June 08, 2020

How to Help without Protesting

Can’t protest? Not a protestor-type? Protesting & want to do more? Wired magazine has a list of suggestions. Including protest ART!

Can’t Go Out and Protest? Here’s How to Help From Home [Wired]

Support Black owned businesses in Durham & Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill & Carrboro (Daily Tar Heel):
Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill: (News & Observer)

Triangle, NC Bail funds:
Durham: NCCBailFund.org
Orange, Wake, Chatham Counties: Take Action Chapel Hill
List of Bail Funds for Protestors across the Country (in conjunction with the National Bail Fund Network)

You can also help Get out the Vote, by writing ‪#PostcardstoVoters‬ or letters to “traditionally under-represented registered voters who ... are unlikely to move soon, and unlikely to vote“ in Florida, Texas, Georgia through VoteForward.
• Postcards: https://postcardstovoters.org
• Letters: VoteForward/

Image by S B from Pixabay

November 29, 2017

Dropbox as Phone Scanner

I discovered that Dropbox has a scanning feature. This would be a great option for a student who needs to copy or scan something in the library but doesn't want to bother (or pay) for our equipment.

Here are some scans I've done with my phone:
my dad & me c1979.
(photo deliberately small to protect my 14-year old self)

A photo of a pdf I created of an assessment document I'm editing:
This is a handy option if you've got students with scanning needs. Or if YOU have scanning needs!

November 02, 2017

Search Tips Infographic

I created this infographic to help teach students some of the fun tips -n- tricks to searching Google. I developed it for a presentation by my colleague, Livis Freeman. He's going to ask his students to search UNC basketball players and he asked me for some tips that he could share with them.
Piktochart made this super easy!

March 03, 2017

News in a Post-Truth Era

Credible or click-bait? News literacy? Checking facts? "Fake News"? which is, at best, just false or at worst a lie.

How can you tell what's credible and what isn't? This needs to be taught, effectively and without bias. But how? The audience is ... middle- and high-schoolers. College students. Even adults!

I'm gathering the best articles and lesson plans and adding them to a guide I created:

It includes resources for evaluating news sources (I love you, AllSides.com!), lesson plans, and fact-checking websites. I'm tweaking a great checklist on evaluating news sites based on Evaluating news sites: Credible or Clickbait? by Candice Benjes-Small. Sooner or later, I'm going to add my favorite articles on the topic.

For now, I'll list some of them here:

I've been pondering this quite a bit lately and am speaking on the topic of teaching news literacy to a few different audiences. First to the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association advisors, then to a group of SILS and MEJO students at UNC on March 31, and to the Society or Professional Journalists Region 2 conference April 8 at Elon University.

Do you have a favorite resource for teaching how to evaluate news credibility? Do share!

January 17, 2017

Flipping the Information Literacy Classroom

I'm switched up my teaching and am using a flipped classroom model to teach four sections of Advertising and Public Relations Research at UNC's School of Media & Journalism.

Their class task is to find secondary research on their client or brand in order to create a SWOT analysis. Working in small teams, students must identify their client's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats using any resources available to articulate these elements.

After I found the amazing graphics information literacy textbook Information Now: A Graphic Guide to Student Research by Matt Upson, C. Michael Hall, and Kevin Cannon (which I wrote about last year), I decided to try flipping this session. I ask the faculty to have their students read several pages from the chapter "Journals & Databases" before class.

I paired that reading with I readings of  four pre-selected articles on a "Brand in the News." They read a scholarly article, a trade article, a popular magazine article, and a SWOT analysis - which I pre-selected from my trio of databases. Check out the list of articles on my library portal for the class (aka LibGuide).

When they get to class, we talk about each of these journal types based on their reading of the Information Now chapter and of the four articles. This takes about 15 minutes. Since they've already looked at EBSCO for the four articles, my demo on how to search EBSCO is relatively quick, so I quickly break them into their teams to research their client in the three databases. They get about 30 minutes to do their own searching, and then we talk about what they found and any search problems that cropped up along the way.

This is in contrast to the old way, where I went into class and talked about the difference between scholarly, trade, and popular magazine articles. I'd bring in examples of each periodical and ask the students to articulate items such as the audience, writing style, use of graphics, and authors for each source type. These sessions were productive and I felt that students really understood the difference in article types. I'd then spend about 10 minutes showing them how to search Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier, and Communication & Mass Media Complete to find these articles.

While students learned the difference in article types, they didn't really get a good sense of how to search -- at least, not in my anecdotal assessment.

The new method teaches these sophomores & juniors the difference in article types just as effectively as before, with samples from their own discipline -- and for the most part, they learn this before I get into the classroom. That frees me to have them focus on their searching for scholarly, trade, and popular publications in their teams.

