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Great Database Debate
 

Great Database Debate

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In a debate between Jenny Robins, professor, and Floyd Pentlin, LMS retired and madman, these slides present the side of the debate questioning an over reliance on database information as the source ...

In a debate between Jenny Robins, professor, and Floyd Pentlin, LMS retired and madman, these slides present the side of the debate questioning an over reliance on database information as the source of vetted, edited information without considering some of the weaknesses of pre-digested information which isn't always as accurate as we would like to believe.

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  • INTRODUCTION OF THE ISSUE Why is it a debate? Discussion about general databases
  • Changing from reliance on the authority of a single individual Example from a study recently where children were asked to find the answer to a complex question - one boy gave up and said since he couldn’t find it, the information wasn’t important enough for someone to put it on the Web. Have we not contributed to this by accepting “anonymous” as an acceptable author? It is easy to find encyclopedia articles that are unsigned. Web sites from respected entities such as the American Cancer Society have articles that are unsigned No wonder students are willing to accept Wikipedia articles as authoritative
  • Users don’t care where the information comes from -- they just want it to be quick and easily accessible.
  • A decision-making that is a hybrid of satisfying and sufficing - in a recent study by Head and Eisenberg, this was a dominant thread in the results We know our students use Google as their first choice of research We also know they don’t look beyond the first 10/20 choices We have to do a better job of teaching them to do a better job of searching This does not necessarily mean that we need to do a better job of teaching them to use databases.
  • This article by Christopher Dawson discusses his joy at the fact that the Encarta Encyclopedia is no longer going to be published. “ Be utterly critical of the vas amounts of information online ….read, understand, and synthesize…” Might we also enlarge upon this statement -- the database is dead -- or dying?
  • WHAT IS CREDITABLE INFORMATION? One of the most important selling points for databases is that they contain creditable information. After looking at several minutes of this segment from John Stewart’s “The Daily Show” Jenny will discuss why we need databases to focus our student’s on the best quality information in the quickest manner. Play excerpt
  • Is this a big deal? No? Is it indicative that just because information appears in a database that it is necessarily correct? Perhaps. Inherent danger in telling students that if it is in a database, they can depend on it being accurate. What we don’t need is to encourage students to turn off their critical thinking skills and that is what we do when we tell them -- use this information because you can depend on it.
  • Look at this aggregated database. On one hand, there is a lot of information here. Look at the different kinds of information - journals / magazines / books / news; etc. The information looks the same whether it comes from “ People Weekly” or “Teacher Librarian.” Since it all looks the same - viewer tends to treat the information as of equal value -- partially because it is coming from a database Posting of corrections do not get nearly the same press Everyone knows that the editing process is very different from books versus a newspaper More errors creep in the faster the publishing turn around time is
  • So, it's a bit of a surprise to find out that one Wikipedia hoax, perpetrated by a sociology student, managed to appear in a variety of news reports, and has stayed there even after the hoax was revealed. Student at Ireland’s University College Dublin who inserted a fictitious quote into a “Wikipedia” biography of Maurice Jarre. It was picked up and repeated by journalists all over the world. Interesting to note that so many journalists used the quote without identifying the source as being Wikipedia Also interesting to note how many journalists use Wikipedia for background information Also interesting to note how many publications retracted that quote in subsequent editions. It was deleted from the Wikipedia entry.
  • We tend to give information in books higher credibility - which is true in many respects Doesn’t mean that we get to turn off our critical thinking skills and just accept what someone writes If a student is looking for information about the Afghan War or government spending we are going to get one opinion from Bill O’Reilley and a very different one fromJohn Kerry, for example Have to evaluate information always - not depend on the format in which it comes Tend to be more on guard with Web sources -- are we so much so with a database?
  • Here is a sample of what one finds on a Web page Free information is intermixed with subscription information Does it make the free information less valid? If databases are superior repositories of information then why are they not listed first or presented in some format that draws students to those resources first?
  • You’re a student who has put off working on the assignment until 7:43 pm. Guess what -- the library isn’t open. Neither are the databases because the student didn’t plan ahead to pick up the passwords that s/he needed for the assignment Also -- guess what? There are different passwords for each or most of the databases. Just one password isn’t enough For a digital environment, not being able to get to the passwords when you need them means that you are going to …. Google!
  • .
  • Many of these databases are names that don’t mean anything to students. In this example if you click on the link you will be brought to an even more daunting list In order to help students make sense of which databases to begin with, we need to organize them into meaningful categories Database names are often meaningless because they try to be all things to the researcher Also confusing because there are so many types of resources in a single database -- even if the database name is repeated, the separation into categories will be helpful. Does Academic OneFile vs. Academic Search Complete vs. Academic Universe mean anything to anybody?
  • Attended training sessions as well as state-level meetings. The comment that comes back year after year is that although our tax dollars are paying for these state-wide databases, they are used only in select areas of the states. There are numerous examples where entire school districts don’t access the databases at all. Is it because they are too hard? Is it because there is no LMS to do the training? Is it because DBs are not really self service?
  • Naama Tal in her article comparing three database aggregators said, “Because face-to-faces teaching by a school librarian diminishes in an ubiquitous computer environment, students must develop skill in distinguishing between nonauthoritative, anonymous Web pages and peer-reviewed, scholarly journal articles.” And yet we spend all this time trying to teach to the specifics of a database Confusion, annyoance that comes from a constant “improvement” of a database interface Lots of bells and whistles If we have to “teach” how to use a database, is it not too complicated? Chris Harris asks the question, “Why are database vendors reinventing the wheel? Each one wants to come up with its own interface? Own bookmarking system? What not partner with someone who is doing it well -- Diigo or delicious?
  • One of the issues with emphasizing databases is that this is not the environment where students live now and particularly where they will live in the future. find relationships between tagged information using information embedded in Web pages They will live in a future where the semantic Web where searches will return multimedia reports rather than a list of hits. Results will “draw from any sources, including Websites, articles from scientific repositories, chapters in textbooks, blog dialogue, speeches posted on YouTube, information stores on cell phones, gaming scenarios played out in virtual realities.
  • Traditional learning environments convey knowledge via overwhelmingly copyright-protected publications. Networked learning, contrastingly, is an “open source” culture that seeks to share openly and freely in both creating and distributing knowledge and products. (Jonathan Tarr) Will databases harness the power of open source and semantic Web? Databases have traditionally lagged behind in adapting to new technologies.
  • Aside from the philosophical issues discussed with this topic, there is the very real issues of being able to afford the databases. Cost is an issue…… More than one state has been threatened with the loss of state-wide consortia --
  • The simple exploding growth of information available on the free Web threatens to overwhelm us. One of the advantages of the databases is that the information is digested for us. The disadvantage is that there is so much that is not included that our ability to ferret out what is good will remain one of our fundamental information skills.
  • Do we use databases?
  • In Adobe Acrobat File > Document Security >Acrobat Standard Security > Password Required to Open Document > Enter password Post the document to your library Web site.
  • Joyce Valenza’s use of Pageflakes as pathfinders which incorporate a variety of information sources in one place -- including database widgets.
  • INTRODUCTION OF THE ISSUE Why is it a debate? Discussion about general databases

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