Creating interactive content with H5P

By Marianne Sato, Digital Content Specialist, University of Queensland Library, m.sato@library.uq.edu.au

What is H5P?

H5P is an open-source, online tool for creating and sharing interactive content that can be embedded into different platforms. You can use H5P to create engaging content using a range of multimedia and interactivity. At the University of Queensland Library, H5P had all the features we wanted for creating learning objects: 

Checklist icon
  • Easy to embed and reuse
  • Accessible
  • Flexible – able to chunk content into sections and add a range of formats
  • Allows the inclusion of interactive elements to increase engagement
  • Trackable – response data can be tracked in the Learning Management System (LMS).

Checklist icon by Popcorn Arts on the Noun Project.

The interactivity in H5P helps to increase engagement with the content and retention of key information and allows for immediate feedback to learner’s responses. You can use it to assess student learning or to gather response data to learn more about students’ understanding of the content. You can enable a Confusion Indicator in the H5P content to: 

  • know what areas students may be having trouble understanding. 
  • improve content to address areas of difficulty.

We also link to a feedback form in our learning objects as an additional method for gathering feedback to help improve our content. 

Using H5P

First time users of H5P may feel a bit overwhelmed by all the different options but once you experiment a bit and try things out it will soon seem easy.  We recommend downloading some examples as it allows you to see which parts in the edit view match the public view. H5P.org has tutorials for the different content types. All H5P content types are open-source and shared on H5P.org. These are some examples of content types that we use at the University of Queensland: 

Accessibility

Content types recommendations by H5P.com lists the accessibility of different content types and other limitations. Meeting accessibility requirements also depends on the content you add to your object. For example, images must be sufficiently described in alt text and captions and video should have captions and transcripts. 

Sharing H5P content

H5P content can be:

  • Cloned or copied within a platform. This makes it easy to adapt the content for different audiences. 
  • Downloaded from one platform and imported into another (if the user makes it available for others to use). This is great for creating Open Educational Resources. Look out for a Reuse option on the H5P object. 

Access to H5P

H5P content can be added to any publishing platform that allows embedded content. Users can choose to pay for a hosting and support service or host the content themselves. H5P.com provides a paid hosting and support service for:

  • Direct link or embed – You create and store your content on H5P.com and link or embed it in your publishing platform. 
  • H5P via Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) – You can integrate your H5P content with your LMS, including Blackboard, Canvas and Moodle. 

The LTI integration for your LMS provides reports on activity completion and learner responses (depending on the content type). It can also be linked with the LMS Grade system.

Users can self-host H5P content and use free plugins for Drupal, WordPress and Moodle. Institutionally-provided Pressbooks publishing networks also have a H5P plug-in.

Limitations of H5P

While many things are great about H5P it does have some limitations:

  • It is difficult to get response data without an LTI. Having a feedback form helps to gather some data from users and the Confusion Indicator will return anonymous responses. 
  • The cloning procedure for adding H5P content to the LMS means that many different versions of the content exist. We try to ensure we are added as collaborators to each cloned version of the object and to keep a record of where our H5P objects are used so that we can inform users of updates. 

Try our H5P crossword!

Direct link to the H5P Crossword.

Images used in the crossword

Driving the implementation of Office 365

By Luke Gaiter, Manager – Technology Training, University of Queensland Library. Contact: l.gaiter@library.uq.edu.au

Why we introduced Office 365

At the University of Queensland (UQ) Library, we engage with other areas on a variety of projects that support research and teaching. It was often difficult to work on files together as different areas used their own intranet systems or shared network drives. These issues drove a demand for Office 365 and SharePoint as an intranet solution for the University. The Library offered to take part in the pilot to support the upskilling of University staff and students when Office 365 is rolled out across UQ. We set up a project team of 11 people to plan the transition and run staff training.

Upskilling our staff

UQ Library staff were familiar with intranet systems but there were some notable differences between the previously used system (Confluence) and SharePoint. To tackle these differences and support staff to use SharePoint, the project group organised individual training for each team. The sessions allowed us to build an understanding of the information management needs of the teams and identify skill gaps. Many of the sessions brought to light new questions or ways of working. 

People using a range of different equipment (laptop, mobile phone, tablet, paper, clipboard) around a desk.
Photo by Jack Moreh from Freerange Stock

We then offered weekly ‘drop-in’ sessions to allow staff to ask questions, work through problems and discuss options for using the platform. These sessions fostered a community of practice environment where staff could share and learn from others’ experiences. 

