Posts filed under ‘Education’

National Library Legislative Day 2011 is Here!

Posted by Robert J. Lackie

National Library Symbol

National Library Symbol

Libraries are increasingly essential in these tough economic times. People are flocking to our nation’s libraries for job and career information, small business research and e-government services as well as support for formal and informal education and lifelong learning. Congress made across-the-board cuts to federal programs in its FY2011 budget, and libraries fill the gaps made when other agencies and services. Unfortunately, libraries are also receiving federal budget cuts.

Even if you can’t make it to Washington for National Library Legislative Day on May 9, you can join us by contacting your representatives and senators during Virtual Legislative Day. Please contact your elected officials with the following requests:

APPROPRIATIONS FY2012

  • Fund the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) at $232 million, the level last authorized in December 2010;
  • Preserve the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program with its own budget line and appropriate the program at its FY2010 level of $19.1 million;
  • Maintain funding for the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Compendia Branch at $2.9 million in order to preserve publication of “Statistical Abstracts” and other publications;
  • Fund the Salaries and Expenses work of the Government Printing Office (GPO) at $42,173,000 to preserve public access through the FDLP and FedSYS.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (School Libraries):

  • Support student performance by including an effective school library program as part of ESEA through the LEARN Act to include:
  • A school library staffed by a state-certified school librarian;
  • A school library with up-to-date books, materials, equipment, and technology, including broadband connectivity; and
  • Instruction by librarians for students and staff on digital and computer literacy skills, including collaboration between classroom teachers and school librarians to develop and implement the curriculum and other school reforms.

American Library Association

While these issues are the most urgent at this time, there are many other critical pieces of legislation impacting libraries.  For full list of key issues that will be discussed at National Library Legislative Day, click here.  ALA has also drafted issue briefs on the following areas: Access, Appropriations for Libraries, Broadband & Telecommunications, Copyright, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Government Services & Information, Surveillance & Privacy and the WILL Act

Visit http://capwiz.com/ala/issues/alert/?alertid=44989511&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] to learn more and send your congressman and senator a message.

-Robert

Robert J. Lackie

Robert J. Lackie

May 9, 2011 at 11:56 am 1 comment

Complimentary Downloads from Salem Press Concerning Osama bin Laden & Terrorism

Posted by Robert J. Lackie

Milestone Documents in American History

Milestone Documents in American History

In an RSS feed I received today, Peter W. Tobey at Salem Press (ptobey@salempress.come) wrote that they were now providing free articles or chapters from published Salem reference books dealing with Osama bin Laden and terrorism. After reviewing them tonight while working the Reference Desk at Rider University Libraries (and missing the awards ceremony at the NJLA 2011 Conference for the first time in years!), I agree that many may find these free, quality resources of interest combined with other current resources within our databases, especially in light of current events. Mr. Tobey writes:

Milestone Documents in World History

Milestone Documents in World History

“Osama bin Laden’s death returns us to the subject of September 11, 2001 in a number of ways. But the events of that day, the personalities, frustrations, and cultural clashes involved are far from straightforward. And the repercussions are, of course, far-reaching. Salem Press has published a great deal on the history, biographies, religious and cultural backgrounds of terrorism. Perhaps most significantly, Salem has brought libraries two critical works by the Schlager Group covering the original source documents (plus analysis) of works by both George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. We’ve selected these and two other articles on this subject (from four different reference works) because we feel your patrons and students may find them informative. You may download them freely, print as many copies of these articles as you need, and distribute them any way you’d like:”

Salem Press logo

George W. Bush’s Address to the Nation on September 11, 2001: The Full Text & Analysis” (1,186 and 4,920 words) from Milestone Documents in American History

Osama bin Laden’s Declaration of Jihad against Americans: The Full Text & Analysis” (2,322 and 5,048 words) from Milestone Documents in World History

Great Lives from History: The 20th Century

Great Lives from History: The 20th Century

Salem also has published a brief, helpful biography of Osama bin Laden and an overview of the war on terrorism. See links to these articles below:

