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Course Materials: Email Archives

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Questions? Contact Annette Lamb.

lambClass Email Archives

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Update: April 14


Update: April 7

We’re having lots of fun this semester. Can you believe it will be over in less than a month?

We've explored all types of electronic resources. Now let's think about developing collections of electronic materials. Traditional book collections are easy to see. You have nice rows of books that are easy to access. How do you select, organize and provide access to electronic collections? Let's do some exploring.

Read Collection Development at

Post Spark 6. It’s due Monday April 7.
Spark 6 reply is due Monday April 14.

I’ve had a couple questions about SPARK 6 I want to address. The goal of this assignment is to think about the digital and electronic collections in your library: game collections, image collections, audio collections, and video collections (four of your reading assignments) that you have available in a youth library. These materials are often “invisible” to children and young adults because they aren’t sitting neatly on shelves like books.

We’ve already discussed ebooks and general apps in the class, so I don’t want you to focus on ebook or general apps collections.

Instead, think about places that youth could go for games, videos, images, and audio. Remember that Overdrive and Tumble Books have an audiobook features. These are fine if you want to do audiobooks. But also remember wonderful classics like Librivox and the audio collection in Archive.

Inspire is a SERVICE, not a collection. Within the collection there are many databases you could feature. For instance, Inspire have an “Image Collection” database you could feature. Think about all the image libraries available in museums. The National Portrait Gallery from the Smithsonian contains hundreds of portraits of famous people that youth could enjoy.

YouTube is a video collection. It has thousands of great videos for youth that are difficult for kids to locate. You could focus on specific YouTube channels with youth programming.

STEAM and SCRATCH are two well-known gaming environment where children can use the games created by others or build their own.

You should pick one collection and eight resources you could find in this collection. For instance, YouTube has a PBSKids and Sesame Street channels for kids’s videos. Be sure to pick a variety that really highlight to options.

If you’re developing marketing materials using Microsoft Publisher, be sure to export them as PDF files! Not everyone has access to Microsoft Publisher, but it’s possible for everyone to read a PDF file.

As you explore the "collection development" aspect of the readings, you'll learn a little about MARC records and cataloging electronic materials. If you're new to librarianship, you may not know much about cataloging. Think of a MARC record as an electronic version of a card catalog card/entry. When cataloging electronic materials, you should go through the same technical processing procedures as you do with other library materials.

For a quick overview of the MARC fields go to

Try World Cat at
For the complete MARC record, explore the records provided by different libraries.

For practice, go to the Library of Congress website at
Do a search for the educational software package called SimCity
Notice at a number of items come up including the "computer file" SimCity.
Try another one such as Freddi Fish or Inspiration and notice the results.
Unfortunately, LOC has limited electronic resources.

You should be thinking about Project 3: WebQuest. How is a WebQuest different from your first two projects?

A WebQuest is an inquiry-based and project-based approach to learning. Most WebQuests provide a pathfinder "within" the WebQuest to help students with the project. It's a guided learning experience. Many WebQuests also incorporate tutorials to help students just specific resources. Think of a WebQuest as a self-contained learning experience. Although an adult may be there to facilitate the experience, the WebQuest materials for the young person should provide all the information a learner needs to be successful. The teacher or adult materials should provide ideas to help guide the experience.

Here's a quick overview of an example. You might start with a grocery store scenario. Then provide a "big question" or TASK such as "paper or plastic"... what's the best choice when they ask at the grocery store? You set up activities to help students with this question such as small groups representing different points of view (paper industry, plastic industry, environmentalist, grocer association) and provide resources to help them solve their problem. You provide RESOURCES (like a pathfinder), GUIDANCE (like a chart to complete, guidelines for investigation, tutorial, directions for poster making, options for final project), EVALUATION (checklist or rubric), and CONCLUSION (presentation for the local grocery stores or poster about the options and best choice).

Remember, it doesn't need to be a K-12 school project. Let's consider a public library example. As part of a babysitting program at your library, you might create a WebQuest that takes young people through the process of becoming a Super Babysitter or finding a summer job! Rather than a traditional assessment at the end, you might conclude with a checklist for babysitting and a Super Sitter certificate for completing the WebQuest.

Several of you created wonderful guides and instructions for using technology tools. Be sure to check out the super postings of your classmates.

Someone expressed concerns about the balance of on- and off- computer activities for young people. I think it's important to ask yourself about the value of tools for individual children. Some students have a hard time getting started with creative projects, so a tool such as Digital Lego or TuxPaint might "kickstart" the project. In other cases, working with real Lego pieces or going outside with a digital camera will stimulate creativity. The key to all of these tools is thinking about the individual needs of the young person.

Someone pointed out the issue of using free services or subscription services. Keep in mind that particularly for young children, advertising can be very distracting in addition to simply annoying. If you have a budget also keep in mind that many great websites rely on donations to keep their service ad-free.

Whenever you store information at a remote site, be sure to read their guidelines. In many cases, you give up ownership of your content when you post at a free service. Consider services that use a "copyleft" approach. In other words, what you post is placed in the public domain rather than being owned by the service.

There was a bit of a misunderstanding in the apps section in terms of how many apps were required. I’ll update the directions so there isn’t a problem the next time I teach the course.

Comic Life is my personal favorite. I think it's well worth the small cost. Keep in mind that you can export Comic Life as a HTML document but the images that must all be uploaded and made available to the public if you're using Oncourse. You can also export as a JPG, PDF and a couple other ways. If you upload the original Comic Life files, end users will need to have the application to view your comic.

When you're working with Comic Life consider taking your own photographs. They are easy to import. If you use the works of others, be sure to give credit. Also think about the many other types of visuals that can be includes such as scanned drawings, charts, graphs, symbols, and maps.

I hope to e-see you in another course this summer or fall.

I’ll be teaching S401 Computer-based Information Tools in both Summer and Fall semesters. If you haven’t taken it yet, please enroll immediately. New students are required to take it their first semester.

If we get enough students to request the course, I’ll also be teaching S672 Seminar in Literature for Youth in the Fall. Email Rachel Applegate if you’d like to see this course offered in the Fall.

Summer and Fall 2014
S571 Materials for Youth
Instructor: Annette Lamb (will be available May 1)

Summer is a time for enjoying a good book in a hammock with a glass of lemonade. From whimsical picture books to serious works for young adults, Materials for Youth explores the broad spectrum of books, magazines, and media available for children and young adults. This three-hour course focuses on the evaluation and use of materials for children and young adults including books, magazine, and media. Come join the summer fun!

Fall 2014
S557 Marketing for Libraries
Instructor: Annette Lamb
(This course was previously offered under the S604 number)

Marketing is much more than creating attractive displays and updating your Facebook status, it's about meeting the needs of individuals and groups. If library users aren't aware of your resources and services, they're unlikely to visit your physical or virtual library. If they've had a bad experience in the past, they may be sharing this negativity with their friends and colleagues. Marketing is about understanding the needs and interests of current and potential users, reaching those individuals with quality resources and services, and evaluating the experience so adjustments can be made to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal.

This three-credit hour graduate course focuses on the application of marketing concepts, techniques, and technologies for all library types. Emphasis is on matching library customers with services through information, education, persuasion, and partnerships. Topics include planning, audience analysis, needs assessment, market analysis, goal-setting, message design, public relations, publicity, promotion, advocacy, assessment and evaluation, internal and external communication, and change theory.

What do people want and need from a library? What services can your library provide? How can services be connected with the needs of current and potential library users? Regardless of whether you're interested in academic, school, public, and/or other special library settings, this course will expand your thinking about the essential role of marketing.

Join me for this 100% online course in Fall 2014 for the most important and practical elective of your graduate program.

Update: March 29

Google often plays an April Fool’s joke. Look for it on April 1!

Audio and video collections are increasingly popular with youth. Whether exploring popular music or watching the latest viral YouTube video, think about the role of libraries in helping children and young adults locate and use multimedia resources.

