Open knowledge activism for lifelong learning, independent research and knowledge translation

By Clare O’Hanlon, La Trobe University Library

e: c.ohanlon@latrobe.edu.au

Open knowledge activism in libraries is about more than negotiating transformative agreements and making research available in repositories and open access journals. It also involves helping researchers and students give research back to communities in an accessible and meaningful format for their needs and contexts. Academic library worker support for student and academic digital literacies development, particularly information, media, and data literacies; collaboration; community and participation; and digital creation, problem solving and innovation, plays a crucial role in this. Local public library and community archive and museum workers provide extensive digital literacies, local history, STEM, and creative programming in their communities. Together we can do more to support lifelong learning, independent research, and knowledge translation.

Open knowledge activism by night

Volunteering with the Australian Queer Archives (AQuA) by night to preserve and make research and more knowledge available for and with LGBTIQA+ communities within and beyond the academy in multiple formats (from queer history walks and exhibitions to an Honours thesis prize and beyond) has helped me see that research can be a collective, generative, and transformative process. Our collection and work may not be open in traditional academic “Open Access” ways, and it is not safe for our collection to be completely open to all, but we are open in the inclusive sense of the word. In her Open as in dangerous talk, Chris Bourg illustrates the importance of individual privacy and protection from abuse and harassment, and warns that Open Access publishing can perpetuate existing systems of oppression and inequality and that opening up collections can potentially lead to a loss of context that is then extracted and shared in diverse ways. Bourg’s warnings and my work at AQuA by night motivate me to advocate for the collective, generative, and transformative kind of research and openness in the sometimes extractive and competitive academic environment I work in by day.

The Australian Queer Archives reading room
Australian Queer Archives reading room ready for visitors (author supplied).

Other ways that library workers can support open knowledge activism by night might include participating in learning spaces outside of universities, including but not limited to:

Open knowledge activism by day

Below are some ways I have helped and seen others help support lifelong learning, independent research, and knowledge translation through open knowledge activism by day:

Additionally, we could help connect academics and students with local public library, archive and museum-based STEM, local history, literary and creative programming rather than compete with such programs. Some examples of this public library and related programming include:

We must keep in mind the amount of labour involved in opening up research, translating it into practice, and making it accessible to communities and recognise that this is not always adequately acknowledged and supported. With increasing focus on research impact and engagement, this is changing, and I hope this post will encourage academic and public library workers to collaborate with each other and academics and students to open research with and for communities.

Large protest on Flinders Street in Melbourne with a trans flag and placard with the words 'Change the System' written in rainbow-coloured letters and two Aboriginal flags on it.
Protest in Melbourne (author supplied).

The OER Capability Toolkit – Reflection and Learning

by Frank Ponte, Manager, Library Services (Teaching), RMIT University Library

E: frank.ponte@rmit.edu.au or
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/francoponte/ and Twitter: @ponte_frank

The OER Capability Toolkit

Cover of the OER Capability Toolkit from RMIT

Read and download the OER Capability Toolkit from:
https://rmit.pressbooks.pub/oercapabilitytoolkit/

Eighteen months ago, I formed a team to investigate how we would address OER awareness, adoption, support and capability for teaching staff. We addressed these needs through the development of an OER Capability Toolkit designed for the RMIT University audience but shared openly for others to adapt.

The authoring and development of this work was conducted remotely in the shared Teams environment. The OER Capability Toolkit was published in July 2022. The published work also spawned a set of four open education self-directed modules via the university HR platform for onboarding of new staff and professional development, an authoring toolkit and a style guide. Collectively, these works are the fundamental building blocks to open education knowledge building and all designed to provide the support structure required for educators to successfully author an open work.

Building the OER Capability Toolkit allowed me to reflect on the process that was undertaken and share the learning from our project.  

Sustainability

Sustainability is key driver in the development of an open publication. Educators are tasked with bringing together large groups of authors, and consequently need to ensure clarity and purpose. Therefore, a strong foundation of support is required. The library has provided this through the aforementioned publications, self-directed modules, and the Pressbooks authoring platform. In addition, the library created an open publishing team to reinforce our commitment to open education, streamline the support the library provides, and assign each open textbook project an open publishing team member to provide advice and guidance for a successful outcome.

A publishing workflow

When we embarked on our project to develop the OER Capability Toolkit our understanding of an open publishing workflow was emergent. In retrospect, it would have been a simpler task if we had a clearer understanding of the fundamental principles, processes and tasks associated with publishing rather than vacillating between authoring and addressing complex problems. The subsequent emergence of the CAUL publishing workflow  now anchors our support with educators and ensures that the seven stages of publishing and associated tasks are addressed at the appropriate time.

Creative Commons licensing

The OER Capability Toolkit is a remix. That is, the publication is a combination of existing creative commons resources and original content. Lessons learned include:

  • Ensuring there is an understanding of the license type you are publishing under from the outset. This will determine what resources you have at your disposal and can use in the adaptation process.
  • Knowing a non-derivative license cannot be used in any adaptation.
  • Maintaining track of what was being used in the adaptation. Doing so, assisted in creating the reference list and acknowledging the original resource.
  • Reflecting on your level of comfort with releasing an open work. That is, are you happy for your newly created work to be adapted, remixed, or monetized.

