GURU INTERVIEW: KATHY SCHROCK
Kathleen Schrock (firstname.lastname@example.org), creator of Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators (http://discoveryschool.com/schrockguide/)
Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District,
S. Yarmouth, MA
Marylaine: How did you get from media specialist to internet guru?
Kathy: In November of 1993 I was the library media specialist for an 800-
student, grades 4-8 middle school. When I first went on the text-
based Internet (pre-Web), I quickly realized that there were lots of
Gopher sites that would be handy for the teachers and students in
my school. Being the terminally left-brained learner, I jotted down the info on
sites onto the backs of old card catalog cards and filed them by
subject in a card file box. Wherever I went, people were always
anxious to see the box for some new sites.
In June of 1995, we finally got an ISP on the Cape and access to
the graphical Internet was no longer a toll call. The owner of the ISP knew
of my little box (now grown to 400 Web and Gopher sites) and told
me that if I learned HTML he would host the pages for me. So,
using Laura Lemay's first book, I taught myself HTML and created
I have worked on the site for at least 2 hours each day since June
of 1995 (5-6am and 9-10pm), and try to add at least one new site
each day. The maintenance, URL checking, and HTML is still all
coded by hand, by me, so there is a lot of time spent doing that,
I find new sites all over the place, and now get at least 10
submitted to me each day by people who would like their sites to
be listed. I look at each one, and evaluate it with the 26 criteria that
I use to add a site to the Guide [see http://www.classroom.com/resource/articles/weval.pdf for those criteria], and now there are over 1600 links.
I have also added original content (evaluation guides, slide
shows, newsletter, etc.) that teachers often use.
Marylaine: What to you are the hallmarks of a good educational web site?
Kathy: A good educational Web site is one that is
authoritative, applicable, non-biased, content-rich, and easy-to-
navigate. Even if it is none of those things, if it contains the answer
to the question, then it is the "best" site of the moment!
Marylaine: Do you have a written selection policy?
Kathy: No. I have been doing this long enough and know enough
educators to know when something is useful for teachers.
Marylaine: I didn't see anything in your descriptions indicating age level
for web sites. What's your thinking on this kind of guidance?
Kathy: I have not thought about dividing along grade level or reading level
lines since even a site meant for younger kids can be used by high
schoolers. I want the teacher to decide if the information is useful
as introductory or enhancement material. I think they are the
experts at that, and would not like to imply that I am!
Marylaine: I notice that you link to a number of adult-level sites which
might link to sites that would be inappropriate for children. Given the
flap over ALA linking to the Go Ask Alice web site, is the issue of "where
might they go from here" a concern to you? Or do you assume the use of
Kathy: I never assume filtering, since I am opposed to filtering. The
site was never intended for kids to use. I am hoping that teachers are
provisioning and conducting a reading level survey (that's why I got
permission to include the Fry information from McGraw-Hill), or
they are using the information as background information for their
own purposes, or they are bookmarking the information for their
Marylaine: Has the worldwide attention and praise your site has gotten
surprised you? And how have your superiors responded to the extraordinary fame you've brought them?
Kathy: Yes. I never thought the site would be so widely used or
well-thought of. I love the attention! They are very proud and are always bragging about this mention here or that award there...
Marylaine: How do you keep current? What do you read, what web sites do
you regularly visit, what listserves are you on, what conferences do you attend?
Kathy: I'm not on any listservs. I attend NECC [National Educational Computing Conference] and and FETC [FETC- Florida Educational Technology Conference],
and this year am attending TIES [Technology and Information Educational Services (Minnesota)] for the first time. I present a lot via
PictureTel/Vtel because I cannot travel all the time. I read
everything from home computer magazines to educational
periodicals and journals and subject-specific publications (like the
National Science Teachers Association pubs), and I regulary visit NetHappenings and some of the
other educational portals on the Net.
Marylaine: What question did I not ask that you'd like to answer, to share your knowledge with other school media specialists?
Kathy: I would just like them to
remember, when the technology becomes overwhelming, to reflect on the
fact that, even before technology, we library media specialists were
trained to locate and evaluate information for support of the
curriculum, we learned how to conduct a reference interview to
narrow down the topic, and we learned Boolean searching before it
became "fashionable". Now, everyone else needs these same
skills, and we have to help both our peers and students all learn
how to become information consumers.
Marylaine: Thanks, Kathy. I appreciate your taking the time to do this.
The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters.
You are welcome to copy and distribute or e-mail any of my own articles (but not those by my guest writers) as long as you retain this copyright statement:
Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999.