Read Audio Collections at
Read Video Collections at

Many people forget about the many wonderful electronic materials in your collection because they can't "see" them. In some cases, electronic resources are kept in a cabinet in the back room. Or, they're digital and stored on computer hard drives or networks. How can you ensure that people know these materials are available? Think of creative ways to make these "virtual" resources more visible.

ProQuest created a short graphic novel to promote their new digital collection. How could you apply this comic idea to promote other digital collections? Read it at

If you enjoy learning about marketing materials, consider my fall course in Marketing for Libraries!

As you think about promotion, consider how you maker ebooks visible to users.
Read Making eBooks on the eBook Reader Visible

Read Marketing Materials at

Post Spark 5 Reply. It’s due Monday March 31.
Work on Spark 6. It’s due Monday April 7.

It looks like most of you had a great time with Spark 4. Using web tools like Weebly are increasingly important skills in the library. Although some libraries have a subscription to LibGuides or have an in-house web designer, many smaller libraries rely on free tools like Weebly, Word Press, and Google Sites.

Annette :-)

Annette Lamb, Ph.D.
Indiana University at Indianapolis
Dept of Library and Information Science
School of Informatics and Computing

Update: March 24

Welcome back from spring break. I hope you had a chance to relax! We’ve been enjoying the March Madness NCAA basketball games.

Electronic materials involve more than websites and apps. Many libraries are very involved in games for youth. From wii competitions to Minecraft programs, think about ways to incorporating gaming into the library.

Read Game Collections at

Most young people are attracted to images. From graphic novels to historical photos, think about how images are woven into the library setting. Many libraries are actively planning image collections. While some libraries are working with local historical societies to digitize historical photographs, other librarians are creating pathfinders to help youth locate visuals for projects.

One of my favorite sources for youth is Flickr’s The Commons at Check out over a million reusable images from The British Library at

Another favorite is Wikimedia Commons at For clipart, try

Read Image Collections at

Post Spark 4 reply. It’s due Monday March 24.
Post Spark 5. It’s due Monday March 24.
Spark 5 reply is due Monday March 31.

If you're working with the Comic Life software for Spark 5, please export your work so others can view it easily. Under the File menu, there's an option to EXPORT as HTML, JPG, or PDF files. Choose JPG or PDF. Most software packages provide an EXPORT option and it's normally found under the File menu. This will also reduce the size of the file for easier uploading.

Update: Spring Break

Howdy Class!

Nothing due this week!

I know most of you won't get to enjoy any time off during Spring Break. However, at least stop for a few minutes to take a breathe before jumping into the rest of the semester.

After a short weekend get away, I’ll be back working again. I’m happy to help if you have questions.

Enjoy your Spring Break!

Here's some fun Spring Break reading...


Also, check out the new survey on ebook usage at

Overall, I thought your projects were fine. However in many cases I was hoping for more specifics. Electronic databases are wonderful resources, however they are often overlooked. They don't have the physical presence of a book or the glamour of a DVD. They're just solid information. It's essential that these resources are easy to access so quality tutorials and motivating promotional materials are essential.

The place that some people lost points was the additional uses and applications. Beyond the examples used in your tutorial and activity, I was seeking additional examples that would show children or young adults the potential of the database. A few of you did an outstanding job going well beyond the basic requirements of the project.

Think of the many ways these information resources could be used to gather, compare, synthesize, and evaluate information in language arts, science, social studies, and other subject areas. Think of the ways they could be used in a public library to find information about personal heroes, possible pets, vacation ideas, or other possibilities. Young people need MANY examples of how they might both find information, but also use the information they find.

The transmedia storytelling option is a fairly new assignment option. From travel stories and mysteries to inspirational stories, I was very excited by the results. Be sure to go back and explore the wide range of wonderful projects.

Keep in mind that people have been combining text, graphics, audio, and video into multimedia projects for a long time. What makes transmedia storytelling interesting is the potential for cross genre (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, oral history, etc) and nonlinear (multiple entry points and options for exploration) approaches that move seamlessly across media. A couple of you did a great job thinking about how transmedia can extend to social technologies too.


Update: March 10

I hope you’re enjoying this course. There’s such great potential for technology in today’s libraries.

We're moving into an exploration of creativity tools for young people. Children and young adults love to make things. Think of ways to support their inventive thinking. Also consider ways to balance on and off computer activities such as taking digital photos that are edited on the computer.

Look for fun ways for youth to express themselves such as producing comics and animations!

Read Creativity Tools at

Post Spark 4. It’s due Monday March 10.
Post Peer Enhancement 2. It’s due Monday March 10.

Update: March 3

Welcome to March! Spring will be here soon!

Whether working with teens at the public library on a Saturday afternoon robotics program or teaching information literacy skills to elementary children, electronic materials may play an important role in teaching and learning. This week we’ll explore how technology can be woven into a wide range of activities.

Read Web-based Activities, Projects, & WebQuests at

Post your Tutorial/Transmedia Project. It’s due Monday March 3.

Work on Spark 4 and Peer Enhancement 2. They’re due Monday March 10.

From books to DVDs, people are always declaring the death of a media. For instance, you might think that the end of interactive CDs is nearly here. However particularly if you live in a rural area, keep in mind that not everyone has access to the Internet at home. Think about ways to promote this older technology among those who might not have access to online options. In addition, stand-alone resources such as Playway MP3s allow people without technology at home to be able to use audiobooks.

I enjoyed your thoughts on e-books. A few people pointed out that it's hard to cuddle up with technology. However I love to cuddle up with my laptop, Kindle, iPhone and iPad. They're nice and warm on my lap in the winter. I also like the ability to enlarge the font... my old eyes can no longer read mass market paperbacks. If I really want to read a book, I want a Kindle, Nook, or iPad rather than a laptop. Actually I find the Kindle the best for basic reading because it's light-weight and the new e-ink works great with my aging eyes. The iPad is useful for full-color such as comics, interactive books, etc.

Also, a number of people pointed out that the free websites they explored didn't have the great features described in the articles. The features available in Web 2.0 such as tagging, commenting, audio, images, etc. can greatly enhance these low-level, text-based e-books. Also, keep in mind the "generational differences" that some of you pointed out. What might lead to "tired eyes" for us might be "cool" to the next generation. This is particularly true of reading on devices like the iPhone.

Remember that being able to read off the screen is a 21st century skill. Just as some students have trouble scanning down the page on paper, many children have trouble finding their place when the screen scrolls. Students need experience and practice with this skill. Reading fiction is good practice because people tend to read rather than skim works of fiction.

As a reminder, an e-book is generally self-contained. In other words, you download it to your computer to read as a PDF, you download it to a device such as a Kindle/Nook, or you read it online in a specialized website using online software that provides tools such as arrows for moving, highlighters, bookmarks or other reading assistance. They generally have the "look and feel" of a book with a page-like interface.

The children's books online can take many different forms. They may simply be a web page with text, pictures, and/or audio. Some of these have lots of animation, music, and other features not typically found in a traditional book. They may or may not have the "look and feel" of a book.

I have thousands of books in my personal library and love visiting school and public libraries, so books will always be part of my life. However if I'm driving, an audiobook makes sense. If I want to explore a nonfiction topic that might contain audio or video clips, historical photos, or charts and graphs, I really like the idea of an online book. Or, if I'm reading an interactive story like a "choose your own adventure", the ipad makes sense to me. I don't like to lug books along when I fly, so I take my Kindle.

There wasn't much discussion of Google Books at as a way to read books online. Keep in mind that you can search for full-text versions if you'd like to read entire books rather than just explore previews. If you're looking for books for young people, many are tagged with the word juvenile.

Most of you chose text-intensive e-books. Consider reading more visual books online such as graphic novels. If you want to try some, find examples with G to R ratings at

You're probably familiar with OverDrive for ebooks and audiobooks,, however, an increasing number of commercial e-book services specifically for young people are now available. Many of these such as Tumblebooks and Scholastic BookFlix provide a trial subscription you might want to consider.
Tumblebooks -
Scholastic BookFlix -

Most libraries now have a subscription to a major audiobook and e-book provider such as OverDrive. Although their options for youth are still limited, the offerings have expanded quickly over the past couple years.

