Online resources

During this time, there are many lists being shared that can help you find quality resources to support online learning in your school.  We look for institutions that we know produce reliable and authentic information, and are collating a page of links to resources, guides and useful information HERE for ease of access. We will continue to update this page as we find new resources to share.

 

Professional Learning Resource Round Up

As we all respond to the directives and guidelines in relation to COVID – 19 our association is working hard to ensure we are doing all we can to support our members.

With some schools needing to close for indefinite periods of time there may be a need for your school library staff to indicate ways they are exploring professional learning during a period of school closure or changed operations.

To assist, we have created this post, listing a range of professional learning opportunities made available to members.

A range of presentations from past Professional Learning Events can be accessed via the SLAV Member Login page HERE.

Over the past two years we have created podcasts of all of our Reading Forum events as well recording a selection of presentations given at our major conferences. These podcasts are available to anyone online and can be accessed HERE.

Synergy is our online, research based, journal. The most recent edition of the journal is closed to members only but all other editions of the journal are made freely available in light of the Associations interest in being collegiate and supportive of the wider professional community. We encourage you to explore the wealth of information from current and past editions HERE. 

Digital issues of our publication – FYI – can be accessed HERE. 

As a SLAV member, you also have access to resources from the International Association of School Librarianship through our partner membership status. There are some wonderful resources to be accessed on the IASL website and we encourage you to find time to explore them. Login details are available on our Member Login page.

Finally, a word on our 2020 Professional Learning Calendar. As we advised in our most recent newsletter we are doing all we can to ensure we are keeping our members and presenters safe, and are responding to guidelines and directives accordingly.

Events – cancellations and postponements

Our March 23 conference has been cancelled.

The IB workshop to be held in conjunction with DATTA Vic at Kardinia College on April 16 has been cancelled.

Our May Masterclass in conjunction with LMERC – Powering Learning: Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives has been moved to September 4.

Our May 29 Conference – School Libraries: Powering Primary has been moved to September 14.

The National Education Summit on August 28 and 29 at MCEC, a strand of which we are a partner in providing, has been postponed to a later date yet to be announced.

All other Reading Forums, Workshops and Masterclasses

The remainder of our program are events that are to be held in school venues. At present we are continuing to plan and offer these events on the understanding that a decision will be made a month to two weeks out from each as to whether they are to go ahead. As it is very difficult to know exactly where we will be in two months’ time this approach is hopefully the best response in unknown times.

If you have any queries about this, please contact the SLAV office on 0477 439 593 or email slav@slav.org.au

We encourage all members to stay in touch with each other in these challenging times. Our branch structure is an excellent source of local support.  We encourage you to reach out and offer collegiate advice wherever you can and to ask if you need help or assistance. Our social media platforms can also be a source of connection. Please do reach out, we are open to assisting you in any way we can.

Google Cultural Institute – art, history, geography

cultural-institute

If it’s been a while since you last visited the Google Cultural Institute, it’s time to revisit but be sure to leave time for exploration.

The Institute now consists of:

  • Google Art Project: Containing artworks, sculpture and furniture from large and small galleries across 40 countries. See the art in situ in galleries with a walkthrough using Google Street View. Explore the interiors of landmarks such as the Palace of Versailles or, build and share your own virtual art gallery
  • Historic Moments: Glimpses of significant moments in history have been created from primary source materials by people who have a story to share. The Solidarity and the Fall of the Iron Curtain: Poland 1980
  • World Wonders: Bringing modern and ancient world heritage sites to life using Street View and 3D modelling. Explore the natural wonders of Kakadu National Park and the historic archaeological areas of Pompeii.

See Collections:

An added experience for those who have become, or wish to explore Google+ Hangout is to host your own virtual tour and become a Tour Leader in the great art galleries of the world.  Simply go to Google+ (you’ll need to sign in to Google with your account) and ‘start a video Hangout’.  You’ll see the invitation to take a tour presented on the screen.

This value of this resource as a learning tool is immense. Whether the activity be historical, artistic or geographical, Google Cultural Institute offers the opportunity for students to interact with the content and to create their own objects by exploring the work of others. It’s highly recommended and supported by lesson plans for a range of year levels.  Start exploring today!

Mind tools – What does it mean to be literate in the age of Google?

With the holidays here, we thought we could share a longer video with you, particularly given it’s one of the best videos I’ve watched about information literacy. It’s comprehensive, current, and logical in its flow. I thought I knew a lot about information literacy – now I know a lot more.

The presentation comes from Dr. Daniel Russell, research scientist at Google and took place in March this year at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina.

