USTLG Summer 2001 Meeting

Electronic Publishing and Online Support Materials

Tuesday 12th June 2001, Aston University Library

Reports by Clare Humphries, Adrian Smith, Angela Newton and Joanne Yeomans, all University of Leeds


Delivering an Information Skills Module via a VLE
Geoff Walton, subject Librarian for Psychology and Sport and Exercise Science, Staffordshire University

The talk began with an outline of the history of this project. As a part of the Building a Learning Community initiative, this project was initially run for nine months. Preliminary work prior to launching the VLE included conducting a survey to find out what staff and students felt that they needed to learn from the module. The end product prior to the launch consisted of six separate sections covering the major aspects of information skills acquisition:

  1. Library orientation
  2. Catalogue training
  3. IT, www and e-mail
  4. Reference sources
  5. CD-ROMs (abstracts and indexes)
  6. Evaluation of sources

Assessment of the module takes place through group work activities, culminating at the end of the course in the production of a user guide to a particular resource.

The module was run as a Level 1 undergraduate elective initially in the Engineering and Social Science departments, with an uptake of six students in the first year, rising to seventy-five in the second year. This rise in numbers followed a rethink of publicity for the elective, which was found to be more effective when promoted by academics in Induction sessions. The module has proved to be particularly popular amongst students of Science and Social Science.

The experiences of Staffordshire in running the module via a VLE have had positive and negative consequences, namely:

  1. The VLE enables learning to take place in a distributed resource-based student centered fashion.
  2. The VLE can be integrated alongside traditional teaching techniques, and enhance them.
  3. This integrated approach means that not all teaching takes place at a PC, or in a traditional lecture format.
  4. Module materials can be delivered via a controlled Intranet that provides an effective platform for group learning.
  5. Contact time between staff and students is reduced by around 50%, which has its own positive and negative implications.
  6. The VLE approach enables delivery of a module to a much bigger audience than is possible using traditional teaching methods.
  7. Preparation time is increased rather than cut down.
  8. Technology can be unreliable which may have a significant impact on the ability to deliver the module effectively.
  9. It is difficult to motivate students sufficiently when contact time is significantly reduced.

The technology being used to implement the VLE at Staffordshire consists of two products, Lotus Learning Space and COSE (Creation of Study Environments, a JISC funded product). Around eighteen products of this type are available, though the two mentioned were felt to be most appropriate to Staffordshire’s needs, COSE being particularly well suited to delivering Information Skills materials. COSE enables module co-ordinators to deliver learning opportunities over a number of cumulative stages, each following a similar format of theory followed by hints, a task for completion and a selection of relevant web-links. Students are given demonstrations and training in the use of COSE during their third week of teaching, enabling them to make the best use of the VLE. Students studying the Information Skills module are also asked to use print resources in the course of working on group projects, so that the bias towards online resources is not overwhelming.

In conclusion, Geoff outlined future developments for the project, which could include:

  1. Integrating discussion forums for students into the VLE.
  2. Submission of work online.
  3. Integration of the VLE into existing Study Skills modules in other departments within the University.
  4. Involvement with Learn Direct initiatives, possibly working towards a fully functioning Distance Learning package that can be delivered online, replacing the need for contact between staff and students.


Back to USTLG Summer 2001 Meeting


Next Meeting

Past Meetings Membership lis-scitech

This page was updated 24 October 2003 , and is maintained by Katy Sidwell.