Wrap up for Information Environment.

This unit has enabled me to extend my technology skills through website evaluations and creating a pathfinder, but more than anything it has opened up a new digital world for this teacher who had limited knowledge or skills in anything ICT, and always asked the students to assist me when I encountered problems in the tech lab! Now, my new knowledge has given me extra confidence and skills, together with a new enthusiasm for anything Web 2.0 or digital technology/tools.

I can empathise with the students in every way; I’ve experienced bewilderment, felt ‘dumb”, delighted in independently creating a pathfinder, and enjoyed the satisfaction of using my new learning in website evaluation when researching websites for the pathfinder. Surely this is the ultimate learning experience? Demonstrating to students that learning is ongoing for everyone, and relevant to our daily lives and the future as lifelong learners, not just within an educational context. Hopefully, I’ll be able to put some of this knowledge to use as a future teacher librarian!

ETL 501. Part B. Critical Reflection

With the abundance of Web information available in the 21st century and the introduction of Web 2.0 tools, students are progressively using digital resources such as Pathfinders for research tasks and to satisfy learning outcomes. Teacher librarians create pathfinders as useful tools where students can use electronic reference guides at their own pace without feeling overwhelmed (Vileno, 2007, p. 435), and in this respect my pathfinder is designed for use by year seven secondary students researching Egypt, as an ancient civilisation in Mediterranean Societies, as the in-depth Topic as part of their History curriculum studies (VCAA, History, Curriculum, 2013).

The pathfinder is designed to integrate the two strands of Historical Knowledge and Understanding and Historical Skills into a historical inquiry research task, requiring students to identify the significant beliefs, values and practices of the ancient Egyptians in their everyday lives (VCAA, History, Curriculum, 2013). The learning outcomes incorporated Literacy, Digital and Information literacy skills, Critical and Creative thinking, and Personal and Social General Capabilities into a historical inquiry framework, where students will use the pathfinder to research, develop and present their findings in a PowerPoint Presentation.

When using the pathfinder students will use information literacy skills to locate, access, select, compare and evaluate a range of website information sources, by working independently and using an iterative (going back and reassessing) process when refining, organising and managing their findings for presentation (Valenza, 2004, pp. 38, 41). They will demonstrate digital literacy skills by using key words, topic areas, or databases as search strategies, critical thinking skills to evaluate and interpret sources for relevancy, reliability, bias, points of view, authority and purpose, besides literacy skills when note-taking, organising, and presenting their research findings as a PowerPoint Presentation for assessment (ASCAR, General Capabilities, 2013). With the inclusion of a reference page in the pathfinder, students will be mindful of citing all sources of information they use, and the legal and ethical ramifications of plagiarism, copyright and Creative Commons considerations (Johnson & Lamb, 2006-12, para. 2).

As an educator using Web 2.0 tools  I chose to use a Wiki format through Wikispaces Classroom (2013) to construct my pathfinder, because it can be easily accessed, edited, updated, and used in any collaborative teaching and learning environment with a variety of topics (Brisco, 2007). I specifically chose Boolify Project (2013) and Cybersleuth Kids K-12 (2013) educational search engines as an alternative to Google,  emphasising to the students there are a variety of search tools they can utilise when searching for quality information sources (Valenza, 2004, p.40). Students need to learn how to effectively filter information sources to locate specific details, and Boolify and Cybersleuth have a built in functionality to help the user broaden, narrow, or refine their search (Thibault, n.d.). In this instance Cybersleuth Kids provided the best format for students to follow, featuring key search elements of headings and subheadings, with the sitemap the equivalent of the index and the comprehensive menu bar the website version of the table of contents (Thibault, n.d.).

By personally using these search engines to find relevant information on ancient Egypt, I was able to identify any concerns with relevancy, reliability, navigation, access, or technical aspects of the websites, and use library selection criteria for websites to select the most appropriate sources for students to utilise when completing their inquiry research (Hemmig, 2002, p.66). I was able to eliminate sources that were considered to be unsafe, too cluttered with annotations, pictures or text, had distracting textured backgrounds, or biased points of view, and eventually selected eight excellent, age and learning level appropriate online sources featuring the daily lives of ancient Egyptians (Hook, 2002, 243).

Online dictionaries and encyclopaedia’s were added to the pathfinder as additional reference sources for students to access and use more efficiently than printed reference texts, with a glossary  containing key topic words enabling students to utilise their information literacy skills. World Book Online (2013) added another alternative reference facility by providing twelve resource links incorporating articles, interactive maps, activities, search facilities etc. Selecting printed non-fiction texts involved choosing three books from the school library with relevant topic information and illustrations, and concise text that was easy to read and use by all students at all learning levels.

