Monday, November 12, 2007

Article Note: On Integrating Information Literacy into Blackboard

Citation for the article:

Jackson, Pamela Alexondra. "Integrating Information Literacy into Blackboard: Building Campus Partnerships for Successful Student Learning." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 33.4 (July 2007): 545-461.

Read via EBSCO E-Journal Service.

This article might be of interest to our instruction librarian. As part of an overall assessment of our information literacy initiatives that we are working on now, she is looking at ways of establishing and maintaining a presence on Blackboard. A lot of what the article says are things that any good information literacy librarian probably knows by now. However, the article does summarize the issues nicely, and it provides some basic recommendations at the end. It is also a short read.

Some points of interest:

  • "While courseware was one primarily used for distance education, hybrid courses are gaining more popularity. Hybrid courses are those in which students and instructors meet regularly in-person in a traditional classroom setting, but also include online components in the LMS" (454). This is the basic working definition of a hybrid course.
    • Back at UHD, we had a good number of these given the institution moved to set up a shell for every course. It was then a matter of getting faculty trained in its use. Gradually, more faculty were adopting it. Back then, we had a limited embedding of librarians in some courses. Before I left for my current position at UT Tyler, I was embedded in two courses. This is one of the activities that interests my colleague.
  • "Thus, to a large extent, the seamless integration of library resources, information literacy, and librarian-faculty collaboration in the online classroom is lacking" (455).
    • This pretty much falls under a statement of the obvious. Way I see it, if this is lacking, it means we have to work harder, promote more, and at times, find ways to work around certain obstructive elements.
Keep in mind that this article reports on a study that worked to "assess librarians' understanding of the LMS as a teaching and learning tool for information literacy" (455). In other words, it was looking at how librarians themselves look at the LMS and how they can use it to promote information literacy. The author conducted a survey of librarians in the California State University System seeking to find out about their levels of proficiency, involvement, collaboration, and perceptions of obstacles. So what did they find? Well, to be honest, things do look a little grim for our side. According to the article, "survey results indicate that little is being done to help support information literacy endeavors on the LMS" (456). Very often it was a matter of the library offering a variety of services that the faculty simply failed to call upon. Other findings:

  • "The majority of respondents reported that their libraries do not have guides to help faculty include library resources in their courses on the LMS. Twenty-three (26.7 percent) of the eighty-six respondents did not know if such guides existed, begging the question, how can librarians help faculty include the library in their courses on the LMS if they are not aware of the resource available themselves?" (457).
    • I am thinking this may be a bit harsh. I think more librarians are aware of the resources. Creating the guides is a time consuming effort, and if there is little incentive to create the guides, then making them is likely not a high priority. I am not saying the lack of incentive should stop us from creating guides and tools to facilitate faculty efforts to include the library on the LMS.
  • The article points out that there is a lack of a marketing strategy on the part of librarians. The author writes, "it is not surprising that sixty-one (70.9 percent) of the eighty-six respondents reported having no marketing strategy. Most marketing strategies described consisted of individual librarians offering to help faculty link to resources. Again, however, very few faculty have taken librarians up on these offers" (457).
    • A couple of things here. For a marketing strategy to work it has to be a concerted effort on part of the library. For a long time, I worked doing what is described above: offering my services to any faculty member who would listen. I got a few takers, and I consider that a good accomplishment. But if we had a more concerted effort, the results may have been more fruitful. As for the faculty, given that information literacy skills are becoming a higher priority in accreditation, it may be time for them to take another look at the library and how librarians can help them integrate information literacy into the curriculum in order to promote lifelong learning. After all, we all share the common goal of student success.
The author then makes some recommendations (see pages 458-459):

  1. "Designate a Library LMS Liaison."
  2. "Create Campus Partnerships."
  3. "Encourage Librarian Training."
  4. "Package Information Literacy Content."
  5. "Participate in Discussion Boards."
  6. "Add the Library to the LMS Course Shells."
  7. "Participate in Blackboard Communities."
  8. "Explore Blackboard Building Blocks."
These recommendations are applicable to campuses that may be using systems other than Blackboard. The author concludes by reminding us that these web systems are not a replacement for face-to-face interactions, but they are another way to nurture student learning. The article does include the survey instrument in an appendix.

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