The Need for Digital Literacy in a Digitally-Connected World

by Darnell Epps and Kurtis Tanaka

We loved this post so much, we have to share it with our readers! Originally published in the Ithaka SR blog on 15 March 2021: https://sr.ithaka.org/blog/post-nchep-reflection/ . This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution/NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

If you have a topic you would like to read about, please drop us a line at digidexbloggroup@lists.caval.edu.au.

We also welcome contributors, so if you want to write a post yourself, please let us know!

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.

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

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.

Driving the implementation of Office 365

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

Why we introduced Office 365

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

Upskilling our staff

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

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

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

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

  • Document libraries
  • Lists
  • OneNote
  • Web parts

Encouraging staff to see the benefits

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jack Moreh from Freerange Stock

Lessons learned

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ongoing change management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is Wikipedia so reliable?

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

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

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

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

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

Is information on Wikipedia too shallow?

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

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

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

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

Wikipedia can be a tool for better media literacy

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

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

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

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

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


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