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!

Welcome back!

Welcome back readers!

We are so happy to be back, and we’ve been viewing a lot of messages around New Year’s resolutions this year. The basic premise seems to be:

Take care of yourself, and don’t expect too much.

How can we do this when we are bombarded by online news and social media posts? Here are a few tips:

  1. Minimise distractions by turning off any notifications on your phone from news, sports and games feeds.
  2. Try using the ‘Do not disturb’ feature (for example, in Microsoft Teams) so that you can focus on things that really do require your attention.
  3. Emphasise quality rather than quantity when it comes to digital relationships. Only follow or connect with those who add value (happiness, or meaning) to your life.
  4. Use your screen-time settings to create boundaries around how long you want to be online – that way you can avoid the endless scrolling late at night when you’re tired and need to switch off.
  5. Schedule your screen time as a regular appointment so that you get into the habit of keeping to time. This will help you choose to look at what is important to you, while putting a time restriction on the scrolling!
  6. Use your online calendar to communicate your availability to colleagues at work, so they know when you can be interrupted. For example, Microsoft Outlook has a ‘Show As’ feature that depicts your time as ‘free’, ‘working elsewhere’, ‘tentative’, ‘busy’, or ‘out of office’. Make sure your team is familiar with the different indicators.

There are lots of other ways to take care of yourself when engaging with digital technologies. You could find a YouTube channel that plays focus music or ambient noise, which will help you to de-stress. You could Google yourself and tidy up your online profile and privacy settings to make sure your digital security is spot on.

Above all, remember to forgive yourself if you happen to get lost in a digital rabbit hole on Facebook or YouTube. You’re still an okay person! None of us is perfect, and we’re all coping with less-than-ideal circumstances at the moment.

In the meantime, are you enjoying the blog? Would you like to know more about one of our topics, or do you have ideas for different posts?  Or perhaps you would like to write a post yourself?

Please drop us a line at digidexbloggroup@lists.caval.edu.au and we will send you our blog post template, which includes short guidelines on style, tone, length, and so on. We would love to make this year more about you, our readers, and we value all of your feedback.

Good luck to all, and remember to be kind to yourself! And in tricky moments always remember there is coffee coffee coffee ….

gif by Gilmore Girls @gilmoregirls https://media.giphy.com/media/3ohA2VFMnx7Fdd6SXu/giphy.gif


That’s a wrap on 2021 – What our DigiDex Champions have been up to this year.

Maximising the use of Scosk and GIFs for (lots of) fun and (no) profit – Blog Bunch

What is Scosk? Why are GIFs so important? The Blog Bunch would like to explain … 

The Digital Dexterity Blog was launched on 1 February 2021 as part of our virtual festival, and we have published 30 posts from various contributors since. The number of page views is 7,480 so far and we have had viewers from the Netherlands, Austria, the USA, Asia, the South Pacific, and Canada, together with Australia and New Zealand. 

To align with CAUL’s Digital Dexterity Framework the blog uses the same categories as the framework. In addition to this Kate Davis, CAUL’s Director of Strategy & Analytics helped us increase our reach using the RSS from the DD blog and embedding it on the CAUL home page in a combined feed with the Modern Curriculum blog and setting up automated Twitter posts from the CAUL account.  

We have been using Deakin’s Teams site for most of our digital communications and collaborations, and of course this entails talking about the weather and our general wellbeing. We discovered that our most random (yet inspiring) conversations usually took place late on a Thursday or Friday afternoon (AEST) when we were pretty much ramping down for the weekend and needed to vent or have some fun. 

gif of a swinging sock with candy canes popping up from the top of the scok.

Scosk was actually a typo for ‘socks’ but we came up with an on-the-spot definition of ‘a secret Swedish toddy’ and that was it, Scosk took on a life of its own in our Teams chat! It has become a kind of code word for “I need help” or “I wish it was the weekend”, and we use it quite a lot!

