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Digital Pedagogy - A Guide for Librarians, Faculty, and Students

This guide is meant to inform the user about Digital Pedagogy. It includes information on educational theory, a collection of case studies, and resources relevant to the study of digital pedagogy.

Benefits and Challenges of Online Learning Modules

Information Literacy Module for Social Work Students at James Cook University

In her article, “Is an online learning module an effective way to develop information literacy skills,” (2009), Nicole Johnson, James Cook University, describes a case study that  had all first year social work students complete a required information literacy module that was developed by the library in collaboration with faculty members. The aim of the online module was to give students basic training in information literacy and research skills. The online module introduced students to the following skill sets: developing effective search strategies, citing using APA, using subject specific databases, and evaluating websites. It had an activity based assessment component, and students were asked to provide feedback via Survey Monkey, on the effectiveness of the training.


  • students indicated that they enjoyed the self-paced, flexible nature of online delivery
  • important first step to building information literacy skills in students
  •  online module was a great opportunity for collaboration between librarians and academics
  • accomplished the basics of teaching information literacy skills via a self-paced method.


  • students commented that a combination of face-to-face and online instruction would be valuable
  • the creation of the module and evaluation of student results was a large time commitment for the librarian

Online Module Project - University of Southern California - Schools of Journalism and Social Work 

Halpern and Tucker, describe an online module project at the University of Southern California, where librarians embedded in the Schools of Social Work and Journalism wanted to create a suite, or toolkit of online learning modules that would help their students acquire information literacy skills: modules that were interactive, modular, and pedagogically sound. These online modules focused on developing search strategies, finding sources, and using sources, and the modules were built around four pedagogical principles:

Principle #1: adult-centered tasks are highly relevant to a problem

Principle #2: adult-centered instruction is problem based

Principle #3: adult-centered instruction acknowledges the learners prior experiences

Principle #4: adult-centered instruction is self-directed

For Halpern and Tucker, the benefits were as follows:

  • online tutorials allow librarians to provide point of need instruction to students without having to rely on course instructions to relinquish staff time
  • tutorials are self- paced
  • tutorials can be re-watched by students at their leisure
  • tutorials can be embedded into courseware and other software such as libguides
  • tutorials can also be incorporated into a flipped classroom,

Face-to-Face versus online Information Literacy Instruction for Sociology Undergradates - 

In “Online and Face-to-Face Library Instruction: Assessing the Impact on Upper-Level Sociology Undergraduates,” Hess conducted a study that assessed how teaching medium impacted absorption and understanding. In this case, upper level sociology students were asked to complete information literacy training. The students could choose between online or face-to-face delivery. Students could also take advantage of both approaches. Student participants were asked to complete a survey at the end of the training period, and Hess used a variety of statistical measures in order to determine whether there were any significant differences within the two approaches. The content of the module and training session was based on ACRL information literacy standards. Although the author indicates that there were no significant differences in terms of the results, and there was no significant difference in perceptions of learning formats before and after library instruction, those students who used the online modules indicated that they were more likely to turn to the library for their research needs.


  • findings indicate that online instruction is just as effective as face to face instruction
  • blended learning, a combination of online and face-to-face instruction, would be the best approach to information literacy instruction.
  • creating online IL modules creates opportunities for forming deeper, more meaningful academic partnerships between faculty members and librarians

Challenges of Online Learning Objects

Challenges of Online Learning Objects

The following challenges have been outlined by OCULA's Information Brief on Learning Objects

  • Librarians are not usually instructional designers and as such:
  • poorly designed LO can be a barrier to learning, especially when it comes to accessibility
  • developing a well-designed LO can take a great deal of resources, including staff time, software purchases, and professional development for librarians to acquire design skills
  • Maintenance of LOs can be costly as LOs should also be reviewed regularly for currency and relevance
  • Assessment should be carried out to see whether the objects are still meeting your learners’ needs
  • Learning preferences should be taken into consideration as well