A collaborative approach to student digital skills support: The UOW Digital Skills Hub

By Kristy Newton, Digital Literacies Coordinator (UOW Library)

Digital literacies, digital capabilities, digital dexterity… no matter what you call them, these are an essential and complex set of practical skills, attitudes and contextual understanding that help us navigate and interact with the digital world. They can span everything from learning how to use a new piece of software, to understanding how communication styles differ depending on the channel you are using to communicate, to developing a growth mindset that enables you to engage in a process of continual learning and development. This post outlines the process of developing the UOW Student Digital Skills Hub as a strategy for supporting student digital skill development.

A collaborative approach

At UOW, we recognised that a collaborative approach was essential for supporting student digital literacies and that this collaboration needed to be seamless for students to access. There had been collaborative work on developing an institutional approach to digital literacies for a few years, but the unexpected challenges of COVID19 and the rapid transition to remote learning meant that a lot of that work was paused to allow staff to address the immediate challenges presented by the pandemic. Libraries are often champions of digital literacy development, but the complex interplay of practical skills and digital behaviours means that digital literacy support at an institutional level spans several units with areas of expertise. The IT support units are an obvious match for the development of technical skills, but the development of digital capabilities at University also incorporates clever learning design that means students encounter these development opportunities in ways that are meaningful for their learning, and a future careers perspective that contextualises their skill development in relation to their professional post-University lives. 

Stakeholders from the Pro Vice Chancellor (Students) Unit, Information Management and Technology Services (IMTS) Unit, and Learning Teaching & Curriculum (LTC) Unit are all strategic partners in the creation of the Digital Skills Hub. While the Library has a strong history of supporting digital literacies, as well as supporting the more traditional information literacies, it was important to us, that the site was not recognised solely as a Library site. We felt that this might compromise the value of the site for students who might think it was just about using databases rather than the broader range of digital skills and behaviours that make up their everyday lives.

The Digital Skills Hub

In late 2021, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and Student Life) revitalised the institutional conversation about digital literacies as part of a strategy for supporting student success, and identified the Library as a key stakeholder in this initiative.  In response, we created an online Digital Skills Hub – a one-stop shop for students to be able to access all the digital literacy support that they needed. The Hub provides a consistent location for students who don’t know where to find digital literacy support, recognising that they often need to seek support from a variety of different units and departments, but don’t know which unit to approach for help with their specific problem. Having all the content in one place makes this an easier proposition, particularly for students who are less digitally literate. Pragmatically, because we had the support of the DVC (A&SL), we were able to secure support in embedding a link to the Digital Skills Hub in all the subject Moodle sites. This means that it was easily accessible for most students, in a location that they were already accessing for academic purposes.

One of the factors that made the Digital Skills Hub possible, was the acquisition of the JISC Digital Capabilities service. This included the Discovery Tool, a tool which allows students to undertake a self-assessment and receive a personalised report on their digital skills. Alongside the Discovery Tool, the JISC site provided a suite of support resources, and capacity for us to create UOW specific support resources that are embedded in the JISC reports. The JISC interface also provides us with valuable information in the form of an institutional dashboard. This highlights student skills across the different capability areas and provides a heat map of where the strengths and areas for development lie across different student types and different faculties. The data is de-identified, so we can’t see what a particular students progress might look like, but it does give us a good idea of trends, enabling us to target support services where they are needed.

A one stop shop for digital skills information

The front page of the Student Digital Skills Hub

There are three main ways that the Digital Skills Hub supports students:
– It provides them with access to the JISC Discovery Tool, a self evaluation tool that illustrates each student’s personal strengths and weaknesses in relation to digital skills and provides them with a customised report and suggested actions/resources for developing those skills further.

