Any Answers, Many Answers

This week I attended an AnyQuestions after school workshop. It tied in nicely with our tour of innovative Wellington libraries earlier in the week.

I remember giving AnyQuestions a whirl when I first heard of it ages ago and at that stage it was a bit lame but now it is much improved and I was impressed.

The idea is that from 1-6pm NZ time you can ask, via on line chat, a real life librarian in real time to assist you in finding out answers to questions on line.

While Robert Baigent from AnyQuestions was talking I decided to see how the app was working by asking a live question while working on my iPad. You learn by doing!

On first clicking on the ONLINE icon you need to answer some quick questions to ascertain your location and  fluency. With seconds a helpful assistant is there to guide you to answering your questions yourself. They don’t just give you the answers and you learn about website navigation and digital literacies as you go.

I took a screen grab of the chat transcript to give you an idea of how the conversation may well go.

Complimentary to AnyAnswers is ManyAnswers where popular question responses are curated with full answers to questions often asked during study time.

Robert said that all the librarian helpdesk people are well trained and vetted to help children find out answers to all sorts of questions they want to know the answers to but if you Google the questions you could end up in very dark places on the internet.

It looks to be a great service, often used by informed upper primary school children, to find out answers to deeper questions that Google is not so good at providing.

Worth a second look!

Tour of Wellington Innovative Libraries

This week I had the privilege of being able tour three Wellington School libraries and challenge some of my thinking around how future focussed libraries might be.

We started the tour with the new Amesbury School– so new that Google Maps didn’t pick it up. Amesbury and it’s principal, Lesley Murrihy, impressed me with their openess and high trust model. Lesley had been in my ULearn pre-conference workshops last year and it was great to see the school’s QR codes in action.

Take a moment to view the photos I took on tour- made with Haiku Deck, a free, elegantly simple slideshow iPad app that emails you a Powerpoint of your slideshow should you wish!


Lesley explained that the library is like the living room of the school. I like that analogy. It’s where people come and talk, work, meet, share- it’s at the central core of the school. Amesbury  has a participatory model where the community – whanau, children, teachers- have a feeling of ownership.

As you step into the school you have to pretty much walk through the library. They don’t have specific times where children come and exchange their books, they’re not hung up on due dates to return books, eReaders are taken home with the books already downloaded. Children come to the library as they wish but with a timer as a necklace so that they don’t settle down on a comfy bean bag in the sun for too long and forget to return to the learning hub. High trust but with accountability.

Another idea I really liked was their development of 2 minute snippets of learning videos. As a new concept was learned short videos, made my children, were being developed and shared. Over time this will develop in to a rich record of learning and a resource for children to be able to revise and learn. The learning is becoming rewindable. Hat tip to Kevin Honeycutt for planting that idea in my head.

Amesbury had such a lovely feel to it. A great way to kick off our day. Thanks team.