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Weekly Web Finds -- March 20, 2008

State of the News Media

Each year, the Project for Excellence in Journalism issues a report on the news media.  The State of the News Media 2008 is now available.  It looks at each news sector, newspapers, cable, broadcast, online, etc., as well as providing special reports on advertising, public opinion and the changes that the news media faces today.  There is a lot of data available and you can customize your own graphics.  [URLs:  http://www.stateofthenewsmedia.org/2008/]



More and more print journals are providing online access to their archival material (see Newsworthy below).  Sports Illustrated is joining that group today with the launch of its Vault site.  It will contain all of SI’s past issues and many of the images that appeared in the magazine.  It’s due to premier this afternoon.  [URLs:  http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/]


John Adams

HBO has recently begun its John Adams mini-series based on the biography by David McCullough.  We thought you might be interested in a few sites on our second president.  HBO has a John Adams website that explores the making of the series.   The White House site provides a short bio of Adams.  The Massachusetts Historical Society has digitized Adams’ letters to his wife Abigail in this collection.  A transcript is also provided for each letter.  Their correspondence is among the most interesting aspects of Adams’ life as well as the early history of the United States.  And the Internet Public Library John Adams page provides a lot of basics about his presidency, his cabinet, election results, and important documents from his term in office.  Lastly is the John Adams Library at the Boston Public Library where you will find in depth information on Adams, the man, the politician and the political thinker.  You’ll find his letters to Thomas Jefferson as well as many other items of interest.  There’s also an excellent section of links to other good sites.  


[URLs:  http://www.hbo.com/films/johnadams/, http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/ja2.html, http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/aea/letter/, http://www.ipl.org/div/potus/jadams.html, http://www.johnadamslibrary.org/]


This Week’s Reports

Both of our reports this week look at technology issues.  The first is the 2008 Digital Entertainment Survey (a large file that takes a few seconds to load) from Wiggin and Entertainment Media Research.  It looked at the attitudes and behavior of to British consumers on all types of digital media.  One interesting finding:  ?Given the choice of accessing content on demand on a paid for basis or free with advertisements, 70% of respondents preferred the free route despite the ads.?  You can read a wrap-up of the findings in this press release.   


The Pew Internet & American Life Project issued a data memo, Mobile Access to Data and Information.   “62% of all Americans…have some experience with mobile access to digital data and tools.?  The cell phone has now become the one tool most people say they could not live without.


[URLs:  http://www.entertainmentmediaresearch.com/reports/DigitalEntertainmentSurvey2008_FullReport.pdf, http://www.wiggin.co.uk/semEvent_read.asp?ID=82, http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Mobile.Data.Access.pdf]



Software industry unveils its ‘Vision for K-20’ is a story in eSchool News Online about the SIIA (Software and Information Industry Association) and its new initiative “to help educators and administrators make effective daily use of technology in their classrooms and decision-making activities.?   The program has seven goals for using educational technology and five benchmarks for measuring success.


The National Head Start Association (NHSA) put out a press release this week, 77% of Head Start programs are at ‘breaking point,’ unable to absorb new cuts  and hundreds of new rules.   477 programs in 49 states and Puerto Rico were surveyed.


On HappyNews.com this week comes this story, Blog catapults Japan’s new literary star.   Japanese writers are far ahead of Americans in making their work available on the Internet. Many have had successful books published after producing novels intended to be read on mobile phones, for example…In the U.S., publishers are just starting to understand the market power that writers with hit blogs can wield.? 


Innovations for Learning is providing kids with handheld computers (teachermates) in 7 cities for $50 each, according to Low cost handheld targets elementary students.   Innovations for Learning is a Chicago-based non-profit and the 7 cities are Chicago, New York, Detroit, New Orleans, San Antonio, Phoenix and Denver.  “The teachermate is really a bridge from the digital world to a first grader,? according to the organization.     


[URLs:  http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/?i=53055;_hbguid=9998647c-b1c9-47af-ab0d-21759816d54e&d=top-news, http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=ind_focus.story&STORY=/www/story/03-19-2008/0004777407&EDATE=WED+Mar+19+2008,+07:19+PM, http://www.happynews.com/news/3202008/blog-catapults-japan-new-literary-star.htm, http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/?i=53093;_hbguid=fc2b6af0-33eb-4063-95c4-81824cbb071e&d=top-news]


5 Years in Iraq

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  CNN has posted two sites with casualty information.  The first is Coalition Casualties which provides casualty figures (killed and wounded) by month, country, age, race and gender.  The second, Iraq, lists the names of all of those coalition soldiers killed.  Names are presented in alphabetical order with images where available and by date.   [URLs:  http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2003/iraq/forces/casualties/interactive/, http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2003/iraq/forces/casualties/index.html]


