Posts Tagged ‘research’

April 5 Webinar: Hot Points – Current Events and Digital Tools

April 1st, 2012 Comments off

Current events teaching has never been juicier. Up to the second information on events from all points of the four winds can be easily gathered, disseminated and pored over using digital tools. Videos from within the Occupy Wall Street camp, tweets from observers and players in the Arab Spring uprising and the ability to communicate with anyone at the center of a news story via iChat means that students now have a more immediate connection to events than most journalists had fifteen years ago. And with traditional news sources sometimes struggling to compete with the constant flow of information, our students have never been in a better position to show their flair as budding journalists.

This webinar demonstrated how students can access information and turn it into a news story – making sense of multiple sources, applying a clear vision and creating news stories of their own. We discussed some of the drawbacks to the mass of unfiltered information, and how we can help our students become objective reporters and informed opinion makers.

Here are the links I shared in the webinar:

Newsmap: a visual representation of the Google News aggregator

Google News: Try customising the page using the Preference sliders

Newsvine: user voted news stories – a good place to take the temperature of the news

Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages: over 900 front pages from the world’s newspapers, update daily.

MARVEL: ProQuest News
database is a fantastic resource for searching through 1400+ publications from around the world, with many publication’s articles going back at least a decade.

In addition, we looked at YouTube’s capabilities for up to the minute footage of events, and iTunes Store’s News and Politics Podcasts. Google Earth can provide background on the areas where events are taking place, and the World Data Analyst on MARVEL can help with statistics on each country.

Image by Giladlotan on Flickr. Used with a Creative Commons License CC BY-NC 2.0

Free eCollection of 9/11 Resources

August 30th, 2011 Comments off

The 9/11 Searchable Information Center, an open access collection of e-books and resources related to 9/11 will be made available at no cost throughout the month of September by ebrary, a member of the ProQuest family of companies.

Knowing that school, public and academic libraries may face numerous requests for information and resources as the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, ebrary developed a collection of 15 full text e-books. The collection is available at This site is fully functional and also provides free access to ebrary’s research tools for the month.

Libraries are welcome to include this link on their homepages and to assist patrons with Internet access to download and read the titles at no cost anytime during the month of September. Titles included are Reclaiming the Sky: 9/11 and The Untold Story of the Men and Women Who Kept America Flying, by Tom Murphy; The Shock of the News: Media Coverage and the Making of 9/11 by Brian Monahan; Tower Stories: An Oral History of 9/11, by Damon DiMarco and Thomas Kean; and We Are All Suspects Now: Untold Stories from Immigrant Communities after 9/11, by Tram Nguyen.

May is MARVELous!!

May 5th, 2011 Comments off

MARVEL logoMLTI is excited to help spread the word about MARVELous May, a scavenger hunt project to increase students’ awareness of MARVEL!, Maine’s Virtual Library. MARVEL! contains thousands of magazines, newspapers, and reference books and is available anywhere in the State. Please spread the word to your colleagues, friends, and students so everyone can explore MARVEL! and have a shot at winning some great prizes in the process (including the grand prize of a digital whiteboard!).

MARVELous May is a joint project of the Maine State Library and the Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine (ACTEM). Please visit for full details.

Going Multimodal: Notes from the March 17 Webinar

March 18th, 2011 Comments off

Concept map of North American trees - ConiferousMany thanks to the good folks who came out for yesterday’s webinar, “Multimodal Strategies for Communication & Expression.” Ann Marie and I appreciated the contributions made, which I’ve incorporated into our notes below.

The content of the webinar was based on a 2008 white paper that was commissioned by Cisco and written by the Metiri Group, titled Multimodal Learning through Media: What the Research Says. I liked this report when it was published and decided to resurrect it as the subject of a webinar because, at just 24 pages (including appendices), it’s a bite size synthesis of the research behind multimodal learning and how it can inform the use of multimedia for instruction. The framework of the paper centers on three key aspects of multimodal learning:

  • The physical functioning of the brain (neuroscience)
  • The implications for learning (cognitive science)
  • What the above means for the use of multimedia

So, we set out to define multimodal learning, to summarize the research behind it and, most enjoyably, demonstrate and provide examples of how it can be accomplished through multimedia applications on the MLTI MacBooks. Read more…

