For Learning in the Age of COVID, Digital Resources Recommended by Librarians

A panel of experts shared the best digital resources for better remote learning on SLJ's recent webcast Digital Resources for K-12: Learning in the Age of COVID.

With many school districts around the country now shut down through the end of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, librarians and educators continue to look for ways to enhance and improve remote learning.

SLJ recently hosted a webcast, Digital Resources for K-12: Learning in the Age of COVID, during which panelists Gary Price, cofounder and editor of Library Journal's infoDOCKET; Melissa Techman, a school librarian at Albemarle County (VA) Public Schools; and Lemma Shomali, director of K12 products at Gale, shared the best resources for engaging students and organizing information during this unprecedented time. The session was moderated by SLJ ’s Rebecca Jozwiak.

Webcast panelist: Gary Price, left; Melissa Techman, center; and Lemma Shomai, right.

Documenting the present

Price spoke about the importance of web archiving and preserving information for the future.

“The web is an incredibly ephemeral resource,” he said. “It’s important to save material now and rearchive it on a constant basis.”

Information on the web can disappear from public access and be easily changed, Price noted. He recommended tools that help educators document their own experiences, save information on the web at any given time, and search archived information:

  • Archive-It allows organizations to capture web pages and create collections for archiving around a specific topic.
  • Webrecorder lets students and librarians capture all the materials students or teachers see in the browser as they search the web.
  • Downie archives videos
  • Zotero is a reference management tool
  • Arquivo.pt is a national web archive tool that lets users research archived materials by date and topic.
  •  

Tools for teaching

Techman, a high school librarian, shared many types of digital resources, including The Kid Should See This, a site with thousands of educational videos, and Home Reading Helper, an online resource to assist parents of young children who are learning to read.

“What really matters now is how we can be in touch and be there for our students,” Techman said.

She showed how one educator is using Padlet, an online bulletin board, to connect with her students by documenting personal moments from her own life. Choice Grids, or Choice Boards, is another tool educators are using to create a personalized learning experience for their students, Techman said.

Techman reminded listeners that it’s a good time to tap into other kinds of resources such as museums, media, and arts and cultural organizations, including the SmithsonianLibrary of Congress, Culture Connect, and New York Times Learning Network, many of which now offer free learning opportunities.

Librarians also must continue to engage in professional development around culturally responsive teaching, even while schools are laser-focused on remote learning, she said.

In her presentation, Shomali said librarians need to consider the diverse learning needs of students to help achieve equity.

“It’s not just about providing access to everything,” Shomali said. “What you do with the materials that you have accessed and how you customize it for your students is equally as important if not more so as we think about how to support kids at home.”

In this time of remote learning, Shomali suggested that librarians perform a “gap analysis” to find out what they are missing in their materials and fill those gaps with free resources.

Noting that librarians are more important than ever as they provide crucial resources to educators, Shomali advised librarians to make sure they are promoting what they are doing and how they are doing it on social media.

“You are change agents,” Shomali said. “This is our time as information specialists to showcase what the library community can bring to curriculum and curriculum development.”

Melanie Kletter is an educator and freelance writer and editor.

 

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