Tag Archives: ETL501

Reflections on electronic pathfinders


My reflection in Assignment 2 said it all really …

To begin this task, it was important to interpret the purpose of the pathfinder and how, as a curriculum resource, it would enhance the learning of this particular group of students.  From the readings it became clear that the pathfinder should, not only be a pathway for students to access appropriate, mediated resources relevant to topic but also, be a resource that clearly supports the cross curriculum outcomes and standards for the year level as outlined in the Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Reporting and Assessment Authority, 2011). Further development of the pathfinder consequently required careful consideration of the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities (ACARA, n.d.). As a student, with little knowledge of the Australian curriculum, getting to know the curriculum guidelines became an edifying and driving part of the process. Serious consideration of student learning outcomes gave greater purpose to the pathfinder.

Herring’s (2010, p. 37) statement that teacher librarians have a professional and ethical responsibility to provide the best information for their students resonated strongly at the commencement of this task and throughout the process of locating and selecting resources for the pathfinder.

When initiating the search for online resources it was difficult not to revert to old habits and simply perform a basic Google search. Modeling best practice became the catchphrase and Herring’s (2010, p. 32) recommendation that TL’s acquire effective web searching skills charted the course. Working through the module activities only confirmed this pledge, proving the need to abandon old methods and endeavor to develop a personal, more effective search strategy. Most of the online resources were located using the advanced search features of search engines, particularly Google and Dogpile. The ability to set limits such as region, site or domain and reading level provided the option to obtain more targeted results. Learning to apply Boolean logic more effectively was challenging but thinking about the choice of keywords, use of search terms and order of importance generated greater results. Some libguides were useful when you could access them; many potential guides were password protected.  Storing search results, by bookmarking and tagging them in Diigo, was a time saving practice and simplified the selection process. Selecting images to use in the pathfinder was challenging and sometimes confusing. Planning to engage visual learners by including relevant images in the pathfinder was the intention however choosing what to use and publish confidently became an ordeal. Ultimately, modeling best practice overruled and only images on the public domain or copyright free were used and direct links to sites like Trove were added.  It became evident that further consolidation and understanding of creative commons is required and something to spend more time on in the future. Making a conscious effort to devote time applying and using the website evaluation criteria, developed earlier in the session, was valuable to the selection process. The task of deciding what not to select was simplified by using the checklist. Reading for information, focusing on educational merit, creative commons and suitability for purpose were guiding factors in choosing quality resources to add to the pathfinder.

According to the School Library Association of South Australia (SLASA, 2008) one of the key roles for a teacher librarian is to provide students with an effective information service. A pathfinder serves this purpose by providing access to relevant resources selected to meet the information needs of students. However, after reading the literature provided in the modules it became apparent that a pathfinder, created as a curriculum resource should offer more than just provision of resources. As curriculum resources, pathfinders can contribute to student learning by providing information literacy guidance. As mentioned previously, in order to bestow greater educational purpose to the pathfinder the consideration of projected student learning outcomes is valuable. According to General Capabilities to investigate with ICT by independently accessing, locating, analysing and evaluating information and to apply critical and creative thinking to identify, explore and clarify information are key skills for students to acquire (ACARA, n.d.).  The process of embedding information literacy advice and guidance into the pathfinder became necessary with these outcomes in mind. Suggesting strategies for searching for information, providing worthwhile advice for using the resources, reminding students to be critical readers of websites, to think about where they are in the information search process, to use the information literacy model and website evaluation criteria taught in the school became important elements of the pathfinder.

The task of creating a virtual pathfinder using web 2.0 technologies has been illuminating. It has generated new thinking about the tools we use today, but most of all, the process has shed new light on the significant, pedagogical role of the teacher librarian. The description of the pathfinder as a curriculum resource or “learning website” (Herring, 2010, p. 92) was new and different. Previously, pathfinders were simply viewed as quick guides, created and provided by librarians, to find resources; a service that corresponded well with the recognised role of librarian as information services provider. Identifying the pathfinder as a curriculum resource suggested so much more, it highlighted that a teacher librarian can be a creator of a learning resource not just a provider of information. O’Connell (2008, p. 51) asserts that school libraries have always made a difference to student learning and provided pathways to information and knowledge by promoting information literacy skills and processes. This perfectly describes the purpose of creating a digital pathfinder. Teacher librarians can use web 2.0 technologies as teaching tools to enhance student learning; to provide subject content, as well as provide access to purposeful mediated resources; to provide information literacy guidance and skill development; to provide opportunity for student participation and above all, to teach students to be “critical web learners” (Herring, 2010, p. xiii) in an expanding web 2.0 community. The decision to use a wiki to create the virtual pathfinder was driven by the tools collaborative potential. That students and teachers are able to contribute; to share ideas and information is a wonderful way to enhance the content of the resource. A wiki also provides opportunity for teacher librarians to collaborate with teachers, to advocate their role as collaborative partners as well as information specialists and service providers. Valenza (2010) describes wiki pathfinders as “the ultimate illustration of exploiting new tools for authentic and highly useful purposes” but most importantly as “another opportunity to showcase the work of the critical efforts of teacher librarian in the 2.0 educational landscape”.

