Why Bare URLs are a problem

A Bare URL. What’s that you may ask?

A naked Uniform Resource Locator, running rampant on the Web? Exposed for all to see?
I discovered the term ‘bare URL’ today while I was sourcing some information from Wikipedia for a blog post I haven’t written yet. The article I was looking at had the following as a header in the References list at the end of the article;

This article uses bare URLs in its references. Please use proper citations containing each referenced work’s title, author, date, and source, so that the article remains verifiable in the future.

Despite staff constantly reinforcing the message with students that they need to construct proper bibliographies, I still see plenty of kids creating them with just the bare url and no other detail about the site they sourced their information from. I think Wikipedia have provided me with some terminology and explanations I can use with the students that will help them understand the importance of a citation using full details.

Link rot (or linkrot) is an informal term for the process by which, either on individual websites or the Internet in general, increasing numbers of links point to web pages, servers or other resources that have become permanently unavailable. The phrase also describes the effects of failing to update out-of-date web pages that clutter search engine results. A link that doesn’t work anymore is called a broken link, dead link or dangling link.

It’s this kind of explanation that I find helpful to use with students when trying to explain the necessity behind doing things that they they find no relevance for  – example in point, proper citation details in bibliographies. If you can provide a reasonable explanation for doing something, I find kids are more likely to do it without constant questioning.

Maybe you’ve known the terms ‘bare url‘ and  ‘link rot‘ for some time, but they’re new to me and I’ve been a pretty active web user over the past few years. (and I’m a Teacher-Librarian and probably should have been up with this terminology some time ago!) I use Wikipedia fairly regularly, and am usually pretty impressed with the quality of the articles and the citation details that enable you to track where the Wikipedians have sourced their data. I’m also impressed with the standards I’ve noticed being applied to pages where there is some dispute as to the validity of the information on the page. Recently I was looking up information about Sharia Law, and came across this on the Wikipedia page for Sharia;

This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.

I’d recommend taking a read of the ‘About page‘ of Wikipedia and familiarising yourself with some details about how the site works. There’s no doubt our students are using Wikipedia so we should be informing them about the workings of the site, both the positives and negatives, and some of the controls that exist to try and ensure that the information is authentic and credible.

In the meantime, I’m in command of some knowledge that will help me help students to understand the importance of accurate and detailed citations of the sources they use.  In other words, why a bare URL is a no no if you want to avoid the perils of link rot!

School’s out Friday

Both of this week’s videos were sourced by my Year 9 students today. Some were completing an assessment task, so I set the remaining few (we had a lot of students out today as our yearly camp program begins) to the task of honing their visual literacy skills to find a YouTube video clip that met the criteria of being both funny and clever. The first one is more clever than funny, but the second fulfills both criteria (IMO). I think Facebook vs Real life would be interesting as the basis for a class discussion, maybe even the prompt for a writing exercise or debate. They loved the task; they beavered away with their headphones on, erupting in laughter as they came across videos that appealed to their sense of humour.

Right now, I’m experiencing mixed emotions after I fare-welled my daughter, who left this evening on a two week UK trip with school. There were tears (from me!) as I kissed her goodbye, but smiles and laughter too as I waved at the bus leaving and contemplated the wonderful adventure she is about to embark on. Sure beats my school camp to Glenmaggie when I was a teenager!

Have a great weekend. I will, because it’s an extended one due to the Melbourne Cup holiday this coming Tuesday. You gotta love a horse race that stops a nation, and gives Victorians a public holiday!

Instant feedback with Chatzy

At the AIS ICT Integration Conference, Jeff Utecht had audience members participating in a variety of ways, using Twitter, Google Docs and a chatroom. In the 3 minute discussion breaks, he checked in on what was being posted on these spaces and was able to determine if there was anything that he needed to address further. It got me thinking.