– It explores Digital Capabilities through the lens of the JISC Digital Capabilities Framework, and highlights how those framework areas relate to everyday skills and digital behaviours

– It provides them with easy access to a knowledge base of FAQs on a variety of digital skills topics and gives them the opportunity to chat/ask a question. This knowledge base incorporates existing relevant FAQs as well as newly created FAQs that are specifically designed to support the needs of the Hub.

There is also a rating system for students to rate their satisfaction with the site, as well as a link for them to provide feedback. 

Key points to consider

For institutions interested in doing something similar, the following points are worthy of consideration.

  • It’s important to get the strategic support of the different units that make up the digital literacies support services for students. Creating a site where some support is offered, but students need to go elsewhere for different kinds of tasks, just creates barriers for students.
  • An accessible and well-designed platform is key to the success of the site. You want to make sure that students with lower levels of digital skills can access the site and find it easy to navigate. 
  • Centre the development of the site on the needs of the students who will be using it. We are using an iterative design process, which means that we take on board student feedback and insights from the literature to inform the way the site develops. We see the Digital Skills Hub as a constantly evolving resource that will continue to be shaped and developed by the needs of the people using it.

Six months on from the creation of the site, we are currently engaged in a process of seeking feedback to inform the way that the site develops in the future. This is driven by an iterative, human-centred approach to content development that commits to continuously evaluating whether the site meets user needs, and adapting and evolving the site to ensure it continues to do so.

Declutter your digital writing – for inclusion, clarity and better reader experience

Originally posted on Deakin University Library’s DigiBytes blog

By Rachel Wilson and Kat Cain of Deakin University, republished with permission from the authors

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Decluttering is not just about your digital files, your cutlery cupboard, or your work desk – it also is a handy approach for digital writing. Clutter distracts from the clarity of your writing. Unnecessary words, complicated sentences, and redundancies can all mess up the flow of your writing. Which means your core message or learning point is lost within the word noise. 

Decluttering is a great strategy for writing in many different contexts, using plain language in digital spaces like blogs, guides, websites is critical and inclusive. It means your content is readily understandable, scannable, and straightforward. Most of all it makes your content more useful to your learner or reader.  Check out this Evolving web post for a good breakdown of why decluttered writing works so well for inclusion and why plain language matters. 

Strategies, concepts and tools to help 

Here are three key tips that can get you started in decluttering your digital writing. They can help you tighten your prose, your email, or your module text. In fact, these writing skills can be applied everywhere, not just writing web page content. 

Tip 1: Consider your audience 

Who are you writing for? 

  • Undergrads  
  • Professional staff 
  • Industry 
  • Researchers and academics  

Different reading levels are OK for different audiences. Vocab will change depending on the context. 

  • Grade 7-8 for your average audience  
  • Grade 10-12 for experts in your subject matter 

Tip 2: Use tools to Marie Kondo your content 

Using editing and grammar tools can give you a strong idea on how readable your content is, how clearly your message scans.  

Tip 3: Keep it clean and uncluttered 

There are a number of things you can do to keep your digital page clean. Avoid jargon and go for simpler wording where you can. Also carefully consider image use on your digital page as it can dilute your message. Use headings, lists and ‘calls to action’ to make your content more structured and scannable. Don’t cover too many topics in the same space!  

Key take away 

Don’t strive for perfection in your digital writing – we love iterative improvements. As Leo Tolstoy said “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content” (Anna Karenina). 

via GIPHY

Introducing Ateliers sur demande | Instant Workshops free, open, and bilingual digital skills microlessons

By Mish Boutet, Digital Literacy Librarian, University of Ottawa (Canada), mboutet@uottawa.ca

Bonjour and hello. I am a Digital Dexterity Guest Champion, Mish Boutet, from the University of Ottawa in Canada. I would like to introduce Ateliers sur demande | Instant Workshops, free and open short lessons on digital skills for higher education in French and English. 

The Instant Workshops home page with its welcome message and three most recent workshops.
Image of the Ateliers sur demande | Instant Workshops home page. The image is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

The Context

The University of Ottawa is bilingual. To serve our community, it is important to have resources in both French and English. It isn’t always easy to find good quality, digital dexterity-building resources available in both languages though. This being the case, I tried to make some. 

