ETL501 Information Environment

 Topic Two: Information Resources
Should we abandon the idea of reference material or should the term be kept for non-borrowable print resources?

Thinking of reference materials sends a shiver down my spine. I’m taken back to my university days when students fought tooth and nail over particular resources to try and gain an educational advantage. I do believe there is still a place within the library for such resources.  I believe it should be a term only reserved for non-borrowable resources. Students should have readily available, easily accessible print material.

What is your opinion of Wikipedia? What’s your experience in regards to its accuracy/reliability?

I have witnessed many students heading straight to Wikipedia for ‘all the answers’. It is certainly a questionable source. I don’t mind them using it as long as they make an effort to check the information’s accuracy and utilise other resources that also back up Wikipedia claims.

Should the library still provide students with access to print-based dictionaries?

I still own and use a dictionary that was purchased for me by Mum and Dad when I started year seven. Having a dictionary in print form means it’s readily available to users. No computer warm up required. A lot more skill goes into looking up an oxford dictionary than running a quick Google search.

Do an online atlases, biographical and directories search. Which Australian based site would be useful for students at your school?

The Atlas of Living Australia

The site does state it is “Contributed by Australia’s academic, scientific, environmental communities and you”.  As anyone can contribute to this site, like Wikipedia, students should double check the information provided.

World Atlas

High school students would be able to navigate this site well. It includes maps, geographical facts and flags.

The Australian dictionary of biography:

This site would be great for high school students to find out information about renowned Australians.

Topic Three: Website Evaluation

Does this list cover all the criteria that you might apply?

I believe it’s a great staring point but should not be the only basis for website evaluation as it is subjective to each individual using the check list.

How would you rate this tool?

Effective, however each element heavily relies on the trust/judgment of the user.

What criteria might you add?

Is the site user-friendly? How easily is the site to navigate?

Are references included on the site to easily check sources?

What additional questions might TLs consider to judge whether a site is reliable for a particular range of students who are studying a particular topic?

Is the site easily accessible?

The time it takes to load (its practicality).

Are graphics/advertisements appropriate?

Other technical criteria which you might consider to be important when selecting websites for school staff or students:

Does the site suit all student reading/learning levels and abilities?

Does the language suit the particular class requiring the information?

When evaluating a site the user and their purpose must always be kept in mind when selecting any type of resource.


Ferguson, J. (2005). Why evaluate information found on the Web?

The web lacks formal structure. “It’s your responsibility to develop the skills necessary to critically evaluate the quality and trustworthiness of the information you find on the web”.

Consider Author, publisher/sponsor, inspect the URL, Point of View/Bias, Accuracy and reliability, currency, intellectual property/copyright.

Johnson, D. and Lamb, A. (2007). Evaluating internet resources.

Students should compare and contrast different information resources i.e. internet, books, journals etc.

Johnson and Lambs checklist for evaluating internet resources:

Authority: who is the author?

Objectivity: is the information biased (perspective)

Authenticity: where does the information originate

Reliability: is it a trustworthy source

Timeliness: is the information current

Relevance: helpful information

Efficiency: is the information worth the effort

Also look for sponsors, cross check data, do a thorough web tool evaluation.

Topic 4: SEARCHING the Web

Activity 1

Noodletools site: The first search engine utilised was Infomine.

Infomine is a librarian selected scholarly site. After entering into the search engine volcanoes schools teaching the results were mainly in regards to NASA teaching materials. No other information was relevant. Some of the information would suit secondary students however it would need to be filtered as some would suit a university level.

World Cat: You’re able to search for books and reviews. This search produced a plethora of books and even video for both primary and high school students. I really liked using this search engine.

Assess the quality of your results e.g. how relevant were the first 10 results if you were finding information for a geography teacher in a secondary school?

 Activity 2

How much of this is new to you? Will this change the way you search in the future? Add your thoughts to the Searching notes document.

I was surprised to know that Google had an advance search option. I really wasn’t aware of it. I will certainly be refining my searches in future. Google images, maps and Google earth are not new to me though I was impressed with the Google maps option to create your own map. I had never explored it closely enough to know that this option existed. Being able to exclude words using ‘not’ throughout a variety of search engines is also a fantastic search advantage.

 Activity 3

Everyone knows the only way to find anything on the internet is to run a Google search right? How wrong could they be? I know how to use a computer but I’m not that tech savvy so a few aspects of Google’s advanced searches were definitely new to me. I’d never heard of visual search engines like middlespot it is a pity that some have already disappeared. I will definitely keep this information in mind for future searches for myself and my students.

Activity 4

One of the best known Web searching guides is The Seven Habits site. How useful do you think this might be for teaching students in secondary or primary school about Web searching?

The site did have some extremely useful tips for searching/locating information. However its layout was totally confusing. It would not immediately grab student’s attention if anything it could disengage them. At least it gets you too stop and think ‘outside-the-box’ before running a search.

