Scalable Solutions in Providing Information Literacy Instruction in an Online Asynchronous Environment

Author Information
Author(s): 
Barbara Mann
Author(s): 
Julie Arnold
Author(s): 
Reference and Instruction Team
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
University of Maryland University College
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 
In order to continue to promote information literacy to a global distance education audience and meet the need for scalability,Information and Library Services (ILS) at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) has created stand-alone library instruction modules and customized resources guides tailored to the needs of a particular course and loaded into the online classroom.
Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 
With a student body of ca. 90,000 global, asynchronous learners, finding scalable solutions for information literacy instruction is a challenge. While the UMUC Library does offer online, facilitated information literacy sessions integrated into the learning management system not all course instructors are able to take advantage of this due to time constraints.
 
Many libraries are now using Springshare’s LibGuides platform to create subject-specific and course-specific guides. ILS has also done this, but has taken the concept a step further using the platform to create stand-alone library instruction modules which serve to provide non-facilitated information literacy instruction within the asynchronous environment.
 
These stand-alone modules contain standardized information literacy instruction content detailing the steps of the research process, including topic development, searching techniques, database selection and use, resource searching and evaluating, and plagiarism avoidance and citation assistance. Multi-media tutorials are included, in order to meet different learning styles, along with technical assistance. Each module, created for both undergraduate and graduate courses, is integrated into the learning management system. Links to subject and/or course resources guides containing resources relevant to a particular course serve to complement these modules. These guides provide suggestions of tailored resources needed to effectively complete the course assignments, some of which serve as the authentic assessment method to measure  student learning. Requests for these stand-alone instruction modules and/or course resources guides continue to increase and feedback has been extremely positive.
Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 
The statistical evidence of the success of these modules and course resources guides are based on the use statistics gathered by the program. However, these use statistics do not count access by particular user. So, while the numbers may demonstrate heavy use, it is unknown if this use is by a small number who access these resources on a regular basis or if the use is high because of a high number of users.
 
Anecdotal comments from both faculty and students have helped to demonstrate that these resources are indeed contributors to student success. Faculty and subject-area administrators are increasingly requesting these products for inclusion in their own courses. An introductory graduate level course, which focuses on business and management, has required students to complete the stand-alone instruction module and assesses the learning via a final assessment quiz tied into the research process tutorial that is a component of this module. The final assessment quiz scores are automatically e-mailed to the course instructor and serves as 5% of the student’s course grade.
How does this practice relate to pillars?: 
Learning Effectiveness-Module and guide creators collaborate with faculty to ensure that the content meets the course information needs. The content meets the needs of various learning styles as it includes text, images, and multi-media to explain concepts and skills.
 
Scale-Because these products are delivered on the same platform content can be copied, when relevant, from one module or guide to the next. In addition, a “home grown” content management system, RIMS (Resources Information Management System), has played a crucial role in scalability in regard to the subject/course resources guides. By replacing LibGuide’s normal links to library electronic resources with links to RIMS, a database now controls the information for each resource, allowing any changes such as library database or e-journal name changes to be instantly reflected in all LibGuides. The RIMS system also allows for quicker development of new guides by allowing for the assembly of pre-existing records rather than time-consuming and repetitive data entry. In addition, the system allows other guide owners to see relevant resources for inclusion that they may not be aware of. The descriptions of resources used in multiple guides can be varied to suit the particular guide. The stand-alone instruction modules and subject/course guides are so successful that more and more faculty are requesting them for inclusion in their courses.
 
Access-Given the asychronicity of online courses at UMUC the stand-alone instruction modules and course resources guides provide point-of-need instruction/resource suggestions at the finger-tips of the users 24/7. Because the modules/guides are “living documents” they can be updated whenever needed with the URL never changing, thus keeping the content “fresh.” In addition, the instant messaging/texting widget is embedded in each guide providing point-of-need research assistance. Even when instant messaging/texting are not available e-mail assistance is provided with a turn-around rate of usually less than two hours.
 
Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Springshare's LibGuides software and web space to host the content.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Modest annual subscription cost for Springshare's LibGuides software; existing staff work time to create the products; library web programmer to handle back-end programming.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Barbara Mann
Email this contact: 
bmann@umuc.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Julie Arnold
Email contact 2: 
jlietzau@umuc.edu