By using pathfinders within the library context, teacher librarians provide opportunities for students to become proficient and discerning when searching, locating, evaluating and managing information from online sources (Valenza, 2004, p.38). By continually using information and digital literacy skills, students will become confident and capable when identifying the origin, purpose and authority of websites, together with any security, legal and ethical considerations which frequent our overly abundant information world (Thibault, n.d.). Hopefully, as a future teacher librarian, I will use pathfinders as a resource framework where students efficiently and effectively navigate and access information from online sources as 21st century learning skills, designed to be transferable into life skills within a digital global world.

Words: 820

References: Critical Reflection; Part B.

Boolify. Critical Thinking for Effective Searches. Retrieved from: http://www.web2teachingtools.com/boolify.html

Boolify: Project. An Educational Boolean Web Search Tool. (2013). Retrieved from: http://www.boolify.org/

Cybersleuth Kids. K-12 (2013). Retrieved from: http://cybersleuth-kids.com/

Hemmig, W. (2005). Online pathfinders: toward an experience-centered model. Reference Services review, 33(1), 66-87.

Hook, P. (2002). Creating an online tutorial and pathfinder. Library Law Journal, 94(2), 243-265.

Johnson, L. & Lamb, A. (2006-12). Pathfinders: Pathfinder and Social Bookmarking Defined. Teacher Tap. Retrieved from: http://eduscapes.com/earth/informational/path2.html

Thibault, M. (n.d.).  K-12 Teaching and Learning. Learn NC. From the UNC School of Education.  Retrieved from: http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/

Valenza, J. (2004). Substantive searching: thinking and behaving info-fluently. Learning and Leading with technology, 32(3), 38-43.

Valenza, J. (2013). 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

Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority. (2013(a)). AusVELS. The Australian Curriculum in Victoria. Retrieved from: http://ausvels.vcaa.vic.edu.au/The-Humanities-History/Curriculum/F-10#level=7

Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority. (2013(b)). AusVELS. The Australian Curriculum in Victoria. History Standards and progression points. Retrieved from: http://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Documents/auscurric/progressionpoints/AusVELS-Historiographers-2013.pdf

Vileno, L. (2007). From paper to electronic, the evolution of pathfinders: a review of the literature. Reference Services review, 35(3), 435-451.

Wikispaces Classroom (2013). Retrieved from: http://www.wikispaces.com/content/teacher

ETL 501. Topic 8. The collaborative role of the teacher librarian: learning websites

Learning Websites – Design and Tools

The term ‘learning websites’ is often called learning objects (re-useable resources in this case electronic resources). In this section, we will be discussing aspects of the design of websites and some of the tools which can be used to develop learning websites.

Check some of the following tools: 

  • Wikispaces  Great!
  • Weebly       Excellent!!
  • Prezi          Good.
  • Slideshare  Not for me

Do you use these already? If not, do you think you might use them in the future?

I will definitely use Wikispaces, Weebly and Prezi but not Slideshare which I consider to technical for me at my present level of expertise (lack of!). May try it again as I become more experienced with web tools but the other three are far more user friendly – my type of tools!

Are learning websites being developed in your school (or a school you know)? Send examples into your group forum.

No, not that I know of, I haven’t send or heard of any.

Are these learning websites well designed? If not, how could they be improved?

Well I guess as the web is constantly changing and evolving there are always new and more innovative learning websites being created and available for use by teachers and students.

Consider developing a storyboard for a learning website. What would you include? What are the advantages of developing a storyboard before designing your learning website?

It’s always advisable to use a storyboard first as a plan or indicator of how you are going to create the content, by using a series of Word documents (1 for each page of the pathfinder), and then transfer the content to the Web utility to present it.

How much do you know about the technical aspects of website design e.g. format, template, colour, navigation and accessibility? Which of these do you consider most important for your own school (or a school you know)?

I don’t know anything about technical aspects for website design but I would presume a visually appealing design would be necessary for students to want to engage with the content and research topic. Easy access to resources and navigation would be essential too, with good links to additional information and a home page, which identified the topic criteria and a template which needs to be usable by all students irrespective of their learning levels.

Why do you think subject content is important in a learning website?

Subject content is important because students need to know if the information is relevant, easy to access, navigate, and read? Also, is it reliable, up-to-date, visually appealing, age appropriate or reading level suitable for all students to use?

