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Online sourceselementary

  1. 1. Evaluation of Online Reference Sources for use in an Elementary School Ellen Brandt Library/Computer Specialist Prescott Elementary School December 2006
  2. 2. Why reevaluate our online reference resources? <ul><li>The Groton-Dunstable Regional School District has subscribed to the same online databases for several years. It’s time to review our options. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New technologies and new resources available </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased use of computers in all grades </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Changes to Massachusetts K-12 curriculum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New list of databases available to us through our CMRLS membership </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased focus on using technology for differentiated instruction. </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Why an Elementary School Focus? <ul><li>Most of our current online resources are targeted for secondary school students and beyond. </li></ul><ul><li>Students as young as third grade are using “google” and “wikipedia” at home. We need to show them that better options exist. </li></ul><ul><li>Research and technology skills are important components of the Massachusetts K-4 curriculum frameworks </li></ul><ul><li>Some areas of third and fourth grade social studies and science curriculum are not well supported by our print reference material. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Criteria for Evaluating Reference Sources <ul><li>Authority: qualification of author and editors. </li></ul><ul><li>Scope: purpose, coverage, currency. </li></ul><ul><li>Treatment: accuracy, objectivity, intended audience </li></ul><ul><li>Format : How difficult is it to find the information that you want? </li></ul><ul><li>Relation to Similar Works : Uniqueness </li></ul><ul><li>Arrangement : How is information organized? </li></ul><ul><li>Special Features : Multimedia components, lesson plans, links to state frameworks etc. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Additional Criteria for Elementary School <ul><li>Information needs to be presented in a manner that young students can understand: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy reading level </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited vocabulary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shorter articles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media centric (pictures, animations, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Simple navigation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sophisticated search techniques not required </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited use of hyperlinks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Handle misspelled words: (eg “did you mean?”) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Graphical User Interface </li></ul>
  6. 6. Gaps in our Existing Collection <ul><li>We need suitable resources for the following elementary research projects: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Famous people from Massachusetts* (grade 3) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Astronomy (grade 3) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regions of the United States (grade 4) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rocks and Minerals (grade 4) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spanish Speaking Countries (grade 4) </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Resources Evaluated <ul><li>Online Encyclopedias </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grolier Online: New Book of Knowledge * </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grolier Online: America the Beautiful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grolier Online: Amazing Animals of the World </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>World Book Online: World Book Encyclopedia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>World Book Kids: Student Discovery Encyclopedia </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Web Search Engine /Directory </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Net Trekker </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Current Events, General Interest Browse </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grolier Online Kids * </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kids InfoBits * </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Eliminated in the First Round…
