This page shows a selection of case studies and testimonials from JCS customers who have been impressed with the resources and service we provide...
- How Simon Balle library introduced and promoted JCS Online Resources
- Online resources: a method to tackle reduced contact time with students
- The importance of 'internal marketing' for online resources
- How online resources can enhance a school library
- JCS leads the way in bringing online resources to schools
- History Study Centre is great for teaching English as well as History
- The Times Blog: Do we need school librarians?
How Simon Balle library introduced and promoted JCS Online Resources
When Hertfordshire Schools Library Service launched their new Schools’ Buying Group in 2009 Simon Balle School Library was keen to get involved. I was very aware that the Reference Collection of printed books at SBS was in need of some attention and updating. The cost of Oxford Reference Online through the Buying Group was very reasonable and I decided it was the perfect answer to bring the reference resources at SBS right up to date. As I used the resource I found that the weblinks provided by Oxford Reference Online were fantastic and I used them a lot with KS5 enquiries.*
I wanted to try more resources and found two enthusiastic members of staff to help me promote them. Firstly our Head of Art was keen to subscribe to Grove Art Online and our Head of English wanted to use History Study Centre. This had material on speeches in it which saved him the cost of buying text books for a class. I thought that as a Humanities College it was appropriate that we had a History resource.
Just over a year ago I saw Credo Reference demonstrated at Hertfordshire Schools Library Service and was impressed with its capabilities and visual appeal. Whilst Oxford Reference Online was targeted more at Sixth Formers Credo was ideal for all students from Year 7 upwards. Together with the 2 other schools in the buying group for Credo we came to the conclusion that we would subscribe to Credo 250 i.e. library staff could choose 250 titles from a possible 400. With Credo Reference the customer needs to choose the level of subscription from approximately 50, 250 or 400 titles.
In addition to Credo Reference we subscribed to Literary Reference Center, Science Reference Center and Grove Music Online. As SBS had just introduced EPQs we found that the Science Reference Center was particularly useful for such Year 12 studies.
SBS Library was remodelled and opened in September 2010 by Roger Walshe, Head of Learning at the British Library. The Library decided that it would fully fund Credo Reference from its budget (rather than sharing with a department) and promote it vigorously as the new Library was launched.
Promotion of the resources was done at annual school Open Evenings where students and staff demonstrated Credo Reference on the new i-cybers. One PGCE student looking round exclaimed that “your online resources are better than our University Library”. All Year 7s were introduced to Credo at Library Inductions whilst a more detailed look at resources available has been given to the Sixth Form.
When the initial phase of the resources came to the end of two years we decided not to renew Oxford Reference Online as Credo fulfilled our reference needs. History Study Centre, Grove Art and Grove Music have also lapsed. Nevertheless we have been trialling more online resources such as Philip Allan, Keesing’s World News Archive, eChalk, Rock’s Backpages and Bridgeman Education.
I promote the trials and subscriptions at Department meetings, when I see the NQT’s in July as they begin training at school and with EPQ students to whom I give one to one tuition. I use email and the Welcome Screen on eclipse.net’s Silverlight interface to advertise resources. I continually evaluate our monthly usage figures so that I can ensure we are getting value for money. In my role as librarian I am going out into classes to assist with the choice of resources and I am always promoting JCS online resources. The situation is quite fluid as demands change and I need to constantly monitor the statistics. Overall the online resources have supported staff and students well over the past few years, providing trusted sources rather than relying on Wikipedia.
*Please note, that since 2011, the OUP resources (Oxford Reference Online, Grove Music, Grove Art, Oxford Language Dictionaries Online) are no longer available through JCS Online Resources.
