Evaluation of student facing web-based services: Any Questions (CORE Education Ltd)

Publication Details

This document provides a final service report on the AnyQuestions.co.nz pilot as part of a larger evaluation of web-based learning services for children and young people in New Zealand.

Author(s): Derek Wenmoth, Phil Coogan, Claire Derham-Cole and Jo Gibson, CORE Education Ltd.

Date Published: December 2007

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Summary

Introduction

This report focuses largely on a qualitative interpretation of data, and is designed to complement the quantitative evaluation being conducted by Nielsen Net Ratings.

The evaluation of Anyquestions.co.nz is being conducted with a view to achieving two main objectives:

  • Understanding more fully the impact of each service on users, teachers, schools, and the service providers themselves.
  • Determining how web-based services (in general) are currently aligning and integrating with children and young peoples' overall learning experiences and outcomes.

AnyQuestions is a collaborative pilot project between libraries, the government and those in the information and education sectors. The project's aim is to develop an online reference service for all New Zealand school students where they are only one click away from a librarian. The librarian can then help them find the information they need from relevant, quality sources.

The service is intended to act as an additional resource, to work alongside and complement, (but not replace) existing school and public library services - a 'guide on the side' at the point and time of need. The target group for the service is primary and secondary aged students from year 6 – 10 (10 – 14 year olds).

The providers of the service claim its point of difference is that it is people based, offering real time personal assistance, delivered through an electronic medium. Users are put in touch with library staff who use an agreed information literacy approach to help school students identify the information they need and help guide them through quality resources.

Using interactive software customised for this library service, it provides users with direct, real time, online support from a library staff member trained in appropriate resources. This service focuses on supporting the New Zealand curriculum, and is accessible from any Internet connected computer anywhere.

This service is intended to complement each school’s library by providing another channel for their students to find information. It aims to help students develop the skills and knowledge to be able to search effectively themselves in an online environment.

The key perceived benefit of this service over open internet searching is that it is safe and helps students find quality assured information at the right level for their needs, however, AnyQuestions.co.nz is not designed to just hand the answers to the students. The service helps them find the relevant information themselves and helps develop their research skills.1

Footnote

  1. Description of the service adapted from the Any Questions website

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