ICT teacher handbook/Building a personal digital library

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ICT teacher handbook
Professional learning communities Building a personal digital library ICT for generic resource creation

OER (Open Educational Resources)

For making teaching more effective, a resource rich learning environment is necessary. However, in many cases, teachers only have the text book for their subject. The text book is intended primarily for the student and the teacher needs to access resources that are a super set of the topic as dealt in the text book, so that the teacher is well placed to teach the topic in a variety of ways, based on the learning contexts and needs of the students. Teachers must also be resourceful to address any doubts or questions that may arise in class or elsewhere on the topic.

However, learning resources other than text books are not easily available to teachers. Also significant part of materials available is copyrighted, meaning teachers cannot make copies of the same for their use and it may be expensive to purchase all the required resource materials. 'Copyright' refers to the legal framework under which the author is making available her work to the public. The default copyright in India and rest of the world is that, if the author does not specify the copyright clause, it means that all rights are reserved by the author. This means that most of the published materials available are copyright as 'all rights reserved' and cannot be freely used, shared or modified.

Teachers also will need to contextualise materials (make changes as per their own needs), which copyrighted materials would not allow. Hence there is a movement to produce learning resources and make available with less copyright restrictions. The 'Open Educational Resources' movement aims to release materials with minimal restrictions, which will allow teachers to freely 're-use', 're-vise', 're-mix' and 're-distribute' materials (these are called the 4 Rs, the fifth R can be 're-tain').

Global digital library to personal digital library

This chapter discusses how teachers can access available OER from the internet and create their own digital libraries on their computers for different topics of their interest. As a 'global digital library, the internet has information on almost every topic. This changes the way we can think of learning and the skills of learning. Skills of accessing information, organizing, evaluating information are very important. While the Internet is a continuous learning resource and there is a lot of content you can access, to make the resources useful, you need to organize it well, and have a clear unit plan on how to integrate multiple resources for teaching. While there are many tools for teaching learning, no single tool will be fully adequate for learning; we have to use a library of tools and materials.
Information can be accessed in multiple ways from the Internet and we need to know how to search for information on the Internet. Sources of information, even if freely available on the Internet, needs to be acknowledged. Resources are available in different formats on the Internet- images, videos, audio files etc. We must be aware of Internet safety while accessing images, videos and other information on the Internet. We already saw that each website is a page on the Internet and has an address. We can either copy and paste the link directly in the address bar of the browser (shown above). Another way of finding information on the Internet is through the use of a search engine.

Objectives of a personal digital library

A personal digital library can store information on different topics of interest to you. It is 'personal' meaning it is available on your own computer, for your use anytime. It is 'digital' it is available in a digital format, which is easy to edit, store and share. Most importantly, it is a 'library' meaning the digital resources are organised meaningfully, for you to easily access information when you want it.

How to access information on internet - Accessing text, image, audio and video resources

Accessing text resources

The Internet is a rich source of text OER. It is important to access OER while creating your own because you cannot use content not licensed for reuse. You could either access popular known OER repositories or you could search the internet for resources you want. One method of accessing existing OER is to search some text repositories. The most popular text OER repository is the digital encyclopedia, Wikipedia. You can search for your topic in Wikipedia, by simply typing this text in the search bar. We will do this for ‘Digital Story Telling’ (DST) which is the OER proposed to be created as an exemplar by this tool-kit.  Wikipedia is available in more than hundred other languages, so you may also be able to search for text OER in Telugu or Urdu.

Other popular OER sites include http://www.wikieducator.org, https://oercommons.org. A list of OER sites is available on http://www.searchoer.com/list-of-oer.html

You could also use a search engine such as Google search engine or DuckDuckGo search engine to access information. The search engine will retrieve web pages for your topic that are both OER and non OER and you need to check each result you want to use, if it is OER.

Accessing image resources

Like Wikipedia is a popular text OER repository, Wikimedia commons is a repository of media (images, audio and video). You can search for your topic in Wikimedia Commons, by simply typing the topic name in the search bar. Flickr is also another popular source of OER images. You can use a search engine such as Google search engine or DuckDuckGo search engine to search for image OER. As in the case of text, you can select images that are licensed for reuse by specifying the search settings.

Accessing audio resources

Freesound and Soundcloud are audio OER repositories. You can use a search engine such as Google search engine or DuckDuckGo search engine, to search the web for audio resources.