  9. 9. Free of charge through regional library system, but not comprehensive enough for in-depth research: <ul><li>Kids InfoBits (Thompson Gale database) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Tidbits” of information </li></ul><ul><li>Fun to browse </li></ul><ul><li>Grolier Online Kids- without New Book of Knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Current events, games, multimedia resources </li></ul><ul><li>Requires separately licensed “New Book of Knowledge” for age-appropriate research </li></ul>
  10. 10. These new Grolier databases are appropriate for elementary, but hard to justify the cost <ul><li>Amazing Animals of the World : </li></ul><ul><li>Not relevant to grade 3 and 4 curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Might be applicable to K-2 curriculum, but reading level is too advanced. </li></ul><ul><li>Print version is available in the library and is not frequently used </li></ul><ul><li>America the Beautiful </li></ul><ul><li>Applicable to Grade 3-5 curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Library has other suitable resources for this topic </li></ul><ul><li>Challenging reading level </li></ul>
  11. 11. This web-based resource has great potential - but too many problems right now <ul><li> (SirsiDynix) </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum centered Search Engine </li></ul><ul><li>Built by teachers and librarians </li></ul><ul><li>Can customize to your own environment </li></ul><ul><li>Search can include library catalog, databases, multimedia, archives, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Virtual Rooms’ help students browse curriculum-related subjects </li></ul><ul><li>Massachusetts Curriculum not well supported </li></ul><ul><li>Search results were not relevant in my test cases </li></ul><ul><li>Confusing Interface - didn’t know when I had left their website, had trouble navigating through information </li></ul>
  12. 12. The Main Contenders <ul><li>Grolier Online Kids ( with New Book of Knowledge ) </li></ul><ul><li>World Book Kids (World Book Online Reference Center) </li></ul><ul><li>Net Trekker (Web search tool) </li></ul>
  13. 13. OVERVIEWS
  14. 14. Grolier Online Kids <ul><li>Features: </li></ul><ul><li>Unabridged content from well-established authoritative print reference sources </li></ul><ul><li>Many additional features: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Web links </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full text periodical articles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Current Events </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactive Atlas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Educator Tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multimedia presentations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keyword Search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Subject Browse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Games and Quizzes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Appealing User interface </li></ul>
  15. 15. Grolier Online Kids <ul><li>Special Considerations </li></ul><ul><li>Subsidized by Central Massachusetts Regional Library System </li></ul><ul><li>Currently subscribe to 5 of the 9 Grolier databases </li></ul><ul><li>Familiar to staff and students </li></ul><ul><li>Drawbacks </li></ul><ul><li>Not suitable for elementary students without license to “New Book of Knowledge” (which is not included in CMRLS membership) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Find it Fast’ searches all licensed Grolier databases: results are often too sophisticated for young learners </li></ul><ul><li>Search Algorithm needs improvement - results are not always relevant </li></ul>
  16. 16. World Book Online Reference Center <ul><li>Features: </li></ul><ul><li>Unabridged content from long-established, well-respected print reference sources </li></ul><ul><li>Many additional features: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Web links </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full text periodical articles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Current Events </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Educator Tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactive Atlas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multimedia presentations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keyword Search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Graphical Subject Browse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Student activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Resource guides to North America </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Appealing User interface </li></ul>
  17. 17. World Book Kids <ul><li>World Book Online Reference Center interface for elementary students. </li></ul><ul><li>Articles from Student Discovery Encyclopedia (very appropriate for elementary school) </li></ul><ul><li>Simple, graphics-based navigation </li></ul><ul><li>Users are unlikely to link into material that is too sophisticated. </li></ul><ul><li>Autocorrection for misspelled search terms. </li></ul><ul><li>Read-aloud option </li></ul>