 Activity 5

Search Engine Keywords Hits How Useful? Comments
peeplo Victorian Gold Rush impact 108.610 results Three pages of results were relevant to topic First two sites were extremely useful and would suit class and student age.
Dogpile Effects or impact on discovery of gold Victoria 74 results The first page was highly accurate then it lessened with accuracy as it went on. The Academic kid’s webpage had great activities for year 6 students.
sweetsearch Gold rush and or Victoria impact/effect 20 results Five highly affective results Some however may be aboveYear 6 level. The Australian gold rush was an extremely informative site.

Topic Five: Web 2.0

Blogs, Wikis, RSS feeds and Podcasts are just some digital tools that pave the way for a kaleidoscope of opportunities and capabilities. Educators should harness them and create learning environments that are adaptable and flexible, to support students information needs.

The fact that web 2.0 is so versatile makes it extremely appealing. Opportunities for TL’s include;

Creating instant news feeds i.e. latest library updates, book reviews, book week, MS Readathon information.

Develop a website for staff that incorporates pathfinders and essential curriculum information.

Blogs are great for pictures, editorials, book reviews, newsletters and essential parent/student information. Keeping on top of a blog can be time consuming.  The TL and selected students (make it a rotating task) should work together to produce weekly posts, uploading pictures, footage etc to make it a truly collaborative affair.

A Wiki would be a great tool to inform students and parents about important upcoming events.

I’m a bit of a virgin when it comes to social bookmarking but from what I have read it is basically a tool to store, sort and share information. A digital filing cabinet .

Delicious or Diigo could be used well within the school environment for essential subject planning or professional development.

Challenges for web 2.0 in schools may be;

Some staff don’t know how to use the tools.

Some sites will be blocked by school computer systems.

Availability to computers or internet access may be limited.

Topic Six: Students and the Web


1. How much funding will be available in regards to resources the TL can offer.

The Socio economic background of the community

The age and reading level of students the information will be required for

2. Pathfinders are tools that lead users to essential resources.

I agree that wiki’s are great to use as pathfinders because;

They are relatively easy to use.

They easily appeal to students.

They work well when incorporating web 2.0 tools

Can be accessed from anywhere

Are a fantastic collaborative tool

TL’s must remember that this form of information service is to set students onto the right resource path. It should not provide students with an answer but instead highlight and direct students to relevant resources.

3. Reference Interviews are a conversation between a TL and library user. They pinpoint information needs and can be conducted face- to-face, or via a digital tool.

4. 5 Things to include in an effective school information service;



1. Suitable resources that meet students and teachers information needs

2. Availability of resources – circulation of resources

3. Assist and teach students/teachers how to use the resources/tools effectively

4. Develop a multifunctional resource centre that focuses on student learning

5. Provide a friendly learning environment 

Cultural interests within the wider community

Identify resources that could benefit the general student population

Types of abilities/learning needs i.e. if English is not students first language

The community’s attitude towards literacy/learning and education

Current use of resources by the community/teachers/students

Instant reminders of the information literacy/skills process

1. An acronym for searching i.e. WWWDOT framework

2. A library blog that is emailed to students that highlights an important aspect of IL. This could be done once a week.

3. Posters that show IL models or scaffolding i.e. plus model or The Big 6.

Pathfinder Thoughts:

After knowing how much time went into my pathfinder my mind boggles over how long it would have taken to develop this fantastic resource without the help of today’s web 2.0 technologies. Well done to all involved.

I created a Mathematics and Driving Pathfinder. Maths is not a subject I teach but I selected it to be outside my comfort zone and because as a TL I won’t always be an expert on every topic. Working in close collaboration with a mathematics teacher my pathfinder could be adapted into a piece of online curriculum that guides and supports student learning. This could be achieved through the addition of handouts/worksheets that contain open-ended questions and could be downloaded or printed from the pathfinder. Students could also develop personal Blogs that could be linked to the pathfinder. They could discuss topics, share ideas and even reflect on their learning. Incorporating the schools IL model as well as links to the Maths Syllabus and HSC learning outcomes, along with GC’s would also be beneficial.

The focus study mathematics and driving usually takes about six months to complete with year 11. My pathfinder would obviously need to be extended and adapted to meet that lengthy time frame.

To embed and scaffold learning, team teaching, or alternate lessons between the maths classroom and the library could be organised.

A speaker could come to discuss road safety or anti drink driving messages. Videos could also be incorporated to stress the importance of safe driving practices. The students could also give an oral presentation on their thoughts about speeding or drink driving.

A hint/tip for pathfinder use:

Remember students can access the pathfinder from home so leave easier tasks for them to do in their own time.

I also Love that the templates in BC’s examples because they can be so easily adapted for any subject/topic. I plan to create a ready-made pathfinder “insert text here” type of pathfinder that can be added to depending on the topic at hand.

The following is topic commentary provided By Barbara Combes CSU Lecturer.

Topic 2 – Information Resources

Whenever we use a particular information source/resource or include it in a piece of curriculum we need to ask ourselves some questions, which will ultimately determine how we embed the resource and use it.

