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Softlink solutions to support learning – part 2


In part 1 of this series we looked at how Oliver can help support learning by encouraging reading, student engagement and library use, and by supporting learning and research.

In this post, we will look at LearnPath as a tool to support online learning and research, provide opportunities for collaboration, and support the curriculum.

In part 3 we will look at OverDrive for building a digital library that can provide more than a physical library can offer, a digital collection beyond eBooks, and tools to help promote reading and engagement even with struggling or resistant readers.

LearnPath – more than a Google search

With the increase of online learning and research, getting the right information into the hands of students presents a difficult challenge. With the proliferation of fake news, unverified sites, or even just under-researched content, the online world can be a misleading and confusing place.

With LearnPath, you can provide so much more than a Google search can offer through curated online guides that connect students with the content they need to support their studies, while promoting the resources you have available in your library. LearnPath also provides an avenue for school library staff to work more closely with teaching staff to support the curriculum.

Learnpath is:

  • A tool to support digital literacy
  • A tool to support the curriculum
  • A tool to foster collaboration
  • A tool to promote the library

A tool to support digital literacy

Navigating the sea of information (and misinformation!) presents a difficult challenge, even for “digital natives”.

Having grown up in a digital world, it’s easy to assume that students can find their way around, but the skills required to critically analyse online texts are not something that come naturally… they need to be taught!

‘Information skills are becoming more important, especially as the ‘fake news’ on the internet grows, however, all too often, research skills are seen simply as a ‘Google it’ option. This is where the library can come in to its own, teaching research skills, unfortunately time is not always given over to the teaching of such skills. Universities are placed in the position of having to teach, at times basic, research skills in order to expand the students’ concepts of research. This is one of the reasons why I like ‘Oliver v5’, which allows me to put useful links on the Homepage to websites and search engines specifically designed for secondary school students.’ 2019 Softlink EMEA School Library Survey

While the Oliver v5 News Page provides an avenue to embed useful links to direct student research and learning, the introduction of LearnPath has enabled schools to do so much more.

LearnPath has been developed to help support students and staff, providing a platform to collect and place high quality information and resources in the hands of students, while acting as a springboard into digital literacy learning by providing examples high quality resources.

As shared by John O’Brien, Library Information Services Manager, Sydney Catholic Schools

‘If we don’t show them, it can be very difficult to identify what the quality resources are. They can waste a lot of time seeking and finding non-relevant resources which leads to stress and poorer learning outcomes.’

To read the full case study click here

Once implemented, LearnPath can be embedded directly into the Oliver News Page so students can search for their year level and unit of study and access the resources that have been curated for them.

A tool to support the curriculum

As the resource hub of the school, the library is positioned to provide students and teachers with a range of content to support the curriculum.

In our feature School libraries share: Ideas for school-wide collaboration respondents shared that resourcing the curriculum is one of the main roles that they perform.

‘I assist staff in finding resources and suggest resources that may meet their curriculum needs.’ AU

Senior curriculum resources

LearnPath facilitates resourcing the curriculum through the creation of subject guides that can link students to both online and physical resources whether they are at home or at school.

The benefits of LearnPath were even further realised during school shutdowns in 2020. One of the respondents to the Softlink COVID-19 survey shared how LearnPath helped to support remote learning.

‘Our school has moved to remote teaching, with no staff onsite. This has meant that we needed to provide library services remotely. Luckily for us, we have remote access to our Oliver v5 library catalogue, and we also have LearnPath to enable us to create visually appealing subject guides to assist students with their learning that they can access through our library ‘News’ page.

LearnPath has been a fantastic resource during this time, and I have spent most of my time working remotely creating LearnPath guides for teachers to share with their students.’ APAC

CBC Fremantle - Idea shop

In this blog post, Trevanna Cooper from CBC Fremantle shared,

‘LearnPath has really helped both students and teaching staff during this period of online learning.

Having a digital repository of understandable learning resources relevant to the current units of study that students can access from home means that students are more able to stay on top their studies. Teachers appreciate that the content is presented in an engaging way that is easy for students to understand.’

Furthermore, LearnPath comes with access to over 300 Australian curriculum-based guides produced by teacher librarians, that users can download and customise for the specific needs of their school. These are available via the LearnPath Hub.

‘The LearnPath Hub content is excellent. It’s great quality content with genuine educational benefits. We love it.’ John O’Brien, Library Information Services Manager, CEO Sydney

For an overview of available content click here.

A tool to foster collaboration

Since the Softlink School Library Survey launched in 2010, the topic of collaboration has featured heavily in respondent comments, with library staff expressing that they would like more opportunities to collaborate with teachers.

‘I would like more collaboration with other school staff so I know what their needs are, can plan for this, and support them more effectively.’ UK (School libraries share: Our wish list for the future)

As a tool that provides an avenue to curate resources that support the curriculum, LearnPath can promote and foster collaboration between library staff and teaching staff to help achieve educational outcomes.

Laurel Ball, Teacher Librarian at Assisi Catholic College, shared how she has been collaborating with teachers to create LearnPath guides, positioning the library as a one-stop-stop for research and providing students with a springboard into their assignments. Watch this short video to find out more.

LearnPath can also foster collaboration between schools, which is particularly beneficial for Departments, Consortia, and Education Offices, helping them to get the most out of resources and staff time through a shared platform.

In this case study, John O’Brien, Library Information Officer at Sydney Catholic Schools commented:

LearnPath fosters collaboration and sharing between the schools. Whether that’s through central management distribution of content or school to school sharing, it allows library professionals and schools to leverage off each other and get the most out of their limited time and resources.’

‘I see this particularly between primary schools, who are very keen to work in a collaborative setting with each person specialising in researching and developing one area or topic of research. Through their collaborative efforts they are able to minimise their workload while maximising their value and expertise.’

LearnPath hub

To further the opportunities for collaboration Softlink have released the new LearnPath Hub; school library staff from different schools can now collaborate with each other. The LearnPath Hub provides an avenue to upload your guides, search and download guides uploaded by other users, and “like” guides. This wealth of resources can be accessed from within LearnPath.

A tool to promote the library

So, you’ve stocked your library with valuable resources. You’ve done your research and collected a list of online sites that will support the curriculum. Now you need to promote the resources you have paid for or spent valuable time researching.  

LearnPath provides a single platform to curate all the resources you have in your library under subject guides, promoting both the digital and physical resources you have available to support the curriculum.

Events in LearnPath

Furthermore, additional guides can be created to promote resources beyond the curriculum for example:

  • Reading lists
  • eBooks
  • Popular reads
  • New to the library
  • Events
  • And more…

John O’Brien shares:

‘Sharper search focus and content curation makes it easier for students to access relevant school resources. This means schools get better educational value and overall return from their quality subscription services like ClickView videos.’

LearnPath also helps to promote the digital literacy skills and the experience of school library staff through the curation of high-quality online resources that support the curriculum, while providing an avenue to collaborate with teaching staff and showcasing how the library can support teaching and learning.

Learn more with Softlink Solutions to support learning - part 1.

Speak to an Educational Consultant about how LearnPath can benefit your school.