Information Literacy Online (ILO) - An Erasmus+ Project to improve students’ competencies

In November 2016, the EU project ILO was started with the aim to develop, evaluate and disseminate a multilingual open access online course (MOOC) designed to improve students’ abilities to cope with the demands of today’s information society.

Information Literacy (IL) is ‘the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning‘ (American Library Association, 2016). IL as a social key competence is particularly essential in post-secondary education and research. ILO will follow an extended IL concept known as ‘metaliteracy’ (Mackey and Jacobson, 2011; Jacobson and Mackey, 2016) which includes the collaborative production and sharing of information in digital environments. The concept of metaliteracy is integrated into the new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (American Library Association, 2016). Since the MOOC should address students with different knowledge levels, the SCONUL approach (Bent and Stubbings, 2011) based on the same assumption will be used.

According to many studies (e.g. Maughan 2001; Katz 2007; Rubinić et al., 2013), student’s information literacy levels are generally low. Most college curricula do not include content aiming at the development of information literacy, and the efforts libraries invest in teaching information literacy seem to be insufficient. However, since the concept of information literacy is widely unknown outside the information science community, an attractive tutorial is needed which can be developed on a broad basis of available material. Accordingly, the main outcome of the ILO project will be a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for developing information literacy focusing on higher education students.

MOOCs are online courses with no entry barriers aiming at unlimited participation. As open source software solutions are available for MOOCs, the project can focus on developing the content of the course and the accompanying research. Project ILO will at first concentrate on information literacy elements which are relevant for all subjects/disciplines. Examples for such general information literacy elements are Boolean operators, basic principles in knowledge organization, or basic knowledge of copyright law. IL also covers subject-specific elements, so the project will demonstrate the applicability of the’generic’ information literacy MOOC to two exemplary disciplines: Business Administration and Psychology.

A major shortcoming of current IL courses is the lack of self-assessment components. Therefore, a central innovative approach of the ILO MOOC will be the implementation of technology based assessment components which allow students to get feedback on their learning success and hints on how to improve by taking advantage of scaling.

A special aspect of the project concerns offering this content to six European cultural and language groups: English, German, Spanish, Catalan, Slovenian and Croatian. By addressing three of the largest language groups in Europe, the MOOC will be available to many citizens with different native languages. Moreover, it will be one of the first MOOCs available in Slovenian and Croatian and as such provide a new innovative model for MOOC development in these two language areas. The multilingual approach will not only consider formal translation but also cultural-specific differences in the various realizations. Research findings stress the existence of different learning and teaching styles in different cultural and linguistic environments.

Project ILO will strongly endeavour to evaluate the MOOC in several phases and with different methods. The evaluation as well as the dissemination of the MOOC will particularly be addressed in multiplier conferences with invited experts taking place in Zadar and Frankfurt Main.


Funding: EU Erasmus+

Co-operation (project partners): University of Graz (Co-ordinator), Graz (A); Stiftung Universität Hildesheim, Hildesheim (DE); Univerza v Ljubljani, Ljubljana (SL); University of Zadar, Zadar (CR); Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona (ES); The City University, London (GB); DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education, Frankfurt am Main (DE)

Duration: 11/2016 - 08/2019

Status: completed

Project management (DIPF): Dr. Paul Libbrecht, Dr. Alexander Botte