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Statewide Collaborative Web Resources for Faculty Supporting   Information Literacy

World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia, & Telecommunications
Denver, CO June 24-29, 2002

Presentation  (.ppt)  |  Full Paper  (.doc)  |  Programs Summary

Shaun Adamson and Carol Hansen

Presentation Abstract:  Librarians and faculty working together through Utah's Academic Library Consortium (UALC) are developing a Web site to share library instruction and information literacy competency support materials statewide. These materials include handouts, guides, tutorials, interactive exercises, glossaries, lists of Web links, and assessment instruments. Through Web based sharing, each institution saves a great deal of time and effort by reducing the need for duplication of resources and increasing the quality of resources.

There were approximately 15 attendees at this presentation, and several had questions about copyright and ownership issues to the site.  One participant wished to link to the site.


Other Programs of Interest:  Because I was only in Denver for the day of my presentation, I was able to attend only a few other presentations in addition to the presenters who presented during my time block.  I did meet several instructional technology doctoral students who presented with me and wished I had more time to talk to the about their research, as they covered topics I have been studying in my own program at USU.  A few of the more interesting programs I attended are summarized below:

Teaching and Learning Activities in the Online Classroom
This session described a study of online courses from various disciplines for the purpose of establishing standards of quality in online courses.  The study attempted to identify teaching activities that fostered active engagement from students and a highly interactive classroom.  According to this study, there is a direct relationship between teaching activities and frequency/quality of collaborative learning.  The presenter illustrated this using the concept of multi-modal and minimum teaching acts.  While multi-modal teaching acts promoted positive learning outcomes through high quality collaborative work, courses with minimum teaching acts were those in which students were often 'on their own', there was no effective online discussion between students and instructors or students and other students, and there was minimum instructor feedback on individual assignments.  Students in these courses often felt isolated.  

In teaching students information literacy skills in an online environment, ie. Navigator  (AND in the classroom!), we should be thinking about incorporating activities that engage students, promoting active learning, and helping students become more involved in the learning process.  Instructors of these courses should provide students with constructive feedback and encourage collaboration on various assignments and projects.  


Using Computer-Based Learning Environments to Offer Collaborative Opportunities to Engage Students:  One Case Study Using the Program "Alien Rescue"
This very interesting presentation sought to determine factors that made an online course engaging.  Sixth-grade students were studied as they worked through a computer program called "Alien Rescue".  It was determined that time pressures and the complexity of the problem were two factors that supported full engagement of collaborative efforts.   


Atlanta, GA June 13-19, 2002


This year at ALA, I had the opportunity to attend a few programs, and MANY meetings: 

Fri, June 14  PTDLA  Basic Patent Searching
This session was a great introduction to patent searching for inexperienced searchers.  See Lonna for handouts.  

Sat, June 15 RUSA BRASS Executive Committee meeting 

RUSA BRASS Forum:  Serving Distance Learning Business Programs and Students
This session focused not only on services for distance students, but touched on the promotional aspects of these services as well.  Speakers provided an overview of their distance programs and the services they offered, as well as the methods they used to coordinate these activities with faculty in their colleges of business.  A bibliography was provided for further reading.  

A survey was done to determine if there was a need for separate guidelines for business distance education, but it was determined that this checklist was not needed.  According to this survey, the MBA was the most common distance program; most programs were in-state; and methods of delivery included traditional (instructors and students in a room away from home); then web-based tutorials, correspondence, broadcast television, and video.  Services offered to students included circ, ILL, reserve, document delivery, email reference, chat reference, and instructional services.  The biggest challenge was getting print-based information to these students.  The importance of good relationships with business faculty and staff, the need for assessment of library resources, services, and instruction, and ongoing communication with all relevant parties was stressed.  Information on this survey can be found in the Winter 2001 issue of Reference & User Services Quarterly. 

Sun,Jun 16  ACRL Chapters Council

I attended this meeting as ULA's ACRL representative.  This meeting discussed various means ACRL provides to support its local chapters (ie. speakers, grant opportunities, etc.), introduced incoming officers, and presented highlights from three active chapters (Delaware Valley Chapter, Iowa Chapter, and New England Chapter).  

BRASS Open House
BRASS Membership Committee meeting

Monday, Jun 17  BRASS Brand Aid:  Creating a Presence in Your Community
In this session, speakers illustrated how they marketed themselves and their services to business persons in their communities.  There were also displays showing flyers and other promotional items that various libraries around the country have developed to advertise themselves.  A bibliography for further reading was provided. 

A few common themes arose in this session, including community participation and partnerships, project publicity, library image, outreach, and evaluation of programs.  Some of the challenges noted by speakers included lack of financial support, lack of time, and failure (not all things go right the first time!).  

