Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
There have been many discussions and debates around the use of natural language versus approved, published subject terms to assist users in information retrieval. Social networking provides users with the ability to add their own terminology in the form of user created tags.
The process of users adding their own keyword terms is commonly called ‘social tagging’ and creates additional access points for online content such as cataloguing records, images, reviews, blog postings, and bookmarks. These tags allow users to search for and retrieve content that is categorised by common-use, natural language terms and phrases. Tags can be applied by the author at the time the content is created or later by others accessing the content depending on the availability of a tagging function.
To understand the terms folksonomy and taxonomy I turn to Vuorikari’s 2007 report Folksonomies, Social Bookmarking and Tagging: State-of-the-art which provides the following explanation “A folksonomy is most notably distinguished from a taxonomy in that the authors of the tagging system are often the main users, and sometimes originators of the content, to which the tags are applied. This differs from the classical library setting where professional librarians are in charge of cataloguing, i.e. adding metadata and keywords, but are not the main users of the cataloguing system, nor originators of the content.”
Social tagging through sites such as LibraryThing provides another layer of useful information that can be incorporated into library catalogues with the advent of LibraryThing for Libraries. It’s great to see traditional and formal accessibility being complemented by current and informal tags that users can create themselves to assist their information retrieval.
For those interested in the application of taxonomies and folksonomies in the wider context have a listen to this podcast featuring Stephanie Lemieux who is in the business of working with taxonomies to create intuitive search experiences for users.
TikiToki is a web app for creating interactive and attractive digital timelines. Each event on the timeline can include images, videos, notes and links to websites for further reading. The app is integrated with Flickr, Youtube and Vimeo so it is easy to add content from those sources, and when you finish you can share your creation with a unique link.
TikiToki’s design features allow you to colour-code events and insert an attractive background image on your timeline. The results are colourful, interesting and often stunning. Go here and here to see examples of how people are using Tiki Toki.
TikiToki would be a wonderful tool to use in the classroom or library. Students could create personal timelines about their own lives and their ancestors. They could also chart individual learning journeys, inserting images and videos of work, and enter text to reflect on what they learned. Charting the plot of a book, an important historical event or the lifestyle of a frog are examples of how students could use TikiToki to engage with the curriculum in any subject area.
Planning an event in the library? Use TikiToki to record your progress as you get ready for your next book week or read-a-thon and share the link with parents in an email or electronic newsletter. It’s also a great presentation tool to hook students when introducing new topics!
A Basic account, which allows you to create one timeline, is free. An Education account costs 100 USD a year, but includes one teacher and fifty student accounts and the option of embedding your timelines into your own site. This would be a useful feature if you have a school website or a library/class wiki or blog. Check out the TikiToki website for other account options.
How could you use TikiToki? What are some other good digital timeline tools?
Minutes.io is a quick, simple web app for taking and sharing meeting notes. Its easy to get started because you don't even have to sign up, just go straight to the website and start recording your notes.
The recorder enters the names and email addresses of whoever is at the meeting and then just starts typing. Each discussion point can be entered into the minutes and a dropdown menu allows you to categorise it as ‘To Do’, Okay, Info or Idea. You can then assign each point an owner so it is clear who is responsible for following up, and designate a due date.
When you have finished the meeting you click the mailbox icon in the upper left corner of the page and a message with a unique link to the minutes is sent to each participant. You can also copy the message to other addresses or print out a paper copy. This app is free and can be used with any web browser.
This would be a great tool for students to use while planning group projects. They could record ideas, designate and assign tasks, and make due dates clear. It would be easy to share notes quickly with group members who miss meetings and they could also share a copy with their teacher to record their progress. Teachers and librarians could also use minutes.io to record ideas and assign tasks during class discussions. This could be very valuable for big projects that involve lots of different students, due dates and jobs.
How could you use minutes.io in your classroom or library?
Show n’Tell. Screen captures, screen images, screencasts.
There are a plethora of new tools and software that can make this easy, engaging and provide valuable language and presentation skills for students.
Imagine a carefully constructed and clearly delivered tour of the different Dewey sections of your library or a ‘how to’ on using the catalogue with screen capture and annotations done by students.
Richard Byrne, the author of Show n’ Tell in School Library Monthly also has a great blog Free Technology for Teachers. Its current, practical and has great free downloads on video creation, using Google creatively and Web 2.0.
Is your digital life a mess? Do you open your bookmarks at work only to realise that the sites you need are saved on your home computer? Do you have lists, notes and images spread across your phone, your emails and your desktop?
Evernote can help.
Evernote is a free tool for taking notes and saving web pages, images, Tweets and voice memos. It is cloud-based, which means your information is not just saved on one machine; it is stored on the Evernote server and you can access your account from any device that connects to the web. You can see all of your information (or “notes”) on your work computer, your phone, your i-pad or at an Internet café in Shanghai.
For example, if you were researching e-readers you could create a folder (or “notebook”) in Evernote and save websites, images of your handwritten notes, Tweets from experts and video demonstrations from YouTube in the same place. If you put the Evernote mobile app on your Smartphone you could photograph different types of e-readers at the bookstore and save those images to the same notebook, along with comments about which model you liked best.
You can also use Evernote in the classroom and the library. Students doing research projects can easily save information and take notes as they examine sources online. They can collaborate on group projects and share class notes and links as well. Go here to see how one school is using Evernote and check out the other videos of students discussing how Evernote helps them with their studies.
You might also want to see how Buffy Hamilton at The Unquiet Librarian and her students are embracing all that Evernote has to offer.
