Sunday, August 13, 2006

Post #6: My Website

Here is my website for a high school library reader's advisory page.
LA Reading Corner

It has been fun!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Post #5 The Growth of the Digital Divide

In light of my last posting on the passing of DOPA in the House, I decided to take a look at the topic of the growing "digital divide". Though the divide may not be growing in numbers, the depth to which those Americans without access is increasing as the internet becomes more of an integral part of our life. Of course with more restrictions being placed on school and public internet access, the children of the "have-nots" would be affected even more and placed at an even bigger disadvantage.

In the article Is a computer Worth a Thousand Books? Internet Access and the Changing Role of Public Libraries the term digital divide is further defined as not just access, but "It should be more precisely defined along three dimensions-access, use, and usage." Though many households, about 70%, have internet access, is it used? Is it beneficial and efficient to the users? Since these items are harder to define and tabulate, it is evident that there is a need for free public internet access, what better place to provide this but your public library? Already libraries are equipped with all the technology which is necessary to combat this digital divide for the "have-nots".

So now that we realize that libraries are fantastic places where anyone in the community can come and access the internet for free, thus creating some sort of equality not based on socioeconomics. Then enters library filters on internet access and further restrictions with the proposed DOPA act. Wouldn't this just be denying an already disadvantaged group of individuals unrestricted access? If DOPA does pass, middle and upper class children will still be able to participate in these wonderful social networking communities online at home. But what about these students who rely on the public library for their main access?

Libraries are a great answer to trying to correct this digital divide and socio-economic disparity, but restricting this access will just bring them back to square one...not having all the advatages as their more advantaged peers.

More resources and stats on the digital divide
Teens on the Digital Fringes

NECC Teens on the Digital Fringe: What Librarians Can do

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Post #4 Why don't we just hand over our freedom to think independently while we are at it!

In reading Michael's blog in regards to the passing of DOPA in the House of Representatives, it really got me reflecting about libraries and their mission to provide access to information for all people regardless of intellectual or economical constraints. It astounded me that this legislation passed in the House with a 96% success rate! That is a huge number of congress people putting their stamp of approval on an act that inhibits the freedoms of so many.

We have seen this reaction to the internet in the past with legislation introduced such as CIPA which requires schools & libraries to implement filters on their internet access. Society has been reacting to these new technologies with fear and apprehension. Many of these objectors are not familiar with Myspace and other social networking sites. Yet they are determining not only what material is available in our schools & libraries, but also the type of software and format in which to allow this flow of information. By blocking these sites will we keep our children more safe? or simply prohibit them from joining an online world?

In reading many different blogs on this recent legislation, the "Fear Factor Effect" in American society is so prevalent. On the PBS Teachersource blog Wesley Fryer made a statement which adequately sums up the "ruling by fear" stance that our government has taken up, "the vote reflects just how disconnected the “digital immigrants” generation is from the “digital natives” generation". These terms "digital immigrants" and "digital natives" describe perfectly the communication issues at hand. Human nature is to be afraid of peoples or things which are unknown and this is exactly what our government is doing. Instead of educating and teaching proper use of social networking sites, the government's answer is to shut it down completely. But what else would you expect in an election year? No one wants to be the one who votes against an act to "protect our children from predators"! This act was a success as soon as they used the term "predators" in the name.

So now the government may very well succeed at imposing limitations on our children's access to information and online sharing communities because people feel the need for governmental restrictions instead of education and active parental involvement. Yet another one of our freedoms is handed over without argument and without the realization that information is power. Without this free access to information, our children are powerless and ignorant, but what government wouldn't enjoy that? I know that this statement may be a bit alarmist, but the people of this country continue to give away their rights little by little without even realizing it, all in the name of "protecting our children".

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Post #3: CPS to start Virtual Schooling

I just came across an article in the Tribune which discusses the opening of a CPS charter school with a virtual classroom.

Chicago Virtual Charter School

This is a very interesting concept. The article talks about how many people think this is just like home schooling, but it still follows state curriculum and standards and CPS will be funding it. The students will do most of the work at home and online, but be required to meet once a week and then also have field trips and outtings together to get the social aspects of a school.

