Delyth Morris is a Subject Librarian for Medicine at Cardiff University. In this case study, she discusses the opportunities and challenges she has found in delivering information literacy teaching online.
What sort of information literacy sessions have you run during the last few months?
I’ve undertaken a few different workshops over the last few months as I still had quite a bit of IL teaching to deliver but the most taxing was when all 4th year Medical students (approx. 300) were told they’d be doing a literature review, rather than their usual lab based projects, etc. I had a short timeframe to put together a programme of resources for the students which covered designing a research question, planning your search, searching for the literature and briefly touched on critical appraisal and reference management.
I delivered an asynchronous lecture via Panopto which predominantly covered breaking down a research question and searching in Medline. I supplemented this with lots of already pre-existing online tutorials and worksheets/workbooks. I created a discussion board and tried to push all questions through this on the VLE. This sometimes included creating further videos but generally these were quite short screencasts, e.g. how to translate a search from one database into another or troubleshooting issues with EndNote. Finally, if a student felt that they didn’t have their question fully answered via the discussion board, I offered virtual drop-in sessions/clinics.
What’s gone well with shifting to online teaching?
Improved accessibility – subtitles, etc. included in the lectures. Also recording lectures gives students the opportunity to go back and watch them multiple times for clarity – I can see this has happened from the tracking on the resources.
I was able to repurpose some of the generic online resources we already have in Cardiff University and also repurpose some of my teaching materials.
Some students have subsequently contacted me via email to thank me for the resources I provided.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Engagement with the discussion board was the biggest challenge. Students were choosing to email me rather than engage. I had to respond to any emails and ask them to add their question to the discussion board. I was keen to stick to this as my preferred method of engagement as many of the students were asking the same question. It took a lot of persistence but eventually engagement did improve. Enabling anonymous posting really played a part here. I wish that there was a way to track the traffic through the discussion board as I’d like to know how many students viewed it without posting a question.
Another challenge was the timeframe – this might not have been how I would have delivered the teaching if I’d had more prep time (I had about 2 weeks).
Can you share 3 top tips for others planning to teach information literacy sessions online?
- If you’re going to use a discussion board, then make sure you enable anonymous posting
- Try to keep all of your resources together in a logical place on the VLE and then email the students to tell them where it is
- Think about what resources you or your institution already have which can be repurposed
This case study was produced in response to a survey carried out by the CILIP Information Literacy Group (ILG) Chair, Jane Secker, and one of the ILG School Library reps, Sarah Pavey, as part of research into the shift to online teaching of information literacy that has taken place in UK education during the COVID-19 pandemic.