March 17 Webinar: Multimodal Strategies for Communication and Expression

March 14th, 2011 Comments off
Cartoon image of left brain-right brain concept

Image by vaXzine, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license

Multimodal strategies can be used by teachers and students alike to convey information, ideas, and concepts, as well as to express knowledge and understanding. Because each individual student effectively responds to unique inputs, such as text, audio, and visual (among others), combinations are essential to successful teaching and learning experiences.  In this webinar, we’ll review the research behind the need for multiple modes (multimodal) learning, as well as examine applications on the MLTI MacBooks that support related strategies. Comic Life, Freemind, GarageBand, iPhoto, OmniGraffle, and Photo Booth will be featured.

Please join Cynthia Curry and Ann Marie Quirion Hutton on Thursday, March 17, at 3:15 or 7:15 PM. To register, click on the Webcasts tab at the top of this page and navigate to the calendar of webinars.


Notes from the October 28th Webinar: Accessing the Past

November 1st, 2010 Comments off

The digitizing of primary source material is becoming an important step forward in the teaching and learning of history. The ability of students to access and use high quality images of primary sources that once were confined to archives, museums, libraries and historical society’s shelves means that new learning and understanding of the past is feasible at an unprecedented level. In addition, the tools available to students to create their own digital copies of primary sources adds a dimension of ownership to the creation of history that can only be imagined at this point. However, as educators, we must ensure that this process and action is ongoing, rigorous and meaningful.

We should be encouraging our students to explore and add to current archives of material available to them. Some of the online collections that were examined in the webinar included the Maine State Archives Civil War Sesquicentennial Collection, the Maine Memory Network and the Library of Congress Flickr Collection of historic images. These three collections give a varied picture of how primary source materials are being presented to the public, and really only hint at the kinds of material available. To deepen this examination, students could be directed to search YouTube for primary source video, such as news broadcasts and amateur footage of events, and the Internet Archive for audio recordings.

The creation of digital copies of primary source material using student laptops is surprisingly simple, with the addition of a scanner or a digital camera that can create high resolution images. Scanners that can create images of 800 pixels per inch are now very affordable for most department budgets, and can be used by many to create an impressive library of digital images of documents, photographic prints and other material on a page, such as maps, plans and newspaper articles.
On the MLTI laptops, the application Image Capture makes the process getting a scanner to work very easy. For most scanners, it is a straightforward ‘plug and play’, and the ability to work with the images pre-scan is taken care of right in the application. Adjusting resolution, size of the image created, naming and location the image will be placed on the machine is now a matter of a few clicks.

Scanning guidelines for archival material can be found on the Maine Memory Network site.

Once a digital copy has been created, it is important to name the material correctly. This can be for the purposes of retrieval if the copies are added to a database, for both the creator and another user. If standard naming conventions are followed, it will make it more useful when sharing the material for anyone to locate and understand the material. The Maine State Archives have provided a naming convention for files containing digital copies, and can be found here.

Using digital tools to create meaning and understanding from primary source materials can occur in many ways. Using Comic Life to ‘unpack’ an image is a great entry point for many students: the whole image of the material can be placed in the center of a page, and cutaway focus images of the detail can then be added to the page, with text bubbles providing commentary on the detail. iMovie can be used to generate a Ken Burns style documentary (the default setting for still images in iMovie is the Ken Burns effect). Using Google Earth to locate the source material’s origin or current archive, through adding placemarks to the map, is a powerful way to build relationships to the material through geography. Building online collections, through blogs and wikis, and also through Flickr sets, provides the opportunity for the wider world to comment on the material, thus leading to new perspectives and new understanding around documents that were perhaps previously only available to a few.

The connections to the past that can be created through students using primary source material are important for the future of history and historical learning. By creating and gaining access to primary source material that before the arrival of the digital age was restricted, we can hope to build a new story of our past, and thereby gain a new understanding of who we are today.

October 28 Webinar: Accessing the Past – Using Primary Sources Digitally

October 22nd, 2010 Comments off

Powerful connections and understandings can be made when a student is able to use primary source material in their work. Their interpretation of documents, letters, photographs, films, contemporary reports and objects creates new learning and meaning, by placing the world of yesterday in the framework of our world today.

