Diving into Digital Fiction: Locating and Selecting – Part 1

Photo courtesy: metro centric on flickrcc

Photo courtesy: metro centric on flickrcc

The official facebook page of Inanimate Alice is a great place to start exploring other transmedia storytelling. It’s most recent entry featured an article from the Globe and Mail and it mentioned a digital short story that fits the bill for my Year 8 class.

J.R.Carpenter explains about her work CityFish on Facebook:

CityFish is a hybrid word, title of a hybrid work, tale of a hybrid creature. Part classical parable, part children’s picture book, CityFish is a web-based intertextual hypermedia transmutation of Aesop’s Town Mouse Country Mouse fable.

It reminded me a little of another site (not trans media) that I ran across several years ago. It still exists and after reviewing it again I’ve decided to include it on the list. On its front page the author describes it as:

a show of hands is an electronic narrative. The story customizes itself around your reading, using an adaptive hypertext system

Students will need to register in order to use a show of hands effectively and this is one of the considerations I need to take into account when selecting resources for this group. The others are:

  • does anything need to be downloaded
  • will the site be blocked at school
  • will the student have a handheld device to use the resource (some I’d like to investigate are for iPhone/iPod)

One of the transmedia stories I didn’t choose to include was Azrael’s Stop. It looks and reads beautifully but because it was delivered on Twitter and because it is effectively an ‘event’ that is over, there didn’t seem to be much point. Still worth a look to understand what is possible.

Get eSmart VSC Promotion Plans

Our high school’s digital citizenship website is now up and running! Please check out Get eSmart VSC

We were meant to have a launch on the Cybersafety information evening and so we did of sorts. Unfortunately it was ‘a dark and stormy night” on June 21st — it bucketed down and there were rumours of snow up on the mountain so we were pleased that even 25 – 30 people made the effort to come out. The speakers from ‘Think U Know” were good but as often is the case things ran overtime so we were only able to show our site at the end to a crowd who wanted to be on their way home. So not exactly how I’d envisaged it but it got me thinking that like having a baby or planning a wedding, it’s not all over on the ‘big day’. There is much to do afterwards if you want your site/child/marriage to be a success.

So now we’ve been putting our heads together in the Library to continue our plans for promoting the website to the community.

  • One of the early plans I made was to choose a blog site that allowed us to collect statistics. Its really important to be able to see if /what people are looking at on the site and how often they are visiting.
  • I also got my talented son to tweak the header of the page as I wasn’t 100% happy with it. We’ve had a lot of compliments on the new lean, clean look.

Webpage_complete

  • We had a quick print place run off a batch of postcards (500) with the same pic/wording on the front as the site’s header with the URL. We’ve been giving them out to the teachers at school, talking to them one-by-one, highlighting the benefits for them and asking for suggestions for additions.
  • We’ll be promoting the site to the students as well. We want to have student input on the site and I’ve just set up Poll Daddy so we can have short polls running in the sidebar. Interaction is something we really want to build upon.
  • The primary schools in the area have also been notified of the site (several of the people at the Cybersafety site were from the primary school). We’ve created a page for them and have let them know that we’re  happy to include items from them too. Our Head of Library will take more promotional cards with her to the cluster meetings and continue to promote the site.
  • We’ve had links to the webpage added to the newsletter, the school’s website and the school’s Moodle page.

We’ll continue to add items and tips to the front page, and I am currently thinking about the optimal frequency at which this should happen. Too often and it can overwhelm people, not often enough and they will forget about the site.

Presenting my Prezi

Term 1, Week 9

I don’t know how many dead dull powerpoint presentations I’ve had to endure in my life but I’m sure I’m not alone. When I saw Prezi’s introduction video — it was love at first site (sorry the pun was intended).

Prezi has real razzamatazz; it allows you to create presentations that have dynamic rather than static pages. There is the ability to zoom in and out, tilt, angle, swirl and presentations can include video as well as graphics and text. I’ve known about Prezi for several months and finally had the time to sit down and learn how to use it.

The Dewey Decimal Classification system can be a bit dry to teach so I revamped our library’s introductory session with the following (please click on the hyperlink below):

Dewey: The man, the system

Prezi_screen_shot

A couple of hints I should pass on to you:

  1. DO NOT , I repeat, DON”T press the backspace button when creating your own Prezi. It causes you to jump out of the session. There is nothing to tell you this anywhere and I can only conclude that they are assuming you are on an Apple and have no backspace button to worry about.
  2. In order to make the Prezi work, you need to click on the forward arrow for each segment similar to a PowerPoint presentation, although there is an autoplay option available.