We identified gaps in understanding of the different content types and when to use the different features. Such as “when do I use a Document Library vs a List vs a OneNote file?” The training team organised “intensives”. These specific sessions tackled one feature at a time in more depth than the introductory training: 

  • Document libraries
  • Lists
  • OneNote
  • Web parts

Encouraging staff to see the benefits

The project team did a lot of work to communicate the benefits of the change, pointing out problems that could be solved. For example, multiple staff would be able to work on the same file together in SharePoint and OneDrive. Many staff had experienced the frustration of opening a file on the network drive and being blocked as someone else already had it open.  

We focused on how it could help us improve our workflows, allowing us to respond quickly to changes happening in the wider university landscape.

A person with a cat next to them waving at a person on the computer screen in front of them.

With more staff needing to work from home (COVID-19), it has been perfectly timed as it allows easy communication and collaboration between staff in different physical locations.

Photo by Jack Moreh from Freerange Stock

Lessons learned

Access controls – A Microsoft Team environment automatically creates a SharePoint site. The site permissions come from Teams, meaning everyone has editing and viewing access. Files that require access restrictions cannot be effectively stored. To handle this type of content, we created a stand-alone SharePoint site known as a ‘hub site’ that is linked to the Teams SharePoint site but also has access controls. 

Recording meetings fills up your space fast – If staff use Teams to record their online meetings it very quickly fills up the file storage. We have put in place policies on what to record and how long to store these recordings. 

Guidelines for using Office 365 – This table was created to help staff understand which element of Office 365 to use and who will have access to the documents and information. 

ToolWhen to useWho can view and edit
Library Intranet siteShare news, events, information, and relevant documents across the LibraryDesignated Library staff can edit and set view permissions
Teams SharePointCreate and share information and documents relevant to your organisational unit, project, work group including team processesAll Library staff (or all members of the team)
Teams channelTo chat, plan and share information with your library or project teamsAll Library staff
Teams chatPrivate conversations between members of the chat – not for any official decision makingOnly those included in the chat
OneDriveDrafts, your own filesOnly those you allow
Table: Office 365 use and access

Version control – It was necessary to reinforce the use and advantages of version control built into SharePoint. The version system allows users to quickly revert or make copies when needed. The ability for multiple people to access and edit files at once meant mistakes and overwrites occurred as staff adjusted to the new ways of working. 

Adjusting to a different file storage method – Staff have found it a hurdle to adjust from a site-tree with nested folders organised by areas and teams to SharePoint’s Document Libraries and flat file storage that requires custom metadata and sorting and filtering.

Ongoing change management

As the Library is part of the pilot program for the university, this is just the first step in a wider adoption process across UQ. We expect there to be ongoing changes and more lessons to be learned.

Students are told not to use Wikipedia for research. But it’s a trustworthy source

by Rachel Cunneen, Senior Lecturer in English and Literacy Education, Student Success and LANTITE coordinator, University of Canberra and Mathieu O’Neil, Associate Professor of Communication, News and Media Research Centre, University of Canberra

Disclaimer: This post was originally published in The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence and is used with the authors’ permission.

At the start of each university year, we ask first-year students a question: how many have been told by their secondary teachers not to use Wikipedia? Without fail, nearly every hand shoots up. Wikipedia offers free and reliable information instantly. So why do teachers almost universally distrust it?

Wikipedia has community-enforced policies on neutrality, reliability and notability. This means all information “must be presented accurately and without bias”; sources must come from a third party; and a Wikipedia article is notable and should be created if there has been “third-party coverage of the topic in reliable sources”.

Wikipedia is free, non-profit, and has been operating for over two decades, making it an internet success story. At a time when it’s increasingly difficult to separate truth from falsehood, Wikipedia is an accessible tool for fact-checking and fighting misinformation.

Why is Wikipedia so reliable?

Many teachers point out that anyone can edit a Wikipedia page, not just experts on the subject. But this doesn’t make Wikipedia’s information unreliable. It’s virtually impossible, for instance, for conspiracies to remain published on Wikipedia.

For popular articles, Wikipedia’s online community of volunteers, administrators and bots ensure edits are based on reliable citations. Popular articles are reviewed thousands of times. Some media experts, such as Amy Bruckman, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s computing centre, argue that because of this painstaking process, a highly-edited article on Wikipedia might be the most reliable source of information ever created.