I’ve listened to many speakers talk about feedback this year and I’ve sat through sessions where people are using clicker systems to gauge audience reaction. Personally, I don’t like clickers. I find them impersonal and responding to set questions isn’t my idea of providing quality feedback. I’ve thought quite a bit about how I give feedback in my classroom. I work very hard at creating a classroom environment where students feel comfortable sharing their ideas and I try to encourage input from everyone. We spend a lot of time discussing concepts and I think I’m pretty good at encouraging participation and making my students feel that their opinions are valued. But you know, you can always do better. Jeff’s session made me contemplate using some new ideas to assist with feedback.

An opportunity presented itself last week. We were watching a video debate about the wearing of the Burqa. I set up a Chatzy room and shared the link via email with my students. They logged in and as we listened to the debate, they typed in what they were thinking. To be honest with you, I didn’t think it was going to be worthwhile. I thought the kids might not take it seriously and just post silly chit chat. I was very pleasantly surprised when I checked the chat and saw them posting their opinions and questioning one another. It helped guide the discussion after we’d finished listening and provided some students with more of a voice in the classroom. It certainly made me think that this is something I would do again.

Two days later I was home sick and had to leave work for the class. I thought it might be an ideal opportunity to see how I could use Chatzy to provide students with help even though I wasn’t physically there. I set the room up and emailed the students with the link and let them know I’d be in the room during the duration of the lesson. Some of them logged in and asked questions and I was able to provide clarification.

It was worth doing. I kept in touch with what was happening in class and the students knew that I was interested in what they were doing despite me not being physically present. My voice had left me and that’s why I wasn’t there. If I was suffering from something like the flu I wouldn’t be doing something like this, but I was incapacitated in a way that made it possible for me to still participate. I don’t expect to see teachers drop everything for their students when they are sick, but I can see this being really useful if you have to run a virtual school situation due to inclement weather or something like that.

Food for thought. I do think we need to be open to new ideas, to find ways to connect with our students in ways that might encourage those who don’t share so readily to find ways to participate. I need to be open to new ways of providing feedback to make me more effective at what I do.  Teaching isn’t a static profession; it’s dynamic, constantly evolving as we respond to societal change and students who perhaps function differently and are adept at new methods of communication. If you can, give something like this a try. I’m going to be adding it to my repertoire of practice and tap into some thinking on the fly!

School’s out Friday

I saw this a week ago, and have been meaning to post it ever since. Ken Robinson is a brilliant presenter. He doesn’t always use slides, it’s often just his spoken voice delivering a powerful message about the need to transform education . He does this well with his personable nature and a touch of humour along the way. RSA animate adapted this effort from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken. If I were a principal, I’d forget about talking and use this to begin my next staff meeting; more educators need to hear messages like this as part of their professional development. For those who struggle watching a person speak, this animation should hold their attention for the full 11 minutes!

The actual talk went for 55 minutes, was entitled ‘Changing Paradigms’, and can be viewed below.

I’ve had a flat chat week, and been sick to boot.  (can you think of any more idioms I could pack in there!) I think the busy nature of the last couple of weeks caught up with me, and my voice gave out. I’ve been talking in very husky tones for the last few days and am looking forward to a quiet weekend of recuperation. Hopefully, I’ll be sounding more like myself by Monday.

Have a great weekend. Make the most of whatever comes your way. : )

Jane Hart’s 100 Tools for Learning list 2010

Jane Hart compiles this list yearly. It’s based on 545 contributor’s top 10 lists of their favourite learning tools. I really like the way Jane has produced the list as a slideshare presentation. It makes it far more interesting than just a wordy list of names, and very useful for use with staff who may be very unfamiliar with a large number of these tools. Check out the rise of the juggernaut Google – their products seem to be ranking highly in people’s lists. What’s also interesting is the the majority of the top 20 tools are cloud based applications, and not software downloads. We are placing quite a bit of our trust in others to host our content it seems.

Thanks Jane for continuing to produce a list that always opens my eyes to something new.