Osama bin Laden” (1,682 words) from Great Lives from History: The 20th Century

The War on Terror” (4,656 words) from Weapons & Warfare

Weapons and Warfare

Weapons and Warfare

By the way, these four reference book resources (PDFs) from 2008 and 2010, listed above, can also be downloaded from Salem Press’ Issues Today site, under the subheading: “May 3, 2011 – Osama bin Laden and the War on Terror” and are part of a new effort Salem is beginning where they will post free, relevant articles from their reference works on current topics in the news. I noticed on their Issues Today site that they also have four resources (PDFs) under the subheading of “March 30, 2011 – Nuclear Power” listed below the above items on their Issues Today site.

I thought this information and Salem Press’ new site might also be of use to others, and complete information on the reference books containing the articles above are provided at the end of each PDF.  Now, off to the NJLA 2011 Conference tomorrow, one of my favorite conferences of the year!

-Robert

Robert J. Lackie

Robert J. Lackie

May 3, 2011 at 8:32 pm 1 comment

Money Smart Week® @Your Library (April 2-9, 2011) and ID Theft Resources

Posted by Robert J. Lackie

American Library Association logo

American Library Association logo

The American Library Association (ALA), the Federal Reserve, and I hope that many librarians and their libraries are participating in the first ever national Money Smart Week® @Your Library this week, April 2-9, 2011! Money Smart Week (a registered service mark of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago) events are taking place now at member libraries across the country covering topics from learning how to apply for a mortgage to teaching young people about credit to ID theft protection, with many resources uploaded to the Money Smart Week® @Your Library official site, linked above. Visit this site for information on this initiative and for news and important links you can use this week, right now!Money Smart Week @ Your Library: April 2-9, 2011

Additionally, Rider University’s Center for Business Forensics (CBF) has hosted several free interactive panel presentations for the general public (students, staff, community members, etc.) and law enforcement personnel focusing on the major issues surrounding identity theft—including financial literacy—and providing insight into the widespread, varying, and serious nature of identity theft.

Rider University's Center for Business Forensics

Rider University's Center for Business Forensics

Dr. Drew Procaccino, a professor of computer information systems at Rider, has organized and led these Identity Theft: What You Need to Know sessions with panels of experts from law enforcement, banking, legal, library, IT, CIS, and health care organizations. As a panelist several times and as a new member of the American Library Association’s Academic MSW@Your Library Committee, I want to again provide everyone with some frequently repeated “best practices” from the panel experts for detection and protection, especially since this week (until April 9, 2011), we are officially celebrating the 10th year anniversary of Money Smart Week. Here are the 10 best practices/advice from our panel of experts at Rider’s CBF sessions:

1. Shred with a crosscut or micro shredder pieces of mail that contain any personal information before throwing them in the trash at home or at work.
2. Place outgoing mail and retrieve incoming mail via a locking mailbox or official Postal Service box.
3. Use a virtual credit card number (available through most banks) for online purchases, rather than your “real” credit card—connected to your card, the virtual number can be set up to only be used once, for that one online purchase (or for longer, but only if you wish).
4. Keep an eye on your credit card when you are paying for something—don’t allow it to disappear out of your sight (skimming of your card could occur).
5. Inventory/photocopy what is in your wallet/purse and place that photocopy (back and front of cards) in a locked cabinet—if your wallet/purse is stolen, you have all the info.
6. Never respond to an unsolicited email from your bank, medical organization, etc., and don’t unsubscribe—don’t even click on the link, just delete it.
7. Cover the ATM keypad from prying eyes and cameras with one hand while you enter your PIN.
8. Review your credit reports (you can get a free one each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies, and if you stagger requests, you can get one every four months).
9. Clear private data from your browser (i.e., Firefox, IE, or Safari): delete temporary files, browsing history, cookies, cache, saved form information, and saved passwords, especially when using a public computer or kiosk at a library, hotel, airport, coffee shop, etc., and then shut down your browser.
10. Use different passwords for different sites—and try changing/updating your passwords to passphrases.

