Tag Archives: academic-library

Teaching online classes with videos: Different rules for a different medium?

While reviewing the large number of unread posts in my Google Reader, I found Jessamyn’s note about the issues facing UCLA and their use of videos in online courses intriguing, both because I use videos when I teach and the new aspect of the debate regarding electronic media and online courses.   While course content — books, articles, essays, etc. — have already been well worked into online courses with the blessing of the copyright deities thanks to passwords and other protections, I have to ask  why should videos be different?  Granted, ripping a video off a VHS or DVD and uploading to the site is just obviously violating the terms of the video in the first place (the red warning screen does actually say something and is not just a small pause before a movie starts).  But, as an individual, I’ve grown accustomed to streaming my Netflix on my computer, my TiVo (if I had one), and soon my Nintendo Wii.  Many people have even grown accustomed to streaming videos from their phones thanks to YouTube.  So why shouldn’t we be trying to stream videos in online classes? Why should the copyright safeties function differently for videos (or perhaps even other multimedia) than the digitization and uploading of their print counterparts?

I don’t exactly have a lot of answers, so lets start with the questions.  Should we instead shift power over to Hulu and have students from political science and history watch select videos from the Biography channel? Should students learn about foreign traditions and cultures via Rick Steves’ Europe?  Furthermore, why are vendors like Baker & Taylor not stepping up to the plate to adjust their model of just selling DVDs to Netflix-style renting and streaming?  Other providers, such as DeepDyve, a search engine and article renter that helps provide temporary access to information for those unwilling or unable to make the full database licensing commitment, are providing fascinating alternatives to how people perceive, use, and access information and at what cost.   Couldn’t videos do the same since usually the video must be watched for a particular week or two of a class before moving on to the next topic?  Checkout options for eAudiobooks have been developed for public libraries by other vendors such as NetLibrary; so why are we struggling with videos so badly?

In short, I find the response to pull videos that are using the same protection methods as digitized print materials a wee bit extreme.  I can only hope that these other questions might help stimulate the aforementioned into some sort of action to find a better compromise than just saying no.  To hear more about the debate, I recommend looking at the Jan. 26 and Feb. 4 articles from Inside Higher Ed.

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Is there hope for us?

While health care continues to flounder, it appears that the House has had instead had some success in addressing the financial aid and loan situation for students.  In the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, the federal government, instead of private lenders, would back student loans, increase Pell grants funding, and allocate funds for *community colleges*, school construction, and early childhood education.  As a grad student indebted to both the federal government and a private lender, I have to say that my federal government plan is a better deal, especially given the loan consolidation with a locked-in fixed-interest of only about 5%.  Compared to my credit cards, this is a dream.  But, now as I’m moving away from being a student and transitioning into a professional position (hopefully at a CC), I’m curious how this funding may actually work and if there is any actual hope that the libraries will benefit.

Looking at the bill itself, Sec. 351.2.a states that each State will receive funding for modernization and construction based on “the amount equal to the total number of students in the State who are enrolled in community colleges and who are pursuing a degree or certificate that is not a bachelor’s, master’s, professional, or other advanced degree, relative to the total number of such students in all States, combined” (115 of the PDF); in short, funds to match the proportion of students in CCs compared to the rest of the US.  That seems fair enough.  So helping match capital campaign funding, capitalize a revolving loan fund, or reduce costs of loans. But, how does the library fit in?  Well, after approving safety and repairs, libraries are eligible for modernization and the “installation or upgrading of educational tech infrastructure” somewhat fals into our realm.  Therefore, maybe new online course software, some funding to create online tutorials, assistance in funding online collections are all possibilities based upon this phrasing. For now, the funding, beginning in 2011, will be $2.5 billion (125).

As for the community college initiative, Sec. 501-505, we get some more possibilities for funding curriculum.  For starters, what sort of budget are we looking at?  Sec. 501 projects $730 million for each year from 2010-2013 and $680 million for 2014-2019; the individual awards themselves will be at least $1 million.  Yep, that ought to help make up for some of CA’s shortfall, but wait, the criteria has changed for funding eligibility.  Now, grants are awarded ” on a competitive basis” for “innovative programs,” “programs of demonstrated effectiveness” based on DOE or DOL evaluations or other research, or “lead to completion of a […degree] leading to a skilled occupation in a high-demand industry” (161).  In addition, Sec. 505 even offers support for Open Online Education “to develop, evaluate, and disseminate free high-quality online training, high school courses, and postsecondary education courses” (178).  Libraries fit this item remarkably!  I mean, haven’t most of us been doing this to some extent since the increased demands by patrons and faculty for online content and guides have led to virtual library tours, citation guide videos, and animated “how to evaluate search results” cartoons?

Overall, the House appears to have done a decent job representing the CCs and the students on this one.  Let’s see what the Senate has to say….

