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Weekly News Digest

October 17, 2011 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

CLICK HERE to view more Weekly News Digest items.

Pearson Launches OpenClass Free Learning Environment

Pearson has launched the beta version of OpenClass. A key component of Pearson’s vision to increase access, achievement, and affordability, OpenClass offers institutions and instructors the ability to engage and interact with their students using the collaborative technologies that students are embracing—at no cost.

OpenClass is a new kind of learning management system (LMS) delivered from the Cloud. It is easy to use and completely free. There are no hardware, licensing, or hosting costs, thus enabling widespread adoption of new learning approaches that encourage interaction within the classroom and around the world.

OpenClass integrates seamlessly with Google Apps for Education and is available in the Google Apps Marketplace, Google’s online storefront for Google Apps products and services. With single sign-on and a unified navigation bar, instructors and students can launch OpenClass from within Google Apps or access their Google applications from OpenClass. Launching OpenClass in the Google Apps Marketplace provides institutions with the easiest path to adoption and an avenue to reach institutions already familiar with the benefits of cloud-based solutions.

Pearson, working closely with its design partners, will rapidly advance the capabilities of OpenClass to leverage the rich data and social foundations of the platform and the ability to release new functionality frequently. Design partners include Abilene Christian University, Arizona State University, Central Piedmont Community College, West Virginia University at Parkersburg, Monash University, Kentucky Community & Technical College System, Rice University, the University of Wisconsin Extension, and Columbia University. Many of these institutions are already teaching courses on OpenClass this fall.

For more information, visit http://www.joinopenclass.com.

Source: Pearson

Pew Research Center Unveils New Initiative on Libraries in Digital Age

The Pew Research Center announced plans to study how the role of public libraries is changing in the digital age and how library patrons’ needs and expectations are shifting. The new research is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with a 3-year, $1.4 million investment and will be conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

Through national surveys, a series of focus groups in a diverse mix of communities, and special surveys of library patrons, the Pew Internet Project will examine how library users’ habits and tastes are changing in the age of ebooks, widespread mobile connectivity, and the existence of vast digital collections. The new research will be launched as the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank based in Washington, DC, expands its research on the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping America and the world.

“Few institutions have been more challenged by the rise of the internet and mobile connectivity than the local library,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project. “Many libraries have responded with innovations and sweeping overhauls in the way they deliver on their missions. With the Gates Foundation’s support, the Pew Internet Project will provide an in-depth, data-driven analysis of how libraries are responding to technology trends, and how communities' expectations are changing at a time when library functions are in flux.”

“As technologies advance, people in our communities increasingly rely on digital information to find opportunities to improve their lives. We must make sure public libraries, which are critical community technology hubs, keep pace with that change and give patrons access to the resources they need,” said Jill Nishi, deputy director of U.S. Libraries and Special Initiatives at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We hope this research series will help community leaders and library staff better evolve services in today’s digital landscape.”

Source: Pew Research Center

Blackboard Announces New Open Education Initiatives

Blackboard Inc. announced a series of new initiatives to provide greater support for open education efforts. Working with Creative Commons, Blackboard will now support publishing, sharing, and consumption of open educational resources (OER) across its platforms. The company also updated its policy confirming the ability for education institutions to serve nontraditional users with Blackboard Learn without incurring additional license costs.

Support for OER enables instructors to publish and share their courses under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) so that anyone can easily preview and download the course content in Blackboard and Common Cartridge formats. The new functionality is available now for CourseSites, Blackboard’s free, fully-hosted and supported cloud offering launched a year ago and now used by more than 18,000 instructors from nearly 12,000 institutions in 113 countries. Similar support for OER will be available soon for Blackboard Learn.

Blackboard also clarified its license policy to formalize the ability for education institutions to extend course access in the Blackboard Learn platform—as well as ANGEL and WebCT—to nontraditional-, nonrevenue-generating students at no additional cost. The move supports engaging wider use of the platform to serve different types of “guest” users taking part in efforts including open teaching initiatives, auditing and accreditation activities, student recruiting programs, community outreach programs, and collaborative research efforts.

Blackboard is supporting a common format and framework for tagging the OER so that instructors can search for and find the resources on the web and in catalogs more efficiently. This effort builds on the principles, best practices, and work completed by organizations striving to make it easier to publish and discover educational content and products online, such as schema.org and IMS Global. Also, Blackboard’s OER initiative is closely aligned with the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI), which is supported in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Source: Blackboard, Inc.

