Saturday, 6 November 2010

The IB Libraries

At the end of the last academic year I decided to create a shared resource called the IB Libraries for my primary school.

The resource is a central resource bank which is housed at Wikispaces. It is organised to hold the planning documents for each Inquiry Unit in each term and the resources which will be used for that term's units.

In the planning section of each page, I created a table with the headings "Central Idea" etc. and linked those details to a file sharing service. In this case I used but there are many other services which could also do the job. I chose this method, because the file can, if you have a box account, be edited. Even if you don't have an account, a copy of the plan can be downloaded regardless of where you access the site from.

The rest of the page is used to organise the resources the teaching team thinks will be appropriate for that unit. In my case I organised our page into audio, video, Powerpoint, etc.

There are several benefits to using this method. First, I felt it would be more collaborative and help to create a sharing environment among the team. It also helped to identify expertise in certain areas of a unit.

Second, Wikis are very easy to work with especially the ones at Wikispaces. The editor is very simple but powerful and teachers generally have no trouble learning how to do some basic page editing and how to upload/download resources in a relatively short space of time.

Thirdly, the libraries helped to identify areas where we were resource rich and resource poor. This then helped the team, rather than individual teachers set about filling the resource need together. Furthermore, it helps to keep resources organised so that we did not have to deal with large numbers of attachments, writing down website addresses and duplication of work.

Fourthly, the libraries are a living document which change as the needs of the unit and the team teaching it changes. teachers can add to, or remove materials as and when necessary.

Fifthly, the libraries are accessible to teachers anytime anywhere there is an internet connection. So, anytime they want or need to see the resources or the planning documents, they can, without having to somehow gain access to the school network.

Finally, the fact the resources were all housed by third parties means that the drain on our already overburdened IT Department would be negligible. We need a stable and relatively fast connection to the internet, but we don't need storage space on the school system, nor do we need the IT personnel to correct issues related to the libraries on our system.

If you are thinking of setting up a similar libraries resource wiki, I would like to hear about it. What issues are you trying to overcome? Are there benefits in your circumstances which I haven't mentioned? Let me know in the comments.


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