Left Behind by the EdTech Surge | From The Bell Tower by Steven Bell

By on February 19, 2014 Leave a Comment

steven bell newswire Left Behind by the EdTech Surge | From The Bell TowerThere’s loads of activity happening in the world of educational technology. New startups. Dozens of websites for managing learning activities. Apps by the dozens. Academic librarians seem out of the loop.

A few months ago I subscribed to the weekly email newsletter from an organization called EdSurge. It’s subtitled “a weekly newsletter for innovators in education.” Depending on you how you feel about the phrase “innovators in education,” you may be thinking that’s exactly who you are—or maybe you’ve had your fill of innovation talk. While EdSurge does dedicate about half of each issue to the K-12 startup scene, there’s also reporting on the latest educational technology resources and utilities. Some of these are startup websites that may or may not be here for long. What it reveals is a veritable flood of new educational technologies. It leads me to question if academic librarian educators are managing to keep up with all these new resources. Are we taking time to investigate and explore these new tools or are we falling back on our old familiar standbys? Based on some time I spent listening to an instructional technology discussion at ALA Midwinter, I think it might be the latter rather than the former.

Some Old Wine

Admittedly, some of these new instructional technologies are simply variants, or even outright replications, of existing educational technologies. Coggle, for example, is hardly the first web-based mind-mapping tool, but it claims to add new collaborative sharing capabilities.  Some replication is expected, because it’s well known in the startup world that the trick is not always being first to the market but being the product in the marketplace that catches on with users (think MySpace and Facebook). However, that strategy is no surefire path to success. Right now a slew of imitators are trying to move into Snapchat’s space, but so far the original is still number one with the user community. Still, while discovering some truly original utilities takes a bit of work, checking out newcomers to an old space may lead to a great new find with better options or performance (think screencasting utilities).

Read more…

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15 Surprising Tips For Standing Out At Work by Alison Griswold

We’d all like to shine at work and land that promotion we feel we deserve.

But when it comes to standing out, we’ve heard the same advice over and over: take initiative, help others, get involved.

It’s time to freshen up that list. We uncovered 15 surprising and unconventional strategies you can use to take your reputation from lackluster to brilliant:

1. Be productive, not busy. Understanding the difference between these two things is crucial to any employee’s success at work. Productivity guru Tim Ferriss emphasizes that long hours aren’t a good barometer of effort. Results are.

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10 ideas to reinvent the library by Francesca

8 Feb

10 ideas to reinvent the library

Today is National Libraries Day. In Bristol, my local city library is organising speakers, musicians and installations to celebrate the day. But after years of funding cuts, closures and declining usage due to the rise of the internet, what is the future of the library? – does it even have one?


Trusted spaces 

I would  answer a most emphatic yes, it most definitely does: but some things need to change. Based on responses from over 2,000 people, a 2013 research report from the Arts Council England found that public libraries are seen as “trusted spaces, open to all, in which people continue to explore and share the joys of reading, information, knowledge and culture”. In an increasingly digital world such a physical space seems worth preserving, yet between 2007 and 2012 the number of visits to public libraries dropped by nearly 7% . However, while we might not visit libraries as often as we used to, the thought that they might no longer exist seems impossible – with communities protesting nationwide as council after council announces new closures or cuts in response to increasingly tight budgets.

But what if this isn’t the end for the public library? What if all it needs is a bit of re-imagining? Here’s my starter for ten….

10 ideas to reinvent the library 
  1. Embrace the digital: Libraries currently pivot around an outdated model of lending physical books in a world where digital access offers unrivalled convenience. ‘E-loans’ and digitised archive content needs to move from a periphery experiment to a core service.

Read more…

Trouble at the office: When to go to HR, and when not

By Suzanne Lucas MoneyWatch February 3, 2014, 8:28 AM

I get a number of emails from people who have problems at work, go to HR and end up worse off than they were previously. Why is that? Shouldn’t HR step in and fix problems?

Yes, and no. There are times you should absolutely ask and expect HR to help you out, but there are other times when going to HR may not be your best move. Here are some guidelines to help you decide:
When you must go to HR
  • If there is illegal conduct with respect to how you are being treated in the workplace.  If your manager is discriminating against you because of your race or national origin or some other protected area — you should go to HR and file an official complaint. HR is legally bound to investigate the situation. If your complaint is found to be valid, they are required to act. If you do have such a complaint to make, don’t do it casually. Write it up and send it in an email, copying your home email address, with the subject line “Formal Complaint of Sexual Harassment,” (or whatever your complaint is).
  • If you want to take advantage of a government protection. For example, if you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer, you’ll want protection from the Family Medical Leave Act, and you should go to HR to take care of the paperwork. If you have a disability and need accommodations, you need to formally request the accommodation from your Human Resources department. Your manager will be involved, but HR will know what to do and how to do it.
  • If you notice anything else illegal going on. Health and safety violations? Regulatory violations? HR isn’t necessarily the right place to go, but they will know what you should do. They will also know how to document and get your complaint pushed to the top. Lots of companies have anonymous hotlines for things like this, but if your company doesn’t, and you don’t know who to speak to, come to HR.
  • You have a problem with or question about your company-provided health insurance. HR manages those plans. We have contacts and can sometimes fix things. Come, we’ll help. Read more…
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