Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week Two

This week I am identifying and evaluating a few online resources related to the brain and learning. Two websites and a neat little search tool are reviewed.

I began the identification process by using the search phrase "online journals brain and learning" in the Google search engine. I knew this would return many results, and the search produced over two million, from which I selected several from the top ranking ones. In contrast to this very general approach, I also used a specialized Google search through a custom search box that is described below. I used "brain and learning" as the search phrase, and it produced around 270 articles from Ebsco's database of journals; refining the search terms further to "brain and learning theory" narrowed Ebsco's results to six high quality citations. Finally, I used Walden University's online library to see their database subscriptions.

Serendip has a large amount of information. By selecting "brain and behavior" on the main page, you reach a directory which lets you choose from items such as "free will," "nervous system basics," and "education." Each of these contains multiple types of information. The Education link includes interactive forums and numerous resources. Clicking on "Brain and Education: Thinking about New Directions," allows you to choose between a forum or a section with full-text articles, web talks, related websites, programs, foundations, and additional lists of links. I sampled the articles on the site by reading one by Pat Wolfe,which encouraged educators to apply critical standards to the evaluation of brain-related findings before introducing them to the classroom. I found the above website and the one reviewed in the paragraph below to be helpful in explaining the brain and learning, and also in locating additional materials on related topics.

Brain Connection is another site with many valuable materials of different types. It apparently is provided by the brain software company Posit Science. You can subscribe to a monthly newsletter, "Brain Fitness News," choose articles from headings such as "reading," or "learning" in their library section, play brain games/illusions, read reviews of books and websites, and there is a section for purchasing related products.

A specialized search tool is available from Google to do custom searches. I learned about it from the Disruptive Library Technology Jester (DLTJ) blog referenced in week one's posting. One of the databases which the Walden University Library and thousands of other libraries subscribe to is Ebsco. It provides journal articles in groupings such as Academic Premier and Academic Complete. Within the last few years, Ebsco introduced Ebscohost Connections to make some content available online from its databases in the form of brief citations which are included in the results lists of Google and other search engines. You can,in addition to viewing citations--a time saver in itself, actually click through to your own library's database to view the full text article. The only drawbacks to this tool are that (1)the library has to opt in before the service is available to its patrons, and (2)the results rarely show up in a general search; there are solutions to both of these. If your library subscribes to Ebsco, ask them to participate in this project; and if you would like to see the Ebscohost Connections showing in your results, try the following: I found this link to a search box created by Tom Pasley and posted on his blog. You can use it to very easily create custom searches using Ebscohost Connections on Google.

Wolfe, P. Brain research and education: fad or foundation? Retrieved from


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