Traditional academic articles – the most common source of scientific evidence – are typically only peer-reviewed by up to three people and then never edited again.

Less frequently edited articles on Wikipedia might be less reliable than popular ones. But it’s easy to find out how an article has been created and modified on Wikipedia. All modifications to an article are archived in its “history” page. Disputes between editors about the article’s content are documented in its “talk” page.

To use Wikipedia effectively, school students need to be taught to find and analyse these pages of an article, so they can quickly assess the article’s reliability.

Is information on Wikipedia too shallow?

Many teachers also argue the information on Wikipedia is too basic, particularly for tertiary students. This argument supposes all fact-checking must involve deep engagement. But this is not best practice for conducting initial investigation into a subject online. Deep research needs to come later, once the validity of the source has been established.

Still, some teachers are horrified by the idea students need to be taught to assess information quickly and superficially. If you look up the general capabilities in the Australian Curriculum, you will find “critical and creative thinking” encourages deep, broad reflection. Educators who conflate “critical” and “media” literacy may be inclined to believe analysis of online material must be slow and thorough.

Study set up with open laptop, open book, pen and coffee mug
Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Yet the reality is we live in an “attention economy” where everyone and everything on the internet is vying for our attention. Our time is precious, so engaging deeply with spurious online content, and potentially falling down misinformation rabbit holes, wastes a most valuable commodity – our attention.

Wikipedia can be a tool for better media literacy

Research suggests Australian children are not getting sufficient instruction in spotting fake news. Only one in five young Australians in 2020 reported having a lesson during the past year that helped them decide whether news stories could be trusted.

Our students clearly need more media literacy education, and Wikipedia can be a good media literacy instrument. One way is to use it is with “lateral reading”. This means when faced with an unfamiliar online claim, students should leave the web page they’re on and open a new browser tab. They can then investigate what trusted sources say about the claim.

Wikipedia is the perfect classroom resource for this purpose, even for primary-aged students. When first encountering unfamiliar information, students can be encouraged to go to the relevant Wikipedia page to check reliability. If the unknown information isn’t verifiable, they can discard it and move on.

More experienced fact-checkers can also beeline to the authoritative references at the bottom of each Wikipedia article.

In the future, we hope first-year university students enter our classrooms already understanding the value of Wikipedia. This will mean a widespread cultural shift has taken place in Australian primary and secondary schools. In a time of climate change and pandemics, everyone needs to be able to separate fact from fiction. Wikipedia can be part of the remedy.


Would you like to contribute to our blog?

If you have ideas, or if you would like to contribute posts directly, drop us a line at DigitalDexterityBlog@caval.edu.au.

Our Future (and Present) with Folio at Massey University Library

by Kat Cuttriss, Associate University Librarian (Client Services), Massey University Library, Te Putanga ki te Ao Mātauranga. k.cuttriss@massey.ac.nz 

Background

Massey University Library had been with our previous Library Management System (LMS) for the past 27 years. It had served us well in what was formerly a print-dominated environment. But changing times called for a fresh outlook, and so in 2021 we went through a comprehensive tender process and selected Folio – the Future of Libraries is Open – as our new Library Services Platform (LSP).

The key drivers for moving to Folio were its newly-built, microservices architecture (which makes it more flexible and future-proof), and it providing all the benefits of open source (e.g. ability to build our own functionality and user-driven development), combined with the reassurance of being hosted and supported by EBSCO. We were also keen to realise patron benefits, arising from better integration of catalogue data into our EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) and improvements in accuracy of eResource information and our full text holdings.

Implementation approach

We put an ambitious time frame in place for implementation, as we wanted our new LSP fully up and running in time for the start of semester 1, 2022. This meant we had 4 months between our kick-off meeting with EBSCO in September 2021 and go-live at the end of January 2022.
 
To meet this time frame (spoiler alert = we did!), we took a “whole of team” approach. Our first step was for library staff to get together and co-create our project’s guiding principles to keep us on track if (actually, when) the going got tough.

We decided we would:

  • Aim for simplicity over complexity 
  • Design for the majority rather than the minority of needs  
  • Be open to new ways of doing things at every point, and
  • Accept an MVP (minimum viable product) for go-live

Our second step was to set up Functional Groups, for Circulation, eResources, Discovery, Metadata, Acquisitions, and System Administration. The Functional Group leads were assigned, reported to the Project Steering Group, and met weekly with EBSCO as part of the Implementation Team. 

