Thursday, August 12, 2010

IFLA Report: Queensland University of Technology Library's approach to learning support

This report on a talk given by Vicki McDonald yesterday continues blog posts from the 76th IFLA General Conference and Assembly, held 10-15 August 2010, in Gothenburg, Sweden. The conference site is at There is a podcast of this talk here, courtesy of Niels Damgaard. The full paper is available as follows:
Vicki McDonald (Library Services, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Queensland, Australia) Get the edge, get ahead: Queensland University of Technology Library's approach to learning support
QUT has had a strong Information Literacy programme for some years and has IL as graduate attrribute, and an IL framework was endorsed by the university in 2001. However in 2008 a new initiative created "Integrated literacies” combining academic literacies and information literacies.
There is an Integrated Literacies action plan, affecting a range of staff involved in supporting learners. However, although they had intergrated action plans and strategy, two sets of staff were still really working separately. Therefore there have been a number of integrative steps.

In the past academic year they introduced Studywell, a website which has learning resources for Integrated Literacies.The website is at There are three main ways into the resource: "Know about" (topic listing), "I want to" (e.g. "I want to read more critically") and "This week think about ...". Academic staff have been enthusiastic about the resource. They have a flash based and an accessible version of the site. This material is being used in all library workshops and tutorials, so students can go away and orientate themselves in the website in their own time. The site has powerpoints with clear text and lots of images. They have some templates and course material (e.g. a weekly reading template)

They only just finished user testing last week. Students like the modern feel, use of colour, meaningful terms, and the accessible version (some prefer text to images). The "I want" category was underused and "This week" section not noticed, and they need to promote individual bits of Studywell better, in contexts where they are immediately relevant.
A second approach has been to introduce 25 minute one-on-one consultations with learners, called Study Solutions. These have been very enthusiasticly received. They had, in the first year, 191 appointments, with a large numberof consultations initiated by students themselves. The most popular topics for discussion were task analysis and essay writing, followed by researching. They are now offering an increased number of sessions. Vicki noted that the Library also continues to be key provider of learning and it is continuing to work to embed IL in the curriculum
The need for proper staff training, including of paraprofessionals, was mentioned, and Vicki showed an advert for an internal training course. I know from previous visits to QUT library that they have had a policy of supporting library staff in learning about teaching, including supporting them to get qualifications.
In the next academic year QUT library will have a new help desk model, staffed by “learning advisors”, who will be people specifically employed to work on them. To free up staff, they have been trying to cut down questions and staff involvement in lending (e.g. by simplifying procedures). The library is also developing a one stop information portal for learner support (services from across the university); "learner support" being the key emphasis.
Photo by Sheila Webber: (1) The exhibition, and (2) I failed to find any freebie chocolate worth speaking of on the exhibitors' stands. It must be the recession.

No comments: