Book Week Activity Augments Reality

Entrance to the Preparatory School Library celebrating Book Week 2015

Entrance to the Preparatory School Library celebrating Book Week 2015

The St Andrew’s College Library Manager, Mrs Cathy Kennedy, runs an annual Book Week for students across the College to engage in. Each year this week includes many competitions and prizes, with at least one activity having a ‘tech focus’ for students. 2015 was no different with the students encouraged to create “Auras” for books that would link to video content or book review trailers through the use of Aurasma Software.

Aimed at our Preparatory School students, the challenge for them was to promote some of their favourite books by creating interactive posters which contained a “trigger” for media content to display over the book cover. To achieve this, a smart phone running the free Aurasma app could be held up in front of the book cover or poster, and then the video content would start to display.

Sound confusing? Here are some screenshots of what it looks like:

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The rectangular content “overlaid” on the book is the augmented reality video clip used by students and displayed via Aurasma

The winning poster submissions and a number of books with Auras waiting to be scanned

The winning poster submissions and a number of books with Auras waiting to be scanned. Note the Aurasma bookmarks indicating books that have an Aura

Helpfully, Mr Wilj Dekkers had introduced his Year 6 class to using Aurasma earlier in the year, so Mrs Kennedy had some students familiar with the technology. To assist the others, she:

  • Sparked interest by creating an example Aurasma interactive poster in the library (that linked through to this Animoto Video)
  • Created a number of instruction sheets around the library
  • Ran a lunchtime tutorial for those wanting some hands on assistance

With two year group categories for judging the winners, students in Years 4-6 and 7-8, created around 40 Auras which was excellent. A key learning experience for Mrs Kennedy and the students was understanding that students and staff that wanted to see the Auras needed to be following the “standrewslibrary” Aurasma account before scanning an Aura worked correctly. As Mrs Kennedy explained:

Aurasma works a bit like Twitter – just like you need to be following a Twitter user to see see their Tweets, you need to be following an Aurasma user to see their Auras.

With this cleared up, students could happily see what their classmates had created. By using a shared Aurasma account to create the various Aura (to ensure they were collated under one user and therefore easier to find), opportunities for reinforcing good Digital Citizenship practices emerged. Among these were:

  • Students could not edit/remove the Aura of another student
  • Students had to still clearly name their Aura so they were identifiable

Pleasingly, the students were very good at the above and this created a positive culture of creating and sharing Auras that promoted a wide range of books.

The back wall of the library was beautifully themed to celebrate book week and contained a poster celebrating the start of Book Week that doubled as an Aura that students could scan:

Library Back Wall

Reflecting on this activity, Mrs Kennedy noted that the task was actually quite complex and required a fair amount of work and persistence from the students, therefore it was pleasing there were so many submissions. Whilst a paid account with Aurasma is quite expensive, it is something that she would consider in the future since it would open up a wider range of sources to link to, such as website links and YouTube videos (the free account only allows linking to content uploaded to Aurasma).

The winning student posters promoting a book with an Aura are:

Integration of eBooks key factor for St Andrew’s College

This post was originally published in the School News Issue 27 in Term 4 2014. A more detailed look at the use of eBooks at St Andrew’s is available here

softlinkSt Andrew’s College in Christchurch had Softlink’s Oliver v5 library management system installed in July 2013. A private, co-educational school, St Andrew’s has 1300 students on the roll – 400 in the preparatory school, years 1-8, and 900 in the secondary school, years 9-13. The school had previously used Oliver v3 for about three years, and before that, Alice. The latest version is a complete knowledge, content and library management tool for schools, which provides everything a modern library needs to function effi ciently. It manages all the day-to-day operations of the library – the circulation of books, cataloguing, automatic emailing, stock-taking and more. Training on how to use Oliver v5 was provided by the company’s New Zealand business account manager Lyn Walker.

“We upgraded to the new version for a number of reasons, primarily because it is web-based,” the college’s library manager Cathy Kennedy says, “but the main driver was the system’s ability to integrate ebooks into the catalogue. That’s the recent big innovation, whereby our digital library can fully integrate into the catalogue, and users can borrow directly through Oliver and read the e-books on any device.

“The public interface allows users to search the library catalogue from any device,” Mrs Kennedy says.

“They have the ability to access the catalogue from anywhere at any time. Users can also access the library with an app on their smartphone or tablet. Having that 24/7 access to resources is a huge advantage.”

Those resources are not necessarily traditional books or ebooks. They also include video fi les, images, and all forms of research material. “By logging into the home page on the library site students have immediate access at any time to a one-stop-shop with a vast collection of reading and research material,” Mrs Kennedy says“The home page that the Oliver system allows us to build is a launch pad, a window to a world of information. It includes links to other internet sites, including good New Zealand websites. We also post library news on the home page, and put up photos of events like Book Week. Book trailers can also be made available for students to view.”