Last but least, my annually-updated free website, Personal Profiles and Other Publicly Available Information: An Internet Hotlist on Detecting and Protecting Your Digital Footprint, contains some of my favorite ID theft protection, privacy information, and financial assistance sites, among other things, found on experts’ sites on the free Web, including our Identity Theft: What You Need to Know seminar project’s 29-page handout from Rider University, available to all.

Remember, according to Terri Cullen, author of The Wall Street Journal Complete Identity Theft Guidebook: How to Protect Yourself from the Most Pervasive Crime in America, ( “…Identity theft covers several different specific crimes, and collectively,…is one of the easiest crimes to commit, one of the hardest to prosecute, and one that is drawing increasing attention from the media.” So, feel free to share this information with all of your patrons and students, especially because proactively protecting your digital footprint and your finances is much easier than dealing with them after the fact as a victim—being a victim can be a very emotional, time-consuming, and financially-unrewarding process. Again, prevent it from ever happening to you, and help others do the same.

Money Smart Week @ Your Library small icon/logo

Money Smart Week @ Your Library

Anyway, I hope this all helps you during Money Smart Week® @Your Library this week, April 2-9, 2011. Enjoy partnering with and/or sharing pertinent information from your community groups, financial institutions, government agencies, educational organizations, and other financial experts this week to help all of our consumers learn to better manage and protect their personal finances!

-Robert

Robert J. Lackie

Robert J. Lackie

April 4, 2011 at 1:57 pm 3 comments

All Types of Libraries Invited to Join “Money Smart Week @ Your Library” National Initiative

Posted by Robert J. Lackie

American Library Association logo

American Library Association logo

The American Library Association (ALA) has announced in October 2010 a partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to make “Money Smart Week @ Your Library” a national initiative from April 2-9, 2011, and things are beginning to heat up now in late December—at least for this national initiative!

Money Smart Week logo

Money Smart Week logo

Celebrating its 10th year in 2011, Money Smart Week’s mission is to promote personal financial literacy (Note: Money Smart Week is a registered service mark of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago). Throughout the 10-year history of Money Smart Week, libraries have been instrumental in facilitating and hosting quality Money Smart Week events. For instance, libraries of all types in Illinois (and Chicago), Indiana, Iowa (and Quad cities), Michigan, West Virginia, and Wisconsin participated in Money Smart Week in 2010, partnering with community groups, financial institutions, government agencies, educational organizations, and other financial experts to help consumers learn to better manage their personal finances.

ALA and the Federal Reserve hope that even more librarians and their libraries will be participating in the first ever national Money Smart Week this spring, from April 2-9, 2011. Events will take place at member libraries across the country and will and cover topics from learning how to apply for a mortgage to teaching young people about credit. We all, librarians included, can benefit from that! Watch this site ( http://www.chicagofed.org/webpages/education/msw/index.cfm ) for information on joining the initiative, for news, and for important links you can use right now.

I will be posting again later this week requesting info from all Library Garden readers on programming ideas, as I am now, as of this month, on the Academic Money Smart Week @ Your Library Committee for ALA.

-Robert

Robert J. Lackie

Robert J. Lackie

December 20, 2010 at 11:00 am 1 comment

The [sad] State of NJ School Libraries

by April Bunn

Is this some kind of nightmare? No, it’s really happening.

Our state is broke and they’re coming down hard on everyone, especially education to help make up much of the 2 billion dollar deficit. Our relationship with the state government is so bad that even our acting Commissioner of Education Rochelle Hendricks decided not to address teachers at last week’s NJEA convention, as has been tradition for years.

In my post a few months ago, I talked about the recent change of our title  back to School Librarian.  To quote myself, and where I was at the time, “I love my job, no matter what the name or the place is called. I pledge to continue to work as hard as I can to keep my board and community aware of what I am doing as Media Specialist, Librarian, or Teacher-Librarian in our Media Center, School Library, or Information Center.”

The war against NJ Govt.