In summary, the process of creating a virtual pathfinder was highly beneficial to the learning objectives of this course subject. The process introduced new ideas, provided opportunity to use new technologies and to improve personal information retrieval skills and, the process stimulated new thinking, consolidating understandings of the role of the teacher librarian. Above all, creating the pathfinder reinforced the fact that teaching and learning is fundamental to our function.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2011). The Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/

O’Connell, J. (2008). School library 2.0: new skills, new knowledge, new futures. In P.
Godwin & J. Parker (Eds.), Information literacy meets Library 2.0 (pp. 51-62). Retrieved from CSU Library eReserve.

School Library Association of South Australia. (2008). SLASA Teacher librarian role statement. Retrieved from http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/rolestatement.html

Valenza, J. (2010). Ten reasons why your next pathfinder should be a wiki. Retrieved from http://informationfluency.wikispaces.com/Ten+reasons+why+your+next+pathfinder+should+be+a+wiki


Information Services to staff and students


Staff Information Needs

Three factors to take into consideration before providing information services to teachers

  • Time release for collaboration & planning
  • Willingness and cooperation of staff
  • ICT & information skill levels

Ten reasons why your next pathfinder should be a wiki … (Valenza, 2010)

Valenza (2010) states that Wiki pathfinders allow you to link with ease and upload all forms of content but most importantly she maintains that they are collaborative documents that can be built and contributed to by all members of the learning & teaching community. Teachers can use pathfinders to set up groups, upload Assignment tasks and assessment guides, host or link to presentations and showcase student work. Students can share their work, thoughts or ideas.

5 Key areas of effective information services in order of importance

Looking at both SLASA & ASLA recommendations, I consider the following to be the most important areas of information services

  • to ensure that the library resource centre is multi-functional and a focal point for student learning
  • to select resources to support the information needs of the school community (learning/teaching needs)
  • to ensure the  maximum use and access of resources (Information literacy support / Promotion/Reference interview)
  • to manage the organization, storage and circulation of resources (Access)
  • to provide the availability and use of information and communication technology (ICT) (Access)

Student information needs

The more information a TL can gather about the school community the more effectively they are able to provide pertinent and purposeful information services. Clearly understanding your user/community needs is crucial to resource selection and collection development. I like the School Community Profile Template because it considers all areas of importance.


  • Characteristics – Age, gender, religion, language, interests
  • reading/cognitive level
  • social development level – individual needs
  • socio-economic background – ethnicity, ESL, Access to internet and technology/devices
  • Curriculum trends
  • Attitudes & skills of teachers

What methods can a TL use to provide students with reminders of the information skills process?

  • Posters on display such as, the information literacy model (followed by the school), website evaluation criteria, Boolean Operatives, Student friendly search engines
  • Provide a variety of Step by step instructional guides – Use Prezi or moviemaker, create podcasts or brochures to engage students as well as guide them to search the library catalogue or web, databases and directories, to create mind maps etc…

Valenza, J. (2010). Ten reasons why your next pathfinder should be a wiki. Retrieved from http://informationfluency.wikispaces.com/Ten+reasons+why+your+next+pathfinder+should+be+a+wiki


Improving students’ web use


Summary of Herring’s Chapter 6 (2011, pp. 78-89)

Students waste time in fruitless searching. Teach students to be web learners (not web users) i.e. reflective and effective web users. Guide students to think about what they are searching for and why they are searching before sending them off to search the web.

Clearly define the purpose of the task.

  • Concept mapping – as a tool for students to think about information needs and topic before searching / to revisit and change after searching
  • Question forming – brainstorming topics to develop essential Guiding questions (Who, What, What if, How, Should, Why, Which one?)

Guide students on how to search the web. Explain why they need a search strategy.