Do you agree that learning websites developed in your school (or a school you know) are likely to motivate students, because they are geared to what is being taught in that particular school?

Yes, students can work at their own pace but also work collaboratively with other students, and being iterative, they can always go back to a previous page if necessary.

What kind of information literacy guidance should be provided in a pathfinder and how can this be linked to information literacy development in the school in general?

Independent learning, evaluation, critical thinking and search skills when accessing information for research tasks.

Annotations should be helpful to students. How can we ensure that students will read and take note of the content of annotations?

Keep them short, concise and relevant to the topic, and by using simple language which students will understand and be able to read and follow.

How can we get students to participate in developing learning websites, and subsequently adding content to the sites?

If students enjoy their learning experience they will be enthusiastic when using further learning websites, gaining more confidence with practice. If they use them successfully they will identify the learning websites as an authentic means of researching and learning independently.

Buttacavoli’s ‘Thoughts on using Prezi as a teaching tool ‘ (2013), and Hill’s ‘The power and point of using Prezi in the classroom(2010) were excellent examples of how Prezi is used to create and utilise pathfinders/learning websites. I really enjoyed the Robinson’s Prezi presentation of using Google’s Advanced Search and thought it was very useful for future use (2010). Herring (2004), I couldn’t access or loan, but  I bookmarked the Animoto articles as I really feel I can use them in the classroom as they felt more user friendly, for those of us who aren’t experienced in using technology, and Pappas’ website design(2000) was constructive and informative.


Buttacavoli, C. (2013). Thoughts on using Prezi as a teaching tool. Retrieved July 30, 2013

Hill, P. (2010). The power and point of using Prezi in the classroom. Retrieved July 30, 2013.

Pappas, P. (2000) Design your website from the bottom up. Retrieved July 30, 2013.

Robinson, A. (2010). Effective research: advanced search. Retrieved July 30, 2013.

ETL 501. Topic 7. Information services to staff and students.

  1. Think about providing an information service to teachers in a primary or secondary school and list three key factors which a teacher librarian needs to take into account before offering such a service. Share your thoughts in your group forum in the thread Information Services Staff.

Ans: Three key factors a teacher librarian needs to take into account when providing an information service to teachers in a secondary context are, what resource format the information is required in (printed or electronic), the age and learning level of the students, and if the information is specific to the one group or for a general curriculum learning outcome.

 2.     Read Valenza’s comments on pathfinders and wikis and think about whether you agree with her reasons or if you might add other reasons. Comment on this topic in your group forum.

Ans:  I totally agree with Valenza (2013) that wikis are more versatile when building and utilising pathfinders as they are easy to upload and link. I hadn’t thought of the collaborative aspect of wikis other than at school with other staff members, but that’s what’s so great with Web 2.0 tools, the ability to learn and share collaboratively on a greater scale (outside school context), and as part of a teacher librarian’s role in 21st century digital learning.

3. After exploring the sites below, share your thoughts about the usefulness of pathfinders in your group forum.

Ans: Hayes (2011) article on Pathfinders was great, very informative, helpful, simple, and easy to follow, the type of resource I intend to include in my pathfinder. Kuntz (2004) was an example of a text I would not include as it was topic specific, too detailed, hard to follow, but was informative with good points and relevant to the focus topic of pathfinders. Lamb and Johnson (2006-2011) always write well and list information and directions clearly, concisely and with easy to follow directions. I’ve always liked their style of writing and they are well known with reputable advice and research evidence to substantiate their claims.

4. Post on your group forum in no more than 20 words, your definition of a reference interview. How would you describe it? Then indicate the connections between a reference interview and teaching students how to ask the right questions when doing research.

Ans: Guiding and assisting students to effectively search for appropriate information from a variety of print and digital formats.

5. Identify the 5 key areas, in order of importance, which you would identify as part of an effective school information service that you would recommend to a new teacher librarian. Remember, there are no absolutely right answers to this. Hint: Services for students.

Ans: Five key areas are: 1). Notifying students of latest print or electronic texts and materials available from the library for use and to loan. 2). Information on the latest digital resources and technology for students to access from the library for research or leisure use. 3). Instruction on information literacy skills when researching factual information. 4). Research guidance and assistance before and after school, and at recess and lunchtime. 5). Community awareness though Intranet, Library homepage or wiki, and visable activities or presentations within library context.

6. How do you think a community profile might be useful when providing resources and services to students?

Ans: Using a library homepage or printed report as part of School Newsletter to school community detailing new texts, resources, and materials available from the library, or information nights on curriculum projects or programs.