Now it’s early November and the budget cuts were beyond devastating

to schools and school libraries. Entire districts, like Woodbridge, lost their librarians.

It’s estimated that hundreds of positions were lost. My little one school district lost its librarian too. Yes, as a result of the mid-March enormous state aid cuts, my Board was put in the position of cutting almost $500,000  and my position and program were included in those cuts (along with teachers, a secretary, all the lunch aides and part of our basic skills program). Note: I still have a job because in addition to my School Librarian certification, I also have an Elementary Teacher certificate. So, I’ve transitioned to the 2nd grade classroom of one of my colleagues who was let go.

Our library program was strong and popular. Some of the current Board members had been active volunteers through the years.

Just some of the programs that will be lost with this decision:

A Weekly Book Club, held at lunchtime

Poetry Cafe
Recess Library Assistants in 4th-6th grade
Bookmark Contest
Reading Contest
Six Flags Reading Club
Collaborative projects with tech, art, and language arts on subjects such as: endangered animals and alternative energy

Recess quiet reading/study area

Student book reviews
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race tracking
Award-winning books gallery

Reader’s advisory for emerging and reluctant readers up to voracious YA readers

Visits to the public library to promote membership and familiarity

What will happen to these libraries? In my school, classroom teachers are responsible for taking their classes to the library and allowing students to pick books. Parents in my community are volunteering to come and help with book re-shelving.  While I’m always grateful for parent volunteers, they cannot replace a certified librarian. It’s a disgrace. The students will lose out in so many ways.

Pat Massey, past- President of NJASL, testified to Chairman Louis D. Greenwald and Members of the Assembly Budget Committee on March 25th, arguing that students need resource-rich school libraries that are staffed by state certified school librarians. The transcript can be found here.

I am sad and mostly angry at what happened here. To put salt in the wound, I am now Vice President of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) and am not even be doing the job while serving my term! I’ll work to advocate for the recall of these positions, but according my administration, we’re in this situation for a minimum of 4 years.

The outlook is bleak

I just saw a posting from a library school student on the YALSA listserv looking for a place to do her practicum in northern New Jersey and she is struggling to find a program that is still afloat. What does this mean for our award-winning MLIS/MLS programs that are producing excellent school librarians?

These budget cuts are far-reaching into the future of education. The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is fighting the cuts in education, and local teacher associations are rallying to get the public’s support. Barbara Keshishian, president of the NJEA, the state’s 200,000-member teachers’ union, said in a statement that the proposed budget “is a disaster for public school children and for older students who want to further their education beyond high school … Gov. Christie is slashing education in order to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy.”

Working hard and advocating for our jobs is the most important thing we can do right now.

Keep advocating. Don’t give up. Tell your towns that cutting school libraries (and public libraries) is not an option.

Keep the faith that we’ll wake up and find out that this was all a bad dream.

November 7, 2010 at 4:34 pm 12 comments

Books still matter (and so do school libraries)

by April Bunn

Times are rough for librarians in New Jersey. In the education world, librarian positions are being cut at an astronomical rate due to severe cuts in state aid.

I have been quiet here on Library Garden lately because I am part of the statistics- my position was cut- leaving our school without a librarian. I have been busy advocating for our positions with my teacher’s association and the New Jersey Association of School Librarians.

While I’m shocked at what happened to school budgets in the Garden State in such a short period of time, I’m finding a shimmer of hope in the cover story of the May issue of the New Jersey Education Assocation (NJEA) Review: Keeping Dewey relevant in the digital age: Why books still matter by East Hanover teacher and author Ralph Rabb.

Rabb argues that with our help, books, in their original printed form, will inspire  literate, passionate readers. His primary concern is that students are doing their reading online and not picking up hard-copy text enough. The new term for all this online reading is called being  “e-literate”.

I was immediately hooked into the article because Rabb describes one of my major reasons for loving libraries since I was very young- the SMELL of books- “It’s absolute olfactory heaven.” He calls libraries “temples built for the love of books” and suggests that teachers need to take their students on field trips to the great libraries, such as the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress.

