JUSTEIS (JISC Usage Surveys: Trends in Electronic Information Services) Strand A: survey of end users of all electronic information services (HE and FE), with Action research report. Final report 2002/2003 Cycle Four.
ABSTRACT Executive summary Aims and objectives of JUSTEIS Cycle Four There were five main elements to JUSTEIS work in 2002/2003: • monitoring user behaviour – identifying trends in the way staff and students are using electronic information services (EIS) and the approaches senior library managers are using to manage EIS, and develop M/VLEs • examination of the provision of EIS on library (LIS) Web sites (Strand C) • action research at FE college sites, to examine in more depth how effective EIS use can be promoted • data mining – in-depth data analysis of data obtained in earlier cycles, to provide, for example, evidence about the barriers to e-learning and how these might be overcome • dissemination of findings, in collaboration with the JUBILEE project, through a series of briefing papers to JISC sub-committees, plus workshop dissemination day in June 2003. Scope of project Number of students interviewed = 239 (151 FE, 88 HE), across all types of disciplines Number of questionnaires obtained from students = 355 (201 FE, 154 HE) Number of participating institutions = 26 (16 FE ,10 HE) (Russell to specialist colleges) Number of participating departments = 31 (19 FE, 12 HE) Number of senior library managers interviewed = 10 Number of academic staff interviewed = 19 (11 FE, 8 HE) Number of LIS Web sites analysed = 50 (30 FE, 20 HE) Key messages Virtual/Managed Learning Environments – the problem plateau This year we have confirmed that most staff and most institutions can, fairly easily and quickly, attain the first stages of VLE development, the provision of learning resources, and course details on the VLE. This ‘resource dump’ stage emulates what many institutions have produced on departmental Web pages or institutional intranets. Getting beyond that point, to use the VLE as a learning environment, using the functionality of the VLE, is more difficult. The problems identified include: • the contact hour culture. The contribution of teaching staff may be assessed in terms of their ‘contact hours’. The VLE is viewed in terms of what it can do to supplement the contact hours – which it can, successfully, but this not what e-learning is really about – or should be. But, do VLEs do all they offer to do? • lack of awareness among teaching staff of the possible benefits of a VLE for individualisation of learning, student-student support and group learning. • lack of emphasis on information skills. Students may become too reliant on the approved and vetted resources within the VLE and their skills in evaluating and appraising information may decrease, rather than increase. Strategies to help realise the benefits of VLEs may include: • introducing students early to reflection on ‘how do you learn – and e-learn?’? • supporting teaching and LIS staff in e-learning through training which focuses on benefits to learning, recording of learning, and subject-specific needs. Implications for an e-learning strategy In the e-learning strategy Towards a Unified e-Learning Strategy, published by the government (DfES) in July 2003, several relevant points are made: • Need for professional development (and possible differentiation) of the education workforce, evaluation and communities of practice (paras 69, 72, 73) • e-learning: information skills are for life (paras 93. 94) Recent HEFCE consultation documents (Consultation on HEFCE e-learning strategy 21/2003, Rewarding and developing staff in HE – round 2, 2003/33, and Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, 2003/36) stress: • lack of evidence for the effectiveness of new technologies on learning (21/2003, para 18) • the role of JISC Infonet in change management (21/2003, para. 24) • supporting appropriate investment in e-learning, MLEs and VLEs, through CETLs, National Teaching Fellowships and the Higher Education Academy (21/2003 para 25, 2003/36 para 23) • supporting and developing staff (21/2003 paras 27, 28, 2003/33 paras 28-30) • need for a coherent approach to information for learning and teaching (21/2003, para 30) Themes identified in the JUSTEIS research stress the importance of: • developing a ‘community of practice’ in e-learning which embraces all staff in appropriate professional development, encourages co-operation between academic and learning support staff, and promotes research in e-learning. Key Skills Key Skills, or Professional/Transferable Skills often need to be integrated carefully into the curriculum to make them relevant and acceptable to students, although there is the danger that a ‘national standard’ may disappear if much adaptation occurs. There is a gap between information skills developed at Key Skills level 2 and the information skills required by students going on to higher education. FE students surveyed were more likely to stress the importance of presenting information retrieved from the Internet ‘in their own words’ than HE students. This emphasis is gained from their Key Skills (IT) work. HEIs wishing to combat ‘copy and paste’ plagiarism might usefully adapt some FE approaches. RSCs and National Learning Network Materials Our impression is that the level of activity varies. At some sites, RSCs are clearly well known and working with the college. In others, the college library staff may be aware of the RSC but there has been little, if any contact. RSCs need to be aware that those who do not shout may be among those most in need of support. There is some awareness of National Learning Network materials. Many FE College staff use organisational Web sites to obtain relevant vocational information – sometimes successfully, sometimes less so. Some FE interviewees note that the Internet is fast becoming their only resource. FE students may be averse to ‘book learning’ and they like the Internet as it is ‘interesting’ and fun – similarly they like CAL packages. Purchasing and development of learning resources Those in charge of purchasing electronic information and learning resources may need to follow a few guiding principles rather than attempting formal collection development. There are unmet niche needs (black culture, for one, in the FE sector). Similarly, in HE, some specialist databases, not covered by JISC/CHEST at present, are being used. JISC