Friday, 17 October 2014

Fourth rung - ETL501 - Reflection - Pathfinder

My pathfinder was designed to accommodate grade 9 students studying the History subject “The Making of the Modern World - World War I (1914-1918)” the students topic question is ‘Discuss the difficulties of trench warfare for Australians at Gallipoli and the Western Front?.’
As 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1, the investigation of this unit of work is appropriate in regards to the information that will be presented to them by the media with the impending commemorations.
Included in this critical analysis are the learning outcomes achieved by students as well as the method used to acquire the selected resources.
Incorporated in this reflection are the benefits of how such a pathfinder will enhance students’ information literacy skills, as well as a critical analysis of my detailing my learning during the process of creating the Pathfinder.

Students are to examine specific aspects of Australian’s involvement and experiences in World War I. As they navigate and read texts from the presented sources, it is expected that they will achieve literacy learning outcomes through their interpretation and analyzing the information they find.  The students will evaluate and compare information from various sources for suitability. They will use ICT skills to locate, document and convey their findings to others. Students will also appreciate the concept of intellectual property of others through the creation of a bibliography (ACARA, 2013).

During the pathfinders's construction I concentrated on searching for appropriate resources from various formats using my library catalogue, databases, bBooks and metasearch engines through subject, keyword and Boolean search terms.
Prior knowledge of how students learn, the age groups involved and their different levels of ability, was advantageous in the selection of suitable resources.

Presenting students with Metasearch alternatives to ‘Google’ or ‘Wikipedia’, is essential, conversely most were too technical for grade 9 students. I used ‘Dogpile’ coupled with the use of Boolean search phrases to build upon the students known (suspected) information literacy knowledge. The majority of sites presented when searching within this topic are ‘gov’ or ‘org’ sites, as these were generaly created with school education as their purpose, only a minority returned inappropriate results, surprisingly, World Book encyclopedia [online] produced the best results for students with a choice of advanced or simple search options (Devine & Egger-Sider, 2009).

It is apparent that the use of annotated curriclum related resources, such as Pathfinders, can assist in directly guiding students to access, evaluate, analyse and integrate information from the various formats provided. When these resources are provided it cuts through the ‘Data smog’ that students perceive and allows them to focus on more realistic expectations of web searching through the presented sources fostering information literacy skills, rather than squandering time and enthusiasm n searching unsuitable websites (ACRL, 2014; DeLano Davis, 2013; Thibault, 2013).

I am fully aware of frustrating it can be when sites promise relevant information for students, but include links that ares unsuitable (such as online web dating in a page on World War 1) or distracting to unfocused students. This reinforced to me the positive qualities a pathfinder can provide for students as a start point in the selection of information. 

The purpose of the Pathfinder is to shepherd students to age and ability appropriate resources, through an annotative directory. The students themselves must consider critically, through the use of effective search stratigies, the usefulness of the resource against the assignment requirements and their information needs. My conception is that the students are being shepherded into becoming web users and developing as web learners through developing effective search stratigies (Hemmig, 2004; Herring, 2011; Kuntz, 2003).

I had to control my inclination and guide students to, rather than provide students with resources to enhance their learning. The layout went through a number of trials, until the creation of a simple and uncluttered model emerged built around essential links to resources.
This project gave me an insight in evaluating the use of search engines and websites for the operation of staff and students. I found considerable difficulty in presenting the information on a level acceptable to grade nine students, this may be a result of working with mature age students for a number of years (O’Connell, 2012).

Using my own Libraries Pathfinder/StudyGuide format, required my adhering to preset structure and style, the uniformity of this presentation is an advantage students by creating a cohesive ‘McDonalds’ repetitiveness to each guide where students studying different subjects will not need to learn new navigation with a different subject guide as each guide follows a similar structure.
The creation of further Pathfinders will be easier and of greater use to students, because I now understand the rules of design and how they can support all student access to the web regardless of individual abilities (Ahnmed, 2013; Herring, 2011; lamb & Johnson, 2007).

I now consider that the establishment and implementation of pathfinders to be one of the most effective skills I could develop as a TL, as it positions the library as an essential part of the classroom lesson, they can be an instrumental tool of TL's by augmenting teaching and learning quality through providing assistance to a variety of learning styles at a point of need to both staff and students.


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