thing 22: Online Learning

We are happy to welcome Heather Collins (University of Kansas Medical Center), Joelle Pitts (Kansas State University), & Matt Upson (Oklahoma State University) from the steering committee of the New Literacies Alliance! They will be our guest facilitators for this “online thing.”

~Amy Mars, Trent Brager, & Kim Pittman (Co-creators of 23 Framework Things)


“As you consider what students should be able to do, remember that the Framework expanded what is expected of students. They are required to be both consumers and creators of information within digital environments (ACRL, 2016). By placing Framework content in online learning objects, students are learning and demonstrating their abilities in the ‘natural environment’” (Pitts, Kearns & Collins, 2017 emphasis added).

Creating learning experiences that focus on the knowledge practices and dispositions in the Framework poses a much bigger challenge than doing so for the skills in the ACRL Standards for Information Literacy in Higher Education. The skills were more straight-forward-  much better suited to ‘matching’ and simpler instructional design techniques. Teaching Framework areas online can require more strategy and finesse.

The New Literacies Alliance (NLA) is a consortium of librarians from across the nation that have been creating meta-literacy-based online objects for over 5 years. They were early adopters of Framework elements in online objects as they strove to address the  ‘new literacies’ required for academic success and lifelong learning.

The New Literacies Alliance Steering Committee is the guest host for this ‘Thing’ and is eager to share our experience and passion for this work with you!

Choose your own adventure:

Option 1:

Read about the process for creating online learning objects using the Framework on the New Literacies Alliance webpage and/or in chapter 4 of their book:

Pitts, J., Kearns, S., & Collins, H. (2017). Creating and Sharing Online Library Instruction: A How-to-do-it Manual for Librarians. Chicago: Neal-Schuman an imprint of the American Library Association.

How would you transfer one of your face-to-face teaching concepts to an online environment? How would you begin? What advantages would you have to joining the NLA or a group like the NLA?

Option 2:

Pick a Framework-based online learning object from one of the information literacy repositories below and review it. How would you remix one of these online learning objects to fit into your teaching? Do you think it is easier to teach Framework concepts in person or online? Why?  

Option 3:

Read chapter 3 and appendix D from this book on creating learning objects:

Pitts, J., Kearns, S., & Collins, H. (2017). Creating and Sharing Online Library Instruction: A How-to-do-it Manual for Librarians. Chicago: Neal-Schuman an imprint of the American Library Association.

What brand new object would you like to create? Post a brief comment below describing the outline for an online learning object (lesson) using the steps in the book to guide you. What part of the Framework will you focus on? Create an outcome statement, and select one of the common instructional design program activities (p.29) to assess the student’s competency. (You may choose to preview examples of completed lessons from the New Literacies Alliance here) Are you interested in working with someone on your project? Pitch your idea and see if you can partner with someone here!



  1. I took a look at this video tutorial on peer review I thought it was great – I thought it did a good job of not only explaining peer review, but giving a quick overview to let students know that there has been some push back toward this style of research publication in recent years – not enough to be confusing or drawn out, but just enough to get it on their radar.

    I could see doing something like this specific to a discipline as well, perhaps including some discussion of the major journals in the discipline or the quirks to peer review in that area.

    I personally like the idea of the advantages of online teaching for the framework, although it doesn’t come up much for me specifically (yet). Online instruction is so flexible – you’re not limited to the specific length of time, or the specific setting of one session. I like the idea of being able to chunk it into small pieces (which together might actually be longer than one fifty minute session!) that can then be strategically included at the best points in the course for relevance to the students’ work. Of course this can be done in person too, with multiple short class visits, but the reality is that this is not usually what happens. This is much more feasible in an online course with things like short videos or tutorials embedded at strategic locations. This also allows students to easily refer back to the materials later on as well.


  2. Question Authority from the New Literacies Alliance
    Why Does Authority Matter in the Research Process?

    Review: This lesson uses text, images, video, and an interactive quiz (Qualtrics) to discuss the importance of evaluating a source in the research process for authority. Immediate feedback is given, which encourages the reader to continue with the lesson. The graphic at the end of the lesson gives a good overview of the topic presented.

    I would use this lesson in a face-to-face class by having students navigate to the website, and follow along as we watched the videos as a group. I would then have them get into groups to discuss what they consider to be an authoritative source. We would then decide on the answers to the Quiz as a whole, and have a conversation about the results.

    Framework concepts can be taught online; however, face-to-face allows for more conversation and explanation. When taught online, opportunities should be provided to contact the professor or librarian for further clarification.


  3. I searched the New Literacies Alliance Lessons repository and came across the pre-framework lesson called, “Help Yourself: Troubleshooting.” It is a brief lesson on some common computer troubleshooting issues. Since nowadays nearly all research is done on a computer, it is vital to know how to fix common problems that arise from technology and using the internet. I like how the activity was brief and had images. It also had a quiz with interactive elements. However, there was a lot of wording and the “move to the next page” button was very small and hard to find.

    If I was using this learning object, I would make the “Next Page” button larger and a lot more noticeable. I would also build in some interactivity by having the students demonstrate the action that leads to the errors and then choosing how best to fix that error. I would not provide instructions in paragraphs, but rather bullet points. I would use this lesson in a face to face class. I would review the information about how to fix common errors with the class and then have them practice the interactive/quiz section on their own. Teaching a lesson like this would be difficult in a completely online environment because instructions would be lengthy.


  4. I selected Option 2 and looked at Search Strategies, which aligns with the frame Searching as Strategic Exploration, on the New Literacies Alliance website. Search Strategies is very clear, provides good information, and is easy to use; I like the interactive nature of the online lesson, which requires the student to read, to watch a video, and to take a quiz at the end. It also includes an interactive tool which, based on the student’s selection, shows search results. Students have the option of going back and selecting a different option to see how their new search terms affect the results. The short video on creating keywords is excellent.