Not by myself. I had the gracious help of collaborators from six other Canadian universities. It has been an excellent teamwork experience. 

We got a bit of funding. I mention this not to boast but to explain why I am now copy-pasting the following acknowledgement: Ateliers sur demande | Instant Workshops was made possible with funding by the Government of Ontario and through eCampusOntario’s support of the Virtual Learning Strategy. Check. 

The Concept

We set to work on this for about a year. We had an idea about the kind of resource we wanted to create: the kind we always hope to find when we search for stuff. We wanted a series of ready-to-go video-based microlessons that lone learners could use for self-instruction or instructors could include in their courses. 

On top of this, we wanted all content to be:

  • available in French and English, 
  • free, 
  • accessible, 
  • reusable under a Creative Commons Attribution License
  • focused to not waste learners’ time, 
  • flexible to support multiple learning preferences,  
  • humanised to mitigate the distancing effect of instructional videos, and 
  • structured to help creators develop content more easily. 

I believe we did a good job meeting most of these criteria most of the time. 

The Content

We used Jisc’s digital capabilities framework to scope the range of topics from which we could choose. Based on identified needs and on collaborators’ interests, Instant Workshops topics include: 

  • using password managers 
  • using content blockers 
  • introducing infographics 
  • creating bibliographies with ZoteroBib 
  • linking Google Scholar with your library 
  • identifying peer-reviewed content 
  • avoiding plagiarism 
  • adding tables of contents in Word 
  • adding page numbers in Word 
  • saving as PDF/A in Word.

Each workshop follows a consistent structure and includes: 

  1. a French and English version, 
  2. a title, 
  3. a brief description, 
  4. a short video lesson, 
  5. video subtitles, 
  6. video chapters, 
  7. an interactive transcript*, 
  8. written instructions, 
  9. a brief task for learning and review question, and 
  10. a downloadable text-based version of the lesson.

Our hope is that this structure keeps workshops straightforward yet flexible for learners, as well as manageable for workshop creators.  

*Interactive transcripts let you jump to any part of a video by selecting any bit of text in the transcript. We were able to include these thanks to the free, accessible, browser-based media player, Able Player

The Continuation

My university’s Teaching and Learning Support Service built the great website that houses our workshops. We launched the project with 12 workshops earlier in 2022. We are proud of what we accomplished, but we realise that our content scarcely begins to cover all that is possible with digital dexterity development. So, we are currently planning Instant Workshops, Season 2. I’m interested in more content around digital creation and digital wellbeing. I’m also interested in identifying new collaborators to bring their expertise to create even more content. 

So, there you are. Please use Instant Workshops if you think it looks useful. And feel free to reach out to let us know what you think of it.

Merci and thank you. 

Creating seamless learning experiences with Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI)

By Gillian Yeend (UniSA) and Kristy Newton (UOW)

As higher education has increasingly embraced digital and hybrid learning experiences, it is important that students are able to seamlessly navigate the spaces they use for learning. Libapps Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) embeds Libguides into the Learning Management System (LMS). The University of South Australia (UniSA) and University of Wollongong (UOW) have recently used this tool. Their experience demonstrates how integrating Library resources into the LMS improves access and discovery. Both Universities use Moodle as the LMS. 

Background to use of Libguides at UniSA and UOW

UniSA Library has used the Libguides software developed by SpringShare since 2011. Currently they have 82 guides including subject, teaching, and research guides. The guides assist students, teaching and research staff to find the specific information they need. Some courses have individual assignment helps located on the subject guides. Before the use of the tool, students had to move out of their course site to access the guides.    