RUSA President's Program:  The Reference Interview:  Connecting In-Person and in Cyberspace
This session focused on adapting traditional reference interviewing skills to the virtual reference environment, including chat-based communication, negotiating questions and engaging users in the information seeking process.  Speakers addressed competencies and behavioral guidelines that must be met by virtual reference providers.  As we begin training for our own chat service, these are important things to think about:

First, it was noted that willingness to understand the user's perspective is key (not only in online environments, but at the desk as well!).  Users often have a completely different take on the same situation:

  • simple questions often mask complex information needs that neither librarian nor user can predict
  • mental models of information systems are completely different
  • users often think that their questions are easier than they are, or that it was 'easy for the librarian'
  • users often do not understand their own needs, and do not recognize the brief exchange with the librarian as the reference interview

Transplanting interpersonal skills online is a big challenge.  First, there are no voice inflections or body language to give 'clues' during the interview, and how librarians and users communicate in writing plays a big part.  Examples:  

  • Oh.  Oh?  Oooooooooooooh!  
  • Have you had a chance to check the catalog? vs. You checked the catalog, right? vs. HAVE YOU CHECKED THE LIBRARY CATALOG?

Librarians must be extremely careful never to take the users question at face value.  Users must be prodded to refine their questions.  Success or failure of service may be determined by many factors, including content/amount/accuracy of information; helpful/non-helpful librarians, etc.  Librarians and user's perceptions or measures of what constitutes 'good service' are often completely different.  Librarians must also be careful never to make assumptions about users knowledge or skills; asking if they have checked the catalog is not going to help a user who doesn't know what the catalog is or is not familiar with the system.  

There are clues that will help librarians identify users familiarity with online environments, such as how they communicate in writing- the use of emoticons or online abbreviations:  

  • :)  
  • ;)  
  • >:(  
  • LOL 
  • BTY

Guidelines for behavioral performance include the following elements:

  • approachability 
    • interface
    • access points
    • rapport [speedy welcome, names, self-revelation]
  • interest
    • frequent feedback
    • conversational tone
    • pace
  • listening/inquiring
    • questioning (open-ended, neutral)
    • rephrasing
    • escorting
  • searching
    • knowledge of reference sources
    • teaching searching skills
    • time-frame
    • feedback
  • follow-up
    • closed questioning
    • referrals are still necessary
    • team-work

Tues, Jun 18  Information Literacy Retention Study Colloquy
The purpose of this planning colloquy was to solidify a list of 10-12 institutions to participate in a national research project sponsored by the University of Northern Colorado's Information Literacy Retention Study Research team.   This study will attempt to examine the effectiveness of elective information literacy courses with regard to student success and persistence behavior, and provide information regarding the effectiveness of these courses on academic achievement of disadvantaged students.  Methodology of the study and expectations for participants were addressed.




Best Practices Invitational Conference
Atlanta, GA June 11-13, 2002


This was a wonderful conference that brought people together from ten institutions to share ideas and examine the characteristics of successful or 'model' information literacy programs.  In addition, this group met to revise the current version of the 'ACRL Best Practices Initiative: Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices' document drafted in March 2001.  This was an extremely difficult process, as there was such a large number of people with very different ideas about these issues.  I did not feel that there was enough time to discuss issues in full, and that it may have been more effective to have the chair of each team meet (for a total of ten people) to provide input for this document.

During the first full day of the conference, each institution was given 15 minutes to describe the unique features of their program.  There were several issues that each institution was asked to describe regarding individual programs.  These included:

  • each institution's definition of information literacy
  • whether or not there was resistance to use of the term 'information literacy' and whether or not there was a preferred alternative to this term
  • the three biggest challenges faced by each institution
  • the three main characteristics of each institution's program, and other general program information

The institutions that took part in this conference varied greatly regarding the type of institution (2 year, 4 year, etc.); number of students; funding sources; number of staff involved in the project; methods of assessment; and how developed the program was.  Each institution was asked to provide a link to connect to their programs:

Austin Community College, Austin, Texas

 California State University, Fullerton, CA

 Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL

 James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

 Minneapolis Community & Technical College, Minneapolis, MI

 Ohio State University Libraries, Columbus, OH

 University of Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY

 Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa


One interesting means of assessment used by the group from Zayed University (UAE) was the use of student portfolios to determine information literacy competencies.  While this method of assessment may not be viable for large groups, it is a very thorough means of measuring progress for individuals or smaller groups of students.  Generally speaking, a portfolio is a collection of  teacher observations and student products that reflect a student's developmental status and progress.  The collection is systematic in that the observations and student products relate to specific instructional goals.  Examples of portfolio materials include teacher notes and checklists, sample journal pages, student self- reflections, reading logs, written summaries, audiotapes or oral readings, videotapes of projects,etc.

Updated December 14, 2004 . Please send comments to Ludwig Possie Web Administrator.
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