Reference Management Tools

When I started my doctoral project in 2009 I did not use any sort of reference management tools. Instead I had elaborate, unwieldy Word Documents that got messier and messier with each chapter. My dissertation, “Homeliness and Worldliness: Materiality and the Making of New Netherland and New York, 1609-1750” critically investigated the intersecting topics of domestic interiors, women’s history, cultural production and global consumption to explore how Dutch colonial projects intellectually imagined and physically built homes overseas.

One of the maps cited in my dissertation, Nicolaes Visscher, Novi Belgii Novæque Angliæ: nec non partis Virginiæ tabula multis in locis emendata (1685).

Needless to say, I wish I would have known then what I know now about reference management tools. In the hour that I have been using it Zotero has proved to be a relatively easy to use, and efficient tool for helping me cite my sources.

See attached for a short paragraph I wrote and cited using my new found Zotero tools!

Evaluating online sources

Source evaluation–the determination of information quality–is something of an art.  (Robert Harris 2018)

The sheer volume of information available can make evaluating online resources daunting. In “Evaluating Internet Research Sources,” Robert Harris makes the case for adopting a skeptical attitude toward the extremely wide variety of material on the internet. He makes one analogy I was particularly fond of, suggesting that in order to corroborate information, one must become a discerning conoisseur:

In the art world, several paintings by Vincent van Gogh have sold for more than 50 million dollars each. At such a price, there muist be the temptation for unscrupulous people to paint forgeries. So  how can the buyers be confident that they are getting a genuine Van Gogh? The answer is provenance. Provenance is a list of previous owners, tracing back to the original buyer from Van Gogh himself. Provenance answers the critical question, “Where did this painting come from?” (Harris 2013).

File:Vincent van Gogh's famous painting, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com  2.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Vincent van Gogh, Irises (1889) digitally enhanced, original from the J. Paul Getty Museum. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Harris also provides a CARS handy nemonic device for source evaluation, reminding researchers to consider:

CCredibility (trustworthy source, author’s credentials, organizational support, known or respected authority)
AAccuracy (up to date, factual, detailed, exact, comprehensive, audience and purpose reflect intentions of completeness)
RReasonableness (fair, balanced, objective, reasoned, no conflict of interest, absence of fallacies or slanted tone)
SSupport (listed sources, contact information, available corroboration, claims supported, documentation supplied)
Adapted from Harris (2013)

For my research I selected Matthew Bloom’s “Assessing the Impact of ‘Open Pedagogy’ on Student Skills Mastery in First-Year Composition,” in Open Praxis (2019).

As a faculty member and OER scholar at Maricopa community College, Bloom proves to be an authoritative source, and he published his findings in a reliable, peer-reviewed journal. It appeared recently (2019) meaning it is reasonably up to date, and has detailed analysis of the experiment and findings. Furthermore Bloom seems to be aware of any issues in the methodology demonstrating he has engaged with the subject thoughtfully and has been truthful in considering the impact of his assessment. Finally with a comprehensive list of references he provides convincing evidence for the claims made and other sources to support and document his research.

My selected article easily meets the criteria proposed by Harris in his test of source credibility, The CARS Checklist for Information Quality.

#LiDA101 #DigitalLiteracy #diglit #opened #oer #oep

Bloom, M. (2019). Assessing the Impact of “Open Pedagogy” on Student Skills Mastery in First-Year Composition. Open Praxis, 11(4), 343-353. doi:

Harris, R. (2013, December 27). Evaluating Internet Research Sources. Retrieved from http: //

Digital literacies 101

As an art historian we often talk about visual literacies or the ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image, this builds upon the typical meaning of literacy which typically refers to written or printed text.

I think in many ways there are parallels between visual literacy and digital literacy, especially when it comes to critical thinking. The metaphor I have been thinking about is that a visual skill would be to be able to draw what you see, but a visual literacy would be to understand the history of drawing, compare it to other drawings, and think critically about what it could mean or signify.

According to one of my favorite scholars, Maha Bali, “Digital skills would focus on which tool to use (e.g. Twitter) and how to use it (e.g. how to tweet, retweet, use TweetDeck), while digital literacy would include in-depth questions: When would you use Twitter instead of a more private forum? Why would you use it for advocacy? Who puts themselves at risk who they do so?” (Bali, 2016, p. 2).

For me digital literacies are the ability to interpret, negotiate, make meaning from, and think critically about information presented digitally and our relationship to it.

Part of analyzing my own digital literacy was to create a map of my personal learning network (PLN):

Ironically part of my plan for improving my digital literacy is to cut back on my screen time. I would like to be more intentional about the types of apps and social media I consume. Being more strategic in how and when I use digital tools and thinking critically about why I use them, and when they will help me connect with people versus disassociate, will ultimately improve my digital literacies.

#LiDA101 #personallearningnetworks #personallearningenvironments #pln #ple #lida101blog #lida101challenge

Bali, Maha. 2016, Feb. “Knowing the Difference Between Digital Skills and Digital Literacies, and Teaching Both.” Retrieved from 2016/02/03/knowing-the-difference-between-digital-skills-and-digital-literacies-and- teaching-both

Declaration for LiDA 101

Hi! Alena here! One of my main goals for this blog over the next few weeks is to support my learning in Digital Literacies for Online Learning (#LiDA101). I have used a blog in previous courses I have taken including the Provincial Instructor’s Diploma Program through Vancouver Community College and more recently their Certificate for Online/eLearning Instruction.

I do enjoy blogging but often find it challenging to fit into my busy schedule. I also really like the activity because like this semester I do typically assign some sort of blog project to my students and it is good for me to be able to do what I am asking them to do!

On to learning more about digital literacies! #LiDA101


This week I started a new course called Digital Literacies for Online Learning one of four micro courses in a series on Learning in a Digital Age offered through the OERu. One of our first assignments was a #photochallenge in which we had to share a selfie of us using digital technology or something that made us think about learning in the digital age. I picked this selfie of me in a mask because the pandemic has truly been a catalyst for me to explore new technologies. And I am totally going to borrow this challenge for one of my courses! Much like the #artinquarantine activity I have designed it is a fun way for learners to build community and share perspectives of digital literacies and learning in a digital world! #oer #oep #sotl #sotlah #education #openarthistories #arthistory #langara #lida101 #lida101photo #photochallenge