• Is the resource provision an initial foray into collaboration with a teacher? ie. Are we just providing a range of resources to support an existing curriculum program as part of an initial contact with a teacher who has not worked with the TL before? This may be how you get started when building a relationship with a teacher,

• Is the resource provision part of a collaborative curriculum program? ie. The program has been designed with the teacher and the TL has had major input. In this case the TL will need to ask other questions.

o Does the provision of resources provide the TL with a teaching moment/s that allows the teaching of information literacy skills? If so, then what do you want the students to be able to do/know at the end of the teaching intervention?

o How will you know the intervention has worked (assessment)?
In the first instance you are providing a professional library service ie. the provision of suitable resources to support the curriculum.

In the second instance you are providing professional support as well as being a teacher. You will embed the teaching of information literacy skills into the collaborative program, you will teach them at the point of need (either in the classroom or in the library) and you will assess them as part of the assessment regime for that piece of curriculum.

As TL you work at the General Capabilities level of the Australian Curriculum and its corresponding outcomes in your particular State curriculum. You need to know both and a good exercise over the break is to map the two and include this in your library policy documents to show your senior admin team where you work as the information specialist in the school. General References.

So, considering the above discussion, why would we have print general reference/s in a school? It depends on two things.

• Firstly, the amount of access you have in the library and classrooms to the technologies needed to use electronic/digital resources (electronic = resources such as CD-ROMs and databases, digital = Internet/Web based [although this distinction is probably up for discussion too!])

• Secondly, what is it you are trying to teach your students?
Using print resources effectively and efficiently also means teaching a range of information literacy skills that are different to the skills needed to interrogate/make meaning from electronic and digital resources. Things like using the contents page/s, indexes, references, glossaries and using headings and subheadings to glean general information and keywords, before moving into specific information gathering.

Why bother when there are lots of reference materials in digital format and most general reference resources become out-of-date very quickly?

• Everything is not available in electronic or digital format.

• Using print resources teaches other fundamental reading skills that are not apparent when using the screen such as reading from top to bottom, left to right, sequencing and logic, and the essential elements you look for when gathering general information such as a glossary, relevant keywords and related terms.

• Teaching search strategies using electronic and digital resources require other skills such as searching using a search engine. Search strategies may be different when using a Web-based search engine (eg. Google, Bing) or a search engine that searches a database. We will look more closely at the differences later in the unit. Suffice to say here that each search engine searches differently and there are different types of search engines.

• Students need to know how to search for general information. There isn’t an index on a site, but there may be a site map. There may be a glossary which will assist in the formulation of keywords so they can use the search facility on the site if there is one. Students need to know how to use headings and subheadings to glean general information (keywords, terms and related terms) to create electronic searches. In the digital world the headings and subheadings may be hyperlinks as well.

• Unless stated on a website, you do not know when the information was created – an important criterion when selecting a site for educational use if being up-to-date/currency is important.

The keywords here are efficient and effective use. TLs spend time finding electronic/digital resources for students for a number of reasons.

• Students waste an enormous amount of time looking for ‘stuff’, often because they do not know how to use search engines effectively. They are also easily distracted.

• Research shows they don’t read the text on the screen the same way they read print. We need to teach them how to read from the screen. Only students who have good traditional reading skills (using print) read effectively from the screen.

• Websites they find are often too hard (reading and cognitive level) – see the Twurdy search engine which groups sites according to reading level. Note that Wikipedia is often ranked as hard to very difficult, because most of the information is put up by adults, rather than teachers who are writing for specific age groups.

• Sites written specifically for students will include a reading level (vocabulary, layout, sentence structure) suitable for a specific age group. Most of the information on the Web is written by adults for adults.

• When students can’t make meaning from the information resource because it is too hard, they tend to cut and paste it directly into an assignment, hence the term, the Cut-and-paste Generation.

What was it that gave Google such instant success as a search engine?

• The original algorithm was based on college/school-boy logic that the best site for a query would be the most popular site, so just about any query would produce a result. The more popular a site then the higher its’ ranking on the results page. This means that Google can be manipulated.

See Google bombing:
o Karch, M. (2012). Google bombs explained. Guide. Retrieved July 30,2012 from

o Search engine people. (2010). The ten most incredible Google bombs. [blog] Retrieved July 30,2012 from

• Look at the Google interface and compare it with other search engine interfaces – go to the search engine list – what do you notice? When Google first appeared it was the uncluttered, simple and easy-to-use interface (a single search box) that made it instantly popular. All you had to do (and still have to do) is put in some words and you will get something as a result. It is this simplicity and uncluttered interface that have been a major driver of Google’s success.


As noted above, entries for Wikipedia are mostly posted by adults, so the reading level is usually high/difficult. Anyone can post to Wikipedia and often postings plagiarise information, images and multimedia from other sites. Wikipedia does not model best practice. Another issue with Wikipedia concerns links to other sites, often personal sites that may contain materials that is not appropriate for students.

eg. At a conference in South Africa in 2006, the Education Department there had set up a repository site where teachers could nominate good websites for students. The TLs were lobbying for this to be part of the TLs’ role in schools. In the session where the Department people were showing off the site, the main example used was a teacher link to an article in Wikipedia about the abacus. The whole article had been cobbled together by cutting and pasting information from a variety of other sites (no attribution), included images copied from book covers (no permission granted) and a link to the author’s site. The author happened to be a student (~ in the URL, but hanging off a university server) who had uploaded an article to Wikipedia, but whose main content on his site included links to hacking and illegal access to computers on the Internet.

