I recently taught an information literacy instruction session using Prezi rather than MS PowerPoint.  PowerPoint is like an old friend.  No matter how long we spend apart, we are still close friends, and i still feel comfortable by him.  PowerPoint is an easy crutch, and though it’s ease of use could be debated, I am used to using it.  But in a world of new and emerging cloud based media tools, I figured it was time to step into the future and try Prezi for instruction. I found it fun, and at least a little bit more visually appealing than PowerPoint.  But like many tools there are a few advantages and disadvantages of Prezi that I would like to discuss. 

Positive (why use prezi)

  • Prezi is cloud-based (no more USB keys or emailed ppt files)
  • Prezi is free
  • Prezi is cool. This may seem like a tiny point, but in a world where students are constanly on social media and/or on their iphones and their professors are often in the dark ages, librarians need every tiny advantage we can get to show students that the should listen, even if that is a subtle message that we are up to date on modern technologies.
  • The element of surprise. This is related to the above point on getting that advantage or “wow” factor.  Give the students something different and they may pay attention (maybe).
  • Prezi is fun to use.  There are lots of cool features to play with including zooming and spinning effects.

Negative (why stick with PowerPoint)

  • You can’t send the file to student (how big of a disadvantage is a link just as good)
  • Students aren’t able to conveniently print slides
  • too many spinning effects have caused complaints of motion sickness in the past
  • a bit more difficult to use for images
  • The learning curve (yes it takes a while to learn how to properly build a “path” and connect elements)
  • More difficult to edit than a powerpoint.  Once you have built your path it takes a little effort to add a new element in the middle.  It isn’t as easy as clicking “new slide.”

Conclusion: Is Prezi right for you?

This depends on you, your audience, and the content of your presentation. If your presentation is image heavy or if you know your audience is more comfortable with slides and/or wants to print them out then there is nothing wrong with powerpoint.  I am still using PowerPoint for a session tomorrow.  If your audience is a bit younger and/or a bit more tech savvy then I would highly recommend trying out prezi.  It just might make preparing your next presentation a bit more fun. 

You can view my prezi here:

Feel free to let me know what you think.

The Myth of the Digital Native

Today’s episode of Spark on CBC had an interesting segment called the myth of the digital native (skip  to 40:00).

Basically, it explains what academic librarians and library and information science researchers have known for years.  Society has a myth that young people are “tech savvy” and know how to search because they are conformable using google. Yet students show a complete inability to think critically about search results, or ability to search effectively and efficiently.  Students do not understand subject terms or controlled vocabulary.  As a general rule students enter the first keyword or keyphrase that they think of and then click on the first few links.  Without understanding how search algorithms work.

This fact is sad, however, just as sad was the fact that this segment never once mentioned librarians.  Librarians have known about this for years.  We are the ones who help students search, and teach search skills.  This phenomenon has been researched (look up Gross & Latham).  Gros and Latham found that students have a false confidence in their search skills. For decades now, librarians have known about the lack of search skills (and just generally information literacy skills), and have been working to fix this.  Librarians (and LIS researchers) are the ones developing courses, one-off instruction sessions, and online tutorials/screencasts/webinars, and many other methods of teaching students information literacy skills (including search skills, as well as critical evaluation skills).

We need to be careful about the assumptions we make about college students and young people.  We assume they are tech savvy because they have an smartphone and an ipad or say that they know how to search.  Research shows that students almost only use google, and cannot critically evaluate information found online.  Students do not know how to find good credible resources for their assignments, and in their everyday lives.  Not only librarians, but also high school teachers and university instructors (and administrators) need to prioritize information literacy as a critical skill that young people need to develop, and do not have.

Unfortunately, these are not intuitive skills and must be learned, and learning requires a teacher, and quality teachers cost money.  It isn’t enough to prioritize with our mouths, administrators and government (education) officials need to prioritize information literacy/search skills with their budgets.

First Post

I just randomly decided to start a blog.  I don’t know if I will constantly (i.e. daily) update the blog.  But from time to time I have thoughts that I want to get out and a blog is a way for me to at least get things out of my head and off my chest.

Just a warning my thoughts are relatively random, as are my interests. As I mention in my about me page.  I have the privilege of being a science librarian and a religious studies librarian, and I have many opinions with science and of biblical studies.  I am also interested in the more technical side of librarianship, and have done usability testing, as well as both qualitative and quantitative research to help optimize library websites and subject guides to better meet student’s needs.  And well to be honest I may make the occasional about cycling, beer, music.

But if you have somehow found this blog, please feel free to look around.  I’m glad you are here.

Thank you