Digital Literacy

Finding Our Footing for OER Training: Information and Digital Literacies

Finding Our Footing for OER Training: Information and Digital Literacies

OER is becoming part of conversations throughout the UH system, with more than half of our campuses reporting new adoptions and opportunities. Excellent training and leadership from Leeward Community College (LCC) and Kapi’olani Community College (KCC), and continued advocacy are bringing OER to more students than ever. While we continue to support the OER project grantees, we are still hard at work refining processes for building and remixing open content.

Hawai’i will be well-represented at this year’s OpenEd conference in Anaheim, CA later this year, as two of our presentation session proposals have been accepted. And since my session will focus on our OER training initiative, it seemed a good idea to explain the structure and design of the workshops through a write-up. This post will walk through some of the concepts in information and digital literacy that are guiding the development of our OER training at UHM. For context, the overarching goal of our training is to help faculty gain confidence when creating and reusing OER for instruction, putting their hands at the helm.

On Spectrum

We can look to Helen Beetham and Rhona Sharpe’s (2010-2013) work on digital literacy for JISC for greater context around how OER training may fit into the professional identity of a faculty member. They provided a useful pyramid structure that stacks Access and Awareness, Skills, Practices, and Identity layers to represent an active progression from low to high literacy levels of students — which I believe carries over to adult learners (our faculty). Individuals grow from having discrete skills (such as being able to use the basic functions of a software tool) towards developing practices that reflect these skills (such as regularly updating their software toolbelt with new tools or techniques) and later to possessing advanced technical knowledge (such as critically reviewing a range of software of a certain purpose). To serve the diverse population at UH, our initial workshops will begin at the lower level skills that can become a foundation for later growth in digital literacy.

Beetham and Sharpe ‘pyramid model’ of digital literacy development model (2010) All rights reserved.

A branch of the same project from JISC yielded a set of “Seven Elements of Digital Literacy” that more specifically describe knowledge and skill areas within digital literacy — The Seven Elements describe what it means to meaningfully participate in a knowledge economy as a student, researcher, or academic professional. It’s easy to think of OER-specific skills that fit into each bucket, and that’s just what we plan to do with the compiled a list of learning objectives borrowed from other successful OER training initiatives from both outside and within the UH system.

Seven Elements of Digital Literacy by JISC / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

And while we cannot possibly cover all areas of digital literacy through our OER training, understanding how the topics would fit into broader categories can help guide other literacy workshops at UHM that are beyond the scope of our work. I’ve found JISC’s documentation to be comprehensive and communicated well, useful if you are designing new training resources around digital literacy.

What About Information Literacy?

If this discussion around digital literacy rings your bell, then you may be familiar with information literacy, which typically falls into the realm of training that academic librarians offer. Many institutions (including UH) are members of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and so we can look to the ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education* for overlap and weaving that might make sense with our OER training.

The ACRL’s information literacy standards are:

  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally

As with other structured information literacy descriptions such as SCONUL’s Seven Pillars and The Open University’s DIL framework, the ACRL framework focuses on knowledge, skills, and attitudes the individual should possess (or gain) to effectively and appropriately locate and use information — participate — in a knowledge society. Through an OER lens, the ‘information’ could be anything from a video to an ebook, or even a dataset. But where information literacy frameworks bring us to is a point that (in my opinion) suggests that digital content is largely used in whole, unmodified. One the other hand, digital literacy frameworks insist on participation and collaboration and the remixing of content that really leverages the open in OER. Open is the means to (or headway in the direction of) an end that I’d very much like to see, where faculty are collaborating across campuses and systems, building the kind of content and courseware that will do the most for their students.

To each their own, and until I hear screams of horror about weaving these frameworks together, we’ll go with it. UHM is currently without a comprehensive information literacy training program, and so our OER training may serve as a set of starting points for a broader information literacy training on our campus.

*Just before publishing this post I was reminded that ACRL is moving towards the Information Literacy Framework, which will be referenced going forward (thanks Sarah!).

Learning Objectives, Outcomes, Whathaveyou

At certain edges of the Open Education community you can hear calls for reform around outcomes, assessments, and grades. We don’t want faculty who participate in our training to feel as if they’ve been reduced to a number, but we do need a bar or standard of completion as we get skilled up so that learners can eventually become mentors.

