Sunday, November 28, 2010

Educational Resource: NoodleTools Bibliography Software

As our students move into the highly-shareable world of digital information, it is really important to teach them from an early age the ethical practice of identifying the source of text, pictures, or other content they may borrow and incorporate into their own materials.  This includes the more information types of credit statements on websites, blog posts, etc., as well as the traditional modes of including a bibliography of sources used in developing a paper, report, or other writing.

And as long as they are starting to maintain resources from an early age, why not have them present them in one of the major styles they will be required to use by the time they are in college, or even in high school--styles like the MLA, APA, or Chicago/Turabian style?  Fortunately, there is software available that makes it easy for even elementary students to generate bibliographies with the proper formatting to meet these criteria.

There are many bibliography packages out there, many of which are free and/or open source.  However, my favorite one so far is called Noodle Tools.  While the complete package is not free, it is available for a single family use for a very reasonable subscription of $8/year.  I haven't done an exhaustive comparison, but I found Noodle Tools to be the most intuitive and easy-to-use of any of the packages, and it is worth $8 to me for the cleaner, more user-friendly (especially for a child) interface.  Plus, there is a stripped down version that is free, and would probably be acceptable for most middle school and even some high school uses if all you want to do is to create a bibliography.

With Noodle Tools, you start a project, decide which format you want to use for the bibliography, and start inputing data for the requisite fields (author's name, publisher, date of publication, etc.).  That database then formats the information in the proper format for the selected style (MLA, APA, etc.)  However, in the paid version, you can also create note cards attached to that citation, and use those to take notes or even cut and paste text, graphics, photographs, etc. from that source that you want to include in your paper.  You can export that information and/or bibliography either to a Word document or to a Google Doc document.

The website also has resources about citation rules as well as the ethical use of outside sources.  It was developed as a teaching tool, and I think it is a great support to help our children learn the proper way of keeping track of and giving credit to the material they draw on from others when they are creating their own works.

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