Module D: eLearning

After a 1 year leave of absence (maternity leave), I have restarted my Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, and am now undertaking an optional 20 credit module on eLearning: Resource Development and Student Support.  The aim of the module is to ‘design, develop, implement and evaluate an interactive online learning resource’.  I am required to produce a 3 hour online learning resource, write 2,000 words on my project plan, design and implementation, and another 2,000 words evaluating my project, all by Monday 15 June!

I have chosen to create an online learning resource to support the OSCOLA referencing style used by the School of Law.  I currently run a 2 hour OSCOLA referencing workshop once a term, where I have developed the speed referencing learning activity.  However, many students are unable to attend the workshop, either due to timetabling issues or to them being distance learning student, so I have a lot of individual OSCOLA enquiries too.  I have been considering developing online resources (beyond adding my teaching materials to SlideShare) for some time.

There are only 6 face-to-face classes in this module, with a lot of additional learning resources being available online – as we experience online learning as well as design online learning.  We are already at the half way stage (the 3rd class is tomorrow), and I a am still only at the design stage.  Only 12 weeks to go – so I’d better get a move on designing and developing my resource, or there will be nothing to evaluate!

Module A – Result!

I have spent the last year studying Module A of the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice in Higher Education. This included around 15 taught sessions, 3 formative essays, 2 teaching observations, and a final formative essay and portfolio. There were many stressful days and nights, particularly over the Christmas vacation, as I finished my final essay and portfolio. I have at times found it difficult to relate the academic theory to my practice, and I was concerned that my essay and portfolio would not make the grade. However, after a nervous few weeks, I am very pleased to say that I have passed, and passed with a merit! This also means that I will become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy! The course has been both interesting and challenging, and I can see how I have developed as a teacher. I plan to continue my studies, complete Module D in eLearning, and gain my full postgraduate certificate qualification. However, these plans are going on hold for a year, as I will be taking maternity leave at Easter. I will be back – in 2015!

Missing Link Conference

Missing Link Conference: 19 March 2012, Birmingham City University.

Making the connection between information literacy and an excellent student experience.

Papers presented a snap-shot of information literacy projects and methods in the new higher-education environment.  From traditional inductions and lectures to the use of e-technologies to deliver online tutorials.  Tweets from the conference were made under the #missinglink12 hashtag and archived in Storify.

1. Preparing health and social care students for university.  Neil Donohue and Monica Casey (Salford University) described their pre-induction programme, delivered to students before degree starts, and delivered in collaboration between library, academic and student union.

2. Creating a reusable online information literacy tutorial for researchers. Chris Bark (Coventry University) and Liz Martin (De Montford University) described the East Midlands Research Support Group (EMRSG) consortium project to create on online tutorial using Xerte.

3. Getting your foot in the door – library liaison and research skills in university departments. Nicola Conway (University of Durham) described the Scholarly Skills Exercise whereby library services and information literacy skills are embedded and assessed into the curriculum in a first year induction module.

4. eLearning, innovation and information literacy. Sarah Pittaway and Catherine Robertson (University of Birmingham) described how they have used Xerte to deliver online library and information literacy tutorials.  Tutorials were embedded into curriculum via VLE (Web-CT), and students completed tutorials either as self-study or supervised in class. Aim to free-up librarian’s time to teach higher level information literacy skills.

5. Collaboration between Centre for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) and Library and Learning resources to improve student experience. Jenny Eland and Christiana Titahmboh (Birmingham City University) described how information literacy and employability skills are embedded across university degrees. Also highlighted benefits of teacher training (PG Cert. HE) for librarians, so as to better undertand academics, and deliver more effective teaching and learning to students.

The conference helped me to understand the concept of embedded librarianship – the dream that library and information literacy skills should be delivered as part of the curriculum.  Our ability to achieve this depends upon the relationships we build with our academics through academic liaison. 

‘User education’ has progressed somewhat since my days at library school.  Teaching does not equal Learning.  Librarians are now teachers: indeed many librarians now undertake teacher training (PG Cert. HE).  This enables them to understand the culture of academia, gain respect from academic colleagues, and practice good teaching techniques in the classroom. 

I also discovered the ‘pre-induction’ – a pre-course introduction or orientation to the university and library service.  While I could not commit to additional teaching hours, I do think there is merit in delivering a pre-induction using e-learning technologies, thus enabling librarians to concentrate on teaching advanced information literacy skills.

I was surprised by the negative comments surrounding the use of VLEs (virtual learning environments).  Librarians are increasingly making their information literacy resources available on public websites and blogs, because they offer  more permanent repository, and open access to students before, during and after their degree courses.

In the next 6 months, I will have the opportunity to work on a pre-induction study skills programme for distance learning foundation degree criminology students, and embedding library and information literacy skills into the master of laws academic writing module.  I hope that I will be able to use the opportunity to develop relationships with the academics and raise the profile of information skills in higher education.