UOW has also been using the LibGuides software since 2010, and currently has 55 Guides for Library subject information, teaching, and research skills. The Guides are primarily accessible via the Library website, with some being embedded in individual Moodle sites manually. In 2021 UOW designed a Digital Skills Hub within Libguides to support the digital skills of students both while at University and preparing them for their future careers. The Hub is embedded in the LMS using LTI integration.

Challenge of discovery and the student experience

Students can find it difficult to locate key information amongst the plethora of online sources. In the course of their studies, students need to be able to navigate across course information and material in the LMS, academic information resources via the Library, as well as a variety of other platforms used for institutional communication. This context, with the addition of diverse digital and academic literacies, means that there are challenges inherent in navigating these online information environments which is often expressed in terms of cognitive load.  Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning highlights this challenge. Learners “…must use their limited processing capacity to select important information, [and] organize it into a coherent structure in working memory” (Mayer & Fiorella, 2022, pg 183).

One of the five principles for reducing extraneous processing is signaling. This theory posits that “…people learn more deeply … when cues are added that guide attention to the relevant elements of the material or highlight the organization of the essential material” (Mayer & Fiorella, 2022, pg 221).  Integration of library guides within the course site can ease the cognitive load.  Key information is located where it is applicable and accessible.  In a nutshell, it makes sense to place the key information in a place that students are already using for learning!

LTI: what is it, and how does it address the challenge?

UniSA

In 2020  the UniSA Library conducted a pilot project within UniSA Online over one study period (just over two months). The aim was to improve the integration of library guides and assignment helps into the online learning environment using the LTI.  The LTI allowed Course Coordinators to manually embed a range of Library guide content where relevant. Students could access the guides without leaving their course site.  

During the pilot 12 UniSA Online courses embedded 18 Libguide objects. Assignment helps were the most popular option. A total of 3168 hits were recorded. The pilot project demonstrated the benefits of the tool with: 

  • Improved access- 93% of access to one assignment help was through the embedded content as opposed to the library website for the same period.  
     
  • Improved engagement-  students were actively returning to the content. 
     
  • Ease of use- Course Coordinator feedback was positive.  All indicated that they would recommend this feature and were confident to embed.  

Due to the success, Library rolled out the LTI to feature across all UniSA courses in the following year. A further enhancement used the Automagic LTI tool. Subject guides linked in course sites were automatically displayed as an embedded guide.  This enhancement removed the reliance on Course Coordinators to manually embed. This ensured equitable access for all students. 

UniSA Library assignment help embedded into course site. Image adapted from Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash 

UOW

Like UniSA, UOW used the Automagic LTI tool to add the Digital Skills Hub content into the LMS across the University. The ability to embed within the LMS was a key factor in choosing LibGuides as the platform for the creation of the Digital Skills Hub, as it was important that the Hub was available equitably with minimal impact on academic staff. Ensuring digital skills support was in a location that students already frequented was ideal.

Using LTI to embed the content within Moodle also meant that the resource did not need to be consistent with existing subject LibGuides. The Library applied custom CSS to create a resource consistent with University branding. The Library’s subject-based LibGuides are visually identifiable as a Library resource, but in creating the Digital Skills Hub it was important that the Hub be seen as a whole-of-institution resource, rather than a Library resource.

As the Digital Skills Hub was recognised as strategically important, the project secured support from the Learning, Teaching and Curriculum unit to insert the LTI link into all existing Moodle subject sites. New sites created which use the institutional template will automatically include the link to the Hub. Since it was launched in February 2022, the Digital Skills Hub has been accessed over 9000 times.

(L) A sample UOW Library Guide. (R) The Student Digital Skills Hub homepage.
(L) A sample UOW Library Guide. (R) The Student Digital Skills Hub homepage.

What we learned

The LTI tool at both UniSA and UOW has been invaluable.  It has ensured library support is where it needs to be, easing the cognitive load for students and minimising the burden on academic staff to provide targeted support content.