I take my youngest students each year on a trip to our public library and their excitement is contagious. And while my library is not a NYPL, it is still my temple and it’s still a baby. I’m extra sad to see it close* next year since I “built” it from scratch. The prior superintendent had a vision for the school that included a large library with an adjoining technology lab and they were dedicated in September of 2005. She’d be sad to see this happening.

*I said it was “closing” next year, which I consider the case, but my Board doesn’t see it that way- they think teachers taking their students down to “pick out books”  and volunteers shelving books is keeping it alive. By the way, the technology department experienced no budget cuts.

May 13, 2010 at 6:37 pm 2 comments

Save NJ Libraries: reverse the cuts

Save NJ Libraries

Save NJ Libraries

My reasoning behind this design was to underline how important libraries are in New Jersey for people who otherwise don’t get the opportunity to sit and listen to, or better yet interact with, a brilliant speaker, enjoy an amazing array of books, magazines, newspapers, and journals, do scholarly research in a vast set of rich databases, enjoy entertaining, informative, and beautiful audio/visual media, and maybe even just get a chance to hop on the internet. For the rest of us though, it means a cornerstone of society, community and culture being quickly and deliberately dissolved.

Please tell everyone that you know to tell everyone that they know that the cuts to libraries are a devastating blow to social progress and societal stability in New Jersey.

March 19, 2010 at 12:51 am 3 comments

Access denied

by April Bunn

Most of us have no control over it.
It gets people really upset when they run up against it.

The Internet Filter

access deniedHopefully you aren’t trying to read this at a school computer because you’d probably have  your “access denied” with most of my links below.

As a School Library Media Specialist, I am all too familiar with a great teaching moment being ruined by a blocked website. Linda Underwood’s School Library Monthly article “21st-Century Learning Blocked: What is a School Librarian to Do?” (September’s issue-not available online yet) inspired me to think more about this topic. This past week one of my colleagues was blocked from using National Geographic and another was blocked from downloading her Promethean Board software, so I knew it was time to get this done.  The technology teacher and I just convinced many of these teachers to branch out and use new technology and this filter is discouraging them rapidly.  Just to give you an idea of what it’s like with these filters:

  • We can’t use any image or video sites at all (so long to those Google Images on our web pages and for student projects and no-can-do on that great video you found on Abraham Lincoln on YouTube).
  • Also, no access to sites that have a shopping cart feature, like Barnes and Noble, making it a serious challenge to place orders when we are registering for conferences, ordering books and supplies.
  • No technical or business forums (see below)

Ironically, as I try to finalize this post, sitting at my desk after school dismisses, I am blocked from previewing the post on WordPress with the response screen below:

_______________________________________________________

filter blockedblocked

You cannot access the following Web address:
http://librarygarden.net/?p=2399&preview=true
The site you requested is blocked under the following categories: Technical/Business Forums
You can:
Temporarily override filtering on this computer if you have an override name and password. (Note that your administrator may be notified that you’ve bypassed filtering.)
Use your browser’s Back button or enter a different Web address to continue.

__________________________________________________________

Surveying other Libraries

After suffering from blocks preventing her from using pieces of Web 2.0 in her teaching, National Board Certified Teacher and Instructional Technology Integrator  Sharon Elin used her blog at edutwist.com, to conduct a survey about which popular sites were blocked and find out what other schools were allowing. Her results, displayed in colorful graphs, represent the more controversial of sites, but even simple sites that include questionable images are blocked from most students.

As Media Specialists, we are responsible, along with our Technology colleagues, for teaching about safe internet searching and strategies for effective information retrieval. As one of Elin’s responders wrote, “Teaching students about internet safety in a highly filtered environment is like teaching kids to swim in a pool without water.”

edutwist quote

So why do we have to have them?

