Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Solve One Problem, Create Another

My students used to email me all the time for database passwords.  Even though I had them listed in our intranet, which was easily linked to our web page, many students seemed unable to deal with those steps. It was somehow easier to email me and wait for a response. That was fine for several years.

Then I found out about EZproxy, which allows the students to log into all the databases with their regular school user name and password! Voila, I thought, problem solved! no more emails!
It turns out I created a problem that might just be a stumbling block in getting the students to use the databases.

confused arrows
image: confused arrows by massdistraction 

When bookmarking the database articles (or saving/sharing  the URL in diigo, google docs, Word, NoodleTools, etc), if you save the permalink, durable link, bookmark, or whatever the database calls the link to go back to for the saved article, the bookmarked web address doesn't have the right prefix to the url that would give the students access from home. So, they have to put a prefix on the URL to get back to the article. I am not sure how many of my students are running into this problem, but I see it could happen more and more with all the collaborative GoogleDoc work going on at my school.
Now, all my LibGuides have this information:
Often you will want to save a link to an article in GoogleDocs or bookmark an article to DiigoEvernote, or another information organizer.You access our databases through EZproxy, which allows you to use your Brentwood School login. In order to save URLs or bookmarks for future use, please follow these instructions: 
1. In the database look for a link called Bookmark or Permalink. If the database offers these types of permanent links, those are best to use. Otherwise copy and paste the URL  (Gale and ProQuest have these special links to their pages. ABC Clio and SIRS do not). 
2. When accessing your saved links from home, put the following in front of your link:, a link to an Encyclopedia Britannica article would look like this: 
3. If you are having trouble, try opening the database first, and then click on your saved link. 
4. If you are still having trouble, contact Ms. Abarbanel for help.

Did I just create something even more complicated than teaching how to access the database passwords? Which is more complicated for 7-12 grades? And teaching the faculty how to link to an article is a whole other can of worms. I certainly can't teach it both ways. I have to pick a way and publicize it. Which is better? Do you use EZproxy? How do you deal with it? Am I missing something?


  1. We have not run into this problem here at the MS. I am wondering if the US has to deal with this.
    Now, I am thinking about how to solve this issue. Initially, it seems a whole lot easier just learning the logins/passwords...but I am not sure. I wonder what students are thinking about it...

  2. Maybe we could talk to our programming teachers to get a student to write code for an "EZproxy link builder" that could automate the process of adding the EZProxy prefix to the permalink. Copy/Paste the permalink into the widget then copy/paste the code that comes out into your shared Google Doc. Not perfect, but I don't see our middle schoolers being willing to read through the full directions no matter how clear they may be.

  3. I have seen some colleges have that - I link generator.. I think I am wanting to go back to the old method of using different passwords. The linking and bookmarking is easier. But really, our kids aren't sharing links using diigo, etc, much. I just want to teach social bookmarking and I don't think spending a day on how to bookmark databases is worth our time..Does this come up
    when teaching evernote or do you just have them clip the whole page?

  4. On balance, for us, EZProxy is still by far the better option. After we employed it, our database statistics skyrocketed. I hadn't realized how much kids were Googling around us for content simply because it was too much trouble to deal with all the passwords. Honestly, I've also seen kids just copy/paste full-text or sections from database articles and emailed to partners or copy/pasted directly into the shared document. Not elegant, but functional...