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

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.

Open for everyone – our new living digital book

By the GitBook team (Blair Kelly, Bryony Hawthorn, Emma Chapman, Jasmine Castellano, Katie Mills, Karen Miller, Leah Gustafson, Miah de Francesch, Nica Tsakmakis, Ruth Cameron, Sara King, and Wendy Ratcliffe)


In keeping with the ideas of digital creation, innovation, and problem solving, we are excited to announce the launch of ‘The Living Book of Digital Skills (You never knew you needed until now)’: a living, open-source online guide to ‘modern not-quite-technical computer skills’ for researchers, library staff, and the broader academic community.

A collaboration between Australia’s Academic Research Network (AARNet) and the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL), this book is the creation of the CAUL Digital Dexterity Champions and their communities.

The Digital Skills GitBook is an open-source project and we are now open for contributions. Our vision for the book is that it is made by everyone, for everyone. We want it to be accessible to both amateurs and professionals, creators and users. For this reason, we are keen for the entire community to contribute to the creation of this resource as a way to build our collective capacity to support academics and library staff working in this space.

The GitBook team has worked together to create the chapter outline, a code of conduct, instructions for contributors, and a copyright statement. We are now seeking content  at three skill levels (Developing, Skilled and Adept) from our communities. A contribution doesn’t have to be complex, as you can see from the example topics listed below, and you can choose to submit parts of a topic too:

  • How to create a directory structure
  • Naming and organising files/folders
  • ISO dates
  • Readme files
  • Using password managers
  • Markdown
  • Git and GitHub
  • Screen casting
  • Managing collections

Here is a sample article. The text should be simple and accessible to everyone, with as little jargon as possible, or where there is specialist language this should be explained and can be added to the glossary.

Take a look at our requested articles page. Could you write an article on any of these topics? Do you see any topics we have missed? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then please use one of the following options to contribute content or topic suggestions (choose from 1 or 2):

  1. Sign up to GitHub and use our contributor form. If you don’t have a GitHub account, use these instructions to set one up; or
  2. Connect with us on Slack

For more information about copyright, please see our Copyright Statement.  also encourage you to circulate this within your own networks and approach expert colleagues who may have their own skills to contribute.

Thank you for helping our GitBook come alive, we can’t wait to hear from you!


Why Three Perspectives? A human centred design approach to supporting digital dexterity: People, Design and Systems Thinking

By Kristy Newton (Digital Literacies Coordinator, UOW Library), Keith Brophy (Manager Digital Environment, UOW Library) and Donna Dee (Manager Workforce Planning & Development, UOW Library)


University of Wollongong (UOW) Library has a long-standing commitment to the professional development of our People through both informal and formal channels. The learning culture at UOW Library is fibrous and evolving, and our staff expect that ongoing professional development will be part of their journey. We have been building staff digital dexterity capacity for several years through an ongoing staff program, and in developing the most recent iteration of that program we have hit upon a valuable combination of staff skills and approaches that can be recognised as a composable team – a synergy of expertise that informs and describes the development of dexterity needs for our people.

Our composable team consists of three essential perspectives: Design Thinking + Digital Dexterity, People + Culture, and Systems Thinking + Integration. Forming working relationships that are based on the skills that each member brings to the group is far from a new concept. Nevertheless, over the past two years we have found the combination of these perspectives enables each of us to contribute our strengths and maximise the beneficial outcomes for the organisation. An attitude of open-mindedness and trust has been a key success factor, as much as the expertise that each of us contributes. It has been important for each of us to allow our ideas to be challenged, built on, and transformed by the input of the other group members. This can be understood via the lens of remix culture, in which the resulting outputs are born from existing elements and transformed via the remix process into something new. Researchers Yu and Nickerson (2011, in Flath et al. 2017) found that a human based genetic algorithm which functioned to combine existing human ideas, resulted in ideas which were “significantly higher in terms of originality and practicality” (Flath et. al, 2017, p. 309).

Putting People First: Design Thinking + the importance of Culture

Key to the practice of design thinking is the active practice of empathy with the needs of those you are designing for – in this case, the staff of UOW Library in addition to our strategic priority of the Future-Ready Library. Incorporating the design thinking perspective has meant that we have placed these two elements as twin anchors for our process. In empathising with the needs of the Library’s Future-Ready strategic direction, we understood that the reason for developing staff digital dexterity was greater than technical and immediately job-related skills and that the underlying need was to prepare staff for a rapidly evolving and digitally rich future work environment. This environment would change more rapidly than is practical for a structured skills development program, and so it was essential to empower staff to be quite autonomous in their own development and provide a supportive environment which removed potential pain points and encouraged them to contribute actively to this process. Practicing empathy with the needs of our people and understanding the areas of interest that drive them as well as their desire for a combination of group work and independent activity, has influenced the design of our current staff program which is underpinned by a series of communities of practice.

