Monday, June 6, 2011

Alberta's Online Reference Centre for Schools

Alberta’s Online Reference Centre presents a robust selection of reference resources. I think it represents a core of what most teacher-librarians are familiar with in terms of subscription services and that they believe should be made freely available to their patrons.

I very much appreciate the clear indication of the grade levels for which each resource is appropriate. However, if the page were to get much longer I would suggest dividing it into pages that split into elementary, middle, and high school reference resources and even subdivide according to subject area. The Victoria School District has an eResources on their district website which neatly keeps all resources and links on one screen. The subject headings may not necessarily be clear or intuitive for all users but the overall model works. The Victoria School District page has a much wider scope of electronic learning resources as opposed to just reference but it may be a layout that Alberta might consider.

I am not quite clear on what the mandate or scope of the Alberta Online Reference Centre page is. If it is to restrict itself to provide convenient access to provincially purchased subscription based reference/database services then I think it is fairly complete in regards to what I know is available for purchase (my knowledge is not wide in this area). I am a little surprised not to see a link to the French edition of World Book Online. I would also question if Bookflix and Teaching with Books would fit under the category of reference. They are both excellent resources but would seem to expand into the area of electronic learning resources (Bookflix can also be seen as electronic books as well). If the online reference centre had as its mandate to make more books freely available then subscriptions like Bookflix, such as Tumblebooks, could be added. I still believe this is really outside the reference category.

If I could add to the already admirable Online Resource Centre (assuming more monies were available to add such resources) I would add an online video streaming service with curriculum related video content. It would seem that the reference resources on this site albeit electronic are still heavily text based.

I am ignorant on what is available as a subscription purchase in terms of reference in areas of science and mathematics. If there are resources available for purchase in these areas, the reference centre could be made comprehensive through their addition and more resources in the areas of music, languages, physical education (food and health) and the trades.

Overall, the Alberta’s Online Resource Centre is what all provinces should aspire too. It makes great sense economically and administratively to have a standard set of reference resources available in all schools so as to provide equitable access to information. It is merely a continuation of the thinking that pushed to have all libraries in Canada connected to the Internet.

1 comment:

  1. You already know the French resources are under a separate tab. Video streaming exists on the site, but directly tied to courses eg. Science 15. The ORC is a stand alone because it is not strictly restricted to schools in the province - it is available for other venues as well.
    Also, have you ever tried to negotiate with Tumblebooks??? Difficult.