Making information literacy online come alive

Anna Kågedal


Experiences from creating an online course for Public Health students

This paper aims to present the development of an online course in which teachers and librarians cooperated closely to create a syllabus that aims to allow students to fulfill the following goals:

learn how to find, search and critically examine information about Public Health Arenas,

acquire referencing and citing skills,

practice in giving and receiving constructive feedback.


The librarians created a lesson for the course with the following content:

short film clip to enhance focus on the importance of being able to find and evaluate proper information in the work life,

lecture on ways to think in order to enhance information searching skills,

tutorial for a major database,

collection of links to sites on reference management and reference management programs.

In the course there were Information literacy (IL) tasks especially aimed at finding scientific articles and managing references for writing a paper. The IL tasks were written by the teacher and librarian together. Grading and feedback were done by librarians.


The first time the setup did not work very well. When students handed assignments to the librarian, few seemed to have followed the instructions. Few students referred to searching in databases, and few had actually found and chosen relevant scientific articles for their assignments. The students were not able to examine the reference management of their peers in an acceptable manner. A plausible explanation is that since they couldn't manage their own references well, they couldn't examine their peers performance either.

In preparation for the next round (fall 2012), the teacher and librarian got together to come up with a way to help the students perform better. Together they evaluated the IL task setup, and came up with the idea that the IL part, where the students were to describe how they found relevant material to work with, had to precede the actual writing of the paper, and could be assessed as a separate task by the librarian. This would ensure that students would not write papers based on substandard sources, but on articles approved by the teachers.

The information search became a separate task that was to be handed in and approved by the librarian before the students could start writing their papers. The lectures, film and tutorial were left untouched. The reference management was still peer examined and evaluated by the librarian. The difference in results was remarkable. Information searching skills, reference management skills and the overall subject skills were improved compared to the previous course.

Allthough the teaching librarian and teacher noticed a remarkable difference from one semester to another, and the teacher saw remarkable change throughout the course in managing sources, the number of students in the fall 2012 were too few to actually draw any firm conclusions. In spring 2013 there are more students taking the course and it will be interesting to see how they perform.


Copyright (c) 2013 Anna Kågedal

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University of Bergen Library

ISSN: 1890-5900