Saturday, June 12, 2010
Databases are like Scuba diving ....
At the beginning of the time I was at my current school I included online encyclopedias and databases into the budget, they were taken out by the powers that be with a statement along the lines of "these are not worth the money as no one uses them." Beginning of this academic year I included them in the budget again, and made a case for a trial - if they were not used enough to warrant spending the money, then I wouldn't ask for them again for a few years.
So the stakes were high to make sure they were used. We subscribed to Encyclopedia Britannica online, which also included Global Reference Centre (Britannica in Chinese, Korean, French, Japanese - our main mother tongue groups), Gale Infotrac and Brainpop.
About halfway through the year I had a call from Britannica wanting to use our schools name as an exemplar user of Britannica - we apparently had the highest statistics in the Asia Pacific region. I quickly passed this onto the powers that be.
In the past few weeks I have been completing the library annual report (next weeks post) and been collating the statistics for many, many things including the online resources, and, I am happy to announce, that I do believe we have got our moneys worth from them in our first year!
The current exchange rate is 1 USD = 7.8 HKD
It was also good to see the off campus usage statistics were much higher than the at school use, evidence that the students are not only remembering how to access the online resources after they have been instructed in how to do it, but feel the resources are worth their time after school to use them rather than 'googling' their keywords.
These resources have been introduced a few times through the year to different year groups in different subjects to help them with specific assignments. It is interesting to note that the Infotrac statistics for May were much higher than the other months. This surge reflects that I was involved in teaching year 7 how to use the databases to help them specifically for research on current environmental issues for geography, and year 9, stem cell research in science. It was also the second time these students had been formally introduced to the online resources.
This is evidence that online resources need to be taught in context, they need to have the support of the classroom teachers, repeat instruction is useful and the students need to want to access them because they see the value in using them.
Next year we will be working on greater value for money, and hopefully, we will be increasing our online resources.