7. From the above example, reflect on this situation and decide on methods which the TL could use to provide students with instant reminders of the information literacy/skills process. These might include posters or handouts or other methods. List three (3) ways in which you think a TL might do this. The context is a library where there is only one TL who has part-time clerical support. 

Ans: Three ways a TL could provide reminders of information literacy skills are, clearly designed and simply worded posters around the library with scaffolded instructions to remind students of the process, and the steps to return to if in trouble. Secondly, a compact IL process diagram in the front/back of their School Organisers for easy and convenient access. Thirdly, on the library homepage as a link students can access to an information literacy page, for referral by students at home or not in the library context.


Hayes, D. (2011). What is a pathfinder. Life in the Library (blog). Retrieved July 30, 2013 from http://www.lifeinthelibrary.org/pathfinders.html

Kuntz, K. (2004). Pathfinders: Helping students find paths to information. The Online educator. Retrieved July 30, 2013 from


Lamb, A, & Johnson, L. (2006-2011). Pathfinders: Pathfinders creation and collections. Electronic Materials for Children and Young Adults. Retrieved from:  http://eduscapes.com/earth/informational/path4.html

Valenza, J. (2013). Ten reasons why your next pathfinder should be a wiki. Retrieved July 30, 2013 from


ETL 501. Topic 6. Improving Student’s Web Use.

The Web is a learning tool that differs from other tools used in education because students acquire a great many Web skills within the home context and also regard themselves as skilled Web users. However, virtually all students are able to search mechanically by knowing how to access a search engine and input search terms, but the Web’s size, topicality, accessibility and use of hypertext and non-textual elements means it’s too complicated for users and requires specific skills to negotiate.

Extensive educational research (Herring, 2006) into children’s Web behaviour concluded that students were lacking adequate search strategies and necessary skills for critical evaluation of Web information.  Research results identified the Web as becoming a new educational tool which required TL’s to teach students new skills and strategies on effective and reflective web searching by using Web search, reading and evaluating skills and strategies (Kuiper, Volman & Terwel, 2008). This teaching needed to be integrated into curriculum programs across the whole school, together with an emphasis on information literacy skills.

By using concept maps as a useful technique for students to use before they search the web, what information literacy skills are students learning here?  Information literacy skills students are learning would be:

  • Brainstorming, by identifying the purpose of searching for information and new ideas.
  • Planning, by determining the extent of information needed.
  • Organising, by assessing ease of access to the site, and critically evaluating the usefulness and reliability of the content, and authority of the sources.

Teaching students to develop their own questions before they search the web is a very effective way of improving student’s pre-search planning.  What is the best way to teach students how to develop their own questions?

The best way to teach students how to develop their own questions as a means for identifying a clear purpose for their research, could be as part of collaborative inquiry activities where students are encouraged to identify relevant research for their assignment by working cooperatively with other students within a group context (Herring, 2006).

What other ways can TLs encourage students to develop search strategies?

TL’s can encourage students to develop search strategies by teaching them effective Web searching skills to efficiently locate Web information through the ability to formulate relevant keywords. Specific Web reading skills such as scanning and close reading techniques will enable students to distinguish between valuable or useless information, while Web evaluating skills will develop the student’s ability to critically assess the reliability and authority of Web information with a view to the information needs (Kuiper, Volman & Terwel, 2008).

What are the best ways to teach students to be critical readers, not just users, of websites?

What should we be advising students to look for on websites? E.g. the difference between opinion and evidence based information.

We need to encourage students to use website evaluations in order to establish the websites that are easy to navigate, to read,  are up-to-date, unbiased, evidence based, useful and reliable, and provide relevant information rather than the ‘right answer’! Good websites and sources can be shared with other students via a class or library blog, or personally bookmarked using diigo or delicious tools.

How can we teach our students to be reflective web learners? What should students be asking themselves after they have completed web searches? How can we encourage students to learn from their own searching?

We can teach our students to be reflective web learners by encouraging them to evaluate the strategies and skills they used while searching for their information by asking themselves:

What is my understanding of the information I have found? What could I have done better? Did I only use Google as a search engine or did I utilise other more useful and reliable sources? Was that the best information I could have found and are there better sites or resources I could have utilised to find better quality or more relevant information. Has this information satisfied all criteria and have I presented the information creatively as well as factually? Should I bookmark these sources or share them with other students, or expect to find more updated information in the future? 


