Skill Builder: Google a Day Puzzle

OK – I’m a little behind the curve on this one, but I’ve recently discovered “Google a Day” – a daily puzzle to help sharpen your search skills. They pose a question on that you have to research and submit an answer for. If you get stuck, Google shares tips and hints for getting to the answer.

What a great, fun tool for helping students of all ages develop search skills. You can chose to “Play normally” or, when you get good at searches or want to test your mettle, you can choose to “Race the Clock”.

Best part of it is, you may actually learn something along the way. For example, today’s question is: “In 1260, the Barons of Acre let the Mamluks pass through their territory, which allowed the Mamluks to achieve a decisive victory against the Mongols in Galilee. What key new weapon was used in this battle?” and yesterday’s question was provided by Jane Goodall: “If you were to join me in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania to observe one of our closest living relatives in the wild, you might hear them voice this familiar arrival call. Hint: I often express myself in a similar fashion when I open my lectures.”

From Google hints: How to find the answer: Search [closest living relatives humans] to find chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans as possible answers. Search [chimpanzee arrival call] to reveal that chimps make the distinctive pant-hoot arrival sound.

Of course, it’s more fun to not check the hints…

Who knew?

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Did You Know? (Shift Happens) v5

I’ve shown several versions of the fabulous Did You Know? (Shift Happens) videos during the past few years in various workshops and professional development settings to get people thinking about transforming learning in this digital age. The original video, Did You Know? 2.0 was put together by Karl Fisch,  Scott McLeod, and XPLANE in 2007. It was re-made in 2008 and again in 2009 with additional creators (see more background at the Shift Happens wiki)

Scott McLeod has re-worked it once again – into Iowa, Did You Know? – specifically for Iowa educators, but it has some great stuff that anyone can use…  Scott discusses the new video and it’s potential uses in the post Shift Happens v5 – Iowa, Did You Know?[VIDEO] (

Take a look at v5 and see if it has any relevance to your learning situation. What do you think? How does this information impact how you learn or teach or provide services to your clients and patrons?

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Google+ is Growing on Me

Finding the right tools for learning and connecting are important for anyone trying to stay on top of new developments in their profession. I’ve been playing with Google+ for a couple weeks now, trying to determine how well it will fit in with my own professional development toolkit and whether or not I want to make the leap away from Facebook with my personal friends and family members. It’s still in the trial stages, but that makes using it even more fun because you can give feedback about what works and what doesn’t. A lot of people are trying to use it in a lot of different ways, so the conversations there are useful. If you know someone with access to Google+/Circles they can send you an invite – just ask.

Google Circles allows me to share different information with different groups of people. I like that I have more control over what I share and with whom. I can send some things to family only, while other conversations occur only with Professional Contacts. I am eagerly awaiting integration with Google Reader. When that feature gets turned on, Google+ will likely become a major player in my personal learning toolkit!

Every day that I use it, I like it a little more, though I still have a lot to learn about how it all works.  It still has some limitations for businesses and folks who use pseudonyms like some musician friends of mine. Google is working on that and is going to open a Beta for businesses very soon, so be patient.

You can learn more about how Google+ works from Google.
To keep up with Mashable’s take on Google Circles, you can follow their articles here.

And here’s a video about how to get started setting up your Circles.

Who else is playing around with Google+ and Circles? Can you see potential for using it in your professional development/personal learning network? What do you love about it so far or think needs to be changed?

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Learning never ends…

My Learning Ltd - Secondary Learning Platform Logo

Image via Wikipedia

Michael Smith over at the Principal’s Page does a consistently fabulous job of creating short poignant blog posts about learning, education, and related things… today’s post about Generation Z is exceptional and spot-on… here’s an exerpt:

They don’t need us.

The don’t need brick buildings that are only open 7 hours a day.

They have the internet.

And curiosity.

They’re going to learn with or without our help.

And the learning process is not going to stop for them after 8th grade.  Or high school.  Or even college.

They’re smarter than us right now.

And they’re going to be a lot smarter than us in 50  years.

The future isn’t coming, it’s already arrived.

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Google Reader Bundles Make Sharing Resources Easy

A great way to easily find and share resources is through Google Reader Bundles. You can create them, share them, and subscribe to other people’s bundles using the “Browse for Stuff” feature in Google Reader.  If you have followers or if you set your Reader settings to “share publicly”, then your followers or anyone can find and subscribe to your bundles.

I made a couple bundles today, and expect I’ll add to them and edit them regularly:

Techy Library Blogs – bundles most of the techy library blogs listed in my last post plus a couple new ones.

Keeping Up with Tech Trends – bundles some trendy blogs and web sites that help keep pace with tech changes.

You can subscribe to the bundles when you click on the links above. Simple. Easy to share.

Have you made any bundles? What are some of your favorite Google Reader bundles related to learning or libraries?

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10 (Techy) Blogs Every Librarian Should Follow

Want to keep up with some of the best trends and thinking in library land? Start with these blogs…

  1. Tame the Web: Libraries, Technology, and People – Michael Stephens -Assistant Professor at Dominican University and soon-to-be Assistant Professor at San Jose State University – was the single force that got me started on my path to learning and keeping up with technology, particularly related to technology in libraries. He is insightful and delightful and has his thumb on the pulse of what’s changing.
  2. ALA Tech Source – posts workshops and training opportunities plus articles on trends and staff development related to technology.
  3. The Unquiet Library – Buffy Hamilton is Media Specialist at Creekview High School in Georgia and she knows how to integrate technology for learning. Buffy’s blog is a model of what 21st century libraries ought to be doing with and for their patrons.
  4. Librarian in Black – Sarah Houghton-Jan is assistant director at San Rafael Public Library and has been a tech trend-spotter for a while now. She brings news  and tips on tech in libraries. She’s frank and funny and knows her stuff.
  5. Librarian by Day – Bobbi Newman’s passion for improving library services through digital technologies is clear. Stop by this blog – you’ll learn a lot.
  6. David Lee King: Social Web – Emerging Trend – Libraries – David Lee King focuses on library websites and emerging tech and he does it with flair.
  7. Library Bytes – Helene Blowers is the creator of Learning 2.0: 23 Things, the “online discovery program” that launched a lot of schools, libraries, and other groups into the digital age… Bless her! Learning 2.1 – is a blog that supported the Learning 2.0 program (see #7) highlighting “new discoveries that may serve libraries” but it’s no longer being updated. Still, some good stuff there.
  8. Libraryman: Libraries, Community, Technology and PEZ – MichaelPorter, aka Libraryman, is a passion-driven supporter of libraries, and CEO of Library Renewal, an organization dedicated to helping libraries offer electronic content.
  9. Librarians Matter – Kathryn Greenhill is an Australian university lecturer that writes about libraries the impact of emerging technologies. She’s good at balancing the personal with the professional.
  10. Mashable – not library specific, but if you want to follow the latest news, and trends in social media, this is it.
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Prezi Just Keeps Getting Better

I discovered Prezi as an alternative to PowerPoint about a year and a half ago. I love this presentation tool. It’s easy to use, fun to show, and breaks away from the linear, boring slides of PowerPoint. The folks at Prezi continue to improve its functionality, and the latest tweak is a redesigned Transformation Zebra. The Zebra is the tool that allows you to rotate, resize, and move your text and objects around the canvas. The new Zebra has plus and minus symbols for resizing and an arrow showing the rotation, making it easier to make edits (Now you don’t have to memorize which ring to grab to change something!). Nice touch. Keep it up, Prezi.

Here’s a demo of how it works:

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