Case study: shifting your IL teaching online – Susan Merrick

Susan Merrick is a Teacher-Librarian at ACS Egham International School in Surrey. In this case study, she discusses her experiences in delivering online information literacy support for secondary school students.

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

I have taught online Zoom classes, both with other teachers and by myself, to groups in lower secondary and upper secondary. The grade 6s (year 7s) having been working on a drama project which will have them doing various assignments related to the Romans. They had two sessions in which I was present with their teacher. I took them through the process of setting up their NoodleTools project and showed them how to cite both an e-book and a website using NoodleTools.

At various points over the subsequent 2 weeks I checked on their progress in citing their sources and gave them feedback. To assist the students in finding reliable sources, I took them through the resources on the libguide and showed them how to access our databases and some of the e-books, which we had just received access to. I also did a Q and A session with them a week or so later about the resources they had found so we could talk about reliability of sources.

I also worked with the grade 9 (year 10) history group who were working on World War II. They had an independent research project to complete. I worked with the teacher to assist them with issues they were having with sharing their works cited lists with us and also gave them feedback on the reliability of some of the sources they had found. This feedback was done through NoodleTools.  However, I also corresponded with the teacher to keep her up to date with issues relating to the sources that students were using.

The majority of my teaching time has been spent with grade 11 (1st year of diploma). I had 2 sessions each with the grade 11 history groups, who were working on their internal assessments, and 6 classes with students regarding extended essay resources. I also prepared video lessons for two students who were writing extended essays in subjects which were not covered by the other sessions. With all the groups, both history and extended essay, we discussed how to go about finding academic sources. I stressed that they had to raise their game in the quality of sources they were citing. I showed them how to improve the way in which they used keywords for their searches, and encouraged them to use predictive search terms (terms which, when added to a Google search, specify the source type(s) desired). I also showed them the libguide resources available and pointed them in the direction of the databases for their particular subject, which were available through the school and also through the London Library, to which we have a membership.  

What’s gone well with shifting to online teaching?

The teaching has worked well. I have spent more time planning with the teachers, which has been good as they often don’t have a specific idea of what I can do their students. In fact, oftentimes they don’t know what they want me to do. The Zoom sessions have worked surprisingly well and feed back and discussion works better than I thought it would.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

I think what I miss most of all is being able to go around to each student in the class after a session and talk with them about specific problems they are having. The Q&A sessions and being available by email to answer questions does help with that.

Can you share 3 top tips for others planning to teach information literacy sessions online?

  1. Plan with the class teacher and know what you want the learner to take from the session.
  2. Make sure that the lesson relates specifically to something the learner is doing in class at that moment in time. If it doesn’t, it will seem irrelevant to them and they won’t fully engage.
  3. Always follow up with Q & A sessions a week later.

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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *