Over the last two years, JCS has expanded its service to schools worldwide so when we received an invitation from Softlink to attend their Oliver v5 User Conference in Sydney, Joyce (JCS Managing Director) decided to use the opportunity to meet many of our schools down-under and run some digital literacy workshops.

Using the stop-over en route to Australia Joyce visited four large independent schools in Hong Kong and met their Teacher Librarians to talk about what they’re doing to support their students’ digital literacy skills and made sure they know how to use the school’s e-resources. At one school, Sha Tin College, Joyce showed their year 12 students how to search JSTOR and use the tools to support them as they start their IB Extended Essay.

Hugh Webster (JCS Sales Manager) joined Joyce in Sydney for the Australian leg of the trip where they ran a workshop in Sydney and Brisbane and visited more schools.

Hugh spent time with the librarian at St Augustine’s College, Sydney, taking her through their new JSTOR Secondary Schools Collection subscription. As a big rugby fan Hugh enjoyed the school’s views which overlook the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles rugby ground!

Drawing on the keynotes and discussions from the JCS 2018 conference, Joyce and Hugh ran half day workshops at Kambala Girls School and Brisbane Boys College. The workshops provided the opportunity for attendees to talk about digital literacy, research skills and the importance of students becoming critical thinkers. Everyone agreed that digital literacy is a global issue which each school facing the same challenges of getting students and teachers to use the resources schools subscribe to.

Librarians in Australia are, in the main, Teacher Librarians and as a result get the opportunity to teach research skills and help develop independent learning across the school – often team teaching. The majority of their independent schools operate a BOYD scheme and have large collections of e-resources including JSTOR, the main resource used for research. We promoted the JCS 2019 digital literacy conference and are delighted that one of the Brisbane delegates (who we discovered is doing very interesting things to support the use of e-resources and research skills in his school) has submitted and had accepted a lightning talk.

JCS and Softlink have been working together for several years now so we were delighted to be able to support them at their Oliver v5 User Conference as one of a small group of exhibitors. Almost 200 delegates attended from across New South Wales and Hugh and Joyce were overwhelmed by the interest delegates showed in JCS and our catalogue of resources. Lots of NSW schools are now trialling JSTOR, MASSOLIT, Drama Online and Cite them right.

On the way home from Australia, Joyce used the stop-over to run a final workshop at Dulwich College (Singapore) hosted by their Teacher Librarian Jane Hayes, in her very spacious and comfortable library. Joyce was pleased to see a great mix of delegates from Digital Literacy Coaches and Ed Tech Managers to Teachers and Heads of ICT – as well as Teacher Librarians. We were also delighted that Jo Deakin, Bloomsbury’s Head of Digital Sales for Asia Pacific who is based in Singapore could support the workshop and provide insight into what Bloomsbury is doing for digital resources and showcase Bloomsbury’s Digital Resource collections.

It quickly became apparent during discussions that Singapore independent schools are very well resourced and consequently their use of modern technologies and collections of e-resources is advanced. Many schools have digital literacy embedded within their vision and mission statement so is core to their school’s strategy, and many have Digital Literacy Champions at each grade level. Their schools don’t just work with students on digital literacy skills but also run parent and student sessions on skills, e-safety and more. They do however still face the increasingly common challenge of getting teachers to encourage the use of databases mainly because they hadn’t used them at university and don’t know about Boolean searching etc so aren’t fully appreciating their importance.

Overall the trip highlighted what is obviously a global challenge of getting students to stop just ‘googling’ and to understand the importance of using trusted sources which they can cite in their essays. Schools in Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore seem to be tackling the issue by having Teacher Librarians who regularly teach in the classroom and support research skills. It was also evident that Headteachers and Senior Leadership Teams appreciate the importance of embedding digital literacy skills across the school as well as a well-resourced library (which includes a large collection of e-resources) run by professionals – all of which is making a significant difference to the quality of support for students in this increasingly complex digital world.

To learn more about digital literacy, attend the JCS 2019 Conference on Digital Literacy in Schools: building capabilities. The conference provides a focus on the importance of digital capabilities for schools and sixth form colleges – not just the skills required by staff and students but extending to culture and policies. “I’d like to say that it was about the best one-day conference I have ever attended; the focus was almost exclusively on things which were relevant to what I do, and we all came away bursting with ideas for things we want to try.” Archie Black, Head Librarian, Forest School, London on JCS 2018. Find out more and book your place here.