So Wikipedia has good points and bad points and students and staff need to be aware of both and how to use it as a general reference. Wikipedia is a great way to gather keywords and search terms or to find links to other articles that may be attributed to accredited authors. It can be a good online tool, but it is not an authoritative resource and should not be used as an authoritative reference in school or university assignments. We (TLs and teachers) need to teach our students how to be discerning users when accessing resources on the Web.

Resource provision

As TLs we aim to provide our teachers and students with:

• access to a range of quality resources using a range of formats/delivery modes that will support curriculum programs (this includes electronic and digital, realia, kits, charts, posters, images, print, CD-ROMs, audiocassettes, DVDs/videos, websites, simulations, ….);

• a range of locally produced teaching-learning support documents (using a range of formats/delivery modes); and

• teaching programs where information literacy and literacy outcomes are embedded in curriculum and assessed as part of the overall curriculum outcomes.

When you the TL does both (expert resource provision and teaching/assessing) they are part of (and perceived by teachers and admin) the core business of the school which is teaching and learning.

Topic 3 – Website Evaluation
Some excellent discussion and points were raised in the forums this week. Keep up the good work everyone.

Website evaluation criteria are essentially the same as selection criteria and are part of your collection development policy. So all the criteria that apply to print materials such as reading age/s, cognitive development age/s, catering for different learning styles, curriculum relevance, recency/currency, … are going to apply to any websites you choose to support curriculum programs as well.

Herring’s major argument here, is that TLs need to have some knowledge and understanding of website design so the sites they select for their students represent the best sites available. This is important because reading and making meaning from text on screen requires different skills. Go to the In the News page and read the article about South Korea.
In fact the term literacy has taken on a whole new set of skills as technology and how we access information evolves.

Some definitions for ‘traditional’ literacy:

“… the integration of listening, speaking, reading, writing and critical thinking. It includes a cultural knowledge which enables a speaker, writer or reader to recognise and use language appropriate to different social situations. For an advanced technological society such as Australia, the goal is an active literacy which allows people to use language to enhance their capacity to think, create and question, in order to participate effectively in society.”

The National Secretariat for the International Year of Literacy, 1990.
… the making of meaning and its clear communication to others. Truly literate people not only read and write, but regularly do so in order to sort out their ideas and put them in words, to fit them together and test hypotheses – ie. to make sense and meaning out of our world. Truly literate people acknowledge that they need to write things down, to talk them out, to read widely, to listen critically and to respond articulately. Truly literate people are thinkers and learners.”

Brown & Mathie, 1990
“… the foundation of effective citizenship, human communication and social integration in a literate society. Therefore it is important to foster the lifetime habit of purposeful and critical reading for information, education and recreation. Literacy is the foundation of learning in all areas of the curriculum.”

Holdaway, 1979

You will notice 2 things here:
• all of these definitions pre-date the Web (html invented in 1993, first Web browser in 1994, Internet access to the Australian public in 1997 and 1995 in the US – it is < 15 years old!); and

• a major element of these definitions is being able to make meaning from text, think and read critically, and be able to apply the understanding gained to new contexts and information (in other words higher order thinking skills), so readers can participate in society.

It we look at a list of 21st century literacies we see the following:

1. Traditional literacy: reading, writing, viewing, listening and understanding.

2. Computer literacy: being able to use and understand how a computer works, the operating system, hardware and software, security. Being able to use a range of databases and software programs.

3. ICT literacy: being able to use the Web/Internet, email and social media applications, ethically and appropriately. Being able to use a range of databases and software programs that are Web based. Being able to critically evaluate Web based information.

4. Internet/network literacy: knowing where you are in virtual space, including databases. Being able to navigate virtual space effectively and efficiently.

5. Screen literacy: being able to make meaning from text on screen, understand and recognise hyperlinks, including icons (iconic literacy).

6. Multimedia literacy: make meaning from multimedia presentations, including simulations, interactive social media, online videos.

7. Information management: being able to filter, collate, store and relocate information gathered in an online environment.

8. Visual literacy/discrimination: making meaning from/interpreting images, video on screen.

9. Digital literacies?: a term used by the Australian Curriculum which includes the above.

10. Information inquiry literacy?: a term used in the literature. Being able to apply a process to define information needs/wants, locate authentic and appropriate information, make meaning from this information (critically analyse), apply it to new contexts and information to create new information (synthesis and creation).

11. Transformational literacies? Transliteracy?: also terms found in the literature. Being able to apply information processes and skills across the curriculum. Being able to adapt and apply information skills in new contexts and apply them to meet information needs/wants, ie. learning to learn to become a lifelong learner.

12. Higher order thinking: critical evaluation skills, critical analysis and synthesis (making meaning), applying information to new contexts and creating new information products and understandings.
… and there are probably more!

