A few weeks ago, I created a video outlining some of the challenges of bookmarking and sharing database sources to services like Tumblr and Scoop.it. After exploring options for exporting database information source bibliographic data to services like EasyBib and NoodleTools for the last two weeks, I realized that not all vendors provide this information (nor is the integrity of the data always flawless—more on that in a future blog post). I thought it might be helpful to create a chart and something visual to compare the features of the databases we use most frequently at The Unquiet Library-–if you use any of these databases, you might find these resources I’ve created helpful as well.
I’m probably most frustrated by the fact that there are huge gaps in the consistency of sharing/citation tools (not to mention the design and organization) across Gale database platforms and that some databases for K12 (like Student Research Center from EBSCOhost) don’t offer ANY of these options for students. It’s difficult to pitch the value of database resources on “authority” alone when the search interfaces and sharing/posting/exporting options are so vastly different and confusing to young learners.
Why does this matter? Take a look at these skills in the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner:
- 1.2.2 Demonstrate confidence and self-direction by making independent choices in the selection of resources and information.
- 3.1 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.
- 3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess.
- 4.1.6 Organize personal knowledge in a way that can be called upon easily.
- 4.1.7 Use social networks and information tools to gather and share information.
If database platforms aren’t consistent in basic features for sharing, bookmarking, and exporting bibliographic data, students will experience greater difficulty in utilizing these resources as they create personal learning environments and utilize contemporary curation and bookmarking tools (as well as social media tools for reflection and discussion of learning/research experiences). I’m trying to teach our students how to harness the power of tools we have readily available and to be transparent, reflective networked learners, yet the inconsistencies outlined below make that charge much more challenging as we try to teach skills like those from our AASL standards and processes for taking control and responsibility of their learning.
As we try to incorporate these social media and cloud computing tools for organizing information, sharing information, and creating content, we as librarians must be vocal in letting our vendors know our expectations so that the databases can better interface with these tools for learning and navigating and managing the information landscape. What features are missing or are problematic with your favorite databases?
If you haven’t heard about the new GALILEO toolbar, go and get your toolbar. NOW! This is one of the most exciting additions to our GALILEO toobox, and I think it is one that will pump up student usage of what GALILEO has to offer. After watching the YouTube video last week and then seeing Courtney McGough’s fabulous presentation at GALILEO Gold, I am ready to have my tech guys roll out this add-on to give our students and teachers an easy entry point to GALILEO.
If you go to the GALILEO presentations page, you will see two PowerPoints. The first one is for you as a librarian; the second one is for use with your teachers and students. You can also download an instructional/informational PDF handout by clicking here.
You can download the toolbar for your institution by going to this page: http://www.galileo.usg.edu/scholar/databases/libx/?Welcome . You will need to sign in with your institution’s GALILEO password to get the version for your district.
A few things to know:
- The add-on will work for Firefox or Internet Explorer—just pick the option that works for the browser you use.
- You cannot install the institution for multiple institutions in one browser. For example, if you are a teacher in Cherokee County and a graduate student at UGA, you must choose which toolbar you want for a particular browser. However, you could run one toobar in one browser (for instance, Cherokee County in Explorer) and the second institution in another (UGA toolbar in Firefox).
- Changes can be made to the menu (for example, if you wanted to have NoveList or Academic Search Complete added), but your district must agree—all users within your district would see the changes, not your individual school.
- You can highlight text in something like a Wikipedia article or Amazon page; right click, and you can then search for the highlighted term or author’s name in the GALILEO database of your choice!
- You can adjust settings for your toolbar by location; see your district network guru for assistance with this task. You would want to customize it with your network administrator before it is pushed out via an image or login script.
- Additional help options and information are available at http://www.galileo.usg.edu/scholar/databases/libx/?Welcome .
After taking a look at the “teaser” video, I am extremely excited about major changes coming to SIRS Researcher, which we here access through GALILEO. The new version will be known as SIRS Issues Researcher, and highlights of the sleeker and more robust version include:
- Essential research questions
- A more comprehensive look at an issue, including its historical origins and impact on today’s society
- More emphasis on the “whys” instead of the “whats” of an issue
- More emphasis on the global impact of an issue
- More international information sources
- More multimedia, primary sources, and statistical data [charts, graphs]
- More search enhancements
- Topic/subject/keyword clouds and maps
- Social bookmarking options (YES!)
- Notetaking organizers
- Citation generators
- New critical thinking modules to help you as students better analyze the issue
- More global and diverse perspectives
- An audio read aloud option
- Print and nonprint sources
- Article translation into 10 languages
- Correlation to state and national learning standards
These changes should be in place when we return to school in August! In the meantime, check out these great “sneak peek” resources!
While I received an email notice about this nearly a month ago, this afternoon is the first time I’ve taken the opportunity to watch this wonderful sneak preview of the new and improved EBSCOhost 2.0 interface! Be sure to take some time to view this Flash video that will give you a guided tour of the new EBSCOhost 2.0!
As you know, we are fortunate to have access to many of the high quality EBSCOhost databases through GALILEO, but now these databases will have several new features that make the databases even more searchable while offering patrons more options for personalizing content delivery. The new look and features make the database look like an information portal in the vein of Pageflakes!
If you are a librarian, you can visit the awesome EBSCOhost 2.0 Support Center to prepare and familiarize yourself with this very cool new interface! Be sure to use the tabs at the top of the page to browse the treasure trove of training materials available. You will an array of helpful resources, including:
- a rollout timeline
- screenshots you can incorporate into training materials
- a PowerPoint highlighting the new features
- Flyers and posters you can customize to promote the new interface to your patrons
In addition to the EBSCOhost 2.0 Support Center, you can go to the EBSCOhost 2.0 Information site to get detailed information on all of the new features. I think the new changes are definitely going to make these databases more user-friendly and more appealing to our users!
Finally, visit http://support.ebscohost.com/ebscohost2/training.php to sign up for a free webinar to get your first wave of training! The new interface should be available to most users in July 2008, so now is the time to start planning ahead for how you will use this database with your patrons in 2008-09. I am truly excited about this new “facelift” for our EBSCOhost databases!