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Partnerships and VLEs: new opportunities for librarians Peter Stubley Assistant Director (Academic Services) The University of Sheffield.

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Presentation on theme: "Partnerships and VLEs: new opportunities for librarians Peter Stubley Assistant Director (Academic Services) The University of Sheffield."— Presentation transcript:

1 Partnerships and VLEs: new opportunities for librarians Peter Stubley Assistant Director (Academic Services) The University of Sheffield

2 Why consider partnerships now? Is there a problem? Liaison structures are mostly in place Well-established user education Long-standing acknowledgement of importance of information skills among academic colleagues Library’s place at the centre of information provision is recognised VLEs just mean more resource-based learning

3 Virtual Learning Environments Provide online interactions which take place between learners and tutors: Delivery of (structured) content: course handbook; lectures; graphics; videos… and linked content Calendar Bulletin board/mail (asynchronous communications) Chat (synchronous communications) Exercises and assignments with online submission & marking Tracking Automatic registration

4 The University of Sheffield’s VLE WebCT, currently version 3.6 Adopted as VLE in November 1998 1999: 1,500 users and 60 modules 2003: 279 modules (250 actively used); 7,000 students use WebCT as part of at least one module

5 Experience gained via LibCT project “a collaborative model for the integration of library services into WebCT” Begun in February 2002 Supported from a Learning and Teaching Development Grant from The University of Sheffield

6 Learning and Teaching Development Grants must support excellence and innovation in learning and teaching must underpin developments and initiatives in the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy Four categories, including: “innovative applications of the WWW, through the use of WebCT, the University’s learning environment” 41 projects supported in last two years with funding of >£300,000 Two more (two-stage) calls in current academic year

7 The University of Sheffield: Learning and Teaching Strategy Aim 6: to develop effective forms of learning through the use of communications and information technology, by: Supporting and evaluating innovative practice using web-based developments Utilising Internet technologies to provide platform and software solutions to develop web-based learning methods Creating a Learning and Teaching Development Unit and working with this and the Information Services Division… Providing support for a planned approach to funding future provision and development of learning resources…

8 LibCT: a two-stage project Stage 1 a user needs survey to gauge student and academic staff requirements Stage 2 building and evaluation of a prototype based on the outcomes of the Stage 1 survey

9 User needs survey literature search interviews with academic staff across all faculties “what information resources do you wish your students to consult within a WebCT environment?” Directors of L&T Development, Professors, HODs, Course Directors Talis

10 Consultations Biomedical Science History English Literature French Human Communication Sciences Information Studies Engineering Law Education Nursing & Midwifery

11 Outcomes of survey Four key issues University policy and progress with WebCT Information requirements for courses Software capabilities A Library WebCT module?

12 University and WebCT Departmental policies are emerging Implementation currently dependent on enthusiasts (not ‘techies’) University needs to strengthen encouragement of take-up of WebCT WebCT is unintuitive (but offers real advantages over passive web pages) Commitment is substantial (postponed further uptake) Hardware (speed and numbers) a drawback

13 Course information requirements No standard for inclusion of e.g. recommended readings, in WebCT pages; certainly do not follow ‘paper’ standard Limitations identified with present OPAC reading list module Are reading lists relevant in an electronic environment? Dead links a real potential problem Greater interactivity between library and courses?

14 Software capabilities TalisList: seen as a ‘resource manager’ for not just bibliographical items but also full text, web sites, etc. Talis has partnership agreement with WebCT Can TalisList provide flexibility required by reading lists in their present form? Can TalisList provide functionality missing in current system? Use of TalisList by academic staff to build up their own reading lists?

15 Library WebCT module? Does the Library need a WebCT ‘presence’ Is there a need for an WebCT Information Skills module? An Information skills ‘resource’ was strongly supported by all academic members of the project Steering Group

16 Prototype Based on aligning user needs with what is achievable Working with 4 academics from different departments: History; Information Studies; Nursing & Midwifery; Human Communication Science TalisList testing Scoping and developing the Information Skills resource

17 Working with academics All expected to have, or were developing, WebCT courses for the academic session 2002/03 Joint meetings with respective subject librarians Encouraging new perceptions of reading/resource lists A slow, slow process to do well …the shape of things to come

18 TalisList testing Links easily into WebCT Permits resource links appropriate to modern learning and teaching needs: e-journals; e-books; web sites; bibliographic databases; digital objects; OPACs Adaptable to many of the requirements of academics: hierarchies; annotations; organisation of items in lists …demonstrations have been received with enthusiasm

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20 Where to now? Evaluation and final report The Library is committed to LibCT which will continue as a service JISC Circular 7/02: Linking digital libraries with VLEs, issued is July 2002 – bid submitted but unsuccessful But… planning to progress this through close co-operation with departments TalisList now used as vehicle for reading (resource!) lists Information Skills module successful bid to University

21 Information skills: Generic vs. specific? Generic may be considered to be: Too general Lacking in subject focus Not relevant to the specific needs of students on particular courses Difficult to relate to specific information resources and apply these in workshops/exercises How generic is generic: faculty, departmental, course level? What about national resources?

22 Initial work: philosophy Relevant to student need (toe-in-water approach) Based around student experiences and expectations Students can visit and return at their convenience Supported by LibCT approach Undergraduate-focused Create a WebCT-based resource that can be integrated readily into the majority of courses No Cathedral of Information Resources No re-invention of wheels: use the Library’s Web pages where possible

23 Initial work: construction A (largely) generic resource comprising Quick start: no explanation but points users in direction of some key jumping-off points + limited departmental resources Search skills: explanations based around FAQ- type language Foundations built already

24 Embedding is the key Integration of subject-focused information skills exercises into WebCT courses Planning to work with Biomedical Science; Human Communication Sciences; Law; Nursing/Midwifery How can information skills support course learning outcomes? What are aims & objectives of IS training within the course? Electronic exercises and assignments with electronic submission and marking A well-recognised and documented way of incorporating generic skills training into specific courses

25 Moving forward: issues Recognise that we are currently working with a 25-year old ‘user education’ paradigm Linking of course content to information resources will continue: risk of the library being sidelined Re-energising of our collaborative, liaison, function is vital, emphasising contribution to be made to learning and teaching Must show a willingness to work with our academic colleagues, acknowledging their expertise Expectation is that progress will be customer driven Can subject librarians take a more pro-active role in the creation of reading/resource lists?

26 Moving forward: practicalities Institutional Learning & Teaching Strategy/Networked Learning Strategy Consultation with academic colleagues takes time Re-configuring of reading lists to resource lists is a slow process A strategic, departmentally-supported, approach may be required Liaison of this type will become more staff-intensive over the next few years Are our staff structures appropriate for these new services? Are our staff appropriate for these new services?

27 LibCT Info Skills module e-offprints OAI/Scholarly comms Liaison (incl. user ed) Collection development Financial management Reading list management QAA NLS etc Academic Services (Sheffield)

28 Opportunities Active involvement in the implementation of the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy The Library is seen by academic colleagues as having something new to offer in modern learning and teaching environments Changes perceptions about information resources to encourage a holistic view incorporating paper & electronic, internet and library Integration of library services with WebCT course delivery Exciting challenges about how we can change (our systems, our workflows, ourselves…) to deliver these new services


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