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.


Would you like to contribute to our blog?

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

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

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

Background

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

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

Implementation approach

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

We decided we would:

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

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

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

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

Our journey to go-live

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

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

Where we’re at now

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

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

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

Growing Open Educational Practice with OER grants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

References:

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

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


Stretching my digital dexterity through ECU Library Digital and Information Literacy

By Liz Grzyb (MEd student, Charles Sturt University)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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