooks

I was reading through some of my listserv messages today and I came across this post commenting on the "Open Textbook" movement.

"Imagine textbooks adapted to many learning styles and translated into myriad languages. (Today, language barriers prevent many immigrant parents from helping their children with their homework because the texts are only in English.) Imagine textbooks that are continually updated and corrected by a legion of contributors. (Today, Pluto remains in the list of planets in the nation's science textbooks, and who knows how long it will take for it to be removed.)" (
Bringing open resources to textbooks and teaching.)

This made me think about the changing nature of "print" media in today's world. I was just reading an article by Illich (The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind.) for one of my classes. One of his points is that the permanent nature of print "fixes" ideas, songs, thinking in such a way as to freeze them in a moment in time. Some classical philosophers objected to writing because they saw it as a curse not a blessing. (This is ironic of course because it is thanks to writing that any of their ideas survive to the present day...but I digress.) What is interesting about the Open Textbook model is that "print" is no longer print in the same way. A published work can be adapted, modified, edited, clarified ad infinitum. Pluto is no longer a planet? Make the edit, and move on.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Choose? You choose!

I've been reading "The Paradox of Choice" by Barry Schwartz. (The link will let you read the first few pages of the book.) Right from the first page, I was hooked. Barry develops his thesis that, although we are conditioned to think more choice is better, in fact, it turns out that too much choice is a real impediment.

In particular, his concept of "satisficers" and "maximizers" makes so much sense. Our overwhelming number of choices can actually paralyze us! Fascinating reading.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Transliteracy - Reading 2.0?

For the new year, I suggest checking out "First Monday", a peer-reviewed journal on the Internet, about the Internet.

An article in the December 2007 issue ("Transliteracy: crossing divides.") discusses a new take on literacy which the authors define as “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks". There are some interesting implications for teachers, librarians and authors in this article.

I was also intrigued by what the authors refer to as a ‘transliterate lifeworld’. A lifeworld is described the fusion of one's physical environment and subjective experiences that make up an individual's everyday life. A perfect example is the intersection of the two worlds of cat and cat owner (same space, but different ways of using it), or the meaning of "my kitchen" to a chef on the one hand and a mechanic on the other. (Read the article!) It makes me wonder how the physical worlds I share with family, or colleagues, or students might in fact seem very different from my own lifeworld perspective.

For more on transliteracy, you can also check out this site.