Among my summer vacation activities, (submitting my dissertation proposal to Bar-Ilan University, planning integration of tech environment for next school year, doting over my new granddaughter - Yifat, spending a day at the ancient Crusader and Ottoman remains of the city of Acre), I managed to participate in an online professional development course. The four week course - 21st Century Information Fluency – Powersearching in a Web 2.0 World – sponsored by the 21st Century Information Fluency Project and coordinated by Dennis O' Connor ( a new Classroom 2.0 member), with about 30 participants gave us a chance to sharpen our information fluency (go check the difference between that and "information literacy") skills.
During the course we learned about the Digital Information Fluency Model (DIF), utilized the very rich learning resources developed around it (games, challenges, Micromodules, annotated link lists, podcasts, embedded videos and screencasts). We dealt with a number of main Information Skills – Transforming Questions into Successful Queries, Understanding and Using Web 2.0 in Education (social bookmarking, Flickr), Evaluating Digital Information and Using Information Ethically (copyright, fair use, plagiarism). During the course, we (the participants and the instructors) communicated and reflected about our course learning experiences as well as about our professional experiences and intuitions.
The final course project helped us tie it all together. We were to create a Personalized Search Engine (PSE) (using Eurekster.com, Google-Co-op, or Rollyo.com) with the quality curricular information sites we had located and shared on del.icio.us . The search engine was to be crafted so that it could be integrated into next year's school curriculum. All of us were to post their PSE, describe it and its place in the curriculum and discuss it with the other participants.
I would like to introduce my PSE –
The Hebrew - English Vitamin Research Engine
In order to allow our 9th grade students to carry out a research project on Vitamins and the Human Body, I built this Personal Search Engine on Google Coop. I chose Google because it works beautifully with Hebrew indexing and searching. The engine presently contains 16 sites including Medscape, Medline Plus, Mayo Clinic, Kidshealth.org and a number of reliable Hebrew health information sites. I also included a number of Israeli directories of educational sites as well as a general reference site - Answers.com (which also searches Wikipedia as well as other reference sources).I purposely omitted commercial vitamin and food supplement sites because of their bias. If we decide to include exercises on determining the value of web pages, maybe I will add them later.
Come visit and let me know how your Hebrew and English searches go!
This activity was very rewarding. I think that it could serve as the focus of many professional development and student education activities. Teachers planning curricular activities could collaborate on building a Community Search Engine to serve their information needs. Students collaborating on projects could build a Community Search Engine based on the quality sites which they locate in order to assist their teammates in easily obtaining reliable information. These activities could help the participants really get to know how to proactively collaborate in dealing with digital information rather than just being satisfied with Googling what comes along!
Thanks Dennis and 21st Century Information Fluency Project for a "cool" and rewarding summer experience!