Articles By Mary Ann Bell
Mary Ann has been writing and presenting to promote commonsense internet access in K-12 schools for more than 15 years. And there's always more to say! This column is about affording trusted school faculty members the right to bypass or override internet filters with a password or other means.
Due to the current atmosphere in our country, with so many people afraid and angry about racial and religious differences and people's lifestyles, Mary Ann recently began to wonder how American schools are handling filtering with regard to diversity, especially relating to race, religion, and GLBT issues. Time for another survey? Yes!
Drawing on ideas she gleaned from two keynote speakers at last spring's Computers in Libraries conference, Mary Ann picks up on a theme she loves and believes in: Librarians need to be seeking ways to bring joy, delight, and good old-fashioned fun to our students and colleagues.
Still smarting from a scolding in first grade for doodling on her paper in class, Mary Ann is gratified that educators have finally seen the light … and the learning value … in doodling, or, let's call it "sketchnoting."
Mary Ann has been conducting surveys of school librarians on the issue of filtering for 6 years now, having completed her latest one this past summer. As she reports, there have definitely been improvements in a number of areas, but the problems persist.
Mary Ann has written in the past about schoolteachers and librarians coping with hard times resulting from budget cuts. But lately, in view of standardized testing and mandates for scripted lessons, she has been worrying about the children, too many of whom, she feels, are unhappy at school right now.
According to Mary Ann's informal surveys, the issue of technophobia remains an anxiety-producing problem today for some folks. So this month, she's got some supportive, encouraging words that she hope you'll pass along.
David Jonassen's book Computers in the Classroom: Mindtools for Critical Thinking espoused a philosophy of educational;technology that has had a major effect on Mary Ann's thinking and also on the direction of the M.L.S. program at her university.
One of MaryAnn's favorite things about Web 2.0 applications is the options for working with images. Read all about Instagram, what she does with it, and how you can use it with students.
Mary Ann has been hearing more and more about badging and online learning in the last year or two, prompting her to delve deeper into the subject, to try it in her own teaching … and to write all about it in this column!
Just what is a meme, anyway? Mary Ann explores the phenomenon and then discusses why and how memes are important to educators.
This month, Mary Ann tackles the subject of plagiarism and how to combat it through creative assignments.
MOOCs are new kids on the online instruction block. Like many other online phenomena, they are growing in popularity at a rapid rate. Mary Ann takes an enthusiastic look.
For this issue, Mary Ann decided to take a look at current technology purchasing practices, particularly, putting the spotlight on one new and one older popular product, the iPad and the interactive whiteboard.
With the advent of Web 2.0, our options to connect with colleagues online have increased dramatically. Each environment has vehement detractors as well as loyal fans. Mary Ann and her survey respondents weigh in!
In her previous column, Mary Ann talked about some nuts-and-bolts, practical steps educators can take to help cope with shrinking budgets. This time she broadens the topic to talk about how we can use the internet to mitigate negativity resulting from any type of hard times.
A song that keeps repeating in Mary Ann's head these days is "Hard Times Come Again No More," no doubt owing to the hard times and education budget cuts her public school colleagues are experiencing in Texas. In an effort to chase away this earworm with some positive thinking, she asked herself and other educators what they can do in the face of these cuts. See what the crowd came up with.
Mary Ann's topic this month is backing up your important files. Are you faithful about this? She used to be. But, she says, recently she has grown careless. So this article is in the vein of, "Do as I say and not as I do," … or did.
Mary Ann decided she wanted to know more about her peers—educators "of a certain age"—and their level of adoption of computer technology in education. One informal survey and a large number of responses later, she has her answer.
The results of November 2010's elections coupled with the ongoing financial woes have brought threats to schools, libraries, and educators according to Mary Ann. What can teachers and librarians do? She's got lots of ideas.
Mary Ann says there can be change even when there is just one person with vision, a message she wants to get out to those who struggle against the odds with efforts to bring 21 st-century skills to their libraries and schools!
Not satisfied with how her 2010 was going, Mary Ann decided to reboot and upgrade last September to 2010.2—giving her a jump-start on New Year's resolution-making.
Why shouldn't kids have a chance at school to look up information to satisfy their own curiosity or to explore a hobby or a personal interest, especially if they don't have internet access at home? In many schools, figures Mary Ann, strict rules, tight filters, and overly zealous teachers prevent students from using computers to find anything not strictly tied to a specific class assignment. To that mentality, she raises a virtual fist and sends up a virtual shout … hogwash!
Since the new year and the new decade of 2010 was ushered in with the usual hoopla in January, Belltones columnist Mary Ann Bell began to wonder how educators are faring when it comes to using technology. She has conducted a number of surveys online on the subject. This month, she shares the results for administrators, compares them with teachers' answers, and offer her thoughts about the similarities and differences.
Having written a column several issues back entitled "What Kids Know (and Don't Know) About Technology," Mary Ann has now been inspired to address the same subject and questions to teachers and then also to administrators. So this is what she'll be covering in this month's column and the one to follow.
For the last several years, Mary Ann has enjoyed using many online tools designed specifically for the purpose of conducting surveys. These are great for professional use by librarians and teachers. She started, she says, with SurveyMonkey and really took off with it. In this month's Belltones, Mary Ann discusses a selection of survey tools, and examines ways educators and students can use them.
Every now and then, Mary Ann is seized by an idea or topic that really takes hold of her, piques her interest, and engenders new enthusiasm for learning and exploring. This year's big idea has been data visualization. She has discovered that she had been a fan of various presentations of data visualization without being aware of the term. Read and "see" what she's got to say about it in this month's Belltones.
People say it all the time: If you want to keep up in today's fast-moving world of technology, keep a kid around. In other words, just ask a Digital Native—someone who has grown up with computers and the internet. Well, Mary Ann believes that we can absolutely learn from our students, children, and even grandchildren. At the same time, though, she believes that adults need to be careful not to attribute more expertise and understanding to youngsters than is justified.
How does one keep up as the tools and resources for educators. Mary Ann offers both her own advice and that of a former students of her in this helpful edition of Belltones.
As a kid, Mary Ann used to collect insects, setting the critters into their respective boxes and tagging them by laboriously printing information on little slips of paper. Apparently the process of classifying appealed to her deeply, and ultimately lead to … what else? … this month's discussion of tags, folksonomies, and tagging as a participatory sport and useful intellectual activity.
Mary Ann Bell recently had the pleasure of attending WebWise 2009, a conference sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Miami’s Wolfsonian Museum, where one of the keynote addresses was all about “the cloud,” and other presenters used the term frequently. This month in Belltones, Mary Ann floats some ideas, definitions, concepts, and comments about cloud computing, word clouds, and more.
There is a dirty little secret out there in school land, and it involves money and time wasted due to poor purchasing. Far too often, supplies, equipment, software, books, consumables, and other materials are bought (frequently in bulk), but they turn out to be huge disappointments that see little or no use. Enter Mary Ann Bell, with "one of those ‘do as I say, not as I do' missives," to advise you and address this situation.
Mary Ann is still on the warpath! Her purpose in this article is to enumerate some of the most common “reasons” that are used to support the overly restrictive filtering that is prevalent in all too many schools and districts. “I put the word reasons in quotations because it is my opinion that, very frequently, these are excuses rather than reasons,” she notes. Here are some arguments, and her responses.
Mary Ann is on a mission to spread the word that Draconian filtering at schools is a practice that produces negative outcomes. So in this issue’s Belltones, she lays out more reasons for saying this is so ... and she challenges readers to make a New Year’s resolution to work for gaining more internet access for students and faculty members in K–12 schools.
In her previous column Mary Ann Bell protested loudly, "I'm Mad and I Am Not Gonna Take It Any More!" regarding overly restrictive internet filters. In this column, she shares some tactics for gaining access, starting here with the bandwagon ploy: "Everybody else is doing it!" After all, decision makers need to know that many educators are moving ahead with Web 2.0 sites.
Mary Ann Bell is mad about the internet filtering going on today in so many schools. She believes it is past time to stop letting paranoia, combined with laziness, block teachers, counselors, administrators, and students from the internet resources they deserve to access at school. So … herewith she’s starting to speak out!
With the advent of spring and, now, summer, Mary Ann got the museum and botanical garden bug … which got her to thinking about the beauty, value, and educational efficacy of virtual museum visits, and, further, visits to "virtual gardens"—i.e. websites maintained by actual botanical gardens around the world. Take a tour with her in this month's Belltones column.
