A Weblog for GCHS Bulldogs

because bulldogs play smarter

Blog #6 RSS: A web aggregator to start using today December 2, 2007

Filed under: Library Lessons 101,tech tools — colleen1 @ 9:39 am
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RSS is a new way to organize and view your favorite content on the web.  To better explain to you what it really is and how you can use it I have created a web site for you to view.  Please read each page and try using RSS today.



I created this page because I think that using Google Reader to pick up RSS feeds is an excellent way for people to stay informed about our changing world.  I think this technology is imperative for high school students because it reinforces the importance of reading for information and for fun.  Moreover, GoogleReader is exciting because it allows everyone to pick their own reading material. 

While working on this web page, I learned how important it is to plan out a project before trying to create it: once I completed my web page storyboard, the rest of the project was much easier. 

To create this page I used HTML.  You can learn more about HTML at these sites:




Blog #5 And on to the future! What every high school student should know about CSS

Filed under: Library Lessons 101 — colleen1 @ 9:38 am
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CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets.  You may not have heard anyone use this term before because it is new.  

These style sheets are a new way to design web pages using HTML and XHTML.  The benefit of using CSS over HTML designing is that CSS is supported by many more browsers  (like Internet Explorer, Fire Fox, Safari, etc.).  What this means is that CSS eliminates the quirks that happen when web pages are opened in different browsers or on different operating systems. 

Have you ever opened a web page or tried to download a document only to find a lot of boxes or scrambled letters that you couldn’t read? 

That was because the person who designed it made the page with a different type of computer/browser in mind.  CSS will reduce these problems because it allows the web page to be flexible.  For example, if a web designer used a font that your computer or your web browser can’t read the CSS sheet will allow a backup font to be used.  For you this means boxes, funny letters, and black pages turn into readable text. 

Another benefit of using CSS is that you can create, save, and borrow style sheets once and use them on pages as many times you want.  This can save a lot of time and work.  If you have already used HTML you know that designing the pages’ colors, fonts, and design is done by a series of codes in a notepad document for each web page.  This is the old way.  It forced web designers to go back through many documents and redo coding.  The new CSS way allows web designers to create a new style sheet in a separate document and change only it to update the style of all or a few of their web pages. 

The last major benefit of CSS is that it allows for more stylistic elements in a web page. 

To learn more about CSS visit these sites:






Happy web designing!  As always please bring your web projects to the library to show off your work.  Your web project could be featured in next week’s blog!


Post #4 What every high school student should know about the history of the internet.

Filed under: Library Lessons 101 — colleen1 @ 9:13 am
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Most high school students today can’t remember a time without the internet.  Just about all of them have heard from their teachers, parents, and various old people how difficult everything (particularly homework) was before the internet.  You may be surprised to hear how it came to be created and then available to the public.  Read this blog and the next time you hear a lecture about how easy your generation has it you can show just how much your generation already knows about it!

The majority of adults think that the internet started in the 1990’s when they first heard about it.  Actually, the prototype for the internet including hypertext browsing, editing, email was developed in the 1960’s.  It was called “oNLine System” (shortened to NLS).  In fact, the computer mouse was designed for this purpose (see if the old people in your life know that!). 

Although the prototype was designed in the 1960’s, there was an article written in a magazine (Atlantic Monthly) way back in 1945 by Vannevar Bush which explained a device called Memex, for memory extension, which could make and follow links between documents on microfiche.  You can read that article here http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/194507/bush

After scientists started the idea for this new technology the U.S. government got involved and developed the system that made the internet possible.  The government was interested in developing the internet as a way to send important information across the country without having to rely on a straight set of wires (that could potentially be broken).  The motivation that created the internet was a need for a more reliable and resilient form of communication. 

In the early 1980’s two networking projects, BITNET and CSNET, were developed.  These systems allowed the internet technologies to be used by universities and scientists.   Also in the 1980’s, desktop computers allow a small but substantial number of people to realize what the internet is capable of.

By 1990 scientists had realized what the internet could do for the world and so the World Wide Web was established.  In this same year the first web server and web page were created.  Throughout the 1990’s many international meetings were held to facilitate growing use of the http://www.  Also at this time many companies, like Microsoft, developed new computers and browsers to allow the general population to get online. 

This is only a brief summary of a lot of events.  For more information see any of these great links:





Post #3 A lesson from the Shanachie tour or Learning how to learn November 11, 2007

Filed under: blog searching,tech tools — colleen1 @ 4:16 pm
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You’ve heard your teachers comment on the endless cycle of education, right?  Have you ever wondered though how exactly it is that people actually keep learning after they are out of school?  Sure, some poeple will go to school forever, but what about when you need to learn about something that school can’t teach you?  How can you learn about using new technologies in unique ways or how to achieve something no one else has ever done before?

