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I've been collaborating with the Educational Gaming Commons and Teaching and Learning with Technology at Penn State on a way to gamify an element of library instruction. Killer researching skills are needed for life and are something that college students need to develop and practice. Plus, search strategy is an area where I am personally seeing a lot more demand for instruction from students.
Here's the reality: everyone knows how to type words into google and click 'search', but Google has sort of spoiled us and since there's exponentially more information out there, people need tools for getting at the good stuff.  This is where search operators and search strategies are helpful.  However, the subject of Boolean operators is about as dry as it gets for classroom material. Thus search operators seemed like a perfect testbed for the gamification process. Plus, Jane McGonegal was just here and well, she just sealed the deal for all of us that games are beneficial to learning in so many ways.

The game we created is also aligned with the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, specifically Standard #2: The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently. The game helps students to idenify keywords, construct searches using appropriate commands, and assess the results, revising if needed.

After scraping a card-based system, the game now features a point system, which makes it competitive and lively for the students working in teams to "smoke that search". Stop by our poster at the NMC conference today, check out this Gaming Commons podcast about it, or contact me for more info (erimland [at] psu.edu). 

Coming soon: a creative commons license!

p.s. Look out! Brett may crush you with his gigantic upper arm strength and I will mesmerize you with my iPhone.

JoePa's Grave

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Curiosity got the best of us today and my husband and I went to the cemetery rumored to be the home of Joe Paterno's grave. It was. I recognized the white roses and blue ribbons from the casket at the viewing.  Aside from flowers and a few mementos people have left, there is no marker yet. The entrance to the cemetery is blocked off right now but as we approached, three cars stopped along the road and people got out to visit the grave.  When we left home, it was sunny. As we entered the cemetery the sky turned gray and it started hailing, so we didn't stay long and hightailed it for shelter. By the time we got home, the sun was out again.

We don't know the Paterno family at all, but that cemetery seemed like an odd choice to us. Although there aren't many cemeteries in town, this one isn't Catholic, isn't near the Paterno house, and is in fact, not even in the borough. It is an old one with some graves from the 1800s and the grave site is a little bit off by itself, abutting a treeline which is township property. But as we turned around to leave, escaping the weather,  I think I realized why the Paterno family may have chosen that site...I caught a beautiful glimpse of Mt. Nittany.

Long live JoePa!

Reflections on the Knowledge Commons

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Here I sit in the beautiful, cozy, warm Knowledge Commons in Pattee Library - I almost can't believe it...but then again I can. 5 years ago we began planning for this space and many committee meetings, retreats, brainstorming sessions, and forums later, it has finally come to fruition.  It feels so good! 

I wanted to get the real-life experience of what it's like to sit and work in this space so I took the opportunity to do so before it's open to the public. There are still workers and employees here finishing up this or that (see that guy behind me testing a MediaScape?), but it is serene and it is pristine! Once Penn State students find this spot I suspect it won't be quite as calm, so I love that I have this moment.

The thing I love most about this place and its concept is not only will it be technology-rich, but it will be expertise-rich--two things I love in one spot! So many places in our world (on or off campus) are one or the other but not both. In this space you will have access to research expertise (librarians), IT help (consultants and helpdesk), and multimedia help (Media Commons consultants). I want to thank everyone who's had a hand in making this a reality.
 
I can't wait to return to this spot and see how the students are using it and making it their own. I can't wait to see how the Knowledge Commons changes and adopts to the students' needs and conversely, I can't wait to see how the Knowledge Commons influences scholarship at Penn State! KC photo 01062012.jpg 



Research Guide for Sandusky Sex Abuse Scandal

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When the Sandusky scandal broke here at Penn State in November, I became a media hound. I'm typically one who avoids mainstream news and fear mongering at all costs, but since we were at the epicenter of this one, it was hard to avoid. Also, I feel it's important for faculty and staff to know the current state of affairs so that when students ask, we have answers. During this time, I also developed a new appreciation for our local news sources especially Onward State, the Daily Collegian, and StateCollege.com because I feel they accurately and fairly cover the story.

Somewhere in the midst of this crisis I realized many students might have a need to do their own research about the events, especially if they want to form their own opinions. I also anticipated that many students for whom I teach research sessions, might choose this as a topic for their assignments. (I typically teach research sessions for courses like English 15 or Effective Speech (CAS100) where students choose a controversial issue for a research-based assignment.)  Finally, when I saw this resource page created by the PSU Center for Democratic Deliberation, I felt inspired to create a complimentary research guide by the Libraries. Hence, the PSU Scandal Research Guide was born out of these perceived needs.

Since the guide appeared on library-related blogs,including the much revered-by-yours-truly librarian.net, we've received positive comments from folks around the country. These comments have helped to reinforce to us that the research guide was needed by the community. 

The idea behind the guide is simple -- be a springboard for finding more information about the events that have rocked Happy Valley.  It's also a way the library, this library (which, no matter your thoughts about Joe Paterno, must acknowledge some part of its success to the Paternos' help) could respond to the events and contribute toward the community's needs for information, answers, and facts. I'm glad that it turned out to be a collaborative effort with input from my colleagues in the library as well as the College of Liberal Arts. Lastly, but certainly not least, I hope in some small way it can help with the healing process.  

Hello World!

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Ok, I've had a blog before and my posts tapered off til it became a non-blog (insert bob loblaw reference here).  Recently I've felt like I've had thoughts/ideas/reflections that I haven't known what to do with and I realize a blog may help me do that. Also, I've had conversations with folks about having "no guilt" about the internet and "keeping up with stuff", so I'm extending that sentiment to this space here. 

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