  • Brainstorm & concept map “How to be a good web searcher”

Reflect on why you need a search strategy. Teach/guide how to structure a good search engine query (Boolean searching, advance search) see Fig 6.4 page 82.

There are many web site evaluation guides. As above, Explain why the need for website evaluation and guide how to effectively evaluate websites.

  • Students produce a concept map on the “benefits of website evaluation”
  • Reflect
  • Compare different guides
  • Create own guides based on reflections (ownership)

Developing a personal model for web use

Herring (p.87) Students do not transfer skills and abilities in web use across subject or time. There are many Information   literacy models. Students create, develop and use their own information literacy model to help with transference.

Module activities: Planning for web searching

What is the best way to teach year 7 students to develop a concept/mind map?

  • Demonstrate & Explain – Show examples, you tube “how to clips”, brainstorm and create one with class on IWB or try Bubbl.us or Apps like Simplemind+/mindmeister
  • Discuss the benefits of using mind maps to clarify task, define purpose, organise thoughts and ideas

What is the best way to teach year 7 students to develop their own questions?

Reading for information: Apply website evaluation criteria to sites when reading. Ensuring that students are capable of effectively evaluating websites will develop reading for information skills. Provide appropriate website evaluation criteria (suitable for the user) or help students develop their own set of criteria (in their own language) to support this learning.

Reflecting on web use: Self-evaluation I agree with Herring (2011, p.86) that reflecting on the search process should be integral to the assignment. Regular or habitual self-assessment (rubrics, checklists, question lists, De Bono’s thinking hats) can support skill development & goal setting, develop personal understanding of search process/learning (metacognition) and demonstrate student achievement. Importance of Metacognitive questions ; Reflective questions.

Herring, J. (2011). Improving students’ web use and information literacy: A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London: Facet.

Web 2.0 in school libraries


From the readings I have come to understood that using Web 2.0 technology can simplify online interaction. Web 2.0 tools facilitate participation, communication and collaboration between students, teachers and others in the school community. Sharing (ideas, learning and information), participation and connectivity are key aspects of web 2.0 and the tools provide opportunity for students to become engaged, adept and comfortable with emerging technologies.

Herring (2011, p. 49) describes web 2.0 as “a range of tools which can be used to improve information literacy, provide access to mediated resources, allow creative participation on the web and encourage collaboration.”

Web 2.0 tools provide opportunities for TL’s to:

  • Organise, share and communicate information by creating meaningful mediated content (content curation)
  • Encourage participation via feedback, discussion, collaboration
  • Engage our digital learners, enrich their learning.
  • Connect the learning and teaching community
  • Facilitate online education – digital literacy

I believe that Librarians who are committed to facilitating and supporting teaching and learning in schools today cannot ignore Web 2.0 tools.

Blogs are great for sharing thoughts and ideas, new resources, library news, links and other multimedia (YouTube clips, book trailers) and generating discussions with others in the school.
Wiki’s are useful, particularly when online group collaboration is required. Wiki’s can be set up for specific classroom projects where teachers (and/or librarians) can post links to resources, notes, homework etc., students can contribute to the content, communicate and share ideas.
Social bookmarking can be used in schools to share useful online resources between librarians and teachers or students. Diigo allows you to create private or public lists of online bookmarks that can be accessed from any device connected to the internet. Private lists can be shared with others by providing a URL link to the list. I’m not sure whether privacy is such an issue if you are careful managing your account however site closure would be problematic.

New term learned “collect the web” Some Web 2.0 tools are useful for content curation (Wikispaces, Weebly, Pinterest Scoop it, Live binders, Pod Out etc). Benefits of collecting the web, as described by Herring (2011, p. 55), “ having mediated resources available for students enables them to focus more on their topics and waste less time in fruitless searching”

Issues to consider: time to develop & manage such tools, training and professional development, firewalls, copyright

Herring, J. (2011). Improving students’ web use and information literacy: A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London: Facet.

ETL 501 – Search Engine features and qualities


Working through the module excercises has certainly consolidated my need to develop an effective search strategy – try to use Boorlean logic and advanced search options as general search practice – must develop the habit!


This Noodletools link is very useful, I will certainly use it again for guidance. Which is the best search engine for my purpose?

Tried the following search engines:

InfomineVolcanoes schools teaching
2 results only- both for NASA Search engine – scholarly, some interesting video and images
Sweet SearchVolcanoes schools teaching
20 results – lesson plan ideas, lots of .gov sites, educational sites – a wonderful starting point for ideas and information. I can see this search engine being quite useful for background information for a teacher.
LibguidesVolcanoes schools teaching
Set Limit k-12
14 results all linking to pathfinders on topic created by librarians / school libraries / all recently updated
Extremely useful to see what other librarians are using, why reinvent the wheel? A wonderful starting point for a teacher, particularly if there was nothing like this or a librarian available in their school. Note – not all are accessible.