He begins by calling a library a mind tool that ‘amplifies your cognition’. Wonderful stuff.

We hope you have a happy, safe, chocolate filled holiday and we’ll see you next term.

 

 

Talking about content curation

Rhondda Powling was part of  a group, including staff from the State Library of Victoria, who presented at SLAV ‘s ‘Be in control: participate in the new age of school libraries’ on the value of personal learning networks, workflows and online tools. This guest post reflects on her presentation exploring content curation. You can find Rhondda’s blog here.

I was asked to speak about ‘Content Curation’ at a recent SLAV conference. You could say a lot about curation but I was asked to do two short sessions about ten minutes long. What to include in this brief session and what to leave out was a conundrum. I wanted the topic of curation to make sense. I tried to focus my thoughts on what I believe curation means to me. Why is it important to my learning, how do I use it with colleagues and students and why should I? So this is my experience of curation.

The phrases ‘content curation’ and ‘digital curation’ are buzz words in the online world, especially in my library networks. Although curation tools are many and varied, the approach I take when running sessions for teachers at my school is that when used properly, these tools enhance professional learning.

The AITSL Professional Standards for Teachers includes a section on Professional Engagement. The first paragraph under this is ‘Teachers model effective learning’. They identify their own learning needs and analyse, evaluate and expand their professional learning, both with colleagues and individually. One of the ways to demonstrate this kind of learning is through professional reading. It is easy to keep a record of professional reading and evidence of learning and sharing if you become a good content curator. Content curation also covers the collegial aspect.

Content or digital curation is not simply collecting links. Many teacher librarians, myself included, have been collecting links (for example: school topics, research) for years. So:

  • it’s not really a creating process as such but rather a process of sorting, arranging and then further publishing about information that already exists in the online or digital world
  • it is a process of first finding digital content that might be useful then sorting the results into the best and most relevant links, value adding with annotations and then sharing them in meaningful (organized) ways.

Good curators identify and define their topics or subjects at the outset. They then select what to keep whilst providing some context and annotation. Good curators make sure they correctly credit the sources as they offer their networks appropriate and easy access to their curated sources.

How to begin curating

Focused filtering and selection is a very important aspect of effective curation. Try to be as clear as possible about what you want. There are many ways to locate good content especially if you use social media. There are also many tools for curating. See my Google doc for some suggestions These are tools I use or others that I have seen. Some I do not use myself but they are recommended by other colleagues. Another post about curation tools that is worth looking at is 55 Content Curation Tools To Discover & Share Digital Content, which includes an annotated list, from the TeachThought blog.

Robin Good is an expert when it comes to the topic of content curation. He has extensive knowledge of the practices and tools and his comprehensive map of content curation tools and skills is divided into key categories. There are over 250 tools in this collection, so be prepared and take it slowly.

I have found that the best way to choose a curation tool is to be as clear as possible about what you want then spend some time looking for the tool/s that best suit your needs. That means, as you begin, have a ‘play’ with different tools and evaluate them critically. Some tools offer more advanced filtering search options than others. Some are more visual. Of course, as with everything in the digital world, things may change and what works for a while may alter its perspective and/or no longer continue to meet your needs.

I use around five main tools that allow me to find information and links. I actively search for information on specific topics and follow a number of people and groups using social media who have similar interests to me. These include my Diigo groups, Scoop.it and Paper.li authors via gmail notifications and summaries. I usually get daily, but sometimes weekly, summaries sent to me.

I do not regard Twitter as a curation tool but I find it very useful (via groups and hashtags) to locate possibly useful content. If I don’t have time to read it fully, I use Diigo’s “read later” option to help me filter out what I want to annotate and keep. Twitter is also one of the ways I inform others in my networks about possible sources that may also be of interest to them. Pinterest and Scoop.it are both curation tools that I use often and they make it easy to share to other social media platforms.

When I first began I looked at what others were doing. Here are a selection of people I follow:

 by cambodia4kidsorg

I think it is important that the task of curating becomes a regular one, part of the daily routine. Beth’s suggestion about timing is a good one. I try to go through my lists most days. If, after a week I haven’t got to suggested sites, I usually delete the suggested lists, as new ones keep coming in.

My time was up. This was as far I got with my coverage of the topic. There is more I could discuss especially how it might be used to assist student learning.

I left the group with a second graphic that offers a good visual about the process of curating.

 by cambodia4kidsorg

And these videos about why it’s important to curate.

 

Image credit: Alfred E. McMicken, (1936) Greenville Public Library, [mobile library service] [picture], State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection.