Syndetics Solutions Adds Doody's Book Reviews

Syndetics Solutions, Bowker’s OPAC and discovery layer enrichment tool, is adding content from Doody’s Book Reviews, a source of reviews of medical and healthcare works. Libraries who subscribe to Syndetics Solutions can add the reviews to the bibliographic data displayed to patrons through their OPAC or discovery layer, the most common entry points to the library collection. Bowker is a member of the ProQuest family of companies.

Doody’s Book Reviews evaluates books and electronic products across a wide range of clinical specialty areas in basic science, clinical medicine, nursing, allied health, and other disciplines. Each year, 2,000 book and software titles from more than 250 leading publishers of professional level healthcare publications are reviewed by a team of experts—5,000 academically-affiliated clinicians whose work is vetted by an editorial board. Unique to the review process is the Doody’s star rating that accompanies each review and makes it simple for users to determine the best source for their needs. Syndetic Solutions will provide Doody’s Book Reviews dating from 1993 to the present day.

Book reviews comprise a portion of the 40 million unique descriptive data elements relating to books, audio books, and multimedia available to libraries through Syndetic Solutions’ three platforms: Syndetics Classic, Syndetics Plus, and Syndetics ICE. Libraries use the data elements to strengthen the quality of information available to their patrons through their OPAC or discovery layer. Review sources already available include influential and widely read publications such as The New York Times, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Choice, Library Journal and School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, The Guardian and others.

Source: Bowker

Print Newspapers Get Interactive With Kooaba Partnership With NewspaperDirect

Kooaba AG, a Swiss startup specializing in image recognition, and NewspaperDirect, a provider of multichannel newspaper and magazine distribution services, are partnering to connect more than 2,000 printed newspapers in 95 countries to the digital world. Using Kooaba’s Paperboy mobile app, readers can snap pictures of full pages or articles of interest in their favorite printed newspapers and share them immediately as PDFs via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, or SMS—or store them for future reference on my.kooaba.com or Evernote. Available for iPhone and Android devices, Paperboy also gives access to additional information, such as videos or related online content. Paperboy can help bridge the gap between print and online, substantially expanding and enhancing the reading experience.

In the first phase of the rollout, the partnership with NewspaperDirect makes newspaper content immediately available within Paperboy in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria—for more than 75 additional titles. Among them: the Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the Austrian Der Standard, and Germany’s Der Tagesspiegel. More than 780 U.S., U.K., and Canadian newspapers will follow in November. Russian, Asian, and other European readers, as well as readers in Australia, New Zealand and all other countries will be able to use the Paperboy app with their local newspapers later in the year. Paperboy is available as a free download at http://www.paperboytool.com.

Introduced in 2010, Paperboy connects printed media to the digital world with one click. All the application’s powerful image recognition technology needs is a photo taken by a smartphone camera of an article or page in a newspaper or magazine. Paperboy then matches the photo to the images in Kooaba’s sizeable library of printed media or identifies that page or article from NewspaperDirect’s inventory of more than 2,000 same-day, digital newspaper replicas. Users can then share, email, or archive the electronic version on the go, anywhere, anytime or explore related information like videos, images, or links to selected topics. Paperboy automatically finds URLs on pages of print publications.

Source: NewspaperDirect

New Report on Assessing Community Information Needs

On Oct. 17, 2011 the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation released the final installment in a series of eight white papers aimed at implementing the recommendations of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. The paper—“Assessing Community Information Needs: A Practical Guide” by Richard C. Harwood—proposes four guideposts and nine strategies for communities to assess and build a healthy information environment. The paper also includes a checklist for getting started.

Free flowing news and information is essential to the health of democratic communities, but not all information environments are equally effective at meeting community information needs. What can a community do to measure the quality of its information environment, identify its information needs, and take steps to build a more robust news and information ecosystem?

Assessing Community Information Needs: A Practical Guide is a guide for adopting civic innovation strategies to spur the development of news and information environments that address real community needs. Civic leaders, elected officials, motivated citizens, community-based organizations, and others can use this guide to understand how to integrate useful practices for assessing and building engaged, informed communities—communities with the civic capacity necessary to deal successfully with today’s many economic, social, environmental and political challenges.

Among the key elements of his nine-step plan are the following:

  • Engage the community early on and focus on core community needs
  • Actively cultivate boundary-spanning organizations and groups
  • Tell the community’s story of change
  • Ensure enough entry points for people to engage

Source: John S. and James L. Knight Foundation



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