Twitter-riffic

Although I started using Twitter almost a year ago now (wow, has time flown by), this week seems the universe seems to want me to move beyond my current, occasional playing with the social media resource to learn more about the power that has led this VC-run idea to become the phenomenon that it is.  As part of a new routine, I’m making more time to walk, and hence, I need more audiobooks to consume as part of the needed distraction away from such said exercise.  In Joel Comm’s Twitter Power, I’ve been able to have a well-crafted review of the various other social media sites, hear how they compare and contrast with Twitter, and look forward to hearing more about his advice and techniques for making Twitter work for me.  While the some of the advice thus far (I’m about 1.5 hours out of an almost 6.5 hour audiobook) is a bit of the tediously obvious (make sure you choose the right username so people can find you; make sure to link your website to your Twitter profile, etc.), his additional advice as to how to add multiple websites to your profile gives me hope that I’ll actually learn something from the book.  The book does have a sales/advertising bent, but I figure the methods will still apply to the general outreach my library may need to promote programs, events, and new resources.

On another note, my ProjectMuse Twitter feed helped me stumble upon a Society for Scholarly Publishing blog entry regarding the relationship between Twitter and scholarly communication. For the academics among us, Clarke’s concise discussion does an excellent job providing the short hand notes to the Twitter discussion as well as indicating Twitter’s value as a general social media tool apart from others like Facebook.  Furthermore, he ties the topic back into the idea of scholarly communication today.  To say the least, I highly recommend perusing this entry for even the avid librarian Twitter user.

Now, in relation to all of these, what have you, in the nebulous fog of the blogosphere, discovered in your Twitter-riffic adventures?

Research impact factors – How can libraries get in on this?

While browsing my Twitter feed, I stumbled across the article in the Chronicle of Higher Education discussing the latest tool for analyzing the impact of a researchers’ publication in a discipline.  Instantaneous feedback from programs like Google Analytics has helped bloggers, website creators, and librarians increase their understanding of who, where, and when their sites are being accessed and read.  Among the journal publishers, Elsevier is now coming to the impact analysis part with their SciVal Spotlight tool.  In contrast to other analyzers like Google Scholar, Reuters Thomson’s citation indices, and Springer’s AuthorMapper (it’s free!), Elsevier attempts to review and categorize articles (instead of journals) into one of their 80,000 clusters, allowing for “a much more precise picture of influential work in emerging fields.”  In conjunction to the bibliometric analyzer, Elsevier also looks to be creating a SciVal Funding database to connect researchers to funding opportunities.

Now, as libraries face budget cuts and collection development demands, tools like these could potentially be of great value in researching and ranking resources of interest and value for our institutions.  Our researchers would also benefit from access to this resource to understand other, related research in the field.  However, this all assumes a level of accuracy in the cataloging of these articles.

Sadly, I feel somewhat disappointed in the premature results, as the same problems that face the keyword indexing of journals in databases remains anything but precise and consistent, continues in the citation indexer.  While I don’t have access to Elsevier’s edition, I did test some searches in Springer’s AuthorMapper.

Image of AuthorMapper webpage, including search bar and Google maps mashup with location of authors
Image of AuthorMapper webpage, including search bar and Google maps mashup with location of authors

Although a variety of subjects are listed below for browsing, I chose to conduct my own topic search on Dante. What I found was that most of my results were not based on the author Dante Alighieri of the Commedia, but others, particularly in the sciences, that had Dante somewhere in their name and primarily were based in South America.

Map and list of keywords retrieved for "Dante" search results in AuthorMapper
Map and list of keywords retrieved for "Dante" search results in AuthorMapper

Like any good librarian, I decided perhaps the fault was my own for not refining my search phrase enough.  So, using his full name Dante Alighieri, I was able to find many more results related to the specific Dante I was after (yes, the results under Mineralogy do related to Dante Alighieri).  However, upon reviewing the various facets, I found that while 18 articles were tagged as Comparative Literature and Linguistics, 12 articles were still related to Medicine and Public Health.  While the concepts of medieval science do arise throughout Dante’s writing, 12 seems a bit excessive.  Upon reviewing the journals list, Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Chirugie (Langenbeck’s Archives of Surgery) is the 4th most popular journal to appear in the list!

Google Maps mashup and keywords listing for AuthorMapper results for Dante Alighieri
Google Maps mashup and keywords listing for AuthorMapper results for Dante Alighieri

These inaccuracies are evidence to just some of the problems bibliometric analyzers have in reviewing research, let alone the issues of citation inflation by colleagues and friends.  Even misspelling Dante’s name as Dante Aligheri still provides another single search results that falls outside of its proper retrieval space.

So, in short, while these tools may be helpful, like the Internet, information literacy will be key in deciphering these results as validity is not guaranteed.