Janet Syme, Librarian, Simon Balle School, HertfordBack to top
Online resources: a method to tackle reduced contact time with students
Changes in funding for school sixth form colleges, as outlined in the White Paper ‘The Importance of Teaching’, November 2010, commenced in 2011 and are due to be completed by 2015. According to Michael Gove, ‘We will bring to an end the disparity by bringing the funding levels for school sixth forms in line with colleges so there is equity in funding and increased value for money for the taxpayer.’ Clearly the implications of the changes for school sixth forms are far reaching as any reduction in funding could impact on staffing, the number of courses available and if fewer courses, students might not be able to study the subjects they need to pursue their chosen career in HE. Therefore this issue presents school sixth form colleges with many challenges. The number of hours for contact time may be an area for review, and if so, any alternative provision must meet stringent criteria for the delivery of teaching and learning. The number of hours for self directed study may, as a result of these changes, be increased, and if so it is crucial that the mechanisms are in place to support and develop independent learning.
A straw poll taken with our Sixth Form students here at Ripley suggest that between 70 and 90% of their research is undertaken online, yet only 6% of content on the web is intended for educational purposes (Henninger, M. 1999). If this is the case then not only is it a logical conclusion but also as an education provider, an obligation, to ensure this issue is addressed.
Although a growing amount of qualitative digital information is freely available and is open source, the majority of qualitative research databases are still at a premium. In the last twelve months we have chosen to make a considerable investment in qualitative, online information resources which are intended to complement more traditional student resources. Although this investment is only one of many creative ways we are currently using to deliver the curriculum, (other methods include the development of online tutorials, harnessing the benefits of social networking and through equipping students with iPads, the use of apps), feedback to date would indicate that this investment is proving popular with staff and students.
The comprehensive collection of searchable digital data delivers greater opportunities for students to undertake self directed academic study in school and at home and to access information in a range of formats to suit their needs.
If we are to service students’ research needs, to develop and extend the reach of the discovery solution, there is an obligation to provide access to appropriate, qualitative online resources. In this context, it would be prudent to consider the wealth of online resources that JCS present.
Rosalind Buckland, Librarian, Ripley St Thomas Church of England AcademyBack to top
The importance of 'internal marketing' for online resources
Without doubt access to online resources has been one of the most innovative and successful additions to the school library in recent years. We have a very large high achieving Sixth Form who need to be able to carry out independent research to support their A Levels, coursework and EPQs. The quality and breadth of information provided through carefully selected databases enable them to go way beyond our extensive and well used printed collections to take their research to a higher level. At present although we do have some use of online resources for history, religious studies and science at key stages three and four, it is the Sixth Form who are using them most.
Buying into electronic resources brings with it the need to promote them to staff and pupils. The advent of the E-Library (our secure VLE access to our online resources) has been a useful catalyst for encouraging even greater collaboration between the librarian and teachers. It has been a golden opportunity to demonstrate the online catalogue, highlight the library book stock and create links to specific online resources on VLE library resource pages. For example within the English department each teacher brings their class A Level class for a session in the library where the librarian directs the students and teacher to the relevant resources. This encompasses the existing book stock, printed journals, information on the VLE, the use of the online library catalogue and the ‘E-Library’. The E-Library includes access to a range of online subscription databases prized for the authenticity and reliability of their contents. These sessions have also proved an opportune moment to remind students about the issues of authenticity and combating plagiarism.
The whole package now provides access to resources comparable to those found in higher education.
Referring to the Literary reference centre on teacher said “the EBSCO Literary Reference Centre has become an invaluable resource for A level English students –it enhances their independent learning both for coursework and exams. Everything on there is high level, erudite and thought provoking and provides the stretch and challenge our students need. It saves all the unnecessary filtering required of a general internet search; our students know that everything they read will be of value. Their research skills are hugely enhanced and their ability to filter information is tested. My Year 13 students were lost when access to the E-Library and was temporarily down as they needed to cite all their references for their coursework. My Year 12 students found EBCSO a wonderful way of developing their critical reading – a brilliant resource for that. I don’t know how we would manage without it”.
A really important outcome of using online resources is the effective way it prepares our students for university. A former student said after his first term at university “the introduction of the e-journal accessing systems by you has again enabled me to avoid the problems others, without prior experience, have endured in all of these areas”.
Sheila Compton, Librarian, Dame Alice Owen's School, HertfordshireBack to top
How online resources can enhance a school library
My school does not currently have a collection of online reference resources. I believe this has a detrimental effect on the information literacy skills of our children. I also feel that it limits the abilities of the library to support teaching and learning.
