SCIS is more

By Ben Chadwick


‘I have been here all the time,’ said he, ‘but you have just made me visible.’
‘Aslan!’ said Lucy almost a little reproachfully. ‘Don’t make fun of me. As if anything I could do would make you visible!’
‘It did,’ said Aslan. ‘Do you think I wouldn’t obey my own rules?’
– C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

However you choose to interpret this passage, one thing is clear to me: C.S. Lewis is referring to the importance of cataloguing rules. It is through the consistent application of rules that SCIS is able to make some amazing properties of educational resources visible in your catalogue. Ultimately, that means helping your students to experience success and develop efficacy in searching for and finding quality resources.

There are a few developments in SCIS cataloguing in 2016 we are quite excited about – a few ‘magical golden lions’ we are looking forward to making visible. I'd like to focus on a recent initiative arising from 2015: the successful collaboration between Education Services Australia (ESA) and the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to register five Australian Curriculum codes with the Library of Congress (LOC). This creates some interesting potential for our subscribers who use the Australian Curriculum.

The 658 ‘Curriculum Objective’ field in MARC catalogue records ‘denotes the curriculum or course-of-study objectives applicable to the content of the described materials’1. Traditionally, subject headings group resources by their ‘aboutness’, but this field allows records to be searched for and grouped according to educational outcomes. You can imagine how appealing such content packages could be to your staff. This is a great way to promote your service as the information hub of the school.

However, the 658 field requires a registered ‘source code’ specifying the curriculum from which the objective originates. As of November 2015, one third of the fifteen Curriculum Source Codes registered by the LOC are now from the Australian Curriculum2. They are five of only six registered codes that are hyperlinked back to their source, and the only codes on the page that are published as machine readable linked data. Four of the codes are from the Australian Education Vocabularies: Australian School Level (denoting the year level to which a resource may be relevant), Australian Curriculum Framework (denoting the broad Learning Area, Strand, or Subject), Australian Cross-curriculum Priority, and Australian General Capability. These vocabularies are owned by ACARA but hosted and managed by ESA. The fifth is from the Australian Curriculum itself, and denotes the specific Content Description to which a resource may be relevant.

Like Lucy, you can work the magic to make ‘The Australian Curriculum’ the magical lion visible in your catalogue. The 658 field can be used in records in your own catalogue to specify that ‘this record is relevant to that curriculum outcome’. The idea is that users will be able to find and group relevant resources by searching on any of the text or codes placed in that field.

Schools such as Mentone Girl’s Grammar have started trialling this kind of curriculum tagging already, and SCIS looks forward to working with schools that want to get on board. If you are interested in beginning to collect this kind of data in your catalogue, let us know. Fill in the brief survey to register your interest with SCIS and help us understand how we can best support you. We’ll have more to say about this and other developments in SCIS.

Keep an eye on our blog and subsequent issues of Connections, or catch up with us in person. I will be speaking at VALA in Melbourne in February 2016, and you may also catch us at EduTech in Brisbane in May, WASLA in Perth in June, and ALIA in Adelaide in August. SCIS will be running a series of training webinars on three Tuesdays from 16 February 2016. We’ll also be running workshops in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in March, Melbourne in May, and Perth and Brisbane in June. See our professional learning page for more details.

I’d like to thank Nicole Richardson for this great issue of Connections. I hope you enjoy it.

We look forward to being in touch with you throughout 2016. Have a happy and safe year.


Image credits

  • Australian Curriculum and Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) logos. © ACARA. Used with permission

Ben Chadwick

Manager, SCIS

Education Services Australia