For too long, access to primary source material has been limited to museums, archives, historical societies as well as attics and basements. Now, with a growing movement to make digital copies of this material available online, access to primary source material is unprecedented for the student researcher. This access obviously brings great benefits, but also challenges: finding the material, storing the copies, and creating high quality digital copies that are accessible to all.

This webinar will discuss and demonstrate how students can create digital copies of primary source material available in their local area, and make the copies available to online users. We will talk about standards for digital copies of material, and work with tools that can be used in this process. In addition, we will look at online collections that are available for use, and discuss ways in which students can use the material found in collections.There will also be a chance to share your own experiences of using primary source material, both with students and from your own work.

This webinar is a precursor to the Maine Council for Social Studies conference on Friday, November 12. For more details on this conference, please visit

This session will be delivered on Thursday, October 28, at 3:15 PM and again at 7:15 PM. For information and to register, please choose the WebCasts tab at the top of this page.

Thanks to Jim Moulton for the image, showing a letter from Charles Potter from Bowdoin, ME, dated Aug 14, 1835.

WatchMECreate Engages Maine Students in Serious Creativity

September 30th, 2010 Comments off

Regular readers of this blog and participants in our webinars understand the importance of giving students opportunities to solve real problems and to create and publish their work for real audiences. MLTI in collaboration with ACTEM is providing such an opportunity with their new project, WatchMECreate. The first challenge, WatchMEGraduate, has already begun but it’s not too late for students teams to get involved. In case you missed it, I’m posting the original announcement here.

Student Conference

Do you believe that students do their best work when they take on challenges that truly matter in the real world? Have you ever looked for Maine-based projects you could point middle and high school students towards that would make a real difference?  Projects where they could use their technical and communication skills in support of something that really matters? Projects where they could work independently, in teams with their friends and have the chance to be rewarded for the quality of their work with something more than good grades?

WatchMECreate ( is a collaborative effort between ACTEM & the MLTI. It will consist of a series of serious challenges put out to Maine’s grade 7-12 schools, asking students (and perhaps teachers) to collaboratively develop and submit video responses.  While posed as a “student challenge,” it is assumed that some students may come to it independently while others will be directed towards it by their teacher.

The first challenge is called WatchMEGraduate and asks students to create a 2-minute video response to, “What one thing should be done in your school community to increase the number of kids who make it to graduation?” This challenge is made real by the following documents:

Gov. Baldacci’s Economic Strategy ( “The most important measure of economic development in Maine is the educational attainment of its people and the opportunities that arise from our people’s participation in the economy of tomorrow.”

From Maine Dept. of Education Website ( “An Act To Increase Maine’s High School Graduation Rates (Sec. 1. 20-A MRSA c. 211, sub-c. 1-B) …The bill also requires the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education to establish a stakeholder group to develop recommendations relating to increasing secondary school graduation rates in the State and to report its findings to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over education matters by January 10, 2011.”

Dates: went live on 9/1/10; First challenge, WatchMEGraduate, went live on 9/7/10; Uploads will begin to be accepted on September 14, 2010 through November 10, 2010.
Here’s the process:

  1. A team of up to four student members (grades 7-12) will produce a video response to the current challenge
  2. Videos must put forward positive solutions that are process-focused
  3. The video will be no longer than 2 minutes
  4. Teams are responsible for obtaining appropriate permissions for any materials used
  5. All videos must carry, in the credits, a Creative Commons license
  6. The video will be uploaded (see web site for details), along with contact information, but will not be publicly displayed until all appropriate releases have been received by ACTEM & MLTI
  7. That’s it. Now get to work. Oh, and because this is professional grade work, please do be sure to cite your sources…

Judging process: Pains are being taken to make this not “feel like school.” A rubric has been created and posted on the web site.  Judges will be drawn from ACTEM & MLTI as well as other community sources.

Rewards: All teams whose entry is accepted as complete and placed on the WatchMECreate site will be entered into a drawing for team sets of four high quality, limited edition ACTEM / MLTI WatchMECreate T-shirts. Five middle school teams and five high school teams will be chosen at random. The top Middle School and High School teams will each be awarded $500 to be used by the team to help move their solution forward, as well as an iPod nano for each student team member.