Book preservation, the cost of paper, the use of disposable batteries, and the green movement... all of these things could have an impact on the future of e-book technology.

Finally, when reading off a laptop it's easy to get distracted by email, ads, and the other resources the computer offers. I love being able to open a paper-based book or a Kindle book so I can focus on nothing but the words on the page without the threat of a phone call.

Also, e-books are great for travel. On a trip to Europe I walked all over the cities carrying dozens of travel books on my little Kindle rather than lugging a backpack with guides. We worked our way through the Vatican museum room-by-room following our e-book travel guide. Audiobooks are also a great option for travel.

In the end, I spend so much time in my work life using technology that my preference is laying on a warm rock under a pine tree reading a hardback book made of paper. On the other hand, iPads are just plain cool and my Kindle is sooo easy. ;-)

It looks like some of you had fun exploring the learning software, collaborative projects, interactives, and social technologies. Keep in mind that all the resources from this course will remain online, so you may want to go back later and explore some of the other options.

Be sure to review the Tutorial/Transmedia section of the course at

Keep in mind that you have TWO options. Choose ONE.

DATABASE OPTION 1 - Your job is to create a Database Guide that young people can use to learn to use the database. Since this is considered the "easy option" and one that many of you may have done before, my expectations are VERY HIGH. In other word, professional quality handouts that are ready to print and share, MANY examples and samples, integration of this database into MANY activities.

Your materials should take students through the database and provide LOTS of sample searches, tips and strategies for using the database, and sample searches. Remember, your audience is YOUNG PEOPLE so think about their needs and interests.

Your project should also include a SEPARATE resource for adults/teachers and/or students focusing on a PARTICULAR assignment or project. This part of the assignment is pretty flexible and might include a assignment handout for students, an evaluation checklist, a lesson plan, along with whatever you think a teacher and students would need to be successful in applying the database within an assignment or project. This can be designed for a school or children/ya public library setting.

Finally, you need to include ADDITIONAL ideas for other ways the database could be used beyond the assignment that you describe in detail. Discuss different ways young people could use the database for a variety of projects or activities. In other words, ideas for use. For instance if you focused on using the Biography Resource Center for Hoosier projects, think about other projects that might focus on famous inventors, world leaders, peacemakers, or authors... how many DIFFERENT ways could use use this database?

Remember, this is NOT just a spark assignment. Outstanding projects should be substantial.

TRANSMEDIA OPTION 2 - This is the creative option. Yes, it will be a challenge, but it will be rewarding. Review existing materials, then build your own transmedia storytelling experience.

Be sure to check out the examples I made at
Pet Shop (animated poem with nonfiction information)
TwinTales (short story with fictional news website)
Family History Tutorial (fictional inquiry with tutorial

Notice in each examples there's MUCH MORE than simply a poem, story or anecdote. There are multimedia elements, cross-genre elements (poetry paired with nonfiction, short stories paired with fictional news accounts, stories connected to tutorials), and multi-platform (PDF, animation, website, video, audio... linked together). Also, the various elements can be accessed different ways. While some aspects might include a beginning, middle, and end... other elements can be browsed. Be creative. How could you weave QR codes into a story that moves around your library? Or, how could use connect a science news story with a work of science fiction?

I recently created an online workshop to help people interested in exploring and creating Transmedia projects.
Go to

Update: February 24

It’s feeling like Spring here in southern Utah. I hope it’s nice where you live!

We're moving into the use of electronic materials in teaching and learning. I know that some of you having teaching experience or are parents of children, but everyone working with children and young adults needs to think about promoting life long learning and information inquiry. In addition, many young people go to the public library as well as the school library for help with school-related projects. In addition, think about informal learning situations such as 4-H, scouting, clubs, and church groups.

Read Instructional Materials at

Remember the game Oregon Trail? It’s now an App! Read about the history of this classic software program at

Post Spark 3 reply. It’s due Monday Feb 24.
Work on Tutorial/Transmedia project. It’s due Monday March 3.

It's time to begin thinking about Project 2.
Read the directions at

You have TWO options for this assignment. You just need to choose 1 of the 2 options.

OPTION 1: Database Tutorial Project

Keep in mind that the value of databases for young people is the quality of information and ease of access based on the structured, searchable organization system. Unlike a traditional website where simple links are used to move among pages, databases use a query system to retrieve the desired records (pages). Databases have a very precise organizational system that allows keyword searches and other kinds of specific queries. Unfortunately, not all databases are well-designed making some difficult to use.

Consider exploring something new and different. Consider a database you've heard about, but not used.

Special Note!!!!
You can use any electronic database, it doesn't necessarily need to be a part of Inspire. It could be something your public or school library subscribes to for this assignment such as Opposing Viewpoints, Facts on File, or SIRS.

Keep in mind that it's okay to focus on one aspect of a database or resource area. For example, you'll find Primary Search, Middle Search Plus, any more in the Kids section of Inspire. It contains many different resources. You could just focus on a particular type of information, assignment, or information inquiry.

If you choose the Teen section of Inspire it looks like there's only one "search area" because it goes directly to a MAS Ultra search, but if you click CHOOSE DATABASES, you'll see a specific list that includes Newspaper Source, Knight Ridder Collection, Regional Business News, Military & Government Collection, and many more. Choose one of these specific areas.

Also, consider that you could use an area within a database. Some have many subsections. Remember many of the "adult" databases can be used with YOUNG PEOPLE depending on the topic and course. Be creative! Think about the information and learning needs of young people.

Finally, remember that you can use a web-based database such as a collection at a digital library or museum. It should be a large collection that contains ADVANCED SEARCH options. If you take this approach, please run it past me first to be sure it will work for this assignment.

The Butterflies and Moths of North America is an example.
It contains ways to browse by taxonomic groups, map search, image search, and image gallery.

Share your database idea with your Cohort Guide. If possible, do not overlap topics with other students. I'd like to have no more than 2 people doing the same database.

If you're unsure about your selection, feel free to email me with your options. I'm happy to help.

OPTION 2: Transmedia Storytelling Project

If you already know about databases and have experience building tutorials, this is a chance to try something more creative.

Transmedia storytelling is a new way to think about reading experiences. Your job is to explore the world of transmedia storytelling and write a short review of one example. Then, do some brainstorming about the possibilities. You’ll write about your findings. Review the transmedia class page for ideas.

Next, create your own transmedia storytelling experience. The assignment page contains lots of options.

Remember, this is your chance to be creative. There are very few examples of this new multi-format approach to storytelling so they there are no "right" or "wrong" answers. I'm happy to e-brainstorm if you'd like to bounce around ideas.

If you're thinking about a transmedia project, you may wish to use primary sources and photographs from the web. I recommend using public domain or creative commons so you don't need to worry about permissions. You're also okay with US government materials from places like Library of Congress, USGS, CDC.. they all have image collections you can use.

You can't always find the perfect image, but you'll feel better about your product if you don't worry about copyright.

Consider using wikimedia commons at all the images are ones that are freely useable for student projects.

Also, consider OpenClipArt for great clipart illustrations at

Also, check and do an advanced search by creative commons. You can do the same with Google in an advanced search.

Be careful when re-using images you find on the web. Although you are using the images for educational purposes, you still need to provide specific citations unless the images are in the public domain or from a subscription service that you have permission to use. A credits note at the bottom of the page is fine. A few people indicated you used "Google Images." Google doesn't own these images, it's simply a search engine to identify images on the web. You need to cite each individual image that you use.

I enjoyed your pathfinders. Overall everyone did an excellent job. You should all have received your grade and feedback through Oncourse Gradebook.

Through interesting text and motivating graphics, many of you did a great job appealing to the audience of this course, children and young adults. Way to go! A few people were confused about the audience for the pathfinder. Since this course is about electronic materials for CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS, young people should be your audience for ALL the projects this semester. Although you may have a section for adults or leaders, the materials themselves such as the websites, databases, and resources should be aimed at kids.

A few people lost points for lack of depth related to selection criteria or extension activities. For the final couple projects, be sure to read the evaluation criteria carefully, this is how I award points for the projects.

