Newall, Gratton & Maltby - When the Graduate School came knocking at the library door: a tale of invitation, collaboration and innovation


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  • Introductions with each click of the animationEN/JM – EFLITSEARCH roleCG – Intro Lit Rev & EFLITSEARCH role
  • BackgroundGraduate School running online research training courses from 2003. Wanted to offer alternative means of course participation for students particularly those who are part-time or working at a distance. Initially delivered using WebCT and were of the standard ‘content-driven’ type, we called them ‘standalone’ courses (self-study with optional marked tasks for training points).In the academic year 2009-10 we ran a new course ‘Introduction the literature review process’. Literature reviews can be very different across disciplines and research projects and we found it hard to put something together that was helpful without being prescriptive. Students can believe that there is a prescribed way of doing a literature review and we wanted to help them to understand that there were different ways of approaching it. We wanted to provide an online course where students could see examples of different types of literature review, could interact with their peers, find out how other people had approached their literature review and confidently work out their best approach. So we put together what we call a ‘moderated’ course. This course provides video and text based content but most importantly it provides asynchronous tutor moderated forums – these are the cornerstone of the course and are the place where students share ideas and experiences and tutors are on hand to support and guide.In 2010-11 we revised the course and also had the opportunity of piloting it in Moodle. The course runs over 10 days with students expected to log in for about an hour or so each day.Keen to offer flexible learning esp for PT & DL PGRsDifferent learning/teaching pedagogy as seen in Intro to Lit Rev: peer-to-peer learning
  • Moodle features and function usedAlthough Moodle makes a number of different resource and activity types available the ‘Introduction to the Literature Review’ course uses only those which were felt necessary to deliver the course effectively. These are:Resources – labels, pages (including embedded video)Activities –forums – standard forum for general useSo in effect the whole course is delivered using these three key elements. What happened nextWe noted that students would sometimes talk about subjects related to the literature review but not necessarily covered by the course. The type of questions that were being asked were very much in the remit of the library team and so we asked the library if they would consider becoming ‘mini’ course tutors and check the forums with a view to responding to the students who raised topics for which they had the expertise.
  • (Jane > following on from ChrisG)...and we answered it  1. The ‘Introduction to the Literature Review Process’ course was NOT about Literature Searching but there were some perhaps inevitable questions about that and bibliographic management and so we received the invitation from the Graduate School to become ‘visiting tutors’ on their course and answer some of these more subject specific questions raised.2. We could see a clear role for us, but were also consequently alerted to the need for providing more; extra help with constructing search strategies and making better use of our bibliographic databases; and so it was a natural progression for our designated literature searching course to come into being and, to me, a natural progression to be part of it.
  • Always up for trying something new, or at least new to me. Many of us are used to the more traditional one-to-one appointments or a classroom setting, and so this was definitely a different approach for me and my professional development.Painfully aware, especially in my subject area of Medicine, that students and their learning styles, continue to become more and more ‘un-traditional’. One size hasn’t fitted all for a long time and it’s a constant challenge to work out new ways of reaching students where they are, instead of expecting them to come to us. Some do, some are sent by tutors, but there are others to reach. Medicine & Health Sciences and Education courses in particular involve a large proportion of time out on placement and so students simply are not on-campus.
  • Chris added all our new content into Moodle, and so the collaboration continuedHow it worksThe course runs over five days, also in MoodleParticipantsare encouraged to introduce themselves before Day One, then they have one task per day to complete, then share their experiences.Active participation in discussion forums = training pointsThe forums are Tutor-supported
  • Log in to Moodle and show the five tasks
  • The course has changed and developed – we’ve added, omitted, amended along the way, which applies to the tutors as well. In the beginning all of the tutors were quite tentative, not wanting to interrupt the participants with their chain of thought, and their interactions with others on the course. We felt a large part of it was for the researchers to learn from each other as well as us. However, we’d then sometimes see where a conversation was going and think ‘no, that’s not the advice we would have given’! and then we’d need to consider whether their advice was misleading or even wrong, or whether it was just different and would work perfectly well – before we stepped in and suggested alternatives. It was a challenge when the right time to intervene actually was. Too soon and you’re giving out a textbook answer for those who haven’t yet done it, too late and you’re not offering useful help. Feedback then suggested that our presence wasn’t felt enough and individual participants would have preferred more individual attention > which we’ve begun to do more of.