Questions or comments: Please send e-mail to

Webinar Recap: Evaluating Resources and Publishing Student Work

June 19th, 2010 Comments off

Students are often cast on to a desert island of research and asked to find the resources they need to help them find their way back to civilization. They may have received little or no instruction in how to tell if a resource is reliable, which can often make the process of research a bewildering and sometimes frustrating endeavor. As teachers, we need to help our students in evaluating resources, make them aware of what constitutes a reliable source of information, and alert them to the pitfalls.

In Thursday’s webinar, I put forward four questions we can have students ask themselves when they begin to evaluate a web resource:
“Why was this site created?”
“Who’s paying for this?”
“Why does the site look like this?”
and “Can the same information be found elsewhere?”

These questions begin to establish the motivation of the site’s creators, what message they are trying to convey, and the all important piece that student’s often struggle with: can the information be verified?

We discussed some pointers that students can use to gauge the reliability of a resource, which included authority, bias, design, transparency and currency. The feelings of the participants in the webinar was that there is no one pointer toward reliability, especially not domain names, which are often regarded as a guarantee of trust.

Students can use citation generators to help them establish the credibility of a resource. By filling in reference, students have to be able to identify certain information from a site that helps them critique it more thoroughly. Two citation generators available online: Easybib and Son of Citation Machine.

Using a social bookmarking site can give  a student a quick glimpse at how many people have at least looked at a site, and why that may be useful site to peruse. Delicious and Diigo are two such social bookmarking sites.

Some further website evaluation tools to take a peek at:

USM Library Website Evaluation Checklist

C-TEC Website Evaluation Form
Kathy Schrock’s ABCs of Website Evaluation (dated, but still a great guide)

In the webinar we also discussed the publishing of student work, really the end result of conducting and organizing research for a student. There are many benefits for publishing to the student, such as raising confidence in writing for an audience and the ability to receive feedback from someone other than a teacher. Many of these points have been covered in previous webinars by my colleague’s Barbara Greenstone and Phil Brookhouse: please check out their work if you haven’t yet done so.

There are many paces in which students can get their work into a wider audience:
Using blogs is an interesting method of creating an ongoing discussion and feedback. One place that caters to student blogs is Edublogs.
A wiki can be created so that only members can critique a piece of work, which can be of benefit when considering the age and maturity of a student. Wikispaces works well in this aspect.
There are dedicated sites to publishing student work, many can be found with a websearch Teen Ink is one such space.
Student wok can also be published in non-traditional, text-based format. Google Earth Community is a space for publishing files created in Google Earth, and can be a fun format for students to focus their research findings. Podcasts can be created and published on Podbean, for the delight of the world. And our old friend YouTube is a reliable space to host video.

I’m also making an impassioned plea not to do away with the school magazine! Many schools have a goal to be paperless, however I believe this is one bit of paper we should keep out of the trash. The school magazine can hold many pieces of student work, is easily distributed amongst peers and has a sentimental value that can last many years. I myself still have copies of my old school magazine, and do not plan on getting rid of them. With the publishing and productivity tools available on the MLTI devices, professional and attractive looking magazines are straightforward and achievable.

Be sure to watch a recording of the webinar – click on the tab marked ‘Webcasts’ above, then ‘Archives’, and locate the June 17th 2010 recording.

June 17th Webinar: Evaluating Resources and Publishing Student Work

June 15th, 2010 5 comments

Wide angle view or strong focus? Current or timeless? Authoritative or opinionated? Both? Neither? Students have it hard these days, navigating web resources to find the information that will attend to their questions. In this webinar, we’ll attempt to help our students out with a few pointers, rules of thumb and a dose of sound judgement when it comes to evaluating digital resources. We’ll also discuss the various avenues available to students for publishing their research findings, why this is a good idea and what to do with the feedback they receive.

This session will be delivered on Thursday, June 17, at 3:15 PM and again at 7:15 PM. For information and to register, please choose the WebCasts tab at the top of this page.

Image by Bill Sodemann on Flickr,