Herring, J. (2010) School students, question formulation and issues of transfer: a constructivist grounded analysis. Libri, 60(3) 218-229.

Kuiper, E., Volman, M. and Terwel, J. (2008) Students’ use of Web literacy skills and strategies: searching, reading and evaluating Web information. Information Research, 13(3).

ETL 501. Topic 5. Web 2.0 and the school library.

What do you think are the key aspects of Web 2.0 that are likely to impact on education in today’s schools? 

As Web 2.0 is about revolutionary new ways of creating, collaborating, editing and sharing user-generated content online, teachers and students can master these tools quickly and efficiently, with the technology easier and more accessible to everyone. Quality websites can be accessed and used for teaching and learning in all school communities and integrated/implemented into curricular programs across all levels.

What are the opportunities here for teacher librarians? 

There are Presentation, Video, Mobile, and Community Tools with related links, which students and teachers can use to collaborate, communicate and share work and learning. By using Web 2.0 teachers and TL’s can collaborate on providing appropriate websites for specific curricular topics and incorporate information literacy skills and strategies.

Can teacher librarians afford to ignore Web 2.0 tools?

No. TL’s cannot afford to ignore Web 2.0 tools as they are the future of education and teaching and learning in the 21st century, besides complimenting and enhancing National Curriculum Learning Areas and Topics. These tools provide opportunities for students to upload, create, edit and share creative presentations anywhere, anytime, and integrate video into shared projects and presentations. Mobile tools are perfect for podcasting, blogging, media sharing, and quizzes, as well as turning mobile phones into smart teaching tools. Community tools such as wikis and social networks enable teachers and students to collaborate, communicate and share work, vital for effective teaching and learning within school communities.

 What might be the problems a teacher librarian would face in maintaining a school library blog?

Blogs are an excellent means of communication for new ideas or personal opinions to be shared through a social network, and excellent sources of new information resources or the latest technologies. However, blogs are still personal in content and contain opinions and ideas from the point of view of the author rather than objectively or independently. TL’s need to consider this aspect when they are deciding the context of the school library blog; will it be an educational review on the latest student literature written by the TL or various reputable reviewers, or various student’s reviewing novels and their recommendations? In both cases the TL needs to define the structure of the blog and regulate the content in accordance to school guidelines and educational standards.

How you might use a wiki in a classroom?

Wikis provide users with a tool that can be easily accessed, edited, and updated. As we create a more collaborative 2.0 school library environment, wikis provide an opportunity for students and teachers to actively create new information for others by note taking or making a collaborative knowledge portal or a community website.  Students can easily contribute to a website and add their content on a particular topic to enhance the value of the web pages with their personal thoughts, learning and experiences.

Generating a wiki takes only a few steps, which includes naming the wiki and providing the wiki creator’s name and a password. Wikis provide educators with an opportunity to work beyond the traditional four walls of the classroom or library and allow teachers to create a program online and share it immediately. Through the use of tagging students can quickly locate specific information without browsing the SideBar, and add content through plugins that include video content that can be uploaded from TeacherTube,  voice chat options, photos, and other content, providing a new dimension to an already interactive product.

How can curation tools such as Delicious and Diigo be useful? What are the limitations and issues relating to the use of such tools?

Students can organise their own resources and store them for future use by using Bookmarking tools like Diigo or Delicious in their development as independent learners. It will save time for TL’s who won’t have to search/provide websites for students and their role will become as facilitators rather than teachers. Students would need to be limited to how many websites they could bookmark for one particular topic and organise/curate their collections carefully, to include only quality sites and prevent information becoming out-of-date or superseded.


ETL 501. Topic 4. Effective Search Strategies.


Go to the Google vs Bing vs more search engines comparison tool. Try some searches using keywords. This is a good activity to show students. If you use Yahoo, remember that this is a search engine and a search directory, ie. in a search directory the results have often been evaluated by someone. Hint: Make sure you fill in the captcha box (prevents spamming).


Take a look at the sites above. Go to the Noodle Tools site and select TWO search engines that you are not familiar with and do a search using the following terms:

  • volcanoes schools teaching
  • 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?


1)     iSEEK Education Search Engine from Noodle Tools:

Five out of 10 sites were good enough to be used at secondary level for a geography task on volcanoes. They had 3-4 star ratings and satisfied a good percentage of the website evaluation criteria as most were educational sites and reliable too.

2)     INFOMINE Scholarly Internet Resource Collection (Academic) –

 Too technical and detailed for year 10 students to use as a search engine.

