Digital Literacy: The Experience of a Digital Learning Librarian
Marta Bustillo, the EDTL Digital Learning Librarian at University College Dublin, discusses her work on addressing the issue of digital literacy in students. She is in the process of developing a mini-module on the topic aimed at students with the assistance of UCD Student Intern Eimer Magee.
I joined the EDTL project in September 2021, working as a Digital Learning Librarian based in UCD Library and collaborating with the UCD EDTL team. My remit within the EDTL team is to roll out a suite of learning resources and workshops to help students in the College of Engineering and Architecture and the College of Science at UCD develop digital literacy skills.
What do we mean by “digital literacy skills”? At UCD Library we are focusing on five specific competencies, which will allow students and staff to:
- Understand digital identities and practices.
- Find and use digital information and data.
- Think critically and evaluate digital information and data.
- Create and communicate digital information.
- Collaborate and share in digital spaces.
Each competency area encompasses two key skills. For instance, under “Find and use digital information and data” students will learn how to:
- Select appropriate sources of digital information and data.
- Develop successful search strategies to find relevant information and data for academic, professional, and personal purposes.
UCD’s Digital Literacy materials are aimed at three levels of competency: foundation, intermediate and advanced. As an example, under ‘select appropriate sources of information and data’ the foundation level would include being able to find reading list material in UCD’s library catalogue, and the Advanced level would include the ability to deploy a variety of bibliographic databases from within and outside UCD Library to help with sophisticated literature reviews.
We are using the following guiding principles in the creation of all our resources:
- Stand-alone, extra-curricular mini-courses that can be added to a student’s personal development portfolio as proof of digital competency. These modules will address foundational digital skills for students which cannot be easily accommodated within specific academic modules in the UCD curriculum, but are nevertheless key to students’ success at university and in their later careers.
- ‘Students as partners’ approach: At least one student will always be included in the design team for every digital literacy e-tutorial, workshop or mini module, and their role will be equal to that of any other team member.
- Combination of face-to-face instruction sessions and self-directed online learning: Although self-paced online learning materials will be key to rolling out the digital literacy strategy at UCD, there will always be an option of face-to-face teaching and support available to complement the online learning.
- Re-use and adaptation of existing materials, especially those created within UCD and those available as Open Educational Resources elsewhere.
- Use of Creative Commons licenses for all materials created. They will be available as OERs that can be re-used and adapted within UCD, the IUA and beyond.
As a starting point to UCD Library’s Digital Literacy initiative I am currently working with EDTL student intern Eimer Magee in the design of a mini-module on Exploring Digital Identity, aimed at first-year undergraduate students. The module includes three interactive tutorials looking at digital footprint, academic online identity and digital wellbeing. Eimer’s perspective, her understanding of students’ digital and academic practices, as well as her hard work and creative attitude towards the project have been instrumental in the ongoing development of the tutorials. The three-unit course will be ready for a pilot launch in March, and it will be exciting to receive feedback from students, staff and library colleagues about the effectiveness of the module. All module materials will be made available as Open Educational Resources.
As the only librarian in the team, it has been amazing to work with other EDTL members and hear about their work helping staff and students across the Irish universities develop digital competencies in the midst of the COVID pandemic. I am particularly impressed with their collegial, collaborative approach to developing courses and resources, and I look forward to implementing some of their advice in the digital literacy materials we are creating at UCD Library. Participating in the EDTL’s National Forum-funded course last semester, “Getting Started with Personal and Professional Digital Capacity” (GSPPDC) was a great way of acquiring new skills in the creation of interactive online materials, which I am currently implementing in the Digital Identity course. GSPPDC also created an instant community of practice for me, with a committed group of colleagues from other Irish universities who are keen to share their expertise and help each other in the development of innovative digital teaching materials.
All in all, being a digital librarian in the EDTL team has so far been a really positive experience, and I am certain that positivity will help me create great digital literacy resources that I hope will be usable by students and teachers beyond UCD.
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