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Online sourceselementary Online sourceselementary Presentation Transcript

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