Learning with the New South Welshmen (and women) at the AIS ICT Technology Integration Conference

My mind has been buzzing after attending the AIS Technology Integration Conference 2010 last week. The conference had around 200 participants; a really nice number. There are opportunities for discussions and connections to be made when you aren’t overwhelmed by huge numbers. Maybe it felt good to me because my Keynote was over early (great relief!) and was received well. If I’d tanked maybe I’d have been less positive!!

What I was impressed with most of all was the energy that was palpable amongst the educators present. It felt quite similar at the Leading a Digital School Conference here in Melbourne recently. It just might be that there’s a growing acceptance that we really do need to accept that new technologies are becoming ingrained in the way we and our students lead our lives, and we need to respond by integrating new ideas into the way we teach.

Some useful takeaways. If you’re a music teacher, you must take a look at the work being done by Samuel Wright. He writes a blog called Wright-stuff music, and it’s a plethora of resources that any music teacher or student would find useful I’m figuring. I attended a session run by Samuel where he took us through some of the resources on his blog. I was so impressed by his passion for what he does; if a child of mine was in a class run by Samuel I’d be a very happy parent indeed. Do yourself a favour and visit to see what Samuel is up to.

Therese Kenny ran a really informative session about Overdrive, a download solution for Audiobook and ebook content that is used widely in public libraries. Loreto Normanhurst are the first Australian school to take it on board, and Therese and the team have done us all a favour by potentially ironing out some of the problems so that any of us who run school libraries might be able to embark on the journey with more confidence. Overdrive is something that I am seriously looking at for the 2011 school year. I don’t know if it’s the solution I think is possible, but right now it represents what is available. I think we need to explore it. I don’t want to embark on something that potentially might not be the way to go, but I do want to see how students will react to downloading files and using them on their own devices. I don’t think the solution to ebooks lies in purchasing multiple kindles or iPads for borrowing. It lies in being able to lend out encrypted files that will disappear off a device after a set borrowing period. Overdrive does this. Until we are able to download files as a matter of course from publishers, we are going to have to do it through hosted sites like Overdrive. Therese has very kindly allowed me to embed her slideshare presentation here. It’s very thorough; an enormous help to all Australian Teacher Librarians who are contemplating what to do. Thank you so much Therese and Loreto Normanhurst for your generosity in sharing with us all.

June Wall presented a session about embedding digital literacy in the curriculum. She outlined the process her team at St Ignatius Riverview has gone through to determine a model that they feel will enable them to make technology integration meaningful in their curriculum. It’s something my library staff and I are working through as well at the moment. I was interested in some ideas being shared by Martin Levins. Martin was discussing the SAMR model, the process of the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition method of evaulating learning experiences. A Google Doc was worked on in a Sandpit session on the Thursday. It’s worth looking at. It models how we can look at existing curriculum and reshape it to integrate technology, and make the learning more interesting and challenging for the students we teach. This is something we are going to be looking at for next year. This is challenging work for many of us, not necessarily because we don’t know how to do it, but because we need to move people along with us who may be uncomfortable with change. (Thanks Martin for sharing this work; I was running a Twitter session for teachers new to the idea of it and was unable to attend the session. I have found the Google Doc and your SAMR page on the wiki very helpful)

Jeff Utecht delivered an inspiring Keynote on the second day. Jeff moves around and his enthusiasm is infectious. He had us working on Google Docs, in a backchannel chat, sourcing pics from flickr and tweeting out through Twitter. He demonstrated how you can use these tools in your classroom to focus kids and ensure detailed archives of sessions are kept. Jeff also had us stopping at intervals for chat time, so that we could process some of the ideas being presented with the people around us. You can access the audio of his presentation from his page on the wiki. Do so. (I have to admit to getting a real kick to be able to be on the same bill as Jeff as a Keynoter. Jeff really inspired me in my early days of blogging when I would tune into SOS Podcast for inspiration.)