Online reference resources make users think carefully about keywords, search terms, and alternative words, in order to find results that are pertinent. This systematic approach to searching means they waste less time and find the research process much more engaging.
Online reference resources would help demonstrate the need to evaluate online information carefully. Online resources, like those on offer, have judged by professionals, as being of educational merit. Having access to inline reference resources would make it easier to demonstrate the importance of evaluating information sources.
The nature of online reference resources means that the resources are available throughout the building, not just in the physical library. This would lead to the presence of the library throughout the school, automatically involving us in the research process. This relationship could be expanded to involve the librarian further in research skills and the curriculum.
As hard as we try, librarians cannot provide resources for every topic studied in school. The introduction of the Extended Project Qualification has created gaps in our stock that we would previously have never thought to fill. Online reference resources would allow us to provide relevant, reliable information on any topic.
To ensure the resources were being used to their full capacity, I would arrange a staff CPD event to demonstrate the how the online reference resource can impact on teaching and learning. I would follow this up with directed meetings with the departments I thought would benefit most from the resources. I would promote the resource prominently on the library website and on the departmental webpages too. I would also try to make a display about the resources in the library and 6th form areas to make the pupils aware of their scope and how to use them.
Evaluating the resources would be an ongoing process. I would need to maintain close links with the departments to ensure that the resources were providing accurate and useful information, whilst making sure that the profile of the resources remained high so staff and students were comfortable using them.
I am certain that having online reference resources would have a beneficial impact on teaching and learning in this school. It would help strengthen information literacy skills among pupils and staff whilst raising the profile of the library and the librarian as a qualified professional.
Leah Adams, Librarian, Walbottle Campus, NewcastleBack to top
Steering students away from internet search engines and toward trusted sources
Our challenge is to entice students to try authoritative alternatives to Wikipedia and Google, and to make teachers aware of how subscription resources can support teaching and learning.
In addition to basic promotion (links on the intranet and library catalogue, posters throughout the library), we’re always looking for ways to develop students' information literacy. We’ve run custom sessions with the Sixth Form by discipline, e.g. demonstrating Oxford Art Online to the arts/humanities crowd, a science ejournal for the scientists, and news and reference resources to both.
An annual physics project, in which all Year 7 students research a planet, provides the perfect opportunity to introduce our youngest students to online resources. We demonstrate how to search for information in the catalogue (books and weblinks) and in an online encyclopedia. As they are also asked to include an image, we talk about copyright and how they do not have permission to use any old image they find online. (This always comes as a shock to these technically savvy 11-year-olds, who have been cutting and pasting images into their work for years!) We then take them through searching our subscription image bank, where copyright has been cleared and each picture is accompanied by trustworthy contextual information, contrasting this with Google Images. We also demonstrate making a simple picture list of images used. Crucially, the teachers make clear that students will also be marked on the relevance and referencing of their images.
Collaboration with teachers has been key – wherever possible, we encourage teachers to attend sessions we run with their students. In recent months, we’ve also held two “taster” sessions open to all staff, in which we present an overview of our online resources. Where we have actively worked with teachers to promote these resources, we often receive feedback that the standard of students’ work has improved. Of course, we try to get across to staff and students the other benefits, including: authority (written/published by trusted experts rather than anonymously), currency (online resources can be updated more quickly than print), relevance (to the curriculum), age-appropriateness (unlike much of the web, which is aimed at either a general adult readership or perhaps a technical or specialist level).
We do compile usage statistics where available to help us with evaluation. These show in relative terms how well each is used. More importantly for us is the qualitative feedback we seek from teachers and students themselves. Last year we publicized a trial of potential new subscriptions and invited feedback. One teacher asked his pupils to review three resources each as homework. He shared the most considered reviews with us – this proved a fantastic evaluative tool which really showed us the strengths and weaknesses from the students’ viewpoint. This informed not only our overall subscription decisions but also our approach to training – sometimes the issue is not the quality of the content but how accessible students find it in practice.
