|A Quality Education for
All, implies the best use of educational resources. The
main aim is to develop a culture of learning that
develops every student potential without depriving the
principle of solidarity and co-operation.
Educational resources are intended to improve learning and motivate the pupils. The whiteboard, books and copybooks are minimum resources. Videos. Slides, Models, Computer and Internet will surely enhance learning.
I conducted much of the research in a Boys Junior Lyceum. All teachers are qualified, half of them University qualifed. I also interviewed the librarian,who gave me further explanation about the resources found in the library
The term audio-visuals, used to refer mainly for charts and the use of the tape-recorder. As technology developed, audiovisual instruction began to include films, photographs etc. Nowadays the term "educational resources" is preferred, and it includes different resources used for teaching and learning.
In the school where I conducted my research, Language teachers use the tape-recorder during listening skills, and comprehension quite often. Environmental and Science teachers use models, and often the boys themselves do the models and experimental work. Religion teachers, use the tape-recorder to produce bible clips and background music. Many teachers also have their own homemade resources, including recordings on tape or cassette, videos, and slides.
The term "audio-visual materials" includes "all those information media that convey their messages without the mediation of the written word". Quite often, they do not need any explanation, because they are a language on their own.
The Setup of a Resource Centre
In my interview with librarian of the mentioned school, I asked him about the resources in that school.
I think that " ten years" is quite a long time to develop a resource centre. The Resource Centre must be the heart of the school, and every effort should be done to develop it.
Only the Headmaster could use the photocopier for teachers. I suggest that students must use freely the photocopier. They could leave the copies with the care-taker, paying a small amount of money, 2c per copy.
Criteria for selection of Resources
The content in books and non-book materials must be up-to date. During the interview the librarian showed me the encyclopaedia, which is of the 1950s, and a computer book was published in 1973.
The subject matter should be relevant to the needs and interests of the user. Unluckily in many Boys schools, most of the books are about aeroplanes, cowboys, which may not be of interest to some pupils. Old books, especially those, which might provide misleading information, are usually kept on closed access. In general, however, open access is the rule. .
In the Junior Lyceum where I conducted my research, books that are accessible to students are not up to date, and usually good reference books and some audiovisuals are not accessible to students.
What the ideal Resource Centre should consist of
I compared what an ideal resource centre should consist of with what I found in my research:
Teaching Material -Apart from reading books, there are a few reference books and an encyclopedia. There are no wall charts available from the resource centre, and few posters on the walls. Science apparatus is quite adequate. Video Cassettes, Flashcards, and other teaching aids are brought by the children themselves.
Presentation and Reprographic Apparatus - There was no video room, no slide projector and no Overhead Projector. There was neither an electronic scanner nor good printers available.
Indexing and Cataloguing Material - Teachers took great interest in brochures, and discussed them together. But they were not stored in a particular Resource Centre. Anything that concerns the school, was stored in computers by secretaries.
In the library there was a simple catalogue system, and the pupils could find books from the index system.
Ways of improvement
Until the middle of this century, many educational resources were considered as games rather than learning facilities. Nowadays we believe that learning has to be in the form of a game. A multi-method approach, involving different resources, will enhance learning, and improve the teaching style
The Schools situation regarding the use of learning resources
I asked the librarian the number of books borrowed each year. My aim was to obtain the ratio of books to user and the ratio of issues to user. Instead, he gave me an empty sheet to show me how they write the books borrowed by each student. He also gave me a sheet which is used to certify that all books of that particular student are returned.
I also have my ideas about what should be done to introduce a resource centre in the school, and obtain more audio-visual materials as opposed to books. While questioning about these short-comings by the library concerned, the Headmaster also explained to me about the financial problems which the school has to face.
Insufficient Space and Resources.
The room where the library is situated now is quite small and hidden. The place where it is situated is at the very back of the school.
The librarian told me "that there are no more than 20% of all the students who make use of this library on a regular basis. The majority makes use of the library when they have a project to do, so these students come to get information on this particular topic. But the majority do not make use of the library. ".
Unluckily, I could not collect written data of the students who frequent the library but the librarian told me in my interview that the younger classes frequent this library most often, and as they get older they use it only when they have a project. I also asked him about the resources available in the school, and the librarian showed his dissatisfaction for reference books which content is not up-to-date. There was also a video-room, but they converted it to a Technical Drawing room, for the reason that there are not enough rooms.
Classrooms are quite uncomfortable for the use of learning resources. Noises from outside the classroom distract the pupils when listening to the tape-recorder. In some classrooms, plugs do not function properly, and in other classrooms the plug is at the back. I always made use of batteries to play the tape recorder inside classrooms.
I also asked for the Librarians opinion about the library and what does he wishes to do to improve the schools educational resources.
The Resource Centre and the School
I think that a resource centre must be easily accessible to all students. If the school budget does not permit to build a new building, I suggest that the Form 4 classroom would be the ideal place. The room is quite big to be used as a classroom and classrooms can be easily organised in a different way, so that this room would be emptied. I also did a plan of how I would organise a Resource Centre if the School budget does not permit to buy a new one. This plan does not provide the ideal school resource centre, but it is the most realistic for the schools circumstances.
----------------------------------------> See the plan
Classrooms may contain a library table, which may include some magazines of interest to the pupils.
Maintaining the Resource Centre
Information Technology also helps to motivate children towards learning. The computer must be considered as a means of education in addition to the teachers lessons. The children needed a lot of explanation how to handle new software. The software must be used as a teaching aid and not as an alternative to the teachers explanation. The more electronic resources libraries acquire and make available to users, the greater the demand for instruction in how to access and use those resources effectively and efficiently.
Presentation: In the Resource Centre, teachers and students must find the educational resources necessary for learning. An OHP must be accessible from the resource Centre and it can be used by teachers and students in projects and presentations in almost all subjects. Slide projectors are not very expensive and slides can be done easily by teachers themselves. The Resource Centre should include open ended slides, which could be could for discussions and closed ended, which have their message clear.
Teaching Material: During my Teaching Experience, I tried to introduce new posters and charts. Posters must be bigh enough to be seen from the back of the classroom. They must be clear and understood by children. Very often we must prefer colour posters, but sometimes black and white posters are more effective. Other materials which could be included are reproductions of documents, old newspapers etc, maps, models, wall charts, and transparencies.
There are various educational software and other administrative software, which could be kept in the library resource centre.
Outside communication: use of Internet provides any information requested and can provide communication with various resource services even outside Malta.
Promote reading / library awareness: One of my efforts to increase Reading Awareness is with the School-based Childrens Magazine "Merhba".
Competitions such as art, and essay writing will stimulate reading and writing. The reading books must not include only one category such as war books, mystrey etc, but the greater variety the greater will be the number of users. Audio-visuals will surely help to enhance reading listening skills etc.
The Resource Centre will surely improve learning. It provides a holistic vision of education, by the diversity and different means of information. It will provide opportunities for the pupils to learn by discovery, because the Resource Setting is also a learning setting. On the other hand, both teachers and pupils can find learning resources and use them in the classroom.