Creating a Search Filtering Service for Finding Educational Apps (An Idea)

It has taken me a while to get into blogging once again as I have found that this really isn’t a format that I enjoy. Currently my process is: write, read, delete, rewrite, delete, write, read, delete. I’m hoping that once I write and publish this post that the others will come more naturally.

Funnily, I have posted different blog posts before this one, mainly I think because this one no longer feels relevant to the course (however something that still interests me greatly).

This is my first post that I’ve written since coming back this term (that I have written a few times now) and it has been a reflection that has come from Kathy Schrock’s blog post Bloomin’ Apps. She has organised a range of apps to support the different stages of thinking based on Bloom’s Taxonomy, also separating the apps based on software (IOS, Android, web-based).

This had me thinking as to how to best create an index to all applications available to students and teachers for teaching and learning activities.

I would like to think of this as something similar to an ecommerce website, where our customers (students and teachers) are able to browse several applications, filter through the different ‘products’ and find something that it relevant and useful to their task.

Something I found impressive in Schrock’s index was her thoughtful design. She ensured that it was easy to read, that apps were separated into specific categories and that all apps had a clear icon, all of which were hyperlinked.

The way that she organised the apps was obviously not like an ecommerce website, but I did consider some things that have frustrated me from various websites and considerations that could be applied to the concept of an ecommerce style search filtering app finder.

There are a few things that I would like to talk about in terms of creating a search filter for apps. I will be giving examples from a range of ecommerce websites and discuss the issue and how it can be adapted to suit the library space.

Continue reading “Creating a Search Filtering Service for Finding Educational Apps (An Idea)”

Case Study 1

Before attempting to tackle this case study, I watched the Adobe meeting on the topic. I noticed throughout the meeting that a lot of others commented that blocking out several hours would be beneficial as creating a non-negotiable work time would be essential in getting through most of the work.

Now although I have not had too much experience within schools, I have noticed that no matter what something or someone will come find you and although you have the best intentions, it just may not be possible for block-out time to feasibly work.

One of the ideas that I like that came from the meeting was setting rules for the email inbox. I use this at work currently for auto-generated emails and it works a well. I think that if these rules are set up, where perhaps newsletters and updates are sent to a specific folder, emails from executive staff, teaching staff and library staff are sent to their folders, it would allow the weeding of non-essential from essential emails to go much more smoothly.

In addition to this, having the staff email their monthly report to you with a specific subject title such as ‘Monthly Report 0819 – Peta’ would allow for ease of finding staff reports and determining what information you are missing. If this is the case, I would suggest changing the due date to be be Thursday, for you to have time to look through the emails on Friday and begin setting up meetings with the staff before Wednesday the following week.

In terms of the physical papers in the in-tray, unfortunately that is something that needs to be looked at straight away. A system should be set up so that as soon as an item appears it is immediately filed into a certain matrix quadrant (linked by Christy Roe in the Connect meeting). This Skills You Need Matrix is useful as it allows one to understand that although something may be urgent, it is able to be filed as something to ‘do later,’ as some tasks may be urgent but the urgency is a week away rather than mere hours.

Another great idea that came from the meeting was delegating the work and sharing the chair. I think that the first meeting that could be chaired by someone else could be the Literacy Committee Meeting. This meeting could be chaired by Shelley, and although she is digitally resistant, she is committed to the literature promotion program that she runs and therefore would hopefully be open to new ways of assisting students to raise their literacy skills. She is passive aggressive toward you and this added responsibility could help ease the tension. 

In terms of the minutes and agenda for the Project Meeting Intranet Development Committee, this should be created and organised via an online sharing document such as GoogleDocs. This would mean that as soon as the school secretary had created the document it is automatically shared. This also allows anyone in the meeting to take minutes or add to the agenda. You should include your budgeting ideas on this shared document as part of the agenda. Lydia or Allison should perhaps be the ones to chair this meeting.

A GoogleDoc would also be beneficial for the Literacy Committee Meeting.

I think that setting the Noah issue as a high priority, especially if the previous year’s appraisal was negative, would allow you to have serious discussion with him upon improvement. If improvement does not occur it would give you the opportunity to find a new, well suited, senior school technician.

