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June 2016

Images in a developing online collection.

Introducing the Online Learning Lab

An exciting new technology is coming to your classroom! Last week, the Smithsonian Institution launched their new Online Learning Lab. The Lab gives anyone access to the Smithsonian’s digital collections, including millions of digitized images, videos, artifacts, and documents. Following the Lab’s “discover, create, share” model, items in the collections can be organized, annotated, and remixed according to your imagination. Have a topic you’re interested in? Create a collection for yourself or to share with friends, like the one I created about my home-sweet-home: Nevada.

Images in a developing online collection.

Creating my collection in the Smithsonian’s Online Learning Lab.

While it’s a fun tool for exploring personal interests, the Online Learning Lab was created for teachers with the help of teachers and is intended to be used in K-12 as well as higher education classrooms. You can use the Lab to give students access to customized collections, including your original annotations, quizzes, and assignments. Students can also create their own collections, making this the perfect tool for a digital exhibit assignment. And even as you add your own annotations and titles, you won’t lose or overwrite the Smithsonian’s excellent metadata so you don’t have to worry about endangering the knowledge of one of our nation’s most venerable institutions.

The Smithsonian is presenting the Online Learning Lab this week at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference. Even if you weren’t able to make it to Denver for the conference, you can still get started with this incredibly fun and easy tool. So, what are you waiting for? Your class could be on the cutting edge.


Graphic Novels Are Books, Too!

A few weeks ago, I told a few teenagers, who had expressed disinterest in reading, that graphic novels are books, too.   I mean, you have to read them to understand the story, though not in the same way that you would traditionally think about reading.  Part of the experience of reading isn’t just reading the words.  Sure, words are important.  Bad writing can lead to disinterest and frustration; and beautiful writing can elevate the reading experience.  However, there is a something else going on as you process the words on the page – you’re discovering the narrative, analyzing character motivations, and becoming emotionally involved.

Image of a young woman reading a book on a chair. Text: Book hangover: Inability to start a new book because you're still living in the last book's worldGraphic novels have fewer words, but the words they do have  – often in the form of thought and speech bubbles – are important in developing the story and giving insight into the characters.   The artwork, including decisions on how to organize and frame the panels, informs mood and emotions that must be interpreted through a different sort of process – a visual one that “reads” the images.

In the past 10 years, I’ve seen an explosion in the popularity, variety, and availability of graphic novels in the US.  Rather than a genre, it has become more of a format and a more widely acceptable one at that.  Graphic novels used to take up about half a shelf in bookstores and in public libraries; now there are multiple bookcases worth in these places.  Graphic novels have helped reluctant readers to more positively engage with reading and develop literacy skills.  They have also become a teaching tool in the classroom.

Shelves of graphic novels

Photo by Morebyless (CC BY 2.0)

Here are some graphic novels available at Wheelock:

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang ; color by Lark Pien. Three stories about the problems of young Chinese Americans.

A + E 4ever : A Graphic Novel by I. Merey. Coming of age story about two lonely gender non-conforming teens who meet and form a friendship.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers.  A story of a teenage boy on trial for his supposed role as lookout in a murder.

Rapunzel’s revenge by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale ; illustrated by Nathan Hale.  In this Old West retelling, Rapunzel saves herself and gets of out sticky situations using her hair as a lasso.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson.  Story of a young girl who signs up for roller derby camp and is struggling with spending the summer apart from her best friend.

Images of 5 book covers. From L to R: 1. a boy and girl sleeping facing each other 2. a lone young black teenager 3. a chinese boy with a robot 4. A boy and a girl with very long hair 5. A girl with blue hair on skates

Looking for more?  A fan of English-translated Japanese graphic novels like I am?  The Wheelock community has access to the Boston Public Library and its many branches and to the Brookline Public Library.  Just bring in your Wheelock ID and they will hook you up.  I recommend Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama for those interested in bleak yet compelling post-apocalyptic stories and Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya for lighter fare.
Cover of the first volume of Fruits Basket. Cover features a high school girl with long brown hair surrounding by orbs containing the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac

For those interested in how graphic novels work in the classroom, check out our blog post from 4 years ago and the below books:

An cover image inspired by Superman; a man peeling open his white shirt to reveal the words, "The Graphic Novel Classroom".

The Graphic Novel Classroom POWerful Teaching and Learning with Images. Available online at Wheelock.

Image of a teacher standing in front of a blackboard pointing a stick to the dialogue box: Class, Please Open your Comics

Class, Please Open Your Comics : Essays on Teaching with Graphic Narratives / Edited by Matthew L. Miller. Available online at Wheelock


What is an ILL?

ILL is a term that we use a lot here in access services and it means interlibrary loan, which refers to an item that you borrow from a library other than Wheelock College Library through our increasingly popular ILL service.What is ILL.svg

Through several partnerships, Wheelock College Library is able to offer you access to books, articles, media, and more from nearby libraries like Simmons College Library and from far away libraries in places like California or Alaska.  The best part is the library generally does not charge you for these loans, so we can literally and affordably provide you access to resources from anywhere in the United States.

To make use of our ILL service, you can use our online catalog to see if a book you need is available in FLO.  If it is, you can follow these steps to place the request yourself.

If the book you need is not in FLO or if what you need is an article, then you can use our ILL request forms.  We have one for books and one for articles.  Once you submit your request, a library staff member will find a library somewhere in the country that owns the item and is willing to lend it or scan it.

Physical ILL items generally arrive in 3-5 business days depending on where the library sending the item is located and you will get an email when they arrive directing you to the 1st floor service desk to retrieve the item.  Scans can arrive as early as 24 hours and are directly delivered to your Wheelock College email.  We always recommend placing requests early in case they take longer than usual.

So, the next time you need an item to complete your research or even if you are looking to get your hands on a good summer read, remember you have access to library resources that extend beyond Wheelock’s campus and even beyond Massachusetts!

Have you used our ILL service before?  Share your experience in the comments below.


A screencapture of the Wheelock at Worcester Research Guide from the Wheelock College Library.

Welcome, Wheelock@Worcester MSW students!

I want to extend a warm welcome to our newest cohort of Advanced Standing MSW students in the Wheelock@Worcester program!  The Wheelock College Library is here for you as you begin your studies with intensive summer classes.

To learn about what we can offer you, take a look at the library guide we created.

A screencapture of the Wheelock at Worcester Research Guide from the Wheelock College Library.

Throughout your program, you will need to conduct research for your papers and projects.  Whether you are writing a policy analysis, a literature review, or a treatment plan, you will need to find outside sources of information.  The library is here to help you access the information you need!

Get in touch with us early to find out how we can help you with a specific assignment.  You can call us (617-879-2222), email us (library@wheelock.edu), or chat with us by using the yellow box on the library home page.  This kind of on-demand help is available every day that the library is open, from noon until closing!

You can also set up an appointment to meet with me, Maric Kramer, over phone or Skype.  In these one-on-one appointments, we’ll first talk about your assignment and your goals, and then we will work together to find the information you’ll need to:

  • inform yourself and others,
  • advocate for clients and communities, and
  • support evidence-based practice.

The Wheelock College Library has the people and resources you need to succeed in your MSW program.  So get in touch with us!  We look forward to hearing from you.