References

Mayer, RE & Fiorella, L 2022, The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning / edited by Richard E. Mayer, University of California, Santa Barbara, Logan Fiorella, University of Georgia., Third edition., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Happy Birthday Digital Skills GitBook!

By Bryony Hawthorn and Nica Tsakmakis  Digidexlibrarians+gitbook@gmail.com

Gosh, how time flies! On the 6th of August the Living Book of Digital Skills (You never knew you needed until now) turns one! And what a year it has been. 

Image CC-BY-SA The Living Book of Digital Skills

Like any first year of life, the Digital Skills GitBook has had its fair share of trips and falls but has learned a lot and grown along the way.  

As proud parents, the GitBook family has shown off its many possibilities around Australia, including taking it to Canberra for ALIA National and Melbourne for VALA, to the Research Support Community Day, and to eResearch Australasia. 

We’ve also been feeding our young GitBook a regular diet of Shut Up and Write sessions. These are helping our book grow like a tree. We have been writing content for the GitBook on heaps of suggested topics.  

Just like any family, people come and go, and move around. We know it takes a community to raise a child and write a book. We now need our community to help shape our baby into a young adult.  

We are looking for people keen to help us keep our baby growing! You can contribute by: 

  • Suggesting a topic for the book 
  • Helping us maintain the book 
  • Giving us feedback on the book 
  • Contributing a chapter that you write on a suggested topic or a topic of your choice 

If you think you might be keen to write a chapter, you don’t necessarily need to write new content. It could be that you already have suitable content you’ve written for other projects. We will credit you as authors for your work.  

Don’t be shy about contributing! We have a helpful short video for anyone who wants to know how to join our family and support us by adding useful content so others can grow from the fruits of our book. This video takes you step by step through using GitHub to contribute – what an awesome skill to add to your repertoire! 

If after watching the video, you’re still a bit nervous of contributing via GitHub, that’s ok. Just email your content to us and we’ll do the rest. 

Another option is to join the camaraderie of one of our Shut Up and Write sessions. Come to the next session on Tuesday 9th August and SUAW with a bunch of other folk, so the GitBook can continue to branch out. It is productive and fun. You can even write with a partner on a topic that interests you both.

If you can’t make this date, just email us for the next one. We have one a month for the rest of the year.

While we’ve given this book a personality, we do need your help to make the book a successful reality.

So please contact us via email Digidexlibrarians+gitbook@gmail.com if you have any questions or have content you can share.  

Hybrid working post COVID: how young professionals can optimise their time in the office (and why they should)

By Gemma Dale, Lecturer, Faculty of Business and Law, Liverpool John Moores University

The conversation logo

This week, we are republishing an article originally published in The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

During the pandemic, around 100 million people in Europe switched to working from home – nearly half of them for the first time. This shift was rapid, with employees quickly noticing the benefits of remote work. These can include freedom from commuting, more time for personal wellbeing and increased productivity.


You can listen to more articles from The Conversation, narrated by Noa, here.


As we move on from pandemic restrictions, we’ve seen a strong, global demand for more flexible forms of working, particularly to retain an element of remote work. While some employees want to work from home permanently, most want what’s coming to be regarded as the best of both worlds: hybrid working. Only a minority of workers now want to return to the office full time.

One group which may be particularly keen on hybrid working is young professionals. And for this group, time spent in the office could be especially valuable.

Young people and remote work

Surveys undertaken during the pandemic indicated that generation Z (those born after 1996) were more likely to say that they were struggling with work-life balance and post-work exhaustion than older generations.

There are several possible reasons for this. Younger people may find it more difficult to establish a good homeworking set up, depending on their living arrangements. Those early in their careers may have smaller professional networks, leading to greater isolation. Or they may simply have less experience managing the boundaries between work and life outside of work, which can be made more difficult when there’s no physical office to leave at the end of the day.

Despite this, emerging evidence suggests that younger workers want remote and flexible work rather than a return to the office full time. Surveys vary, but generally indicate that around two-thirds of members of generation Z working in office jobs want a hybrid working pattern in the future – and they’re prepared to move employers to find it.

