IS Tips and Trends Spring 2004


Use of Course Management Systems in Instruction

InfoTech Tips and Trends Question:

We are interested in hearing about partnerships between instruction librarians and local or campus IT departments to use course-management software (e.g., WebCT, Blackboard, etc*) in instruction. What projects are you working on? What helped the projects run smoothly? What were some of the challenges you faced?

Response 1:

We have collaborated with our IT department to create all of our subject-oriented library resource pathfinders on Blackboard. We have also used Blackboard to make pathfinders for specific classes, and to add presentations we've done for the faculty, such as on plagiarism. Next, we're planning to use it for adding assignment exercises that can link to our Information Literacy Tutorial, and to create an assessment/outcomes module along with the exercises.

Hope this helps,
Inger Curth
Interim Library Director
Jefferson Community College
Watertown, NY

Response 2:

I'm not sure this fits the bill but at our institution, the libraries provide the bulk of the training for using Blackboard (Bb) while
the campus computing people do all the infrastructure/techwork/documentation and other one-on-one support. This is an ongoing thing, not really a project. The toughest thing is smooth communication. Thanks, Alison.

Alison H. Armstrong
Associate Senior Librarian
University Libraries/ML0033
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0033

Response 3:

In early 2001, files for the University of Texas's TILT online information literacy tutorial ( released under Open Publication License (OPL). In the Fall of 2002, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI)'s University Library took on the project of adapting Texas Institute's TILT under the OPL.

Instruction librarian Julie Moline was assigned the task of customizing TILT as an information literacy tutorial for entering freshmen. Without a lot of technical training, Moline soon realized that she would need to work with campus web specialists to help adapt TILT. She soon began working closely with Tom Janke and Jon Eynon--instructional technology staff in the Office for Professional Development's Center for Teaching and Learning. Their services are unique: they TEACH any interested IUPUI faculty members how to use technology. They offer FREE consultations for most technology needs. Janke and Enyon's hands-on guidance and ability to explain technology in layman's terms was crucial to the forming of inflite ( -- IUPUI's customized version of TILT.An IUPUI librarian team developing content ideas were dissatisfied with the original quiz function of TILT (web-based quiz within the online tutorial and results e-mailed out to a specified contact person).The original TILT format produced the following questions that could not be easily answered: How does a librarian/instructor sort through hundreds of student scores sent via e-mail- in the midst of more pressing e-mails? Who is the quiz e-mailed to--the instructor or the librarian? If the librarian, how does the score get placed in the instructor's gradebook? If the instructor, how does the librarian know if he/she has done well with previous lectures? How does he/she know if the online tutorial is working? While Moline was working with Janke and Enyon, these librarians became curious about using inflite in conjunction with IUPUI's course management software system called Oncourse ( It seemed to be more practical and user-friendly for the IUPUI environment. Moline began meeting with J. Fern, the TLIT Enterprise Systems Liaison for Oncourse to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of linking inflite to Oncourse. Once Fern shared how many instructors and students were using Oncourse and its capabilities, the team of librarians realized the best way to merge the tutorial with the assessment component. Students were using it--and so were instructors; it was time for the IUPU librarians (who hadn't already) to enter the world of course management systems. Janke offered consultation time to all librarians unsure about this move.

The following are some issues that came up while embedding inflite within the course management system that Fern and Janke helped to solve:

Problem # 1: Faculty Members that don't use the course management system.
While most faculty members on the IUPUI campus are using Oncourse in some facet of their course, there are still a few that do not. Since the inflite quizzes were only available through Oncourse, librarians had to work closely with course instructors. In most of these cases (where faculty members don't use the course management system), professors allowed librarians to introduce the tutorial during a class session following a brief tour of Oncourse (including the quiz function). If faculty members did not want to check the students' quiz records, librarians had the ability to re-enter the course environment to print off student records. In addition, faculty members who were interested in learning more about how to use the course management system, Janke offered consultation time.

Problem #2: Faculty Members that did not want to sign librarians in as an instructor or author of their course to place inflite and its assessment into the environment.
While most faculty members were excited to share the online load Oncourse has presented, technology designers were concerned that some might not be so keen on the idea. After all, librarians would potentially have access to students' grades, e-mails, and all class assignments. It was decided that if the instructor still wanted to use inflite, the "burden" of placing inflite and its quizzes into the course management system would be up to the faculty member. Bill Orme, instruction librarian at IUPUI, and Moline worked to create an easy cheat sheet for all faculty interested in using inflite and the assessment piece.

Problem #3: Faculty Members who heavily used the course management system, but had a funky allotments for each portion of the course grade.
Although many faculty members' grades are based on a percent system, others use points. If faculty members have a set amount of points allotted to the inflite quizzes, librarians would have to work within this framework. But what if the faculty member's allotment was 7.25 per quiz? Librarians soon realized (with Janke's) help that the Oncourse gradebook could only support whole numbers. This forced librarians to work with faculty members early on in course planning. Janke again offered his services to all faculty members needing to set up points or percentages within the Oncourse environment.

The inflite project was a success-- due in large part because of the librarian collaboration with IUPUI instructional technology designers. In addition, the technology designers help did not just stop after the initial creation of inflite. They still continue to work with librarians and faculty members to help consider inflite revisions and new ways to integrate inflite into Oncourse. But don't take our word for it, see for yourself!

Julie Moline

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