Teacher librarians (TLs) are ideally placed to meet resource needs for Australian teachers and students, but have an expressed need for greater support in matching (or ‘aligning’) local and online resources to educational objectives such as those specified in the Australian Curriculum (eg Softlink 2014). This kind of alignment has been identified as being a crucial ingredient for improved student outcomes (Squires 2012).
Education Services Australia (ESA) has aligned digital resources to the Australian Curriculum since 2011. The Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) is a business unit of ESA that creates and distributes MARC records to 93% of Australian school libraries. Whilst SCIS has not traditionally provided curriculum-alignment data, it is investigating how this might be done to best meet the needs of schools and fit TL workflows whilst being viable in terms of associated costs and resources.
In his discussion of evaluator-driven alignment, Chadwick (2016) identified that TLs were well suited for making resource alignment judgements. Whilst doing this work within their own collection may benefit their school community, ESA is interested in the potential for TLs to create alignment data collectively. The viability of this is likely to depend on factors including TL motivation and capacity, and technical infrastructure for collating such data.
This paper describes an online survey of 586 school library staff, conducted by ESA between 1 February and 11 March 2016. The survey examined TL attitudes towards resource alignment, the current alignment practices occurring in libraries, and TL opinions towards crowd-sourced alignment metadata.
A large majority of respondents felt that alignment data would benefit both the school and the library. However, there was less support for alignments generated by other TLs than there was for alignments generated by an agency such as SCIS. It was important to respondents that resources were aligned to appropriate learning areas and year levels, and strong preferences were expressed for some learning areas over others.
A possible mechanism for collecting and distributing crowd-sourced alignment metadata is presented in the form of a widget installed on the SCIS Voyager catalogue.
By saving teacher time and directing students to a range of quality resources that directly target national learning priorities, this work has the potential to improve the position of school libraries as key players in whole-of-school delivery of curriculum-based teaching and learning.
Paper - Available now.