Task 2: Articulating good practice (no more than 2 hours) (badge activity)

Brief inventory of good practice - Hazel Rothera
by Hazel Rothera - Thursday, 7 May 2015, 8:21 PM

My inventory is attached. My comments and reflections on putting it together:

My online learning and teaching context: as an Academic Liaison Librarian, I am usually designing one-shot sessions or activities rather than a whole programme, and dropping them in to modules and courses designed by others. I am rarely if ever involved in programme design, or in setting or carrying out summative assessment.

I therefore often have to work quite hard to find out the context in which I am teaching - I have to try to work out where students will be on Gilly Salmon’s 5-stage model; investigate the intended learning outcomes of the course and the module, look at the assignment brief, and align my planned activities with those. I find it helps to be very explicit with students that I am doing this, as many of them expect “a Library session” to be an optional bolt-on extra (and often have not read the module handbook or assignment information themselves!)

In face-to-face teaching, I am increasingly working to embed bite-sized drop-in micro-teaching sessions (10-15 minutes) in colleagues’ lectures - whenever possible, at a timely point eg in the assignment briefing lecture, where I can align what I am showing students with the assessment. Focus group research I undertook 2 years ago with first-year students for my Learning & Teaching Fellowship underlined the importance of embedded, timely micro-teaching like this rather than annual “one-shots” which students struggled to align with their learning (“we didn’t use the Library for weeks after that so we didn’t remember…”) This year I have begun to offer Reusable Learning Objects (eg short tutorial videos) in Moodle courses in a similar way.

Since I am usually designing one-shot sessions or activities rather than a whole programme, I found Beetham’s model looking at learners, outcomes, environment and other people (quoted in JISC, 2009) and the AUTC Framework (Resources, Tasks, Supports) helpful. I also try to look at each activity or session I plan through Brookfield’s 4 lenses - looking at my design not just through my own eyes but also from a student perspective, through peer feedback and in the context of the literature on information literacy.

Macdonald (2008)’s concepts of Developing e-investigators, developing e-writers, and developing e-communicators and collaborators, are extremely relevant to my context and indeed developing e-investigators, and information literacy, are my daily teaching and learning bread and butter – which makes me rather disappointed that Macdonald could get through an entire chapter on this topic without once mentioning or suggesting liaison with the local expert on the subject, an academic or subject librarian! (what happened to collaboration with peers?...)

All these reflections come together in a quote from the JISC (2009, p.12) report on online learning, regarding online activity design (my emphases):

“Educational theory can help to define approaches that ought to work; educational research can help to describe approaches that seem to work, but only a skilled and reflective practitioner can decide which approach will work best in a given context. The complex art of choosing the best approach is termed ‘design for learning’.”


Abi Ball
Re: Brief inventory of good practice - Hazel Rothera
by Abi Ball - Friday, 8 May 2015, 8:29 AM


This is a really well thought through (this is becoming my new pet phrase!) activity with lots of explanation and reflection on why you have included certain things and not others.  One thing I notice is that it is very front loaded - there are several steps (5/7) before you even meet the students.  Was this a conscious decision to try to avoid critical incidents?

You comment in your reflections that you are increasingly working to embed bite-sized drop-in micro-teaching sessions in colleagues’ lectures, do you think that this has impacted on your perception of good practice?  If you had the opportunity to design a complete module or programme what would you do differently?


Re: Brief inventory of good practice - Hazel Rothera
by Hazel Rothera - Friday, 8 May 2015, 9:17 AM

I think my experience with designing RLOs and online activities so far has shown me that there's no such thing as too much planning - everything I have ever thought could go wrong usually has at some point plus quite a few things that hadn't occurred to me! So it looks quite time-intensive - but the things I haven't checked always take far longer to sort out once they go wrong. Eg if I assume the students will all be enrolled on the Moodle course by the time they need to do their induction, and so I don't also put the online induction materials on Google Docs, then they aren't and I have to scramble to fix that. If I don't email a really detailed set of instructions on exactly where in Moodle the materials are, I just end up responding to endless individual emails from students who can't find them... etc.

I think the opportunity to embed micro-teaching has really reinforced my perception that that is better practice than the traditional big Library one-shot (or at least, the one-shot needs that regular micro-reinforcement). It's also really helped me with constructive alignment, in that if I ask (or am asked) to do micro-drop-ins, I have to look closely at where the students are in the module, when they're getting briefed on the assignment, what the assignment brief is, etc.

Designing a complete module for something like information literacy is an interesting one, because it brings you to the question of whether info lit is a separate bolt-on "thing" for which you can create a generic module (which would have potential utility for lots of students, but runs the risk of not integrating with their academic practice) or whether you weave it in and out of a whole course - which is harder work because you need to re-do it for every course, but potentially a lot more constructively aligned. 

What I'd really like would be to be involved with (say) all the academic literacy modules in a course at the design stage, and thus shape the overall picture of how information and digital literacies are integral to that course and discipline, weaving them into the learning outcomes and assessments as well as the teaching and activities - so that by the end of three years students had developed not just academic literacy, but information literacy for life/professional futures. Maybe I'll get there eventually!