In 2000, Congress enacted the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). As a result of that Act, many schools and libraries got grants for technology or joined the E-Rate program, a discounted pricing system set up by the FCC for telecommunication services, Internet access, and internal connections. One requirement of these programs was to certify that you are using computer filtering software programs to prevent the “on-screen depiction of obscenity, child pornography or material that is harmful to minors”.  Nobody is really arguing that schools against schools being a safe place, away from highly offensive material. As librarians, our collection development is monitored by administration and the purchasing has to be supported with some curricular connection.  What we as educators are saying is that the filters that are in place in schools are blocking educational information that could be inspiring to a child. Parents must understand that their children are losing out on dynamic learning communities created by Web 2.0 developments.

We’re being forced to bypass the filter

In most cases, educators are waiting for technical administrators to release the block after explaining how they are going to be using it in they teaching. By the way, these tech administrators are NOT teachers or librarians; they are IT people and network security experts that are now responsible for evaluating things like 5th grade students’ research on endangered species. Are we even speaking the same language? I don’t think so. In my school, those requests are only read once a week.

As a result, we’ve (older students and teachers) resorted to bypassing and unblocking the filter on our own. My Google search returned over 1 million hits when using the search terms “how to bypass school internet filters” and the responses included videos and instructions galore. A large portion of these requests could be from students as well.

A few examples are:

eHoweHow (www.ehow.com)

is just one of the many sites giving step by step directions how to bypass the filter. They call it a “circumvention” of the block and don’t make any attempt to discuss the issue: “Whether or not these blocks are justified or a waste of time, whether they are a form of censorship or a method of managing resources, are topics that can be debated another time.”  They give 3 sets of directions depending on what you’d like to use: a translation service, URL redirection service, or web proxy.

Quick tips graphic Quick Online Tips (www.quickonlinetips.com) has a page called “Top 10 Ways to Unblock Websites”

We know about it but won’t widely risk it

Most of the school librarians that I spoke to knew that these methods existed, but many had only used it once or twice, or were scared to be caught. The law specifically states, “An administrator, supervisor, or person authorized by the responsible authority [i.e. school, school board, local educational agency, or other authority with responsibility for administration of such school] may disable the technology protection measure concerned to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purposes.”

Can’t we just block the students’ computers?

No. The FCC’s E-Rate program is specific that every computer have the filter engaged, “The FCC is imposing the requirements on ALL Internet-accessible computers used by the schools and libraries, including public, student, staff and administrative workstations on the Internet because the law made no distinction between school and library computers that are used only by adult staff, and those used by children or the public.” If we’re hoping schools will allow us to have more access than our students, it looks like we’ll be waiting awhile. If you refer to Elin’s survey, the communication service Skype is almost the only site that was allowed on more teacher computers than student ones. That wasn’t true in my school this month when a teacher was blocked from Skype or Google Video Chat to demonstrate communication across the world with her son who is teaching English in Korea.

SKype Chart

Skype Chart

What can we hope for in the future?

I’m trying to be optimistic in how I think filters will be used in schools of the future. Otherwise I’d feel like my degree in Library and Information Science may not be best suited for a school library career. My dreams are for:

  • Trust from our Administration that we are professionals and will use the internet wisely in our teaching
  • Filtering programs that are created by educators and parents
  • Websites designing “school-safe” versions for filter approval
  • Open access to dynamic information online without lurking viruses and predators
  • Faith from the parents whose children we inspire on a daily basis that we are working to create better global citizens

by April Bunn, School Library Media Specialist in a PreK-6th Grade School

September 28, 2009 at 2:23 pm 15 comments

Teaching Generation M handbook–"hot off the presses!"

Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators, edited by my New Jersey librarian colleague Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic (Rutgers University-Camden) and me (Robert J. Lackie, Rider University), has hit the bookstores and is now available for your reading pleasure! Neal-Schuman (N-S) Publishers promised delivery by June 30, and true to their word, yesterday afternoon, UPS rang my doorbell with two copies, still warm from the printing press. ;)

I am especially happy to announce this publication on the Library Garden (LG) blog, since four out of the eight senior contributors to LG were willing and able to take time out of their busy schedules to write chapters within the handbook: Amy Kearns, Karen Klapperstuck, Tyler Rousseau, and, of course, myself.