The Right Tool: Empathy + Collaboration + Functionality

Technology in and of itself is not going to change or improve how we work. As the adage says: If you apply digital to a thing that’s broken, you’ll have a broken digital thing. It’s been very important to recognise that an established culture of continuous learning, growth mindset and adaptive thinking is part of a holistic view of the potential system solutions. In evaluating potential tools and spaces, we have considered factors such as functionality, integration, and interoperability with existing and future systems within the environment, and combined the potential of the technical solutions with what we knew about our people and how they wanted to learn and grow together. Collaborative learning opportunities had been highlighted as valuable to our staff, as had the opportunity to drive a learning journey based on individual motivations. For these reasons, alongside the adoption of Microsoft Teams as a ‘virtual office’ during the rapidly evolving COVID19 pandemic, we chose to house our digital dexterity programs within the Microsoft Teams environment, creating channels for Professional Development and individual channels for each of the communities of practice.

Continuous Learning Journey: Growth Mindset + Ideation

We have also needed to be adaptable as the context in which we deliver our program evolves. This was particularly important as we moved into an extended period of remote or hybrid work in response to the pandemic. Our staff were variably in need of support, and then in need of space within the myriad of digital channels they now needed to monitor. Our mini composable team meets monthly to talk about how the program is progressing, and evaluate if we are making the best use of the tools and time that we have available to us. Part of this process has been to encourage and support each team in the evaluation of new functionality as the systems evolve – understanding that teams who actively identify the potential value in new system capabilities will enjoy a greater sense of ownership and autonomy in directing how they work. From promoting the use of online task trackers for project management to virtual whiteboards for brainstorming sessions to collaborative document editing, we further support and build an agile, growth mindset mentality – resulting in skills and outcomes that directly align with the Library strategic direction.

The agile asynchronous approach has also dictated the possibility for spontaneous groups to form elsewhere in the organisation. Staff were proactive in suggesting changes to the communities of practice that aligned more clearly with their learning goals, and we had enough adaptability built into the program to cater for that. By extension, we have also seen other composable teams form around shorter-term learning goals and components of strategic Library projects – groups of staff who have come together to tackle project priorities or explore a specific skill or interest area without formalising this as a community of practice.


If you are interested in adopting the principles of the approach we have outlined here, the following points are a good place to start in thinking about how this might work in your own context.

Ask yourself:

  • Who is it for?
  • What elements do we have in our institutional culture that enable learning and growth?
  • How can we link this to broader strategy?
  • How might we think of a holistic solution, placing our users and their journey at the centre?
  • How do we maintain engagement and a culture of continuous learning?
  • Rather than being tied to what has worked in the past, what inputs and the data do we currently have that help us imagine what could work for the future?
References

Brophy, K, Dee, D, & Newton, K 2020 ‘UOW Library: Embedding learning and development as part of our organisational DNA’, International Information & Library Review, 52(3), pp.250-252.

Flath, C, Friesike, S, Wirth, M, & Thiesse, F 2017, ‘Copy, transform, combine: exploring the remix as a form of innovation’, Journal of Information Technology, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 306-325.

Digital dexterity and a Libguides review

by Ruth Cameron, Coordinator Digital Library Programs, University of Newcastle

In 2020 the University of Newcastle Library ran a pilot student internship program. A part of the scope of work for the intern project was to review our Libguides, with a view to making them more user-friendly, student-centric and discoverable. 

Our student intern first reviewed the guides herself and then created a survey for distribution through the Library’s social media channels. She incorporated all responses into a report with recommendations on how to proceed with our review.

In 2021, based on the student recommendations, we launched a Libguide Refresh Project, starting with our Subject Resource Guides. We aimed not only to incorporate the student feedback, but also to reduce the number of guides by 75% and their size by 25%. Fortunately, we were able to bring our student intern back as the student representative on this refresh project. We ran an environmental scan of 15 academic libraries’ Libguides and examined the literature to discover what is considered best practice. We considered these results in combination with our intern’s recommendations. We also created a flowchart for the decision-making process (for example, how do we decide to make a Libguide instead of a web page?).

