One Tech to Teach Them All: Introducing a tool for choosing the right type of online IL delivery

Are you gearing up for the fall teaching season? Pondering ways to expand the reach of your IL initiatives? Having trouble deciding between creating or updating your interactive tutorials, libguides, or videos?

You’re invited to try out a new tool for selecting digital/online learning objects:

While many of us would like to create digital learning objects (aka DLOs)* that are effective in teaching information literacy skills beyond classroom walls, it can be hard to figure out which type best suits our specific – and often many – needs and requirements. If you’ve ever felt unsure if you should create a handy screenshot, or dedicate time to making a more formal screencast, you’re not alone. While some of you might want to create a just-in-time DLO quickly and easily, others may prefer DLOs with a longer shelf life. No one wants to reinvent the wheel. Here are just a few DLO types that librarians find themselves choosing between:

Recently, our small subgroup of librarians (Judith Logan, Jesse Carliner, Erica Lenton, and Vincci Lui from the Instruction in Library Use Committee’s Learning Object Interest Group), began working on a tool aimed at helping librarians choose the right type of DLO. The most commonly used DLO types were selected for inclusion. Based on librarians’ practical considerations, several key criteria were identified, and each DLO type was evaluated against these criteria.

During an interactive, collaborative session at the recent TRY conference, our subgroup also crowdsourced the tacit knowledge of fellow librarians from U of T, Ryerson, and York. The results of the TRY session were incorporated as we further developed this tool. As the image below illustrates, each DLO type is evaluated against several criteria (such as learning outcomes, learning styles, learning curve, resource intensiveness, reusability, software, etc.). Each DLO type also links to helpful examples for inspiration:

Screenshot of formal screencast section

Screenshot of the section on formal screencasts, one of several DLO types that this tool explores

This is an ongoing collaborative project, and we welcome your expertise and input:

Further reading – for more about the user preferences and usage of DLOs:

*DLOs = used to describe a describe a reusable digital instructional resource that is developed to support learning. DLOs are a sustainable, scalable, and potentially accessible way to deliver information literacy (IL) instruction. They can be standalone objects, or act as a complement to our in-class teaching. They also allow us to reach students whenever/wherever they are, and can be repurposed for different contexts.


Debrief Meeting with Cross-departmental Tri-agency Team, June 26 2015

A message from Julie Hannaford:

Debrief Meeting with Cross-departmental Tri-agency Team, June 26 2015

One of the key recommendations from the external liaison report is the need to re-conceptualize how we respond to faculty and student needs. The reviewers suggest using nimble teams that can readily respond to requests as they arise from our various stakeholders.

Recently, a small group had to coalesce around university requirements related to the Tri-Council Open Access (OA) policy. We realized that we had formed a cross-departmental, responsive team, just as the report recommended and considered it to be both an excellent experiment and learning opportunity. While there is much discussion that needs to occur related to unpacking all of the recommendations from the report, we feel that this teamwork has lessons to share with everyone. We met recently to review our progress. What follows is a summary of our discussion.

Group: Bobby Glushko, Julie Hannaford, Mariya Maistrovskaya, Steve Marks, Sian Meikle, Rita Vine

 Purpose: Lori Ferris, Associate Vice-President for Research Oversight and Compliance requested advice related to how the library could support faculty compliance with the Tri-Council OA policy


  • Production of a one-pager that outlines the main services that the library offers to support faculty
  • Production of a PPT presentation that can be tailored to different faculties, outlining the OA policy, key issues and library programs and services that support faculty with their compliance
  • Delivery of two presentations: one to the Research Advisory Board and another to the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering


  • Such teams need a leader – someone who is accountable for the completion of the project’s tasks and timelines to ensure project success.  That person should have accountability, and be able to follow up legitimately with group participants. While that person may not be a supervisor in the official sense, he/she needs to be given the mandate/authority to lead and coordinate as required.
  • If we move to a more team-based model, people will need training so that they have the skills they need to lead projects.  This could take the form of a group session(s) on project management. Another idea would be to pair up a new team lead with a more experienced one to co-lead a project. The more experienced person could then provide mentorship, feedback and guidance.
  • When a team disbands, there needs to be a plan in place, including how to archive content that we made, make it available to others and/or move any ongoing work into the workflows of existing units. There could be a role for a resurrected intranet to hold this kind of content when it leaves Confluence.
  • There needs to be careful thought given to whether a team model makes sense for a given project and if so, who the right people are for the project’s requirements.
  • To find the right people to bring to the table, we all have to know what everyone else is doing. Given our scale and complexity, this can be very hard. Is it worth reconstituting the idea of individual (non-public) optional profiles so that we could look up each other’s skills more easily?  ACTION ITEM: Sian to provide options
  • For a team to coalesce, everyone has to pull together. This team was very successful at ignoring boundaries and traditional structures; thinking more flexibly and openly about how the work could be done.
  • Moving forward, if we establish more teams, we need to reconcile the role of a team with the role of a committee, to ensure no overlap.  We need to be clear in our minds what committees do versus teams. In general, committees can be very good for obtaining feedback and input, which is very important and wanted across the libraries.  Some of the larger committees may be less suited for actionable items because they are so large, but could have sub-committees/working groups form that report into them.
  • There is an open question regarding who should constitute a team. A lot of impetus will come from Senior Staff and UTLExec but there are also great people making their own teams.  There have been some small groups formed to fix problems on the fly (e.g. Libcal2 migration, training), which have a defined end.  A cross-departmental team may be better for a longer, more complex project or initiative, part or all of which will continue over time. Small groups solve problems and don’t necessarily need management prior approval. Big groups implement new initiatives and projects and will likely require management approval.
  • ITS often plays a role in projects, which puts many demands on their resourcing. Could ITS train staff in other departments so that they can contribute more to projects and free up ITS? An excellent example is the recent placement of Judith Logan in ITS who was able to contribute significantly to the recent website redesign and launch. Encouraging more cross-departmental placements in ITS (and other departments as well) is one mechanism that can help in this area.   Such exchanges allow librarians to contribute to a defined project in new areas. ACTION ITEM: Julie to do a new call for expressions of interest for cross-departmental placements.