Friday, January 31, 2014

MOOcing Experiences - 1st in a series of MOOC reflections

This is the first, of [what I hope will be] a series of posts on my MOOCing experiences over the past 5+ months. I hope they will provide food for thought to my fellow co-learners and aspiring/experienced curators. If you’ve been ‘following’ my journey using #metaliteracy, #dcurate, #teachinglibraryresearchstrategies on Twitter, this series is being written with you in mind as my primary audience.

It’s Friday afternoon and the following Canvas notification appears in my email:
This “Teaching Library Research Strategies” MOOC only started on January 27, and, in addition to replying to our individual discussions on the discussion board, our instructor has already posted 8 announcements!

I appreciate how this MOOC instructor helps keep learners engaged by posting notifications like this. [But I digress - that’s NOT the point of today’s post nor do I want to call your attention to the fact that there are some discussions (the RED arrows) that I need to read.]

Since I already know that my instructor is looking for some discussion, I go to this new ‘Announcement’ on the Canvas site.

The page is replete with links. The instructor has certainly gotten my attention. [You’ll remember that I am an Informavore and aspiring curator!] 

But I immediately notice that this "Friday update" appears to contain some verbatim text and doesn’t provide a link to the source! [This IS a course on research strategies, right?]

As I scroll down the page, I notice something about the References it provides:

I go in search of the original article and find that, although it indicates today as its last modification date, it actually dates from January/February 2002 [making these links at least 12 years old]!

So, just for the ‘halibut’, I decided to follow the breadcrumbs so my co-learners could be alerted to the status of these antiquated links and shared my findings with the instructor and my co-learners:

My takeaway: In reflecting on this journey through the 'Valley of the Shadow of Dead Links', I'm reminded that a good book is often a better source than a soon-to-be outdated curated list of Internet resources!

Have you had similar experiences? Share them in the comments section below.

And stay tuned for more "MOOcing Experiences".

Friday, January 17, 2014

From Seeking to Sharing: a story about PLNs and Curation

This is a story about my curation and my PLN [Personal Learning Network].

Most days, I end up filing the cornucopia of blog posts, listserv and RSS feeds that come across my browser or email inbox into folders. Occasionally, they ‘grab’ me, lure me into actually reading them and following their breadcrumbs. And, since I am currently engaged in the the free Curatr Digital Curation mini MOOC (Massive Online Open Course), put together by Sam Burrough and Martin Couzins,  I decided that this blog post would represent my ‘call to action’ – my ‘ah ha’ moment.

The post was an insightful analysis by Harold Jarche, a man I consider to be a PLN ‘guru’. Jarche’s visuals curate his Seek>Sense>Share continuum by placing these three elements into a grid comprised of sense-making and sharing:

Jarche then takes Patrick Lambe’s 6 PKM roles[i] and plots them on the same coordinate grid based upon each role’s levels of sense-making and sharing:

Being intrigued, I decided to further investigate Lambe’s 6C’s  to learn more about my own curation push ↔ pull tendencies. And, after answering his self-assessment questions, found that I was a ‘collector’. [No news there!] Reading Tan’s introduction, I was (only somewhat) mollified by his observation: “different people have different personality types, and different personality profiles in relation to their personal knowledge affinities and capabilities.” I tallied my ‘tendencies’ to visualize my profile:

How I Scored on Lambe's scale
Looks like I’m doing OK on Jarche’s SEEK and SENSE. My goal, however, is the upper right quadrant: to be actively sharing. Here, then, are the goals I derived from this exercise:
  • relationship-building to enhance the ‘connection’ (especially with my audience) and
  • packaging and presentation to be a more consistent ‘creator’
Mike Fisher did a nice job of visualizing the Collection/Curation dichotomy as a continuum. So I'll leave you with one more image to ponder:

and challenge you to think about where you’re spending your time and how to move your own efforts to the right-hand side. Try taking Lambe’s assessment and share what you learned about your own style and what you intend to do to modify it.


