Introductions. We are here to talk about a project that took place last year at UoL. We aimed to develop medical students’ information literacy embedding it directly into their course at the point of need using web 2.0. This project aimed to kick-start a change of practice in how the library delivered its information literacy training and we worked closely with the course tutor to tailor resources specifically to their course. SW will talk about the project, what happened and our conclusions. JD will talk about how we will incorporate what we learnt into our digital library strategy at Leicester. <number>
To set the scene I want to emphasise how web 2.0 represents a change of culture for how we are all using the internet. Web 2.0 is generally defined as being about user generated content, where the emphasis is on communication, sharing and creation and mixing. Popular examples include Facebook, YouTube, photo and file sharing sites, RSS feeds, Amazon reviews – anything where people are commenting, ranking, sharing, mixing and creating their own resources. We don’t need to tell you that there has been an explosion in web 2.0 as shown in this image. There is much speculation in how this is leading to new types of knowledge structures and networks as web 2.0 creates new modes of knowledge (such as wikis / blogs) as well as new methods of resource discovery (such as social bookmarking). There has been a lot of speculation about how this is changing students, universities and learning (JISC Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World). It has also been noted (Google Generation) that there is a growing skills gap between students ease with using technology but lack of sophistication at finding and evaluating, and how students have reported being overwhelmed by choice. <number>
Libraries have long been involved in promoting information literacy. Very briefly it can be described as having the goal of enabling students to find and assess research materials independently. In recent times this has been taught to students in the form of training – library skills, how to use library resources, search databases etc. In the emerging and ever changing digital environment information literacy takes on a broader meaning to refer to an approach of developing critical thinking and evaluation as much as learning how to use a specific set of tools, and it is something we need to nurture for the long term as these tools come and go. There are also levels of information literacy - we shall come to this later in the context of this project – we cannot expect new students to become fully fluent during one course or course module. <number>
This was an experimental and investigative project. This was the first time the library had been awarded this internal fund, which aims to support experimental approaches to teaching. Library worked in collaboration with academic staff. Many strands which involved training library staff in web 2.0 tools, and setting up training courses in RSS feeds and social bookmarking for library uses. The purpose of today is to talk about the Medical Ethics course. Working with the course tutor for the UG medical degree modules in Medical ethics, law, and human rights, we aimed to embed information literacy into the structure of an academic course using web 2.0 tools and to investigate whether the participation culture of web 2.0 could be utilised to give students more control over how and when they learn, and so that library staff could focus on and respond more directly to individual needs. PLE: e environment which aims to let students take control of their own learning – set own goals, manage resources, communicate with others. Those were our aims, however….<number>
We had lots of plans for students to be learning to set up their own RSS feeds in relevant topics and sharing materials using social bookmarking. We investigated hosting the course on Netvibes / Pageflakes and experimented. However, it emerged that the course tutor (who was in the process of redesigning the course) wanted very short time spans and students would be doing very short term bits of research. As the benefits of the web 2.0 tools we hoped to use only really become apparent over the long term accumulation of resources and building of networks, we changed our focus away from PLEs to using web 2 to create customised search tools. We hoped this would give the students greater awareness of scholarly resources and help them to make use of them and get them to read more widely. <number>
Now to show you what we actually did. Medical Ethics, law and human rights has a discursive nature and high volume wide ranging material that students have to consult. (eg not only medicine, but law, and ethics). We felt this was a good fit with web 2 and also that the students may particularly benefit from additional input from the library. The course tutor was in the process of redeveloping the course based on more group work, communication and develop a resource that students can build on throughout their medical degree and into clinical practice. There were two stages: the first years Ethics Week, where all 270+ students attend an intensive one week introduction to medical ethics. The second was the special study module where third year students who had elected to take medical ethics take a 12 week course. Due to the sensitive nature of some of the materials the course tutor wanted to use and the practicalities of using external web 2.0 tools and authenticating 270+ people we decided to use the University VLE Blackboard as an authentication hub. <number>
Talk through the module:Conventional features: course information and handbook, case study assignments, reading (articles, book chapters), and videos (pre-recorded seminars). Experimental features: blog/wiki for students to upload their work and comment (important for course tutor), search tools, help and communication channels. Guidelines for citation and links to databases. Tip of the week. <number>
Describe and demo. Traditionally students would be given a printed list of resources by the course tutor for the students to go and find material themselves. There wasn’t much evidence students used much – or went beyond the basic reading list. By putting resources directly under the students’ gaze in Blackboard we wanted to see if they made more use of them. <number>