  18. 18. World Book Online <ul><li>Unique Features </li></ul><ul><li>Look up the pronunciation and definition of an unfamiliar word simply by double-clicking on it. </li></ul><ul><li>Can search for specific media types (video, images, websites, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Includes North American Resource Guides </li></ul><ul><li>Drawbacks </li></ul><ul><li>Not subsidized by CMRLS </li></ul>
  19. 19. Net Trekker an Internet Search Engine designed for students, teachers, librarians and parents <ul><li>over 180,000 educator and librarian evaluated resources </li></ul><ul><li>Organized by readability level </li></ul><ul><li>Continually updated and maintained </li></ul><ul><li>Extensive coverage of topics related to K-12 curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Links to 600 periodicals and 3,000 newspapers </li></ul><ul><li>Built-in ESL/ELL support </li></ul><ul><li>Online reference tools </li></ul><ul><li>Links to curriculum related games and exercises </li></ul><ul><li>Graphical interface with keyword search and subject browse. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Net Trekker: Website Criteria
  21. 21. Net Trekker <ul><li>Special Considerations </li></ul><ul><li>Relies on internet resources for content </li></ul><ul><li>No print counterpart </li></ul><ul><li>Only been around for about 7 years </li></ul><ul><li>Unique Features </li></ul><ul><li>Rigorous website evaluation criteria </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to customize/configure </li></ul><ul><li>Search results can be saved for later use </li></ul><ul><li>Supports “Differentiated Instruction”: (read-aloud, translate, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Theme based searches allow students to narrow (or expand) a topic </li></ul><ul><li>Drawbacks </li></ul><ul><li>Web-based content is not necessarily edited and fact-checked to the same standards as traditional reference resources </li></ul><ul><li>Charges money for a service that others claim to provide ‘for free’ </li></ul>
  22. 22. Which resource is the best for elementary school students ? <ul><li>Scenario: </li></ul><ul><li>A class of third grade students has come to the library to research “Famous People from Massachusetts” ( MA Social Studies Frameworks, grade 3). </li></ul><ul><li>One student has chosen “Paul Revere” </li></ul>
  23. 23. Grolier Online Kids Keyword search example: “Paul Revere” <ul><li>Nice Features </li></ul><ul><li>Encyclopedia articles shown first </li></ul><ul><li>Results for Websites, Media, News stories and Magazines are only one click away </li></ul><ul><li>Drawbacks </li></ul><ul><li>Keyword is not remembered! You can’t easily refine the search </li></ul><ul><li>Most of the 2638 results are not relevant to the topic </li></ul><ul><li>No indication of ‘readability’ level! </li></ul>
  24. 24. Grolier Online Kids New Book of Knowledge : “Paul Revere” <ul><li>Nice Features: </li></ul><ul><li>“ How to Cite this article” </li></ul><ul><li>Print options: article or section </li></ul><ul><li>Literary selections, further reading, weblinks, magazines </li></ul><ul><li>Drawbacks </li></ul><ul><li>Lexile level = 1040 (gr. 7/8 !) </li></ul><ul><li>Keyword is highlighted in red throughout article </li></ul><ul><li>Sidebar options are not relevant </li></ul><ul><li>Table of Contents not accessible while looking at article </li></ul><ul><li>No ‘see also’ or list of related topics </li></ul>
  25. 25. Grolier Online Rating for test scenario: “Fair” <ul><li>Reading Level of encyclopedia and magazine articles too challenging </li></ul><ul><li>Navigation of database sometimes confusing (need to use ‘back’ button a lot) </li></ul><ul><li>The Paul Revere video listed under ‘WEBLINKS’ was great! </li></ul><ul><li>The pictures and maps were helpful </li></ul>
  26. 26. World Book Kids Keyword search example: “Paul Revere” <ul><li>Nice Features </li></ul><ul><li>Graphical Interface (click on icon) </li></ul><ul><li>Only age appropriate results are displayed. </li></ul><ul><li>Websites, Videos, pictures, etc. are listed in sidebar. </li></ul><ul><li>Option to see ALL results (regardless of ‘readability level’ ) is at the bottom of every search results page </li></ul><ul><li>Drawbacks </li></ul><ul><li>No ‘advanced search’ option. </li></ul><ul><li>No ‘see also’ from search results page </li></ul>
  27. 27. World Book Kids Graphical Subject Browse example <ul><li>Nice Features </li></ul><ul><li>Helps when choosing a research topic </li></ul><ul><li>Shows the ‘big picture’ </li></ul><ul><li>Graphics attract attention </li></ul><ul><li>Click on any part of ‘browse path’ and find additional information (for example, click on American History ) </li></ul><ul><li>Drawbacks </li></ul><ul><li>May need to drill down several levels to get to relevant information </li></ul><ul><li>Subject areas can be too broad (eg American History->People ) </li></ul><ul><li>Harder to stay focused on topic </li></ul>