Fisher, Mike. "Collection or Curation?" Digigogy. N.p., 11 June 2012. Web. 17 Jan. 2014. <>.
Jarche, Harold. "PKM Roles." Harold Jarche: Seek > Sense > Share. N.p., 12 Jan. 2014. Web. 16 Jan. 2014. <>.
Taylor, Donald H. "Skills for 21st Century L&D Professionals." N.p., 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Jan. 2014. <>.
Lambe, Patrick. "Personal Knowledge Management: A DIY Guide to Knowledge Management - Part 2." Green Chameleon. Straits Knowledge, 2002. Web. 16 Jan. 2014. <>.
Tan, Edgar. "Personal KM: a DIY Guide to Knowledge Management - Part 2." Green Chameleon. N.p., 23 Apr. 2003. Web. 17 Jan. 2014. <>.
Zierten, Charity. "What Is 'Content Curation' Anyway?" Socially Engaged Marketing, 18 Apr. 2012. Web. 17 Jan. 2014. <>.

[i] Notes on Lambe's types:
  • Collector – mind-mapper, knowledge organizer
  • Connector – conversation, relationship-builder
  • Communicator – storyteller, targets audience
  • Creator – originator, translator
  • Critic – analytical, authenticity, reality-check
  • Consumer - passive

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Infographics as a Form of Curation

On 13 December, a SUNY Conversation in the Disciplines on "Developing Metaliterate Learners: Transforming Literacy across Disciplines" was held. Paige Jaeger summarized the proceedings by creating this infographic:

This got me to rethink my fascination with Infographics. While I DO love to write, as you've noticed if you've slogged through my previous posts, I appreciate the value of an image. It's not just that "a picture is worth a thousand words". An image 'sticks' in a way that words alone can't. Jaeger's visual summary 'resonates': like the lyrics to a favorite song, like the refrain from a tune. [If only I could turn my spreadsheets of data into something memorable like this!] 


Jaeger, Paige. "Metaliteracy, Megaliteracy and Information Literacy! " LibraryDoor. N.p., 17 Dec. 2013. Web. 15 Jan. 2014. <>.

Friday, November 8, 2013

[VERY] Long Ago and [NOT SO] far, far away… - a STEM reflection with some personal bias thrown in

This is a story about my experiences with ‘flipped classrooms’ and STEM education. It also is a tale about Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development and ‘scaffolding’. And, ultimately, it relates how I overcame my ‘fear of math’.

I was in 7th grade when the Soviet Union sent Sputnik 1 into Earth orbit in 1957. [That’s when the ‘space race’ officially commenced. Before that date, US education had resembled the hare in Æsop’s fable.] And so began my journey into “accelerated learning”[i]

Aesop's Fables with an Introduction
by Marcus Sedgwick
Puffin; Reprint edition (2013)
8th grade found me in Algebra class with Mr. Bozzo [I kid you not – that WAS his name!], who believed that the way to teach Algebra was to assign homework from the text (without providing any instruction) and then to review questions students had in class the next day. I guess Bozzo’s ‘flipped classroom’ approach worked for most of my classmates  – they were going to be engineers or scientists when they grew up - but I didn't have their innate affinity toward ‘non-numerical mathematical objects’ (AKA unknowns or variables).

In addition, like most math texts, ours was poorly written and did not provide intelligible directions for solving problems. Also, since only one of my parents had graduated from college and had only received a D in her college algebra course, I had no help from my folks[ii]. [WAS I in a ZPD but my teacher just didn't provide the scaffolding that I required at the time?]

Over the Christmas break, Mr. Bozzo assigned a take-home exam. Suffice it to say, I spent most of my vacation in the Hempstead Public Library, pouring over whatever Algebra texts I could find on the shelves and trying to understand HOW to do the take-home problems. My bedroom floor became littered with wads of crumpled notebook paper that represented several weeks of unsuccessful attempts at solving the assigned problems. I think I finally figured out how to do the exam problems and probably passed the mid-term. In retrospect, G-d knows how I survived both Algebra I and II!

