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Messy Librarian

What is that librarian up to now?
by

Erik Jordheim

on 22 April 2010

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Transcript of Messy Librarian

Double click anywhere & add an idea Searchasarus vs. InfoBits Searchasarus:
Evaluation Criteria relevance scope authority style tone ease of use Relevance pertains to how well the database will support and enhance school curriculum and classroom standards. If a database cannot add to and provide support to what students are learning in the classroom, then it does not have much relevance to our goals as teacher librarians and educators. Scope refers to what kind of results each database produces. We want a database that can strike a delicate balance between providing information that has breadth and depth. The database should not sacrifice one for the other, but provide enough breadth to cover all the important aspects of a subject. It should also have enough depth as to be comprehensive and knowledgeable about the subject. Authority refers to how reliable the sources are within the database. The database should provide information from reliable sources and also link students to other avenues of research within their topic based upon notable works cited. Style was an important criteria in that we want a database that engages students. It must pull the student in and be easy to relate to so that students can find what they need quickly and efficiently. Tone refers to how the resources provided by the database are written. Each resource should be engaging, educational, and understandable for students to gain optimal knowledge. Ease of Use is important to us because students must not be overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the database itself. It should be easy for students to use and figure out, and it must be usable with little or no teacher support. Searchasaurus® is the EBSCO, a company that specializes on reference databases and online journals/articles, branch of reference databases that are designed specifically for primary students. By providing younger researchers with an interesting graphic interface this resource attempts to make gathering information on topics as interesting as the information itself.

Notes:

Contains information upon certain subjects but the subject matter is not diverse enough to meet a wide variety of research needs.

Information is detailed and provides links to information with similar subjects which allows the researcher to investigate deeper into certain subjects.

Searchasaurus uses reliable sources that are familiar to both teachers and students. Articles are up to date but do not provide links to the original works cited.

The opening search page is a delight to the eyes and provides younger students and English language learners with visual clues as to what topics are found within different search strands. However, once the search begins and the first results are returned the resource becomes less clear and the suggested focusing links sometimes make finding results more rather than less difficult.

The tone of the writing appears to be to ‘academic’ and requires a higher level of reading and decoding to create personal meaning from the information.

Though pleasing to the eye, this search engine is not simple to use. In fact, one researcher proclaimed that she would need a tutorial for navigating the search results before she could help the students.
kids InfoBits Kid InfoBits is the attempt of parent company Gale®, an e-research and educational publishing company based in the US, to bring informational databases to primary aged students. Through graphically pleasing interactive search screens and simple searching tools, Kid InfoBits attempts to help students find and identify useful articles and information from reference sources, magazines, newspapers, and images.

Notes:
This website contains a variety of topics that provides greater breadth in the search areas used.

Articles are organized into reading ability groups to support different level learners. The information in the articles is also not overly broad or excessively specialized. Instead it is a manageable amount of information, but not a total abundance.

The information used, though factual, does not come from a large variety of sources. The large majority of articles come from the Gale Company’s outlets rather than from various magazines, newspapers and other non-affiliated articles.

The print, font and features of this database are all student friendly. All researchers took note of the ‘backpack’ text feature which allows student researchers to save an article while they continue searching to find additional resources.

Again, the tone of the articles was of high quality. The resources represented a pleasant mix of entertaining magazine articles, fascinating newspaper clippings and international reference materials.

Like some of its rivals this database has a very student friendly homepage. Simple searches are possible and would allow for younger students to find subjects but more advanced or specific searches would require a higher amount of skill and training from the teacher.

Conclusion While both resources offer visually pleasing interactive searches appropriate for primary level students our reviewers feel one resource provides students with a superior range of interesesting and age appropriate data for them to use. Our reviewers recommend Kid InfoBits. While this database meet expectations in the areas of relevance, scope, and authority, it fell severely short of expectations in the other three categories – style, tone, ease of use. It does contain items that meet standards and can enhance a classroom. The items provided are very in depth and informative, and they all come from very reputable sources. The problem with this database lies in the fact that it is not very kid friendly. For use in the elementary, it is better matched with older students since the language and tone of the resources is very academic. While there is a visual search featuring cute and colorful pictures, searching in this manner does not get results. On top of this, the text heavy results are too complicated for most elementary students to understand. This database performed much better within our criteria. It meet our expectations at every level, and slightly exceeded expectations in the area of tone. We found that it is much better suited to elementary level students in that is easy to use and inviting to students. It contains pictures to help students search visually. Resources are primarily from Gale themselves and contain depth in many subject areas. Results are easy leveled by reading ability and demarcated with pictures so that students can easily choose resources that they will be able to read. All three of us agreed that Searchasarus’ Style, Tone and Ease of Use were below expectations. It seemed to be a kid-friendly mask over a standard database. The Search tools were simplified with cartoon dinosaurs, but the results returned were the same as they would be in a more advance level search. Either the articles were simplified to the point of absurdity or incomplete facts, or they were long, wordy entries with few pictures. Learning to use the results took some trial and error when looking for lower elementary level information. Reading levels of search results were given in Lexiles. We aren’t sure how many elementary students look for Lexiles when looking for readability. We felt this resource could not be used by the majority of elementary students without intensive adult help.

InfoBits had more positive hits in the comparison than Searchasarus. While still a mask over a standard database, it had more features that lent itself to an elementary audience. We liked the “backpack” feature where students can collect articles to look over in more depth after the initial search. We also liked that the reading levels of each result were shown as either easy or moderate. Students could easily pick articles within their reading ability. In addition, InfoBits has the option to read the article. This is a wonderful option for younger readers, English Learners, and any learner who benefits from aural information. InfoBits ‘ design is geared toward elementary students and therefore gets our recommendation.
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