In “perpetual beta”

In her presentation at NECC on information fluency, Joyce Valenza  described how she sees herself as “version 1.8,” in perpetual beta, because she is always learning.

What a great way to project to your students and staff that you are always in the process of “upgrading” and exploring new things.

She pointed out that students often settle for a “good enough/why bother” point of view when it comes to searching and using information, and that both teachers and librarians need to “own” this problem, and ask more of our students. 

One way she tries to do this is by always providing them lists and pathfinders of the best resources.   We do this for some assignments by creating pathfinders, but the number of pathfinders she has created or has on her site is simply inspiring.   They set up a wiki for each pathfinder and invite teachers and some students to help create it –which is a wonderfully collaborative way to gather the best resources and to bring together the best practices.


She also includes resources in the pathfinders that make sense, but that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of, like wikibooks that have been created on a topic or blogs about a topic.  

She suggests asking students to do more original research–at least using a survey tool like zohopolls, surveymonkey, surveyscholar, zoomerang or responsomatic.  At her campus, when they ask students to use these tools, they guide the student in creating appropriate research-based questions and preview the poll before the student publishes it, so it is a guided experience.

Another type of guidance the library provides is creating evaluation tools for each different type of site–like she has tips on evaluating a blog, or on evaluating a wiki.  Interesting idea.

I think one of the most powerful things in all of this is how the library and the teachers provide more guided experience for students, so that they are using the the best sites and using best practices for their research process and for creating their work.  I think too often we assume students know all there is to know about the internet or production and so don’t provide them enough guidance.

I really want to approach this as a team at our campus and need to sort out how to do that better.   I am putting this out here for my campus to read and to be honest, I want to know that teachers think of me as a partner when they are creating a research assignment, not as an add-on, or a barrier, but as someone who can help their students and help them as a teacher create the best practices for research for their students, because it’s in the students’ best interest.   Our schedule has more planning time this year so I think that will facilitate connections as well.

roadworkflickrscarlet.jpg     I’m going to have an interesting opportunity this year (since I am trying to think of it as an opportunity, as Vinny Vrotny mentioned at NECC, not as an obstacle) — our library is being gutted and renovated(which is another post altogether as it has been an exciting process).   I foresee my role changing in ways that maybe it already should have–and I foresee that while the library is closed, I can be an “outreach” person–and go to where the students and teachers are–the classroom.

I am planning on going to the classroom to do booktalks, help with research guidance, collaborate with teachers on projects, and it may end up totally transforming my practice and their practices as well.  That is my hope–that in the end, this renovation will have transformed our library from the inside and the outside, so to speak.

Joyce has an excellent resource wiki with links to many of the tools she mentioned,  including the NECC powerpoint, and I blogged the presentation that she and Ken Rodoff did as well.   Ken also mentioned some fascinating projects they did in the English classroom, and the links can be found on the wiki.

betaflickrsavinca.jpg    I’m wondering about other ways libraries can provide that support and guidance and be collaborative.   There are so many web 2.0 tools that we talked about at the conference and I’m going to be spending time thinking about how to put those to use effectively, and to reflect to students that our program, too, is in perpetual beta.

Technorati Tags: n07s765 Technorati Tags: necc2007


2 thoughts on “In “perpetual beta”

  1. I love the idea of being in “perpetual beta”… it is true that we are always learning and we need to model this with our students.

    Cheers, Rachel, NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *