Archive for Instruction

President Obama’s Speech on Education

In a speech that has more than a little interest for NJCU given its past, President Obama today laid out his plans for revitalizing the American education system. “America will not remain true to its highest ideals…unless we give them [children/students] the knowledge and skills they need in this new and changing world.” A previous post highlighted some of the concerns discussed by President Obama today.

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English Language Learning-State Report Cards

Quality Counts 2009 is the latest in a series of annual reports which presents detailed information on how states carry out their educational mandates. Many variables are examined and the states are graded according to their attainment of certain benchmarks. This particular report also focuses on how states are serving ESL students. Links to legal cases are included as well as extensive essays on this growing student population. Peruse this site and see how New Jersey stacks up.

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Google Now Has Full Text Magazine Articles

Having undertaken the digitization of books, Google has now turned its attention to magazines. At the moment, full text archives, mostly ending in the late 1990s, can be accessed for New York Magazine, Popular Science, Jet, Ebony, and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Google promises hundreds more titles in the near future. To search just for magazine articles, go the advanced book search screen and check off the “magazines” button. Update as of 12/12: Here is a list of more magazines scanned and indexed.

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Online Guide to Avoiding Foreclosure(from HUD)

The title says it all. Lots of links and strategies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Peer Reviewed Journals

Every day students come to the library looking for peer-reviewed articles. Sometimes they say the articles have to be refereed or juried, other times they say it has to be scholarly or professional. Whatever the term, we understand what they’re looking for, but I often wish students had a better grasp of what peer review is and why it’s important, even as this hallmark of scholarly communication comes increasingly into question.

Wikipedia, often at the center of controversy in questions of authority, actually has a pretty good entry on peer review. Pay close attention to the section on the weaknesses and failures of peer review. For more authoritative coverage of the topic, see Nature’s Peer Review Debate.

If you’re reading this because you just want to know how to find peer reviewed sources in the library databases, stop by the reference desk at any time the library is open and we’ll show you how.  (You can also call us at 201-200-3033.)

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Good News for WebCT Users!!

WebCT Users Now Have Direct Connections to Library Online Resources 
Over the summer, the Information Literacy Tutorial in WebCT has been upgraded. The major improvement is that a new Guide to Library Online Resources has been added. This Guide directs students to the library’s major online resources for finding books in the library, full-text scholarly journal articles online, e-journals, e-references, etc. More importantly, with this guided resources list, WebCT users are no longer asked for ID to use library databases. Thanks to library technical support, students can now access library databases directly. Hope every WebCT user will have fun with the improved Tutorial. 

In addition, this update makes it possible for NJCU faculty to link relevant library databases to their WebCT course content module. Some professors have taken the advantage of this feature. Should any faculty members like to do so, please contact Distance Learning Librarian Shirley Fang via email at Your request will be processed promptly.

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Research Tips


As the second summer semester comes to an end and your assignments are coming due, keep in mind the following library resources:

1. If you need books, use OSCAR, the library’s catalog. Search by keyword to get a list of all the books we have on the topic you need.

2. To find online books, go to NetLibrary on the Databases by Title list.

3. To find articles in scholarly journals or magazines, try Academic Search Premier or Wilson OmniFile. Both of them are available from the Databases by Title list.

4. To find articles for specific classes (Business, Nursing, Psychology, Sociology, etc.)  search the Databases by Subject.

5. For help citing sources for a paper, see the citation guides. You can also try this site, which will format your citation for you.

The library will be open on Sunday, August 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stop by if you need help or call us at 201-200-3033, email us at Or, when we’re not available, QandA NJ librarian are: 24/7. Visit them by clicking on the QandA NJ logo at the bottom of the library’s homepage.

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Blog Search Engines

Just as there are indexes for magazines and journals, which we at the library refer to as databases (but many students prefer to call search engines), the blogosphere has grown so rapidly (there are currently close to 70 million blogs in existence) that blog search engines have cropped up to help you find blog postings quickly. 

The largest blog search engine is Technorati. Search for the tag NJCU to see how often NJCU is mentioned in posts, and what (some) people have to say about us. (Smaller blog search engines include Ice Rocket and Sphere.)

To get an idea of how faculty and students are using blogs to support the curriculum, read this EDUCAUSE report which illustrates practical ways in which educators can use blogging. Blogging provides students with a range of opportunities including chances to:

  • practice writing in English or another language
  • see their peers’ work and respond to it
  • turn in and access assignments at any time
  • be creative with their blog and postings in an informal setting
  • interact with other students through comments

One NJCU Arts professor has used a blog to highlight her student’s work. An NJCU staff member uses her blog to explore developing a blog. Other NJCU students have set up blogs to accompany their course work in Educational Technology. See examples here and here. While I agree that it’s great to use blogs for educational purposes, I sort of think their creators might consider deleting them once the course has ended. Otherwise, we risk clogging up the blogosphere with potentially millions of blogs which were only actively maintained for a semester or two. What do you think? Are blogs truly useful in education or just a passing fad?

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