Knut’s Friend

Ending on a sweet, happy note, we present a short film of a new polar bear born in Germany.  This is not Knut.  But he’s just as cute!  Enjoy.  [URLs:  http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/news/animals-news/germany-wilbaer-apvin.html]

Weekly Web Finds -- March 13, 2008

Useless Information

There’s no such thing as useless information to us Librarians, of course.  But Useless Information is a fun site with info that will amaze and astound.  Is it useless?  We report; you decide.  Subjects range from pickles to camels to band-aids.  Naturally, you’ll want to check the information provided here to determine its accuracy.   [URLs:  http://home.nycap.rr.com/useless/]


St. Patrick’s Day

Monday, March 17, is St. Patrick’s Day.  The Census Bureau released its Facts for Features on St. Patrick’s Day back in January.  There are 9 places in the U.S. named Dublin.  But only four named Shamrock.  With all this information, you can impress your friends while you’re celebrating.   [URLs:  http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/011181.html]


This Week’s Reports

Just in!  The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel has just been released by the Department of Education.  It looks at what is needed to improve mathematics education in the U.S.  It provides specific suggested goals by grade.


The National Foundation for Educational Research in the U.K. released the results of its survey, Attitudes to Reading at Ages 9 and 11.  Among its key findings include: reading enjoyment and confidence have not declined since 2003; comics were reported as being more popular than stories, poems, and information books; enjoyment of reading poems declined significantly.


Nationalize the Schools…(A Little)! is a new report from the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.  In the effort to reform our education system, it is vital that one seeming paradox is understood: It is only by transcending traditional local control, and by getting serious about a new national role in standards and finance, that we can at last create genuine autonomy for local schools.?


The Institute of Museum and Library Services has issued Interconnections: The IMLS National Study on the Use of Libraries, Museums and the Internet.  It arrived at five conclusions, including: “libraries and museums evoke consistent, extraordinary public trust among diverse adult users; and Internet use is positively related to in-person visits to museums and libraries.?  The IMLS is a federal agency.


The Annie E. Casey Foundation has compiled stories about its work in Atlanta.  The Connection Strategy discusses the value of changing our educational system from K-12 to P-16, or “linking education strategies from preschool through college graduation.?


[URLs:  http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/report3132008.pdf, http://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/pdfs/downloadable/RAQ.pdf, http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/03/pdf/nationalize_the_schools.pdf, http://interconnectionsreport.org/reports/ConclusionsFullRptB.pdf, http://www.aecf.org/~/media/PublicationFiles/Connection_Strategy.pdf]



The Wall Street Journal recently included a story, High schools add classes scripted by corporations.  The purpose of this corporate involvement is to “create a pipeline of workers far into the future.?


The ALA (American Library Association) has decided to include a gaming pavilion at its next conference, according to ICv2 (ALA adds gaming pavilion).   Games are a growing area for libraries, with a recent survey indicating that 43% run an actual gaming program and 20% circulate games.? 


Getting a jump start on testing is a story in the Washington Post about the use of television to prepare children in Maryland for their Maryland School Assessment Tests.  Called the MSA Jumpstart Jaguar Program, the program is aimed at third through eighth grade students.


11 states poised to pilot national test for seniors is a story from Education Week.  [Note: remember that you can read up to two articles per week for free.]  “For the first time, a select group of states is expected to take part in a 12th grade version of the National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading and mathematics, a move that could lay the foundation for even greater state participation at that grade level on the heavily scrutinized test.?


[URLs:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120476410964115117.html?mod=djemPJ, http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/12207.html, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/05/AR2008030502046.html?hpid=sec-education, http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/03/11/27naep_web.html?levelId=2300&tmp=1473438559&]


Kidz Online

Kidz Online is a free tool for teachers and students that includes “over 1,000 digital learning resources … custom created interactive streaming videos for technology training, financial literacy and geospatial skills.?  There are separate channels for teaching technology fundamentals, career options, encouraging girls’ participation and competitions.  The material is designed for middle and high school students.   [URLs:  http://www.kidzonline.org/TechTraining/]


Vote Now -- Oddest Title!