  • There have been some difficulties with the extent of tutor knowledge of other subject databases, myself included, and it is a challenge not to just hone in on those participants in your subject area! If you get a question ‘on your watch’ about an ‘unfamiliar to you ‘database then tutors now speak to each other to say they have advised in a certain way, but to suggest someone else adds more information if they can.Other than that, the main challenges have really all been to do with time and timing:It took some time to work out the tasks and suggest content and then to amend the course as we went along; and it involves a certain amount of time committing to be online. It was a challenge to make sure you devote your allocated time to it, and don’t get distracted by other work.A personal challenge for me this last time was the gap in between slots. I was on 9am-11am on Monday morning and no one posted anything until 10.30am! I replied to someone individually but by the time they wrote back, someone else had taken over. This can feel disjointed for both participant and tutor and doesn’t give them time to build up a working relationship. After this Monday morning slot, I then wasn’t due back on until 3pm on the Thursday. Almost three whole days in between with little idea of what had gone on, so I found I had to read back through all the previous days’ posts to catch myself up. Perhaps there is an argument for a smaller number of us giving up more time during the designated week, and then others taking over for the following course...? We’d be more involved in what was happening and could to know the participants better.There’s also the problem of only covering working hours, while some students were only online in the evening. Elizabeth will say more about steps to address this.
  • Tutor interactions: Sometimes necessary to spur participants on a little bit, either to start them posting, or to get someone back on track. The course is credit bearing and so activity does need to be measured, or we won’t award the training points.
  • Not yet posted yet – message sent to ‘encourage’ everyone to join in
  • Pass to ElizN
  • Elizabeth (10)This was posted in one of the daily discussion forums. Whilst as the person with overall responsibility for the course I was absolutely delighted to read such a comment, it has been vital to the success of the course to understand the participant experience.
  • First of all, let’s look at who has participated in the course to date. We’ve had 112 PGRs register over the 4 courses we’ve run so far. You’ll see that the vast majority of participants are full-time, in spite of our assumption that delivering the course online would appeal to our cohort of part-timers. What we’ve actually found in practice is that a lot of lab-based PGRs are logging on in the evenings, which makes us suspect that they either don’t want to leave their labs during the day for face-to-face courses or their supervisors don’t want to release them from the lab.Not surprisingly we’ve seen that the overwhelming majority are also following doctoral degrees as we do specifically target these PGRs with our course publicity.Again, not too many surprises with the majority of PGRs being at the early stage of their research or that the spread of PGRs largely mirrors the overall population by discipline.
  • In this first example post, which is in response to the first proper task of the week – prior to this we ask them to reflect on the search strategies they currently employ – we first witness a degree of nervousness and confusion. This PhD student has really not got much confidence in searching as she is somewhat overwhelmed by the choices on offer. However, as she undertakes this task of familiarising herself with the example databases given, she is recognising terms she’s heard of before although she hasn’t gone as far as to find out their meaning. Then, she has what we’ve often seen on course as a Eureka moment: the discovery of lemmatisation. However, she finishes with further questions and a clear admission that there’s still lots for her to learn.
  • This post nicely illustrates the extent to which participants embrace the tasks set. Compare and contrast invites the participants to put a pre-defined search (not related to their research question) to the test across the example databases. This participant has gone for the single transferable vote exercise and provides a succinct summary of findings. The learning “TJL” reports is pretty representative in that he sees that the results are different across the databases and that there are inconsistencies. What we find is that whilst this leads them to conclude that they need to use a range of databases/keywords and search functionality in order not to miss relevant material, we – the tutors - need to come in to explain why that’s the case.
  • This is a much shorter post, but in it we can see that the participant has valued the exercised. He can see that his searching technique has improved and this has generated more detailed results. There is an acknowledgement that all this does take time and effort but that ultimately, it pays off. Then, on signing off, we get thanked, which is nice!
  • In this final example post, we can see some peer-to-peer learning taking place. This final day task encourages participants to navigate the ‘help’ that is built into the various databases. SN is reporting on his experience of setting up alerts and has pasted in a link to some instructions he’s found online. And then we see NME, who has come online later in the day, thanking SN for the link which she has gone on to use in order to learn how to create alerts for herself.
