How do you reach a completely online population to get insight when you don’t have opportunities to communicate with your users in person? Assessing library resources and services at a distance holds unique challenges in gathering the data needed for making informed decisions. Without being able to see people use your resources, how do you know your improvements worked?
Librarians Jennifer Castaldo and Christine Patterson presented a poster today at the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) conference in Philadelphia, PA. This conference is held every two years and focuses on cutting-edge research and best practices for academic libraries from around the world.
Our poster, Making the Connection: Conducting Virtual Focus Groups with Distance Adult Learners, describes how we held telephone focus groups with students from across the U.S. from Excelsior College, one of our partners. Our department manages the Excelsior College Library and we continually assess our resources and services throughout the year.
Historically, we relied on online surveys and additional quantitative measures to assess user satisfaction. We found that the most beneficial sections of the surveys were the comments at the end and we often made decisions based on these comments. Last year, we decided to hold virtual focus groups to gather even more in-depth, qualitative data from our users.
Much was learned about the process including, best practices for gathering attendees, how to schedule meeting times when students are located in different time zones, techniques for collaborating with the Assessment and Telecommunications units, aspects of facilitation, and specifics about how to properly code transcripts. These findings will act as a springboard for our next assessment cycle. In addition, we found that many of the suggested improvements were ideas that the library was already pursuing and this feedback confirmed the need.
We look forward to continuing this process and welcome any comments or questions!
The preconference for Webwise (http://webwise2011.library.du.edu/) began today in downtown Baltimore, MD. The preconference had different tracks, one more focused on data curation and the other on Engaging Youth in STEM Learning. I attended the STEM preconference. The first talk was by by Milton Chen from the George Lucas Education Foundation. His talk is titled Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our School.
Dr. Chen began the talk by pointing out that there are a lot of jobs out there involve skills that are students are missing such a data mining and technology. He suggested that we need to create an educational learning that give these students these skills.
He pointed out statistics that illustrate that our students are behind, such as:
50 1st-grade students behind in reading, 44 still are behind in 4th grade.
A high school student drops out every 26 seconds (Touch Choices or Tough Times, 2006).
California students are 1 year behind US. Schools can’t do it alone.
One interesting point he brought up was that we need to redefine our vocabulary for the 21st century. What should our new words and vocabulary be?
He highlighted several examples of students engaged in learning with technology. One that I enjoyed the most was called NatureMapping Takes Kids and Technology Outside into Active Learning – from Washington . You can watch the video on the website. While watching it, Dr. Chen asked us to think about the diiferent roles people in the video were taking. As you watch, notice that there are co-teachers, such as the community farmers, graduate students, some of the parents, and the students themselves.
Patent searching can be tricky and time consuming. If you google search patents and library, you can find a lot of great guides to finding and searching patent information. Here at ELP, we are continually on the look out for interesting new tools and websites that are freely available that might be of interest to our clients.
Two that we came across related to patents, include Patent2PDF and FreshPatents.com. If you have a patent number, you can enter it on the Patent2PDF website and you will get a PDF of the patent. This is much better than a series of individual pages you could print.
FreshPatents lets you find the latest published patent applications to the USPTO before there is a grant or deny decision.
Give it a try, try searching pat2pdf with 4,367,243 and see what you find.
It is common for us to be asked when we are presenting, why do librarians have a problem with google? While some librarians have spoken negatively about the search engine, I think most recognize that the popular search tool has strengths. For example, on this blog, we’ve talked about Google Scholar before about how easy it is now to search within your search results and also comparing it to PubMed and Medline Plus.
Google, however, is back in the news this week facing criticism for their search results. At the company blog, Google has responded. The post begins:
“January brought a spate of stories about Google’s search quality. Reading through some of these recent articles, you might ask whether our search quality has gotten worse. The short answer is that according to the evaluation metrics that we’ve refined over more than a decade, Google’s search quality is better than it has ever been in terms of relevance, freshness and comprehensiveness. Today, English-language spam in Google’s results is less than half what it was five years ago, and spam in most other languages is even lower than in English. However, we have seen a slight uptick of spam in recent months, and while we’ve already made progress, we have new efforts underway to continue to improve our search quality.”
Also this week, Bing came under fire for using Google data to improve their search results. What’s going on with this back and forth? While some of this is related to a public relations fight between the two companies, it also speaks to Google changing its primary and original focus from search into other areas such as free calling and now social searching.
Social search takes search beyond a search algorithm. Social signals such as ‘Like’ buttons may become a key factor in determining the relevancy and popularity of the results we see. An example of a social search engine is Stumpedia. Members submit new search results and select which key phrases should cause them to appear. They can also vote for search results, make friends, and the results are tailored to what you and your social network likes. A new feature for this tool is that Delicious bookmarks can be uploaded into it.