The literacies above are different to the traditional literacy skills we use to interrogate print media (traditional literacy). Some thoughts about reading:

• We humans were never born to read. We learn to do so by an extraordinarily ingenuous ability to rearrange our “original parts”.

• Each young reader has to fashion an entirely new “reading circuit” afresh every time. There is no one neat circuit just waiting to unfold.

• This means that the circuit can become more or less developed depending on the particulars of the learner, e.g. instruction, culture, motivation, educational opportunity.

(Wolf, 2009)
Where are we now? What does the research say?

• 46 % of Australians don’t have the literacy and numeracy skills required to participate effectively in modern society. (ABS, 2010)

• Our perceptions of our skills can be at odds with the reality.

• People facing literacy difficulties compensate in other ways.

• We reward having higher literacy. Not explicitly, but it’s inherent in the system.

(Bailey, 2010)
• Literacy and numeracy problems can be directly linked to healthcare issues, workplace safety, equity and access to work.

• Poor literacy exerts a serious negative drag on the overall GDP per capita of a country.

• The correlation between poverty and literacy is irrefutable.
(OECD, 2002; Bailey, 2010)
Why are Herring’s technological criteria so important when evaluating websites?

• People read more slowly on screen, by as much as 20-30 percent.

• Reading on screen requires slightly more effort and thus is more tiring.

• Workers switch tasks about every three minutes and take over 23 minutes on average to return to a task.

• Distractions abound online & task switching — costs time and interferes with the concentration needed to think about what you read.
(Mark, Aamodt, 2009)

• Reading from the screen is different. Current forms of digital media behave nothing like ‘books’ or ‘libraries,’ and cause users to swing between two kinds of bad reading.

• Networked digital media does a poor job of balancing focal and peripheral attention. We swing between two kinds of bad reading. We suffer tunnel vision, as when reading a single page, paragraph, or even “keyword in context” without an organized sense of the whole. Or we suffer marginal distraction.

• Online technologies that actually behave nothing like a book, edition or library.

• Online literacy or screen literacy requires a new skills set to match a new paradigm.
(Liu, 2009)

• Reading online is thus not just about reading text in isolation.

• When you read news, or blogs or fiction, you are reading one document in a networked maze of an unfathomable amount of information.

• Research shows that people are continually distracted when working with digital information. They switch simple activities an average of every three minutes (e.g. reading email or IM) and switch projects about every 10 and a half minutes.

• It’s just not possible to engage in deep thought about a topic when we’re switching so rapidly.

• The extent to which young people can deeply engage with the online material is a question for further research.

(Mark, 2009)
Research is also showing that students need really good traditional literacy skills before they can use computers to access information. Computers are not compensatory, but complementary. Technology is not a solution, it is another tool.

• Screen literacy skills are closely related to good traditional literacy skills.

• Students need to be literate before they can ‘read’ information on the screen.

• Even students with good literacy skills “miss” information on the screen.
(Corio , 2008)

So – some things to think about here.
• We need to teach students how to read effectively from the screen.

• If a student is illiterate or has poor traditional literacy skills, access to a laptop and/or the Internet/Web will not improve their literacy skills.

• We need to consider the technology and website design as criteria when selecting sites for students to use as resources.
Above all, we need to stop making assumptions about our students and the skills they possess when using different forms of media. If they have never been formally taught how to use the Web/Internet (and most students fall into this category), then we need to teach them if they are to become information literate (Combes, 2009).

References and further reading
Aamodt, S. (2009). A test of character. Does the brain like e-books? New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010 from
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2010). 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALLS). Retrieved Sep. 16, 2010 from 2006%20(Reissue)?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4228.0&issue=20 06%20(Reissue)&num=&view=
Bailey, J. (2010). You wouldn’t read about it. The Age. Retrieved Sep. 16, 2010 from May 9, 2010 ul30.html
Bauerlein, M. (2009). The dumbest generation: How the digital age stupefies young Americans and jeopardizes our future, New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin.
Brown, H. & Mathie, V. (1990). Inside whole language: A classroom view, Rozelle, NSW: PETA.
Coiro, J. & Dobler, B. Coiro, J., & Dobler, E. (2007). Exploring the online reading comprehension strategies used by sixth-grade skilled readers to search for and locate information on the Internet. Reading Research Quarterly, 42, 214-257. Retrieved Sep. 1, 2010 from
Coiro, J., Knobel, M., Lankshear, C., & Leu, D.J. (Eds). (2008). Handbook of research on new literacies. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Retrieved Sep. 1, 2010 from
Corio, J. (2009). Julie Corio talks. Retrieved April 23, 2012 from
Coiro, J. (2003). Reading comprehension on the Internet: Expanding our understanding of reading comprehension to encompass new literacies. The Reading Teacher, 56(6). Retrieved Sep. 1, 2010 from 03_column/index.html
Corio, J. (2009). Rethinking reading assessment in a digital age. Retrieved April 23, 2012 from g_assessment_in_a_digital_age_How_is_reading_comprehension_different_and_wh ere_do_we_turn_now._Educational_Leadership_66_59-63
Combes, B. (2009). Digital natives or digital refugees? Why we have failed Gen Y? Proceedings of 38th Annual Conference of the International Association of School Librarianship incorporating the 13th International Forum on Research in School Librarianship: Preparing pupils and students for the future, school libraries in the picture. Albano Terme, Padova, Italy. IASL and the University of Padua. Retrieved 5 July, 2012 from
Kelly, K. (2008). Becoming screen literate. New York Times.
Liu, A. (2009). A new metaphor for reading. Does the brain like e-books? New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010 from
Mark, G. (2009). The effects of perpetual distraction. Does the brain like e-books? New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010 from
OECD. (2002). Reading for Change: Performance and Engagement across Countries: Results from PISA 2000. Retrieved July 11 2009 from,3343,en_2649_39263231_1841177_1_1_1_1,00 .html
Wolf, M. (2009). Beyond decoding words. Does the brain like e-books? New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010 from