  • In the final discussion forum, we invite participants to reflect on what they’ve learnt. Here are just a few of the posts taken from the 4 course we’ve run to date.Runs over 1 minute
  • A week after the course has run, participants are invited to complete an online questionnaire. The results are used to assess the success of the course and to identify problem areas and anything we might be able to tweak in order to improve the participant experience. The questions we ask include:1. Why did you register for the Effective Literature Searching (online) course?The majority of participants reported that they wanted to improve their search skills and strategies, so that they felt confident they weren’t missing important/relevant texts. Surprisingly few stated it was due to the mode of delivery on offer although one person did report interest in seeing how an online course would work. It was clear that course content was the key motivation to register for the course. 2. For you, what were the advantages/disadvantages in the Effective Literature Searching course being delivered online? And, how would you say this compared to any face-to-face information/library skills training you may have attended?The principal advantages were:Flexibility: being able to do the tasks at a time that suited especially for PT PGRs; not having to travel, esp. for DL PGRs; Peer-to-peer support and exchange of experience, learning from othersOnline support from librarian-tutorsOngoing learning experience throughout the weekWork at own pace and experiment: don't need to wait for other participants, and they don't need to wait for youLots of time to practiceLots of thinking and practical work versus just sitting and listeningThe disadvantages reported were:Had to be more self-disciplined and be more self-directingToo many participants and so too many posts to read through – time-consumingMissed face-to-face contact and questions would have been answered more quickly in a classroom situation 3. Approximately how much time did you spend on the course in total? Was this too much, too little or about right? Could you keep up with the programme of tasks?We recommended an hour per day and most reported having spent that or a little more. 4. How did you find each of the following tasks? If you found any particularly useful or difficult, please could you explain why?All tasks were reported to have been helpful and useful, with some respondents going further in praise of specific tasks. Modifications were made after the course ran for the first time, in order to split one reportedly lengthy task over two days. No further comments were received over undue length of any individual tasks thereafter. 5. How did you find the contributions made by other participants? To what extent did you learn from them and to what extent do you think you helped others? How important was this aspect of the course to you?The following quotes are representative of what was said by course participants:“This was really important for me, I found the other posts really useful and they really helped my learning.”“This was really useful and I found myself reading all the postings / feedback. There were some good tips / hints and people were honest when they couldn't do something which was also reassuring.”“Because of the range of experience and expertise evidenced by the responses made by other participants, it was reassuring not to feel alone or behind. In general, the participants were supportive and willing to share knowledge.”“I thought everyone participated well, and I learnt quite a lot from reading what other people wrote. I think it was an important aspect of the course.”“The contributions were very useful, the exchange of ideas helped in broaden my literature search thinking.”“I thought it was useful, especially in the first few days to see how other people work, and which kind of databases they use. I definitely learned from that. Some other participants mentioned my name a few times in their comments, so I think I was of some use as well. You have to learn from each other, we are going through the same things, and everybody has his personal way of dealing with these things.” Set within these positive endorsements, a few participants did comment on it being time consuming to read through so many posts and one person commented, “I learnt a lot from others but may have learnt more if they were within the same field.” 6. How did you find the tutors' input during the course? Was it timely? Were their responses helpful? Did you feel supported? Do you have any comments on how this could be improved?The vast majority of participants felt supported and that the librarian/tutor input had been valuable as the following quotes testify: “The librarians' input was invaluable.”“Very helpful, there were individual replies and summaries of each day so definitely felt supported.”“The tutors seemed to have an expert knowledge base and answered all the questions well and supported the useful comments from the other group members. Thank you”“The input was thoughtful and supportive while being unobtrusive. Their responses were very helpful.”“That was really nice, all the information condensed and extra tips in how to improve the search.”“The tutors' input was great - timely and helpful.”“Very efficient and engaging” However, some did comment on the lack of online presence in the evening:“Comments were helpful but a tutor on-line during the evening may have been helpful, however my posts were extremely late.”“Yes their responses were helpful. Yes but I would have glad if a tutor was online in the evenings.” Also, some did see the size of the cohort impacting:“Perhaps a smaller cohort would have facilitated more participant-tutor personal interaction.”“Sorting out the emails built up over the course, I realise that it was difficult to work out when tutors were replying because I didn't recognise their names. Perhaps something in the subject box would be helpful to indicate the difference between a contributor and a tutor. 