What does this have to do with the Digital Dexterity Framework? Buckle in my friends…!


The intern project

Inviting a student to review our Libguides, and provide recommendations from herself and other students, aligns with the capability of Digital Creation, Problem Solving and Innovation by designing and creating new digital media (the student survey on the library’s social channels), then strategically collecting and analysing data using digital tools and techniques.  

The refresh project

The refresh project aligns with Digital Communication, Collaboration and Participation in that it involved:

  • Communicating effectively in digital media and spaces
  • Actively participating in digital teams, working groups and communities of practice
  • Using shared productivity tools to collaborate, produce shared materials and work across boundaries

We used MS Teams for our shared documents and working comments, and Zoom for our meetings. Our student representative joined both of these digital spaces and participated actively in both by providing comments, recommendations and suggestions based on her earlier research.

This work also aligns with Digital Creation, Problem Solving and Innovation as we used digital evidence (collected in the intern project) to solve problems and find new solutions, and we developed a new project utilising appropriate digital technologies. We then showcased best practice, and encouraged innovation in other library staff.

Creating and sharing the flowchart

This activity aligned with ICT Proficiency and Productivity by using ICT-based tools for professional tasks such as writing, recording, presenting, task management, analysing data, managing files and working with images, and evaluating and choosing software relevant to different tasks.

We used MS Visio to create the chart and outline the decision-making process. We chose Visio because it’s part of the Office 365 suite, which is in turn supported by our institution’s IT Services. We shared the chart with the rest of the team by uploading it to our MS Teams site, aligning not only with ICT Proficiency and Productivity, but also with Collaboration, Communication and Participation, and with Digital Creation, Problem Solving and Innovation.

Creating templates for the Subject Resource Guides

The co-manager of the Academic Engagement team created a template for the Subject Resource Guides, and the Teaching Liaison Librarians then populated the templates according to discipline. This work aligns with the capabilities of ICT Proficiency and Productivity by using library and information systems, learning and research environments to a high degree of proficiency, and supporting others to use those systems and environments effectively and productively.

And of course

Our Subject Resource Guides are specifically designed to support Information Literacy!

What does this mean?

Take a look at your current and upcoming library projects in light of the Digital Dexterity Framework, and you’ll be surprised at how many capabilities you can align with. The Framework can also give you ideas on how to include more capabilities to enhance professional development.  Try it and see how easy it is!



Empathy, the Library, and Open Education

By Adrian Stagg, Manager (Open Educational Practice), University of Southern Queensland

During an interview, the anthropologist Dr Margaret Mead was asked what evidence she considered noteworthy as a society first progressed toward ‘civilisation’. If we consider the question, physical artefacts such as farming or hunting implements, or perhaps pottery seem likely answers.

Dr Mead used a broken (and healed) femur as her reply.  The healed bone inferred that another human being had demonstrated empathy.  Rather than abandoning this person, another had cared enough to nurse them back to health. Empathy, she asserted, was the start of civilisation (Byock, 2012), and a consideration for the welfare of others differentiated humans from the animal kingdom.

It can be reasonably argued that librarians – whether public or academic – require empathy as a professional skill.  Libraries continue to be places for democratic empowerment, places that value equity, and promote safety. Libraries also become food pantries on many campuses, a function well outside information and digital literacy. 

During a reference interview with a first-year student, most librarians concentrate on normalising confusion and creating a welcoming space as they do answering the questions.  As academic spaces, libraries invest in student-centred design for services and function; when supporting academic colleagues we attempt to understand context to which solutions can be linked.

Unsurprisingly, open education finds a home in many university libraries.  Their remit includes the organisation, access, and maintenance of knowledge resources, and is usually accompanied by supporting infrastructure and staffing (despite consistently conservative or diminishing budget allocations). 

Open education meets pragmatic library needs such as mitigating library expenditure by transitioning to open texts, reducing workload by using existing OER, or accessing low-cost, openly licenced professional learning.

Open licencing affords unique opportunities that connect academic staff with learning and teaching approaches (such as open assessment), and position the library as a key stakeholder in learning design. Furthermore, these partnerships often yield scholarship and research outcomes, raising the profile of librarians-as-researchers.

