In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’ve been giving away some fun Gale Cengage Learning bling since we have access to three Gale databases we use heavily for research here on a regular basis at The Unquiet Library. Many thanks to Gale for the free goodies that are helping our students show their love for The Unquiet Library (and databases)! Simple yet fun vendor swag goes a long way in helping students remember our learning tools that we use on a regular basis.
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?
The screencast is a little lengthy at 20+ minutes (think of it as a “libraryside” chat), but I share some of the challenges of curating and sharing content to spaces for curation and reflection in one’s personal learning environment (PLE), including Scoop.it, Posterous, and Tumblr. In this video, I also offer some constructive suggestions to database vendors for improving the “sharing” features of their resources to be more user-friendly.