We then put out a call for EOIs to all library staff to join a functional group of interest to them. We weren’t looking for tech experts; we were looking for people with enthusiasm (ideally infectious), a natural curiosity about how a library system works, and a problem-solving mindset. Huge levels of interest resulted, resulting in large (but not too large) groups comprising representatives from the full library team. 

The next step was to set up robust communications channels, open to all library staff, and actively monitored and curated by the functional group members. As a result, we have a stunning back-catalogue of posts on our Teams site, all meetings recorded and accessible there, process maps that describe our workflows in our former LMS and now in Folio (used as the basis for training manuals) and issues registers, where we track progress with migrations and any surprises we find during testing. This ‘repository’ in and of itself is a taonga (treasure) but it’s the daily monitoring from various staff to keep the dialogue alive and issues responded to that is the real gift.  

Our journey to go-live

Without getting into all the nuts and bolts here (there is a mechanic’s workshop full of them!), suffice to say that Massey University Library is reasonably unique with our large distance-based student cohort (about 45% of our overall student population). We therefore need to provide the ability for all patrons (distance or on-campus) to select their fulfilment preference (pick-up or courier delivery to a specified address) at the point of requesting. We also have extended fixed due dates rather than rolling loan periods and rely on recalls to keep the print collection circulating well. 

Building the necessary logic in our circulation settings to get all these components working as they should was quite a challenge, and kept us on our toes! We struck quite a few “what’s going on here?!” moments that have since led to a few of us setting up daily “stand ups” (accompanied by strong coffee) to temperature check how things are going, do some quick-fire diagnostics on recent issues that have emerged, and provide each other with mutual support.

Where we’re at now

We have just gone through our first upgrade to the latest Folio release (Kiwi, so aptly named!) and while things still feel a bit ‘mid-stream’ vs. ‘crossed the river’, the functional groups have put us in a great, collective place. We now have an amazing amount of distributed capability across our wider library team, filled with folks who can ‘crowd source’ problems, understand and describe what’s going on, and resolve (or escalate) as required. This is a result of our functional group members developing their knowledge, their confidence, and honing their desire to support their colleagues in turn with their Folio skills. 

Folio’s open-source community approach is a step forward for us, as well. We are yet to ‘flex’ fully into that space, as up until now we have been so focussed on getting through to go-live. But this is where our future lies! 

Logo that reads, "folio future of libraries is open"

Being digitally copyright dextrous: stock video content

by Anthony O’Brien, Copyright Advisor, University of Newcastle. Contact: copyright@newcastle.edu.au

Vector graphic image of man in a shirt and tie standing next to a Copyright icon

This is the third post in a series that will look at considerations for copyright as part of being digitally dexterous.  Copyright is an important consideration when reusing any content. 

Stock videos are becoming more important as creators look to change up the materials they provide for learners and clients.  There are a number of ‘free’ stock video sites that make content available for reuse.  This post will discuss copyright/licensing and other important considerations when choosing a site.

What to look for in a stock video site?

  • Quality/resolution – Your needs may vary, but aim for videos of the highest quality possible (min. 720p).  Some sites will offer 4K resolution, but you may find a trade-off with the selection of videos available.
  • Video format – most sites provide MP4 files, but some offer alternate formats.  Consider the creation or editing software you have available.  Converting files between formats can cause loss of quality.
  • Licensing – ‘Free’ licensing can vary wildly.  Certain licences may not allow you to post to YouTube, for example, but internal use/hosting could be OK.
  • Look/feel – a number of sites are either difficult to navigate, have limited searching/filtering options, or swamp site users with ads.
  • Selection – Video collections can vary so do some test searches to see what might be a good fit.  Having a few sites bookmarked will help as you may not find the ‘perfect’ site for all of your searching needs.

Looking for videos that are ‘ready-to-use’

While Creative Commons (CC) licensing is still common for some video content, the majority of stock video sites apply their own licensing that can have additional caveats for re-use.  Some require particular attribution or copyright statements, so always check what you’ll need to do for their video content.  At the end of this post are four recommended stock video sites to help get you started. 

How should I provide attribution for videos that I use?

This will vary based on the licensing – always check if there is a required statement to provide credit or a link.  Some sites do not require attribution, but appreciate it where possible to include.

Where you are adding credit, you could do this on a short-duration slide at the end of your video content.  If posting to YouTube, adding links in the Description field is good practice.  Some creation platforms, such as H5P, include a ‘rights’ option to collect and showcase this information.