Finally, the last thing from the meeting that I thought was valuable, would be to include Malia in the appointment with Paul Baird and Derek. This would give her additional experience in the field and ensure that Derek is not the only one with experience in network configurations.

Four Points Activity

What was the library of Alexandria considered in Ancient times and how does this reflect a modern school library?

To store scrolls ad as a repository for knowledge > to store information of various formats and as a repository for knowledge

Where academics, ordinary citizens and scholars could meet, listen and discuss matters of note > Where teachers, students and the community can experience teaching and learning opportunities

Where scholars and people could petition the library to find information > Where students and teachers can gain assistance to search for and find information

Where the publishing of information and creative works occurred > Where the publishing of information and creative works of students can occur and be displayed

Reference Materials

Farmer (2014) seems particularly invested in print-based forms of reference materials within the school library. They bring up important points when considering digital resources, I think other than technical issues the most interesting point that they have highlighted is that around subscription based services which – once funding is impossible – leaves the library with no resource.

I understand the usefulness of maintaining subscription based services as it allows the library to have a vast array of resources without the need to store the information (either physically or digitally). This would be especially useful in a high school, where the range in classes that students take, particularly in senior years, is broad and may need specialised content. However, the ephemerality of a subscription services does pose a problem.

Perhaps, the teacher librarian can determine the most popular subjects, the subjects who use the resources most and those who need specialised references and then balance the budgeting with these preferences and purchase these resources (in whichever format is preferred) in a more permanent state.

Generally though, I think that digital resources would be more beneficial than print within a high school, as these are the types of resources that students are using more and more often now and in the future. I also think that focusing on a strong digital collection will mean that the TL is able to show students what good reference materials look like, especially with a student’s ability to Google information at a drop of a hat. Guiding students to quality resources that they can confidently include in their tasks with build better habits for their futures.

 

References

Farmer, L. S. (2014). Introduction to reference and information services in today’s school library. Retrieved from http:///ebookcentral.proquest.com

Part C: Reflective Practice

Something that really frustrated me whilst moving through the module on information literacy was the lack of a singular definition of information literacy. However, when I read FitzGerald’s Guided Inquiry in Practice (2015), I found myself coming to understand that the reason for this absence is in the concept’s ability to move with technological growth and thus remain open to new and unseen possibilities. In my blogpost Information Literacy, Inquiry Learning and Impact I define information literacy as “the ability to obtain useful and trustworthy information for their intended purpose,” which I believe can be used to consider then the purpose of Information Literacy.

Our students are living in an information rich world where they constantly have access to factual information within reach. Although this information may be useful to answer a question such as “What’s the weather?” or “What movie were they in again?” it does not allow for deep, critical thinking, thinking that is needed for our students to become keen participants of this globalised world. In my blogpost, The Technological Age: Then and Now (and Later), I explore the set reading from Floridi (2007) who discusses the unstoppable reality of discrimination occurring between those who are information rich and those who are information poor (p. 62). I saw this last term when I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to obtain a temporary contract to teach full time at a school in my area. This school, had its own BYOD policy which most students (particularly in the senior stages) took advantage of. Noticing this, I set a task similar to that of the theoretical invasive species task that Maniotes and Kuhthau (2014) describe in their article. I suffered from “Traditional Research Syndrome” and had students research the author and influential events that inspired the novel we were to study (p.9). I was shocked by the shallow responses of these students who were supposedly ‘digital natives,’ Trisha in her post on the 5.b Convergence forum supports this in her experiences, and suggests assessing student skill through creating an assessment with the General Capabilities as its outcomes. Although these students are surrounded by technology daily, the do not have the information literacy necessary to “obtain useful and trustworthy information for their intended purpose.” I appreciate Maniotes and Kuhthau (2014, p.9) noting that “schools of education teachers do not learn… about the research process,” which allowed me to accept the failure of the task and now with my new knowledge, work to develop these skills in my students.

To develop the information literacy of my students (now in the mindset of a teacher librarian, rather than a classroom teacher) I must work to acknowledge my role in teaching other classroom teachers of the proven ways to develop information literacy – inquiry learning. As a leader within in the school I must collaborate with other staff members to create inquiry units. I found a chapter written by Edwards (2017) particularly enlightening, as discussed in Relatable Literature, where she explores the experience of planning and implementing a guided inquiry unit at a school for the first-time . She discusses the cross-curricular benefits of the unit as it allowed students to gain credit to pass in multiple subjects as well as the supportive team needed to make the unit possible. The adjectives that Edwards (2017) uses to describe the relationship between the teachers (to each other and the students) were “patient, understanding and flexible,” these words reminded me of the responsibility and role of the teacher librarian that Lamb (2011) describes in her article, for the teacher librarian to build trust with their teaching communities (p.30).