The faculty like this approach and have been very willing to give the students the assignment prior to class. I'm heading into my second semester teaching this way and look forward to the results.

January 03, 2017

Great CogSci podcast called @hiddenbrain

I'm so glad to report that there is a good cognitive science podcast in the U.S.: Hidden Brain, hosted by NPR reporter Shankar Vedantam and available on NPR and wherever podcasts can be found.

The Dec. 13, 2016 episode, We're More Alike Than Different, Thanks To Peer Pressure's Relentless Influence features an interview with Penn marketing professor Jonah Berger and combines two of my interests: cognitive science and advertising / marketing.
Berger says we tend to be pretty good at recognizing how social influence and peer pressure affect other people's choices. But we're not so good at recognizing those forces in our own decision-making.
It's a great episode, and if you like cognitive science, I highly recommend Hidden Brain.

This makes a great compliment to Australia's outstanding cognitive science podcast, All in the Mind, which I've written about before.

September 12, 2016

Teaching Topics

I'm revising my instructional methods yet again this semester: I'm asking students to answer questions in advance of our time together. These questions typically relate to the assignment or mimic what the students would do in Real Life.

For instance, I asked the graduate students to find what we librarians call "known items" -- articles on a topic similar to one they will be researching on their own. The prompt indicates that the articles were assigned by a professor or were articles that they themselves found while reading a book assigned for class. I carefully chose the three article / types they needed to find:
  1. The first was easy to find on Mr. Google, whether on- or off-campus.
  2. The second was easy to find if the students used the library site I made for their class (i.e., if they used a library database)
  3. The third was only available as an Interlibrary Loan, through the library site I made for their class.
Their second scenario requires them to develop good search terms for that topic in a library database.

When I'm in the class with them, we leapfrog from these questions -- and the challenges they raise -- directly into doing searches in library resources. I am moderately confident that this method is increasing student engagement with the library instruction session... will need to do a bit of assessment to determine if that is the case.

You can see the prompts and the library site I prepared for one of these classes at http://guides.lib.unc.edu/mejo701/scenarios
Stephanie teaching a PR class, Fall 2015

June 03, 2016

Information Now! "Graphic Textbook" for Info. Literacy

Book cover
Information Now: A Graphic Guide to Student Research by Matt Upson, C. Michael Hall, and Kevin Cannon is a terrific addition to the tools I use to teach students how to do online research.

I love it for two reasons:
  1. It's graphic, cute, and trendy ...
  2. It's accurate, thorough, and humorous.
Here are some specifics of what I love about the book:
  • The librarian uses chairs to illustrate why subject headings can be helpful -- adding that chairs are also seats, and are within the category of "furniture."
  • Chairs, p. 34
  • She illustrates Boolean operators with Venn diagrams, by talking about a search for Pirates (no, not the Pittsburgh Pirates), ships (no, not a UPS truck), and history: 
History of Pirate Ships, p. 46
  • There's a whole chapter devoted to journals & databases, and I've used the 7-page discussion of popular, trade, and scholarly journals in classes with good results.
Journals, p. 55
  • The chapter on searching the web (including Wikipedia) is followed by a chapter on evaluating sources. The librarian offers the usual (to librarians) questions about authority, purpose, accuracy, relevance, and objectivity. Here's an illustration of a persuasive site:
    Persuasion, p. 86

  • The book concludes with a chapter on Using Information Ethically, which covers plagiarism and citations, as well as how to quote or paraphrase what you've read.
Paraphrasing, p. 92
I've used it with undergraduates in one-shot sessions -- asking them to read a chapter or two before class, and then discussing the content in class. I've also taught the book in an introductory reference class at UNC's School of Information and Library Science. Finally, I've had my student workers read chapters of the book as part of their training on what a library does -- so they can better help their fellow students from behind the reference desk. I will definitely continue all of these.

If you teach anyone to search for information, I recommend using this book as a supplement to instruction. It's terrific!

Bonus: the book succeeds at being relatively inclusive in its graphics (although the librarian does reflect the majority of U.S. librarians in her look and gender).
People Reading, p. 56

I must raise an ethical question of my own: is it ok for me to use so many photos of graphics used in the book? Chicago University Press can answer the question ... but in my defense, I...
  • took photos with my phone (i.e., lower quality) 
  • blurred out some of the text.
  • only used a tiny handful of graphics
AND since the illustrations are what make the book so great, no review would be complete without at least a few selected images.

May 24, 2016

More Photos

I've been busy taking photographs lately, so am spending less time immersed in cognitive science.
Check out some of my photos on Flickr or Instagram (same photos, different platform)