3). Sweet Search – Education for Students

9 out of 10 sites were good for the subject. Two were specifically for secondary students, age appropriate, appropriate learning level, and satisfied all criteria.


Visit Judy O’Connell’s Knowledge 2.0 Livebinder. Browse through the information, and choose a new search engine to explore in detail. Test this out with a group of students and/or consider ways that this may alter a search strategy for a unit of work.

Ans:  This is a good site which I will use.

  • Boolify – excellent for secondary school students, authority, reliable, educational.
  •  Kids Click – mix of primary/secondary level sites, educational & leisure

Activity: 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?

Ans: Yes, I would use this guide as I think it has appropriate language for secondary school students to follow and use as a guide for efficient use and becoming proficient in search skills and website evaluation.

Effective Habit 1: Use Targeted Phrases. The more specific your query is, the more success you’re likely to have.

Effective Habit 2: Expand Your Search Horizons. Get out of the habit of only using one search engine for everything.

Effective Habit 3: Learn a Few Web Search Tricks. There are a few Web search tricks that can make your life a lot easier.

Effective Habit 4: Use Your Time Wisely. The longer you spend time searching for something, the more frustrated you can get.

Effective Habit 5: Learn How Stuff Works on the Web. If you want something to work right, you’ve got to read the users manual.

Effective Habit 6: Stay on Top of New Web Developments. There’s a whole ‘lotta shakin’ going on in the World Wide Web.

Effective Habit 7: Cultivate a Love of Discovery. Once you find what you’re looking for, you can just stay there, right

Activity: Depending on whether you are (or intend to be) a primary or secondary TL, select one of the exercises below. You can of course do both!

Secondary exercise

You are a TL in a secondary school and you are working with a teacher who is planning to teach a one term course with a Year 10 class on the causes and effects of drought in Australia. Do a search on THREE different search engines for the causes and effects of drought in ONE Australian state (remember it is for Year 10 students!). If you prefer, do the searches on a current topic that you are working on in your school or a topic in which you are interested.

Complete the Search Activity Table below.

Search engine Keywords Hits How useful? Comments
Sweet Search-





20 10 were excellent & 10 were useful Good site which I will use first
Boolify -Education Drought in state of Victoria 20 9/10 were relevant and useful Specific detail in most but one related to football?! Offer to students as a second source.
iSEEK- Education Drought


20 Only one out of 20. Not useful at all. Only one site referred to drought in Victoria Aust.  And it was only okay. Others mentioned the USA!

Activity: In your group forum in the Searching thread, post some commentary about your learning while completing this topic.

How could you introduce new search engines to students who rely on Google, remembering that Google doesn’t search everything on the Web and another search engine might be more appropriate for your students (age, reading and cognitive level)?

 Ans: I would encourage them to use Noodle Tools as I found this search engine had a range of websites with star ratings and educational content sites for all age and learning levels.

Share any resources you have found.

iSEEK, Boolify & Sweet Search are excellent search engines for educational websites with good search tools and satisfy all website evaluation criteria. They were excellent for secondary school students; age appropriate, learning level, reading level and have star ratings.

ETL 501. Topic 3. Critical Evaluation of Print & Electronic Resources

Key criteria for evaluating websites:

Educational: How suitable is the website for the purpose? Does the site meet the TL’s or teacher’s purpose?

  • What is the range of reading levels of the student group for whom the website is being considered?
  • Language level plus clarity of language.
  • Does the site contain activities for students?
  • Does the site allow for differentiation?
  • Will the site extend the learning of the student group?
  • Cognitive level
  •  Age appropriateness
  •  Curriculum relevance
  • Range of media

Technical: The technical aspects of the site. Examples:

  • Quick to load, good use of colour and layout, clear text,  (and is at an appropriate language level)
  • Quick to load, good use of colour and layout, (range of media)
  • Quick to load, good use of colour and layout, range of media, (plus criteria such as level and clarity of language)


  • Cost,
  • Download time (bandwidth)
  • Navigation
  • Design and layout
  • Use of colour (colour blindness?)
  • Use of images (captions, copyright?)
    • Use of good colour and space (use of white space and chunking the text into small paragraphs).


  • Currency (date of publication)
  • Authority (of the author)
  • Content accuracy
  • Bias or opinion
  • Longevity (of the site)
  • Type of site (government, organisation, personal or blog
  • Duty of care (links offsite)

Cyberguide Ratings:

Evaluate this tool as a guide to assessing the educational value of a site. Does this list cover all the criteria that you might apply? How would you rate this tool? What criteria might you add?