Early this past fall Mary Ann Bell got tired of hearing other people talk about Twitter and feeling left out. She had been mentioning it as something new to the Web 2.0 world in presentations and with students, but felt a little hypocritical for doing so without participating. So, as she reports in this month's Belltones, she paid the site a visit and signed on. Follow her journey from skeptic to convert, plus how and why Twitter won her over and what it can do for you as well.
In her previous column, titled "Celebrating Communicating: To Blog or Not to Blog?" Mary Ann Bell talked about the future of blogging and whether this particular communication tool was a bit passé, having been around for a while and now facing competition from other new and trendy options such as wikis, nings, and Twitter. As she developed that column, though, she realized that she could get through only the first half of her intended material to cover (discussing whether or not blogs are outmoded) and had not touched upon the rest of the material. So she weighs in now with a second column about blogging.
Mary Ann started her own blog recently and since then she has seen some comments that suggest the blogosphere may be imploding, exploding, or otherwise meeting its demise. So this month, with survey results in hand, she explores the question "To Blog or Not to Blog?"
Email as a means of online communication has been around since the beginning of online communication. In fact, according to Ian Peters, it even predates ARPANET. He describes its infancy as a tool called, appropriately, MAILBOX, which was used as early as 1965 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Today it is used by hundreds of millions of people. Mary Ann Bell asserts in this month's Belltone's that it's still the killer app!
It happened to Mary Ann recently, for the first time in ages. She had a near meltdown because of a glitchy computer problem. … Actually, she had several problems. … In fact, it was a perfect techie storm!!! ... So for this month's Belltones column, Mary Ann has thought through and compiled a range of tips and advice to help herself--and you!--deal with such eventualities, or should we call them inevitabilities.
In the May/June 2007 MMIS issue, Mary Ann wrote about listserv communication and the benefits thereof. That caused her to think of a related but slightly different array of communities: online support groups. For personal use, and also for patrons, it is worthwhile to look at these environments. They can be highly beneficial, but there are a few caveats. So this month, she discuss the advantages and disadvantages of such groups.
Mary Ann Bell was recently housebound during an infrequent ice storm in the Texas Hill Country. But, she writes, "I am far from lonely. The main reason for this is my connection with people all over the world via listservs." Thus her topic for this issue: communication. Read as she celebrates the many ways is able to be in touch with others via the Internet.
In recent Belltones columns, Mary Ann Bell has discussed technophobia and technolust. Now her thoughts have turned to another complaint. While not as debilitating as technophobia, which keeps victims from feeling comfortable with any technology, featuritis is a condition that keeps many users from making friends with the devices they use. Read on to find out why, and what to do about it.
Mary Ann continues this month to ponder the question of when, whether, and how to use technology in teaching and learning. After all, she notes, her friend Bernie Poole stands up for technophobes in certain cases, writing to her: "If they're truly technophobes, leave them alone, Mary. They deserve their space. They can teach absolutely as effectively the way they know and love as if they were constrained to use high tech."
Mary Ann Bell counts herself as a hortiphobe-turned-hortiphile. Well, almost. The point is, she says, she was able to change. And she thinks you can help your school's remaining technophobes change as well.
Mary Ann Bell writes: "I think today, many of us feel like we are washing elephants with toothbrushes. We have too much work, not enough time, and inadequate tools. How can we make meaningful progress with so many demands? Can technology help, or does it just complicate our lives? While there may not be any easy solutions to the problems we have with so much work, lack of sufficient staffing, frustrating deadlines, and other pressures, I can share some of what has been helpful to me." And so she does, in this month's Belltones column.
Mary Ann Bell loves technology, and techno-gadgets--almost to the level of addiction. (Well, not really.) It's not too serious, but it's a problem she says she's working on. In schools, though, with the advent of technology, the problem of unwise purchases seems to have increased dramatically, and it can be serious. In this month's Belltones, Mary Ann get into some of the reasons for this, and what LMSs and their schools can do about it.
Another article on filtering? Well, Mary Ann Bell writes, "Truth is, I did not go looking for this topic. It reached out and grabbed me while I was looking for information about something else. While researching general computer use in schools and libraries, I noticed the topic of filtering to be a continuing issue." There are lots of stories and further "troubling trends" she writes about in this round of Belltones.
New MMIS columnist Mary Ann Bell introduces herself in her inaugural Belltones column and discusses some of her interests and plans for upcoming columns, including information ethics, technology use in schools, the principles of AASL's Infomation Power, information access, and more.