then Zotero’s standalone beta isn’t worth mentioning. I’m in the throes of course revisions for the class I’ve been building around Zotero and I am not even sure what the final project is going to be this year (more on that later) so do I really have time to decide whether I want to teach my students to use the standalone or stick with original flavor?It doesn’t feel like I do, that’s for sure. But like Mark Sample at Profhacker said today, I’ve been working with it for a couple of days and it is working really well – stable, easy and not in Firefox. Plus also, he’s right about the standalone having a better icon.
So, which to teach? I think I’m coming down on the side of the standalone. I don’t have very many 19 year olds browser zealots in my classes, but those I do aren’t Firefox devotees. There are almost always 1-2 who want to use Chrome or Safari. And since none of my students (if past experience is any guide) will have existing Zotero libraries to consider, or existing Zotero workflows to un-learn, I think we might just work with the standalone.And yes, that means building in time to re-do some previous work. So, why am I changing the final assignment? Well, I have some reasons. (The following is heavily cribbed from an assessment report I sent to the chair of the department & thanks to her for sparking me to think about and write it)
- One is logistical – the faculty of the School of Writing, Literature and Film (formerly known as the Department of English) at OSU is not quite big enough to support individual projects for all 40-50 students. Not to mention that a number of faculty members are very busy working on the transition to the new model. At the same time, I don’t want to overburden individual faculty members which precludes me from letting students to choose their own faculty member to focus on. This means that the challenges students face with the assignment are very different depending on the faculty member they draw, and their learning is sometimes affected more by their topic than by their own motivation or effort.
- The second reason is more important. One of my students pointed out in the course evaluation that the process I was teaching — asking students to search comprehensively on a topic (to find everything their faculty member has published) before they evaluate and decide which sources to include on the final bibliography — doesn’t reflect what they need to do for almost all of the research that they will ever do. There are only a few contexts where people are asked to search in this manner (the literature review for a dissertation would be one example) which meant that this assignment was emphasizing the wrong skills.
Zotero Group Bibliography Assignment (10/2010)
Zotero Assignment Update (11/2010)
Zotero Assignment Revisions (12/2010)