Mapping instruments on a desk

Photo by Ruthie on Unsplash

To that end, we’ve combined the learning objectives used by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), those from Leeward Community College (LCC), and those from and Kapi’olani Community College (KCC) into a master list of sorts. Some of the objectives have been combined, but they are listed here:

  • Define and describe the importance of OER
  • Differentiate between Copyright, Fair Use, Creative Commons licensing, and Public Domain
  • Identify resources that are openly licensed, in the Public Domain, or all rights reserved
  • Distinguish between different types of Creative Commons licenses
  • License a work with a Creative Commons license
  • Upload a work into the UH OER repository
  • Combine work with different types of Creative Commons licenses
  • Properly attribute a Creative Commons licensed work
  • List useful repositories and search tools for finding OER
  • Find OER that are relevant to a specific area of study or research
  • Assess the technical openness of an OER (ALMS framework)
  • Download an OER from the UH OER repository
  • Describe techniques for creating accessible OER
  • Describe the steps necessary to plan for OER adoption

The above list gets most of the way towards covering three main areas that I specifically see value in issuing some sort of certificate or badge for:

  • Open Educational Resources 101 — Background and foundational ideas
  • Copyright, Fair Use, and Public Domain — Creative Commons, licensing/attribution/reuse
  • OER Creation and Adoption — Software tools and processes for publishing and remix

The curriculum supporting each of the objectives isn’t built yet, but in this post I am trying to explain the framing with regard to existing information literacy training. The idea is to identify which domains/pillars/elements from other frameworks are being supported by this work (that is specifically for OER), but with obvious overlapping information literacy benefits. In a perfect world, our training around OER would develop a common structure to inform faculty-directed workshops so that individual efforts across campus work in concert.

For example, objectives aligned to info/digi literacy frameworks could be described as such:

Objective Outcome Overlapping Frameworks
Properly attribute a Creative Commons licensed work Create a blog post or lesson plan that reuses a CC licensed image, giving proper attribution back to the creator. ACRL – Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose, JISC – Media Literacy (creatively produce media)
Differentiate between Copyright, Fair Use, Creative Commons licensing, and Public Domain Collect and share links to two educational resources found online (and that are useful for a specific purpose) that exist under each of four subsections of copyright status ACRL – Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally, JISC – Digital Scholarship (participate in emerging tech-based practices

After this process is done in earnest, certain lessons in the curriculum could potentially be reused in training supporting other literacy domains — paired with lessons developed for related purposes. We have specific goals, but a little pre-work to see how our training may fit within a more comprehensive training program can go a long way.

To encourage our faculty to collaborate on OER beyond the walls of their own buildings, we will need to include the creation of tangible OER artifacts in the training. We are currently using Google Docs for collaborative planning and for sharing drafts of work, and since UH is a Google Apps campus, all of our faculty have access to Drive and Docs already. I admire the use of Github, Gitbook, and other open source and/or collaborative platforms, but in our situation we need to meet faculty where they already are and then focus on the skills. I’ve delivered one-off Pressbooks how-to sessions for faculty, and I expect that will be in a second level of the OER Creation and Adoption training. One we get an understanding of the digital skills our faculty are bringing to the training, we can adapt the lessons to also include a constructionist approach — where learners contribute to a public knowledge base.

Onward!

Now that I’ve done some explaining of my thinking around the why, and a little about the how of the OER training, I’m hoping to get feedback from the community. In a round table session at the OTNSI, I asked the group of librarians if they were conducting training in a similar way, one that a OER-specific training could potentially be aligned with. None were aware of information literacy training happening in a highly-coordinated way at their campus, at least not one that was aimed at hitting specific pillars or domains. This may suggest that a set of trainings that hit at the core of being confident working with OER is still needed.

Photo by Fleur Treurniet on Unsplash

If you’re coming to OpenEd, I’d be interested to discuss similar projects happening elsewhere. The hope is to publish one more blog post prior to OpenEd, reflecting on the feedback I receive and sharing more details of the lesson design and overall structure. While there are many directions this project could go, my goal is to to get open, adaptable OER into the hands of faculty as soon as possible — setting them up to take back control of their instructional materials. The more skilled collaborators we have within our networks, the better.

A special thanks goes to Rajiv Jhangiani and Sarah Cohen for feedback on this post.

Posted by Billy Meinke in Creative Commons, Training