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Here's my own review of "Global Quest." I didn't think Steven Hodas and
Jennifer Sellers needed to hear any more about the role of libraries
and media specialists in bringing information/technology into schools--
I think they've gotten the point--so I mainly focused on other things
about the video that I liked or disliked and suggestions for the way
future videos might be done. Information skills were a big topic.

I had several days worth of email discussion with Steven, which I've
also summarized. He wasn't involved in organizing the production of the
first two videos, by the way, but does expect to work on the tutorial
ones. Both he and Jennifer are former classroom teachers, who work with
current teachers all the time.

              Katie Filipowicz, Library Media Specialist
      Lincoln High School, 375 Kneeland Ave., Yonkers, NY 10704
Phone: (914) 376-8392               Internet: ny001142@mail.nyser.net


Steven and Jennifer,
    I finally got to see the "Global Quest" video via one of the
LM_NET routing lists I put together. I think I'll get my less-tech-
knowledgeable principal to look at it and give me her opinion, and
I'm toying with the notion of using it in a workshop I'm giving for
district faculty in a couple of weeks.
    I think the video will generate enthusiasm for the Internet.  The
problem with that for me is that I greatly distrust excitement-
generators as a matter of principle. They tend to lead to unfulfilled
expectations when reality sets in. In this case, reality is when
people discover that using the Internet isn't all that easy, that
specific bits of information can be hard to find, that popular
resources are often overburdened and unavailable during school hours,
that email projects tend to lack in-depth educational value or to
melt away without constant vigilance from teachers on both ends, that
most schools don't have Internet connections that allow simultaneous
access for many users or multi-media.
    (On the other hand, one must be careful not to make Internet seem
impossibly complicated, which I've seen one presenter do--which made
the more technologically timid in the audience decide they didn't
need to bother with Internet just yet!)

{Steven and I agreed that this video cannot stand alone--because each
school situation and available resources are different, a knowledgeable
local person must be there to address the sort of problems I brought

    A good way to balance an over-enthusiastic presentation is with a
detailed analysis of a specific educational usage (or two or three).
What was the project, what were the educational objectives, which
resources were used, how to use these resources, what problems were
met and solved, how students *used* the information obtained to solve
a problem, evaluation of the project.
    I hope your future videos on specific Internet tools will take this
form.  Teachers need to see something *concrete*, not just a  "how to
use the tool" mechanically, but how to use it in their teaching.

{Steven said he thinks the tutorial videos will take this form to an
extent, since they want to show real-world use of the Internet--for
teachers, use that supports and enhances the curriculum. They will
probably mention the many on-line projects aimed at classroom
participation available from various services, for teachers who want to
go more into depth and learn more about the possibilities than the NASA
videos allow.}

(My reply:)
-There are projects (whole class things) and there are projects (each
-kid has one). I have a class on 20th century United States history
-that is doing papers on current world problems.  Their Internet
-information needs are, in general, just current information.  (I just
-found the White House Gopher last night and found Presidential
-material on the U.S. and Haiti for two of them.) That could be a
-project--simply current information on world problems. Then, there's
-the "interpersonal communication" side of Internet--finding *people*
-in addition to documents who can give both opinion and personal

A few miscellaneous comments on "Global Quest":

(1) There's some sloppy writing in there. Using an "unlike"
construction ("unlike most libraries") is guaranteed to annoy
whichever group of people is referred to; in an evangelistic video,
it doesn't pay to insult those being evangelized. It was particularly
pointless in this case, because what was actually meant was that
*books* by their nature don't have the most current information, not
that libraries don't. In someone's mind, libraries=just books, and
it's a shame that this presumably unconscious assumption was allowed
to creep into the video.

(2) It was repeated several times that the Internet lets students
"harness" the vast amount of information out there, as one would
harness a horse to a cart so one could go someplace, or do a piece of
work.  (Strangely old-fashioned analogy to use... ) But no, the
Internet certainly does *not* do that. It allows access to vast
pastures containing not only millions of horses of various types, but
cows, wolves, and an assortment of zebras and mules that look like
they're horses though they aren't. But the student must still go
through the process of picking out suitable, real horses, teaming them
up so that they work together, driving them so that the cart goes
someplace (and the student solves her problem), and looking back over
the whole experience to figure out what to do better next time. Most
students need to be *taught* how to do these things, carefully,
systematically. Classroom teachers and media specialists do that
teaching, not the Internet.
     To drop the analogy, any more detailed videos dealing with
Internet tools need to address *information skills*. Not just how to
use gopher to find information, but how to know what to look for, how
to abstract meaning, to synthesize, to evaluate and use the
information.  As a media specialist, I find this the most crying need
among both my students and my teachers.  *Access* to information
alone is not the magical thing this video makes it seem to be. (Ask
Mickey the Sorcerer's Apprentice if possessing the wizard's hat did
him much good, if he didn't know how to use it properly!)