However, openness is – like libraries – foundationally aligned with social equity. Openness reduces barriers to access and increases participation in education, equalises readership and access to information, and addresses systemic issues of financial inequality and educational attainment. For librarians – exposed to the ‘macro-view’ of the university through interactions with students from all disciplines – it is difficult not to respond with empathy to trends that reinforce inequality.

Our failing in open advocacy is often untempered empathy. Many library-run OER workshops can be summarised as ‘a solution looking for a problem’, presenting openness as a self-evident good without necessarily considering the audience. The results are workshops populated by ‘the usual suspects’ and an inability to sustain open practices beyond small pockets of already-dedicated practitioners.

Starting with OA Week, I’d like to propose that ‘It matters how we open knowledge’ refers to our engagement as much as processes, policy, and infrastructure.

Professor Geoff Scott, when speaking at an ACODE Institute introduced the mantra ‘Listen, Link, Lead’. When advocating for sustainable change, he encouraged the audience to actively ‘listen’ to, and understand the context of others. Then ‘link’ the challenges to new approaches that directly influence a positive outcome for the individual.  Lastly, is the opportunity to ‘lead’ the change and build momentum based on success.

Transforming open education from ‘open as library business’ to ‘open as everyone’s business’ requires empathy and connection. 

Take time this week to review your strategies.  Do you ‘listen, link, lead’? Have you unintentionally excluded teams from your initiatives, and are there opportunities for collaboration (such as Learning Designers, Student Services, the Student Guild)? 

The unique affordances of openness lie in reuse, remix, and repurposing content to suit local contexts and learner needs. Perhaps, using the lens of empathy, we explicitly consider our skills as librarians with similar affordances.

Take the opportunity to share and learn this week by reflecting on your practices in the Comments.

Reference:

Byock, I. (2012). The best care possible: a physician’s quest to transform care through the end of life. New York. Avery. 


Design thinking as a tool for innovative libraries

By Kristy Newton, Digital Literacies Coordinator at UOW Library / Design Thinking Facilitator.
Contact: knewton@uow.edu.au or @librariano on Twitter.

What is design thinking and why is it useful for libraries?

Design thinking is an iterative, human centred methodology for creative problem solving. It is a method that prioritises user needs throughout the development process and emphasises a mindset shift from “How do we?” to “How might we?”. Rather than starting from a pre-determined solution, the process generates a range of ideas and solutions to choose from.

Design thinking is a really valuable tool for libraries to use in developing innovative resources or services and gaining a stronger understanding of their client base. The understanding of client needs is particularly critical – after all, there’s no point in basing your service model around the best and tastiest oranges you can find, if what your client really wants and needs is apples. In terms of increasing the capacity for innovative practice, design thinking allows staff to take the focus off common roadblocks such as being stuck in discussing what has worked well (or not so well) in the past. Instead, staff are empowered to engage in a proactive exploration of what has the potential to work well now and into the future, using the current contexts, client and staff needs, and potential resources as valuable sources of data to aid in developing new solutions.

As an example from my own institution, design thinking has been used at UOW Library to illustrate the potential for new library services, to assess and redevelop team practices, to explore themes emerging from staff or student feedback, and develop a wide range of support resources.

5 primary phases of design thinking

There are five primary phases of the design thinking process, and it is common to cycle between the phases throughout the development and implementation of a solution to a design problem. Design thinking is an ongoing process of refinement and adjustment, but does not mean that you never reach a solution. Rather, you shift your attitude to embrace the perspective that your users, ideas, and solutions are continually evolving.
Note: there are multiple models of design thinking and the language may vary between the models, but the essential core of the practice remains consistent through the various models.

Empathise

This phase focuses on understanding the needs of the people in a given situation. This might be Library clients like students, staff, or community members.

Define

Once you understand the various needs and perspectives of the people you are designing for, you can define a design question. This will be the anchor point for all the work you do from this point forwards. It should be derived from your understanding of the people you look at in the Empathise phase.  

E.g If during the empathise phase you found that many people were confused about who to ask for help with their assessments, your design question might be “How might we increase understanding of the assessment support available at [your institution]?”.  

Note that this is different from “How might we help people with their assessments?” (too broad) or “How might we advertise our Library research workshops?” (too specific).

Ideate

This phase focuses on generating multiple ideas for ways to address the design question. A creative, blue-sky approach is best here, and participants should avoid trying to move to solution mode too quickly. No idea is too crazy during the Ideate phase.