  28. 28. World Book Kids “Paul Revere” <ul><li>Nice Features : </li></ul><ul><li>Suitable Reading Level for Elementary Students </li></ul><ul><li>Citation information </li></ul><ul><li>Table of contents in sidebar. </li></ul><ul><li>Keyword highlighting can be turned on, but is not the default </li></ul><ul><li>More sophisticated information on the topic is available by clicking the link at the bottom of the article. </li></ul><ul><li>Drawbacks </li></ul><ul><li>Found no age-appropriate web sites, periodicals or other media for keyword “Paul Revere” </li></ul>
  29. 29. World Book Online Resource Guide: Massachusetts <ul><li>Nice Features : </li></ul><ul><li>Resource Guides available for all 50 states as well as Canada and Mexico </li></ul><ul><li>Included at no extra cost </li></ul><ul><li>Aligns to topics in grade 3 and 4 social studies curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Sidebar options include ‘biographies’ (Grade 3 research project: “famous people from Massachusetts) </li></ul><ul><li>Drawbacks: </li></ul><ul><li>Not targeted to elementary school students! </li></ul><ul><li>Content was disappointing. </li></ul>
  30. 30. World Book Kids Rating for test scenario: “Good” <ul><li>Appropriate reading level. </li></ul><ul><li>Easy, graphical navigation (browse or search) </li></ul><ul><li>Misspelled keywords handled gracefully </li></ul><ul><li>Pictures and maps are helpful </li></ul><ul><li>Additional resources available through World Book Online Reference Center - but lose the simple navigation and ‘readable’ content </li></ul><ul><li>No related videos, magazine articles or websites found on World Book Kids for keyword “Paul Revere” </li></ul>
  31. 31. Net Trekker Keyword search: “Paul Revere” Reading Level = 2 (upper elementary) <ul><li>Nice Features </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to narrow search results by “readability” rating </li></ul><ul><li>Found 7 “Paul Revere” websites for elementary audience (WB found none, Grolier found only 3) </li></ul><ul><li>Built-in subject browse (click on any subheading to see related topics). </li></ul><ul><li>Enough information about website to determine relevancy without having to click on link </li></ul><ul><li>Drawbacks </li></ul><ul><li>Requires a lot of scrolling to see all the results </li></ul><ul><li>Educator oriented sites mixed with those targeted to students </li></ul><ul><li>Not graphical </li></ul>
  32. 32. Net Trekker-Elementary Rating for test scenario: “Unique” <ul><li>Provides Interesting, Exciting resources for additional information and further learning </li></ul><ul><li>Appropriate reading level. </li></ul><ul><li>Not a good place to get a topic overview </li></ul><ul><li>Information not necessarily structured logically </li></ul><ul><li>Relevancy of information is inconsistent </li></ul><ul><li>Navigation may be confusing to students </li></ul>
  33. 33. Which resource is the best for elementary school teachers ? <ul><li>Scenario: </li></ul><ul><li>A third grade teacher is looking for suitable material for a social studies unit: “Famous People from Massachusetts”. She has already looked through the library’s print collection and now wants to see what is available online. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Grolier Online For Educators <ul><li>Very limited number of lesson plans (none about Massachusetts) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ State Standards’ option provides a link to website where you can download .pdf files </li></ul><ul><li>“ Search by Lexile” shows that there is virtually no material at third grade reading level. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Grolier Online Kids Advanced search example: “Paul Revere” <ul><li>Boolean operators help narrow results to relevant articles </li></ul><ul><li>Need to specify the appropriate Lexile range (can’t simply specify “elementary student” or ‘grade 3’) </li></ul><ul><li>NO articles below a Lexile of 1000 (grade 7) were found for keyword: Paul Revere </li></ul>
  36. 36. Grolier Online, For Educators Teacher assessment: “ Fair ” <ul><li>No Massachusetts curriculum frameworks links </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Search by Lexile’ is hard to use. </li></ul><ul><li>Not much Grolier material is appropriate for elementary audience </li></ul><ul><li>No easy way to browse for websites, magazine articles, pictures and videos. </li></ul><ul><li>Extensive list of links to professional resources </li></ul><ul><li>Some useful lesson plan ideas </li></ul>