Topic 4 – Searching the Web

Again some excellent discussion and points were raised in the forums this week. As I pointed out in the forum, your searching journey has just begun. You will refine and hone your skills as an information specialist the more you search.

Google changed the algorithm approximately 18 months ago. It now searches by creating a search profile – hence the drop down box when you search. You will find that shifting words around or altering and using different words with a similar meaning will now give you the same results. This is an attempt by the company to deal with information overload.
However, the basic premise for Google remains the same – the most popular site appears at the top of the results page. Google bombing is a term used to describe how the search engine can be manipulated. Another term is search optimization which uses a number of tools to ensure your website appears high in the results listings.

Google also makes money by selling placements on their search engine. These often appear at the very top of the results page, to the right of the results page and often in the first 4-6 sites in the results.

Apart from Google bombing the search engine can be manipulated by the organization. Last year Google finally withdrew the search engine from the Chinese market (very lucrative) due to pressure from around the world, because the Chinese Government insisted on a version of the search engine that would allow the Government to monitor all searches made in Chins via the search engine.

A more insidious aspect of Google and any other utilities provided by the company is the fact that you must have cookies turned on in your Internet browser. A cookie is a piece of code that sends information back to the originating server about you. It can be used to build a profile of you as a user for marketing purposes.

Google has also been in hot water over illegal sniffing of information during drive-by data gathering for the streetscapes used for Google Earth. Sniffer software is a program that can be used to monitor and capture data from a network. In the Google case it is alleged that Google used illegal software to capture data from unsecured home networks. Since research in WA 2 years ago found that most home WiFi networks operated without adequate security, this represents a major privacy breach. The breach is alleged to have occurred in the US, Australia and Europe.

Google is a great search engine. If you use advanced search and think about your search string you can get to information that is relevant to your query very easily and quickly. However, as with everything on the Web, you still have to verify the author and time of publication to assess whether it is ‘good’ information for your purpose.

Other search engines
• Bing – Microsoft’s answer to Google
• Clusty – provides results in clusters or by category eg. A search using the term mars (13/8/2012) provides links in categories such as pictures, planet, Rover Curiosity and more.
• Twurdy – results by reading level

Directories – who does the evaluating?
• Infotopia – academic search engine/directory evaluated by librarians and teachers.
• Yahoo! – a search engine and a directory.
• Open Directory – advertises as the largest human built directory.
Search engines for kids
• Ask kids – young people ages 6–12.
• CyberSleuth Kids – Internet search guide K-12. – Australian, directory of safe sites, thesaurus, encyclopedia and translator.
• WebWombat – original Australian search engine for children
• Safe search for kids – uses safesearch filter from Google
Other search information

• Australian search engines and directories
• International Children’s Digital Library – multiple languages, children’s literature/fiction, specific collections. Great for immersive LOTE lessons.
Metacrawlers and meta search engines
• Meta Crawler – search results you receive include the top commercial (sponsored advertising) and non-commercial (algorithmic) results. Now sponsored results are displayed separately from organic web results.
• Dogpile – best results from leading search engines including Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Yandex.
• Vivisimo – presents matching responses from major search engines and automatically organizes the pages into categories.
• Kartoo – shows the results with sites being interconnected by keywords.
• IceRocket – Meta search engine with thumbnail displays.
Encourage teachers to explore a number of different search engines and to use them in their classes, especially when working with primary aged students.

Of course searching databases is different again. Each database searches slightly differently. Symbols and Boolean operators may be different in each database. Help screens will provide the information you need. Automatic filters located either on a side menu bar or across the top of the search screen will help to filter your results to produce a more manageable number of relevant results.

Major concepts for your students to grasp when searching the Web:
• “more is not better”;

• all search engines only search the public domain Web (top of the iceberg = <10% of what is on the Web);

• searching the Web is not searching the Internet, which is much larger. The Web is a subset of the Internet;

• Google does not search everything on the Web;

• searching databases uses similar skills but different methods may be requried; and

• understanding how search engines search will assist in finding the best one for your query.
Teaching tips

• Create a laminated blow-up of the iceberg diagram and post it in the staff room, the library and various classrooms.

• Create a poster with search engine URLs and post in different classrooms, as well as having direct links on the library or school webpages.

