Sunday, 19 February 2012

From Student to Library-Based Teacher

This blog has been sadly neglected for a while.  Although it was established as a requirement for one of my university courses I'm now working fulltime as library-based teacher at Amesbury School and it remains as relevant as ever.  I'm fortunate to be in a position where I have the enjoyable but challenging task of developing a 21st century school library in a brand new school. Amesbury School opened less than three weeks ago and it has been a busy time setting up the physical and virtual spaces of our school library.  My personal blog tracks developments from a personal perspective. However I plan to keep posting useful information I learn about school libraries here for my own interest and future reference - and perhaps yours too if you are reading this.


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Using QR Codes in the School Library

QR (Quick Response) codes are similar to the barcodes we are familiar with at the supermarket.  However QR codes are matrix barcodes - two dimensional codes (as pictured below). To read the code a device, such as a smart phone, iPod or webcam with a QR ‘reader’ installed, scans the code which accesses information such as a website, text, phone number or other data.  The person who produces the QR code decides what information is to be accessed, links it to a code by using a QR code ‘generator’ and then places the code where it can be used by the target audience. For example, a school librarian might attach a code to a book to link the book to a website about the author, a video trailer or a set of questions for discussion about the story.

QR Codes – Facts

·         Once the information that is to be linked to an item has been decided on a QR code for the information content is generated.  There are a number of free websites available to do this.  Some only generate codes for a URL but others allow you to embed text into the code.  This means that the person ‘reading’ the code doesn’t need access to the internet but will see the text in the code directly on their scanning device.
·         A QR code can store up to 4296 alphanumeric characters compared to a standard one dimensional barcode which stores 12 numeric characters. 
·         The QR code that has been generated can be printed out and affixed to any object that relates to the information in the code, for example, posters, equipment, books and even children’s own writing or drawing.
·          The device that reads the code needs to have a QR code reader installed.  These can be downloaded free from the internet.

QR Codes – Pros

·         Engaging parents:  The code can be used to link to content that can actively involve parents.  For example, a code on a child’s illustration of a poem or story could link directly to a webpage with the poem or ebook for parents to enjoy reading with their child. Codes on library books could link to ideas for discussion questions or activities parents could do with their children to enhance the reading experience.
·         Adding interest and value to library resources:  Readers can link to reviews, book trailers, videos etc related to a book.  Linking to resources produced by the children themselves could be a strong motivator for children and parents to read and share books together.
Codes can also link to online resources that will help children with homework projects.
·         The Quick in ‘Quick Response’ means parents or children can almost instantly connect to relevant resources.
·         Cost: The only financial cost is in the printing of the codes.  This makes QR codes potentially a good return on a very small investment.

QR Codes – Cons

·         Time:  It takes time to find or create resources and to generate, print and attach codes.
·         Accessibility:  Not all parents will have access to a device that reads QR codes.  Parents may need instruction on how to use QR readers.
·         Attitudes of parents:  Parents may need educating about the value of the codes to their child’s learning or they might see them as a bit of a ‘gimmick’. It’s important to link the codes to worthwhile information, yet also use resources that would be enjoyable or interesting for parents and children to explore together.

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2011

A useful list for school librarians, teachers and educators.  Top 100 Tools for Learning 2011
View more presentations from Jane Hart

Friday, 23 September 2011

Ereaders Podcast

Information can be easily shared across the internet using podcasts. The podcast in this blog post is from an imaginary series called Tech Time. Its purpose is to keep librarians up to date with emerging technologies.

The technology used to create the podcast was Audacity software, with the audio file uploaded to and shared via Blogger. Audacity is open source software that is simple enough for children to use yet powerful enough to produce sophisticated audio files.

In this podcast I produced two tracks - a music track and a voice recording. I faded the music out then in again to overlay my voice introducing the Tech Time episode. I then cut the remainder of the music and generated silence on that track while I continued recording my voice on the second track. At the end I pasted and trimmed a suitable section of the remaining music to finish the podcast.

Music: 'Stroll in the Park' by Steve Glotzer

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Cracking the Code

Thanks to an assignment for my digital technologies paper I'm starting to understand HTML and have proudly created my very first website from scratch.  It's nothing fancy - only two pages of text, two images and an embedded video - but I made it all by myself!
The topic of the website is school libraries and you can visit the website at Carolyn's Website For New Zealand School Librarians.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

QR Codes in the Library

I only heard of QR codes for the first time this year and I haven't tried using them myself.  My only mobile device is a basic cellphone, so apps, touch screens, 3G internet access and QR codes are all in the realm of 'when I update my phone...' at present.  However I've read some blogs that have piqued my interest in QR codes, particularly in terms of adding value and interest to children's books.  For example, I love the way AllanahK has linked the animation of the Wonky Donkey to the book by adding a QR code to the book cover. Also this video clip explains how QR codes on books could be used to link to such extras as recommendations,  book reviews, podcasts, videos, websites etc.        

Friday, 19 August 2011

DigitalNZ Search Widget - Modern Children's Literature

Some of the most beautiful books published today are children's books. Picture books with gorgeous illustrations, non-fiction books with stunning photos and diagrams, and fiction books with creative use of colour, pictures and presentation. Can you tell I'm passionate about children's literature?

If you're interested, how could you find out about modern New Zealand children's books?
Just use the handy DigitalNZ widget in the right side bar of this blog!
Alternatively use the ChildrensBooks search tool at DigitalNZ.
The keywords used to set up the search tool were children AND books. There are also time limits (after 1990) placed on the search to find only information related to modern books. Searches will return material from all sources in DigitalNZ.

I carried out an example search for 'picture books' and received 96 results, including photos of a book launch for Sharon Holt's new book.  Sharon is a friend of mine so I am shamelessly promoting Sharon by using her as an example of a DigitalNZ Children's Literature search. The search terms 'authors', 'Sharon Holt' and even 'mothers' also returned information about Sharon, as well as a great variety of other material.

If you're a librarian, teacher or someone who just loves children's books this search tool should be useful for you.

Launch of Sharon Holt's book
 'Your Mother Didn't Do That'.
Image by Rae on DigitalNZ