 GIFs have been our go-to for cheering ourselves up and making each other laugh. The Blog Bunch has had so much fun this year, we’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s contributions (although figuring out how to make headings consistent and images fit on the page has been challenging at times). This is a great working group because we learn new things every day, we learn from each other, troubleshoot together, and feel empowered to reach out beyond the Digital Dexterity Champions for contributions.   

gif by leart @leart_alert https://giphy.com/gifs/advent-lea-leart-1gTphMvpmYmQEPDO5F

So warm up the Scosk and find those GIFs for inspiration and support!  


Recipe for a living book of digital skills – GitBook team

First, start with an idea. (In this case, a tweet questioning if there was a book that teaches modern not-quite-technical computer skills.) Add the open source GitHub platform and blend with enthusiastic Digital Dexterity Champions and a diversity of skills. Stir regularly, mix in some training, a touch of fun, and plenty of trial and error. Simmer for a couple of months, then bake in a welcoming and supportive learning environment. Fill with content sourced from passionate professionals. Finally, serve your living book of digital skills to hungry readers. 

The GitBook Project group was formed in early 2021 and has been working through our recipe above. It’s been quite a journey. What started as a spark of an idea has flourished into a tangible open access book, ready for content to be added by keen professionals.  

When the project team came together in early 2021, most had little experience of GitHub, GitBook and markdown. Needless to say, a lot of upskilling has taken place since then. Chapter outlines, a code of conduct and instructions for contributors have all been created, and content is now being added to our GitBook. We’ve found that linking to the Digital Dexterity Framework and its six areas of capabilities gave the project a solid foundation and direction.  

A big part of the success of the group has been the safe environment we’ve created, which not only forgives mistakes but actively encourages them. Failing is part of the learning journey and is seen as an active way of growing skills. Some things we’ve learned along the way include: 

  • Everyone learns at their own pace. 
  • Speak up when you are struggling, as someone else is most likely feeling exactly the same way. 
  • Use the experience around you and ask for help from the wider digital community. 
  • All contributions are important, no matter how small they may seem at the time. 
  • And don’t delete branches in Github! 

We are really proud of our achievements this year, which include attending ARDC GitHub training, creating a test book filled with recipes, launching A Living Book of Digital Skills and running a training session for other champions on using the GitHub platform. Dr Sara King and Katie Mills presented at the EResearch Australasia 2021 conference and the group has been accepted to present on our experiences at VALA and ALIA National Conference in 2022.  

So there’s more to come as we refine our recipe and invite more cooks to add content to the book. If you would like to contribute, please visit the Contributing to the Digital Skills GitBook page or email digidexlibrarians+gitbook@gmail.com 


DigiDex Governance in the time of COVID – Governance Working Group

This year went so fast, and we achieved so much! The Digital Dexterity Champions Governance Working Group would like to share our experiences with you: 

  1. Emily Pyers (now working in the world of public libraries) created some great new branding for the Digital Dexterity Champions to use in all of our communications and promotions. The Champions can see it in the General channel files on our Teams site, in the Brand Library.  
  1. Marisa King (now in the world of creative writing) made a Communications Plan template for all of the Champions to use, making it much easier for us to figure out our audience, messages, and means of delivery. Again, Champions can find the Word version of the template in the General channel files on our Teams site, in Communications Documents. 

These first two achievements have given the DigiDex Champions the means to communicate in a professional, consistent manner which will encourage staff and organisations to engage with the group. 

  1. We ran the inaugural Champions’ survey to discover how our community is feeling after our first two years of operation. Emily P and Gina Sjepcevich crafted a series of 16 questions and we had a response rate of almost 40%. We hope that we can build on this effort in years to come. 

The survey gave us valuable insights into how the group would like to proceed, which will also inform CAUL’s review of its Communities of Practice in early 2022.   

We hope that we can continue to provide support to the Digital Dexterity Champions, and we wish you all a very safe, merry, and joyful Christmas. 


