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eSKILLS UNE
The University of New England Print-friendly
  Goal

eSKILLS UNE www.une.edu.au/library/infolit/index.htm is a suite of information literacy materials on the web. The goals in creating eSKILLS UNE were to:

  • provide information literacy resources for external students who had web access
  • provide information literacy resources which could be used by internal and external students at their time of need
  • provide an alternative to face-to-face information literacy classes for internal students
  • provide a suite of information literacy resources to which lecturers could refer students.

 

Prior to the creation of eSKILLS UNE, students could gain information literacy skills through on-campus classes including the Technology Passport, through introductory workshops on computing and library skills, or through a CD and print resource called tUNEup.

 

The skills that the eSKILLS program seeks to develop are information literacy skills as defined by the standards of Australia and New Zealand (see 'Notes') - there are six standards and they are outlined on the eSKILLS UNE home page. A copy of the standards is also available by visiting www.caul.edu.au/info-literacy and clicking on the link 'Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice'.

  Context

The University of New England (UNE) has a large external student cohort, and the project sought to offer them equitable access to training for the UNE graduate attribute of information literacy. Many students are reliant upon low-speed internet connections, so maximising accessibility was important.

 

The project demanded a range of skills, many of which are not traditional strengths of librarians. These included project management, web design / graphic knowledge, content knowledge, curriculum design and writing, evaluation skills, and advocacy. Implementation required ensuring that content authors were aware of appropriate writing styles for the web.

  Practice

A seminar in July 2000 - attended by Library staff, Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) staff and some academic staff - explored the issue of how the Library could contribute to online teaching. It was agreed that the Library should prepare information literacy materials which could be accessed by self-motivated students as well as recommended by lecturers, thus facilitating incorporation of information literacy into courses.

 

The application of change management principles facilitated a speedy and successful implementation with minimal resources. Consistent support for the project was achieved through continued involvement of Library staff and stakeholders and conscious attention to regular communication. An adequate amount of time was allowed for people to accept the new direction and for the work to be done. Having clear lines of responsibility contributed to the smooth running of the project.

 

eSKILLS UNE was launched in early 2001. While the core content is strongest in library skills areas of information literacy, the suite links extensively to content elsewhere at UNE and throughout the world to provide a single point of access for those needing to build information literacy knowledge and skills. This broad focus is one of the strengths of eSKILLS UNE.

 

Information Literacy Standards (2001) www.caul.edu.au/caul-doc/InfoLitStandards2001.doc endorsed by the Council of Australian University Librarians provided a valuable and authoritative structure for the site as they described in a practical way the process many people undergo when finding and using information. Desirable learning outcomes were already expressed and many examples were suggested without being too prescriptive. This enabled us to develop our content much more quickly and it was relatively easy to fit the various topics into the framework provided by the standards. Existing resources and web sites were also examined for examples of good practice.

 

In web design, to achieve backward and cross-platform compatibility, we avoided use of technologies such as JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). These would have simplified some tasks and allowed us to incorporate more sophisticated navigational schemes, but their omission greatly simplified the testing process and met our accessibility goals.

 

The eSKILLS UNE project was largely aimed at undergraduates. Meeting the needs of postgraduates required the later development of eSKILLS Plus www.une.edu.au/library/eskillsplus/index.htm

  Evidence of Success

Early reviews by UNE educational designers and peer reviews from staff at a number of libraries, combined with more recent reviews by a senior student and new staff member, have been favourable. Practical suggestions made for improvements have been acted on as resources permit. A survey of academics at the end of one semester, in addition to ongoing informal feedback, indicates that the resource is viewed very positively. The incorporation of links within units to specific sections of eSKILLS UNE to support training in information literacy began slowly and has steadily increased.

 

tUNEup (a university preparation course) has been developed as an online unit as part of the teaching strategy.

  Resources Required

The project was completed without additional resources. The stability of content and ease of updating has provided a dependable resource at minimal ongoing cost.

 

Twelve staff members from the Library, the Teaching and Learning Centre and the Information Technology Directorate (ITD) were involved to varying degrees in planning and creating the site. Additional Library staff assisted with proofreading and checking.

 

The Access Services Librarian directed the project, forming a coordinating group with managers from the TLC and ITD. A Faculty Librarian spent approximately three months as the main designer and content writer. Three other staff from the Library and one from the TLC contributed some content. The Library webmaster spent approximately a month designing and establishing the site. TLC and ITD staff members were involved in planning, confirming and checking the proposed structure of the site and providing a small number of graphics.

 

Ms Kim Harris, Faculty Librarian for Economics, Business and Law, was designer of the structure of eSKILLS UNE and the main content writer.

  Notes

In July 2004 the site was updated and given a new appearance, the entry page was amended to make it less cluttered and more visually appealing, and navigation was improved. The second edition (2004) of the Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: Principles, Standards and Practice (edited by Alan Bundy and published by the Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy, Adelaide) dropped Lifelong Learning as a seventh standard, so there was a minor change in structure to update to this.

 

Subsequently, the site was updated again since 2007. This work involved the addition of self-assessment quizzes and additional interactivity. There was also a general revision of the text and some replacement of out-of-date content. This has added value, but further progress has been slowed due to resource constraints.

 

The intention is to revise eSKILLS UNE for a third time in 2011. The revision will add additional content drawn from eSKILLS Plus and include screen-casts to supplement text-based content. It is also intended to revise eSKILLS UNE to accommodate changes to Web standards; eSKILLS UNE is almost 10 years old and needs to be brought up-to-date in coding terms. The use of CSS will allow enhancements in terms of accessibility and navigability.

  Contact
Name Ms Celia Munro
Position Information Services Manager, UNE Library
Work Phone (02) 6773 2957
Fax (02) 6773 3273
Email cmunro5@une.edu.au
Contributor Website www.une.edu.au
Validating body AUQA
Reference document Report of an Audit of The University of New England
Commendation # 8
Date this GP Posted 21 December 2004
Last Updated 20 December 2010
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