It mentioned that this may be a good alternative for students who get distracted easily, which seems plausible and I hadn't thought of that. My only concern or question is that in this age of both parents working, will someone be at home to make sure their child is doing the work? We already have issues with parents not being involved enough to check homework and promote good study skills. Even high school aged students need someone to keep them on task and motivate them.

I do think that this is an exciting concept and I do hope that it works out, maybe even if the students were to do some of the work online and then attend school 2-3 days per week to discuss and meet up for collaboration. I also was surprised that the article said the students would only be online for 20-40% of the class. I feel that if you are going to do a virtual school, when the students are at home it should be all online, sort of like the format of college online classes.

Being an aspiring future school librarian, this brings up an interesting point of how will we service these types of students? Obviousy most school libraries already have their databases online, but what about reference books and fiction books? This would have to lead to a large number of ebooks. But would having a a virtual school open up more opportuunities for the use of the public library? Could these classes meet at the public library to access any physical needs which they may have and also have the public library serve as a meeting place for these schools...just another thought for the future of libraries and their role in the virtual world.

Just something to think about and follow if this does indeed take off this fall. The article stated that it is slated to launch this fall but is still looking for approval from the teachers union, which I am sure is not too happy about this

Friday, July 07, 2006

I am diggin' this!

So I am fairly new to the blogging world. I used to believe that only ranting lunatics were into blogging, spewing out nonsense about their random daily events. But being the author of my own blog, I am changing my tune! I think this change came about with my recent immersion into RSS services such as Bloglines. I had no idea that there were so many informative, creative, and interesting blogs out there, and now there is just one place to read it all! What a great invention! Why hadn't I heard about this sooner? This service creates an absolutely huge pool of collaboration and ideas. Connecting people like never before.

So I take back my ignorant words against blogging being random online rantings, but I still think there are those blogs out there which may be best left unread and those individuals who post every 5 minutes who just may be addicted...Bloggers Anonymous (you know who you are). But for those of us who can handle this task responsibly...I say Blog on!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Social Networking Phenomenon

Myspace and the concept of social networking is just such a hot topic right now so I decided to find out more information about it. I came across a great article in PC Magazine which talks about the various ways in which people are using social networking technologies.
MySpace Nation

It points out that although Myspace is by far the largest, there are many different networks out there and each has their own purpose. There are websites such as Peer Trainer where people can join the network and get hooked up with other peers who are trying to lose weight. This networking group encourages each other and provides daily help with diets and exercise. There are also networks such as LinkedIn which is more focused on a business networking community where people can post their resumes and meet people in their industry. This article really points out that this is another internet transformation and the second big wave of startups. We as librarians need to be aware of these trends and imagine what we can be in this new Web 2.0 world.

There was also another interesting article regarding online safety for kids. It points out the fact that children are not going to stop using Myspace so they outline some tips to help parents keep kids safe. In educating parents and children, we can keep social networking activity safer for everyone.

Do You Know Where Your Kids Are Clicking?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Post #1: Origins of the Internet

The vital tool we use everyday called the internet has much controversy on the exact moment of its birth...sort of like the "Big Bang" theory - scientists can only get within nanoseconds of when it happened. Everyone wants to take the credit in the creation of the internet, Donald Davies from the UK who created packets switching, the DOD and ARPAnet, and several other theories, including Al Gore who hooked up two computers and claimed he had the idea first!....all of which seem to be vague in their definition of internet.

The internet, short of "internetworking" is so vaguely described because it is not an "it" that someone physically created, it is more of a method of wiring computers to create this "cyberspace". All of the theories of origin came about when people were trying to accomplish other tasks and instead may have stumbled upon the building blocks to the internet, or baby steps to creating the idea of "the internet".

I stumbled upon a website which had a fairly good description of internet history. The creator, Ian Peter, lists all the theories which are out there and explains why/why not they may be the one true origin theory.

Resource Center for Internet History

All of these just make my head spin. And this is just the very early stages of the internet. We haven't even reached the introduction to the World Wide Web with the GUI system! All I know is that as I started college in 1992 my University gave me an email address which was definitely one of the greatest inventions in my mind. (it also saved me a ton of $$$ in long distance calls!) The next great step was when my professor told us that we could post our research papers on the World Wide Web. What was that? What a crazy idea that anyone, including me, could just dump their information there and call it fact! After that I just jumped on my board and began surfing...regardless of who the creator was of this fantastic new concept!