Creating 21st Century Information-Literacy Programs

Rick Bearden and Emily Mitchell, Ferris State University

PILOT (Project Information Literacy Online Tutorial); Texas Information Tutorial (TILT)

One of the best things about TILT is you don’t have to recreate the wheel; it’s free.

bad: out-dated; ugly

Library Orientation all online students at Ferris State would take. PILOT was out-of-date. But limited on time: had to reorganize and restructure physical library.

New tutorial criteria

  • modular (student can just come in and take relevant part and then apply)
  • linkable (point of need)
  • easy to update (PILOT hadn’t been updated in years; not easy to update!)
  • interactive (old, boring: lots of text, bad; interactivity would need to be easily editable)

Interface features supporting criteria

  • navigation with both menu and arrows
  • Provide many ways to learn (varied display elements)
  • A new session will start from where you left off (you get interrupted)
  • Real time feedback from practice exercises

Screenshots being shown of the presentation right now.

  • Online chat embedded as part of the new tutorial
  • Simple elements such as a table can be used. Easily buildable pages (CSS does the formatting)
  • Fancier elements such as a lightboxes are available
  • Go interactive with drag and drop practice exercises (Not Flash — Javascript)
  • Code is provided for more elements: headings, paragraphs, lists, audio files, emphasis boxes, images, links (or include your own HTML)

Tutorial creation of interface

Philosophy of design: (Rick doesn’t like CMSes like Drupal) Philosophy of design: provide tools for novices to build useful tutorials but don’t dumb it down so much that it is impossible to do anything cool.

Editing Home, uses tabs

  • Add metadata
  • Edit metadata
  • Edit content
  • View content
  • Reorder
  • Delete
  • Upload File
  • Can clone it

Create and Manage quiz sets available

PILOT runs on LAMP. Code, content, and documentation will be made freely available to any library that wants it early summer 2011. Come up to leave us a business card if you want to be contacted when we are ready for distribution; or you can email us at: Rick Bearden ( Emily Mitchell (

Alan Bearman, Sean Bird, Keith Rocci, Washburn University

Interactive Presentation online

Information-Literacy Programs: The Washburn University Model (Topeka, KS)

London, Kentucky, Kansas journey — accent fun 🙂

Is the physical library in the 21st Century necessary? (The Googlization of Everything argument)

Washburn is a teaching university, sits between two research universities (KU and K-State); administration asked do we need a physical library in the 21st century. Dr. Bearman became the Dean of Libraries at Washburn University in 2008.

The library had become disengaged from the university. It had been a place that purchased lots of physical stuff just in case. Collection-centric model. Administration was really questioning the value of the library at the campus.

YES! The campus does still need a library. The library is more important today than ever before; not because of the collection but because of the people. The librarians are absolutely crucial to our teaching of information literacy. Administration response: what’s information literacy?

“To create information literate graduates the university library must be central to the student experience”

You can create information literate graduates in the information age, if they’re discontented from the students. Extend the library. Not just physical space. Digital branch. Local: tutorials for specific classes. Generic — general tutorials. Parents — orientation, library speaks to them. Library must be central to the student experience.

Washburn University Learning Outcomes (went from 9 vague standards unmeasurable to these)

  1. Communication (COM)
  2. Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning and Literacy (QSRL)
  3. Information Literacy and Technology (ILT)
  4. Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT)
  5. Global Citizenship, Ethics and Diversity (GCED)

Library had to figure out how to teach this outcome.

How did we assess our efforts? (keith is a teacher)

  1. Retention: 8% increase for 2009 cohort
  2. Student achievement: .37 increased GPA
  3. Student surveys: 84% student satisfaction

Success brings success.

Are we successful? (Sean Bird)

(data drives what we do) anecdotal evidence; Sean has seen this library since 1985 as an alum.

Library demanded them to study in the same ways as in the analog world, even in 2005

After Dr. Bearman came, things changed. No more zones. Carrels

Now different types of zones. Collaboration allowed.

