Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Information Literacy Skills Course Delivery through WebCT: The University of Botswana Library Experience

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Information Literacy Skills Course Delivery through WebCT: The University of Botswana Library Experience

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The use of Course Management Systems such as WebCT and Blackboard for teaching information skills is not new. Many libraries in higher education institutions have designed user-education programmes using electronic media, including WebCT. The University of Botswana bought into this initiative because of the need to address the problems of large classes, assessment of students in relation to large number of scripts to mark, shortage of staff, timetable clashes, and the need for consistency in delivery of content. The implementation of the pilot by the library started in 2003 with the first year social science students. This paper shares the library's experiences during implementation.

Keywords: Southern Africa; WebCT; information literacy; e-learning; library.

BACKGROUND

Hadengue (2004) describes online learning, as an educational concept, which implies using local, extended networks, or the Internet to spread information, to communicate, and to support any other kind of educational interaction between students and teachers. It is the effective learning process created by combining electronically delivered content with (learning) support and services (Waller and Wilson cited in Wang and Hwang, 2004). Other terms in use for this concept, according to Hadengue, include e-learning, virtual learning, distance learning, and tele-learning.

E-learning strategies according to Hadengue, offer a larger amount of information than traditional courses as well as easier access to that information. Both controlled information sources (i.e. provided narrowly by the teacher's text book) and open information sources are available in parallel. It thus opens the way to greater diversity in the learning process through which the student masters the information provided.

E-learning is becoming the way to go if student-centred learning is to be encouraged and if education is to be made available to all irrespective of location and status in the society. E-learning has captured the attention of many in the last couple of years. It arose as a result of the development of Internet technologies, especially the Web. E-learning is said to be an innovative way of learning suited to meet today's learners' learning requirements, particularly as the industrial economy evolves into a knowledge-based economy. It is sometimes referred to as a revolution in learning (EU-Asia e-Learning, 2003). As noted in the second issue of Manchester Metropolitan University (2002) Library News, e-learning initiatives are mushrooming as the use of Content Management Systems like WebCT expands across all the University Faculties. Other term in use is Course Management Systems. This, according to the Library News signals the beginning of changes in approach to teaching and learning, as online modules are used either in supporting and supplementing traditional courses and teaching models, or as completely self-contained courses, accessed both on and off campus.

Benefits of e-learning to libraries

Course management systems such as WebCT and Blackboard (courseware) according to Machovec (2001), have the potential to leverage the rich array of electronic resources and newer library services that are now becoming popular. According to Shank and Dewald (2003), the benefits include the ability to distribute resources (such as research guides and websites), extra communication tools, and a potential medium for assessment. Other benefits, according to the authors, include the possibility of adding resources into the university's general courseware interface, including links to the OPAC and databases, global pathfinders, a virtual reference desk, and document delivery services. Virtual reference services are especially ideal for course management systems (Machovec, 2001). This possibility of being able to promote library resources through the courseware is particularly beneficial to not only the on-campus student but also students who cannot come to the campus or the physical library. …

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