OU Library Services

The aim of this Open University Library Services pilot was for the unit to trial the use of  the Open University Learning Design Initiative methodology and tools to:

  1. More coherently embedded On-line 3rd party and library materials through modules, especially those enabling the development of information literacy (IL) skills.
  2. Ensure that IL outcomes become increasingly evident in qualification, module and unit level descriptors
  3. Support module teams in the creative use of online 3rd party and library resources, especially those enabling the development of IL skills.

A series of interventions were developed and delivered, including: a series of staff development and learning design workshops, a Cloudworks community to share and discuss practice in relation to working with module teams to embed Information Literacy, and a set of facilitation cards based on the Library Services Information Literacy Levels Framework.

Overall, the pilot can be seen to have had a significant impact where the tools and approaches were used (learning design tools and approaches have been applied and have led to improvements in practice). The IL levels facilitation cards in combination with the Learning Outcomes view appears to have been most useful to those who used them, and the Module Map and Pedagogy Profile representations have been useful in helping librarians think about where there resources fit in the curriculum design process. In particular it was found that the representations were effective in changing the way librarians and module teams thought about both information literacy and the structure of modules more generally. The modules that have been developed using the OULDI tools and learning design approach will continue to be monitored over time, and it is hoped that student feedback will show that there has been an impact on students (students learn better as a result of the improvements in practice). Unfortunately, although the majority of Learning and Teaching librarians attended one or more of the learning design workshop – and the majority of these felt that the tools and approaches would be useful to their practice – only a small minority  said that they had actually used them with module teams although there are some indications that some Learning and Teaching librarians have used the approaches without recognising that they were using a learning design approach:

“I’ve had one or two bits of feedback from people where they say “Well, we’re not really using it. The module teams aren’t really engaged with it” and actually you find that yes they have integrated Information Literacy all across level one and they have a systematic way of doing it. And they are looking at learning outcomes and so on. So I think they are doing learning design but maybe not with a capital L and a capital D […] tools can be used quite flexibly and each situation is different.  It’s about using the principles as much as a rigid way of doing it. I think at that level it is having an impact and it is having success. Certainly from our end – getting all the skills into the modules and the qualifications”

Information literacy specialist

The reasons most often cited for lack of uptake were associated with the availability of time to engage in these activities.

Those Learning and Teaching librarians who did use the approach were very proactive in the way they worked with module teams, securing early invitations to module team meetings, delivering multiple short presentations to the team about IL and learning design approaches, and often actually doing the mapping work for module teams. They recognised that the role of the Learning and Teaching librarians had changed, and felt strongly that they had a responsibility to students for ensuring that IL outcomes were coherently embedded in modules and across qualifications.

The librarians who engaged in the pilot found that using the approach increased their levels of confidence when working with module teams, and found that there was increased levels of trust in them from both module teams and other support units. This has led to stronger relationships with other support units and more effective communication and working practices.

There is a strong sense that learning design is becoming embedded in processes and practices across the university with one Learning and Teaching librarian saying that “learning design is pretty much everywhere you turn these days. It’s all over the university and it’s talked about in different places”  however momentum will need to be maintained to ensure that the tools and approaches begin to be more routinely used to enable the embedding of IL (and  Digital Literacy) outcome in modules and across qualifications. i.e. that impact moves from positive reactions to full engagement across the university.

Although there has been very little engagement in Cloudworks in this pilot, there is a sense from within the project that it could be an effective tool for promoting and sharing experiences and strategies across the Learning and Teaching team in the unit and there is commitment to trying again to engage staff in its use.

Reports and other outputs

Open University (2011) OULDI pilot report Library Services (including appendices), pp47

Narrative 13

Narrative 14

Narrative 15

Video: ‘Design Problem/Design Solution’ interview with Head of Information Literacy

Video: Design Problem/Design Solution

Reedy, K. (2012) Impact of the OU Learning Design Initiative (OULDI) project on skills integration into OU courses ALDinHE Conference, April 2012  (Click for slideshow presentation)