The Sandpit sessions on the second day meant that people could immerse themselves in something that interested them and get a handle on it in the hope that it will become something they could take back to their schools. Take a look at some of the pages created by participants. You can see the learning that was taking place. As I said earlier, I ran a session for some teachers who wanted to understand Twitter. I hope to see them become active contributors and participants in that vital network.

John Clear, Melanie Hughes, Pauline Lewis and members of the organising committee did a wonderful job of bringing this conference together and ensuring it ran smoothly. I so enjoyed getting to catch up with Chris Betcher and June Wall, and to finally meet Mira Danon-Baird,  Carmel Galvin, and Henrietta Miller. Thanks go to Colin who got me to the conference each morning!

School’s out Friday for Blog Action Day

Late, late, late. I was so tired after returning from New South Wales last night that I couldn’t get to School’s out Friday. This morning I remembered it was Blog Action Day, so I’m hoping this post makes it into the 15th of October in a timezone somewhere in the world!

The theme for this year is Water;

Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action.

I used this video a couple of years ago in a post, but it’s stuck in my memory as an excellent solution to the problems in developing countries. The aquaduct filtration vehicle was the winning entry in the Innovate or Die contest put on by Google and Specialized. The contest challenge was to build a pedal powered machine that has environmental impact.

Hope it makes the 15th of October deadline!!

Keynote for AIS Integration Conference 2010

Today I had the opportunity to present a Keynote for the AIS ICT Integration Conference 2010 being held at Tara Anglican Girl’s School in Sydney. Here’s the abstract I provided for the presentation;

The new rules of engagement. Preparing our teachers and students for how we can learn now.

Teachers have always been in the game of ensuring we have prepared our charges well for the world that awaits them. But are we doing that well enough today? The game has changed. The playing field is different; there are new rules, and we need to be the coaches and players in a world where the bases are loaded with a whole new set of entities.

In a hyperconnected world we can learn differently, using communities of practice to inform our teaching. We can become adept players and learn the skills of information fluency, helping our charges to choose their team wisely and make the most of the opportunities the Web affords them. There are opportunities presenting themselves; the 3G network, the digital revolution and the proposed Australian Curriculum. We need to get smart about how we infuse technology into our teaching and learning practices, and prepare our students for the knowledge economy that awaits them.

I’m pleased to say that it was well received. You can find the presentation embedded on the conference wiki and on my own wiki. The presentation is hyperlinked so you’ll be able to access the material that gave me inspiration. John Clear will also be uploading the audio recording of my presentation to the conference  wiki. Whether or not I stayed entirely true to the abstract is up to you to decide. I was still working on the slide deck the night before, trying to get it right. An arduous process!

There’s a new feature on SlideRocket that allows viewers of your presentation to leave a comment on a slide. I’d love to see how that works, so add a comment or two if you feel so inclined.

Today was a great day, with inspiring presentations delivered by passionate educators. New South Wales education looks in great shape from the vantage point I had today. I’m pretty tired so will post about the new things I’ve gleaned from this experience over the weekend. There are plenty of great ideas I’ve been exposed to that I’m keen to share.

I’d like to thank the NSW Association for Independent Schools for asking me to present. In particular, the members of the conference committee. It’s been a wonderful opportunity and a beneficial learning experience for me.

*Note. Please SlideRocket, if you’re listening, do something to enable embedding of your presentation software into WordPress blogs. I love your product, but need to able to embed them here. : )

School’s out Friday

I’ve never seen anything about Google Me here in Australia, but it appears to have been released in the United States last April. Jim Killeen Googled his name and discovered a number of people who shared his name in the search results. He then decided to make it his mission to make contact with the people who would agree to meet and be interviewed. I have to say it appeals to my inner geek. (and I can’t believe I’ve just written that, because I shy away from the geek description so commonly applied to anyone who uses a computer for any length of time. I think I have to come to terms with the fact that it probably does apply to me!) What I find interesting from this trailer is how Jim Killeen found that some of the other Jim Killeens didn’t want to be interviewed. There is no doubt privacy and anonymity is foremost in some people’s minds; those of us who find so many benefits that come from transparency and connectedness need to be mindful of the desires of others who prefer a lifestyle hidden from view.