I know that I also speak for lead editor Vibiana and our project development editor at N-S, Sandy Wood, when I say that we sincerely appreciated the hard work and diligence of all our two dozen-plus chapter authors. We hope that you find our handbook about working with and devising quality educational resources for “Generation M” – today’s group of teens and young adults born in the early 1980s through the mid-to-late 1990s – to be interesting and helpful.

-Robert Lackie

Technorati Tags: Gen M, Generation M, educators, librarians

July 1, 2009 at 9:46 am 6 comments

Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) Provides More "What Works" Than You Probably Knew


Last week, Patricia Dawson (the Science Librarian at Rider University) and I (the Education Librarian) did a library research instruction session together at our Rider University Libraries for students in a math curriculum course in our the Master of Arts in Teaching program. We, of course, discussed, demonstrated, and provided hands-on time for several databases and Web sites that we subscribe to or visit regularly to keep up with various reports and research on improvements in education. Besides looking for articles by particular authors on the topic of teaching fractions, they were also looking for substantive intervention reports and proven practical information guides regarding various teaching strategies. The students were very pleasantly surprised by several database findings and sites, including our EBSCO ERIC database, and what replaced the AskERIC site–The Educators Reference Desk. Both were extremely useful in their research, and it was the reminder email I received from ERIC News earlier today about their newly redesigned Web site that reminded me that many education students, current teachers, and professors in undergraduate and graduate education programs are not familiar with particular valuable publications available via ERIC, even if they have previously used the ERIC database. I meant to blog about this earlier this week, but it is never too late to share valuable information!

Because we subscribe to the ERIC database via EBSCO now, I don’t regularly go to the free ERIC Web site, but I was reminded of its usefulness. Earlier this week, ERIC provided detailed information on its new Web site structure and design at http://www.eric.ed.gov/.

The new ERIC Web site features several enhancements that will make the experience of using the site easier and faster for individual researchers, along with improvements to aid librarians in supporting ERIC users. These enhancements include improved navigation, expanded help and training, an information area for librarians, and a lighter visual design.

More detailed information on their new look and feel is available at their site, and I must say that I did appreciate the new Information for Librarians section of their site; however, it was the full summary of and full text reports and articles from one of two of ERIC’s special featured publication sections that really impressed the students and professor, and I wish to highlight it: The What Works Clearinghouse, housed at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) site, which “brings rigorous and relevant research, evaluation and statistics to our nation’s education system” since 2002 and also features four famous research and data IES Centers, as well as funding opportunities and the other ERIC special publication: The Regional Education Laboratories–all worth exploring.

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) began in 2002, and its newly redesigned site provides exactly the type of information researchers and teachers are looking for–a central, trusted site for full text reports and articles on the scientific evidence for what really works in education. Our students loved this site, especially for its topics of Elementary School Math and Middle School Math. Check out the “Topic Report” and “List of all Intervention Reports” links under each of the topics, which in addition to math provide fantastic info on Beginning Reading, Character Education, Dropout Prevention, Early Childhood Education, and English Language Learners. Useful explanations of the difference between Topic Reports and Intervention Reports, although very related, are provided (linked above)–this question came up often in the research sessions.

Being a very practical researcher myself, I like to point out other very interesting areas of the WWS site: their Practice Guides (providing recommendations and strategies for classroom teachers on several challenging topics) and Quick Reviews (providing, well, quick reviews, of “timely and objective assessments of the quality of the research evidence from recently released research papers and reports,” K-12+).

I found myself just as enthralled with this WWS site as the students and professor, and was happy that I revisited the new ERIC site. I believe you will find this site and other related ERIC sites very practical and useful as well. If you have other different “favorites” to share with readers of the Library Garden blog, please feel free to comment and get the word out!

-Robert Lackie

Technorati Tags: Education Resources Information Center, education, Institute of Education Services, What Works Clearinghouse, Library Garden

August 6, 2008 at 9:30 pm 5 comments


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