I. Introduction
1. Application Description
The Information Literacy Education (ILE) project is a flexible online learning environment designed to deliver information literacy (IL) instruction and assessment. The structure is based upon the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. To date, ILE has provided instruction and assessment opportunities to over 12,000 students.
2. Theory or Idea behind the method
The foundational underpinnings of ILE provide the structure for the educational intervention following the concept of Inform, Instruct, Assess Learning, and Assess Transfer.

The intervention begins by introducing students to what is expected of them after working through learning object (LO). Student learning is facilitated by working through online LOs and assessed through multiple-choice quizzes. An assessment of a students’ ability to transfer what they have learned is conducted through short answer or essay questions.
3. Why ILE?
The overarching goal of most academic library instruction units is to develop the information literacy skills of the institutions students. The challenge is always how to approach this objective in meaningful way.

Nearly all library instruction efforts can be placed on a spectrum. At one end are the most general kinds of information literacy sessions. These sessions are repeated to reach, for example, the entire freshman class at a college or university. They are not customized to a particular course or even departmental curriculum. A small cadre of librarians may teach large blocks of these sessions in the first few weeks of an academic term. An advantage of this kind of library instruction is scalability; instruction librarians can reach a large student population. Also, it provides a foundation for meaningful assessment across an expansive group. A disadvantage of this kind of learning experience is that students often do not understand the relevance because of a lack of context and it is simply too difficult to provide adequate information literacy instruction in one session.

At the other end of the spectrum are information literacy teaching instances where the librarian is co-teaching, or is perhaps the instructor of record, for a credit bearing course. The librarian gets to know students and their shared experience is often within the context of a subject discipline. The librarian has numerous class sessions to foster the growth of student information literacy skills. The main drawback to this kind of teaching arrangement for librarians is its scalability. If a library instruction units aim is to nurture the information literacy skills of all students (within a department or school or academic institution) focusing so much effort on one course is not a wise strategy.

ILE is a powerful learning space chiefly because it utilizes the benefits of instructional activities at both ends of the spectrum while minimizing the drawbacks. ILE is very scalable; thousands of students use the space in any one term. At the same time, ILE is much more than an online list of recommended tutorials for a given course or departmental curriculum, or a generic overview of library services and resources. Instructors and librarians work together before the research project is assigned to populate an ILE learning space with tutorials and assessment activities that are customized to the research assignment(s) of the course. Students feel empowered because engaging activities within the learning space helps them successfully complete their required course work. Instructors are pleased that they do not need to devote any valuable class time to use of the space, with students greater use of scholarly materials, and most importantly, with better final writing projects. Instruction librarians are happy because their tutorials are being used in a meaningful context. They also have assessment data from students they can use to measure information literacy skill development and they can direct back into the process of creating better instructional materials. Instruction librarians are also delighted to be fruitfully addressing their primary goal.

Last edited Jan 20, 2012 at 6:24 PM by sborrelli, version 9


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