Do you use Evernote? How do you keep your digital life organised?
flickr image by Shirley Williams
On 1 May, the results of the annual Technology Survey conducted by the School Library Journal (SLJ) showed a mix of responses among the 1,187 US school librarians who responded, with the emergence of some clear trends.
The number of e-books in US school libraries is growing, with 31% reporting that they have some in their collections already. The trend shows a jump in schools who plan to add e-books in the coming year.
Barriers to adding e-books include a lack of devices on which to read them, a confusing array of e-reader devices, the range of competing platforms, concerns about Digital Rights Management, and vendor practices that are not school-friendly.
There are four sets of charted results from the 2011 Technology Survey: Tools and Content; Going Mobile; E-Books; and Leadership. Click on each to see the graphed results.
Going Mobile explores to what extent mobile devices (including mobile phones) are allowed to be used in schools, and whether they are being used for instruction. There’s a clear difference here between public and private schools.
Read more…and enjoy how the infographics have been used to present the information.
Here in New Zealand Debbie Price-Ewen continues to lead the NZ e-Reader and e-Book Taskforce [ http://nzert.wikispaces.com/] wiki, worth joining if you want to keep abreast of this fast-changing scene.
flickr image by Frank Gruber
Educational libraries are transforming themselves into “learning commons”: centres of thinking and inquiry where students are supported to think widely and deeply across curriculum boundaries about the big questions that life throws up.
That’s the theory in a nutshell.
There is a considerable body of evidence that some foods can help our thinking processes. So should food consumption be allowed in the library? It’s a question that is being asked more and more frequently. A quick Google search will quickly reveal the question can evoke some pretty strong responses, from the traditional :“No, certainly not” to “Why not, if it will help me to succeed in my studies?”
For example, foods such as salmon, walnuts and kiwi fruit contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which provide many benefits to brain function, including improving learning and memory. Children who have increased amounts of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to perform better in school in reading and spelling and have fewer behavioural problems. Omega-3 is better from food than capsule supplements
Studying How Food Affects the Brain
flickr image by cjbvii
Examples of some other suggested “brain foods”:
It is a small next step to argue that students should be allowed to eat such foods while they are studying to assist their learning. James Trelease and Steven Krashan have commented on the value of eating and reading in the school library.
(Trelease, J & Krashen, S. (1996) Eating and reading in the school library. Emergency Librarian, 2 3(2), p27)
Against “It’s just not done!” “That crunching/ fishy/ eggy odour coming from next to me might help my neighbour to think but it certainly does not help me!” "Leaves a mess behind"…and so on
Food for thought…. an interesting inquiry topic maybe? What do you think?
In your school library you may well be a team of one or you may be in a vibrant team that includes a mix of staff - teachers as well as the library team. Either way, how do you get your good ideas heard? Everyone seems so busy, and time is precious.
Here's a checklist of 20 discussion starters that really work. Using any of these you are focusing on your idea, not looking for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer that would limit feedback – and you also aren’t asking whether they ‘like’ your idea.
In approaching someone you trust, you are looking for practical, useful feedback that can help you develop your idea further. You’re using a personal approach, and you value their time – but you’re avoiding emails and memos.
Take a look at The Heart of innovation site, and try out one or two of these techniques when you need to kick-start a great idea that you’d like to follow through in your school:
flickr image from ALA
Seen on Stephen Abram’s blog, Stephen’s Lighthouse.
Why do we need school libraries and how do libraries support students’ learning?
What will school libraries look like in the future? What roles will they play and what do library teams need in order to succeed?
These and many other vital questions were considered through an online discussion forum commissioned by the School Libraries and Information Literacy unit of the NSW Department of Education and Training.
The moderated blog discussion promoted background reading for participants through the 2009 Scan article: School libraries building capacity for student learning in 21C and the discussions took place during June – August 2009.
In this report of the School libraries 21C online discussion the posts relating to each topic area have been collated and analysed, and enable the reader to construct an insightful picture of diverse thoughts about school libraries.
Key themes include equity of access, the school library as learning commons and the importance of “a focus on learning action, rather than information provision.” (p. 8). As in the New York Libraries study leadership and modelling innovative learning were identified as key strategies for the library team.
The report noted a low response to providing examples of outcomes based evidence and highlighted the pivotal role of evidence-based practice and strategic interventions to ensure a high profile for the school library.
The responses are also summarised here:
School Libraries 21C: the conversation begins.
Watch this space for discussion about the report’s recommendations
The librarian at the Washington International School (WIS) was presented with a rare opportunity – to take an active role in helping plan a brand new media centre, as part of a five-year redesign of the school.
Alan November, in his website November Learning, describes how the development of their concepts proceeded. The librarian knew ‘how a properly designed space, one that thoughtfully integrated online learning, and collaboration and content creation among students, would serve the entire school community well into the future. So she invited me to meet with her, the school’s headmaster, IT director, and lead architect in what was an incredibly exciting opportunity for me to get in on building a true 21st Century school.’
Looking at the draft plans, Alan November found what he called a ‘new/old’ library design. Presenting the development team with a challenge, he invited them to look ahead 10 years and imagine what kind of space might be needed, given the changes in how students will access and use information to support new ways of learning – including self-directed, online learning.
You can read more here:
http://novemberlearning.com/resources/archive-of-articles/designing-libraries/ (Word doc)
or http://novemberlearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/designing-libraries-learning-for-a-lifetime.pdf (as a PDF)
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