According to a recent survey by management consulting company McKinsey, employees aged 18–34 were 59% more likely to say they would quit their current role to move to a job with flexible working compared with older employees aged 55–64.

Young people looking at a computer

Younger workers are interested in flexible working arrangements.Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

It’s worth going into the office sometimes

Remote and hybrid working can bring many benefits. For employees, remote work provides the opportunity to reallocate costly and sometimes stressful commuting time into activities that support work-life balance and health. Indeed, more than three-quarters of hybrid and remote workers report improved work-life balance compared with when they worked in an office full time.

Meanwhile, hybrid work provides autonomy and choice for employees. They can combine time at home for focused and independent work with time in the office for collaboration and connection. A hybrid working model can be good for productivity, inclusion and motivation.

However, the belief that work is best done in an office environment is pervasive – and young people in particular are thought to need to go into the office to build professional networks and to learn.

There could be some truth to the idea that young people early in their careers uniquely benefit from going into the office. Research conducted prior to the pandemic has associated being out of sight while working remotely with also being out of mind. Notably, people who work exclusively at home are less likely to receive promotions and bonuses.

Conversely, being with colleagues in person has been associated with greater career advancement. In part, this is probably because being physically present in the office appears to signal commitment to the organisation.

Can hybrid work address the risks of fully remote work and preserve the rewards associated with face-to-face interactions in the office? Only time will tell.

woman working at home with cat

Working at home has its benefits. Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash 

Finding the right balance

Before 2020, remote work was still relatively rare. Hybrid working at scale is a new concept.

But throughout the pandemic, perceptions about working from home have improved globally. The latest UK data suggests nearly one-quarter of working adults are now hybrid. So in the future, we’ll need to understand more about the impact of remote work both on organisations and the people who undertake it.

The challenge for younger employees is to identify an effective working pattern that suits both them and their organisation – and supports their career goals. As tempting as it may be to ditch the commute as often as possible, younger employees may instead wish to consider a more strategic approach.

When in the office, they should focus on personal visibility, and building and maintaining relationships with colleagues and managers. Networking and learning must be the focus of working in-person, and wherever possible, online meetings or independent work should be saved for remote working time.

Combine this with good wellbeing practices when working from home, especially around switching off from work, and hybrid might just deliver on its promises of better work for everyone – young and not so young alike.The Conversation

This article is part of Quarter Life, a series about issues affecting those of us in our twenties and thirties. From the challenges of beginning a career and taking care of our mental health, to the excitement of starting a family, adopting a pet or just making friends as an adult. The articles in this series explore the questions and bring answers as we navigate this turbulent period of life.

You may be interested in:

Long social distancing: how young adults’ habits have changed since COVID

Working in the metaverse: what virtual office life could look like

Six misunderstood concepts about diversity in the workplace and why they matter

Open Source and Digital Dexterity – software solutions at Auckland University of Technology Library

By Craig Murdoch, Manager, Online & Open Initiatives, Auckland University of Technology Library

What if the products we choose to work with could help us become digitally dextrous?

At the Auckland University of Technology Library we’ve made a conscious decision to prefer open source software solutions where possible. We recently completed our implementation of the Koha library management system, adding this solution on top of VuFind for search and discovery, DSpace for our institutional repository Tuwhera and Open Journal Systems for our publishing initiatives. It’s fascinating to talk to people about why we’ve gone in this direction. The over-riding assumptions are that the main driver is either saving money, or because we have a fabulous pool of skilled staff who can ‘work’ these systems.

Of course it’s true that in some cases we have saved some money by going open source, but it is far from the primary motivation for us. In fact, the reasons we prefer open source are more about what it means for us as librarians, and I believe this ties in strongly with the goals of the Digital Dexterity framework for library professionals.

