Case study: shifting your IL teaching online – Isobel Ramsden

Isobel Ramsden is a Senior School Librarian at Channing School

What sort of information literacy sessions have you run during the last few months?

I’ve run two 45-minute information literacy sessions for eighty Year 11 students (in groups of twenty at a time) and one 45-minute information literacy session for eleven Year 12 Geography students. I was asked to produce two sessions for a Year 11 enrichment programme (‘Springboard to Success’) delivered online from early May to the end of June. The programme was devised to support students during the period when they should have been preparing to take their GCSEs. I assigned one session to going over research skills useful for coursework, EPQs and university and another to evaluating online information. The sessions were delivered via Google Classroom. I made short videos of my screen using Loom that showed me talking through the slides. I also used the following for activities:

Shared Google Docs – students could see what each other had written so it had the feel of group work
Self-marking Google Forms – to check their understanding
Free ClickView video and comprehension questions on plagiarism
Online quizzes on fake news from Full Fact and Factitious

The Year 12 session focused on library resources and how to do literature reviews for A-level Geography coursework. I presented slides that I’d made during a live Google Meet. There was a lot of content to get through in just 45 minutes so it was mainly me going through the slides and doing a few demonstrations, for example of how to use advanced search in JStor.

What’s gone well with shifting to online teaching?

In both cases (Year 11 and Year 12) the teaching mainly centred around use of slides, which is what I would have used if I’d delivered the sessions face-to-face. However, with remote learning I could record myself going through the slides once and it served for multiple groups. The main advantage of this for me was that it saved time. ‘Asynchronous learning’ also allows pupils to work at their own pace and to pause the videos when they need to. I put suggested timings for each activity to guide them.

Similarly, self-marking Google Forms save time by allowing you to provide a set of model answers that pupils receive once they’ve taken the test. You can add individual feedback afterwards if you’d like.

Loom allows you to see how many people have watched your videos and (if the user has allowed it) who has watched it. This is helpful for getting an idea of who is actually doing the lessons. (My Year 11 sessions were optional but students had signed up to do them.) I found the chat function in the live Google Meet useful for collating information quickly from the whole class. For example, it was quicker for them to answer in the chat rather than going round answering out loud in turn.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

I think the lack of a ‘live’ element in the Y11 sessions made it harder to check for
understanding. Activities such as the Google Form quiz allowed me to assess their learning at the end of the session but it was harder to do formative assessment. The lessons were timetabled for a particular date and time and I had to be available to answer questions in the Google Classroom stream if necessary. However, I received no questions from pupils. I also found that engagement dwindled over the course of the term (four groups of about twenty pupils each were scheduled to take the two sessions between May and June). The fact that they didn’t have to physically turn up to a session perhaps made it easier for them to think of it as just optional (the sessions were optional but pupils had signed up to do them).

Can you share 3 top tips for others planning to teach information literacy sessions online?
1. Give students timings for activities so they get through everything.
2. With hindsight, I wish I’d done a quick poll of participants after each session to see how they’d found the session in terms of the technology used and their understanding
3. Make it clear in the Google Classroom (e.g. by posting in the stream) if/when you’re
available to help and answer questions in the stream.

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.

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