“How To” Online Information Literacy Tutorials
Author: Philip Russell, Deputy Librarian
Institution: Institute of Technology Tallaght (ITT Dublin), South Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Interviewee: Philip Russell
Interviewer: Ava Iuliano
This website features a series of tutorials on various topics, including conducting research, plagiarism prevention, citation, conducting a literature review and the writing process. Each tutorial features embedded quizzes and is also available in ITT Dublin’s LMS, Moodle.
Q: What was the impetus for creating the Library Tutorials for ITT Dublin?
A: The driving force behind the design of these online tutorials was the need to extend information literacy provision at ITT Dublin by exploiting online technologies. The reusable learning objects (RLOs) that have been created have transformed the library’s traditional face to face approach to information literacy education. The development of these resources has provided students with a learning platform to critically analyse information, think independently and creatively, problem solve and engage in reflective practice. The digital objects have facilitated a smoother transition into higher education for new students, enriched the overall student learning experience and has enabled 24/7 self directed research and independent learning. The impetus also came from the funding which was made available to the Irish higher education sector to develop and share open educational resources by the National Digital Learning Resources (NDLR – www.ndlr.ie) service. With this funding secured, the development of the first batch of tutorials commenced in September 2010.
Q: What is the Library Tutorials intended use?
A: The tutorials are targeted at undergraduate and postgraduate students both on and off campus and present the online learner with an introduction to some core information literacy competencies. The learning objects created were entitled ‘How To’ and focus on the research process, information retrieval and evaluation, plagiarism, referencing (using the Harvard style) and key academic skills such as reading, writing and grammar. These online learning resources are hosted on the ITT Dublin library website and also via the college’s course management system, Moodle (the tutorial files are generated in SCORM format which facilitates seamless integration into online platforms.) The RLOs have been made available for sharing, dissemination and reuse as open educational resources (OERs) under Creative Commons (CC) licence to repositories nationally and internationally. Via the Irish online repository the NDLR, the RLOs have added value to the wider educational community and have been shared and reused in Ireland and further afield including the UK, US, Australia, Brazil, Russia and China. Having the resources featured on PRIMO will ensure a greater audience and will lead to wider reuse.
Q: What was involved in creating the Library Tutorials?
A: The development of the tutorials followed best practice with regard to pedagogy and online instruction. A period of extensive preparation took place which involved the production of storyboards, appropriate learning activities and assessment techniques before the content was converted to an eLearning environment. The project teams were determined to ensure that the tutorials would support a diverse range of students with varied learning styles and that the learner would have an active and engaging educational experience. The tutorials were primarily designed with the commercial software Articulate Studio 9 which is a flexible and easy to use software for generating high quality eLearing outputs. Some of the interactions within the tutorials were created with screencasting tools such as Camtasia and Captivate.
Q: How have the tutorials evolved or how do you anticipate them evolving in the future?
A: The tutorials will develop to include possible translation into different languages to support the growing number of international students at ITT Dublin, the development of a specific RLO on critical thinking and more focused research tutorials covering bibliographies and reference management. Further iterations will include the addition of narration and videos and the RLOs will also be made available on mobile devices to support the growing numbers of learners via this platform. The development of these online resources has helped to foster a collaborative approach to online instruction between librarians and their academic colleagues with the RLOs acting as a catalyst in terms of integrating information literacy skills into academic modules. The introduction of a Learning to Learn module (mandatory for all first year students) at ITT Dublin in September 2012 has increased demand from the academic community for these learning objects and will further embed information literacy into the curriculum. A deeper suite of eLearning objects (entitled Reinvent) is currently being developed covering study planning, note taking, time management, report writing, creative thinking; presentations; reflection and language and will further support this module. The RLOs will continue to be made available for sharing and reuse to repositories on a national and international level.
Q: What were the main ‘lessons learned’ in the process of creating the Library Tutorials?
A: A number of lessons were learned during the design and development stage – in particular the value of a collaborative approach to online design and the importance of leveraging existing skills on campus. The ITT project team actively engaged academic colleagues, IT staff and educational technologists to harness existing skills within the Institute particularly in terms of pedagogical support, ICT skills and eLearning competencies. This input from all stakeholders contributed greatly to the production of effective eLearning tools.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you encountered when creating these resource?
A: A major challenge for the designers was the steep learner curve for library staff who had no previous experience of eLearning. At the start of the project, the team had limited knowledge of Articulate software (the main design tool) and of pedagogy and instructional design. To address this issue, in depth and ongoing training on Articulate and pedagogy / eLearning design was prioritised to ensure that the team had the skills and expertise necessary to produce high quality digital resources.
Q: What was the single-most important driving design factor in the tutorial’s creation?
A: The project teams focused on designing learning objects that were flexible and could be used in a range of instructional settings including face to face, blended, and online programmes. The developers were determined to ensure that the learning objects adhered as much as possible to a constructivist approach to learning and that the instructional design of the tutorials facilitated an appropriate alignment of learning outcomes, activities and assessment methods. Sound pedagogical foundations helped ensure that the online tutorials supported active student engagement and deep learning.
Q: How are your students and faculty responding to the library tutorials?
A: The response to the tutorials has been excellent from both students and staff. Since September 2010 when the first RLO was launched until September 2013, the suite of tutorials has achieved nearly 4750 completions with undergraduates from the business and science departments the heaviest users. Quantative and qualitative feedback is captured via a number of evaluative mechanisms including anecdotal observations, focus groups and online via links to the survey tool, SurveyGizmo (at the end of each tutorial), the ITT Dublin library website (Google Analytics), Moodle and the NDLR. This feedback is used to inform the continuous development of the tutorials.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: The importance of usability testing and piloting each tutorial before they were launched was crucial, with feedback from stakeholders being used to inform any final revisions of the learning tools. Ongoing promotion of the tutorials via the Institute’s learning management system (Moodle,) the library website and the library’s social media tools has proved very successful in terms of increasing the tutorial usage. Branding the tutorials as ‘How to Tutorials’ has been integral to this process.
September 2013 PRIMO Site of the Month