CaRILLO: Information Literacy and repurposing learning objects

Carillo was a one day event for developers of information literacy teaching and learning material organised by the University of Birmingham Library. It featured a range of talks on the issues around creating, finding, sharing and re-purposing learning resources in the area of Information Literacy.

Some brief notes about each of the sessions are below:

Rebecca Mogg, Senior Subject Librarian, Information Services, Cardiff University – The Information Literacy Resource Bank (ILRB)

The most widely used parts of the ILRB relate to:

  1. Citations and referencing
  2. Plagiarism
  3. Evaluating information

Rebecca spoke about how they had demand from academic departments to develop materials about the pros and cons of Wikipedia, something we need to tackle explicitly the next time we redevelop the Judge section of the Virtual Training Suite.

Katy Wrathall, former SMILE Project Manager and currently Academic Liaison Team Leader, University of Worcester – The SMILE project: repurposing IL material

This overview of the SMILE project included some valuable lessons about the potential obstacles to re-using learning objects:

  • Licensing and permission issues – academics do not always want to share
  • Students expect subject specific resources, limiting the potential for re-use
  • Without teaching guides, how-to use information or readme files, it isn’t easy to figure out how to re-use a resource

Katy made great use of her image archive on Flickr and one point she made was how we shouldn’t be “information knowledge motorbikes” flying through the air waving at new students about information literacy, but need to get beyond first years to staff, researchers and others.

Tom Boyle, Director of the RLO-CETL, London Metropolitan University – Using GLO Maker to create learning/teaching material

GLO Maker is a free, Open Source piece of software for creating learning objects. It maps these objects to appropriate areas of learning design via in-built templates that:

  • Orient the student – show them what they are learning and why
  • Understand the issues – demonstrate what they need to learn
  • Use the knowledge – test them on what has been learnt by applying it

Tom also made a broader point that feedback in learning objects needs to be rich – more than just right or wrong – as these interactive points are often where students are paying the most attention and where learning can occur.

Nicola Siminson, Jorum Community Enhancement Officer, Mimas, at The University of Manchester – JorumOpen and IL: finding and sharing resources

As someone who has catalogued many resources for JorumOpen, it was interesting to see the other delegates try it out during the hands-on session in the afternoon. They wanted to get to the resources themselves and were often frustrated when a Jorum record was only a web link – similar to the frustrations users may feel when using databases or repositories that only provide the metadata of a resource, rather than the full text.

Catherine Bruen, NDLR Manager, Trinity College Dublin – Community aspects of the National Digital Learning Repository

The NDLR aims to “support greater collaboration in developing and sharing of digital teaching resources and associated teaching experience across all subject disciplines and communities of academics”. They do so via a a repository of resources, providing a space for academic Communities of Practice to grow and by funding development projects.

Repurposing learning objects

The afternoon featured hands-on workshops and the session on repurposing learning objects brought together some issues from all of the talks.

A key selling point for learning objects and Open Educational Resources generally is their supposed re-usability, saving people from reinventing the wheel. However, the practicalities of reusing learning objects can sometimes be insurmountable. Licensing restrictions, proprietary file formats (Flash), making items generic without dumbing down or having to insert / remove branding – all these things can get in the way. So some important questions remain.

  • If a learning object is perceived as being useful, then perhaps it is more important that it is easy to customise or personalise, than to change its purpose?
  • Is it enough to be inspired by a good quality learning object, to produce something yourself or to link to a good example from elsewhere?
  • Where does re-purposing stop and recreation start? Is changing the content and structure of a learning object a bit like replacing the brush and handle on a broom?

An excellent and thought provoking day – many thanks to all at the University of Birmingham Library for organising it and hopefully there will be a CaRILLO 2 in the not too distant future.