Thursday 1 December 2011

Community update

Twice a year Heads of Academic Departments in my school publish an article in the HM bulletin to keep the community abreast of developments in their area of expertise. Below is the text of my article published this week.

Academic Focus
The fast-paced changing world of information presents a constant challenge for students and staff alike. Today’s internet giant is quickly bypassed as the latest and newest information tool appears on the scene. Information overload is both the boon and burden of our age. Effective information filters are critical for students to benefit from the richness of resources available.

Regular changes to the Google interface in recent weeks have restricted the power of the search and with the web focussing more on social functions; we need to consider where this leaves our students in their search for authentic academic information.

Whilst one may decry the use of Wikipedia for academic purposes, we understand that many will find this their first port of call for background information. Valuable references can often be found to other more reliable sources of information by referring to the bibliographic listing at the end of each article. This is one of the most basic methods for authenticating information. An analysis of the editing history of any page also highlights the changing nature of the information provided. Such critical consumption of web and media content is an important skill for students to acquire.

Our management of information extends beyond teaching such basic skills in the library during the school day, to providing an extensive website built to cater for the students’ academic needs. Teacher librarians, in consultation with subject specialists, find and filter the best of the web and provide the links to those resources here.

The guides provide information for particular subject areas and focus on topics specific to each grade level. They incorporate a wide variety of media, including video and RSS feeds as well as books, apps and tools. Links back to the intranet site emphasise the importance of using our extensive range of databases to retrieve reliable sources of information for academic purposes. General guides cover books and reading, research skills, and writing. A guide to all things iPad focuses on useful apps and sites for education purposes.

Current announcements and items of interest are promoted through The Arthur Holt Library Facebook page at Visit it regularly to review announcements or ‘Like’ the page to keep abreast of interesting developments in the world of Young Adult literature, writing competitions, book promotions and useful web tools.

This term, library catalogue data has been migrated to a new database. The Destiny interface has proved popular and the added functionality has already improved students’ search retrieval success. Filtered web sites are included in the package and eventually students will be able to use the library database from home to check their borrowings, browse the shelves virtually, place reserves for titles and recommend purchases. When students are provided with school email at the beginning of 2012 through TNet, individual communications about loans and recommendations will be enabled.

Students need to be encouraged in class and at home to use the most appropriate web tools for their information needs. The library site provides direction to the best of the web.

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