Thursday, August 21, 2008

IL for pharmacy students

I am at the Creating Knowledge conference in Turku, Finland (using the laptop shown here). I will be blogging a number of sessions, and I'll start with ones from this morning. This is a conference of about 200 delegates, mainly from Nordic countries, particularly Finland. I'll start wth a session on Information Literacy for pharmacy students.
Heikki Laitinen talked about information literacy for pharmacy students at the University of Kuopio, Finland, where he is an information specialist. He noted that student in pharamacy are using information sources very soon after they start the course, and obviously the information needs change through the programme.
He mentioned a project amongst Finnish libraries to create doscipline-specific distance learning courses in information retrieval - this project is called TieDot. They developed the pharamaceutical course at Kuopio. It is currently available using Moodle, and at Kuopio is compulsory for all pharmacy students and is credit bearing. It is introduced in a face to face class. The content covers the scholarly publishing process as well as skills in information searching and knowledge of key sources. There are optional exercises where students can send their answers to the course tutor and get feedback. Feedback from the students was positive in terms of perceived relevance and learning, although there is a minority of students who would perefer face to face teaching.
His colleague who is an academic in the pharmacy department took over to explain aspects of teaching of information literacy in the curriculum in more detail. He also emphasised how professional accreditation means that there are constraints on what can be taught. Also the structure means that there are about 150-200 students in first years but many fewer in the final year. So two approaches are taken: the online course "pharmacology on the internet" and a critical journal club for the final year students. The online course has increasing emphasis on critical evaluation of the internet e.g. comparing an article from the web (which looks plausible but in fact is biased) with textbooks and investigating the author. The journal club has students critiquing articles from different perspectives. There are 3 relevant references:
- Macdonald, E. and Saarti, J. (2007) "Learning from other's mistakes: one approach to taeching ifnromation literacy. Liber quarterly, 17 (2).
- MacDonald, E. and Saarti, J (2003) "Pharmacology on the Internet – a Web-CT Course Teaching Information Literacy for Pharmacy Students in the University of Kuopio". Bioscience Education e-journal, 1.
- MacDonald, E. and Saarti, J. (2005) "Evaluation of a web-based course teaching information literacy to third year pharmacy students in the University of Kuopio, Finland". Pharmacy Education, 5,1-5.

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