What if I’m adding a Creative Commons licence to my final work?

Where external content forms part of your work, when attaching CC licensing you should also add a copyright (or ownership) statement for any re-used or reproduced content.  By adding these statements (in addition to your CC licensing information) users will have a clearer understanding of what content is outside any CC licensing applied to the work. Your institution’s copyright office may be able to assist with this.

Four recommended sites:

  • Mixkit – searching is easy and there is great filtering by category.  Videos tend to have useful framing (left- or right-aligned) that allows for easy addition of text or other materials over the video content.  Many videos have free licensing where attribution is not required (but is appreciated).  Note: there are some videos with ‘restricted’ non-commercial licensing that doesn’t allow for posting to YouTube due to the ability to monetise videos.
  • Pixabay – one of the best sites around for free media.  Lots of different videos and a great choice if you’re looking for abstract or ‘interesting’ video backdrops.  Free licensing, where attribution is not required (but is appreciated). 
  • Coverr.co – this site often creates topical collections based on what’s happening in the world, e.g. working from home, cryptocurrency, etc.  Also offers vertical videos for social media.  Free licensing, where attribution is not required (but is appreciated). 
  • Dareful – Video footage in 4K resolution.  Lots of landscapes and drone footage, but other collections are growing.  Videos are licensed under CC BY 4.0, so attribution is always required.

A new direction: Our journey creating a chatbot

By Bryony Hawthorn, Information Services Manager, University of Waikato Library, bryony.hawthorn@waikato.ac.nz

Background
The University of Waikato Library has been using a live chat service successfully for more than 14 years. This is a very popular service with students – and that was even before the pandemic flipped our lives upside down!

In 2019 library staff numbers were reduced, and we realised we may not always be able to staff the live chat as we have done in the past. This led to the idea of a chatbot.

Chatbot box. University of Waikato Library.

Meet our chatbot, Libby
We chose to build our chatbot using the LibraryH3lp platform as we already use this for our live chat service. So bonus = no extra costs! We named our chatbot Libby.

Libby’s interface is similar to live chat so it creates a consistent experience for users. The only difference is the colour: green for live chat and orange for the chatbot.

We create the responses that Libby sends. The chatbot administration back end has been set up to be simple to use and this means library staff creating responses don’t need to be tech experts. We’ve chosen to focus primarily on library-related topics.

Bumpy beginnings
Libby was very basic when we started. We struggled to get her to reply to keywords (the user had to type the EXACT word or phrase we had in our response bank) and she couldn’t return multiple responses to a single question. Because of this, Libby’s most common response was, “Sorry, I could not process your request. Please try a different word or phrase”. Let’s just say it was a bumpy beginning and a frustrating experience for our early users.

Stepping up
The road became a lot smoother when we introduced a natural language toolkit. This included:
● Text filtering – keywords can appear anywhere in a user’s question so no need to type an exact phrase anymore.
● Removing stop words (e.g. a, at, the, not, and, etc).
● Tokenizing – isolates words so they are compared separately.
● Stemming – allows for different endings for keywords.
● Synonyms – increase the range of words that trigger a response.

We also improved the way Libby greets users and made it clear how to receive help from a person. Most recently we added a module to assist with spelling errors.

One of our biggest successes has been introducing a prompt to encourage users to type their email address if they want a follow up from a librarian. Prior to Libby’s introduction, if the chat service was offline, users were told to email the library for assistance. This didn’t happen very often. But now users find it easy to add their email address and thus allow us to contact them. This has markedly increased the number of users receiving further help.

Example chat with chatbot. University of Waikato Library.

What we learned along the way
● Don’t do it alone. Use those around you with the right technical experience.
● Simple fixes can make a big difference.
● Make it clear to your users they are chatting with a bot who won’t be able to answer everything.
● Make it easy for users to request a follow up from a librarian.

Libby is still a work in progress and our journey is ongoing. Who knows where the road will lead. There are other ways to build a chatbot and some are simpler than what we have done. If you are interested in creating something similar, do look around for options to find something that will suit your needs.

If you’d like to learn more about our journey so far, you can watch our presentation from the LearnFest2021 conference.