We’ve been discussing Googling your name in my English class. There are some students with common names who can find nothing about themselves in search results because there are so many who share their name, and some of those people obviously have a much larger digital profile than they do. Some of them find this concerning; recruiters who may be Googling their names probably won’t find anything potentially damaging to their careers about them, but they probably won’t find any of the potentially great stuff that might be advantageous to their career either. I have to admit to feeling a little sorry for the other Jenny Luca’s out there in the world. It’s not a common name; I can only find two who seem to have some digital traces, but my footprint is making it hard for them to be heard.

Busy weekend of work ahead for me. I’m delivering a Keynote Address at the AIS ICT Integration Conference next week and need to refine my presentation. I’ve presented to audiences many times, but this is my first keynote. Jeff Utecht is delivering the keynote on the second day, and I’m very much looking forward to hearing him speak, and touching base with members of my Twitter network, quite a few whom I’ve never met. The conference sessions on day one all look very interesting and the second day promises to be invigorating as conference participants are encouraged to be active participants, and work in teams of like minded people to explore how ICT can be used to enrich the teaching and learning experience.

Enjoy your weekend. The sun will be shining in Melbourne, and that makes me happy. : )


Style Rookie – pure genius

Last week I wrote a post detailing my changing thinking about Blogging with students. Andromeda left a comment on that post pointing me towards a blog called Style Rookie.  She said this;

The author started it two years ago, when she was 12, just to talk about her personal interest in fashion; her parents found out about it when she needed their permission to appear in a New York Times interview. Now she gets invited to Fashion Week, gets asked to style photo shoots, etc. She’s 14.

I took a look and became totally entranced. Tavi writes this blog, she is only 14, and her influence in the fashion world has meant that she is sent clothes to wear, bags to carry and shoes to flaunt. She has recently visited Antwerp in Belgium after being invited to attend a fashion show and was recently at New York fashion week -also invited.

What she is doing seems remarkable, but in fact, she could probably be a kid in plenty of the schools we teach in. What makes her remarkable is the fact that she chose to use a blog as a platform for making her voice heard. There aren’t too many kids seriously thinking about this out there I’d venture to say. Tavi writes exceptionally well and this would be another differentiating factor. You just have to take a look at the post she wrote entitled;

An open letter to Seventeen Magazine, also, WHY ARE YOU UGLY WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU

Her objection was to an article appearing in their magazine entitled, ‘THE PARTY DRUG THAT CAN MAKE YOU FAT AND UGLY’. Here’s a bit of what she had to say;

First of all, “fat” is a descriptive term. It is not a negative thing if it is what is healthiest for a person, and I mean ACTUAL health, not like how your “Health” section is really just code for “Skinny” (“Feel lighter and leaner!”) It’s very disappointing to see your efforts with the body peace treaty and Jess Weiner’s column about body image contradicted with the suggestion that fat=ugly.

By trying to discourage the use of drugs with the threats that it will make someone fat and ugly, you’re saying the worst thing that can happen to your average reader, a teenage girl, as a result of drug use, is not that she will have any damage done to her brain or become  unhappy, but that her appearance will suffer (again, being fat does not mean bad appearance, but that is what you imply.) Notice anything wrong with this picture?

Use that in one of your classes next time you’re discussing body image and the way the media persuades young people in our world. I’m pretty sure your students will be impressed to read the words of a 14 year old, one who is doing a pretty fine job of helping to make magazines like ‘Seventeen’ sit up and take notice. That post received 363 comments; I’m pretty sure ‘Seventeen’ magazine might have got wind of that.

I mentioned Style Rookie to one of my students yesterday afternoon. She spent hours last night pouring over Tavi’s blog. She sent me an email alerting me to this post. In the subject field she had written, ‘Pure Genius’. I can only agree.

Share Style Rookie with your students. Show them what is possible.