• Get the kids to do comparison searches to see the different search results and post these as a display. Include the number of results and repeat them over time to do some long term data gathering.

• Feature useful websites (curriculum related or for leisure) and search engines as part of an ongoing display that changes weekly. You can put these on Clickview or the school website as well. A good idea is to do the searching for these over the holidays so you have a readymade list for the whole semester

Topic 5 – Web 2.0

Again some excellent discussion and points were raised in the forums this week. As I have mentioned before your (Web) learning journey has just begun. It will evolve as you try new tools and play with the technology and find innovative ways to embed its use into classroom programs. An essential understanding of the educational support role of the TL is the philosophy of small steps. Embark slowly on this journey, plan your curriculum interventions and collaborations carefully and build your portfolio of resources and generic support (IL scaffold) documents, otherwise you will burn out.

I had a student arrive back from an ASLA Conference a couple of years ago complaining that he was sick and tired of Web 2.0, and why couldn’t they just say the Web. He has a point. After all, Web 3.0 has already been and gone. What is Web 3.0?

Koren, J. (2012). What is Web 3.0? Murray State University College of Education. Retrieved Sept. 9, 2012 from

As if you weren’t already feeling totally swamped!!
The thing with technology is that new tools and apps (applications) are appearing all the time. What you need to decide is what you will use and more importantly, WHY you are using it in an educational setting. Unless you are embedding the technology into a curriculum program for a reason, intend to teach students when they are using the technology and assess their use, then don’t waste your time.

Using technology in a pedagogically sound manner requires careful planning and integration, monitoring and assessment. Whenever you embed a technology then you need to look for teaching moments. Teach WHAT I hear you say?

• The networked world.

What does this mean? It means collaboration, global access, connecting with others. It also means information overload, issues with the authority of information, security, finding information and being able to manage and use it effectively and efficiently. It is very difficult to decide what is true, real and good information.

• The nature of information on the Web

Information on the Web behaves differently to information that is only available in print or other older formats. It is both fluid and solid at the same time.

It is fluid because it can be moved with ease, altered and changed slightly and recirculated as new information at any given time. It is often very hard to ascertain when something was actually produced and who is the original author. In a print item this is easy to find and the information remains in its original form. It is not fluid.

Information on the Web is solid because it is very difficult to remove once you have pumped it out there. Web 2.0 social networking utilities such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter always state cumulative statistics, not current users.

Information on the Web can also be out of context. Social networking utilities such as Twitter and RSS Feeds only give you little bits of information which are out of context, so it is difficult to interpret or obtain the whole picture.

• The importance of design and layout, colour, white space and easy navigation.This applies if students are creating a weebly, a blog, a wiki, a voicethread. Correct spelling and grammar are important if you are publishing to a global audience.

• Copyright.

Teach them about Creative Commons and tie this to intext referencing and end of text referencing, plagiarism and the importance of demonstrating their understandings by using their own words. Teach them about ethical use of the Web

• The Web as a desensitised environment.

Teach them about appropriate use, cyberbullying and how to respect/remember the human when working and playing online. Observe the same standards of behaviour online as you would face-to-face. Know where you are in cyberspace and what is acceptable there. Learn the rules of Netiquette and make them aware of the consequences. Explore the limitations of language and words in such an environment. Examine the legal ramifications if you don’t use the Web wisely – acceptable use policies and the school/work environment. Remind them that use of the Web at school is a privilege, not a right (since the school is paying for access, often to the Internet and the technology). New sciences such as Digital Forensics make it almost impossible for you NOT to leave digital footprints behind. Give them the tools and knowledge to become responsible users.

• Safety and security.

Teach them about safety, keeping private things private. Social networking utilities such as Facebook by their nature, are not secure, even if you lock them down. Like everything there is a dark side to being globally connected.
My head hurts! Where am I supposed to begin with all this?
As I mentioned in the beginning of this document, a major philosophy for the TL here is small steps. Think about the educational benefits of using a technology before integrating it into a piece of curriculum.

Don’t assume anything about your students’ skill levels. They have usually taught themselves how to use the Web (and Web 2.0 utilities are designed to be easy to use – the technology appears to do the thinking for you) and this has been based on trial and error and the play principle. We want our students to be able, efficient, effective and responsible users of technology. We don’t want them to be surface skimmers who do not have the skills to dive deeper into this incredible world of information resources and the opportunities it offers.

I would also caution you to think about the types of Web 2.0 utilities you use in the classroom. Facebook is not secure and it is a diary/social platform for the storage and personal sharing of information. Most students do not understand that information posted here is available globally even if their site is locked down and they cannot delete their site. Things they post there may come back to haunt them a long way down the track in the future. There have been quite a number of cases where teachers have lost their jobs due to what they perceived as innocent relationships on Facebook with students. We must always be mindful of our duty of care and the line that exists between student and teacher, but can become so easily blurred in the desensitised environment that is the Web.

