Monday, March 22, 2010

Get WebWise!

If you are a subscriber to this newsletter, you most likely already know how to use a computer. Howevever, if you know someone who isn't that comfortable using a PC, specifically the keyboard, mouse or the computer screen/monitor, the BBC's WebWise site is a great introduction to using a computer.

I must confess that I am a huge fan of all the BBC Web sites, especially those focusing on learning new skills (languages, etc.), so I was excited to run across this one, especially since I teach the computer classes at the Warrenton and John Marshall libraries.

Start off with Computer Tutor, which is set up in a game show format. Learners visit a "TV Studio" and learn about the skills they will need to compete in a specific game show. Then learners actually practice what they learn in the game show. Learners end up visiting 3 studios and participating in 3 game shows, covering mouse skills, keyboard skills and screen skills.

The Computer Tutor course takes 2-3 hours to complete, but can be broken up into shorter sessions. Just click the 'Return Visitor' button on the start screen or use the skip button to get to where you left off.

After you compute Computer Tutor, check out raw computers, which is broken down into several sections:

  • Basics - Learn how to use a mouse; this may be somewhat redundant to the mouse skills learned in Computer Tutor, but for folks who are tentative with the mouse, this is a fun/cheeky way to get more comfortable with the mouse.

  • Tour - 2 main areas are covered, Getting to Know Your Computer (how to turn on, printing, using digital cameras, etc.) and Introducing the Internet (use search engines, online shopping and registering to use a Web site). Learners can also play games/challenges to practice what they've learned.
After you complete Computer Tutor and the raw computers courses, then check out the WebWise Online Course for details using e-mail and the Internet. Again, some of the content may be redundant to what you've learned in the other courses, but when it comes to using computers and the Internet, practice and redundancy may be the key. Also, this course lloks into keeping safe and online communities.

I'd also recommend reviewing the Jargonbuster dictionary, which provides learners with definitions to common and not-so-common computer terms.

There are other resources on the WebWise site as well, including WebWise Guides, which currently cover sharing media (photos, etc.), watching TV online and getting access. Again, because this is UK-centric, some of the content may not apply to U.S. standards/access.

There is also the Ask Bruce! area where you can view answers to frequently asked questions about computers and the Internet.

For folks who sign up/take the library's Internet Basics course (click here for a list of all the library's computer classes), I'll be sure to send them home with WebWise as "homework."

Top 3 Websites To Build A Free Resume Online

Yet another addition from to our Career & Employment Resources page on the library's Web site...

Top 3 Websites To Build A Free Resume Online

Posted using ShareThis

10 Search Engines to Explore the Deep End of the Invisible Web

When Google just won't do, explore these little-known search engines featured on one of my favorite blogs,

10 Search Engines to Explore the Deep End of the Invisible Web

Posted using ShareThis

Friday, March 19, 2010

Virtual Field Trips For Kids

Meet Me At The Corner is a resource for children and parents that provides educational, kid-friendly videos, and "encourages individual expression and participation through video submissions from children worldwide." New videos are uploaded every 2 weeks and include links to Web sites and suggested discussion questions. You can limit video selections by topic or geographic region using the drop-down menu in the Episodes section of the site.

Many of the videos focus on the sites/sounds/cultural offerings of New York, but there are videos from other parts of the country as well.

I think the tabs/sections on this site devoted to MMATC's Amazon Store and some of the links in the Contests section (there is a prominent one for Colgate's free tooth brush offer) may be a turn-off for some teachers who do not want anything the least bit commercial in the classroom setting. The site also has links to other kid videos sites, some of which lean more on the fun/entertainment side versus standard educational topics. However, most of the content appears to be completely non-commercial and the folks behind the site/content seem focused on the educational aspects of online video.

Because kids are encouraged to submit videos (and the videos on the site star/are created and submitted by other children), this site may be fun to explore in the classroom (you are less apt to get "off task" like you would using YouTube) and inspire students to create their own virtual field trips they can share.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Get Ready for Spring

Animal Planet's Spring Watch U.S.A., designed for upper elementary and middle school students, provides fun facts, activities and visuals covering the advent of sprint. Kids can:
This site is a great way to introduce the season to students (especially those unhappy they have to wake up an hour earlier).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are?