Maybe as a librarian I shouldn’t admit this, but sometimes a book just isn’t enough.  Sometimes to get the answers you need to go out into the world to study what people are doing.  In Economics and Business English you’ve heard about our global economy and how companies and people from all over the world are doing business together.  You’ve also learned how that boosts progress by creating useful partnerships and healthy competition.  Try to think for a minute about education in the same way.  If information is power, how can we get information about things too new to be in books?  One possibility is an investigation.  We are fortunate to live in a world where travel is easy and communication is the custom.  Chances are that somewhere in the world there is someone else trying to do the same thing you are.  If the two of you were to meet and share ideas about reaching your goals you could learn from each other. 

Recently I was lucky enough to meet a group of librarians from the DOK (a public library) in Delft, Netherlands on a quest for new ideas.  They travelled across the US investigating ways to be the most modern library in the world.  They visited major libraries across the states and interviewed librarian professionals and students for new ideas.  As they travelled they posted interviews and a webblog of their investigation online. 

Check it out at shanachietour.com


This photo was posted by Erik, Jaap and Geert.  It shows how they learned from and taught people in a library in Salt Lake City. 

Now you may ask, what about those of us who cannot travel?  Webblogs, like the one belonging to the Shanachie tourists, are a great place to start.  You can search for blogs on information you want at Technorati.com or Google Blog Search.  These are both websites that will allow you to find out about blogs that discuss ideas you are interested in.  To get started go to one of these sites and type in an idea you want to develop more.  Then you can search through the results to find blogs that will keep you informed on the newest ideas and the people around the world working on them.


Web Site Review October 20, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — colleen1 @ 2:59 pm

Before redesigning the Dominican University Library web page our committee must find a common vision for our project.  In search of such a plan I reviewed other universities’ libraries’ web pages and found two examples that are obviously designed for success: North Carolina State University libraries’ web page at http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/ and Bowdoin College’s library web page at http://library.bowdoin.edu/.  The strategies behind their structure enable their users to quickly find and access the services they need and at the same time learn more about the library’s services.  Specifically, these strategies are single-shot homepages, grouped service lists, user-friendly language, and personality.  By replicating these proven strategies Dominican University’s library’s web page will better service its students and faculty. 

NCSU Library Web Page What a handsome site! 

Single-Shot Home Page:           

The library web pages for both Bowdoin College and North Carolina State University greet their users with a home page that fits all of the library’s services into a compact screen shot.  Without scrolling up and down searching simply to locate everything on the page, the users are instead able to concentrate on what is on the page.  In this way, students and faculty alike are more likely to notice new features and highlighted services.  A single-shot home page also encourages users to read everything on the page and click on more links because the option to listlessly scroll has been removed.  Finding and clicking on promising links sooner gives users more confidence using the web page and, provided the links are well titled, better results.             

Grouped Service Lists:           

Another helpful feature shared by the two schools is a small collection of boxes or lists of different types of links.  These lists are centrally located and make up the bulk of the page.  NCSU’s six boxes are titled “Search the Collection,” “Browse Subjects,” “Services,” “Library Information,” “Community,”  and “News & Events.”  All of the library’s links fall into one of these categories and the neatness and order of the page gives users confidence that they will be able to find what they need within a few tries.  Another benefit of these boxed lists is that a short glace through the page allows users to find links to services they would not have known about or may not have considered using before.  NCSU’s site adds graphics to the boxes to explain their content.  For example, the “Services” box includes popular graphics from instant messaging services offered through MSN, AOL, and Yahoo! with a banner above them that reads “Ask Us.”  The graphic is clickable and offers quick access to librarians.  Even if users are not interested in contacting a librarian they will likely remember it for future use and reconsider the breadth of the library’s services. 

User Friendly Language:           

The NCSU’s site offers an example of how important it is to display the information in language students and faculty (rather than librarians) are familiar with and can quickly understand.  Their links are mostly only one or two word descriptors such as “Exhibits,” “Find Articles,” “Renew,” and “Hours.”  NCSU’s user friendly language extends nicely into its browsing feature “Browse Subjects” under which a list of thirteen academic departments is listed in casual language.  Clicking on one of these descriptors does not navigate away from the page (always a bonus for users) but brings up a floating box of further descriptors.  These more specific terms can be selected for pathfinder-like pages of information about searching within the subject including links to the best databases, journals, and even the names, titles, phone numbers, and email addresses of librarians most knowledgeable in the subject. 