As web technology moves forward, what does this mean for libraries? Librarians and other information professionals have been thinking about how this technology effects learners and researchers. Whether librarians like it or not, students often begin their search for information with Google or similar commercial or social search engines. How people get at information and use it should be a central question for libraries. How are we serving up our content and making it available for people to use — and if we aren’t changing how we do things, should we and how can we do it in a sustainable manner?
Librarians tend to have rich expertise in thinking about learning & information literacy; scholarly publishing; and now digital publishing. We will look at some of these issues in future blog posts as we think further about the intersections between search and scholarly learning and research.
I’ve mainly used Refworks and Endnote in the past, so one thing I can really appreciate about the Mendeley citation tool is how easy it is to import and cite articles from my web browser. It is pretty easy to use. While it works great with many licensed academic library databases (such as IEEE Xplore, JSTOR, AIP Scitation, Wiley Online Library and many more), it also works with many open source and/or free scholoarly websites such as Google Scholar, PubMed, Public Library of Science and arXiv.
To get started, install the Web importer. It’s very easy to do and instructions are posted on the Mendeley website. Then when you open your web browser, you should see a Mendeley bookmark on your browser toolbar. When you see an article of interest, just click that bookmark and Mendely will import this document (PDF as well if available).
In less than a minute I was able to install the web importer, search and locate an article in Google Scholar and save it into Mendeley where I could edit the tags and easily correct any citation inforamtion. Here’s a quick image of what it looked like in my web browser:
The only thing that gave me a brief problem was that the first time I save the web importer onto my bookmarks folder, I saved it into the wrong folder so it didn’t appear on my toolbar. When I organized my book marks I easily moved it to the right folder. Once you find the article that you want to store in Mendeley, you click that bookmark on your toolbar and you will be prompted to login to Mendeley. After you log in, the article is imported for you.
The image below shows a JSTOR article that I located via Google Scholar and imported into Mendely. Here’s what I saw after the article was imported:
Recently a colleague reminded me about Mendeley. Its name is reminiscent of Mendel or Mendeleev, and probably the scientific allusion is intentional. It’s a fairly new popular academic and scientific research citation and PDF management tool, usable both on your desktop and online. An excellent feature of this tool is that it automatically extracts bibliographic data from a user’s document library and stores that on their computer or in the cloud. It’s free for now and here’s some of the things it can do:
Documents that you select can be tagged and easily organized into collections.
PDFs can be annotated in an easier fashion that other citation software I’ve used in the past (sorry Endnote & Refworks)
Allows for you to automatically import any new PDFs saved into a specific folder that you’ve selected on your computer
Search for papers based on what you’re reading
Access your papers from anywhere online
Of added interest to researchers, you can also use Mendeley to view trends in your search area, find out how many people are reading & downloading your papers, and also get suggestions on interesting articles that are related to your research.
Documents that you download can be tagged and then organized into collections. PDFs can be annotated very easily. Free collections that are shared can include PDFs and be shared with up to 10 individuals. This type of sharing might raise some copyright issues, so that’s something to think about.
I also like that after you register for Mendeley, you can create groups based on your interest. These groups are browsable online. Some examples can be viewed in the image below:
Create or Join Groups related to your research area
There are a lot of other citation tools out there, so it will be interesting to see if Mendeley has staying power. The major advantage it offers in my mind is that it makes PDFs so incredibly easy to annotate, organize and share. The downside is that Mendeley is backed by a private company and currently free. Pricing may change, but also these free tools tend to come and go rather easily. Let’s hope Mendeley stays around for a while.
If you’ve ever constructed a survey, you’ve probably given some thought to whether you’re trying to gather qualitative or quantitative information — or perhaps both. Is there something that makes quantitative information superior to qualitative? This entry discusses the differences between the two, also suggesting that qualitative answers can also be coded quantitatively.
A scientifically calculated sample from a population is asked a set of questions on a survey to determine the frequency of responses. The sample size for a survey is determined by using formulas to suggest the sample size necessary to generate acceptable findings.
Generally, researchers would like sample sizes that yield findings with at least a 95% confidence level and a plus/minus 5 percentage points margin of error.
Qualitative Research is much different and more subjective than quantitative research. Information that is qualitative is mainly collected in individual, in-depth interviews and focus groups. This type of research is exploratory and open-ended. Small numbers of people are interviewed and/or a relatively small number of focus groups are conducted.
Participants are asked to respond to general questions, and the interviewer or group moderator probes and explores their responses and to determine the degree of agreement that exists in the group. The quality of the findings from qualitative research is directly dependent upon the skill, experience and sensitivity of the interviewer or group moderator. This type of research is often less costly than surveys and extremely effective in acquiring information about peoples’ communication needs and their responses to and views. It is the preferred method of choice in instances where quantitative measurement is not required.