Read the rest of the article by going to the SoftLink website here

Promoting Reading With eBooks & OverDrive

A selection of eBook titles available through OverDrive with St Andrew's College

A selection of eBook titles available through OverDrive with St Andrew’s College

I took the opportunity in the last week of Term 2 to sit down with Cathy Kennedy, the Library Manager at St Andrew’s College, and discuss the implementation of eBooks in the College libraries. Having personally used various eBook readers, from Kindles to iPads, I was keen to learn more about the journey to arrive at the current solution in place.

Due to the length of this post you may want to skip down to the various sections below which include:

  • Background
  • Launch
  • Benefits of OverDrive
  • Challenges
  • Uptake amongst students
  • Promoting eBooks at the College
  • Conclusion

Background:

Since around 2010 Cathy had been closely watching the development of eBooks and was always keen to introduce them to the students here at St Andrew’s, however it was not until OverDrive came to Australasia and offered a package targeted at schools that it became truly viable. Prior to this, there had been other vendors but they were too expensive and their solutions were still really in their infancy and not easy to implement. OverDrive was an obvious choice because:

  • It already had massive market share in the public library sector
  • The option existed to form a “consortium” with other schools and combine your respective eBook libraries to increase the size of the total collection
  • It combined with our existing Library Management System “Oliver” from Softlink meaning that there was only one platform from which students could access all their books, in both paper and electronic formats.
  • Audiobooks were supported and could be accessed by our students in the same way as eBooks.
  • Fantastic support materials, both technically and from a promotional perspective, with posters and videos to help our students use the system easily.

After enquiring about other schools in Christchurch that might be interested in setting up a consortium and sharing eBook collections, Cathy found there were no equivalent Year 1-13 schools keen to partner and so she decided to go it alone in Term 3, 2013.

Launch:

Deciding on a “soft launch” first, the new eBook library was introduced to staff only in Term 4, 2013, before students were given access to the full collection in Term 1, 2014. Now six months on, Cathy is satisfied with the decision to go it alone and not partner with another school, as it has allowed her greater control over the selection of titles in the growing library. Interestingly, she did comment that:

For smaller schools, the appeal of a consortium must be very high, as the price of entry into eBooks is not cheap. To be able to quickly grow your catalogue with another school would make it significantly more affordable.

Benefits of OverDrive:

A shot of the interface used by the Library to help identify potential new eBook Purchases.

A shot of the interface used by the Library to help identify potential new eBook Purchases.

One of the biggest drawcards for using OverDrive is the wide range of publishers that are supported, allowing the library to select from a massive number of titles. The pricing model is based on an annual subscription, half of which covers the support of the platform itself, and the other half is credit towards eBook purchases for that year. I thought this was a rather smart “hook” by OverDrive to guarantee a minimum number of eBook purchases by schools each year, whilst it does meant that the students benefit from a continual supply of new titles.

To assist with the selection of new titles, the interface used by the Librarians shows a “Top 200” titles in various categories that we currently do not own (see screenshot on the right). From this, it’s easy to sort through Young Adult, Fiction, Audiobooks etc to locate popular titles that could be added the collection.

OverDrive supports two formats for eBooks

  • OverDrive Read: allowing a user to read the eBook directly within the web browser on their device
  • ePub: one of the more established eBook formats on the internet and supported by apps on tablets and smart phones and requires the use of Adobe Digital Editions

Additionally, OverDrive eBooks can be read on most common eBook readers including iPads and Nooks, with the major omission currently being the Amazon Kindle. This is being supported in the Northern Hemisphere and Cathy is hopeful that support for the Kindle may be available in 2015. Student laptops can also be used to read eBooks on as well.

As mentioned earlier, the integration with Oliver was crucial as this makes it easy for students to find any title, printed or electronic, from the one platform. An upgrade is planned to support “ezread” which will allow students to borrow eBooks directly from Oliver, without the need to be redirected to OverDrive.

Logging into OverDrive from an iPad and being asked for standard username/password

Logging into OverDrive from an iPad and being asked for standard username/password

Furthermore, both Oliver and OverDrive support Single Sign On (SSO), allowing students to use their existing username and password to authenticate to the systems to borrow books. This allows us to restrict younger students from accessing content intended for senior students, as our students are grouped by Year Level.

This level of integration is becoming an increasing requirement for third party products that we look to deploy into the College, as it allows for centralised management of student data and avoids issues of students forgetting their passwords and being dependent on a third party to reset and provide to them.

 

Challenges:

One of the biggest challenges being experienced is the need to continue to provide new titles in both formats: paper and eBook. Students and staff have not yet fully accepted that a title may only be available in one format or the other, meaning that new titles are effectively being purchased twice. Cathy’s end goal is very clear however: for borrowers to be comfortable reading a title in either format, meaning she only needs to purchase it in one format or the other. Continue reading