Go to Bookseller.com and participate in the poll (on the right of the screen) for the Diagram Prize, the Oddest Title of the Year.  Our favorite?  How to Write a How to Write Book.   [URLs:  http://www.thebookseller.com/]


Did you know…that tomorrow, Friday, March 14 is Pi Day.  That’s right.  Now you, too, can celebrate pi.  The Exploratorium site includes activities and even pi limericks.   [URLs:  http://www.exploratorium.edu/pi/] 

Weekly Web Finds -- March 6, 2008


You all know our general dislike for Wikipedia because of its lack of authoritative control.  National Geographic has created GeoPedia, an online encyclopedia that we can endorse.  It works like Wikipedia.  But it has the additional advantage of being screened by experts.  So it’s a more useful tool and one that we can recommend.  And, of course, it’s all about geography.  Check it out.   [URLs:  http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia]


Workplace Rules

The Wall Street Journal ran a story this week called The New Workplace Rules: No Video-Watching.   It discusses how companies are cutting back on staff access to web video because it’s “taxing already-strained corporate-technology networks.?   Note that the time of the highest viewership of online video is the lunch hour.  Of course, our fun sites at the end of the Weekly Web Finds are not part of the problem.   We hope.  [URLs:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120459386857809135.html]


Info on Counties & Cities

The 2007 edition of the County & City Data Book is now available online.  Find out what county a city resides in, its area, population and ranking.  There are state tables, county and city tables.  Data is broken out in a number of ways, from population to labor force to income and earnings to ethnic breakdowns.  This is a standard reference source that has a lot of useful information.  And now you can get all of it at your desktop.  [URLs:  http://www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/ccdb07.html]


This Week’s Reports

The Census Bureau tracks childcare arrangements.  It’s just released the data tables for Who’s Minding the Kids?  Childcare Arrangements: Spring 2005.  Data indicate that more than half of all pre-school children in childcare are looked after by a relative, usually a grandparent or father.


The New Media Consortium and Educause have released The Horizon Report, which “seeks to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, or creative expression within learning-focused organizations.? In the short term, grassroots video and collaboration webs are predicted.  Mid-term include “applications of mobile broadband and data mashups.?   And long term, technologies such as collective intelligence and social operating systems are predicted as impacting education.


Pre-K Now looks at Funding the Future: States’ Approaches to Pre-K Finance 2008 Update.  It looks at the different types of funding for pre-school, from general revenues to public/private partnerships.  There’s a good map with all the states’ funding methods indicated.


What Keeps Good Teachers in the Classroom?  Understanding and Reducing Teacher Turnover is a short issue brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education.  It estimates that over 150,000 teachers leave the profession each year (not including retirees).  And with those teachers who move to a different school, the total is 12% of the teaching population.  The report explores why teachers leave and it recommends giving teachers the “opportunity for success,? through comprehensive induction and greater support.


[URLs:  http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/children/011574.html, http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2008-Horizon-Report.pdf, http://www.preknow.org/documents/FundingtheFuture_Feb2008.pdf, http://www.all4ed.org/files/TeachTurn.pdf]



The BBC reports Children’s Mags ‘damage writing’.  Researchers are concerned that entertainment magazines for children are "inappropriately colloquial" and that these magazines, as well as text messaging, are “damaging children's ability to write good English.? 


The New York Times Sunday Magazine section carried a story called Teaching boys and girls separately.  Separating schoolboys from schoolgirls has long been a staple of private and parochial education. But the idea is now gaining traction in American public schools, in response to both the desire of parents to have more choice in their children’s public education and the separate education crises girls and boys have been widely reported to experience.?


[URLs:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7268663.stm, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/02/magazine/02sex3-t.html?_r=2&ref=education&oref=slogin&oref=slogin]


History Stuff

Two very different types of history sites to look at this week.  The first is an article from Education Week’s Digital Directions, Critiquing History, Social Studies Sites Requires a Skeptical Approach.  It’s a warning to educators to be aware of the inherent problems with accuracy and truthfulness on the Internet.  It provides a short list of recommended history/social studies sites.


The second is a list of wars.  Actually, it’s Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2007.   This document from the Congressional Research Service provides a comprehensive list of “hundreds of instances in which the United States has used its armed forces abroad in situations of military conflict or potential conflict or for other than normal peacetime purposes.?  Dates of the activities are included as well as where and why the actions were taken.  Major military conflicts are highlighted.


[URLs:  http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2008/03/06/04curriculum_web.h01.html, http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL32170.pdf]


Extending the School Year

Educators and politicians around the country are debating the value of extending the school year.  The Education Commission of the States has released Cost Per-Day for Extended School Year.  It provides, by state, the current number of school days, estimated total cost per-day, and estimated instructional cost per-day.    [URLs:  http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/77/67/7767.pdf]


Year of the Frog

On the Lunar calendar, it may be the year of the Rat.  But in the amphibian world, it’s the Year of the Frog.   So as a tribute to frogs everywhere, enjoy this Bullfrog Ballet.   [URLs:  http://www.amphibianark.org/yearofthefrog.htm, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKcztOR6UYM]


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