Coding Qualitative Data
Sometimes there is a thought that quantitative data somehow is superior to qualitative data; however, all qualitative data can be coded quantitatively. Anything that is qualitative can be assigned a meaningful numerical value. These values can then be manipulated to help achieve greater insight into the meaning of the data. For example, consider the open-ended question “Please add any additional comments.” The immediate responses are text-based and qualitative that could be classified based on the type of responses. For example, the responses could be sorted into simple categories, giving the category a short label that represents the theme in the response, such as:
*sample size is large
*sample size is small
*Questions are stated and subjected to empirical testing to verify them
*Dialectical and interpretive
*Focuses on phenomenal that can be explained by numbers and stats
*Does not depend on the use of numbers or measurements
*Tries to establish causal relationships
*Needs a set plan for the completion of research
*Is very flexible and changes as the data and circumstances change
What is Wiggio? The W.I.G. stands for “working in groups”. Wiggio is a conferencing tool freely available online, no software download required. Wiggio’s features include mass text and voice messaging, shared calendaring (with text message reminders), easy file sharing, polling, free group conference calling, shared bookmarking and more. Wiggio’s strength lies in its simplicity: it takes under a minute to sign up, and it’s extremely easy to use.
To get an idea of what Wiggio can do, take a look at one of their tutorials:
Invitation to a group via email or Facebook from a current member of the group who has the ability to invite other people
Log-in to a group through Group Name and Password which only members of the group know and must provide to the other person for them to join the group
Click a link to enter the group can be sent out and all those who receive the link can join the group by clicking it
For collaborating, the group sharing space looks very convenient. The quick poll of the group feature is also very useful.
Testing Wiggio, I’ve found it very easy to use and set up. I joined and sent out invitations to members. When they accept,they get a confirmation email with a link to complete the process, choose a password, and that’s it. If they want, they can then add a photo, a phone number, or their Twitter & FaceBook URL’s to their profile. If a group member posts a comment or uploads a file, allmembers are notified by email automatically — there’s nothing to set up. Members can opt to be sent a text message instead of the email notification if they chose.
This app has some equity behind it as well. Wiggio has raised $1.95 million in equity-based funding, according to an SEC filing. Happy collaborating!
I’ve been hearing for Jing for a couple months now and finally had a few moments to sit down and take a look at it. Jing is a software you can download to your computer. There is a free version, as well as a pro version.
The free version allows you to:
Capture a window, pane, or region of what you see on your screen
Mark up your image with text, arrow, highlight, or rectangle
Copy and paste the screenshot as a visible image instead of a link or save as a file
Put HTML embedding code onto your clipboard or upload to FTP
Works with tweeting, publishing your links to Twitter by using a button in Jing see how.
Record 5 minute screen casts
There is also a Pro version, that costs $14.95 a year. What’s the difference? The Pro version allows for saving the files as an MPEG, not just SWF. Both versions have a 5 minute recording time, but the pro version allows for publishing directly into YouTube. Here’s a nice table that summarizes the differences between the free and pro version.
I tried the free version and I like it. Currently I use SnagIt on my work computer, and found that this does caputre what I have been doing in SnagIt. Here’s an example of a quickie image I made on the advanced Google search screen where you can now limit your searches based on the reusage right of the materials. For example, maybe you want to find content that can be reused commercially for free.
It’s not as fancy as SnagIt, but works well and did do what I wanted it to do — and best of all it was free.
In terms of recording video, it’s really easy. Where you need short web video capture (5 minute or less), Jing works nicely and is very easy to share. Here’s an example of a quick video recording I made and shared in screencast.com in less than 5 minutes. I think the free version should work quite nicely, if having an ad-free version is important, you may want to consider the Pro version. One note, when you save the video to screen cast, the URL for screen cast is copied into your clip board, so make sure to share that link before you copy and paste something else.
PubMed, Medline Plus, PubMed Central…and now PubMed Health? Searching Google for a drug this week will take you to content that looks familiar, but has a new name of PubMed Health along with a new look. MedlinePlus contains the same drug information from the same sourse, but it looks like PubmedHealth is intended to integrate into the National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI) platform eventually.
PubMed Health is under development at the National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubMed Health is being introduced in phases, starting with consumer drug information provided by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
The drug information will be integrated with several other NCBI databases, ultimately providing a linked resource for finding information about diseases and conditions, treatments, and other related data.
Searching for the prescription Avandia in Google, you will find Avandia (Rosiglitazone) from the National Library of Medicine. Clicking on this will lead you to the drug information by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, through PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001051).