Educational Criteria:

  • This site is good in regards to technical and reliability criteria but fails to mention reading levels, age appropriateness, cognitive levels, , language level, curriculum relevance,  differentiation, activities for students, extending learning or a range of media. It isn’t a balanced website evaluation tool to use.

Website Evaluation –Forum

Reliability Criteria:


  • What is the site’s date of publication?
  • Who is the author and are they reputable?
  • Is the content accurate and up-to-date?
  • Is the content biased and does it give a balanced opinion?
  • How long has the site existed? Needs to be up-dated or fairly new?
  • Is it an educational site, government, organisation or personal site like a blog?
  • Are there any links that go offsite and are they appropriate for student use?


  • In relation to a particular topic: What date was the data collected or is it current?
  • What is the efficiency of the site and is it necessary to use the site at a particular time of day to prevent overload by a group of students?
  • Is there a bibliography to find and compare additional information on the topic?
  • Are there any requirements for use on the site that require registration?

Technical Criteria:

  • Do any pictures or photographs on the page add to the information?
  • Is the format standard and readable with your browser?
  • Are the links clearly visable or annotated and explanatory?
  • On supporting pages is there a link back to the Home Page?
  • Is there a table on the page? If it is turned off is there alternate text available?
  • Are there headings and sub-headings on the page? If so, are they helpful?

In your group forum under the Website Evaluation thread, use the readings to discuss your thoughts on website evaluation. Remember to consider the three areas of educational quality/relevancy, reliability and technical aspects. What you are doing here is adding extra criteria to your selection criteria that you explored in ETL503 Collection Development.


I think the three areas of educational, technical and reliability criteria are excellent aspects to consider and use when selecting website evaluation models for students and staff.  I particularly liked Schrock’s The ABC’s of Website Evaluation (2002) and her Guide to Everything site where I found several impressive readings and evaluation models. I have added some more questions in the reliability and technical areas for consideration.

ETL501. Topic 2. Print & Electronic Information Resources

In this topic, we will look at the actual tools which TLs use to find information for their users in the school community and not just how these tools are used in the school library, but also why they are used.

In a traditional, print-based library, it was easy to distinguish what librarians referred to as reference material. This was a collection of material which could be referred to in the library but could not be borrowed, and most school libraries will still have a reference section although it will be diminishing in size each year due to the availability of so much material on the web. However, when we consider the availability of information on the web, the picture is much less clear. The world of school libraries and publishing has moved away from such concepts and, in terms of material on the web, the term reference work is now redundant.

Despite this, there remain some categories of both digital and print materials which we can identify as sources that we would encourage students and staff to use in the school library or at home. This material includes encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, biographical works, directories and bibliographies. These can be used to define key terms or find introductory material but used as quick reference or general sources but not topic specific resources such as comprehensive websites.

Forum activity:

Should we abandon the idea of reference material altogether? Or should the term be kept only for non-borrowable print resources in the library?

 Yes, the term reference should still be retained and used to identify printed material such as encyclopedias that are only used within a library environment. As long as they are still available and useful for reference information the term of reference is still applicable and viable. Once the information becomes out-dated or unreliable the term reference will then become redundant and excluded from library terminology.

Despite the redundancy of the term reference work, there are some categories of material, both in digital and print form, which can be used by students and staff in schools. Encyclopedias fall into this category and many school libraries will still have print versions of encyclopedias such as World Book or Encyclopaedia Britannica, but the availability of online versions of these works means that it is increasingly unlikely that a TL will buy a set of encyclopaedia volumes for the school library.

Online encyclopedias include a number of free encyclopedias on the web including Britannica. There is a good list of free encyclopedias at Library Spot.


ETL501 Topic 1.