So, what benefits do we get as staff from working with open source technologies?

  • We build capacity and capability in our staff. By taking ownership and control of our software solutions we can improve our own engagement and motivation. We learn new skills, we understand systems on a deeper level, we develop new abilities to communicate with those working in areas like IT, documentation, research, security, and data.
Quote from Demian Katz, Director of Library Technology Services, Villanova University, that reads "Working in open source has strengthened my belief that the true purpose of software is to empower people to solve problems"
  • We get to control our own destiny. Sounds dramatic but it’s true! We gain the flexibility to be able to decide what we want to do with our systems, what is important to us. We drive change rather than responding to it (or not seeing it at all). We get to try things, make mistakes, and most importantly, take ownership for fixing them.
  • We get to work closely with a huge global community of librarians, software developers, and vendors to improve and extend the systems we use. When it comes to the development of new features we are partners, contributors, and sometimes even funders.
  • We learn more about, and take more responsibility for, safeguarding our data and that of our institution’s members. 
  • We improve our decision-making, analysis and planning skills with respect to software development and spending (partly driven by the fact that we can no longer say “it’s the vendor’s fault”). 

Where does this fit with the Digital Dexterity framework?

In a sense the answer is “Where doesn’t it?” but these are the words that jump out for me, because working with open source fosters growth in all these areas:

Confidence
To contribute meaningfully to complex discussions and broader communities.

Creativity
To courageously think outside the square and build our own future.

Collaboration
To work with generosity in a culture of sharing.

Capability
To build and enhance the skill sets we need.

Critical thinking
To support decisions which we must take increased responsibility for.

Which I think is a long way of saying that open source has created an environment where we are enabled to become better librarians, smarter humans, and more capable digital citizens. I’d love to hear whether this resonates with others.

Reference:

Katz, D. (2022, May 4). Open Perspectives: VuFind. https://communities.ebsco.com/posts/open-perspectives-vufind

Power BI: Data Wrangling and Fish

Danielle Degiorgio, Digital and Information Literacy Project Adviser, Edith Cowan University Library
Sue Khoo, Librarian (Digital and Information Literacy), Edith Cowan University Library

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a Microsoft data visualisation tool that displays data in an easy-to-read format and allows users to interact and show relationships between different data sets.

Why Power BI?

Our goal was simple, we wanted to connect the mapping of digital and information literacy skills across the course curriculum to the teaching and learning activities we were doing each semester. We just had one problem, we were recording our data and statistics in multiple spreadsheets.

As luck would have it, the 2021 VALA Tech Camp was hosted at Edith Cowan University Library that year and we were introduced to Power BI through a series of workshops. Soon after we decided to use Power BI to help us keep track of student statistics in a more visually appealing way and it let us connect multiple sources of data. This meant we could compare, filter, and visualise relationships between multiple spreadsheets which allowed us, and more importantly our manager, to see our progress across courses.

Power BI: Visualisation of mapped digital and information literacy skills in courses.

Things we got Power BI to do:

  • Connect information from multiple spreadsheets to show how much digital and information literacy skills coverage we have in each course. 
  • Filter and display subsets of data. 
  • Be hosted in Microsoft Teams for ease of access where the report can be shared and displayed as a tab in Teams. 
  • Automatically update data from SharePoint, so having all our sheets hosted on SharePoint / Microsoft Teams mean we can easily add data into the model. Our Power BI reads directly from SharePoint files and updates at 9am every day.

Skills: What magic do you need?

  • Spreadsheet and table management – Power BI relies on external data. You must have the data cleaned and stored in a data source such as Excel (or databases such as Salesforce or Access).
  • Logic and relationship management – Connections can be 1-1 and 1-many but only one model may exist at a time. If there are conflicts Power BI will complain.
  • Ability to play with formulas and data types – If you need a relationship that isn’t expressed in the Power BI map you will need to learn to write the formula for it.
  • How to put together a graph – Knowing what graph suits your needs be it a scatter plot, ribbon chart, pie chart, or fish.
  • Professional Google skills – If something goes wrong, be ready to Google it!