  1. Library traffic increased 15%
  2. University President is a strong advocate (before didn’t think the library necessary)
  3. Academic Support Initiatives moved to library
  4. Second Assistant Dean position
  5. Coffee Kiosk

The library was packed. Every table was packed. Every computer was packed. Reading. Writing. The library place had changed.

Departments are holding meetings in the library because of the coffee shop.

Students are being encouraged to use the library to be questions.


  • Retention rate: Washburn had been criticized about its retention rate VERY publicly. The information literacy emphasis will hopefully drastically improve the retention rate. Students overwhelmed by information overload; must learn to deal with information. Washburn is working on this through their changes. Still to know the data.
  • Information Literacy: classes were taught for 15 years; 1 unit class “the library experience” tied to 2 unit class “the college experience” the content isn’t much different. Serials librarian teaching (rejuvenated his career); Access services librarian enjoying as well. Students get grades from this point. The instruction librarians — faculty status. The library went out and engaged the faculty and conversation and administration. That made a HUGE difference.
  • Washburn University: does have digital tutorials.

Overall summary of unCOILed experience

Overall, I was quite thankful I came down for unCOILed. Always good to meet librarians from other areas and states. As continuing education moves more and more toward a distance or online environment, workshops like this one, focusing on distance education for academic librarians,  are really needed for those in continuing education or who do a lot of training.

I’m beginning to learn and see that there are methods that work and methods that don’t work. People have different learning styles, and I think because many times you’re on your own learning, you have make much more effort to address each learning style in your online/virtual instructions. At least in F2F environments, people have the opportunities to do, watch, see, and hear. But online, if one learning style is left out of the approach that person is much more so alienated.

Thanks again to the organizers who put this together. I took notes for the four sessions I attended, and picked up the notes for a fifth. I’ll look through those later and write a separate post at that time (it was on LibGuides). Here’s all my notes to these sessions:

  1. Keynote Panel
  2. A New Look at COIL: Customizing Online Information Literacy
  3. If You Widget It, They Might Use It
  4. Teaching with Chat
  5. LibGuides (coming soon)

Teaching with Chat

Using the IM reference exchange to teach information literacy skills

Kathryn Plunkett, SOSU

“give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime” -chinese proverb

I took some notes on this session, but I honestly was tired by the time this one rolled around, and had a hard time staying focused by this point. Presenter was great; I just was overloaded by this point. As a result, I’m not posting all my notes here. They really won’t make sense (they barely make sense to me!).

Session Summary

Chat reference can be more than just a way to quickly answer ready reference questions. Especially for distance students. If the process is thought out, information literacy skills can be taught. When answering the questions, keep the ACRL Information Literacy standards in mind.

Some best practices to keep in mind:

For Students

  • Determine what the student already knows.
  • Build search strategies together;
  • aim for student independence;
  • describe each process step by step;
  • ask questions during each step;
  • ask the student to describe what s/he found;
  • define library terms.

For Library Staff

  • Know the importance of regular training.
  • Set policies and procedures.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice.
  • Show you are approachable interested and listening.
  • Use scripts when appropriate.

Market the service was briefly mentioned. Some extra discussion on just needing to go where the students were. More and more, people are not coming into the library; accessing information online. But that doesn’t mean they’re accessing “good” information, as ReadWriteWeb posted today, citing a new study out by Northwestern University.

This session definitely makes me want to think further about how NEKLS has implemented its new online chat service on our newly designed website. A few people have used it and have been well-served, but how do we get more librarians to use it? I know not everyone is comfortable with this interface and email or call us instead. But, for those who this might be helpful at the point they have questions, how do we reach them?

Sidenote: good discussion happened between the three Kansas librarians present at this workshop at the end. Brad Fenwick from Hutchison Community College and Carol Matulka from Pratt Community College and I talked at the end about reaching students who need access to the library’s services after their kids go to bed (after 9pm) or early in the morning (4am-8am). Almost every library is closed at this point, but chat service isn’t available to them at all. What might fill this gap? We talked about maybe about tapping into a worldwide network of librarians who at least could answer basic reference questions and get people started in the right direction. Is anyone aware of a service like this? I’ve heard of it for a text service for librarians, but not for online chat reference.