  • We have responded to the feedback relating to tutor visibility and out of hours support, by:Adding photos to our “teacher” profiles in MoodleEnsuring we have all said “hello” in the welcome and socialisation forum before the course startsAdding the words “tutor post” at the top of every postLooking for international partners
  • Newall, Gratton & Maltby - When the Graduate School came knocking at the library door: a tale of invitation, collaboration and innovation

    1. 1. When the Graduate School cameknocking at the library door… … a tale of invitation, collaboration and innovation
    2. 2. Introducing…
    3. 3. The Graduate School• Background – WebCT – Standard online courses – Moderated courses• Moodle pilot – Moderated course ‘Introduction to the literature review process’ • Forums are the cornerstone of the course
    4. 4. Invitation • Visiting tutors on ‘Intro to Literature Review Process’ – Course NOT about literature searching • Observed different style of learning and teaching – Evident from forum contributions that participants needed help with search strategies
    5. 5. Why do it? The times they are a-changin’ – Something new – Untraditional > One size doesn’t fit > Reach students
    6. 6. How it works How it works
    7. 7. The tasks
    8. 8. What it’s like• Change and develop > Course + Tutors  added, omitted, amended• Gently does it... > tentative involvement at first • Learn from other participants • When to intervene...? Too soon, too late
    9. 9. Challenges• Subject database knowledge• Time... • Intensive • Slots • Gaps • Relationship building • Recapping • More committed time • Working hours v evening
    10. 10. Example post: introducing Re: Welcome and socialisation forum By JM - Friday, 25 January 2013, 11:27 AM Tutor post Hi All, Im one of the librarians in the Medicine & Health Sciences faculty team here at UoN and Ill also be one of the tutors on this course. Im going to be around first thing Monday morning and so will look forward to meeting everyone on here then. Jane
    11. 11. Example post: are you joining us? Re: Show and tell forum By JC - Monday, 28 January 2013, 03:45 PM Tutor post Hi. Theres been lots of really interesting and useful discussion this morning, but keep it coming! If you havent posted yet, please do and share your experiences with the rest of the group. Jenny
    12. 12. Example post: specific answer Re: Compare and contrast forum by ND - Wednesday, 30 January 2013, 01:59 PM Tutor post Hi D, In addition to the very helpful advice from E, in terms of using the CINAHL database specifically, it might be best to enter each search term one at a time. This will allow you to choose the appropriate CINAHL heading/s from the databases thesaurus. You would then be able to combine the results of each search term together using the "Search with AND" button. Nicola
    13. 13. Example post: back on track Re: Compare and contrast forum By EN - Tuesday, 21 February 2012, 11:23 AM Hi Katrina, Thanks for sharing your experience of searching your own research topic. Do you now want to have a go at one of the searches weve outlined in todays task and then compare and contrast the results in a follow-up post? Elizabeth
    14. 14. Example post: end of task summary Re: The matrix forum by SH - Thursday, 31 January 2013, 10:16 AM Tutor post Thank you for all your interesting contributions to the “Compare and Contrast” forum, which allowed you to think more deeply about the functionality of the various databases and to apply the advanced search techniques to the pre-defined question in your selected subject area. Several of you commented on the iterative nature of the search process. On Friday we will be looking at ways of saving your searches so you can run them again. Several of you found the exercise allowed you to use databases you may not have considered before. You commented that searching across a variety of databases in the initial stages of a literature review gave you more confidence in identifying the most useful ones for your subject. I’ll be online this morning and am looking forward to your thoughts on today’s exercise applying the search matrix to your own research question. Dont forget to attach a copy of your matrix to your post! Susan
    15. 15. Example post: bit late… Email sent Tue 12/02/2013 08:36 Dear N, It’s great to see you posting but I’m afraid this course ran from 28 Jan to 1 Feb, and so there won’t be any tutor support I’m afraid. If you would like to rebook for the next course (29 April to 3 May), you can now do this online at: Very best wishes, Elizabeth
    16. 16. “Today, and more than ever,I FEEL LIKE A RESEARCHER”.
    17. 17. The participants Participants by status Participants by type of PGR 96 103 16 9 PT FT MRes Doctorate Participants by stage Participants by discipline 68 47 34 23 28 12 8 4 Yr 1 Yr 2 Yr 3 Yr 4 + Arts SocSci MedHea SciEng
    18. 18. Example post: early days Re: Spreading your wings forum By CS - Tuesday, 13 November 2012, 05:31 PM I am doing a multi-disciplinary PhD, and I think I fit best in ‘social science’ and ‘science and engineering’. That is immediately the part where I started to quiver a bit, and I realised that I have been scared off by the eLibrary Gateway. I have been avoiding it, because there are so many options, and I was confused about where to start searching, which databases are the most suitable for my subject(s), and how do I start searching? While I was going through the instructions I came across ‘RSS feed’, a term which I have seen before, but I have no idea what it means. I also learned something completely new to me: Lemmatisation. This seems to be a very useful tool. Overall it was a very useful exercise especially to get to know the different possibilities and the symbols used in different databases. It is also good to know that you can save your searches in some databases but not in others, and if you want to save them you need to be logged-in. Is logging-in via the university login enough, or do we need to make special logins for certain databases? I realised that I still have a lot of things to explore.
