Idaho libraries ready to test effect of rural broadband upgrade; student video encyclopedia access

Opening up public and educational multimedia resources to direct public use is an emerging challenge and opportunity for both librarians and journalists. A unique collaboration between Idaho Public Television and Boston’s WGBH Educational Foundation, will launch in May to do just that with a rich, existing resource.

This background was written by Gens Johnson, a Biblionews collaborator in Boise, Idaho. She is working with the public TV station to create “SCOUT,” a web resource which puts a kid-navigable (and library reference navigable) front end on a encyclopedia-like resource of short (a few minutes long) video clips on thousands of educational topics.

BELOW: In a 40-minute video, Johnson talks about the BTOP effort and SCOUT.

The original resource is called “Teachers’ Domain.” Idaho Public Television, with which Johnson works, will call it “SCOUT.” She’s working with Ted Sicker, executive producer for education projects at WGBH ( ).

Gens Johnson was to attend “Beyond Books,” but is unable because of a important family development (becoming a grandmother). In a video, she describes SCOUT, and writes:

“Teachers’ Domain has a collection of thousands of video clips and online “learning objects” for K-12 use (although they are also utilized through junior college). These are all catalogued/tagged and findable by subject area (very fine grained if desired), grade level, teaching standard (for each state,
in most cases), etc. They use a variation of the Dublin Core as their metadata schema (PBCore).

“The video comes primarily from productions for public television and links to the NSF Digital Library. (It covers primarily English language arts, math, science and social studies.) The video has been parsed into short pieces (typically 3 to 7 minutes) which work better for students and for teachers. The
front end on the service is designed for teachers, not students. Teachers’ Domain includes professional development stuff for teachers, chat areas, crowdsource rating of the materials, lesson plans, and all that.

“Teachers’ Domain is offered to local public television stations to brand and promote to teachers, and many across the country are doing that. Teachers’ Domain, Maryland PTV’s ThinkPort, Utah Education Network’s eMedia and the PBS Digital Learning Library are all similar projects (and all collaborating at
some level), targeting tagged video and a bunch of other teacher resources at teachers.

“What we’re up to with Scout and Teachers’ Domain within our BTOP-funded ‘online @ your library’ project is reworking the user interface to this incredible collection of tagged video (etc.) so that it is accessible as a video encyclopedia for grades 4-12.”

Johnson wrote in her proposal to attend “Beyond Books”:

I emerge from experience in systems engineering, telecommunications, communication theory, university teaching & research, public relations, public broadcasting, multimedia production, political campaigns and IT & project management with the hope that if we can just get the access to information right, we will get the rest of life right?enlightened governance, planetary stewardship, a compassionate society. I want to help with identifying the route for people to find the information that motivates them to do good and makes them efficacious in their endeavors. Metadata lets us give customized access to extant collections and perhaps identify any bias in information.

Libraries will still be important portals to information and literature for students, researchers and ordinary people. Most resources will be available on-line but access to information, edited against bias, or carefully curated collections will cost the user.  Likewise, to access information while preserving one?s privacy will be impossible, if not through a library collection. The library may have a virtual collection and be a nexus for information pooling. Newsgathering and editing will be done by crowdsourcing that is guided by journalists. The library, physical, where a patron has free and private access, as well as a place for community organization.

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