Project Name: Flexible librarian support for Occupational Therapy postgraduate students through the use of Blackboard
Date: May 2008
Organisation: School of Occupational Therapy
Project plan author contact details: Penelope Kinney, School of Occupational Therapy
Summarise as much of the information in the rest of this template into a concise statement.
As part of my coordinator of the Postgraduate Programmes role I have had a lot to do with the day to day needs of the students enrolled in the courses. One of the things that became obvious to me is that within the institution not all students are equal. The courses that we run are entirely by distance and advertised as such. This means we can get students not only from all over the country but also the world enrolling in the courses.
Accessing library catalogues and databases is an important part of completing the assignments. Due to the students coming from around the country those students can utilise the remote library services within the Otago University. This allows them to access books, journal articles and other resources from both the library shelves within the Otago University as well as other libraries. The remote service is willing to send these books and articles across the country if they require. What happens for the Dunedin based students is that they are required to come into the library (any of the Otago University libraries) if the book or article they require is held on site.
Now for some you might think well whats the big deal? Our students all work full time, often they have work loads that require them to be a work longer than the 40hrs per week. The bottom line is they don't have the flexibility to have to come to the school or to the library to access what they need.
What has happened in the past is that I end up photocopying, scanning and sending articles to students. I had one student who was considering pulling out of the distance course due to her frustration she was experiencing with the library.
Another aspect that has become clear to me during this semester is that for a large number of students (either Dunedin based or remote), getting back into study is new and accessing library services can be daunting. As a result I have done a lot of the running around and being the middle person between the librarians and the students. Making the library service more user friendly would be better for all the students.
Aim - The aim is provide flexible online library access, resources and librarian support for Occupational Therapy Postgraduate students.
List of objectives -
* Create a user name, login for either the reference team or individual librarians to be attached to the blackboard site.
* Set this group up with instructor status.
* Discuss the scope the librarians will be responsible for.
* Change all the library information to the Community Tab of the Postgraduate Organisation
* Enable the statistical tracking to monitor the usage
* Set up a number of discussion threads.
* Place an announcement to draw students attention to the change.
* Engage students into discussion threads - create FAQ
* Evaluate success of support tool
* Explore and negotiate with the librarians/reference group, the types of resources your students need and the best way for the library to provide them.
* Implement changes as necessary
List of performance indicators (outcomes) -
The librarian will be actively involved in the discussion threads.
The librarian will make changes and monitor the information on the blackboard site.
Students will be utilising both the discussion threads and information folder.
Flexible learning analysis
What are the perceived flexible learning needs of the people that your plan is targeting?
Accessing library information to enable equity for all students and to make the library services more accessible to all students.
What type of flexible learning services will you provide?
· enrollment - this is more about ensuring ongoing re enrollments from previous and current students - the support is enough for them to feel as though they can complete the study. Possibly this could be used as a marketing tool for new students who don't have as much knowledge about how to search databases or who are not able to go and look around the library.
· communication strategies - this is the main reason, ensuring good communication is maintained with all the students and everyone is hearing the same. Students will be encouraged to utilise the discussion threads, that no question is too small and in fact these could be questions that all actually have. One of the reference team will attend the Postgraduate teaching team meeting to hear what the school is doing and provide information as appropriate too.
· information formats - librarians will be able to update any new information for all students to be aware of. It is planned the librarians will be involved in a number of ways. They will be able to establish discussion threads, to encourage students to ask questions. These can then be developed into FAQ to also be put onto the site. It is anticipated a range of threads can be included from - Searching databases and catalogues and Assignment preparation. They will also be responsible for overseeing the information that is on the blackboard sites regarding the library, updating as this changes, ensuring it is all current. They will eventually provide links on blackboard to the library web page. This will include providing guides for the different databases the students may use. The Online Information Literacy Modules (OIL) will also be linked in this area. Eventually these modules will be developed to be more specific for the occupational therapy courses.
· learning support services including technical support - this is about students using the librarians as a support tool for their on going study.Indicate the type of services which already exist that compliment and/or compete with your plan.Access to the library services already exist within the postgraduate courses. This project aims to complement what already exists. For the Dunedin students they will now have a contact within the Bill Robertson Library and will be able to find out information regarding their courses quickly.For all the students the hope of having librarians attached to the blackboard sites will be to make accessing databases, catalogues etc more user friendly. They will be informed of any changes and are able to ask librarians for help directly. Answers that are given to questions will benefit all those enrolled.
Outline how you will address the following items in your flexible learning services:
· sustainability - In terms of the triple bottom line, this project will address social benefits for all the students enrolling in the courses. Though it doesn't address the issue at a institutional level it is a step to allowing Dunedin students access to librarians, which may get rid of the need for them to drive to the library. Environmentally this project may eliminate the need for students to get in their cars to drive to libraries. Potentially with the sharing of information students may choose not to print resources if they realise they don't need to. Finally Economically, potentially if this project makes studying more streamlined and user friendly then the likelihood of students remaining in programmes increases and this will also encourage those apprehensive about study to engage as we will be able to use this as a marketing tool. By ensuring all of the resources are in one place and therefore easily updated this will reduce the amount of time needed to complete the task and therefore ensuring this will be more likely to continue.
· access & equity - I think this has been addressed in the above statement. One of the concerns that led me to thinking of this project was the fact that Dunedin based students are disadvantaged. Also for some students the prospect of searching on databases can be confusing and daunting so by having librarians accessible this makes life easier for them. By providing materials and support to students to improve their digital information literacy, access and equity will be enhanced, ie, making it more likely that all learners will be able to access the materials they need for their study and therefore reducing the barriers for students who are currently disadvantaged.
. cultural diversity - Cultural needs and cultural differences need to be taken into account at every phase of the design and delivery of online materials and support if courses and learning content are to meet learner needs (Australian Flexible Learning Framework). For me this hit home, especially as my project is about adding to an online component of the distance courses we provide in our Postgraduate Programmes. Thinking of cyberspace as having a culture in itself means there is much more to think of. In terms of my own project often the thought of using "new fangled technology" for some of the students puts them off before they start and by not meeting their needs in the first place we get the withdrawals from programmes. By adding this more personal support tool the aim is to address some of the needs the clients have.
. strategic plan - I believe this project complements the Otago Polytechnics Strategic Plan .It aims to provide students with better learning opportunities, creating better equity between students, providing relevant, flexible and accessible learning opportunities and providing an environment which supports innovative thinking.
Learning theories/models and/or examples
Rough list of costs and resources of key steps in your plan
The cost for this project will involve staff input and training.
- Training for the three reference librarians in the use of blackboard and their scope. This potentially will take a few hours
- Time spent accessing blackboard by the three librarians over the 14 weeks the courses run. Potentially this will take between 1-2 hours a week.
- Postgraduate Coordinator time to set the blackboard sites, train librarian and informing potential and current students.
For future development of this project then an application to the Teaching and Learning Innovation fund will be appropriate
Time line for development
- To be set up for the semester two courses, evaluation to occur at the completion of the courses.
Rough dates that indicate the time needed for key steps in your development plan
June 2008 - Set up usernames, login for the reference team, establish the scope the librarians will be responsible for. Promote this resource to potential/current students
July 2008 - Set up the discussion threads, train the librarians on the use of blackboard, familiarise them to the environment.
July - November 2008 - Librarians actively participating in the discussion threads, monitoring the library information
November 2008 - Seek feedback from students/lecturers/librarians on how this worked.
January/February 2009 - Implement changes where necessary.
Please feel free to write me some comments on any area you think you maybe able to help. I'd appreciate your thoughts and ideas.