A year of sharing resources, experiences and knowledge  – Resource Sharing working group

2021 has been a wonderful, productive year of collaboration and creativity in the Resource Sharing Working Group. The year kick started with a lightning talk at the “Championing the CAUL Digital Dexterity Framework” virtual event, and has been building on the work done in previous years advocating for Library OERs and establishing a Digital Dexterity Educator’s group in the OER Commons repository. 

This year we have seen the membership of the OER Commons group increase to 76, with 22 library-related OERs made available in the repository. The group has been active in raising awareness among the wider CoP of OER Commons, including facilitating an Advocacy workshop, and publishing blog posts in both the Digidex blog and the Enabling a Modern Curriculum blog. In addition, the group has had a paper accepted for VALA in February entitled “OER Commons: A game of snakes and ladders for the library profession”, and will also be facilitating a day-long pre-conference workshop at the ALIA National Conference in March 2022, entitled “Experiential and exponential learning to build digital dexterity”. To top off an amazing year, the group also spawned the Gitbook group, an innovative project to create a digital dexterity OER which has quickly evolved to take on a life of its own.

All of these achievements have been collaborative and creative in nature, and attest to the strength of the relationships that we have built in the group. These activities and relationships have seen us continuing to build our own knowledge and understanding of OERs and fertilise cross-institutional discourse and activity as well as within our own institutions.   


The blog bunch will be back in 2022. Thank you to all who contributed to the blog in 2021. In the meantime, we wish you all a safe and restful break over the New Year.

gif by Stefanie Shank @stefanieshank https://giphy.com/gifs/dog-dogs-doggies-DzYe9IWr5gvLg6nfIW

Open for everyone – our new living digital book

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Putting People First: Design Thinking + the importance of Culture

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

The Right Tool: Empathy + Collaboration + Functionality

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

Continuous Learning Journey: Growth Mindset + Ideation

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

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


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

Ask yourself:

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

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

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

RMIT Pride Week 2021 – How the Library supports LGBTIQA+ inclusion

By Frank Ponte AALIA (CP) Academic/Research, Manager, Library Services (Teaching), RMIT University Library, frank.ponte@rmit.edu.au 

Gender Spectrum collection image of 5 people representing the LGBQTI community

Photo in the Gender Spectrum Collection was taken by Zackary Drucker under CC-BY-NC-ND

In August this year, RMIT Library participated in University Pride week. A group of passionate individuals across the Library, and subsequently badged as the Library Pride Working Group, came together and tailored Library services exclusively for LGBTIQA+ students.
 
Due to lockdown, the group met online and used Teams to communicate and host weekly meetings, used planner boards in the O365 environment to track progress, and SharePoint to archive digital resources, documents and PowerPoint slides. This event was created and delivered within a four-week timeframe.

The service offering aligned with the Library’s sustainable and digital-first approach and included:
1. Introductory recording – outlining the week’s events 4:51 min
2. Live webinar – How the Library Supports LGBTIQA+ Inclusive Teaching. (Recording available internally only).
3. LGBTIQA+ Library Guide
4. Finding LGBTIQA+ resources in the Library’s digital collection and OER’s: 1:55min
5. Shared #RMITPride Spotify List
6. Online RMIT Pride Film Club – A selection of 5 online films in consultation with University Pride Committee with supporting online post-film group chats.  