So what happened. The negative disappointments first:Perhaps we were not surprised by the above as the students already work closely in pre-assigned groups and told the course tutor that they have existing channels or contacting each other face-to-face / text/ and Facebook. They were working on short deadlines and probably sitting in the same room together already. There are issues over whether they feel comfortable commenting in each others’ work in a formal educational setting. They may be used to it in their own social online lives, but this doesn’t necessarily transfer over to their academic lives. <number>
We had very positive feedback from the students about the resources when we surveyed them. The course tutor stated that the students were using a wider range of materials and had an increased number of references to previous years. There is some controversy about whether this amounts to spoon feeding. Both ourselves and the course tutor feel that this type of resource is appropriate in the context of this course. The students are new to this subject. In the pre-digital age directing students to a library of finite and preselected resources wouldn’t have been considered spoon feeding. As the students are new to this subject area we think we are orientating them to make use of and understand materials. We couldn’t reasonable expect novices to select their own materials or use randomly selected ones. No on was telling them which documents to select (there were over 160 sites on the custom search engine – some of those sites are large). Back to this focus on how we are facilitating the use of scholarly resources at this stage. We feel it’s a success as the students really had read more widely than previously. Example of print library – not spoon feeding. Students need direction at this point in their learning. Has to be context specific. Change of practice of working with academic staff. <number>
We have learnt a few things from this project. E-learning resources have to be appropriate to the stage the student is it: not likely to become entirely information literate in 1 week or even 1 module. Resources need to be tailored but a custom search engine would not be appropriate for every type of course or module. Back to Levels of information literacy. <number>
Med Ethics: Facebook integration and YouTube. How students share will be the interesting outcome, and whether they use the Facebook site. Issues of Facebook and intrusion. BDRA – Leicester University: Mainstay technologies such as Bb / webpages need to remain but lots of experimentation must be allowed to develop new practice. This can be applied to libraries which can retain their traditional base but need to experiment in new technologies. Scalability / time/resources. We need to both adapt and innovate. JISC Higher Education in a web 2.0 world. <number>
Where next? Everyone uses Google and Wikipedia; they are the mainstay of students’ online lives. How should we respond to the changing digital information landscape? Some suggestions should all students should cover:….Exploiting advanced searching features of Google. Subject specialist resources: specialist search engines, databases, subject gateways / portals.Image / Audio search engines. Wikipedia - anatomy of article – beyond ‘two legs good four legs bad’. YouTube as a reference tool. Web 2.0 tools (blogs / RSS / social bookmarking / RSS feeds )Evaluating resources - A lot more focus on this than we do now. Creative Commons / Copyright<number>
You can read the full report here. <number>
EAHIL workshop 2009
Using Web 2.0 to Cultivate
Information Literacy via the
Construction of Personal
Sarah Whittaker & Joanne Dunham
5 June 2009
Web 2.0 is a state of mind
Information literacy is a mindset
Can web 2.0 tools be used to enable
students to broaden their use and
understanding of scholarly resources?
High Hopes vs Reality
• We wanted students to be building their own resources by tagging,
setting up feeds, and sharing.
• Reality of the module constraints meant we changed direction.
• We focussed on raising students’ awareness of and use of scholarly
resources by creating customised Web 2.0 search tools for them.
Medical Ethics, Law, and Human
• Ethics week & SSM
• Aimed to push key learning resources to students at the
appropriate point in their course. Students could then use these
resources at the stage in their module when it is immediately
relevant to their learning.
• Blackboard was used as an authentication hub.
The Only Way is Up Now…
• Not everything worked…
• No change of culture in how students worked or communicated.
• Students didn’t use the communication channels provided.
• Student’s didn’t comment on each others’ work.
• Short time span of courses and assignments – no time to build
community of practice and accumulation of new resources so the
focus was on finding information rather than sharing.
What worked well
• The Google Custom Search Engine and Journals Pageflakes page
were very popular with the students and they stated they had even
shared them with students outside of the course module.
• Course tutor said there was a tangible improvement in the quality
of resources used and students’ understanding of how to find
• E-learning resources must be integrated into the fabric of the
course, not as last minute add-ons (mindset).
• Improving information literacy is a long term goal as it requires
developing a mindset as much as a set of skills. We should be
aiming for it to become integral to the way that students and staff
• Library resources need to be tailored to each course rather than
generic. The students were new to the subject and the tools we
developed were to introduce and familiarise them with scholarly
• Medical Ethics and Law courses will continue
– To develop online and web 2.0 resources
• Library staff should continue to
– Develop understanding of web 2.0 tools
– Explore how to utilize in promoting information literacy across
• Library will continue to
– Develop librarians’ roles as their future depends on the ability
to build relationships, and
– Add value to external tools such as Google Scholar
Bread and butter for students?
Full Project Report
• Sarah Whittaker, Information Librarian.
• Joanne Dunham, Clinical Sciences Librarian & Head of
Collections & Information Systems
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