• 03Feb
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Educational Technology, Mind Amplifying Tools Comments: 2

    2009-02-03-post

    As I’ve just started studying (online) again, my mind is tuning back into things it normally only focuses on when I’m in hard-core academic mode. This morning, for example, (well, actually, for the last two mornings) I’ve been reading through the introductory materials on both of my course websites, and I ended up going through a lot of information related to library resources and referencing tools. The most common bibliographic and bookmarking tools that we’re being recommended are RefWorks and Furl, respectively.

    refworksRefWorks is only available to us while we’re registered students. After that, unless we’re affiliated with an organization that pays for access OR unless we want to pay for an annual subscription ourselves, we loose all of our research collections at the end of the academic term. Basic translation: if you want to be able to access the information you collect and store using RefWorks over then next 6-8 months, this might not be your best choice.furl

    Furl, on the other hand, is a social bookmarking service with many features, accessible from anywhere and free to all. Although they’re not direct substitutes, if I hadn’t already been hooked on Zotero when I first learned about Furl, I probably would have given Furl more of a chance.

    Now we get to the reason for this post! I wanted to share a bibliographic management tool with you that I have found to be invaluable during my courses of study (and tangential resource endeavors). Zotero is a free, open source Firefox plugin that allows you to capture resources as you come across them and organise them into neat research collections. I find it thoroughly enjoyable and intuitive to usezotero

    Zotero allows me to make sense of the piles of information I collect each time I brave the plethora of resources available within just a few clicks of a mouse. To help bring my point home, imagine that if all the files and links I collected were stacks of random pieces of paper covering every square inch of my inevitably invisible imaginary desk, then Zotero would be like the magical fairy that instantly organises all the information into a beautifully systematic filing system that I structure and that is completely aligned with my thought processes. Essentially, it allows me to know where to find stuff when I need it – whether I’m on or off line.

    It also lets me summarise reference collections almost instantly. Let me show you… I’ll share a report I generated from a collection of resources I built relating to online language learning. It generates the report in html format, so I just saved that page as a pdf file which is now available to you simply by clicking here.

    Now that I’ve got you hooked ( 😉 ), let’s watch the video intro together (the video below opens in a new tab/window):

    Zotero even has a social feature called Zotz that allows you to share your reference collections with communities. More info below:

    Here’s an exhibit I just generated. The Zotz add-on still needs a little ironing out, but it’s an exciting new development of an already exceptionally functional information management tool.

    There’s even a WordPress plugin available that helps Zotero better recognise the information in your blog entries which makes for more seamless referencing of this type of information as well. From the screenshot below, you can see the little additional icon that is displayed in your address bar once this plugin is activated. When you’re viewing a WordPress blog, once you click on this icon, a window pops up (as seen below) asking you which of the entries available on the page you’re on you would like to add to your Zotero collections.

    zotero-plugin-screenshot

    Lots of other screencast tutorials are available for those interested in exploring the tool further.


  • 27Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Mind Amplifying Tools Comments: 3

    Sni.ps logoLet’s talk Sni.ps! Copying and pasting has become on the web what chewing and swallowing is at mealtime (or snack time or nibbles time or whatever else you call it to make yourself feel better 😉 ) The thing is, now that we’ve learned how to transfer copied content to other places, it’s time to start doing a better job of acknowledging our sources. Giving credit where credit is due is one thing, not only because it’s nice for an author to feel appreciated, but also because the audience may want to explore further content by the same author, and without accreditation or proper acknowledgment, the connection is lost.

    And we’re all about the global connection. Whether we want to be or not, the inter connectivity of all things in all (connected) places in this world impacts all of us, from students doing real-time group projects with classmates scattered across the globe, or grandmothers being sent a stack of photos from grandchildren who simply uploaded files onto a site and had the middleman print, snip and ship then to the desired location. It’s all about the connection.

    So, how do we ensure that we keep that connection going? Well, we have to take it a step further – copy and paste turns into sni.p and paste. And what does sni.p mean? It means copy + gather source information + collect some programming code that tells the computer accessing your sni.p how to connect to its source.

    What I’ll do now is use sni.ps to copy an excerpt below of the blog entry I read that introduced me to sni.ps:

    Sni.ps Attribution Tool at EdTechPost

    The premise is simple enough – the service provides a bookmarklet that, when clicked, creates an overlay of whatever page you were looking at. This overlay allows you to then select content on that page, for which it generates ‘embed code’ to paste on your own site. Doing so will reproduce the content along with an annotated attribution link back to the original source.

    It’s awesome (and it’s free), but don’t just take my word for it, or anyone else’s word for it. Try it out yourself.

    Personally, I think I’ll be making quite a bit of use out of it when it comes to sharing videos, flash content, and any other sort of rich media that I can see value in sharing. What about you?

    Now, since you’re reading a blog about all things virtually scholastic, let’s spend a moment reflecting on how this tool impacts educational technology? Well, if you still insist that your students submit their assignments in hardcopy only, then I suppose it doesn’t affect you a bit. If, on the other hand, you provide your students with the facilities and the processes to submit and share work electronically, then you’ve just discovered a great way for them to learn more about the importance of copyright acknowledgment in a web 2.0+ world.

    Connectedness also means networked which blends into online social behaviors which impact how students learn which…should probably also impact how you teach…shouldn’t it?