Friday, April 30, 2010

PREZI - Fun new presentation tool

At NJLA, Bob saw a presentation that used Prezi instead of Powerpoint, so I decided to play around and see what it was all about. Fun stuff!!

Prezi is an online presentation tool that enables you to create radically different presentations from what we're used to with Powerpoint. Instead of individual slides, you create your presentation on one large canvas and use set up your presentation to navigate around that canvas. Below is a Prezi presentation I just threw together in about 20 minutes. (At this point, you have to keep clicking the forward arrow to go through the presentation - I haven't yet figured out how to make it play video-style.)

It's very simple to use; I created this one after watching about 5 minutes worth of tutorials on their website. However, because it's simple to use, it seems like the functionality is a bit limited. I haven't explored all of the options yet, so the above presentation is very basic, but you can see immediately the different style Prezi uses and how this could make for more interesting - and better organized - presentations.

If you want to try it out, go to and click the link for Student/Teacher Licenses. The free educator version has more features than the free public one. All that is required is to sign up with your college email address and provide the college's website address when asked.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Google's Wonder Wheel for keyword instruction

Have you seen Google's Wonder Wheel? I just learned about it on the ILI-L listserv, and it's a pretty fun feature. Similar to the concept map available in Credo Reference, the Wonder Wheel takes the keywords you enter in a Google search and displays them in a concept map with other relevant search terms/phrases. The Wonder Wheel is in the middle of the screen with results for the main search term to the right. If you click a search term that is linked on the wheel, the search terms on the right change to websites relevant to that search term.

When looking at results for a Google search, click Show Options from the top left. Then along the left side of the screen, scroll down and select Wonder Wheel to see your results in this view. Detailed instructions are available here.

This might be an interesting and engaging way to get students thinking about keywords in an info lit session. They will be more interested in anything coming from Google than what we come up with, but it gets across the idea that there are other ways to phrase a particular search idea. Although many of the initial "spokes" on the wheel are very similar to the first search, there are slight variations that ultimately bring up different results. This is a concept that I think our students struggle with, as they constantly put the same phrase over and over again into every search and wonder why they can't find anything useful!

Do you see any potential uses for this tool?

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

CHOICE Websites

CHOICE frequently reviews websites, many of which are freely accessible. I thought I'd share a batch of recent ones.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

"provides hourly updates on business ethics and human rights news and reports" for over 4000 companies worldwide.

Leight Hunt Online: The Letters
"electronic access to...surviving correspondence of the British Romantic poet" in facsimile images. Uses OCLC's CONTENTdm as its platform.

International Children's Digital Library: A Library for the World's Children
"an international collection that...appeal[s] to children ages 3-13 (all over the world) and...provide[s] quality literature...Contains more than 10,000 digitized children's books in 54 languages."

The Torture Archive
"provides access to over 83,000 pages (with more materials to be added) of primary documents concerning the detention and interrogation of individuals by the US government."

English Short Title Catalogue

"designed to include a bibliographic record, with holdings, of every surviving copy of letterpress produced in Great Britain or any of its dependencies, in any language, worldwide, from 1473 to 1800." (Sounds like Worldcat with a Brit-centric spin)

The Federal Reserve Board: Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions
The Beige Book from the Federal Reserve, online. Great for "undergraduate students seeking up-to-date, easily digestible commentary on the economy."

William Faulkner on the Web
"biography, Yoknapatawpha locale, synopses, annotated character listings, critical resources, and links to other important Web sources...student friendly site even offers MLA citation models for each of its pages."

Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence

"Their goal is to craft an academically viable, peer-reviewed online encyclopedia while also creating an important base of knowledge for the world community on this...topic."

Tutorialized: Photoshop Tutorials and Flash Tutorials
"over 3,000 Flash tutorials and over 12,000 Photoshop tutorials, along with hundreds of lessons covering other graphics software as well."

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Viewing Ebsco PDF's on a Mac

Interesting FYI - Ebsco made more changes to its interface recently, you may have noticed. (They finally labeled that yellow icon with the word "Cite" for one thing, which is very helpful!) This blog post explains the new PDF reader in Ebsco databases, which has been giving Mac users a hard time.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Using Wikipedia to teach source evaluation

This blog post from Inside Higher Ed was written by a history professor who has his students complete an assignment to evaluate the usefulness of Wikipedia as a source. While I think that many assignments based too heavily on Wikipedia fail to get across key concepts that are transferable to research in general, he makes it sound like this assignment does so effectively. Ah, if only all professors would so actively embrace information literacy and seemlessly incorporate source evaluation into existing assignments. I'm bookmarking this for the info-lit-across-the-curriculum pitch I hope to make one day!
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