But in sophomore year I encountered the Chair of our high school’s Math department AND was faced with Plane & Solid Geometry & Trigonometry[iii]
[I am NOT
casting aspersions
My journey into the joy of mathematics was short-lived. 

At the first parent-teacher conference of the year, Dr. Toner asked my mother:

“Mrs. Simpson, is your daughter going to be a doctor or an engineer? [You can guess her answer.] Then WHY is she taking up space in my class?” [I kid you not!]

Suffice it to say, I dropped his ‘honors’ course ASAP and transferred into Regents Geometry. I COULD handle ‘proofs’, ‘theorems’, and ‘postulates’! And, although I couldn't draw free-hand, I COULD use a protractor, compass, and ruler! And I never took another math course again! [And I never DID learn how to use a slide rule!] [iv]

Fast forward 40 years – I am a solo librarian at a 2-year proprietary college. Students in our college algebra course are having trouble with solving quadratic equations. Just about the ONLY thing I remember from high school Algebra IS the quadratic formula:

Say it 10x fast!
I dare you
[While I CAN understand remembering Mnemonics like PEMDAS and SOHCAHTOA, I’m still unable to determine HOW that quadratic formula stayed with me!] 

And so began my career as a math tutor.

Some things never change – math books are still being poorly written! Luckily, they now come with Student Solution Manuals that provide step-by-step instructions on how to solve the odd numbered problems. By back-engineering the odd-numbered problems, I was able to help students figure out how to solve their even-numbered homework problems.

And some things have changed with the times. I couldn't find a table of trigonometric functions at the back of any math book in my library and had to learn how to use a scientific calculator. I, also, had to teach myself logarithms. [“Look, Ma, no slide rule!” and thank heaven for PurpleMath.]

First there were video tutorials on VHS, then on CD and then DVD. There were software tools you could use online that would provide practice problems, grade your results, and even show little video clips explaining how to do the problems or show step-by-step solution instructions. But these were prepared by the same people whose textbooks were so difficult to follow in the first place! These tools even provided pre-assessments and used a form of AI to develop a sequence of modules to follow. But often, the same problem was just repeated and varied only by supplying different units or values. You’d rush to get through ten of them correctly just to advance to the next module!

Despite a plethora of tools like Khan Academy videos, some students just didn't get it. Over the years, I found myself showing numerous students how to calculate and graph trigonometric functions, how to solve logs, and how to understand things like ∑ummation notation. To keep from writing the same notes by hand day after day and quarter after quarter, I ended up developing little study guides for them to use. [Oh yeah, you caught me – I just created another tool!]

Technology is great. Technology is good. Technology provides us with a plethora - a veritable cornucopia of tools. However, technology should NOT be used in lieu of one’s brain. When I tutored, if a student reached for a calculator to do a simple addition or multiplication problem, I’d slap his hand. Technology can help us deal with large numbers, or crunch data, or simulate experiments by changing variables and observing (or graphing) the results. 

Technology is NOT Teachology and, while tech provides a vast array of supplemental tools that appeal to a variety of learning styles, in the end Learning involves a synergy between a teacher (be s/he F2F or remote and reachable via email, texting, video chatting, webinars …) and a learner. Even P2P (Peer-to-Peer) or PBL (Project-Based Learning) usually require facilitation by a teacher to achieve the desired learning objectives.

[i] The gist of 'acceleration' was to get students into AP classes to earn credit toward college prerequisites before entering college. [Advanced Placement tests had just started being administered by The College Board in 1955.]

[ii] My mother was a whiz with numbers but just couldn't wrap her mind around the concept of variables. She religiously attended each class and struggled to submit each homework assignment and only received a passing grade from her instructor because she was going to teach 2nd graders and, therefore, would NOT have to teach algebra. Her instructor said: “Mrs. Simpson, I’ll pass you only because I don’t want to see you in my class again!”

