AnyQuestions: Helping New Zealand school students

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Find out how the AnyQuestions service operates and how it supports the development of the digital literacy skills of young New Zealanders.


Robert Baigent: AnyQuestions is a free online reference service for New Zealand school students.

We are open Monday to Friday 1–6pm. The service is funded by the Ministry of Education, it's managed by the National Library and is staffed by librarians from right around New Zealand.

They are especially trained to work with students and teach them information literacy skills.

We don't give students the answers, but we develop their skills so they can find the information for themselves in the future.

Dartanian: The librarians are good, they give me information for what I need and just give me help.

Winter: It's pretty cool when they give us extra websites websites to look for information on.

Robert Baigent: The unique thing about AnyQuestions is most chats are a one-to-one engagement between a librarian from somewhere in a library around New Zealand and a student.

These chats occur in real time and can occur during school hours or after school when the kids are doing their research.

Belinda Campbell: We used AnyQuestions to help us with our inquiry research. AnyQuestions enables me to teach the students self directedness, which may actually help them to go onto college and further their information research skills.

Robert Baigent: Students come in, they click on the big green online button, and they get asked an initial survey. And this initial survey is about capturing who they are, so their name, their year level, the school they go to, part of New Zealand.

And then they ask a question. The question they ask could be, really complex, or it could be really really simple. Sometimes what comes through in the question is what's simple is actually, the more complex questions.

One of the librarians from around New Zealand then picks up the student and we ask them
lots of questions.

We try and figure out what they really want to know. Because quite often they are asking a question, it's not actually what they need to know ultimately. Then we basically unpack with them and then guide them to appropriate online resources.

In that process we tell them how to trust the information that they're finding.

Belinda Campbell: The librarians actually made it comfortable for our students to go online, and to talk to them in a formality which was nice and professional and also easy to understand as well.

Our students couldn't help but go back all the time to talk to the librarian.

Winter: The librarians are very supportive, understanding.

Dartanian: The librarians help me with, the histories of the Pacific Islands.

Winter: I would use AnyQuestions to find out information about Super Earth's, history.

Robert Baigent: With AnyQuestions we offer class demonstrations.

Class demonstrations are a really great way of introducing AnyQuestions and the concepts of information literacy to a large number of students at one go.

The advantages of this is more students get to see the process and get introduced to concepts that they possibly wouldn't have been introduced to otherwise.

Belinda Campbell: AnyQuestions relates very well to the curriculum because it's all about information literacy.

Robert Baigent: AnyQuestions is designed to work alongside the work that librarians and teachers do with their students.

It provides a point of difference when schools use AnyQuestions. It's not just the teacher telling it it's someone else. It's quite a unique experience. Students are also working with information professionals.

Winter: I'd probably use AnyQuestions during unit study.

Dartanian: Like, if you're stuck on something, then it's good stuff, like it helps you with your research and what you really need help with.

Winter:Being able to find more information.

Robert Baigent: AnyQuestions works on any device, so whether that's a smart device like an iPhone or an iPad or another type of tablet, Android devices. We also work on computers whether that's PC or Mac.

Basically if your device can connect to the internet then you can do AnyQuestions.

Belinda Campbell: AnyQuestions has enabled quite alot of our low achieving
students to use an information forum, easily.

Robert Baigent: We actually take them often to the websites, which would be coming up in the Google results and explaining why they can trust the information there.

We're also talking about things like keywords and the importance of keywords and search words.

Belinda Campbell: The students are able to think of particular words relating to their own brainstorm and also relating to the topic at hand as well.

Robert Baigent: Both schools and public libraries are there to support students, and AnyQuestions is a complementary service designed to support students both within and outside school hours.

We extend the local support wherever the student needs it throughout New Zealand as long as
they have access to the Internet, then they can use AnyQuestions.

Winter: It's pretty awesome, you get to chat with librarians from around New Zealand that can actually help you with your research.

Students: We're Room 8 and we're from Mansell Senior School and AnyQuestions rocks!

AnyQuestions is a unique service delivered by public libraries around New Zealand, and
National Library Services to Schools with support from the Ministry of Education.