Topic 1. The learning and teaching context of information resource provision

  • One of the key roles of the teacher librarian (TL) has always been to provide a wide variety of information resources to the school community. Developments in technology have changed the delivery mode of information, the availability of information, the format of information and the means for information dissemination in the school. The development of the Web has meant that information seeking is increasingly now done electronically by the TL with finding information that is suited to the needs of a particular school community often difficult and time consuming.
  • The Web has generally enhanced the role of the TL in most schools and presents great opportunities for the TL to actively fulfil a role as information provider and information specialist in the school. The TLs roles of information provider and information specialist are important to enhancing the learning and teaching throughout the school.
  • In the learning context of information provision there will be different types of learners where some students will be happier reading text, whereas others prefer a more visual approach and some will learn better on their own rather than in groups. One way of linking resource provision to learning is by using Blooms Taxonomy.
  • Knowledge – remembering or recognising something previously encountered without necessarily understanding, using, or changing it.
  • Comprehension – understanding the material being communicated without necessarily relating it to anything else.
  • Application – using general concept to solve a particular problem.
  • Analysis – breaking something down into parts.
  • Synthesis – creating something new by combining different ideas.
  • Evaluation – judging the value of materials or methods as they might be applied in a particular situation.
  • The revised version is a more modern interpretation formulated for 21st century learning and emphasizes what a learner “Can Do” so the stages are now represented as verbs:  create, evaluate, analyse, apply, understand, remember.
  • We must remember a concept before we can understand it.
    We must understand a concept before we can apply it.
    We must be able to apply a concept before we analyze it.
    We must have analyzed a concept before we can evaluate it.
    We must have remembered, understood, applied, analyzed, and evaluated a concept before we can create.
  • Just as there are different theories and approaches to learning, so there are different theories and approaches to teaching. A teacher who believes that students should be active, collaborative and inquiring learners is likely to adopt a more constructivist approach to teaching. In most schools, there is now an emphasis on more active learning for students and this has meant the information needs of teachers have expanded. Thus the teaching context of information provision in the school needs to be seen in the context of how the TL can support and collaborate with teachers in helping to deliver the curriculum.

    Forum reflection and discussion:

    *A new and inexperienced geography teacher has arrived in your school and has been given the task of teaching a year 7 class on rainforests as part of the Global Environments Focus Area.

    List 3 key types of information this teacher might need and suggest a source of information – this does not need to be exact, such as a URL, but more general such as ‘an article on’ or ‘a website about’.

    1. Definition of a rainforest and where they are situated throughout the world? Use online dictionaries such as Cambridge and Oxford, or Wordnik/Visuwords for definition.                                                               Use websites such as Google Advance Search and online encyclopedias and atlases from the Library Spot are also good quick reference sources. [Provide a world map and ask students to indicate the countries where rainforests are found and investigate why they are found in those areas of the world. E.g. climate, topography etc. Use interactive websites or reference texts such as recently published encyclopedias, journal articles].
    2.  Investigate and identify the features of a rain forest including flora, fauna, climate and ecosystems.                                                                      Use Inspiration software or Smart Ideas concept maps for identifying features, and websites such as Google Earth and National Geographic for investigation.
    3. Investigate and identify climatic or man-made threats to rainforest environments and any   conservation programs proposed or currently in place to address the problems.                                              Use Science House videos and Planet Checkup websites for investigation and present findings by creating a video using Magisto, Animoto, or Wevideo.                                                                                            
  • Complete the table below which looks at how Bloom’s Taxonomy might be used in a curricular area such as ecosystems and you might also think of the grade level when students would tackle such questions.

    For grades 5/6 Primary and Year 7 Secondary students

    Objective Question Resource
    Knowledge What is an ecosystem? Dictionary – print or online or basic textbook, using Wordnik or Visuwords
    Knowledge Define an ecosystem and list the varieties that are found in South Australia. Use online encyclopaedia from  Library Spot and Pearltrees Web 2.0,  Mindmapper Jnr or Freemind
    Comprehension List the different parts of the ecosystem and explain what they do.  Concept Map using Inspiration software or Smart Ideas
    Comprehension Compare a marine ecosystem with one from another area of our state. Use Diigo, John Locker.com,  Google     (Advanced Search)
    Application using a diagram, show how the water cycle operates in an ecosystem Use The Periodic Table of Videos (use search box), Creatley for diagram design
    Application Demonstrate what happens when humans interfere with the water cycle. Planet Checkup, Science House Videos, Mindmash,
    Analysis Contrast the natural water cycle with that used by our community Use a PowerPoint to compare and contrast information by creating a Venn diagram using shapes and text-boxes
    Analysis Examine an ecosystem that has been damaged by human interference. Avoided how? Use Google Earth,  National Geographic (environmental threats video) and Nat. Geog. Kids videos


    How would preserving our local ecosystems enhance our environment? Use Ed. VoiceThread, screenr, Google Presentations


    Identify an unspoilt ecosystem and design a way of preserving it Use Glogster EDU or Wikispaces Classroom
    Evaluation Assess the impact of pollution in our local waterways Using Magisto, Animoto, or Wevideo to create a video.
    Evaluation Is it reasonable that people pollute our waterways? Defend your answer Conduct a debate using Pinterest