Some people lost points for the enhancement aspect of the assignment. I was looking for in-depth feedback, but more importantly additional resources and examples.

Keep in mind that a pathfinder is not a substitute for assistance in searching or teaching information skills. Instead, it's a tool to provide young people with a starting point for exploration. Searching independently can be very time consuming. In many cases, a teacher or parent would rather have young people spend their time synthesizing information rather than conducting searches. In addition, particularly for young children locating materials at an appropriate reading level can be frustrating.

Also remember that the creation of pathfinders is becoming increasingly important in the job of a school librarian or children's/ya librarian. Although we've concentrated on electronic pathfinders, keep in mind that pathfinders can include a wide range of materials including maps, kits, DVDs, music, books, and reference materials. Some even include email addresses of experts and local contact information. Keeping pathfinders up-to-date is a challenge, but it's worth the time.

Update: February 17

It’s time to catch up on readings and assignments. Nothing new this week.

Sorry it took a couple extra days to get your grades for Spark 2 posted. I had assignments to grade in all three of my courses… bad planning on my part!

Remember that your peer enhancement should be posted in Oncourse and it should be substantial. It's worth 3 points (3 times more detailed than a Spark reply). It's fine to update your Pathfinder with the feedback and suggestions provided by your peers. This isn't required, but it may increase the quality of your project.

Post Peer Enhancement 1. It’s due Feb 17.
Post Spark 3. It’s due Feb 17.

Many of you chose to explore the social bookmarking option. It's a great example of the collaborative nature of the Web 2.0 technology and just-in-time development tools. In our excitement over using the new technology, we need to remember some of the advantages of the traditional pathfinder including the ability to provide an introduction, search strategies, links within annotations, control over layout/organization, and appealing visuals. Some of these aspects are particularly important when working with young people. Think about ways to combine the elements of Web 2.0 with the content of a quality pathfinder. For instance, a wiki-based pathfinder would provide collaborative aspects. Also keep in mind that there are dozens of social bookmarking tools. Some are more complex than others. Think about the needs and interests of you and your patrons.

Some of you expressed frustrations with trying to access databases. I agree. With passwords, awkward interfaces, and limited graphics, some librarians skip databases and go straight for Google... so let's be practical. Databases are great for some applications and not for others. For instance, if you want to access periodicals, use a database. If you want quality, pre-selected materials from well-known sources, use databases. If you're looking for specific topics such as opposing views, short biographies, or novel resources, use databases.

One advantage of databases as well as pathfinders is that they sometimes provide access to the "hidden web." In other words, Google only provides access to some of the resources available on the web.

Another concern often expressed relates to age-appropriateness. Unfortunately, even many of the databases created for "kids" are not design for younger readers and often lack visual support. In addition at the middle school level, young people don't want an interface that looks to childish.

Young people can waste a lot of time wandering around databases (just like they do with the Internet) looking for useful information. Be sure to advertise specific databases that might be useful to young people. A poster highlighting the use of Opposing Viewpoints to explore social issues is a great way to draw young people into resources. When you know that a teacher is doing a unit that would work well with a particular database, spring into action with a collaborative project.

Keep in mind that there are no rules about electronic databases and web links. Remember, databases are websites themselves. The KEY is the criteria that the electronic database company uses for evaluating and selecting articles. For instance, a company that posts articles of National Geographic magazine might also post web links to the National Geographic website. Both the magazine and website have the same high-quality articles. You'll rarely see personal websites referenced on electronic databases, but you might find resources from government resources such as Library of Congress or publishers such as PBS television.

A few people identified "Inspire" or "Gale Group" as a database. These are services that include many different databases, they are NOT single databases themselves. For instance, you can access Biography Resources Center through the Inspire service. It can also be access directed IUPUI or directly through Gale's service since it's a Gale product. Inspire is a service that provides access to databases for Indiana residents only. Not all states provide a free, statewide service for databases.

Keep in mind that an electronic database is a collection of information organized so that a computer can quickly access requested data. Like a traditional file cabinet, databases are organized by fields, records, and files. An online encyclopedia is organized as a database with specific topical articles that can be found using a topic search. An electronic newspaper service is made available by topic, article, author, date, etc, so it's another example of a database.

Finally, please don't take your databases for granted. Funding is increasingly tight and every few years, there's pressure to eliminate funding for INSPIRE and other free services for libraries. It would be impossible for most libraries to afford the databases provided by INSPIRE. It's important to know about the costs associated with replacing these services. As many of you found out, you need to dig for this information when it's not available on the company website. Sometimes sales reps will provide information on the phone or through email. Unfortunately, the information provided is sometimes vague without having a particular institution you can use as an example.

Access to primary resources, real-world data, and nonfiction articles are three examples of how web-based resources have changed the way young people do research. Before digital documents became common place, it was impossible to access many of the documents available in our world's libraries and museums. No one chose to use Comic Life for this assignment. However, you might want to download the trial of this software for a future assignment. Kids LOVE comics and graphic novels, so they really like this software for building their own projects.

Recently, we've been exploring both fact and fiction that can be found on the web. In the past, only a few scholars were able to share their ideas with the world. Today anyone with access to the Internet can post information or misinformation around the world in seconds. It's essential that students and teachers understand how information is gathered, organized, and published.

A student asked the following question and it got me writing (and then rambling).
"I am interested in your thoughts about students using Wikipedia as a reference source for research. What are your reasons for your opinion?"

This is a great question and it would be nice if there were a simple answer. I don't have one, but I do have some things for people to consider. Everyone has an opinion on this topic. Here's mine.

1 - I consider wikipedia in the same reference category of information as other encyclopedia. In other words, it's a SECOND or THIRD level source. I use any encyclopedia (print, electronic, digital) as a starting point for background information. Then, I use the references in the article to begin searching for the key people, authors, and primary source materials. If you scroll to the bottom of a wikipedia page you'll find references and external links.

2 - I think it's fine to cite wikipedia in the same way that you'd cite World Book or any other reference resource. In other words, it would be appropriate in some cases, but not others. I would use wikipedia as a source of information as long as it is ONE of MANY resources that may provide help with the "big picture", background information, and alternative perspectives. In other words, it's not a question of citing information. It's a question of whether you are taking the information as FACT or as ONE of MANY sources that may contain bias. In other words, I'm more interested in HOW the student is using the information in their report. If the student is citing population data, they may find the information in wikipedia. However they should NOT cite wikipedia for this information. They should locate the link at the bottom of the wiki page that will take them to the US Census data and double-check the number at the official government website. The Census bureau should be the citation. On the other hand, if the student is defining the characteristics of podcasting, wikipedia may be one of a number of articles cited as possible definitions. This would be noted in the student's paper such as "the definition of podcasting is evolving and includes..." that there are many opinions and that wikipedia provides a perspective based on collaborative input.

2 - I think that it's important that students understand how a wikipedia is put together and revised. Just like understanding the use of references at the end of a scholarly article, they need to look for and use the more primary sources cited in the wikipedia articles rather than relying on the information in the wikipedia article. Most wikipedia articles contain references and links at the bottom of the page as well as external resources. In most cases you can go directly to this resource with a simple link. This type of reference checking is difficult or impossible in print encyclopedia where many of the resources are not easily available for evaluation.

3 - One reason that I think it's IMPORTANT to use wikipedia is that it provides an alternative to corporate publishing. In other words, it can take months or years to get some materials published in a print form. Lesser known works may never get printed. Some people working with timely topics may not wish to publishing in a form such as paper that is not easily revised. Others like the collaborative power of the online environment where people can build on the ideas started by others. Many like the idea that wiki is self-correcting and allows alternative perspectives. Here are some examples:
Your print and many electronic materials say that Pluto is a planet. As of Aug 2006, wikipedia had the correct information. Pluto is not a planet.

For any major event such as sporting events, elections, etc., wikipedia will provide the updated information immediately.
For major scientific discoveries, wikipedia will begin reporting as soon as the research can be cited.
If I want the latest commonly agreed upon definition of new technology terms, I go to wikipedia. Wikipedia has some lesser known topics that aren't well documented in other places. This particularly true of basic information about people and places.