Prototype

This phase focuses on choosing the most appropriate idea from the Ideate phase and starting to “build” it. This can take a physical form, or it might be more of a documentation of the details of an idea.  

E.g. If your idea was to develop an app that linked together all the support services that can help students with their assessments, you could develop a working prototype, or a series of visual mock-ups. This phase involves fleshing out the details of the idea, considering how it will work for the user, and how they will interact with it. 

Test

This phase focuses on getting real time feedback for your idea – putting it out into the world and seeing how it works in action. The feedback gathered during this phase often starts the cycle over again. You need to consider how the solution works for the intended user, and address any issues through mini-cycles of the Ideate and Prototype phases. This is similar to beta testing.  

Where to get started with design thinking

There are a variety of training opportunities for anyone interested in learning more about design thinking. Sites like LinkedIn Learning offer several self paced online options and a quick Google will often reveal local opportunities for facilitated training with an experienced practitioner. Good places to start also include organisations like IDEO, and the Stanford d-School that have a great range of online resources available.

Regardless of how you choose to begin learning about the methods, it’s important to remember is that design thinking is a practice that requires engagement to truly experience the benefits. Within the structure of the five phases, there are many sub-skills like effective questioning techniques and creative ideation methods that enhance the practice of design thinking. If you or your colleagues are interested in exploring design thinking, forming a group with whom you can practice the methodology as you learn will be really valuable.

So get in there, start learning, and let us know how you go by sharing your experiences with the hashtag #MyDigiDex !


The Digital Skills GitBook project: creating an open-source online guide for researchers and the broader academic community

By Dr Sara King, Training and Engagement Lead, AARNet (Australia’s Academic & Research Network); and members of the GitBook project group

It is of critical importance that publicly funded institutions create open knowledge that is available to everyone. So we’re embarking on an adventure to create the Digital Skills GitBook. It will be a living, open-source online guide to ‘modern not-quite-technical computer skills’ for researchers, library staff, and academics, ideally written in a way that will be accessible for everyone. In the spirit of Open Science, the contents of the book are being created so that they will be accessible to all levels of an inquiring society; amateur or professional.  

A figurine of an oktokat in the center, in the background a laptop with the main page of the GitHub open.
Photo by Roman Synkevych on Unsplash

CAUL’s Digital Dexterity Champions and their communities have set out to create an online book using static web technology on the GitBook platform. Utilising the connected GitHub notification system, creators and users can submit content, flag issues, and ask questions related to the format and the content via GitHub. The continuing maintenance of the book, to adapt to the ever-changing requirements for updates, is designed to encourage participation as an essential part of the process of creating a truly community-created resource.   

Our progress so far:

  • We submitted a proposal to CAUL with the help of their new Director of Strategy & Analytics, Kate Davis. They approved our project brief and we were launched.  
  • We attended ARDC GitHub training – on Zoom! This was a 3.5-hour workshop where our patient instructors, Matthias and Liz, showed us how to create a repository, how to edit our GitBook ‘from the back end’ in GitHub, and how to make sure that we shared all of our adventures with each other in one space.  
  • We created a test private GitHub repository and GitBook – sharing recipes, recording our steps as we went. This is a place where we could experiment and fail, and help each other.  We learned some important lessons here without damaging our main project! For example – don’t delete branches …  

How we are collaborating:

  • Members from WA all the way to NZ attend fortnightly meetings over Zoom to discuss our progress, barriers, workarounds, and how we can spread the word to our wider communities. 
  • We are making the most of a wide variety of systems and channels to keep track of our progress – Slack, Teams, CloudStor, GitHub issues log, and email.  This is extending our capabilities in digital communication, collaboration and participation – together with stretching our brains! 

Still to come:

  • We have SO MANY new concepts to learn – slugs, merges, pull requests, static web technology… it’s exciting!  
  • We are creating our strategy and content plan, and developing a chapter outline (one idea is to use CAUL’s Digital Dexterity Framework categories as chapter headings to make it relevant for our library communities). 
  • We’re even planning to present at VALA 2022! 
  • We want to extend the project beyond the Digital Dexterity Champions network, to others in our library and university communities. 

This project is part of our own push towards Digital Dexterity and using some of the attributes outlined in the framework, such as agility, collaboration and creativity, in order to produce a useful resource for our broader communities and their own Digital Dexterity. If we get it right, it’ll be a win-win! 

If you are interested in learning more about the Digital Skills GitBook project, please contact sara.king@aarnet.edu.au