Libraries on social media: Creating communities of practice for sharing and communication

By Rida Noor Malik, Matihiko/Tech Support Librarian, Hamilton City Libraries| Te Ohomauri o Kirikiriroa librariesdigitalteam@hcc.govt.nz

The term ‘social media engagement’ has been described as click based participation (Gerlitz & Helmond, 2013) where users simply ‘like’ or ‘heart’ a post. But do the number of likes and comments actually show engagement? Students and librarians create an online community of practice when they visit academic libraries via social media to “share, discuss and learn” (Wenger, 1998, p.34). This translates to ‘engagement’ with the library, its resources and activities through social media.

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Several research studies measure the impact of the type of content on social media. Joo, Choi, and Baek (2018) explored the kinds of social media content that public libraries create for communication. Their sample of 4736 Facebook posts collected from 151 libraries across America were divided into ten categories. The results showed that promoting events was the most used category by all public libraries. For my research study, I collected three months of Facebook and Instagram posts from Auckland University of Technology Library and Massey University Library. When I analysed these posts, promotion was also the top category for both New Zealand academic libraries.

Promotion has always been a major focus of both academic and public libraries’ social media pages. However, promotional type posts can be combined with content which facilitates informal learning opportunities. These opportunities are a way of softly marketing that your academic library has a brand with a goal to promote research and share knowledge. Libraries can focus on creating content where students get opportunities to engage with librarians. For example, Powell Library at University of California goes beyond the occasional photo on Instagram and incorporates content that emerges from the curriculum (Salomon, 2013). If we look for an example closer to home, Massey University has recognized that Instagram can be a fun learning and teaching tool for them and their students. This is evident from the Kupu O Te Wiki (Word of the Week) posts which are focused on teaching Te Reo Māori (the Māori language). These posts got different types of comments, such as students thanking the library, asking for Te reo classes and general comments where people tagged other students (Malik, 2019).

There are many ways to educate users through social media because there is a rapid growth in online learning options. For example, Facebook groups can be used for asynchronous discussions which are helpful in holding group activities and online workshops. Libraries can also use participatory features of social media to start conversations, invite users to comment, or take part in polls to deliberately ask for user’s opinions, feedback and questions. This can be useful for engaging users in collection development, improvements to library spaces, and other operational activities. The response from users can help to determine the reputation of the library within the university (Mon, 2015).

Simply promoting services does not create a vibrant community of practice. When libraries use social media for mass communication, users become passive viewers instead of active contributors. Therefore, promoting conversations and knowledge sharing can help form a community that evolves naturally. For example, Hamilton City Libraries often engage with their library users in a humorous way but it has also opened up a window for getting feedback. According to Wenger (1998) a strong sense of community is important for building the trust needed to safely share opinions and ideas. Using social media while keeping in mind the communities of practice guidelines can provide a context in which to put the power of ‘sharing and communication’ to engage a community.

References:

Gerlitz, C., & Helmond, A. (2013). The like economy: Social buttons and the data-intensive web. New Media & Society, 15(8), 1348-1365. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444812472322

Joo, S., Choi, N., & Baek, T. H. (2018). Library marketing via social media: The relationships between Facebook content and user engagement in public libraries. Online Information Review, 42(6), 940-955. https://doi.org/doi:10.1108/OIR-10-2017-0288

Malik, R. (2019). Using social media for student engagement: A study of two New Zealand academic libraries [Master’s project, Victoria University of Wellington]. Te Herenga Waka. http://hdl.handle.net/10063/8201

Mon, L. (2015). Social media and library services. San Rafael, CA: Morgan & Claypool Publisher.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press

Growing Open Educational Practice with OER grants

Angie Williamson, Program Coordinator (Open Education), Deakin University Library, angie.w@deakin.edu.au.

During 2021, Deakin University commenced a grant program, coordinated by the library in conjunction with the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Teaching and Learning, encouraging academic staff to explore Open Educational Resources (OER) for teaching and learning. OER are free resources that are made available with a Creative Commons licence. OER include resources such as textbooks, quizzes, videos, even full courses that are reusable and adaptable to teaching and learning needs. These resources can be modified to include local content making these more contextual and representative of the students and the local environment.

