One of the main functions that a Library can perform in a contemporary school is being a centre for curating content, ensuring our teachers and students can access high quality academically appropriate information. I agree that this is a critical role that the library plays in our modern schools, however this is not the only role that is needed when looking at Digital Content.
Content Curating through Research Guides and Pathfinders
Fact Check: A Research Guide = Pathfinders = a list of resources, in any format that the library has created on a topic students are studying.
The notion of curating is important and when working with staff to produce research guides and resources. The role of the Library is to create a list of appropriate resources that can get students started on a topic. This often occurs two ways.
Firstly, the teacher requests it directly from the Library and a list of resources is provided to the teacher who provides it to the students. This is the end of the process for the Library, as the teacher has not asked for further assistance, though students may come and ask for help.
Secondly, the Teacher Librarian prepares the guide and is invited to the class to help present the resources to the students. It is at this point that the Teacher Librarian gets to teach information literacy skills and be a part of the class through team teaching.
These both deal with digital content but in the form of curation. While this is a fundamental role of the library it is not the only role when it comes to content.
It is my opinion that while curation is important, the act of creating is where the real emphasis must drive to in moving a Library forward. At the moment when the Library only curates it is effectively creating a resource of links that the teacher can do themselves but does not have the time to complete. So the Library is providing a resource of time to teacher and students. What is more powerful, however, is if the Library sees the assignment or the work being completed and begins to create resources based on the content being completed in class.
The Humanities Year 8 Australian Curriculum studies Medieval Japan
This unit of work runs for 6 weeks and the teacher and the Library meet to provide resources for this course. A guide has been created for the students that has a list of the books, videos and journals based on the facts of the society at the time.
What would happen if the library then created an interactive timeline of events that embedded video that students watched and provided that to the teachers? On top of this, the library then created FAQ documents based on the weapons of the day, then proceeded to collect real life samples of these weapons. This could be followed by the Library organizing a short task where students designed their own armor of the day, explaining colour representation, hence linking this to art. In addition the Library could then assist the teacher with the teaching of the social structure by filming a role-play of the interaction between classes so it can be replayed and reviewed by students.
Within this example you can see how the creation of additional content can be used by the teacher, with or without the assistance of the Library.
The creation can go further and subtle enhancements can make a difference. Looking at the display of the course digitally, the pages can be set up to have a Japanese influence. Task sheets and weekly work can be watermarked with Kanji to immerse the students in the course. These are very simple but deliver a big impact to teachers when they see products coming from the Library.
So where possible, don’t get bogged down in the nature of curation as it is the lowest form of service a Library can provide. Below are simple images of a level one implementation highlighting changes to the look and feel of content for teachers.
Look and Feel
Finally, remember that students and staff need anything coming from the library to look stunning. It is not enough to provide a poor looking document with clipart on it taking up space anymore. Students automatically turn off to these products when they are given to them, so when possible spend as much time ensuring that they look great and have rich media content embedded.