4 - Print materials rarely come with warning notices. Wikipedia does a great job informing users about concerns about quality. For example, warning notices often appear at the top of an article stating "this is a rapidly changing topic" or "this is a controversial topic" or "this article can only be editing by established wiki writers". This is very helpful for young people.

5 - I like to use the HISTORY feature in wikipedia to see how an article has evolved and how it has been edited. You can also determine the mix of authors and the changing ideas as the article was written. This provides insights into the quality and usefulness of the information.

A - Think about the purpose of citations in a student report or any communication. They are intended to help the reader judge the value of the information being presented. Because wikipedia is constantly changing, there's a good chance that the information cited may change by the time the reader accesses this reference. As such, wikipedia serves as a poor resource in terms of providing a concrete source. On the other hand, wikipedia could also be viewed as an excellent source because although a written report may become dated, the wikipedia citations will continue to evolve.

B - I have a bigger question. A quote and citation don't help me understand the context in which the information is being used. Why are students doing reports in the first place? What value comes from copying and citing information from various sources? I'm much more interested in the conclusions that students draw as they use a report to communicate the solution to a problem or propose a plan of action to address an issue. I'd like to see students writing about the quality of the information they find as well as the resources. Then synthesizing this information and sharing their perspective regarding the results. In other words, I want students to be good consumer of information as well as creators of innovative ideas and solutions.

Back to our original discussion. It's not enough to simply provide students with access to electronic resources. As librarians, we need to help guide young people in effective use of information. It's also our responsibility to work with parents and teachers to help them understand how and why information is communicated, then help them become responsible users of information.

This becomes even more important as an increasing number of people begin to use the web as a tool for building fictional, multimedia worlds where the line between reality and fantasy become blurred.

Want to read more about Wikipedia? I just completed an online workshop on the topic.
Go to

Time for me to get off the bandwagon and back to grading!

Update: February 10

Happy Valentine's Week!

Learn more about how children are reading in the digital age. Read the latest 2013 Kids and Family Reading Report from Scholastic at

Check out an infographic focusing on audiobooks for youth at

From The 39 Clues to Skeleton Creek, transmedia storytelling is a new kind of reading experience that bridges books and technology. It's a great way to draw in reluctant readers.

Read Transmedia Storytelling at

I also have a large section of workshop materials to explore at

Be sure to read the transmedia short story I wrote along with the matching fictional Oakhaven website. I developed these as examples of "things to come." The story is at and the fictional town linked at the end of each chapter is a

I made the following story with my 5 year old nephew a few years ago. Alex and I had a great time writing the poem together.

There's lots of potential for the Transmedia approach to the used with the Pet Shop idea... adding video of children with pets, talking about pet care, still images, as well as the original art.

Post Spark 2 reply. It’s due Monday February 10.

Post your Pathfinder project. It’s due Monday February 10.

Work on your Peer Enhancement and Spark 3. They’re due Monday Feb 17.

As you get ready to turn in your pathfinder, here are some final tips:

This project is for YOUNG PEOPLE, not just me or your classmates. It should be an exciting way for young people to explore your topic. Ask yourself: Will children/ya be engaged? Is it aimed directly at youth?

Get rid of long, boring descriptions or paragraphs. Keep the language simple and concise. Ask yourself: What do children and teens want and need? Remember that your project might be aimed at school-related topics, but they might also apply to 4-H, afterschool programs, summer camps, or church programs. Think of all the potential users. Remember that the USER is the CHILD, not the parent or the leader.

Make it visually interesting with relevant visuals, book covers, logos, samples, and other images that will draw attention. Also think about section headings and other organizers. I'm not talking about wild fonts or distracting colors, simply a consistent, visually appealing pathfinder that's easy to read and understand.

Be sure to check the evaluation checklist. This is what I use to assign grades. Your project may be beautiful, but if it doesn't cover the requirements, you'll lose points.

Once you've posted your pathfinder, be sure to go back and scan the work of your peers. You're required to provide a "pathfinder extension." In other words, provide feedback for your peers. This should be MUCH MORE than a simple reply. It's worth 3 POINTS... more than a standard tremor posting. It should provide SUBSTANTIAL assistance for your colleague such as annotated electronic resource suggestions, detailed activity ideas, specific directions, or materials in an allied area.

If you wish to go back and incorporate the ideas of your peers into your own project, it's a great idea... but not required for the assignment.

I'll be grading after the pathfinder extensions have been posted.

Update: February 3

A beautiful blanket of snow is covering our mountain today. I've got some soup in the crockpot. It really feels like winter in the mountains.

Let’s explore fiction resources and e-books for children and young adults. Many young people now do much of their reading electronically on tablets or e-book readers. Over the past decade an increasing number of fiction materials have appeared on the web. From comics to popular novels, you'll find lots to read. The major problem with e-books and works of fiction is that many people still prefer to read on paper. Whether it's frustrations with screen resolution, glare, or seating comfort, some people complain that reading on the screen is a pain. However young people (digital natives) are finding that they like the availability of e-books on a variety of devices including computers, hand-held devices, and smart phones. Over the next several years, we'll continue to see new innovations and options as standards are developed and people of all ages embrace e-books in varied formats. Apple's iPad, Barnes and Noble's Nook, and Amazon's Kindle are great examples of how e-book readers are evolving.

Youth are increasingly reading books electronically. Read an overview of the Digital Book World report at

Overdrive is now offering a entry point specifically for youth. Go to the Kitsap Regional Library for Kids for an example at

School libraries are seeing a dramatic increase in ebook use by youth. Read about it at

Read Fiction Resources at
Read E-Books at


Post your Spark 2 by Monday Feb 3.
Post your Spark 2 reply by Monday Feb 10.
It’s time to start working on your pathfinder. It’s due Feb 10.

As long as we're talking about fiction reading, here's a children's/ya book tip. Last week someone asked me how to quickly find the reading level of a book. There are a number of a "sales" sites that list them, but here's a super quick approach. Do a Google search for the title of the book and add RL for reading level. A school district website somewhere will probably have it on a list, particularly if it's a AR (Accelerated Reader) book. So if you go to Google and do a search for Hatchet RL, up comes Reading Level 5.7 meaning the book is between fifth and sixth grade level. The listing may also have an AR which stands for the Accelerated Reader points.

I searched Google for Sarah Plain and Tall RL and it came up with 3.9
You can usually find it by just scanning through the Google results without having to actually go to the website. It's not perfect, but it is fast. ;-)

As long as we're talking about Google. Be sure to try Google Books. Many book excerpts as well as a few full texts are now available.

Go to Google Books at


I've graded your Spark 1 postings and replies. You can find your grades and comments in the Oncourse Gradebook.

Be sure to check the Syllabus for the points associated with course grades at

The range is a little higher than some other courses.


After the discussion has ended on each Spark, I like to go back and do a little debriefing.

I just wanted to let everyone know that your Spark activities are looking great. I am particularly impressed with most of your replies. I'm really happy to see the way that you're going back and rechecking the postings and often replying to the replies to your original postings. GREAT! It makes the conversations much more rich.

Many of you discussed the issue of circulating electronic devices. Keep in mind that the cost is going down quickly. Kindles are under $100. We circulate print books that are almost that expensive. The digital divide is growing. In many areas, youth still have no access to technology in their homes. Particularly in those areas, circulating electronic devices is critical. I live in the poorest county in the state of Utah. Most of the students come from poor households. Every children from grades 4 and up receives an iPad from the school district that is used both at school and at home. They have nice cases and they’ve had very few problems with damage. With only 25-30 students in a graduating class, this is doable for the school system.

It was interesting to see the observations of people with experience in schools and public libraries. The first assignment was intended to get you thinking about the role of technology in the lives of young people. It's nice to see that we have many perspectives on these topics and issues. It's also clear that it's essential that school and public librarians embrace technology and provide leadership in effective applications. However this doesn't mean blindly purchasing every new gadget or buying into every new social network. Instead it means carefully considering the effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal of new technology for your youth program and weighing "wants" versus "needs" while reflecting on the mission of your library.