The grant program forms a major part of the Inclusive digital environments project aimed at raising awareness of OER and developing capabilities in staff to use and create OER. OER have been around for 20 years but the use of OER in Australia has had a slow start. Overseas higher education institutions have been very active in this space often supported with grants from government bodies or foundations such as the Hewlett Foundation. In 2020, the Californian governor announced a $115 million commitment to OER. Universities and colleges highlight savings made by students in textbook purchases and this can add up substantially. In Canada, BCCampus has saved students over $20 million with open textbooks since 2012. Higher education institutions overseas develop Zero degrees where student have no costs for instructional resources for their entire course. OER textbooks not only benefit students with reduced costs but also by removing barriers in access to resources. The use of OER has been shown to increase student success and retention (Colvard, 2018) as students have access to the materials from day one of their study and can access the resources when they need them without limitations. The necessity to move higher education online in the pandemic has increased awareness of OER (McKenzie, 2021) and open pedagogy for teaching and learning. This program at Deakin will not only increase the usage of OER, but also contribute to the revision of existing resources to include Australian Content and facilitate the creation of additional Australian resources.

This inaugural OER grant program at Deakin enabled staff to explore the OER environment to locate, use or create resources for their teaching. As this was the first time these grants had been on offer, we were unsure of the level of interest. Not solely focused on textbook replacements, the program also encouraged creativity to fill a gap in available teaching resources that would result in the creation of an open resource. Applications were sought for the OER grants in June 2021 with 11 applications accepted. The successful applications displayed a diversity of concepts and covered a range of OER usage and creation projects including textbook replacements and the creation of resources.

Replacing a current textbook with an OER textbook was the focus of a number of the projects and will result in substantial saving for students. In one of these projects, the current textbook retails for about $180 and student numbers are over 1,000 per year. For projects aiming to replace a textbook, this necessitated locating resources and evaluating if they fulfilled the needs of the unit. Some OER textbooks have ancillary resources such as videos, question and exercises available to support their usage. Some required the creation of content to fill gaps or the remixing of numerous OER to create a resource tailored to the required learning. Another current project focuses on the updating of an existing OER textbook and developing of new activities to support it.

Other projects identified gaps in available resources and sought to create an open resource to fill the need. These include:

  • The creation of Australian case studies in Human Resource Management
  • An extensive resource developed to assist students in reading MRI scans for the study of anatomy
  • The development of an online book introducing the assessment potential in play-based approaches
  • A 3D interactive tour of a building to support construction management students in experiencing the behind-the-scenes functions in buildings inspired by COVID restrictions in access.

Some projects also embraced the wider concept of open. One project focused on student motivations and concerns and created a series of videos of students discussing these aspects of study. Another project combined open software and OER by moving to an open source software for statistical analysis. The associated open book will be adopted as the textbook and supporting activities developed, replacing an expensive textbook prescribed to around 2,000 students per year.

We all know that 2021 was challenging for higher education in Australia in many ways. With the OER program commencing in June, participants experienced almost a perfect storm of impediments. Extended lockdowns and additional student needs due to COVID, working from home challenges, fully online teaching and major organisational changes all impacted the delivery of the projects. Through this challenging time, participants appreciated having a positive project to focus on and even with these challenges, one project commenced using an early version of the resources in teaching a trimester earlier than planned! We learned that OER projects take time to develop, with the development and implementation of the resources to continue through 2022.

The program coordinated by the library included offering grant recipients OER training, hosting a Community of Practice and establishing a Teams site to facilitate knowledge sharing and as a forum for discussion. Discussing OER related topics such as accessibility, open pedagogy, copyright and licencing, the Community of Practice sessions provide a forum for the program participants to discuss their progress, ask questions and gain understanding of OER concepts. Detailed copyright advice was also provided by the copyright team. A website has been created to highlight the program with the purpose of providing access to the created resources when they are available.

window with a multi coloured flourescent sign hanging in it saying open.

Further details of the projects are available on the Open Educational Resources Grants 2021 website.

Image by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

References:

Colvard, N. B., Watson, C. E., & Hyojin, P. (2018). The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics. International Journal of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, 30(2), 262-276.

McKenzie, L. (2020, August 13). Window of opportunity for OER. Inside Higher ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/08/13/pandemic-drives-increased-interest-open-educational-resources


Stretching my digital dexterity through ECU Library Digital and Information Literacy

By Liz Grzyb (MEd student, Charles Sturt University)

As part of my study for the MEd (Teacher Librarianship) course online at Charles Sturt University, I was required to complete a Professional Work Placement at a library. I am already working in a high school library, so I approached the Edith Cowan University (ECU) Library as I was interested in seeing the differences between secondary and tertiary/academic libraries.