The service offering was informed by the Ward-Gale model for LGBTQ-inclusivity in higher education. This model provided a clear best practice framework and cumulative approach to LGBTIQA+ inclusivity.  The model is defined by three pillars, moving from basic awareness to transformative practice:

  1. Pillar 1 – Language: This is how students will risk assess the safety of a situation. They will review the language people use and how they use it. It is also a simple way to make curriculum more inclusive. The inclusion of a statement in an online course shell about what constitutes abusive or discriminatory language is a great starting point.
  2. Pillar 2 – Role Models:  Heterosexual and LGBTIQA+ students value all staff being open about their sexuality. It gives them confidence that the institution respects LGBTIQA+ equality. For LGBTIQA+ students specifically, it establishes ‘safe’ people to talk to should they encounter problems.
  3. Pillar 3 – Curriculum Content: Ward and Gale found that failure to work with teaching materials that engage with diversity provides an environment where only some experience is valued. This is where open educational materials can assist. Because of the adaptable nature of these resources, it provides educators opportunities to be more inclusive in their curriculum design.
Ward-Gale Model for LGBTQ-inclusivity in Higher Education. Compares Language, role models and curriculum content against increasing awareness, additive approaches and transformative approaches.

Table 1: The Ward Gale Model for LGBTQ-Inclusivity in Higher Education by Dr. Nicola Gale: Source: Ward, N., Gale, N. (2016) LGBTQ-inclusivity in the Higher Education Curriculum: a best practice guide. Birmingham: University of Birmingham. Table reproduced with permission from the authors.

Learning and Future Focus:

  • The use of a best practice framework like Ward and Gale (2016) provided clear parameters to work within. The flexibilities that OER affords academic staff will be highlighted as ways to engage in LGBTIQA+ inclusion when developing curriculum content. Such as the inclusion of LGBTIQA+ images or selecting open textbooks.  
  • Due to the short timeframe in delivering the Library service offering, the working group relied on the goodwill of colleagues as volunteers. To be truly representative and reflect the diverse genders, sexes and sexualities’ of the institution, there needs to be a concerted effort to recruit a diversity of skills, perspectives, and voices.
  • RMIT University is proud to support the staff and students within our community who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning or asexual/agender (LGBTIQA+). An important aspect of why we deliver library services is to reflect belonging, inclusion and diversity. In this regard, the LGBTIQA+ student voice is a critical inclusion that will reflect the future library service offering.
  • In 2022, the Library’s physical spaces will be utilised to host events to foster student belonging and inclusion. A key part of engagement with the Library is to ensure that students are aware of the Library’s physical resources as well as its digital. To ensure there is a connection, the Library will use QR codes to seamlessly transition library users from their physical location to the digital.
  • An important aspect of belonging and acknowledging the past is by collecting, preserving and celebrating the institution’s history. RMIT Archives will be an important partner in the future to chronicle an accurate picture of the University’s LGBTIQA+ story.

In conclusion, the Library Pride working group showed passion, commitment, and managed to deliver a varied and successful program. This will be the underpinning of a successful Pride event in 2022.  


‘I didn’t know the library did that’. Making Library work in curriculum more visible.

By Kat Cain (Manager, Digital Literacy Programs) and Craig Patterson (Manager, Faculty of Arts and Education Library Services, Learning and Teaching) – Deakin University.

It’s a shared experience in public, specialist and academic libraries – regularly hearing our community members amazed reflection, “I didn’t know the library did that”, when we provide learning services beyond that of collections. The fuzzy notion of the library as mostly just books and borrowing can even be a common idea that many librarians have before they start their degree and get into the field, and the breadth and depth of Library work then becomes evident. But how to get this message of Libraries as a teaching and learning service out to our communities?

Public libraries have experimented with different comms and different ways to share their offerings with their communities. The “Unusual Library Things” infographic, that visualised resources or services available in libraries across the world, was a great way of articulating libraries’ role in community building and lifelong learning. To launch their Inspiration Lab with its fabulous digital equipment and opportunities to build technical skills, Vancouver Public Library (Canada) strategised their communications as stories and creation. Their experimentation with live-tweeting and live streaming, bus shelter advertisements, digital signage, and beautifully designed physical advertising material was effective and award winning. Closer to home, New Zealand’s Invercargill City Libraries joyously engages with their communities through creative social media approaches that shine a very big light on their lifelong learning model. Do you remember their Kardashians riff of “Keeping up with the Librarians”? While Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries, took a personalised and incredibly effective path to reaching out to their senior community and connecting them to services and resources they needed. They got on the phone and called them. The communication impact of this approach was pretty clear – being interviewed by Leigh Sales, a these “legends are Librarians at Yarra Plenty Library” shout out by the Victorian Premier, and a jump in public awareness about how diverse and responsive to community our public libraries are. These are just a few examples of fabulous ways libraries can build awareness of their learning services.  