[iii] Back in those days, there were NO calculators. You used slide rules and tables of trigonometric functions, from which you often had to extrapolate answers to a certain number of significant digits. [I won't launch into a chorus of 'Those were the days, my friend'!]

[iv] My fear of math was so great that I opted to take Biology as a college freshman to fulfill my science/math distribution requirement and spent two semesters pithing frogs for my classmates and trying to draw what I saw under the microscope. That's when I really could have used the technology! [Yes, that really is using a smartphone as a microscope!]

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Caveat Lector – Let the Reader BEWARE!

Caveat Lector

Now here’s a really scary thought brought up by a blog post by Donald Clark (11-7-13): "When Big Data goes bad:6 epic fails". 

Clark notes that “Data, in the wrong hands, whether malicious, manipulative or naïve can be downright dangerous. Indeed, when big data goes bad it can be lethal. Unfortunately the learning game is no stranger to both the abuse of data.” 

He provides 6 examples and concludes with : “Big Data in the hands of little brains is downright dangerous.”

Clark’s blog post ties in with Topic 4:  Connecting Visual Literacy to Metaliteracy and reiterates my call for “due diligence” (10-18-13), based upon Catherine Lombardozzi’s “Perils of Popular Science” (10-17-13).

Question: Are you ever going to believe what you read again?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Hello, Is There Anybody Out There? - What Message Are You Sending Me?

OK, fellow Metiliteracy MOOCers, I don’t get it.

I was a little worried after I posted my survey and no one responded to it. So, I tested it myself. [Granted, it didn’t seem to work as an embedded form using my Chrome browser, but it DID in IE and my stats show that 52% of my views were done using Internet Explorer!] Therefore, I quickly added a direct link to the Google Form on my blog post.

I just wanted to thank the one librarian who DID take the survey. You validated the fact that it IS functional.

But I’m just wondering WHY no one else has responded. The survey IS anonymous. And, if you have any questions about the survey questions, you could always email me ( or use Blogger’s ‘comments’ feature.

If you ‘getMetaliteracy, then you understand that one of its key principles is the ability to engage in dialogue, and, perhaps even to engage in collaboration. It’s all about Getting the MESSAGE OUT and GettingMESSAGES BACK and STARTING/CONTINUING/DEVELOPING CONVERSATIONS.

With apologies to Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb' I ask:

Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone home?

So here's hoping that the 21 people who viewed my survey WILL take a few minutes to respond to it. This is your opportunity to express your preference about how these communications are shared among Metaliteracy MOOC participants and, in addition, providing valuable feedback to future MOOC offerings.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Beware online "filter bubbles" - Eli Pariser's TED Talk

Eli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles" (filmed March 2011)

I hope you will agree that Pariser's TED Talk ties in with this week's topic: TOPIC 5: MEDIA AND NEWS LITERACY 
"Pioneering online organizer Eli Pariser is the author of "The Filter Bubble," talks about how personalized search might be narrowing our worldview. 
Abstract: As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there's a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a "filter bubble" and don't get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy."
Pariser reminds us that we are seeing a Web based upon 'invisible algorithmic editing' of relevance. Yes, the algorithms are created by humans but the resultant 'personalization' leads to what Pariser calls "filter bubbles". And he calls for a return to the 'civic responsibility' displayed by the human gatekeepers of our past (the role that newspapers and other media provided us). "...We need the new gatekeepers to encode that kind of responsibility into the code that they're writing."

"So if algorithms are going to curate the world for us, if they're going to decide what we get to see and what we don't get to see, then we need to make sure that they're not just keyed to relevance. We need to make sure that they also show us things that are uncomfortable or challenging or important -- this is what TED does -- other points of view."

Points worth considering as we reframe our own information literacy.