The discussions of social technology were particularly interesting. I heard a couple people referring to age and comfort with technology. As a person that's more than "half a century" old, I've been "into" technology since I used "punched cards" in my mainframe computer programming class in high school back in the 70s. I've always enjoyed technology including the latest trend... social technology. I find that people's use of technology often reflects their interests off computer. In other words, I like the social networks Good Reads and LibraryThing because I love books. My favorite software is Comic Life because I love photography and writing travel logs. I've never been a "social" person (I was a brainy-band-drama-book nerd), so although I use Facebook it doesn't dominate my life... so when thinking about the use of technology consider both the interests of young people in general, as well as individual differences of both adults and young people.

I've been using Facebook as a way to communicate with my local 4-H club... our teen volunteers have nearly doubled since we set up a Facebook group to share events, photos, and group activities. Since I link from our Facebook to our website, many more people are going to the website. It works. Many school and public libraries have a Facebook presence. Keep in mind that you don't need to "friend" your teens to interact with them in your Facebook group. All members of a group can post to the group, but they can't see beyond the profile of other members without being friends.

So each person has unique preferences... My personal, preferred method of communication is email rather than social networks, chats, phone, or texting because asynchronous communication doesn't disrupt my work and allows more time for thought and reflection. On the other hand, the lives of many young people revolve around 24/7 access to their friends.

The bottom line... What technology provides is choices. I love choices. :-)
If you get a chance, go back and explore the replies that people made on postings in the threads where you didn't post.


To get into the databases at IUPUI, you'll need to use your IUPUI username and password.
Find databases by subject
Find databases by name

Any of the links to IUPUI (above), you need to use your iu or iupui username and password.


Go to and choose EBSCO Animals
Go to and choose Middle Search Plus.


If you have trouble using the IUPUI databases, I'd suggest using INSPIRE. It's available to all Indiana residents. Keep in mind that Inspire isn't a database. It's a collection of databases. To see the individual listings of options, go to

To use the databases, go to and go to Inspire Kids or Students for the youth resources.


If you're having a hard time finding the articles found in Google or in the electronic database, use IUPUI's Citation Linker. It helps locate copies of journal articles. Go to

Pathfinder development is an essential activity of today's school library media specialist as well as children's/ya public librarians.

While fads come and go, there are some topics like holidays, sports, hobbies, nature, and others that young people revisit from year to year. In the same way, teachers tend to revisit the same topics each year as they address standards. Rather than creating lists of websites, software, databases, books, etc. every year, build pathfinders that can be updated as needed. These pathfinders may start as short lists of resources. As you collaborate with the teachers in your building or discuss interests with parents and young people, these pathfinders can be refined to include activities, troubleshooting tips, hands-on projects, etc.

Children's/YA Librarians are bombarded with questions and requests. Keep track of the most common needs and begin developing pathfinders to address these needs. As you work with individuals and small groups keep track of the most common problems, questions, and needs. These can then be incorporated into your pathfinder.

In the long run, spending time working on pathfinders will actually save you time!

Your pathfinders should be exemplary. In other words, it should be the best possible example of what a pathfinder can be.

As I reflect on project submissions from past semesters, I've found a common concern. Most students do an excellent job creating an "annotated list of resources". However it's also essential that to turn your "resource list" into a "pathfinder" by adding a BRIDGE between the user and the information.

You need an attractive, motivating introduction to the topic, reasons why people might be interested in this topic, definitions of key words, strategies for learning more or applying the information found, warnings about evaluation or other issues, ways the resources can be used, project ideas .... in other words, GUIDANCE in using the resources you suggest.

Rather than just providing a LIST.... provide a PATH to these resources.

Quite a few people in past semesters have lost points for lack of depth related to selection criteria or extension activities. Help end users developed a PASSION for your topic through effective, efficient, and appealing information and resources.

Have fun working on your pathfinder!

If you've never used Google Sites ( or Weebly (, this would be a great time to try it. This website provides easy-to-use tools for making web pages. They'll help make your project professional looking, fast!

Update: January 27

I hope you're having a great time so far!

Be sure to read this email carefully, it's full of important course information. However, let's start with some fun.

Did you know you can watch the ALA Youth Awards LIVE? Be one of the first to find out this year’s winners on Monday January 27. Go to

As you explore resources for children and young adults, think about the technology experiences of today's kids. Let's use the life of my nephew Alex and niece Kaylee as an example. I've been tracking Alex's technology skills since his birth in 2004. Their current favorite technology is the Apple iPad. There are lots of apps for kids. However as Alex gets older he’s interested in computer-based environments like Minecraft and Steam games.

Go to

I think Alex and Kaylee have had a nice balance, but that's not true for all kids. Is technology helping or harming? Read what a high school students has to say:

Read my new online article titled Wicked or Wonderful? Revisiting the World of Wikipedia

This week we're going to begin our exploration of electronic databases. With the popularity of Google, many people overlook these wonderful, high-quality resources designed specifically for young people. If you live in Indiana, you've got a wealth of resources at your fingertips through Inspire (

These databases can also be accessed through the IUPUI library at

An increasing number of websites are set up as databases. As you explore these resources, be sure to look for the characteristics of an effective database: records of information and advanced search options.

Go to the Nobel Prize Nomination Database at
Notice that this database contains records for each person nominated for a nobel prize. Also notice the many options for conducting and advanced search.

Go to the Library of Congress Historic Newspapers Section at
This database is organized by pages and also has a search directory. The advanced page search includes options for searching by state, newspaper, date, and search words.

Read Electronic Databases & Reference Works at

We’ll also be focusing on nonfiction resources and primary sources. These "real world" materials can add interest and authenticity to student projects and bring history to life. I feel strongly that one of the primary uses of the Internet for libraries is the ability to share primary resources that would otherwise not be available to the general public. Just think of all the wonderful resources that would be available if every family, community, church, town, and school shared their rich histories found in locally produced photographs, sounds, graphics, documents, and more?

Keep in mind that the choices can be overwhelming for children and young adults. Consider selecting a set of photos or documents for the focus on a project.

Read Nonfiction Resources at

I've enjoyed reading your Spark 1 assignments. They're looking great! I was particularly happy to see how many of you challenged the articles that you were reading. In graduate school I think "deep thinking" is important. What's beyond the surface of what you're reading? What are the larger issues and implications of technology and young people?

Your Spark 1 REPLY is due, Monday January 27. Thanks to those of you who have already been involved with posting comments for your peers. I'll be grading these after all the replies are in. Then, you'll be able to find your grades and comments under the Gradebook option late next week.

Spark 2 is due, Monday February 3. Again, you have a few days to post a reply, but I'd suggest jumping right in rather than waiting to post a reply.

Next you should be working on Spark 3.

When you provide the name of a specific website in a posting be sure to include the URL (web address) and use the link tool in the message editor to make it active. This way, your classmates can explore the resource you're describing. As you work on future postings, please be sure to provide a complete citation and if possible a web link so others can enjoy the material you cite.

A few people have asked about criteria for the Spark Replies. There's no specific criteria other than contributing to the discussion in some way that goes beyond "way to go" or "I agree." The key is ADDING to the discussion. When possible incorporating a professional reference, excerpt from the readings, a useful resource, or a meaningful example.

These are all possibilities:
* act on a suggestion given by another classmate. For example, after reading a posting or comment from a peer, you might decide to add an example, suggest a website address or other resource, answer a question, or clarify an idea.
* provide feedback to others such as a specific comment or idea along with an example, expansion, or suggestion. In other words, "way to go Susie" is a good start, but won't get you a point. You could even start with "that's crap Susie", however the key is providing positive, constructive criticism or helpful and encouraging advice. Healthy debate is fine, but let's discourage mean-spirited comments.
* state an opinion and provide supportive evidence or arguments. This can be fun because it can really get a discussion going.
* add an insight. If you've had an encounter with the topic being discussed, it would be valuable to hear your thoughts and "real world" experiences.

Let's talk about what you're learning. The first few sparks focus on the wide range of electronic materials available for children and young adults. Rather than picking the "easiest" assignment, make selections that will complement your library and technology skills. In other words, I've provided a wide range of options so that everyone can learn new, relevant skills.

