Research news and notes from the National Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Education
Digital Library (NSDL) Program [Back Issues]

The Whiteboard Report
November 2003, Issue #41



NSDL Core Integration Middle School Area of Emphasis
November 2003--NSDL has a broad mission to provide an "online network of learning environments and resources for STEM education at all levels" (per the NSF solicitation). This mission will be fulfilled by concentrating on overlapping sequential areas of emphasis that emphasize particular areas of beneficial NSDL impact. The Middle School area of emphasis is seen as the first of many instances where NSDL pursues solutions that can best support audiences facing unique pedagogical and technological challenges. Find out about how Core Integration will accomplish this task at > Community > Today in the NSDL > Community Highlights.
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Answers to Community Forum Questions Posed at the NSDL Annual Meeting
November 2003-- Attendees at the Community Forum sponsored by the Policy Committee at the NSDL Annual Meeting in October came up with general and specific questions that they would like to have answered about the NSDL Program. Over the course of the next several issues of Whiteboard Report a selection of questions and answers from that meeting will be featured. This issue contains answers compiled by Core Integration staff.

Q: Is there a dichotomy between building a library that educators can use in the classroom tomorrow vs. building a library that will serve learners in the future?
A: Not if you think of building the NSDL as a series of steps. Source material and original content are key components in any educational library. Although learners of the future may need different means to access the underlying information, NSDL needs to start with a solid foundation of information at a variety of levels.

Learners of the future may well describe what libraries are in the same way that author and Washington University Professor William Gass does now: "Libraries acquire what we cannot afford, retain what we prize and would adore, restore the worn, ignore fashion, and repulse prejudice."

NSDL will provide relevant access to current information for educators, as well as allowing users access to how information has evolved over time. Stewardship of STEM learning materials, processes, and traditions is a key task in creating a national digital library that will become invaluable to users over time.

Q: Why do we use the name "National Science Digital Library?"
A: The National Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Digital Library is a long name. The acronym, "STEM," is associated in many peoples' minds with stem cell research. Shortening both the name and the acronym has allowed the NSDL to begin building a strong and identifiable brand that is broadly understood in a neutral context.
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Vote of Confidence for the Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections
November 2003-- Agreement has been reached between the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) for NISO to maintain the Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections. NISO will be setting up a small group to update and expand the Framework on a periodic basis. Here is the announcement from IMLS Primary Source Newsletter:
"6. NISO Designates IMLS Report an Information Standard Under the terms of a formalized agreement with IMLS, the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) will become an active participant in IMLS' work to ensure the creation, preservation, and management of high-quality digital content by the nation's museums and libraries. NISO will assume responsibility for maintaining the IMLS Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections, a report developed by a group of experts convened by IMLS in 2001. The Framework details general principles and cites current and emerging standards of good practice in four areas: digital collections, digital objects, metadata, and digital projects. NISO has designated the Framework as an information standard and will assign it to a committee for periodic review, to be updated as standards evolve. The partnership between IMLS and NISO ensures that the Framework will remain an important tool in the creation and management of digital content."--Primary Source, November 2003
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New NSDL Experiment in Labview
November 2003-- Take a look under the hood of research at > Of Interest > Labview. A new online demonstration of "A Searchable Star Tree of NSF NSDL Awards" graphical user interface is available at Labview. Send feedback about Star Tree to Naomi Dushay .
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Got Copies of the NSDL Progress Report, Fall 2000 - Summer 2003?
November 2003-- To have additional copies of the NSDL Progress Report sent to you for distribution please email Donna Cummings .
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Call for Proposals: The Illinois Online Conference (IOC) set for 2004
November 2003-- The proposals for the Illinois Online Conference are due December 10th. If you think that someone might have an appropriate presentation for this conference but may not feel comfortable with the online format contact Deborah Hutti at 217.234.5273 for assistance, Mentors will be assigned to all presenters who will be available to support presenters as they submit their online presentations to the conference web site and also on the days of the conference. If you have questions, contact Deborah Hutti at 217.234.5273
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NSDL Content Reuseability and Interoperability Workshops
November 2003-- Workshops to promote and enhance content reusability and interoperability will be held February 21-22 in Orlando, FL; May 15-16 in Washington, DC; Aug 6-7 following the MERLOT International Conference in Costa Mesa, CA; and in conjunction with the 2004 NSDL Annual Meeting (dates to be announced). NSDL projects are invited to send representatives to one or more of these workshops. Workshop meeting costs will be covered for all attendees from NSDL projects. It is anticipated that most or all travel costs can be covered as well.
The lead presenter will be Robby Robson, project PI and chair of the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee. Partner projects include MERLOT, the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse, and MathDL.
Application materials and guidelines are available at The application deadline is December 1, 2003.
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New Google Tricks
November 2003-- Google has a calculator function which is especially good for simple measure coversion (how many teaspoons in a cup). However, "how many gallons in a barrel" does a simple google search for the answer. A new operator, the tilde (~) may be used for searching synonyms. Place before the term (no space). Google also has a define function: for example: define "cat and mouse" or define 'quark.'
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Metadata Re-think
November 2003-- This paper by Stephen Downes suggests a new vision of metadata and its usefulness in a digital library context inlcuding a definition of "Resource Profile" as a different way to think about metadata.
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Plumb Design Visual Thesaurus Online Edition
November 2003-- Find the meaning of words using an interactive map.
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Mac 'Characters' and Scripted Writing for the Web
November 2003-- "Tex-Edit Plus is a scriptable, styled text editor that fills the gap between Apple's bare-bones SimpleText and a full-featured word processor. It's fast, efficient, and has a clean, uncluttered interface. It's also great for cleaning up text which is transmitted over the Internet."
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November 2003-- Imagine Nature, is a showcase of electronic broadsides devoted to nature poets and their work. Exploring the convergence of poetry, graphic arts, and the technology of the internet, this site updates the concept of poetry broadsides with multi-media imagery and sound. Readings by Stanley Kunitz and Galway Kinnell available with their respective poems reflect the collaborative effort of this collection.
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November 2003-- Discover the British Library's award-winning system "Turning the Pages." Use the links to start turning the pages of great books. You will need to download Macromedia Shockwave (free of charge).
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Published from 2000 to September 2009, NSDL Whiteboard Report Archives provide access to prior issues of the bi-weekly newsletter published by NSDL. To subscribe to current news and information about NSDL, go to the NSDL Community Network site, register as a user, subscribe to and participate in selected features found there. For more information contact Eileen McIlvain