Google Reader dies today. Don’t lose your favorite feeds!

If you use Google Reader and you haven’t switched, you’re down to the wire! The Google service ends today. But fear not – I offer up a collection of links with alternatives below!

If you have no idea what Google Reader is – it might be time for you to read up on feed aggregators! If you visit a lot of sites daily just to see what’s new – you might want to switch to an aggregator, which will collect all of your sites’ updates for you in one place. Aggregators put all your new blog posts and news articles in one page for easy viewing. (Or, anything with an RSS feed, at least, like this blog! ; ) Here’s an overview of RSS feeds for newbies.

From Lifehacker:

Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives

Gizmodo:

10 Google Reader Alternatives That Will Ease Your RSS Pain

Redmond Pie:

Top 5 Google Reader Alternatives | Redmond Pie

Microsoft Outlook can also collect new posts for you. Here are instructions on

How to add RSS feeds to Outlook

What are blogs, anyway?

Blogs are a great way to keep up-to-date on what’s going on in Library Land and beyond! Here’s some blogs I recommend following:

Ask A ManagerAll of your work and job searching questions answered!

Rapid e-Learning Blog: Designing online courses? All the tips you need! (From Articulate.com)

iLibrarian Blog from OEDb.org: Lots of tech tips for library-types!

And, of course, you should follow this blog! ; )

What blogs do you follow?

Learning Badges: A solution to growing library instruction programs?

Let’s face it: academic libraries are only going to continue having to do more with less. As print circulation drops, use of  online library resources (hopefully) rises – but how is your library meeting the challenge of teaching students to use online resources efficiently? I would guess that most instruction librarians are already on teaching overload! The solution may lie in online classes – but not the for-credit, instructor-led classes that you’re used to!

badges

The future of information literacy instruction may, instead, lie in learning badges! Many college and university libraries are turning to “gamification” or short, online modules, that teach students specific info lit skills and reward students with colorful, virtual “badges” that the students can collect and show off. Purdue University seems to be at the forefront of developing academic library badges. Take a look at U of A librarian Nicole Pagowsky’s review of Purdue’s beta badge program.

Done well, learning badges look like some of those developed at University of California, Davis, for the sustainable agriculture program. Earned badges allow students to show the world what they’ve learned. “Each badge would allow the employer to click through to more detailed levels of evidence and explanation—documents, assessment results, hyperlinks, video, and more.” Badges are fully explained and hopefully transferrable to use outside of academia.

In fact, learning badges have the potential to transform records of academic learning as we know it today:

Compared with the new open badge systems, the standard college transcript looks like a sad and archaic thing. Its considerable value is not based on the information it provides, which is paltry. What does a letter grade in a course often described only by the combination of a generic department label and an arbitrary number (e.g. Econ 302) really mean? Nobody knows, which is why accredited colleges often don’t trust that information for the purposes of credit transfer, even when it comes from other accredited colleges.

What do you think? Do you see potential for learning badges at your institution?

Project Information Literacy

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How do college students start their research? Most academic library employees know the quick answer: Google and Wikipedia! But there’s more to the story. How do college students move through the research process in the digital age, and why do they approach it as they do?

Project Information Literacy‘s (PIL) mission is to reveal the answers to this question. PIL is a nonprofit that is partnered with University of Washington’s i-School. Their goal is to re-shape research skills curriculum to help students as they are, not as we wish they would be.

PIL has already completed six major studies since 2008 in an attempt to “to investigate how they find, evaluate, and use information for their course work and for addressing issues that arise in their everyday lives.”

One of their findings is that while students’ lives are dramatically different in this age of technology, many college professors stick to old-fashioned teaching methods:

Despite the seismic changes in the way that information is now created and delivered, 83% of instructors’ handouts for research assignments PIL analyzed in 2010 called for the standard research paper. Few handouts asked students to present findings using other formats, including multimedia and oral presentations.

PIL also studies how students’ research skills carry over into their personal lives and post-graduate jobs. Even classically “information-literate” students still struggle in the workplace. In a column from late-2012 over on Inside Higher Ed, one librarian summarizes a key report from PIL documenting the struggles of recent college grads:

What they hadn’t learned was how to deal with questions that didn’t have an answer that could be found in a text, whether online or in print. Their work assignments lacked the structure and instructions that college assignments had, their deadlines were tighter, and the stakes were higher. They felt their jobs were at risk. One key need graduates identified was finding mentors and informants. As one focus group participant put it, “the biggest hurdle for me was getting used to talking to strangers” (19).

Even with the prevalence of social networking, students might still need to work on their social skills to help themselves get ahead in life!

Check out this overview of PIL that features super-hip music: