Free, Fast, and Factual: Top Online Reference Sources 2008
(An Infopeople Online Learning Course)
June 17, 2008 - July 14, 2008
Reference is changing: we answer questions in person, via phone, instant messaging, email, web-based chat, and text messaging. With disappearing budgets and increased workload it can be difficult to find the time to keep up with all the new web sources that can supplement the library's print reference collection. This course will update you on free web resources you can use to find the answers to many of the reference questions you're asked. You'll learn where to find information quickly on topics such as:
- Photos of the 2008 Olympic Torch relay that aren't copyrighted
- Free public records available online for your area
- If it's legal to be stopped in California for not wearing a seatbelt
- All the bands who have ever recorded a version of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love"
- Finding consumer reviews for various PDAs
- Learning steps for staying healthy with diabetes
Reference is not dead! Save precious time, money, and frustration by tuning up your online reference skills with this class.
Workshop Description: This four-week online class will teach you the tools you need to quickly mine the web for answers to ready reference questions. Additionally, through exercises and group discussions, you will update your knowledge of the best, free, online web sites for finding factual answers to questions you used to have to refer elsewhere. You will also explore gateways and portals designed to lead you to the best information on specific topics and will learn new uses for old ready reference standbys. Instructor Sarah Houghton-Jan will provide cheat sheets, guided discussions, and a webliography as well as practical tips for improving your search strategies to reduce the time spent searching for that elusive answer.
Preliminary Course Outline: Using your web browser and your Internet connection, you will log in to the Infopeople online learning site and complete the following learning modules:
- Module One: Library Gateways, Ready Reference, Business, and Directories Webites
- Module Two: Health, Home & Garden, Jobs & Careers, and Consumer Resources Websites
- Module Three: Government & History, News, Statistics, and Law Websites
- Module Four: Music, Multimedia, Books & Reading Websites, Google Tools, and Reference Site Finding Strategies
Online Learning Details:
This four-week course will be taught online using the web. When you register, you will receive a registration confirmation that will include the URL to get to the course, as well as a username and password.
Every student proceeds through the online learning modules at his or her own pace. Students should expect to commit to spending a minimum of 3 to 3½ hours per week on this course in order to be successful. You can work on each module at your own pace, at any hour of the day or night. However, you will be expected to log in to the course each week to do that week's assignment. We ask that you log in sometime during the first week of the course to begin the course work.
Your instructor will be available for limited consultation support for two weeks after the official end date of a course, and the course material will stay up for an additional two weeks after that, to give those who have fallen behind time to work independently on the course. However, you will be expected to accomplish the majority of the course in synchronization with your peers during the first four weeks.
Who Should Take This Course: Anyone from the California library community with an interest in using free resources on the Internet to answer questions reliably. This workshop is appropriate for reference and other public service staff.
This course is taught over the web. You must:
- Have an Internet connection and Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher.
- Be able to save Microsoft Word .doc or Adobe .pdf files to your computer and print them out. (For .doc files, a free Word Viewer is available at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/search.aspx?displaylang=en. Search for "Word Viewer." For .pdf files, a free Adobe Acrobat Reader is available at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2_allversions.html).
- Be comfortable navigating on the web and navigating back and forward on a website that uses frames.
- To be most successful in this course you should be willing to share information with your colleagues and be willing to spend time reading and participating in the weekly discussion boards.
System Requirements: The online learning product that Infopeople uses is called Angel. The following are minimum system requirements for using Angel. You will need access to a computer that has at least these specifications to participate in an online course:
- Internet Explorer 6.0 and above, Netscape 7.1 and above, or Firefox 1.5 and above
- Mozilla 1.4 and above (which is the same engine as Netscape 7.1), Safari 2.0 and above, or Firefox 1.5 and above
- OS X and above (OS 9 will NOT work with our online learning product)
If you are not comfortable with any of the above, please consider taking this course with a colleague who does meet these requirements.
Fee: $75 for those in the California library community and $150 for those out-of-state.
Course Start: This 4-week-long online learning course starts on June 17, 2008.