The lovely thing about LearnPath is that it’s not complicated. You don’t need to be a web designer to create guides. Its simplicity empowers the people who are in charge of resources and know all about the resources in the school. It gives them the ability to better support students and promote their resources and expertise.John O'Brien, Library Information Services Manager
As the governing body for 152 primary and secondary schools in the inner-west, south and east of Sydney, Sydney Catholic Schools educate more than 70,000 students.
They develop teaching and learning resources in consultation with principals and teachers, assist with operations and provide administrative support to ensure schools and students thrive.
Sydney Catholic Schools’ main goal is to provide students with well-rounded, vigorous education enhanced by faith and moral traditions.
Helping to equitably resource quality, progressive school libraries is just one of the ways Sydney Catholic Schools supports student learning within the Diocese.
Library Information Services Manager, John O’Brien, said they have been working with Softlink since 1987 and that providing a contemporary library offering has always been a priority.
Sydney Catholic Schools moved to Softlink’s flagship web based library management software, Oliver v5, in 2008 and John sees the introduction of LearnPath as a natural progression to support their libraries.
“Schools have benefited from new features in Oliver such as the introduction of the Orbit junior interface for primary schools, and we have forged ahead with the introduction of eBooks, eResources and federated search. The collation and presentation of the many resources available to schools and students now becomes a point of need and future direction.”
An early adopter of LearnPath John was quick to see its potential.
“LearnPath provides a very useful, flexible and powerful framework. The ease with which this framework can be created and managed enables much needed support, or guidance for students in their research or learning journey.”
John said resource and content curation, or providing a starting point for research and learning in an age of information overload is critical.
And John believes that the need for research support is not just restricted to students.
“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.”
“24/7 access to relevant, quality curated material which promotes and utilises the school’s own resources is particularly useful for all current day researchers, including staff.”
At a school level, guide production collaboration between library staff and educators leverages the expertise of the library professional while nurturing closer working relationships.
At a Diocese or community level, collaboration can also mean workload reduction and better use of resources.
John said being able to share their efforts collaboratively minimises each individual library’s workload and promotes greater equity.
“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.”
John sees this as particularly relevant for primary schools in the Diocese.
“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 work load while maximising their value and expertise.”
John says that the integration between their Oliver v5 library management system and LearnPath provides a seamless central hub for student and school communities.
“LearnPath and Oliver give you this incredible ability to focus the students searching to the appropriate resources and I think that’s terrific.”
Increasing subscription resource usage is another benefit for schools.
“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.”
The ease at which schools can produce engaging curated content has also been very positive.
“The lovely thing about LearnPath is that it’s not complicated. You don’t need to be a web designer to create guides. Its simplicity empowers the people who are in charge of resources and know all about the resources in the school. It gives them the ability to better support students and promote their resources and expertise.”
Softlink’s provision of pre-existing guides produced by an Australian teacher librarian have really helped Sydney Catholic Schools to get started with LearnPath.
John said the content and structure inspires staff and saves them time.
“They can immediately see the potential and it means they can hit the ground running with quality content and a showcase for teachers.”
The rate of development and introduction of new features in LearnPath has also impressed.
“The recent new features are superb. The ability to move guides from one place to another and copy and paste into your own LearnPath system is a wonderful feature. The ability to import and export guides from other systems is also brilliant.”
LearnPath was rolled out to all Sydney Catholic secondary schools in mid-2019 after initial implementation at early adopter schools in 2018.
John said they have already had tremendously good feedback from the schools.
“While there is great benefit in collaboration and sharing, schools are also finding unique benefits. For example, one school has had great success utilising LearnPath for their Newman (Selective Gifted Education) program.”
LearnPath was also implemented at all Sydney Catholic primary schools at the end of 2019.