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Showing posts from March, 2012

Online research warning: Your results may vary

By Trudy Dunham

How do you search for research-based information? How do you find out about the topics you need to know as a professional? How well do you know the tools you use to search? Perhaps not as well as you think you do.

If you are like most people today, you rely in part on the Internet as a research tool. More specifically, you rely on a search engine such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. What are your expectations of these tools?

We know to carefully check out our online sources. Anyone can publish online, so we check that the source is identified, credible and current. But we assume that the most relevant and representative of what is known is going to show up on page one of the search results. And we assume that the search I conduct will result in the same resources as yours, as long as we use the same search terms. And that the computer or mobile device used is irrelevant to the research results.

We can no longer make these assumptions. The algorithms used today by search e…

5 simple steps toward publishing

Are you looking to publish, but don't know how to proceed? Too often lack of time, confidence or discipline gets in the way. Good ideas languish, important work goes unshared, and contributions go unrecognized. I've had my share of good and bad publishing experiences, benefited from amazing mentors, and picked up a few lessons along the way.

Here are five simple steps to get you moving toward the sometimes daunting process of publishing:
Present at conferences. Conferences force you to develop and articulate ideas for future articles. Posters and presentations provide a forum to get ideas out and gain valuable feedback. If you get in the habit of presenting regularly, you build in a structure (deadlines!) for generating new topics and keeping your writing moving forward.
Enlist buddies. Writing doesn't have to be isolating - recruit writing partners. This might mean writing collaboratively, inviting colleagues to be reviewers, or creating a writing support group. Let…

Can learning make people happy?

Do you ever get involved in something so deeply that nothing else seems to matter, and you lose track of time? If you answered yes to that question, then you have experienced flow.

Flow describes a sense of effortless spontaneous action that people feel in moments that stand out as some of the best in their lives. The concept stems from the seminal research of Mihály Csikszentmihalyi.

He found that most people are happy when they are in that state of flow - a state of concentration or complete absorption in the activity at hand. Athletes call it "being in the zone." Artists and musicians describe it as being passionately focused on their creative work. Children experience it when they are fully engrossed in their play.

What does flow have to do with learning? Well, the experience of flow can serve as a magnet for learning -- that is, a draw for developing new levels of challenges and abilities. The learning environments found in youth work can offer prime opportunities to f…

Is youth work worth it? Not without adequate compensation and professional development

Last month my fellow bloggers asked, "How can we reinforce the belief that youth work is a career and not just a pipeline for other professions?" The answer is complex. But one key is money, and perhaps in the current economic climate, this question is the elephant in the room: Is professional development or advancement in the field worth the investment without adequate compensation?

My opinion is that it isn't. Passion and commitment to youth motivate youth workers to enter the field. However, to retain them, there is a clear need for increased compensation commensurate with advances in training, education, and job title. Otherwise, for many, it's just not worth it to stay.

First, the good news: some have found creative ways to meet this need.

Vermont offers professional recognition bonuses for achieving certificates, credentials, and degrees.The After School Corporation in New York, in addition to offering academic support and assisting with finding scholarshi…