Edwards (2017) describes the implementation of the Guided Inquiry Model when discussing the inquiry learning scenario she made for her students. I had become attached to this model after reading FitzGerald (2015) and Maniotes and Kuhthau’s (2014) guides to GI and could not understand why someone would choose the other – less researched – models instead. That was until Judy responded to a comment in the 5.3b Guided Inquiry forum, focusing on the need for the teacher librarian to choose the correct model for the school’s context. The GID process works well in a high school setting due to the possibilities of cross curricular collaboration in unit development, as spoken about by Edwards (2017), however not all schools have the resources (such as primary schools with a singular classroom teacher) needed to plan and implement GID inquiry learning units to effective results.

 

References

Edwards, B. (2017). The world is not flat: Explore the world, chose your own adventure. In L. K. Maniotes (Ed.) Guided inquiry design in action: High school. Santa Barbara, California : Libraries Unlimited.

FitzGerald, L (2015). Guided Inquiry in practice, Scan 32/4, 16-27.

Floridi, L. (2007). A look into the future impact of ICT on our lives. The Information Society, 23, 59-64.

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: mixing a media specialist’s pallette. TechTrends, 55/4, 27-36.

Maniotes, L. K., & Kuhlthau, C. C. (2014). Making the shift from traditional research assignments to Guided Inquiry Leaning. inquiry, 42/2, 8-17

Relatable Literature

Throughout my time as at university, I have found that when researching a lot of sources are focused on primary stages. I find this both interesting and little disheartening. However, whilst research Guided Inquiry, I have found an experience from Buffy Edwards who had implemented a GID unit into a high school with at-risk teenagers. This research was refreshing as a secondary teacher and I appreciate the new perspective, more closely aligned with that of my own experiences and focus in education.

As a quick disclaimer, this unit has had a good ratio of P/HS sources but it is nice to see a teacher with specific struggles that I’ve faced at some of the schools that I’ve worked at.

Although Edwards was in an American context, the ideas that she discussed were easily transferable to the Australian context.

Edwards (2017a) discussed the value of the unit allowing students to gain credits in multiple areas including both within and outside of the specified KLA. Although students are not able to gain credits within the Australian system, there is great value in providing cross-curricular content for students to explore and develop ideas that link across multiple KLAs.

Edwards (2017a) explores collaboration between teachers when planning an inquiry unit. She highlights the need to work in a trusting relationship, share a common goal and most importantly be “patient, understanding and flexible,” especially when considering a first attempt at an enquiry unit (Edwards, 2007b). Edwards (2017b) also discusses the collaboration between the students. As the students shared in inquiry circles, the facilitators of the unit found that students were shy to share thoughts, ideas and feelings. It is therefore important to model positive collaboration whilst co-teaching and give students the support to express their learning.

Edwards (2017b) shares realistic issues that one faces with students such as varied reactions to the given work, including students who refused to participate. She goes on to discuss the anxieties that the students faced when completing unit, experiencing “disequilibrium with the idea that they had so much freedom” (Edwards, 2017b). This should be a key concern to all secondary educators when first implementing these units into the curriculum, as it quite possible that it is the first time in over seven years of schooling that students are given the chance to research a topic of interest and complete a set project. It is therefore imperative to trust the colleagues that are working on the unit as well as support the students through adequate scaffolding and supportive questioning (Edwards, 2017a).

My struggle to find appropriate literature is something to consider however, finding key experience such as this highlights the positive effect of the teacher librarian in the field of secondary studies.

References

Edwards, B. (2017a). Alternative education students earn graduation credits with Guided Inquiry Design. Teacher Librarian; Bowie, 44/4, 30-35.