Terri McCargar, Latymer Upper School, LondonBack to top
JCS leads the way in bringing online resources to schools
Might I take this opportunity to thank JCS for their continued work in raising awareness of and negotiating attractive prices for digital and online resources on behalf of the secondary and sixth form sectors.
Such resources are very much at the fore of teaching and learning and it is only through JCS that many education providers, such as ourselves, are able to discover and embrace these technologies.
Rosalind Buckland, Librarian, Ripley St Thomas Church of England Academy, LancasterBack to top
History Study Centre is great for teaching English as well as History
From Peasant Rebellions to Russian Revolutions to Irish Unionism- any topic I have searched is thoroughly covered and the information given is insightful for students. It is also useful for socio-historic background to A-Level English Literature texts like The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye.
I think the key for the students is learning how to condense their search and having the patience to use the resource to its fullest extent and select the material most useful to them. The hyperlinks are a good feature because it allows them to specialise their search options. I'm hoping if they learn to use resources such as History Study Centre effectively they will be better prepared for online journal searches at university.
Tanja Jennings, Librarian, Wellington College, BelfastBack to top
The Times Blog: Do we need school librarians?
Are school librarians needed? I hope to persuade you in the affirmative and to support my argument have chosen to discuss just one aspect of our role, that which is clearly not the remit of teaching staff but one that falls squarely on the shoulders of the librarian, i.e. information literacy.
If we consider the onus on students for self directed study, whether for homework, research or coursework and if our students are to become the proficient, digital natives referred to in the in DEMOS report , Truth, Lies and the Internet., then the librarian is essential.
To illustrate my point I would like to narrow the focus further, to post GCSE, of study at AS and A2 level. This requires a massive step change in study due to the increase in self directed work and the decrease in contact time. The minimum requirement for contact time at AS and A2 is ten fifty minute lessons per subject, per fortnight. Not surprisingly then many students are at a loss as to how best to utilise their ‘frees’ which can vary between 8-12, fifty minute periods per fortnight at AS, and 24 periods per fortnight at A2.
To add to this problem are the changes in funding for school sixth form colleges, as outlined in the DEMOS report According to Michael Gove, ‘We will bring to an end the disparity by bringing the funding levels for school sixth forms in line with colleges so there is equity in funding and increased value for money for the taxpayer.’ Clearly the implications of the changes for school sixth forms are far reaching as any reduction in funding might, amongst other things, mean that the number of hours of contact time might be an area for review.
As we are aware, the amount of material available at the click of a mouse can be both liberating and asphyxiating, and it is during this ‘free’ time, intended for self directed study; research and reading around their subject, that the librarian can steer the young and untutored researchers’ minds, helping them to navigate the digital landscape, equipping them with study skills for use both in school and at home.
A straw poll of our students demonstrated that they undertake between 70 and 90% of their research online, a cause for concern especially when one considers that only 6% of content on the web is intended for educational purposes. Therefore, in addition to tuition on information literacy it is crucial that the appropriate tools are in place to support and develop independent learning, and as in Higher Education, it is the librarian with whom this responsibility lies.
It is no longer acceptable to expect the modern day student to exist on the staple diet of Google and Wikipedia. Their voracious appetite for online research must be enriched with more appropriate resources and it is the role of the librarian to ensure that qualitative digital resources such as EBSCO, Credo and Questia etc are in place.
The librarians’ contribution in this context is also valued by students undertaking the Extended Project Qualification, or EPQ, which centres on self directed study and which, as a result, has been warmly received by universities and is often the sole topic for conversation at interview. Likewise, the International Baccalaureate has recognised the essential role of the librarian and any VI Form College offering this qualification is obliged to ensure a qualified librarian is in post.
I hope the above demonstrates the invaluable contribution librarians currently make towards equipping students with skills for life, the workplace and for a seamless transition for study in Higher Education, and therefore, because quite simply when it comes to information management the librarian is the unequivocal expert, their profession is one our young scholars cannot do without."
Rosalind Buckland, Librarian, Ripley St Thomas Academy, LancasterBack to top