Learning Innovation Unit, Dublin City University

Learning Innovation Unit

Learning Innovation Fund Awards

Ellen Breen - The design and development of an online information literacy course/tutorial

Principal applicant

Ellen Breen, Sub-Librarian, Information & Public Services

School or Unit


Amount requested


Summary description

The Library is committed to supporting the development of student information literacy skills, i.e. the "ability to recognise when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information".1 In 2003, the Library developed its 3 level Information Literacy Framework which sets out clear learning objectives and outcomes at each level. The framework has been used to embed learning outcomes into programme modules and to design effective sessions for delivery in support of coursework and assignments. During the academic year 2004 - 2005, the Library's Subject Librarian team delivered 261 hours of face-to-face sessions to 5054 students.

In order to support the needs of students in terms of self-directed/independent learning and the needs of those students who do not get to attend face-to-face the Library plans to develop an online web-based information literacy course/tutorial aimed at undergraduate students. This achieves a significant university strategic objective in relation to online support and flexible learning.

Project URL


Strategic Objectives

see below:

Strategic Context

LI Strategic Plan Objective(s) and Sub-Objective(s)addressed by the project:

Objective 3: Enhance learner achievement

3.1. Support for new learners

A key action identified is the need to facilitate the transition to independent learning by "increasing the provision of online resources to provide additional support to including study skills, time management, information literacy and research techniques".

Objective 1.1

Develop a culture of inquiry-based learning

"Undergraduates to be actively researching their own discipline area".

Objective 1.3 Student managed learning

Key action identified is for student support areas, including the library to provide access to key resources through Moodle.

Objective 3.2 Learning Communities

Specific action identified to expand existing project and problem-based work.

Please explain below the strategic context for this project and how it meets the Objectives and Sub-Objectives of the LI Strategic Plan you identified above

- The development of an online information literacy tutorial/course will support the work of the library and academic staff in meeting a key goal/objective of the plan in terms of ensuring that the student experience results in "a high level of information literacy" (LI Strategic Plan p. 40).

- The online information literacy course/tutorial will be developed to support undergraduate students and complement library class-room based sessions offering additional support to new learners in terms of developing the appropriate skills and knowledge to manage an increasingly complex and diverse information environment.

- The university is committed to developing a culture of inquiry-based learning by embedding it into all programmes. It will be essential for students to also develop their information literacy skills to support such activity and enable them to become confident in understanding how knowledge is created and interacting with diverse sources of primary and secondary information.

- It is also planned to increase the use of problem-based learning. Again information literacy is key to the success of PBL where students must identify their information need (what they do not know) to work through a problem, find the relevant information, evaluate it and if necessary review their original search strategy to locate additional information.

- A key objective of the LI plan is to increase access to resources via Moodle. The web-based online course/tutorial could be made available to students via Moodle, and where appropriate links to specific aspects of the course could be recommended to support learning.

Implementation Plan

Implementation Plan

The project will be carried out as follows:

1. The design, development and re-conceptualisation of appropriate course content to suit an online environment

2. The design and development of a pedagogically and technically robust web learning tool

Tutorial/course content will be developed by the Library's Subject Librarian team. A number of modules will be identified and will include where appropriate - interactive exercises, quizzes, demonstrations and graphics to best illustrate information literacy concepts and reinforce learning.

The development of the content and the identification of appropriate modules/sections will be conducted as part of the project (see implementation plan below) however, indicative modules might include:

Module 1: Planning

Types of assignments

Defining your topic

Designing your search strategy

Module 2: Searching

Types of Information/sources (journal

articles, books, reference materials)

Library Catalogue

Using databases (Boolean operators,

field searching, subject searching etc)

Using the web

Module 3 : Evaluating

How to effectively evaluate information

Module 4 Writing


Citing and Referencing

Students could choose to progress sequentially through each module or work through a module of choice in a non-linear fashion.

The web interface and graphical design phase will be developed by the Library's web manager with the assistance of an experienced web/graphic designer.

In terms of ensuring good pedagogy for web based instruction, the team has researched this aspect of the project and will follow appropriate guidelines for the pedagogical development of the course/tutorial. 2

The Project will begin in March 2006 and be completed by December 2006.

We do not foresee any difficulties in meeting this schedule.


How will the project improve the learning experience for students?

In addition to face-face classes delivered by the Library, the development and availability of an online web-based tutorial will offer students flexible, 24/7, self-paced online support which will provide key just-in-time support to them in effectively using the library, exploiting the information resources available to them and providing an opportunity to develop the necessary information literacy skills which are vital to the success of their whole learning experience.

How will you evaluate the extent to which these improvements have taken place?

- Number of students using the course/tutorial

- Feedback from students who will be using it in

face-to-face sessions with Subject Librarians

- Feedback from academic staff

- Conduct a review and evaluation of use following completion of a full academic year

Are there opportunities for feedback at all stages of the project and for all stakeholders?

Yes, all stakeholders (undergraduate students / relevant university staff / library staff) will be involved in the content and design evaluation phase, and the general usability testing phase.

Dissemination and Sustainability

It is intended to build on this project in the future, however we do not anticipate any further costs as this would mainly involve content review and development which would be done by the Library.

Detailed budget

Consultancy for design and production €2,700

Purchase of specialist software for interactive presentations and simulations (Viewlet Builder) €450

Total €3,150

The Subject Librarian team will develop all relevant content for this project. The Library will also be supporting all associated training requirements. However, given restricted resourcing the capacity does not exist within the current budget to fund the specialist technical and design aspects of this key project.

Other Information


1. American Library Assocation (1989). Report of the Presidential Committee on Information Literacy, Available at: http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlpubs/whitepapers/presidential.htm [accessed 25/2/2005]

2. Dewald, Nancy H. (1999). Web-based Library Instruction: What is Good Pedagogy? Information Technology and Libraries. Vol. 18. No. 1, pp. 26-31.