Microsoft design software free to college students

I can’t pretend that I knew anything about this, but it’s good news:  the InCommon Federation, which the Chronicle of Higher Education describes as a “one-stop shop” for electronic resources, will now include the Microsoft Dreamspark suite…for free.  (For students only.)

This means Visual Studio Pro, SQL Server Developer Edition, and a bunch of other software applications for designers and web developers will be freely available for students whose schools participate in the InCommon Federation.

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Friday shout-out: Google Reader in the library

I’ve been playing around with Google Reader, migrating my RSS feeds from Sage and figuring out some of the cool additional features that GR offers.

One of them–the ability to create and share a feed of your “top picks” from all the feeds you read–is being used in a cool, innovative way by the staff at Berkeley’s Environmental Design Library.  Check out the ENVI home page to see it in action:  at the bottom of the page you’ll see a feed of items drawn from blogs related to architecture, city planning, and environmental design.  The items are constantly updated so there’s always new, relevant, interesting content on the library’s home page.  It’s a great, simple way to leverage a free tool (Google Reader) to keep librarians and patrons up to date on what’s going on outside the library’s walls.

For more help with Google Reader’s sharing features, see the Google Reader Sharing FAQ.  Props to Matthew Prutsman and the other ENVI staff for setting this up!

Where I’ve been, where I’m going.

Well, my blogging has sure gone down the drain in the last few weeks.  There’s a good reason, though–actually, two.

One:  I’m getting ready for a presentation at the Canadian Library Association next week.  I’m presenting with friend and colleague Merinda McLure on a research project we’ve been doing at our respective institutions (UC Berkeley and Colorado State University) investigating how instructors and students experience library services in course management systems, and how they’d *like* to experience them.  We’ll make our presentation materials available on the conference website after the fact; in the meantime, we’re busy crunching data and wrangling Powerpoint.  (We promise to use it responsibly.)

Two:  All going well, I’ll be starting a new position at the beginning of June.  This is big news, obviously!  I’ve accepted a position as Head of the Library and Learning Commons at the University of Oregon, Portland.  I’ll be sad to leave Berkeley, but I’m very excited about the new position and about returning to the UO, which is near and dear to my heart.  The new job will be a little different from what I’ve been doing for the last few years here at Berkeley, so the emphasis in my blog will likely change somewhat.  I’ll still be learning, though!  Perhaps just not e-learning quite as much.  😉

I may not post regularly again until I’m installed in my new position, but then I hope to be back at it, and I hope you’ll all still read!

NY Times gets on the textbook bandwagon

One of the great public shaming grounds of higher education right now is the usurious cost of textbooks.  Libraries tend not to buy these books, as they change annually and at $100 – $200 a pop, just buying introductory texts for one discipline could bankrupt the year’s monograph budget.  This means that students are stuck paying tremendous costs for their books every term, or else scrambling to share or borrow or find used (i.e. “out of date”) copies that they can photocopy, skim, and otherwise rifle to find what they need to learn basic chemistry or economics or literature.

So, thanks to reader Olga for drawing my eye to this recent op/ed piece in the NY Times about alternative textbook projects and the cash crunch for students.  It’s good to see the media paying some attention to this issue outside of the silos of higher eduction.  And very good to see that some legislation is starting to appear.