So choose your tools carefully with an educational purpose in mind – no doubt Herring would applaud the use of these words in view of our last assignment! However, he is entirely correct. If there is no educational reason for using the tool then don’t bother. Using a tool solely because you think it might motivate the students or be ‘fun’ only sends the message to students that it is playtime. We want our students to think about what they are doing when working and playing in this environment. So take it slowly and use one tool really well and get your students using it really well before moving on to try something else.

Topic 6 – Students and the Web

Well done on the forums this week everyone. When the second assignment is in you will have some time to go back over the forums and make full use of all the sharing that has occurred. This is how you build your TL toolkit. You will also be able to use this time to reflect on your learning and add to your blog.

Creating teacher/student curriculum resources

In essence, you are creating a curriculum resource for students when doing the pathfinder exercise. This is a pathway to resources to support a piece of curriculum. Use the assignment exercise to create a pathfinder template that you can save and then rename and reuse.

Templates are a way of making time and space in your day. You should develop a template every time you create something, so next time it is just a matter of dropping in new content. For example – create a Library newsletter template.

First you need to create an overall template. The example at the end of this document has been done in tables using Word. The middle section can be altered at any time. As you receive stuff through your listservs or from your network you can drop the links in as you go and then spend half an hour finalizing the newsletter. You might have one for teachers, one for students and one for parents. Content is tweaked slightly for each audience.You can do this in Publisher or as a simple Word document. Include a number of things in the template:

• a library/school logo ie. Badge it as coming from the library;

• the library mission statement – keep it at 5 key/words; and

• an email back to you.

Then you decide what goes in the middle sections. I have added some suggestions, but your imagination is the limit. You can use this one to get started. While it is very simple, it doesn’t have to be complex or fussy. The way to make this easy on you time is to add to it as you find things during the week/fortnight/month before the newsletter is due out.

Once again, slowly, slowly wins the race. Decide to do one thing at a time, get some processes in place and then tick it off your list.

Developing IL skills building templates for students

Develop a number of templates to cater for different reading and class levels. I have loaded some samples for you to view and adapt in the Resources section of the ETL501 Interact site. Many of these are for secondary since this is where I was teaching at the time, but you should be able to pare them down so they are suitable for primary.

Use your overall template as your starting point when developing your own, so students and staff will immediately identity it as from the library. It means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and save time as well. These are simple and can be tweaked for each new research topic and group of students.
Use the templates to develop IL skills and use the templates and the process consistent ie. It is repeated for every piece of work. The content, resources and the tasks are different. Consistency builds habit and students are more likely to develop IL skills and follow the process next time when they know exactly what they need to do. The process, skills and expectations become more complex as the students get older, more literate and competent.

It is also a good idea to develop some generic questions to be asked before every research topic as part of the research method/process they will always follow. The 5W & H method is a good one to guide a research process: what, where, who, why, when and how.


There are lots of ways to do brainstorming. Use a variety of methods and tools to cater for different learning styles. If you are using a technology then use this as a teaching moment and create a checklist to assess students’ use of the technology. You can start with the humble post-it note and a white board (circumnavigate a lack of ). IL skills students are developing in these types of activities include collating, categorizing, indexing and evaluating information. Literacy skills include vocabulary building and spelling. Independent/group learning skills (those General Capabilities (GC) again) may also be part of this activity. Get the students to debrief by writing a quick reflection on their group, how they worked together and what they need to do better next time and use this to assess the GC and as feedback for next time.

Then move from the post-it notes to something like Wordle which creates keyword pictures. The teaching moment here is all about design, colour and the meaning conveyed by the image ie the keywords. Next you might consider using something more complex like, Inspiration or Freemind (there are lots to choose from).

Some kids might like to draw their own using clouds and graphic organizers, while other might prefer to use lists. It is the mindmapping/brainstorming concept/process that is important, so the method can change to suit the age group. It is also about getting the students to recognize their own strengths and to encourage them to develop their weaknesses. Designing and using these templates is about creating ongoing, reusable and evolving resources (sometimes referred to as learning objects) that support student learning and help them to develop IL and Literacy skills.

Reading for information

Research over the last few years shows that reading from the screen is different to reading from print. See the In the News Forum for some links to this research. We have to teach students how to read and make meaning from text on screen. They come to us with a ‘surf’ mentality that skims text on screen and focuses on headings, links and bolded text. They do not recognise hidden links (behind icons) and often find it difficult to concentrate due to fatigue. The online environment is full of distractions too. For this reason it is essential that students are guided when using the Web for research. They need to know exactly what they are doing, why they are doing it and we need to give them help/starting points (Scaffolding templates).

Being a reflective learner

Develop some templates and use leading statements (not questions) to get students started. This is developing metacognitive thinking skills or thinking about thinking. It fosters the development of internal processing and problem-solving skills and leads to the learner being able to think critically about information. Once they have mastered this skill they become critical learners and critical users of information.

The idea of a digital native was first promulgated in 2000. Current research now tells us that this is largely a myth. The general rule of thumb with students should always be ASSUME NOTHING! Don’t assume they know how to use or not use the technology. Don’t assume they like using technology either. Use the mindmapping exercises to establish the learning parameters ie. What do they already know, what do they need to know and how will they find out.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s