Did you get sucked into NBC's new program, Who Do You Think You Are? The seven-episode program leads celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker and Brooke Shields "on a journey of self-discovery as they unearth their family trees that reveal surprising, inspiring and even tragic stories that are often linked to crucial events in American history."

Well, this blog post isn't to review the television show, but to point out some of the free e-resources offered by Fauquier County Public Library that allow library users to trace their own amazing personal genealogies - no need to be a celebrity!

Start off your search even before heading to your local library by visiting the library's Local History & Genealogy page on the library Web site.

Check our online databases section, where you'll see that the library subscribes to Ancestry Library Edition, the world's largest online collection of family records and resources, with billions of names from U.S., U.K., and Canadian census and vital records, immigration records and passenger lists, military histories and records, and much more. Watch a brief 2 minute video that illustrates how to use this powerful database and then visit your local library in-person to use it.

The library also provides access to HeritageQuest Online, a rich storehouse of American genealogical and historical information dating back to the 1700s. Amateurs and professionals alike can use this resource to trace the paths of their ancestors across America. Unlike AncestryLibrary Edition, HeritageQuest Online can be accessed from any computer by using your library card. You may want to watch the 2 minute video before you begin your search.

The library also maintains it's own index to the Fauquier Democrat Newspaper Index. You can search by name or life event (birth, marriage or death).

There are numerous other resources/links listed on the Local History & Genealogy page that can help you with your research. To make the most use of your time, be sure to check these out before you head to the Warrenton Library and visit our Virginiana Room. You can also sign up for a Geneaology One-on-One session through May 25, 2010. Call (540)347-8750, ext. 6 to make your appointment.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Women's History Month Resources

In 1987, Congress declared the month of March Women's History Month. Below are some great online/web-based resources that explore women's history...

Online exhibits and resources for students:

Web sites especially for teachers and parents:

Just for fun:

Be sure to also check out this month's E-Resource of the Month, Women in History.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Financial Information - Start Your Search Here

Though the library subscribes to Standard & Poor's Outlook, ValueLine and Morningstar in paper format, as well as Morningstar's and S&P Outlook's online services, there are several FREE resources on the Web that come close to matching the content of these venerable resources.

Yahoo Finance provides an abundance of data, charts and statistics. For the folks that appreciate ValueLine and Morningstar for the ratings, Yahoo Finance offers "Analyst Opinion" and "Star Analysis" in the Analyst Coverage section of the entries for most stocks and funds.

Morningstar also gives lots of info. on stocks and funds on their free site at You can type in a company name or ticker symbol and get financials, their star rating along with ratings on growth, profitability and a morningstar credit rating.

Other popular (and FREE) financial/investment Web sites include:

* The Motley Fool:
* Zacks:

You should also check a company's listing on the Security and Exchange Commission's EDGAR site. EDGAR provides free public access to corporate information, allowing you to quickly research a company’s financial information and operations by reviewing registration statements, prospectuses and periodic reports filed on Forms 10-K and 10-Q. See the EDGAR research guide for tips on using this powerful database.

E-Resource of the Month: Women in History

With March being Women's History Month, this month's e-resource is Gale's Women in History. Women in History is a custom database of over 270,000 articles from academic, trade, professional and general interest publications, specific to the field of women's history. Coverage spans the years 1980 through today. For the student who doesn't have time to waste wading through numerous online newspaper and magazine articles on a variety of topics, this custom group of articles on a specific topic (in this case, women's history) keeps one focused on the task at hand. Users can search by name, keyword or browse specific subjects such as "labor force" to find articles. The subject browse is also a good to find articles under specific names.

To access this database with your library card, visit the library's Web site and click on "Search for Articles & More." Women in History is listed under Subject Research.

For all online women's history resources, see my 3/8/2010 post on Women's History Month Resources.