Accessing video resources

Youtube is a popular repository for videos, it contains both OER and non OER videos. It is the largest collection of videos in the world. If the video is downloadable, you will always see a download button; right click will usually give download option. You can search for videos on Youtube also. When you search, all videos will be listed. Right click on any link and click on "download as". # It will save in downloads folder; you can copy and paste into your folder

Vimeo and Wikimedia are also audio and video repositories. A google search on ‘OER Videos’ will also give you a list of sites to explore. In the search engine, you would need to specify "videos" as a filter for search results. You cannot insert videos into a text document, so inserting the link to the file, will provide the information to play the video.

How to evaluate an Internet resource

There are a few things you must check when we look at the usefulness of the information on any website.

  1. Source of the website. It is important to know about the source of the information, to get a sense of its authenticity
  2. Use of multiple websites: Only one website will give us only one kind of information. Using more than one website will give multiple perspectives. We can also cross check and identify errors if any.
  3. Relevance: Often when we search, we may immediately share the first page we find, with others. However, it is important to read (at least quickly) the contents of the page, to help you get a sense of the relevance of the page for your purpose. Information use is very contextual. A web page written about rainfall and crops will be different for different places. So we need to look at how it will be useful for us. Information also has to be valid for a given time. If the information is very old, we need to test for accuracy.
  4. Features of a website: How useful a website is depends on how many different ways we can access the information and use it and view it. Can it be used by teachers, students, general public? The understanding of this will also help us determine how much we can use the content.

How to search for information

The second aspect of using a website relates to how we search for information. What words we use, how we phrase the question for search are all important features in deciding the quality of search results. For example try these different searches - Giraffe, Evolution and Evolution of giraffe You will notice that the pages that come up are all different. What we also need to keep in mind is who the user is, what is the use etc. How we use the search terms determines what results see and how relevant they are.

Check list for evaluating a website

The following questions should be answered to evaluate a website:

  1. Whose website? (check the 'About Us' link that is usually provided on a web site to get this information)
  2. What kind of website - commercial, educational, etc. Educational sites or non-commercial sites may be more reliable, generally
  3. What kind of resources? Is the information reliable - always check more than one site
  4. Does it allow for a discussion? Or does it only provide one-way information
  5. Does it have transaction - like e-commerce websites
  6. Is it easy to navigate?
  7. Free/ Paid/ Subscription
  8. Copyright of the content on the site
  9. Navigation - How many internal and external web links does it have.
  10. How to contact the website owner/manager?

For teaching-learning resources - In addition to the above, the following points are to be considered

  1. What is the website about?
  2. Is the information reliable - always check more than one website
  3. Who made it?
  4. What it has?
  5. Is it for teachers or for children?
  6. How to use in class?

Steps in creating a personal resource folder

There are several steps in creating a resource folder. The specific technology actions for each of these steps, is available under the relevant application in the Explore an application page.

  1. Make a folder on the computer by topic
  2. Create a 'meta' document which will provide your thoughts on the topic and link the resources you have collected to these thoughts
  3. Access relevant resources from Internet
  4. Save pages, images, videos
  5. Insert into document
  6. Copy links of the resources you find useful, and which you would like to refer to in your document
  7. Paste / insert links into document
  8. Add your own comments, suggestions in the meta document, and connect the resources accessed and shared, with your ideas to create a resource document on the selected topic.
  9. Format the document

Personal Digital Library

The set of resources downloaded in your folders for the given topic, along with your 'meta document' constitutes your personal digital library for the topic. You can build such libraries on any topic you are interested in, and build your own knowledge in a structured manner. Since the internet has resources on almost all topics, you have an opportunity to keep learning, that too on topics of your interest. The topic or area need not be only one of theoretical interest or only to build your knowledge. You can also work on building skills since there are likely to be videos available for helping you learn a new language, or even a skill like swimming. You can also share this personal digital library with your colleagues so that they can also benefit. When teachers share their personal digital libraries / resources from their library with their colleagues, cumulatively, it creates a resource rich environment. Try creating a personal digital library on a topic or issue you have always wanted to learn about.

Contributing to the Global Digital Library

You can register on Wikipedia. Create articles in Telugu (http://te.wikipedia.org) and add to existing articles. This will be a valuable contribution to OER in your language. (You can also do this for Urdu, English, Hindi or any of the Indian languages) as well. You can also register on the TROER and contribute resources. You should also, as a matter of habit, release the resources created by you as OER, by sharing it in the Subject Teacher Forums, or publishing on the internet on the OER repositories mentioned in this chapter.