Pitfalls: What to watch out for

  • A lot of trial and error and Googling – No training will prepare you for what you want to do. There may be things you want to do but Power BI only gives you the basic tools. You will have to build what you want from there.
  • Broken or dirty data – Power BI relies on relationships between different tables and inputs to build the model. If a piece of information is missing and if that is the connection in the model, it will skip that line. This has resulted in expectations not meeting what was displayed.
  • Know your data story – Power BI does not do data interpretation. You need to know what you want to tell. This is one of the main issues on the final display of information.
  • Permissions – Our shared spreadsheets and the dashboard were stored in places where we didn’t have full access to use. Arrange the files so each input has the right permissions to do SharePoint integration.

How do you get started?

But what about the fish?

The most important thing to remember is to be creative and have fun with your data!  

Power BI: Number of students seen per School using the Enlighten Aquarium visual. Enlighten Aquarium won a people’s choice award for the ‘Power BI Best Visual’ contest in 2016.

Creating video templates for shorter lead times and greater consistency in library tutorials

by Nicholas Rowsell, Digital Library Programs Officer, University of Newcastle Library

A challenge in creating anything across a team, or to a greater extent an institution, is ensuring that when content is created there is a consistent design language, and when adhering to this requirement, efficiencies are not lost.

To communicate your ideas with this purpose in mind, content should be:

  • aligned to brand positioning,
  • consistent between digital objects,
  • as equitable and accessible as possible
  • solutions should match your team’s abilities
  • lean into established processes when adding something new.


In wanting to establish new processes for the creation of a video tutorial series for the University of Newcastle Library, these were the considerations we had to address.   

Our solution was to create a series of templates for video creation programs such as Powtoon and Microsoft PowerPoint. By providing content creators with a series of template slides they are quickly and easily able to copy a slide and insert the content they need to present, with all the animations, transitions, and formatting completed for them ahead of time. All that is then required is for the team member to render the slides to create a video. The positive implications of this are that videos are highly sustainable and scalable, as content can be edited or updated on the slides and re-rendered as needed to reflect an updated syllabus, changes in technology or services, and so on.

So how did this solution come about?

Alignment with brand positioning

Our priority in creating a new video series was to align the look and feel of content to the University’s Brand Guidelines. This meant ensuring that our team members used the correct typography, colours, shapes, and images.

We quickly identified this as a pain point as the time taken to set up a file, create a design, then undertake a quality assurance check distracted from the goal of the content being created and released.

This is where our solution to create video templates first came about.

Leaning into existing practices

One of the first lessons learnt in our solution was to lean into what the team was already doing and what they were familiar with. This was done by learning from our mistakes and pivoting where needed. Our first approach was to implement the template solution in Microsoft PowerPoint; we did this as we knew the team had great digital capabilities with this program so that asking them to perform a new process in the application was straightforward.

What we overlooked was that the team was already very invested in using PowToon for video creation.  This did not create a major roadblock, however, as we were able simply to import the templates from PowerPoint into PowToon.  But time could have been saved had we been more perceptive to our team’s existing preferences from the get-go.

One solution leading to opportunities for continuous improvement

With greater efficiencies created, the team become time richer. This, in turn, presented an opportunity to introduce consistent practices. This opportunity was to make our videos more equitable and accessible, by adding in Closed Captions embedded within the videos, to aid students who don’t have English as a first language, or have a hearing impairment.  We can also introduce the use of Alternative Text sheets for download in the notes field below the videos, which can be used by screen readers.

A scalable, sustainable solution for higher quality resources

As our development of videos as digital learning objects continues, the team can rely on the sustainability and scalability of the slides to easily update content which is engaging and relevant, ensuring we can continue in our endeavour to provide high quality online information literacy resources.

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