- Students need to master the Google search engine. They should know how to search for phrases, exclude certain terms, filter by date range, search within a domain, use the cache to view expired pages, and how to frame a good query in the first place. I am surprised how many students who grew up with Google don't know these things.
- Google Books is the historian's boon companion, offering access to millions of books, searchable and sometimes downloadable. Students should master the advanced search features, be able to set up their own libraries, and be able to share, save, and organize what they find. Students should also know the other big book/content projects, Archive.org, the Hathi Trust, and Open Library.
- Zotero is a citation manager and so much more that helps tame the information overflow of the web. Students should be able to set up a Zotero account, sync their files, create Zotero items for items in multiple formats, create a library and share it with other Zotero users.
- Students should use an RSS reader to simplify keeping track of blogs and other changing information. (I love this Common Craft video, RSS Readers in Plain English. I have been using Google for this but I suspect there are better solutions. Should I recommend Feedly? Help me out here.
- Students need to be able to capture, edit, save and organize images. They should be able to use a digital camera to take notes in the archives, back up and share their photos online, and capture images from websites. My preferred tools are Picasa and Picnik.
- Dropbox is the preferred online backup for your files. Did I ever tell you about the friend whose laptop with two year's worth of dissertation research was stolen? Fortunately she had backed up her files--on disks that she kept in her laptop case. Don't let this happen to you.
- Twitter is an important source for finding sharing information and Tweetdeck seems to be the best management tool.
- Finally, I want to have a section about managing your online presence. Students should have a professional email address that is a recognizable version of their first and last names (and really, it should be Gmail), should have accounts at LinkedIn and Academia.edu, and should consider blogging and Tweeting--or least claiming their real name on Twitter if it is not too late. More importantly students should learn how not to leave incriminating evidence online. Future employers are not going to be impressed with how wasted you got in Cancun or by those photos of your new tattoo.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
A Digital Toolbox for Graduate Students in History
Readers, help me out here. What does a 21st century graduate student need to know in the way of digital tools and resources? I am trying to develop a presentation for incoming students in our graduate program in history. Here is my list so far, what should I add? I am trying to identify both tools and the minimum skill set that students should try to master with each.