Beyond the Classroom: Supporting Information Literacy Instruction

Beyond the Classroom is a Q&A series where ALT-2040 project teams share their thoughts and experiences leading learning transformation at UBC Okanagan.

This Q&A features:

Project Team Members: Sajni Lacey and Kim Buschert

Project: Creating Flexible Online Learning Modules to Support Information Literacy Instruction

Please provide a short overview of your project. 

We created a suite of online modules in Canvas to introduce students to academic research and critical thinking skills for information location, application, and creation, enabling students to engage with materials across disciplines and within a broader context. Module content was developed collaboratively with faculty and students. Topics include using the library, source types and peer review, developing a search strategy, searching in Summon and subject databases, evaluating sources, and citing.

This content is of particular importance for new undergraduate students, as well as first-generation and international students transitioning into the university and academic culture. Upper-level or graduate students may wish to consult the modules for review. Modules include a variety of formats (videos, external resources, activities, and assessments), and are flexible enough to be delivered as a whole, grouped into units, or presented as single modules which can be integrated into instructor syllabi for blended or flipped classrooms.

What inspired you to pursue this project? 

We were interested in exploring ways to provide multiple and multi-modal opportunities for students to learn foundational information literacy concepts at their point of need. We wanted to expand the availability of these opportunities across disciplines and to ensure all students have equal opportunities to access information literacy learning. We hoped to provide a foundation students can apply to discipline- or assignment-specific early academic work, and from which they can move to higher-order information literacy concepts as they move through their academic career. Additionally, providing online tutorials will help us address a growing demand for foundational information literacy workshops.

How has your project impacted student learning? 

From 2020 – 2021, the learning modules were embedded in at least 15 different courses, reaching an estimated over 4400 students.

Badges awarded 2021-22 (UBCO): 1,695
Certificates awarded 2021-22 (UBCV): 2,622

Over 1000 students (1004) enrolled in the UBC Okanagan course in the 2022/23 academic year.

Why is learning transformation important to you? 

We are passionate about providing scaffolded learning in a flexible way that meets the needs of various learner types and supports instructors’ delivery preferences. We believe it is important to incorporate a learner-centred perspective in the way we teach information literacy. We are committed to continuous improvement in how we provide instruction, integrated into larger campus teaching and learning goals.

What has been the biggest surprise or biggest takeaway from your ALT-2040 project? 

While we expected our modules to be useful, we did not anticipate the high demand that would occur due to COVID-19. Our modules were well-suited to support the quick transition to online learning in 2020, and we adapted our content development and expanded our pilot plans to meet this need.

How did the collaboration of your project team support the success of this project? 

We feel that our collaboration with students, faculty and our UBCV colleagues was integral to developing meaningful learning experiences through our modules.

Through consultation, developmental evaluation, and built-in feedback mechanisms, we have been able to adjust our content and the way we deliver it to encourage course adoption of the modules.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering developing an ALT-2040 proposal? 

Be flexible in terms of delivery. We pivoted from our original model, where we would post modules to Canvas Commons, to using a Canvas-self enroll course to facilitate content updates and proof-of-completion more easily. The badging tool we piloted caused some technical difficulties for students, so we incorporated a certificate model used in the UBCV version of the modules to eliminate compatibility problems.

Plan for accessibility. In the final stage of our project, we employed a student to develop and conduct an accessibility audit on our modules and discovered that certain design elements used solely for aesthetics would be problematic for screen readers. We, therefore, opted to strip out unnecessary design features, which added some work at the end of the project.

Is there any additional information you would like to include? 

Check out the modules in our self-enroll course, Using UBCO Library for Research.  


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