Edwards, B. (2017b). The world is not flat: Explore the world, chose your own adventure. In L. K. Maniotes (Ed.) Guided inquiry design in action: High school. Santa Barbara, California : Libraries Unlimited

Information Literacy, Inquiry Learning and Impact

As the Information Landscape expands, the teacher librarian becomes an essential member of the team of educators who develop student’s information literacy. Although there are several definitions of what information literacy is, especially as it “is not a static concept,” (FitzGerald, 2015, p. 17) the main ideas that thread through all definitions is the ability to understand when information is needed and have the ability to obtain useful and trustworthy information for their intended purpose (FitzGerald, 2015).

There are several skills that are needed to support information literary and they can be supported through the process of inquiry learning.

There are several information literacy models, such as Big6, Information Search Process, Information Process and Information Literacy Process, (Lupton, 2013 in FitzGerald, 2015) with similar steps, verbs and outcomes which may make it difficult to choose a suitable model for the school context. As an Australian educator, Information Search Process and the Guided Inquiry Design Process (ISP/GID) is a great model to use, as FitzGerald (2015) highlights, as it links the 21st century learning skills that are embedded in the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum with process of designing and creating a Guided Inquiry Unit.

Inquiry learning is essential to the improvement of student results in accountability testing.

When exploring the impact of the teacher librarian, research has shown that literacy scores are improves when there is a trained teacher librarian with low TL to student ratios (Bonanno, 2011; Hughes, 2013). The teacher librarian is able to teach students the skills of the 21st century – key concepts of the General Capabilities – through inquiry units, but whilst doing so also improves the general literacy of students. This then begs the questions as to why the teacher librarian is not seen as deeply significant to the improvement of student scores in accountability standardised testing such as NAPLAN, ROSA, HSC and PISA.

“Collaboration is the single professional behaviour of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement”

 (Haycock, 2007, p. 32)

The teacher librarian must be able to find a place within the school community, perhaps slowly at first (focusing on grade levels that fall outside those of the standardised testing) to show their colleagues the worth of collaborating to improve the information literacy skills (Herring, 2007). The creation of quality inquiry units can then permeate throughout the school community through combining these units effectively when developing the curriculum.

References

Bonanno, K. (2011). Opinion: Do school libraries really make a difference? Incite 32/5.

FitzGerald, L (2015). Guided Inquiry in practice, Scan 32/4, 16-27.

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.

Hughes, H. (2014). School libraries, teacher librarians and student outcomes – Presenting and using the evidence. School Libraries Worldwide, 20/1, 29-50.

A New Day, A New Role

There is a consensus among literature that the role of the teacher librarian is ever-changing (Herring 2007; Purcell, 2010; Lamb, 2011). The everyday role of the teacher librarian changes depending on context, however a few key qualities are essential in an effective teacher librarian.

The teacher librarian must be:

  • Good communicators; TLs must communicate with a broad range of people within their role, including students, teachers, executive staff and the community (Lamb, 2011).
  • Good collaborators; TLs must work with other teachers to create programs to support student’s development in information literacy, team teaching and relating content to specific units (Herring, 2007).
  • Good educators: TLs should remain committed to lifelong professional learning in order to create an innovative space within the library that supports student learning (Lamb, 2011).
  • Information specialists: understand both new and old technologies and how they can be used to enhance learning through finding appropriate and reliable information (Purcell, 2010).
  • Ethical advisors: teach the school community about the ethics of using, distributing and enhancing information found in our information rich society (Purcell, 2010).

Not only are they these roles but they are also administrators, media specialists, program coordinators and the list goes on.

All of these roles may mean that as the teacher librarian you are bogged down by what you think your responsibilities might be. A teacher librarian can be anything but most importantly, the teacher librarian is an evolving role that should be defined by the personal school context of the teacher librarian. Lamb (2011), Purcell (2010) and Herring (2007) all discuss the progress that a teacher librarian can make over time – such as building trusting relationships with teachers, evaluating and developing collections and choosing appropriate information literacy models – and thus it is important to understand that there will be a give and take between the balance of identities of teacher and librarian depending on the personal and profession context of the teacher librarian.

References

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In Mark Ferguson (Eds.), Libraries in the twenty-first century (27-42).

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends : Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.

The Technological Age: Then and Now (and Later)

An interesting topic to discuss, especially as libraries are often seen as big houses of books, is the impact of technology on the teacher librarian. The library is often seen as a place that is quiet and contains books, however with new technologies comes new formats in which information can be stored.