    At my school, we teach one-shot Information Literacy classes in person. It would be nice if we added an online component to the library homepage so that students could teach themselves and/or review these lessons to help them learn various skills and strategies to improve their interaction with library resources. Since library information classes are not mandatory, not all students receive the benefit of being in an academic course that attends a library session. The online resources would provide students with another way of learning how to navigate the library’s resources.


  5. Recently, a faculty member and I began batting around ideas for a new assignment she wants to do in the fall with one of her courses. We want to incorporate bibliographic instruction into the assignment, to provide the students with some much needed prior knowledge and practice before they delve into the assignment.

    The frame that I will use for the assignment is “Authority is Constructed and Contextual,” and I already have some of the work done through powerpoint slides designed for another library instruction. Much of my previous instruction work was done in an online setting, so teaching online is not the hurdle that worries me. I’m more worried about translating this particular frame into its smaller parts that will translate into the online environment. For a situation like this one – where I am teaching concepts that address a specific assignment, I work with and build on the facets of the assignment, identifying the areas in which the students will need instruction in bibliographic concepts. Now, working with the framework, I stack the assignment and its ensuing bibliographic concepts with the selected frame and pinpoint the knowledge practices and dispositions that students should begin to exhibit when I finish teaching, via post-instructional assessment. Prior to instruction, the students will complete a pre-instructional assessment, so understanding can be assessed (to a point).

    The NLA lesson, “Question Authority,” is fabulous; and I am going to look at it closely as I build my own online teaching module. There is some very good information there that I find inspirational. My instructional module will be very closely aligned to the specific assignment, but I like the way that the NLA lesson is laid out.

    I’m going to look closely at the NLA and consider joining, because the volunteer model intrigues me; and the existing content is rich and deep.


  6. In prior posts, I shared my limited success with a version of Pass the problem/jigsaw exercise in an in person setting. In order to make this work in an online setting I searched for another idea that I could play with. A search in Project CORA led me to this exercise:

    What I would like to do is merge the speed dating exercise with the pass the problem/jigsaw idea. Students would sign up online for a database and then have to answer the same questions in the original assignment and create a “profile” for others to view. Within that profile there will be suggestions for appropriate research topics and questions that would best match that particular database. Students would then use the suggested data for their questions and report back on whether the recommendations were correct. Then students would be able to chime in with “did you try this other one” as part of a discussion.

    In the immediate future I will try to apply this lesson for a “flipped classroom” exercise. Ideally the students will come to class already primed to work with databases and we can move onto other questions on how to refine your research question or a discussion of what is a “scholarly” source to bring up the Frame of “Authority is constructed and contextual”.

    I think the question of whether teaching the Framework is easier in person or online needs to be reframed. It does not matter the medium it is taught in, as long as there are affective learning objectives and buy in from the faculty/administration to introduce and use the language provided in the Framework. The challenge is more how to start the conversation around dispositions and knowledge practices in language that is accessible.


  7. I’ve been thinking about bringing more aspects of my teaching online, especially since the classes that have shown the most interest in my help have been online classes with no formal library instruction embedded in the course. Ultimately, I work with the instructors to give them resources and have met with students quite a bit for one-on-one sessions.

    However, based on what I hear from instructors, I think they’d really appreciate being able to direct their students towards modules introducing them to some of the basics of appropriately finding and using research to inform their final capstone projects. I’d like to be able to direct instructors to modules crafted specifically for their courses, similar to the way the NLA is set up, so they could assign the library modules they feel would be the most appropriate for their classes at any particular time.

    The benefits to being part of NLA would be the opportunity to help inspire new modules but the collaborative work would also help ensure that important details aren’t left out the way they might if only one or two people were working on it.


  8. Learning object:
    The way I would use this in my teaching would depend on what technology is available and how much initiative the class’s instructor is willing to take. Ideally, the students would go through this tutorial before our time together and prepare questions for the session, then we would review these concepts, go into more detail of their required citation style, then do some activities. If this would not work, I would use some of the concepts from this tutorial in my teaching session, such as using Star Wars as an example for paraphrasing and summarizing. Finally, if I only was able to reach the class through a research guide, this would be a perfect link to include.
    I don’t think teaching Framework concepts is easier either online or in person; it depends on how many concepts you need to get through, how much time you have, how engaged the students are, what resources are available, etc. Ideally, having one class per frame would work perfectly; however, realistically this never works out. Combining in-person (for those really important aspects) with virtual (for skills and concepts that may be less important for a particular course) is the most realistic option.


  9. Developing a good research question is crucial for my Senior Seminar students, who have only one semester for their capstone papers. The Ask the Right Questions tutorial (in the ACRL Sandbox and also tagged as New Literacies Alliance) might prove useful to these learners.

    Since the tutorial is brief (It could even stand to have extra pages instead of some pages with material below the fold.), it won’t prove taxing. It uses the example of flu vaccines, a topic which would interest many of my students. The interactive quiz is an important feature in that it gives students some practice. The video is closed captioned, and the captioning contains relatively few errors.

    I wouldn’t remix this item in the sense of changing anything in it, though I’d include other tutorials with varied examples. Then learners would have additional practice with different topics.

    I could use it in the online sections of the course, or to supplement face-to face or blended sections. I’ve worked with this course in all formats. I wouldn’t say that one format is easier for teaching these concepts than another: Each has its strengths and challenges. I’ve had more extended contact with students in the online sections, yet the online asynchronous format is harder in terms of scaling feedback. Also, a lot would depend on the instructor, the students, and the desired outcomes.



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