Some people are trying to jump over the readings and getting into working on assignments and projects. Be sure you complete the readings associated with each spark before starting to think about your assignments and projects. For example, before you create a pathfinder, you need to do all the readings associated with pathfinders and explore lots of examples! These readings will also be helpful in some of the specific requirements associated with the projects.

You should be thinking about your pathfinder project. If you have questions or need suggestions, please let me know.

A few people have emailed me about the differences between a bibliography or booklist and a pathfinder. Here's my thoughts:

An annotated bibliography is a list of resources with annotations.

A mediography is an annotated bibliography with an emphasis on media type materials such as audio and video resources.

A pathfinder is designed to facilitate the exploration of information, so a mediography would be one aspect of a pathfinder. However a pathfinder would also include background information on the topic, suggested approaches to information exploration including search words, search strategies, and related topics. It would also include ideas for how and why the information might be used including project ideas, applications for inquiries, and ideas that might be useful in solving problems... in other words, it's much more than simply a list of materials... it's a "guide" to help people who will be using the materials too.

Pathfinders are particularly important with young people who may need guidance as they jump into an inquiry. Think about how your annotations can assist young people in making good choices about what they choose to explore. For instance, you might include information about specific topics, reading levels, or media incorporated used such as images, audio, and video.

To learn more about the project, go to

As you consider your Pathfinder Project, think about something that will be fun, but also serve as a good, professional example you can show potential employers.

You should share your pathfinder topic in the project area. Your peers may have ideas for you.

Each student is required to add a Peer Enhancement. It's worth two points. This involves reviewing the work of a peer and providing ideas.

Be sure to do a search in Google (or other favorite search tools) for your topic and the word pathfinder such as "tornado pathfinder" there's a chance you can find ideas in a pathfinder developed by someone else. You can also try "tornado links" and you may find a website links page to get you started. Although many of the projects are now dated, check my 42explore page for ideas at

Your pathfinder should be well-organized and well-written, but also keep in mind your audience isn't me (your instructor). Your audiences are children and/or young adults and their adult guides, NOT just other librarians or teachers. Words like "the patrons will" don't fit... phrases like... "The American Revolution was a fascinating time... you might want to consider... " are more appropriate for 13 year olds.

Also, keep in mind that you need to proof read your project carefully. It should be your BEST professional work.

Your Pathfinder, Tutorial/Transmedia Project, and WebQuest can be on the related topics or totally different topics. Remember, the project MUST be aimed at the children and young adult audience. In the end, you'll be writing an article about the use of technology with young people.

I encourage everyone to set aside a time to complete course activities. Instead of driving to class and sitting at a table, you need to walk into your home office, close the door, and sit in from of the computer.... no television (unless you use it as background noise), no kids (unless you're nursing), or no pets (unless you can convince your cat to sit quietly on your lap). In the calendar I indicate SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES and DUE DATES. Consider using the suggested dates rather than waiting until the deadline.

Update: January 21

We made it through the first days of class!

Last week we were exploring starting points including library Facebook pages. Check out a great example in Tacoma, Washington at

Before jumping into this week's assignment, please read the Call for Proposals for the DLIS conference. You might want to consider this professional opportunity.


If you're going to be making postings, you'll need to go to Oncourse. However if you just want to access the readings I'd go straight to the course website at so the materials won't be within the Oncourse frames making it easier to read and use.


This week's readings relate to the selection, creation, and use of pathfinders. Many of the web pages that call themselves pathfinders are really just resource lists. Remember, a pathfinder is MUCH MORE than a list of books, videos, or websites. It's intended to be a PERSONAL ASSISTANT that guides a particular audience (in this case children and young adults) through the resources available on a topic.

A good pathfinder ALSO helps young library users become self sufficient by providing ideas for conducting their own searches, key words, definitions, background information, project ideas, and other resources that will bring a particular topic ALIVE!

Also remember that not all website collection and collaboration projects need to be complete pathfinders. You might use social bookmarking websites such as or shortened URL tools such as to organize, collaborate on, and share websites.

Read Pathfinders at

Apps for youth are very popular and are increasingly integrated into pathfinders. Looking for some fun, new apps for children and young adults? Read


I enjoyed reading everyone's introductions. We have a wide variety of people represented. Some of you have experience with teaching and libraries, others of you are beginners. There will be many opportunities for you to learn from each other. Remember, questioning is the way we all learn. I'm happy to help. Or, email a classmate. The MESSAGES area in Oncourse is a fun way to send a personal message to a classmate. You can also forward these messages to your personal email.

I think it's fun to see where we share interests. Like many of you, I like reading and all kinds of music. We try to eat local food, we exercise at least 60-90 minutes every morning using my exercise bike (known as the bike to nowhere), and we're both feeling great. I also like to hike. We spend most of our time working, but when I want to take a short break I like to read nonfiction and fiction, sketch or watercolor paint nature, and paint small, flat river rocks... strange, but true. We also like to explore the US in our new teardrop trailer. Finally, we built a house in southern Utah and still have lots of work to do on both the interior and exterior.


My 2 cents about starting points... Like most of you, "Google" is still my favorite search engine. However, I find that not all webmasters register their websites with Google. Having a nice list of education and library portals or locating a good source for pathfinders can come in very handy. I suggest you keep a personal list of your favorite web resources as you work your way through the course.


The Spark 1 ( posting is due Tuesday January 21.

When you're ready to post your Spark Assignment, go to the FORUM area of Oncourse. Scroll down past the General Discussions to find the Sparks.

It's a good idea to write in a simple text editor such as Notepad (Windows) or Text Edit (Mac) then paste into the forum area. You may have to play with the formatting a little if you use Microsoft Word. It's also okay to post your assignment as a Word attachment.

The Spark 1 REPLY is due by Monday January 27 at midnight (or within a couple hours). Read through the work of your peers, then reply to AT LEAST one of their messages with a quality reply. You can reply in any of the options under Spark 1.

In most cases I like to grade all the Spark posting and replies at once. It's difficult to go back later and grade the replies out of context, so I'll generally grade after all the replies are in. If I have questions, comments, or concerns, I'll write you a note in the GRADEBOOK comments area. I'll be posting the grades for Spark 1 after both the postings and replies have been posted.
Next, you'll want to begin work on Spark 2.


I'll be lurking around the forums throughout the semester. Occasionally, I'll add a comment. I try to stay out of conversations because some people "clam-up" when the "teacher" starts talking. If I have a particular comment about your posting, I'll put a little note on your Gradebook page. I particularly enjoyed the comments by those of you who have had my online courses before. I think you'll find that this is the least stressful of the courses I teach. :-)


At the beginning of the semester, some people get stressed because they "don't get it." It takes time to understand how all the course materials go together.

Be sure to start with the Course Guide at

You don't have time to procrastinate. My regular class email messages will either be very encouraging or very annoying. Hopefully they'll help you "de-stress" and stay on target. If you stay focused, you'll learn a lot. Be sure to have fun along the way!

Update: Let's Go!

Welcome to the first day of class (Monday January 13)!

Classes are beginning, so it's time to get started.

Be sure to check the Course Calendar to see what's due in terms of readings and assignments. Go to

If you run into trouble with the due dates, just email me (ahead of time) a quick note along with a juicy excuse (any excuse will do). I'll give you up to 2 extra days without penalty. The only FIRM DEADLINE is the last week of classes.

At first, people are overwhelmed by all of the readings and links. You don't need to read everything... it's not possible. Instead use the icons and directions for guidance. Notice that it will tell you to explore, skim, or read the pages. Keep in mind that the purpose of the readings is to help you complete the assignments.

Let’s start with an introduction to electronic materials, informational materials, and starting points. You’re probably familiar with resources for adults, however keep in mind that this course focused on materials for youth. We’ll explore materials that will help you work with young people as well as materials for youth themselves. Be sure to spend some time identifying libraries that are like the type where you’d like to work. How are they using electronic materials for youth?

Read Introduction at
Read Informational Materials at
Read Starting Points at

Complete the Introduction Yourself activity first.