Google Advanced Search

Search: Olympics 2012 teaching
Originally tried limiting domain to. edu, .org, .uk with very limited results. Removed domain limits with better results (most .com or .org.uk).
I limited reading level to intermediate – useful to discover that you can then flip from basic to advanced reading levels
Played with different formats. Pdf format produced some great lesson plans
In the past I have used this feature mostly for searching images with free usage rights. I will now be using it regularly, particularly when looking for educational resources. The exercise certainly makes you think about your keywords in terms of information needs, there is trial and error, but still time saving in the long run.

Google Scholar and Google Books – neither used before
In Google books searched Olympics – interesting results, I liked the links to world cat to locate titles in local libraries. Could be useful for students looking for texts not available in school library.
Google News – never used
Normally would go to newspaper sites or use Ebsco/Informit etc.
Quite impressed – Perfect for top stories, visual, very easy to navigate, Archives option – free

Knowledge 2.0
Google Advanced Search : Gold Discovery (impact OR affect) teaching
49,000 results
Using limits for reading level, region made a difference

Dogpile advanced search : Gold Discovery Victoria (impact OR affect)NOT california
Total number of hits – Not listed
Excellent results by adding Victoria to search. Not as many options for limits. Need to be more specific with Boorlean operators

Bing : gold discovery victoria (impact OR affect) teaching -california -america
15,000 Results
Better results when limiting California and America from search. Limit to Region/ Australia. Not as many options for limits. Need to be more specific with Boorlean operators. Refer to cheat sheet (Boswells)

Website evaluation


Why evaluate websites?

Anyone can publish something on the web, and anyone on the Internet can say they are an expert. Putting documents or pages on the web is easy, cheap or free and unregulated. Unlike printed publications there are no editors. Many websites can be deliberately misleading, hoax’s even. Students now need skills to determine authenticity and authority of information available to them on the web.

According to Herring  (2010 ,p. 36) teachers and teacher librarians need to be experts in evaluating web based resources and that effective website evaluation should be a core competency for teachers and TL’s. Herring also maintains that teachers & TL’s have a “professional and ethical responsibility to use the best available information” (2010, p. 37). Effective evaluation ensures that the websites used are” fit for purpose and enhance teaching and learning”.

There are many sets of website evaluation criteria … some suit the needs of teachers, some are more useful for students. TL’s can advise teachers of the best criteria to use:

  • Schrock (5 W’s)
  • University of QLD Library (or others)
  • Herring (E,R & T)

Herring, J. (2011). Improving students’ web use and information literacy: A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London: Facet.

Schrock, K. (2002). The ABC’s of website evaluation Classroom. In Classroom connect. Retrieved from http://kathyschrock.net/eval/pubs/weval.pdf 10/8/2012



ETL501 – The learning and teaching context of information resource provision


I’m feeling quite enthusiastic about commencing ETL501 -The learning environment. I know there will be so much to learn and my fellow colleagues are already posting some incredible thoughts and ideas to the forum – very inspiring!

Using Blooms Taxonomy Table to provide resources highlighted the following:

  • Learning objectives & questions (cognitive objectives) determine the type of resource required to provide the most appropriate information. In the Blooms Taxonomy table to “define” (knowledge/comprehension) directs one to reference materials like dictionaries, encyclopaedias, or specific information texts. Although there is a vast array of print and electronic resources available to us, certain resources become more or less appropriate at different stages of the research process e.g., resources required for knowledge and comprehension can differ in relevance considerably to resources required for synthesis and evaluation.
  • It is pertinent to match resources and activities to learning objectives and approach to learning (behaviourist/constructivist).  It is essential that the TL (Information provider/specialist) clearly understands the teachers approach to learning as well as the learning objectives and outcomes.
  • Questions, activities and resources need to suit age, different learning styles & capabilities of learner
  • Collaboration with teachers, involvement in planning, knowledge of curriculum = relevant, appropriate resources, support, enhanced learning and teaching.
  • There are now SO MANY online resources available – digital learning objects (Scootle), databases and journals, newspapers, images (Flikr), Video (Youtube, Vimeo, ClickView), Podcasts, Blogs/Wikis, Social networks, Apps, websites.