Therefore, libraries are a place where information is stored (in multiple formats) and where – when supported by the teacher librarian – knowledge is attained.

The teacher librarian is looking to collate quality information from various sources and in various mediums to ensure that students are able to explore the validity of information through critically evaluating the information presented to them. This is last step of critical evaluation is imperative for the teacher librarian to have as a focus of their time within the library as students are growing up in a world where they can “just Google it!”

Floridi (2007) explores the world of information, the information landscape, and determines that there is a synthesis of the digital and analogue worlds. It is interesting to see that in 2007 his examples include “MP3 players will soon be able to recommend new music to their users by learning from the tunes that they… enjoyed,” (p. 61) as although MP3 players are now antiquated technologies, the idea of an AI learning from previous experiences is exactly what has happened in today’s society – just think of your personalised Spotify playlist.

The possibilities of technologies are vast, especially with the knowledge that we have no idea what technologies will exist in the future. The issue that teacher librarians will have to deal with will be the fact that there will be discrimination in the digital world, as there is in the ‘real’ world (Floridi, 2007). There will be a “a chasm… between [the] information rich and the information poor,” (Floridi, 2007, p. 62) and it is the role of the teacher librarian to ensure that all students have access to information, information tools and technologies and have the skills in order to turn that information into knowledge so that no student is left information poor in our information rich society.

 

“We are all becoming connected information organisms”

(Floridi, 2007, p. 62)

And it the teacher librarian’s duty to understand the information landscape, a place that combines the digital and analogue, and ensure that students have access to information in different formats and know how to use that information effectively to become knowledgeable. This also situates the teacher librarian in the information society, where access to new and emerging technologies means that there will be a need to teach students the ethics of living in an information rich world as there will be an overabundance of information that is known by everyone and therefore “it will become less credible to claim ignorance” (Floridi, 2007, p. 60).

The teacher librarian must be the provider of information, the facilitator of knowledge and the moral compass to an information-rich world.

References.

Floridi, L. (2007). A look into the future impact of ICT on our lives. The Information Society, 23, 59-64.

What is information? A Little Harder to Answer Than You Think

I’ve never really thought about what the word information really means, and sifting through the multiple definitions has been important in conceptualising what it means to be a teacher librarian.

It is interesting to consider how information is used personally, socially, culturally and globally as each environment will mean that a different lens is used when determining what the information means and how it can be used. The lens by which information is viewed affects how one communicates, learns and uses the information presented to them. We as a global community interact with each other on a daily basis, and therefore it is interesting to see the impact that the sharing of information can have on both a small and large scale (locally and globally).

Furthermore, my understanding of what information is and how it is used has been influenced through the readings within this module.

I found that the definition provided by Case (2006, p. 40) – information is “any difference that makes a difference to a conscious, human mind… whether originating from an external environment or… [an] internal world,” – essential in my understanding of what I’ll be doing within the library space, specifically the school library. I think the key thought here is “any difference that makes a difference,” which is the goal of the any teacher – to make a difference to the students that they encounter.

Following on from this, Case (2006, p. 44) discusses the idea that “any object… might potentially be informative” and thus brings about a few questions:

  • What is good information?
  • What is meaningful information?
  • How should information be defined?

Case (2006), discusses different types of information and brings about questions to consider when looking at information. He sets about discussing what some requirements of information might be and how these may be problematic in determining their value as information. The requirements that he states are utility, physicality, structure/process, intentionality and truth, all of which he promptly discards as information may cause confusion or clarification, is ever changing due to technologies and may be seen or unseen and hold truths or falsity all of which affect the ways in which a person interacts with the information and thus makes a difference (Case, 2006).

Ultimately, Case determines, much like the Information Hierarchy (AWE, 2008), what is important when considering information is what is done with the information, ie. what is being created by the human mind or the state of acquiring knowledge (Case, 2006, p. 64).

Therefore, our role as the teacher librarian is to ensure that students are provided with the appropriate information in order to create knowledge that they can then use both in school and out.

 

References

AEW. (2008). Community of practice: Part B. The Information Hierarchy. [slideshare]

Case, D. (2006). The concept of information. In Looking for information: A survey of research on information seeking, needs and behaviour (pp. 40-65). Burlingham: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.