Formative and summative assessments – H5P activities

H5P is a plugin available in Pressbooks which allows the author to create formative and summative assessment tasks for learners. There is evidence to suggest that this kind of interactivity assists learners to stay focused and engaged with the content.  I wanted to include these activities in the OER Capability Toolkit as learning and engagement was a critical element to building and delivering this work. The toolkit contains a number of H5P activities used as formative assessment and presents a summative assessment called the “open pedagogy plan” in Part 5 as the culmination of this learning.

Open publications that contain formative and summative activities have the capacity to be embedded within the context of a broader course curriculum and provide the flexibilities required for educators to engage with open pedagogical practices.

Referencing

Ensure that attribution and citation are clearly defined and articulated from the beginning.  Even though the terms share characteristics, citations and attributions play different roles and appear in different places. A citation allows authors to provide the source of any quotations, ideas, and information that they include in their own work based on the copyrighted works of other authors. It is used in works for which broad permissions have not been granted.

Attribution on the other hand is used when a resource or text is released with an open licence. This legal requirement states that users must attribute — give credit — to the creator of the work and encompass these critical elements at a minimum:

  • Title of the work
  • Author (creator) of the work
  • Source (link) or where the work can be found
  • License of the work

Peer review, front and back matter

Peer review was an important element to get right. We engaged in three rounds of peer review. Starting by reviewing each other’s chapters within the authoring group. This exercise provided an initial opportunity to assess, grammar, language, the use, or overuse of acronyms, and finesse language and comprehension. The second peer review involved an external cohort of colleagues from other Australian universities who provided a similar overview but from an external perspective. A third peer review was undertaken using a tool called Hypothe.sis. This tool is a plug-in in Pressbooks and allows for social annotation with students. It is also a useful tool to implement as part of a peer review process. All commentary is contextualized within the chapters and responses are received by email and easily edited.


Front and back matter was important to include as part of the publication process. Including the front and back matter provided completeness to the work and offered context to the reader. The front matter introduced the new work and helped the reader understand the evolution of its creation and the back matter included a glossary and appendix.

In conclusion

The open education philosophy seamlessly interconnects with RMIT Library’s ethos of sharing knowledge and supporting learning. RMIT Library is well positioned to work with academic staff to create, produce, and disseminate open works via open platforms for maximum impact, and the library as publisher, can lead and shape the transformation of curriculum pedagogy where every learner is supported and valued.

Creating accessible content

Luke Gaiter, Senior Manager – Digital Capability Support, The University of Queensland Library
Miranda Newell, Digital Content Specialist, The University of Queensland Library

Accessibility benefits everyone

Making content accessible isn’t just about changing existing things or establishing new ones to help a specific group.  It’s about shifting how we do things on a structural level to remove barriers that could affect anyone, permanently or temporarily.  

Accessibility involves thinking about your users and trying to reduce obstacles which prevent people from using the environments, systems and digital tools that others may take for granted.

Characters look confused about having to navigate a ladder over a mountain, a bridge over a river and travel a windy path to reach the other side.
Image by Manfred Steger from Pixabay.

Universal design

‘Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.’

Centre for Excellence in Universal Design

Screen Reader Demo for Digital Accessibility (YouTube, 4m44s) shows how screen reader users can efficiently navigate through content and what happens when content is not set up well for accessibility.  

Content elements

When you create content there are key elements to consider to make your content more accessible.

Structure

Content structure helps users to navigate the text. This can be particularly helpful for users with neurodiverse medical conditions.  Use:

  • heading styles and consistent formatting. Do not skip heading levels. Headings are used by screen reader and other assistive technology users to navigate through content 
  • short paragraphs that cover a single topic  
  • lists to present content. Lists tend to be easier to scan and often require fewer words   
  • Descriptive links. Let your user know what will happen when they click on the link.  

Language

Use simple and clear language when you write your content. Plain language is concise, well structured and easy to understand.

Tool to help – Hemmingway editor

Text (fonts)

The type, size and format of text can affect the accessibility of your content.  

  • Use a Sans Serif font. Sans serif fonts are designed to be simple and easy to read.   
  • Set font size to be at least 12 points for body text. This is the minimum size recommended for low vision and those who have a form of cognitive disability.  
  • Limit the use of bold, Italics and CAPITALS.  

Helpful tools: 

  • Dyslexie font helps to increase the ease of reading and comprehension for some users with dyslexia.  
  • The Ascend browser extension allows users to add accessibility features to their browser, including for dyslexia.  

Colour

Check the contrast of the colours you use. Ensuring good contrast between foreground and background colours is important for users who have low vision or colour blindness.   

Tools to help you:  

Images

Add alternative text (or alt text) to images you use in your content. 

  • Be as descriptive as possible.  
  • Any diagrams or charts will also need to be explained.  
  • An alt text description is unnecessary if the same information is available in text near the image or is used purely as a decorative element.  

Video and audio

Video or audio content should have captions and transcripts. If captions are not included, users who are deaf will miss out on the dialogue and any important sounds. A transcript allows people with deaf blindness to access the content using braille software.  

Tables

Tables can be difficult to navigate and understand for those using screen readers if they are not set up to be accessible. Use headers and properties so that screen readers can read out the row headings along with the cell information. Try to keep tables as simple as possible and avoid merging cells.

Helpful guide – Creating accessible tables.

The University of Queensland Library supports staff and students to create accessible content by providing:  

 Adapted from Create accessible content by the University of Queensland under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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.  

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

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.