Libraries in the Digital Age

In a time of rapid change for print media, libraries are finding a variety of ways to continue to connect with their patrons.  Though much has been written on the move away from print resources toward digital media, library visits and circulation have actually climbed nearly 20 percent from 1999 to 2008.  Tough economic times have brought users to the library for free computer access and to take advantage of free movie and music rentals. And now libraries are finding even more ways to meet customer expectations by increasing Wi-Fi availability, lending Kindles to patrons, and offering music-downloading for personal digital devices.  Education Week  recently wrote about a number of libraries which have begun developing iPod applications for an iPod-friendly generation.  Some libraries are now even managing Twitter accounts to inform patrons of library services:

Now, the digital sphere is expanding: 82 percent of the nation’s more than 16,000 public libraries have Wi-Fi—up from 37 percent four years ago, according to the American Library Association.

…A growing number of libraries are launching mobile websites and smart-phone applications, says Jason Griffey, author of “Mobile Technology and Libraries.” No one keeps tabs of exactly how many, but a recent iPhone app search showed more than a dozen public libraries.

Here at MetaMetrics, we know the importance of accessing content through multiple mediums.  Our own Engaging English offers a personal and interactive learning platform for users wanting to strengthen their English speaking skills.  Users read targeted, online content across a wide spectrum of interest areas as a way to improve their English  and prepare for the reading demands likely to be found throughout their professional lives.   Because Engaging English is entirely online and self-guided, users have maximum convenience and flexibility in establishing responsibility for their own reading growth.   Best of all, Engaging English is accessible on mobile devices, offering the users the ability to access content in a way that is most convenient and applicable to them.

The ability to access content across a variety of mediums – online, e-readers, smart phones, notebooks, etc… – has become vital to many student users.  Many have an expectation that content should be readily available through whatever format they choose to access it.  That’s why it’s good to see so many libraries taking steps to remain relevant and indispensable in a digital age.

Barnes & Noble Hosts ‘Educator Appreciation Days’

Please join MetaMetrics in supporting Barnes & Noble’s “Educator Appreciation Days” by visiting your local B&N store or visiting them online at BN.com. Pre-K-12th grade teachers, librarians, literacy specialists and homeschool educators can save 25% on books and 10% on music and DVDs, either in stores or through the B&N website from October 9 – October 17.

As part of Educator Appreciation Days, Barnes & Noble stores in Augusta, GA and Charlotte, NC will host MetaMetrics to facilitate free seminars on Lexile measures. MetaMetrics will discuss what Lexile measures are and how educators can use them to differentiate instruction and monitor reading growth by connecting students with the “right” books that match their ability, interests and goals. The seminars will also explore the resources that educators can use to search for books by Lexile measure in Barnes & Noble stores and on BN.com, as well as other free resources on the Lexile website. To find out more, please click here.

Read for the Record

Today millions of children across the world will share a literacy experience.  Students, teachers, parents, and guest speakers will be reading Ezra Jack Keats’s classic book The Snowy Day (AD500L).  The annual Read for the Record celebration, sponsored by Jumpstart and We Give Books, hopes to break the world record for the greatest number of people reading the same book on the same day.  The current record was set last year when 2,019,752 children read or heard read aloud Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Want to join in and be counted? Please visit here. You’ll find more details about the celebration, resources – including Lexile vocabulary activities to accompany The Snowy Day – and information about ways you can help improve literacy. 

The celebration doesn’t end when the record is broken.  All year long, We Give Books  donates books to needy children whenever someone reads a book on their site.  Their collection includes many well-loved picture books for parents and teachers to share with their kids. After October 7, watch for the nominations for next year’s record-breaker.

Khan Academy: Education Goes Viral

Salman Khan has an ambitious plan. He wants to create the “world’s first free, world-class virtual school where anyone can learn anything”. Believing strongly that everyone should have access to education he created Khan Academy, a non-profit, educational website. His website has become wildly successful; attracting users and fans from around the globe. Bill Gates called Khan his favorite teacher and uses Khan’s videos to help his own children with math.

Khan, a 33 year-old Bangladeshi-American with three degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard, began his academy after tutoring some of his relatives online.   He posted some of his tutorials on YouTube, and the videos became so popular that Khan quit his job as a hedge-fund manager and devoted himself full-time to Khan Academy.  Currently, he works out of his Silicon Valley home in a converted walk-in closet with only a couple hundred dollars worth of computer equipment.

The site features over 1,630 instructional videos covering science and math topics ranging from arithmetic to calculus; but the videos are not limited to the core subjects of math and science. The website now offers instructional videos on History and test preparation for California tests, the GMAT and the SAT. But Khan Academy covers less traditional subjects as well.  For example, there are even instructional videos on subjects like sub-prime mortgages and the Paulson bail out.  Such accessible content allows even non-specialists to tackle the details of issues that were previously far too technical and obtuse.

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Engaging English: Lowering the Barriers

As online learning courses continue to grow in popularity, many institutions of higher learning have begun to provide online degree programs for distance learners.  Even on-campus student populations now embrace online options.  According to this Education News article, public support of online learning is growing rapidly.  As the article points out, although public opinion is fairly static from one year to the next on most issues, in just one year (2009 to 2010) the public’s perception of the value of online learning has grown ten percentage points.

 In response to public demand, universities have steadily expanded their online course offerings to include a wide range of academic areas, notably foreign languages.  Many schools are now offering more hybrid courses, courses that provide a combination of online and classroom learning.  This uptick in hybrid courses has resulted in an increase of web-based products now available to support online learning.  According to the New York Times:

These days, online programs and CDs…are grabbing the interest of people attracted by their convenience and relatively low cost.  But more schools are offering their own online-only language courses as part of extension programs. (more…)

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.