The last example above explains how easily a user can find a person to talk to and find real answers from when the web is not enough.  This is the epitome of the strategy I call a web page’s personality.  The web page must have a character that allows the user to feel that he or she is not just dealing with a cold building or machine but with a group of people.  This personality is also demonstrated through pictures, instant messaging or “Live Help” as Bowdoin calls their live support interface.  Bowdoin also adds personality to their page by including a column with a picture and a “Did You Know?” blurb that changes every time the page is accessed or refreshed.  The “Did You Know?” information is usually interesting and offers users the chance to take at least one thing away from every trip to the web site.             

Using these strategies in our efforts to unify and organize Dominican University’s library pages is urgently needed to allow the students and faculty to better find, use, and relocate library services.  Specifically, I recommend starting the Dominican University library web page all over again using the two above mentioned websites as guides.   


Web 2.0 Tool Review October 19, 2007

Filed under: Library Lessons 101,Web 2.0 Review — colleen1 @ 9:51 pm
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Del.icio.us  A Web 2.0 tool students, teachers, and administrators have got to know about!

Del.icio.us is a fairly new web tool.  You can think of as the updated version of the favorites you may have marked on your computer at home.  Links to the all of the great places you’ve marked as favorites can now do so much more.  Del.icio.us is a online service that allows you to sign up, bookmark web pages, access your pages from any computer with the internet, see pages that other people have bookmarked, and share your bookmarked pages with your friends.  The best part of the system is that you can “tag” the different sites with describing words so people know a little about the page and why you saved it before they read it.   

See this YouTube video about Del.icio.us



Del.icio.us can be used in the school library as a list of resources for all Bulldogs.  It can also be used in the classroom to share links to websites about a book, math concept, or historical time period.  Students can set up Del.icio.us book marking networks with their project group members to share internet research or with their friends to check out what’s new.  Teachers can use Del.icio.us to share links to curriculum pages and educational videos online.  Even administrators can get in on the action and bookmark articles they want their faculty to review. 


The MIT libraries use Del.icio.us on their webpage http://libraries.mit.edu/help/virtualref/ to update their virtual reference page.  The librarian’s there knew of a lot of great web pages for the students to check out and now the students can see them whenever they go to the library’s web page.  The really nice thing about this process is that while the librarian’s were setting up their favorite sites they added those pages to the rest of the Del.icio.us community.  Also, they were able to find similar sites from the larger Del.icio.us community and add them to their list.


As previously mentioned, Del.icio.us should also be used in the classroom.  A popular professor at Dominican University uses an RSS feed on his class website of the Del.icio.us favorites he’s marked for the class.  This practice allows his students to keep up with what new developments in the internet and library fields.  Follow the following link to the Del.icio.us package for that class http://del.icio.us/tag/lis753.  You will learn something new and have a great conversation starter.


We Bulldogs can use Del.icio.us to share all of the cool things we learn about while we are online everyday.  Just think what an excellent opportunity this could be for the students to show teachers, librarians, and even administrators how much the new generation can teach the older one!


Post #2 What high schoolers should know about copyright laws October 8, 2007

Filed under: Library Lessons 101 — colleen1 @ 12:17 am
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Most high school students don’t know some of the most interesting parts of our copyright laws.  For example, did you know that you do not need to register your work (paper, song, project, etc.) for it to be protected by law?  Furthermore, it is not necessary to mark a work as copyrighted to protect it as your own. 

Likewise, many high school students don’t know that copyright laws in America only prevent the copying of a work and do not block people from using ideas contained within their protected works.  For example, if you put information online about your plans for designing a new car, your web document will be protected against copying but your readers will not be banned from using those plans to create the new car before you do.  This is yet another reason to use responsible judgment before putting personal or potentially dangerous information on the web or in another public place.   

Did you know that Bulldogs protect their work?  Whenever you submit an essay to Turnitin.com you are protecting that essay against copying from that day forward.  Turnitin.com doesn’t replace registering a work with the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress but it offers the work protection by “fixing” it.  This means that once your ideas are stored in Turnitin.com they are recorded as your own.  After that point you can prove to anyone who might challenge you for your brillance that you are the true author.

Here are the most basic requirements for ideas to be eligible for copyright protection.

1.  The work must be original/unique.

2. The work must be in a recognized format (examples include literary works, musical works, dramatic works, choreographic works, pictorial, graphic, sculptural works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings, and architectural works).

3. The work must be fixed or recorded on paper, in a recording, on the web, or on display where it can be viewed or heard by other people.

For more information on copyright laws, including what types of things can be copyrighted read through the pages attached to the link below




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