    19. 19. Example post: the learning deepensRe: Compare and contrast forumby TJL - Wednesday, 14 November 2012, 03:58 AMEarly start for me (on the heels of my task 2 posting). I ran the term, single transferable vote,through each of the social science databases. I first used the term without quotations, accepting allthe default settings, and then with quotations (side note, I prefer the modify search function withinIBSS & JSTOR). Here are the search result counts for each database: IBSS 75/62 JSTOR 1520/504 SCOPUS 101/85 Web of Science 101/78Sorting the lists simply by publication date, I noticed a lot of inconsistencies among the databases.For example, Clarks article in Party Politics appears first in both IBSS and Web of Science, second onthe list in SCOPUS, and not at all in the JSTOR database. I was quite surprised how different theresults were through JSTOR as the other three databases featured a number of the same articles.As far as what Im taking away from this experience, Ill reiterate my comment from the task 2exercise: the validity, relevance and applicability of the results are so dependent on the key wordsused, databases selected, and search parameters adopted.
    20. 20. Example post: time well spent Re: The matrix forum by EOA- Thursday, 3 May 2012, 04:35 PM The search matrix doc is a brilliant tool. Getting synonyms was easy using MS-word. The search method has given my searching some improvements and I feel now I have got more comprehensive and more detailed results than even before. It takes some work putting things together initially, but it pays off a lot at the end. Many thanks for this tool. Regards E
    21. 21. Example post: peer to peer learningRe: Saved searches, citation searches and alerts forumby SN- Thursday, 31 January 2013, 10:24 PMWeb of Science offers the possibility to set search alerts but also citation alarms, which are quite usefulwhen you want to follow the papers you have published, or if you want to follow up on somepapers/review which influence your work etc… I found this link which helped me setting alarms onWoS: I find those tools extremely useful and Iam definitely going to use them (more) in the future. Re: Saved searches, citation searches and alerts forum by NME - Friday, 1 February 2013, 02:44 PM I used WoS and SCOPUS databases to re-run the previous search results which I got from the last task. I’ve learnt how to save my search results and create both email and RSS alerts. Both services are very useful but personally I prefer email alerts as I check my email regularly. Thank you S, I used the link you provided to understand how to create alerts and it is very straight forward. I’ve set Citation alerts for some research topics which are very important. Citation alert is a very interesting tool as it allows you to follow the relevant articles. Really great to learn these research services available in different databases.
    22. 22. “I enjoyed the course tremendously. It is not just the course materials, e.g. tutorials on various databases and the search matrix, which areuseful, it is the forum with students participation and experience sharing that gives me motivation to learn more and more... I guess this is thebeauty of the Moodle design for off-campus research students like myself. The feedback from the tutors is immediate, constructive and specific.” “Experimenting with search techniques in different databases and participating in this type of learning to see how it works. I enjoyed theway that I could fit in the tasks around the rest of my day and didnt have to travel into the university… this is a good way of giving everyone theability to say what they think and ask questions without being dominated by strong voices.” “The course was very useful. When I started my PhD, I received a lot of papers to read through. I have found many more papers in themeanwhile, but it was not very structural and I did not know how to use and choose the databases from the eLibrary-gateway properly. Thingshave become much clearer now, and I learnt how to set up an alert, etc. I just did not have/take time to explore all these things, and the course
    23. 23. Post-course evaluation 1. Why did you register for the Effective Literature Searching (online) course? 2. For you, what were the advantages/disadvantages in the Effective Literature Searching course being delivered online? And, how would you say this compared to any face-to-face information/library skills training you may have attended? 3. Approximately how much time did you spend on the course in total? Was this too much, too little or about right? Could you keep up with the programme of tasks? 4. How did you find each of the following tasks? If you found any particularly useful or difficult, please could you explain why? 5. How did you find the contributions made by other participants? To what extent did you learn from them and to what extent do you think you helped others? How important was this aspect of the course to you? 6. How did you find the tutors input during the course? Was it timely? Were their responses helpful? Did you feel supported? Do you have any comments on how this could be improved?
    24. 24. ResponseTutor Support - 24/7 (or 24/5)1. University of Nottingham, Nottingham (UK)2. University of ? – west coast of Canada of USA, speculative3. University of Nottingham, Ningbo (China)
    25. 25. If you have been affected by any of the issues in today’s tale of invitation, collaboration and innovation, please get in touch with: Elizabeth Newall, Faculty Team Librarian, Arts Chris Gratton, Learning Technologist Maltby, Faculty Team Librarian, Medicine & Health Sciences
    26. 26. And finally…One year on and an email arrived out of the blue: “I followed and really enjoyed the Effective Literature Search on-line course a year ago as a guinea pig (I was one of the MA distance learners). Something from the course must have stuck, because Ive just been offered a PhD place”