Your Spark 1 posting is due Tuesday January 21 (Monday is a holiday).
Your Spark 1 reply is due Monday January 27.

These assignments are posted in the FORUM area in Oncourse.
Remember, you have some time after the posting date to add a reply. Please don't wait until the last minute, or you'll miss out on the fun of the discussion. Be sure to check back a couple times because someone might post a question for you or you might find that you can provide assistance for a classmate.

Remember, you DO NOT need to do ALL of the options listed under Spark 1. Just choose ONE of the options. Also, it's okay to reply in a different Spark than your posting. You can post as many replies as you wish, but be sure at least one is an IN-DEPTH reply.

Let me know if you have questions.

Update: Get Set!

Classes start on Monday, so you can really get started any time. From now on, my emails will generally provide an overview of the required readings and assignments as well as suggestions and tips. Although I know these emails can get long, please read them. They will really help direct your activities.

If you don't "get it" after reading these descriptions and exploring the materials, please email me. I'm happy to answer your questions!


Your first assignment is to enter Oncourse. Update your Oncourse Profile in the MY WORKSPACE area of Oncourse.

Also, go to the FORUM section of our course and find the Introduce Yourself discussion under the GENERAL DISCUSSION area. In addition to a personal introduction, the assignment also asks you to share your love or hate of technology and also create a word cloud to share. Learn more about this assignment at

Go to the Course Guide at

As you move through the Course Guide, you'll notice the Spark activities. You're free to post these activities in Oncourse whenever you wish. It's a good idea to get ahead in case you get busy in other courses or at work!

Generally you have 3-4 choices for posting your activity. You ONLY need to complete ONE of these assignments for EACH Spark. Look for the matching Spark activity in the FORUM area of Oncourse such as Spark 1.1. You'll also need to respond to another student's posting for each activity. You do not need to reply in the same Spark in which you posted. For example, you might post your assignment in Spark 1.1, but you might reply in Spark 1.3. Go to the course guide to learn about Spark one at

Don't worry if you don't have professional experience. Do your best making use of the readings and your life experiences to address the Sparks.

Your POSTING for the Spark 1 assignment is due on Tuesday January 21 (Monday is a holiday).

Your Spark 1 reply is due Monday January 27.

Next, you will be working on Spark 2 (due Monday February 3)

If the fonts are too small to read in the the course materials or Oncourse, remember that you can enlarge the font in your browser.


The periodic emails will keep you up-to-date on things you should be doing for class and due dates. I'll also throw in some personal stuff to keep it interesting. I lead a pretty unique, strange, and interesting life. Feel free to share your life with me too. It makes some students feel more "connected".
I've already sent out a couple preliminary class emails. Let me know if you missed it. Or, check out the class email archives at

You can use my personal email for class interactions or Oncourse. My personal email is on almost "24/7" so I'll usually get back to you immediately.

If you need me right away, your best bet is email. I check it throughout the day. Or, if you'd rather chat, "friend" me in Facebook and use the Chat. You’re more likely to find me there than in Oncourse chat.


There are no required face-to-face or scheduled chat sessions for this course. Many students enjoy taking an online course because they don't have to be in a particular place at a particular time. HOWEVER, this means that you're responsible for making your own personal schedule in order to meet the course requirements on time. Some people find that this the most difficult part of the course. You need self-discipline to be successful in distance learning.


You have three jobs:
1 - Follow the course calendar and complete your assignments on time. As a matter of fact, getting things in early is a good idea. For example, you'll often have multiple assignments due on the same day. Rather than waiting until the last minute, start a couple weeks early. For example, you might set your own schedule and complete one assignment per week.

2 - Let me know if you run into trouble. Don't fret and worry about your problem. Instead, email me and let's discuss it. If you're not sure about a topic for an assignment or have trouble with a due date, just let me know. I'm flexible and happy to help.

3 - Have fun. Learning is about opening a new world of information, skills, and understandings. Many assignments encourage you to explore resources and brainstorm ideas. Don't think of the class discussions as painful homework. Think of them as a chance to interact with your colleagues about issues and ideas important to our profession.


My job is to help you successfully complete this course and expand your skills in electronic materials for children and young adults. I "live" on the Internet, so I'm happy to hold personal email discussions whenever you feel the need to talk. Feel free to email any time. I'll get back to you ASAP.


Keep in mind that if you were taking this course face-to-face you'd be driving to class, plus your out-of-class readings and activities. You should be spending 3 "class hours" plus 3 hours for every hour of course credit... that means at least 12 hours per week devoted to this course in the regular year or double that in the summer!

This course has no driving, no parking, and no lectures! Just remember those three things as you wade through the reading and assignments. :-)

Update: Get Ready!

Our s603: Electronic Materials for Children and Young Adults course is ready to go. Although I’ve been teaching this course for many years, I’ve totally updated the course with all new materials for spring semester!

I thought I'd send a quick overview of the course for people who would like to get a little head start. This is my second class email. If you're not sure whether you're getting the email messages, go to the email archives at

There are NO face-to-face or virtual meetings in this course. It's your responsibility to follow the course Calendar and CourseGuide. Then, complete and post the required assignments in Oncourse.

The Oncourse and online materials are ready for anyone who is ready to get started.

We'll be using the university's Oncourse system to share assignments and ideas. Go to and enter your login and password to enter the system. Inside Oncourse you'll find the following elements for our course:
1) The SYLLABUS shows our course website and archives the course emails. Check this area regularly to be sure you didn't miss a course communication.
2) The ROSTER shows the class list. You may wish to update your personal profile.
3) The GRADEBOOK is a place where you can track your progress. I will be posting grades and comments in this area.
4) The FORUM area contains discussion threads for posting assignments and replying to the work of your classmates.
5) The MESSAGES area is a place to read and compose email.
6) The CHAT area can be used by anyone who would like a "real time" conversation with the instructor or a classmate.


Below I've provided a list of the most important course materials.

Course Website -
Oncourse can be slow. I suggest that unless you are reading or posting assignments, you go directly to the course website and by-pass Oncourse. The navigation bar on the left side of the page provides links to the course materials and the course readings.

Syllabus -
Be sure to review the syllabus including the course description, objectives, and grading scale.
I have a STRICT grading scale. Please review it. However if you follow the directions, you can get all the points.

Calendar -
The calendar is probably the most important page of the course website. It provides a quick review of readings and due dates.

Requirements -
The requirements page provides useful background information as well as suggestions for proceeding through the course.

Checklist -
The checklist is a quick-reference to course requirements.

Email Archives -
The email archives reviews course announcements and email updates.

Course Guide -
The course guide takes you step-by-step through the readings and requirements of the course. It provides detailed information about the course assignments and the criteria that will be used to evaluate your assignments.

I’ll send another email in a few days with more information about the course.

Preliminary Update

Happy Holidays!

Welcome to Electronic Materials for Children and Young Adults!

It's a while before classes begin, but I thought I'd touch base and say hello.

I'll be sending out regular class email messages using this e-mail address. If you'd prefer getting the updates at another address, just let me know.

Over the next week I'll be sending 2-3 messages to get the class rolling. Then, I'll send a weekly message during the semester.

There are NO face-to-face or virtual meetings. However we'll all get started working together online as a class around Monday January 13.

If you're feeling exciting, anxious, enthusiastic, or any other emotions about this course, you're normal. Online courses are a wonderful way to learn, but it takes a little time to get comfortable.

I'll provide lots of guidance along the way. If you've got questions, I'm only an email away and always happy to help.

No textbook is required. You can find optional resources in the course syllabus if you're looking for ideas to supplement the online course materials.

For the syllabus, go to

The course materials are now ready in both Oncourse and the Web.
I suggest that when doing the course readings you bypass Oncourse and go directly to the website at

We'll be using ONCOURSE for class discussions and posting course assignments.
It's ready to go.

I've been a librarian, technology coordinator, and college professor. I enjoy teaching online courses from my home in the mountains of southern Utah. If you'd like to learn more about me, go to or follow our latest adventures on Facebook.

Instruction has become an important activity for all library types. It's going to be an exciting semester!


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