{From this ensued a discussion of just how much kids and teachers need
to be *taught* information skills and how well they manage without such
teaching. It occurred to me that I need more data, so I've decided to
read all the papers that come in from the 20th century America class to
see how the kids handled their information. Steven, by the way, is
aware of the need for kids to develop critical thinking skills.

We also discussed who should be responsible for producing the Internet-
how-to videos that would teach/emphasize information skills.  We agreed
that information/resource experts (media specialists) should produce

But the question remained about how much the NASA tutorial videos could
do to help. Steven agreed that some mention of the need to learn
information skills should be made, but we both doubt the efficacy of
just saying this. So I came up with an idea--why not *dramatize* the
correct use of information skills. Have the people teaching/learning
the use of Internet tools to solve a particular problem simply follow
the correct process, making critical decisions in sequence, as far
along the process as the video goes. Then the video would provide a
fine example, both for people who wanted to *explicitly* teach
information skills using it, and for those who just want to learn to
use the tools.  Steven liked the idea. I'm reproducing below my
explanation of what I meant, mostly so Mike Eisenberg can tell me how
much I've misunderstood what he's getting at!}

-It occurs to me, I tend to mutter "information skills" and expect
-everyone to know what I mean by that. I think that the
-beginning steps in the problem-solving process would fit right in
-with what you're doing (particularly with something on gopher,
-veronica, ftp) and could be at least suggested quite easily--but maybe
-you don't know what I'm talking about?

-Step one is to define one's task, what the problem is, and what are
-the information requirements for solving it. (I gotta write a 3-5 page
-paper on a current world problem, answering a question like "What's
-going on in Bosnia and what should the U.S. do about it?"; I need
-history, statements from President Clinton, U.N. documents,
-editorials, etc.)

-Step two is to decide how you're going to find the information.
-(Lessee, the library has books, and Dialog, and SIRS, and InfoTrak,
-and what can I find on Internet? There's the White House Gopher and I
-can try to find someone living in Sarajevo online and ... I think I'll
-try to find magazine articles and the stuff the President said first,
-and then work from there.)

-Step three is locating the resources (using electronic indexes, or
-tunneling through gopherspace, or using veronica) and actually
-fetching them for your use (as, having the gopher server mail the
-things to you, then printing them out so you can read them). Part of
-this is evaluating each source for (a) its usefulness for solving your
-problem and (b) its dependability and reliability, given its stated
-source or lack thereof.

-It seems to me that these three steps at least (Eisenberg has three
-more in his particular version of the process) can be subtly *shown*
-(if not necessarily *stated*) in your individual-tools-videos. Do what
-writers call a "show don't tell". You don't need to even mention the
-term "information skills"--just *show* people using these skills, in
-proper sequence, while they use the Internet. How does that sound?

(Back to my original review:)

(3) Discussion of Internet tools for educators needs to show the
"caveat emptor" problems for each: for email, the problems of
unwanted contacts, etiquette, copyright violation, and invasion of
privacy issues; for newsgroups and lists, the possibility of kids
getting into "adult" material; for gopher and ftp, the fact that
everyone is at the mercy of the accuracy and honesty of whoever
chooses to post a piece of information. All this is Internet

(4) Several studies have shown that, for educators, one of the
primary boons of the Internet is breaking out of professional
isolation. Teachers tend to be isolated in their classrooms or their
schools. Contacts with colleagues lend support, ideas, enthusiasm,
and companionship with kindred spirits. You might want to mention
this idea in one of the videos, perhaps on email/mailing lists.

(5) I particularly liked the discussion of how Internet use can
change the way teachers teach. What was described is very much in
tune with current educational reform, and is a great selling point
with administrators. It didn't seem to be closely connected with the
rest of the video--or maybe just a connecting sentence or two was
missing--but this is something that might be explored more
thoroughly in another video.

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