  37. 37. World Book Online Educators’ Tools <ul><li>Search Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks by grade level, subject area, general or specific standard. </li></ul><ul><li>Retrieve full text of standard </li></ul><ul><li>Link directly to relevant material </li></ul><ul><li>Link to lesson plans and professional organizations. </li></ul>
  38. 38. World Book Online Educators’ Tools Grades 3 Social Studies: Massachusetts biography <ul><li>“ Curriculum Correlations” make it easy to find material related to a particular State standard. </li></ul><ul><li>The source of the article gives an indication of ‘readability’ (e.g. a World Book Kids article is easier to read than a World Book Online article) </li></ul><ul><li>Does not seem to link to articles in the new “Explore the USA & Mexico States” database </li></ul>
  39. 39. World Book Online Advanced Search <ul><li>A variety of Search and Browse options </li></ul><ul><li>Boolean Search available </li></ul><ul><li>Can’t search by Reading Level </li></ul>
  40. 40. World Book Online Educators’ Tools Teacher assessment: “ Good ” <ul><li>Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks built-in </li></ul><ul><li>Links from frameworks standard to relevant material </li></ul><ul><li>Links from article to relevant standards (to justify that favorite research project is relevant to the state standards) </li></ul><ul><li>Age-appropriate encyclopedia articles </li></ul><ul><li>Can’t search by ‘readability level’ </li></ul><ul><li>Not many age-appropriate websites or multimedia features </li></ul><ul><li>Extensive list of links to professional resources </li></ul><ul><li>Some useful lesson plan ideas </li></ul>
  41. 41. Net Trekker Standards Grades 3 Social Studies: Massachusetts biography <ul><li>Interactive interface to State and National Standards </li></ul><ul><li>Links to relevant websites </li></ul><ul><li>Not many links for this particular standard </li></ul>
  42. 42. Net Trekker Search Options, Contents and Ratings <ul><li>Websites contents are categorized by many different criteria </li></ul><ul><li>Websites are rated on a scale of 1 to 5 </li></ul><ul><li>Default search options are customizable </li></ul>
  43. 43. Net Trekker Teacher assessment: “ Added Value ” <ul><li>Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks built-in </li></ul><ul><li>Links from frameworks standard to relevant websites. </li></ul><ul><li>Advanced Search and Browse features help find exciting supplementary material: websites, videos, pictures. </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to search by “readability’ level </li></ul><ul><li>Inconsistent results (finds many resources for some searches, none for others) </li></ul>
  44. 44. Conclusions
  45. 45. Most Highly Recommended for Elementary School: World Book Online Reference Center (includes World Book Kids ) <ul><li>Easiest for young researchers to navigate </li></ul><ul><li>Student Discovery Encyclopedia is designed for elementary students </li></ul><ul><li>Provides assistance for new/struggling readers (read-aloud option, double click on unfamiliar word to get definition, graphical navigation, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Links to and from Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and national standards </li></ul><ul><li>Powerful “advanced search” </li></ul><ul><li>World Book Online Reference Center has extensive resources for all ages. </li></ul>
  46. 46. Keep this one: Grolier Online Kids, New Book of Knowledge <ul><li>Subsidized by CMRLS membership </li></ul><ul><li>Familiar to staff & students </li></ul><ul><li>Positive relationship with vendor </li></ul><ul><li>Comprehensive & authoritative databases </li></ul><ul><li>Includes features not available in print reference sources (multimedia presentations, web links, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Literary connections, periodicals, bibliographies </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Grolier Online-Kids’ environment encourages children to explore and learn </li></ul><ul><li>New Book of Knowledge articles are within the grasp of most older elementary students. </li></ul>
  47. 47. A worthwhile addition, Net Trekker <ul><li>More extensive list of web-based resources than any of the other evaluated sources </li></ul><ul><li>Created and maintained by educators and librarians </li></ul><ul><li>Rigorous evaluation of included websites </li></ul><ul><li>Resources categorized by ‘Readability Level’ </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive interface to State and National Standards </li></ul><ul><li>Tools for educators include links to lesson plans, educational games, charts, tables, videos, software downloads, animations, clip art, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Advanced search and browse features </li></ul><ul><li>Easily Customizable </li></ul>