I was lucky enough to be teamed up with the delightful Danielle Degiorgio in Digital & Information Literacy (DIL), as I had identified digital services and information literacy as some of the areas I would like to find out more about. My prac has been literally book-ended with Digital Dexterity – I began by sitting in on an online DigiDex meeting and it will end with this blog post!

During my time at the library, I have spent time talking with many experts on various different aspects of how the library is run. Many of these discussions were about information literacy (IL) and digital literacy (DL). IL in a university library has similarities to my experience in a school library, but it also has many more layers due to the variation in focus and intensive research needs of the users.

I had not realised until I arrived at ECU that the university is e-preferred, so I was surprised at the huge number of electronic resources the library facilitates, and how much digital literacy pre-loading was needed when introducing new students to the university. The Orientation Week workshops that are being planned cover introductions to many of the learning tools used by the university and the library will help to clear barriers to study. It is such an important service to ensure equity for students.

I have spent a lot of my working time this week looking into Open Educational Resources (OERs). Before this prac I did not know they were a ‘thing’, but I have found out that they are incredibly important for equity in education and life-long learning. I have unearthed a number of new-to-me databases and providers of open resources specifically for assisting learning or for information-gathering. I can see that this process will help me to support teaching staff at my school as well as expanding my own teaching strategies.

The image depicts a younger and an older humanised notebooks sitting on a bench. The older notebook has a cane. Both notebooks are looking at a laptop the younger notebook is holding. The laptop says OER on it. There is also an empty thought bubble above the notebooks.
Image by Manfred Steger from Pixabay

If, like me, you have not used OERs much before, here are a few places you might start investigating resources for your area:

Many of the OER databases are weighted to overseas resources, so it is wonderful to see that the DigiDex educators have a group bringing home-grown resources to the table. (https://www.oercommons.org/groups/digital-dexterity-educators/5554/)

The DIL team have been wonderful to spend my placement with, and I thank them profusely for their generosity in helping me to gain experience in their area of knowledge. Everyone I spoke with at DIL had amazing dedication to information and digital literacy for students – they were focused on providing workshops, services, and resources accessible to all. I have lots of new ideas to spring on my unsuspecting colleagues and students this year!

Welcome back!

Welcome back readers!

We are so happy to be back, and we’ve been viewing a lot of messages around New Year’s resolutions this year. The basic premise seems to be:

Take care of yourself, and don’t expect too much.

How can we do this when we are bombarded by online news and social media posts? Here are a few tips:

  1. Minimise distractions by turning off any notifications on your phone from news, sports and games feeds.
  2. Try using the ‘Do not disturb’ feature (for example, in Microsoft Teams) so that you can focus on things that really do require your attention.
  3. Emphasise quality rather than quantity when it comes to digital relationships. Only follow or connect with those who add value (happiness, or meaning) to your life.
  4. Use your screen-time settings to create boundaries around how long you want to be online – that way you can avoid the endless scrolling late at night when you’re tired and need to switch off.
  5. Schedule your screen time as a regular appointment so that you get into the habit of keeping to time. This will help you choose to look at what is important to you, while putting a time restriction on the scrolling!
  6. Use your online calendar to communicate your availability to colleagues at work, so they know when you can be interrupted. For example, Microsoft Outlook has a ‘Show As’ feature that depicts your time as ‘free’, ‘working elsewhere’, ‘tentative’, ‘busy’, or ‘out of office’. Make sure your team is familiar with the different indicators.

There are lots of other ways to take care of yourself when engaging with digital technologies. You could find a YouTube channel that plays focus music or ambient noise, which will help you to de-stress. You could Google yourself and tidy up your online profile and privacy settings to make sure your digital security is spot on.

Above all, remember to forgive yourself if you happen to get lost in a digital rabbit hole on Facebook or YouTube. You’re still an okay person! None of us is perfect, and we’re all coping with less-than-ideal circumstances at the moment.

In the meantime, are you enjoying the blog? Would you like to know more about one of our topics, or do you have ideas for different posts?  Or perhaps you would like to write a post yourself?

Please drop us a line at digidexbloggroup@lists.caval.edu.au and we will send you our blog post template, which includes short guidelines on style, tone, length, and so on. We would love to make this year more about you, our readers, and we value all of your feedback.

Good luck to all, and remember to be kind to yourself! And in tricky moments always remember there is coffee coffee coffee ….

gif by Gilmore Girls @gilmoregirls https://media.giphy.com/media/3ohA2VFMnx7Fdd6SXu/giphy.gif