Wednesday, August 18, 2010

OIL Module

Module Six
For the second evaluation pair activity, Veronique and I decided to look at Module six from OIL Online Information Literacy. We communicated via email and shared our views.

Module six focuses on specific skill ‘Searching for Information’ in a step-by-step format. The aims of lessons are outlined at the very beginning of the module and they are directly related to the learning outcomes. This is a well constructed module with an easy to use interface and is elegantly simple.

The site allows optimum readability with sufficient white space. There aren’t any long scrolling pages. The format is uncluttered and colour and fonts are used effectively and consistently. The writing style is clear and easy to understand. At the end of each session there are interactive quiz to complete that provide instant feedback. This sequence is repeated for all sessions.

Lessons are organized in non threatening way with small chunk of information followed by graphic demos and animations which make the comprehension easier. Specific terminologies appear in purple when place the mouse over the word/phrases it gives the definition. In addition to that there is also a glossary page at the end of the lesson.

The navigation menu appears on the left hand side on each page offering a choice for the learners to complete the lessons at his/her discretion without following a linear order. There are a graphical navigation buttons at the end of each page which allow the learners to go back and forth from the lessons. There is also handy print option available for selected pages of whole module.

I tried to do some exercises but instructions are not very clear. For example, the help but was not active Truncation exercise. It says, ‘check the ‘Help’ for each search tool to find which symbol to use’. It’s not clear what this is actually referring to.

Some demos took a long time to download so I lost interest and navigated away from the page. The reason could be because I was using a dial up connection. Veronique did not experience any problem as she was on broadband wonder if they picked up this problem during the evaluation. If we are planning to make the course accessible to a wide range of learners then we need to avoid slow downloads.
Veronique also brought a point about timing to work through an entire module. Again it would take longer for dial up users than broadband users. She quoted Alex on the last elluminate session, saying they develop modules of learning that take no longer than 20 minutes to work through. I think it is something we should consider in elearning/teaching.

Lacks of visual and audio technologies are obvious on the site. Highlighted terminologies with definition would have been much better if sound is attached to them. The option of listening to instructions could have been appealing to auditory learners. Catering for a variety of learning styles would help the learners to engage in the lessons. However, I must agree that the site has a thoughtful design, with very useful resources. Incorporating different media types such as sound is something to consider in the future.

Veronique mentioned that the Module 6 is often used by the Otago Poly staff as a preparation exercise before going to the library for a hands-on with library staff. Then they have the online module to refer back to for reference. One concern is that some sections are very specific to Otago University library services. The searching skills gained in this module should easily transfer to searching any library, but for novice learners it could be quite confusing. So it may be worthwhile customizing these with examples from your own library. All the modules can be edited and republished (guidelines are provided in the Springboard module). This requires a bit of technical know-how to accomplish.


  1. Mareena this is a comprehensive description of the Searching for Information module which you evaluated with your partner. You have identified some items which could cause big frustration for students on dial-up connections. At the level of digital information literacy for which this module was designed - lower level users - such problems could be very off-putting. This demonstrates the necessity of getting the balance of "fancy stuff" and "usable stuff" right doesn't it?

    You have done a good job on this, some constructive suggestions balanced with the "fish hooks" you encountered. Great work.

  2. The customisation issue is important because students soon lose interest if a resource does not appear to be relevant to their learning. What would you expect to be a feature of a customisable resource - easy to update without needing to use sophisticated technology.