 

Using search operators

Search operators are everywhere – embedded in searches without our knowledge. But with a little practice, you can improve and refine search results by actively choosing which operators you use. Google is a global search phenomenon, mainly due to its ability to simplify web search. They’ve achieved this in part by automating and hiding deep search operators, simplifying the user experience. Every time you enter more than one word into Google, it creates a Boolean search, inserting AND between each word. What this does is prioritises pages which include all of the words in your search. Although Google makes some refinements for us, we can still improve our searches with simple operators. Try adding the terms and symbols listed below to search engines, databases and catalogues to see the difference. It’s important to note some common operators won’t work in Google because they’ve developed their own terms for certain functions. You can find search tips in the Google search guide.

Wildcards

Wildcard operators let you substitute one of more letters with symbols. This lets you search for words with multiple spellings, singular and plural forms, parts of words or even words you don’t know how to spell. Asterisk * An asterisk stands for any number of characters and is particularly useful when you are searching around the root of a word. Here are a few examples:

  • pigment* – pigment, pigments, pigmentation
  • writ* – write, writes, writer, writers, written, writ, writs
  • myth* – myths, mythology, mythos

Question mark ? A question mark stands for one character and is very useful if you are uncertain of spelling. More than one question mark can be used for multiple characters.

  • relev?nce – relevance or relevence
  • ?nquiry – inquiry or enquiry
  • licen?e – license or licence
  • ?????ology – psychology, musicology, oceanology

Phrase

Quotation marks around a phrase or number of words prioritises results containing the exact phrase.

  • “Box Hill”
  • “oh my love is like a red red rose”
  • “Albert Einstein”

Minus

Minus is a very useful operator if you know that a word has multiple meanings in different contexts and you only want to get results from one of these areas. In Google the minus sign must be next to the word being omitted with no space preceding.

  • magpies -football will return results about birds and not Collingwood football club
  • batman -comic is more likely to return results about Victorian pioneer John Batman instead of the caped crusader…

Minus is very powerful as it tells search engines to throw out everything including the word you’ve chosen so use in moderation.

Proximity operators

Proximity operators look at how words appear on a web page, specifically how far apart they are. The assumption behind this kind of search is that the closer two words are together, the more likely they’re related. For example:

  • kangaroo NEAR kimberley finds results where the first word (kangaroo) falls within 50 words of the second word (kimberley)
  • kangaroo w/10 kimberley finds results where the first word (kangaroo) falls within 10 words of the second word (kimberley). The proximity number (n) can be any number you like. eg. (w/100, w/33, w/70)

Boolean AND/OR/NOT

Boolean search, incorporating the operators AND, OR and NOT, was common before Google, but nowadays it’s often dismissed as being too complex. This is a shame because Boolean can give you more control over complicated searches, refining down very quickly to specific results. It’s important to note that AND, OR and NOT must be in capitals for search engines to recognise them as operators. As mentioned in the introduction, Google already puts AND between words when you type them into a search, so you don’t need to include this operator in a Google search.  NOT works very like the minus operator, dictating what you want to omit. OR allows you to broaden your search to include overlapping areas between search terms.

  • dogs OR cats (this will find pages about either dogs, cats or both)
  • dog NOT cat (this will find pages about dogs that don’t mention cats)
  • dogs OR cats AND training NOT football (this will return results about training your dog or cat, but will exclude results about football clubs called cats or dogs)

Search operators are a great example of how we can be much smarter than search engines when we’re active searchers instead of passive consumers of Google results. A powerful idea for students in particular! For further information, the Gale Group has a great page on search operators and this guide to Boolean originally from the Syracuse University Centre for Science & Technology provides, includes some simple examples of search strings.

Image credit:  Alfred E. McMicken,(1936)  Interior of library, possibly Greenville [picture], State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection

New Libguides from the State Library of Victoria

Librarians at the State Library of Victoria answer complex reference questions for patrons everyday, whether it be onsite, via email or on the phone.

After years of experience with the questions people bring to the collection, reference librarians have developed over forty library guides looking at specific research topics.

The guides are aimed as a one-stop shop for subjects like bushfires in Victoria, court cases in Australiaearly Australian census records and more.

Each libguide gives background information on the topic and the Library’s holdings, key resources and related web links.

Recently published guides include:

And if you’re wondering what a reference librarian at the State Library does when they get an inquiry, here’s a video about the process.

Tags: You’re it!

Students and educators are embracing all the advantages of digital technology; they are writing blog posts, sharing annotated diagrams and photos, creating video clips and much, much more. Many of these digital items are being uploaded/shared in the hope of attracting an audience and engaging in real world conversations for authentic learning. So, why do some items receive a lot of attention, while others are ignored? Often it is because of the way an item has been tagged, which makes the item much more ‘findable’.

Tags are words or short phrases attached to items posted online. You might see them on blogs, wikis, and social bookmarking sites; you’ll definitely find them on social media sites such as YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, and Facebook. (It’s even possible to add tags to your own Word documents and all the photos saved on your hard drive.) New media explorer and consultant, Robin Good explains them simply as:

… short keywords that define what your online digital content is all about.

Social Media Word Cloud

Social Media Word Cloud by Rubber Dragon (Flickr CC)

Why tag?

Tagging is the primary way of labelling items on Web 2.0 sites so they can be easily found when searching/ browsing, but it can also be used for:

  • organising
  • classifying
  • applying identity/ownership

While tags look like keywords, they work a little differently. Tagging is an informal system and often a personal one; tags are chosen and assigned by the creators (and sometimes the viewers). This can make a search more meaningful or less so, depending on the creator’s and user’s understandings of the tag words attached. By including tags that go beyond browser-assigned keywords, the content becomes even more accessible. On many sites, tagging is a collaborative activity, so the more people tag on an item/site, the more accessible items become and the more useful the site becomes. Tags  also increase searchability because they are normally visible on pages so can actively link users to related items with the same tags.

Smart Tagging

If you have never tagged in item before (or even if you have), here are a few tips:

  • choose tags that are descriptive
  • choose tags that are specific
  • be comprehensive (most sites allow you to tag generously)
  • think like your potential audience, choose tags effective for their searches
  • tag with singular and plural forms of a word, if relevant
  • use suggested tags, if relevant (many sites have tools that offer suggestions)
  • do a little scouting on the site you are using (eg. Flickr) to see what tags others are using to describe items similar to yours
  • do the same on Google to see what comes up (Tip: watch Google’s auto-suggestions as you type in search terms)

Understanding and using tags is a digital literacy skill that any teacher can discuss and encourage with students, and one that could generate positive results for your students’ online efforts.

Library guides at the State Library

Librarians from the State Library of Victoria have been putting together Library guides on various subject areas to help people with their research tasks.

It’s essentially a cheat sheet that guide you through the research process by wading through the array of resources available to you.

Here’s a sample of what’s been created:
1. Aboriginal people & the law
2. Adoption & forgotten Australians
3. Bushfires
4. Companies in Australia
5. Court cases in Australia
6. Early Australian census records
7. Finding Australian legislation
8. Finding book reviews
9. Finding music scores & popular songs
10. Finding poetry

Image of research guide on census

There are 28 more guides on a range of topics but you can see the entire list here.

It’s commonplace for universities to have library guides, so do check them out for other subject areas, especially for senior students. Or you can create your own easily and quickly, in LibGuides.

Let us know if you’ve already created some LibGuides – we’d love to hear about them.

Bibliography generators


It’s always great to show students online bibliography generators when they’re starting research projects at the start of the year. They’re a quick, easy way to record resources as you go and encourage good research practice.

Here are a few generators to help students start the new year on the right foot.

Harvard generator

This site is one of the few bibliography generators that gives you the option of Harvard/Author-date formatting, a system commonly used in schools. Tabs across the top of the page let you choose either print or electronic as the source type.

Harvard generator doesn’t however export references or allow you to save your list so you need to fill in the details and then copy and paste the formatted references into another document.

BibMe

This well known website quickly and easily creates reference lists in MLA, APA, Chicago or Turabian styles. It also lets you search for books and other sources by title, author etc., retrieving catalogue records and using them to auto-generate references for you.

By creating a personal login you can also save your bibliographies online and export them as Rich Text Files (.rtf).

EasyBib

EasyBib allows you to create bibliographies using the MLA system free of charge and like BibMe, uses existing online catalogues to retrieve source information.

You can save your bibliographies by signing up using a Google, Yahoo or even Facebook account and can export your bibliography as a Word document or Google doc.

Zotero

Zotero isn’t strictly a bibliography generator – it’s a complete online referencing system. It lets you store, catalogue, annotate, file and tag references to name just a few of the things it can do.

References can be drawn from Amazon and library catalogues etc. and you can export bibliographies in a broad range of styles and document types. You do however, have to use Zotero in the web browser, Firefox.

By creating a login, you can access your research at any computer with access to the web. Signing up also lets you connect with a community of people using Zotero and share research.

Zotero is a powerful tool and probably only worth introducing to older students or even having a look at whether it would suit your own research.

Some note taking applications like Evernote are now powerful enough to be used in a similar way to Zotero. It’s worth thinking about how some of  these tools can empower educators and students to become more effective researchers.