Saturday, August 23, 2008

Evidence Based Practice

At the start of the week I blogged about the Norwegian tutorial Search and Write (available in English and Norwegian). At the Creating Knowledge conference in Turku, Finland, Therese Skagen (University of Bergen Library, Norway) talked about this project in the context of Evidence Based Practice (EBP) and use of projects to develop EBP. She identified some challenges to EBP including time allocation, dissemination (within and outside the library), competences (in research and planning), and resources. Management needs to be supportive, and you need to believe that research can be of value to the organisation.
She suggested trying out EBP in a small area of the library service to begin with. Therese saw gains from EBP in terms of, for example, your own learning, strategic understanding or (organisationally) increased quality of service and better morale.
She went on to talk about the project of making the Search and Write tutorial. It was EBP as they did research beforehand and took an evidence based approach to developing and evaluating it (including drawing out lessons for future project work). Three university libraries collaborated on teh project: University of Bergen, Bergen University College, and Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration.
To start with they researched information searching and academic writing, plus they looked at experience from practice within 4 university libraries. They managed to get funding (I think from the Norwegian Open University): someone I was talking to here noted that the fact is that projects which get some proper funding (whether from inside or outside the institution) do have more of a chance of being successful.
A work group for Search and Teach was formed to work on the tutorial; group members came from the 3 different libraries, so they had to "form" as a group. They also had an advisory group with faculty memebrs and other librarians. As well as the actual tutorial, there is a handbook for librarians (in Norwegian) sok & skriv for kursholdere (handbook for librarians) and there will be an article on the pedagogical considerations in the next issue of Communications in Information Literacy (volume 2 issue 1 I assume).
Challenges included the amount of time needed to develop the tutorial, cooperation with partners outside project (someone in the audience, from another university, said that the work group had done a good job of communicating), marketing, and updating the pages (a challenge for the future).
Positive aspects were: success (and experience) in applying for funds, influence on decision making, larger understanding of how the organisation works, developing their role as educators and other professional development.
Someone in the audience asked why the group hadn't used a virtual learning environment - the answer was that this was because the 3 universities developing it had three different systems! I must say I'm grateful, as in its current open form on the web it can be used by everyone.
There is some further information about the project in English at:
Photo by Sheila Webber: Loistokari island, Finland, where we had the conference dinner, August 2008

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