Academic librarian roles increasingly include teaching responsibilities

Academic libraries are often considered the heart of the university, central to the learning, teaching and research endeavours. Although we have strong service delivery and facilities management, modern academic libraries also prioritise pedagogical offerings and outcomes. In fact, academic libraries have moved beyond tentative concepts of contributing to student learning or as supporting learning. As Corrall and Jolly (2020) make clear, libraries and librarians have a major role to play in learning and teaching. Pedagogical principles underpin academic library services and engagement. Our information and digital literacy focused learning materials are amazing; and our librarians are wonderful teachers. What we haven’t done as successfully is make clear that librarians have an active, informed role in teaching and learning. We have a tendency to focus on the services, our collections, the spaces and equipment we provide. We are less adventurous in marketing librarians as teachers and libraries as learning hubs. Perhaps this emerges as an unconscious reflection of the contested and questioned role of librarians as teachers (Wheeler & McKinney, 2015)? 

People can debate whether librarians are teachers or not, but what we do know is that that people want to learn when they come to the library. And if people want to learn, everyone wins if that learning is well-designed.

As a learning and teaching focused team for Deakin Library, we have grappled with how to articulate and contextualise what we do. We found that teaching staff were often surprised that we run sessions on digital identity or offer digital literacy curricula mapping. Some of our library’s best teaching approaches and outcomes were also our best-kept secrets and we wanted to get the word out.

But how to do this? We spent time as a team discussing what we do and how we frame it.

Deakin Librarians work to develop the digital fluency and knowledges of our community, both staff and students. We do this through good learning design, which is not in most people’s conception of what it means to be a librarian, or what libraries offer. But it does make sense: if libraries exist to build communities and facilitate lifelong learning, there are knowledges and skills people in communities can develop to meet their goals. That’s where we come in.

We then needed to consider how we could shape a teaching identity for Deakin Library. That’s why we developed a ‘Working with teaching staff’ webpage rounding up our most impactful ways to partner with academics at Deakin. We knew that academics were unlikely to serendipitously find and explore this pitch page. Instead, we aimed for Liaisons to use this resource in their conversations and communications with academics, with explicit language around learning design and teaching capacities. To further support this self-framing, our team concurrently redesigned a whole suite of web resources focused on teaching needs. Again, rather than relying on our community stumbling across the messaging and learning materials, we proactively promoted it through both our Deakin Library blog (Article) and the broader university blog (Network).

Screenshot of Deakin Library teaching resources page, with resources grouped under headings.

Like all communications, there is room for improvement and changes. Continued conversations and putting new ideas on the board is needed. However, the value of consciously promoting our Librarians as teachers and continuing to self-frame as active in learning experiences is immeasurable.

We leave you with two questions – how do you frame yourself as a teacher and how do you communicate that identity? And we challenge you to put your teacher statement into the discussion space below.

References:

Corrall, S., & Jolly, L. (2019). Innovations in learning and teaching in academic libraries: Alignment, collaboration, and the social turn.

Wheeler, E., & McKinney, P. (2015). Are librarians teachers? Investigating academic librarians’ perceptions of their own teaching skills. Journal of Information Literacy, 9(2), 111–128.


Digital dexterity and a Libguides review

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

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

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

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

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


The intern project

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

The refresh project

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

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

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

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

Creating and sharing the flowchart

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

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

Creating templates for the Subject Resource Guides

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

And of course

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

What does this mean?

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



Empathy, the Library, and Open Education

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reference:

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