I’ll be presenting my Prezi this week to my students along with some hands-on activities (so will some of the other TLs at school). I’ll let you know what the students think. I’d be glad of any constructive feedback from colleagues as well.

Getting to know Search Engines – Yahoo!7

Our ETL501 subject guide suggests:

As the school’s information professional, the TL is often seen as the school’s ‘Internet expert’. (Herring, 2008, p. 14)

and asks us to increase our knowledge of search engines so I thought I’d blog my way through some of them to get to know them better. I am probably as guilty as the next person of being highly dependent on Google to conduct searches because it is familiar and ‘comfortable’.

Our course wants us to evaluate the effectiveness of the search engines and recommends:

An effective search strategy is one that is based on the purpose and the need of the searcher. (Herring, 2004, p.31) (italics are mine)

but I’ll get to serious evaluation later. First I think I need to get to know the features of each search engine and the ‘feel’ of them before I can make judgements.

I’m starting with the single search engines then I’ll move to the meta search engines. First off the mark is Yahoo!7 – the Australian version of Yahoo!

When I first opened it, I felt like I was looking at a cross between a shopping centre and a celeb gossip magazine. That’s why I’d always avoided it in the past and never recommended it to students. But I entered my trial keywords (global warming) and hit enter.

At the top of the results page I’m offered the option of searching: 1/ the Web; 2/Australia; 3/ New Zealand so that’s a plus – students can narrow down the results to obtain relevant information for our area. The result page also offered lots of search suggestions under:

Also try:

  • global warming australia
  • causes of global warming
  • effects of global warming
  • global warming articles
  • al gore global warming

When I hit ‘more’ it also offered concept categories to explore, all relevant to global warming. Eg.

  • Climate Change
  • greenhouse gases
  • the greenhouse effect
  • carbon dioxide
  • fossil fuels
  • emissions
  • atmosphere
  • Methane

Very handy for students as well.

The original search brought up 229,000,000 hits and after this figure at the top of the page I noticed their ‘about this page’ hyperlink so I clicked it. More useful info!

On the ‘About” page I found out there is an ad-free, dedicated Yahoo! search start page. Nothing on it but the search box and logo. I also learned that Yahoo! has lots more web search options than I’d realised (click on “More>>” just above the search box). Many are the same as Google (news, images, maps), others of interest were:

  • directory – which is a subject-based and human-edited website guide (Google also has this feature, you just never hear of it). Using this feature and my keywords, my search resulted in 2,178 sites, all of much higher quality (authority-wise). The results also indicate categories (eg. Category: Global Warming > Opposing Views, Category: Columns and Columnists)
  • local – a guide to local businesses (didn’t bring up any results for ‘global warming’ but could be of use for other searches)
  • Answers – where you can ask real people, real questions (who these people are who answer, of course, is an issue but they may offer new directions for a student). Answers submitted can be rated according to usefulness by users.

Lastly, I discovered Yahoo! has a service they call ShortCuts (both Service Shortcuts and Open Shortcuts). If there is a relevant Service shortcut to your search, a small note will appear up at the top of your results page (eg. calculator, time zone, weather, etc). Open shortcuts will search favourite sites or start an Internet application. There are already many default shortcuts (eg. !movies, !mysp = myspace.com, !wiki = wikipedia) or you can create and set your own by following the instructions at the hyperlink involved.

I’m really glad I took the time to explore this search engine. I’m now going to include the Yahoo! directory search into my repertoire of assistance and onto the school’s Project Hotspots page.

True Tube Share

I ran across this excellent UK-based site this morning in my ‘web wandering’ and thought I’d post it as others may also find it of use especially teachers working in the areas of debate and issues.

TrueTube

TrueTube explains itself as:

a free website which uses real-life stories and issues to encourage teenagers to explore and debate the world of morality, ethics, politics and religion. TrueTube brings to life the subjects at the heart of Secondary Education using short-form web-based video and multimedia technology. The site encourages teenagers to find their voice as they explore their own value systems and those of their peers around the corner and across the world.

I’ve had a little look around on the site and am very impressed. The contributions are monitored so the quality is good. Videos are down-loadable in case this site is blocked so teachers can still use them. There’s a tab at the top of the homepage on how to use the site – comments, videos can be uploaded as well as downloaded. The link below is to an article about the site.

http://www.futurelab.org.uk/resources/publications-reports-articles/web-articles/Web-Article1205