Academic journal article Partnership : the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research

The Latent Curriculum: Breaking Conceptual Barriers to Information Architecture

Academic journal article Partnership : the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research

The Latent Curriculum: Breaking Conceptual Barriers to Information Architecture

Article excerpt


In online instruction there is a physical and temporal distance between students and instructors that is not present in face-to-face instruction; this has implications for developing online curricula. This paper examines information literacy components of Introduction to Systematic Reviews, an online graduate-level course offered at the University of Saskatchewan. Course evaluation suggested that, although the screencast tutorials were well accepted by the students as a method of learning, there was a need to enhance their content. Through grading of assignments, consultations with students, and evaluation of the final search strategies, the authors identified common aspects of search strategy development with which the students struggled throughout the course. There was a need to unpack the curriculum to more clearly identify specific areas that needed to be expanded or improved. Bloom's Revised Taxonomy was utilized as the construct to identify information literacy learning objectives at a relatively granular level. Comparison of learning objectives and the content of the screencast tutorials revealed disparities between desired outcomes and the curriculum (particularly for high-level thinking) - the latent curriculum. Analyzing curricula using a tool such as Bloom's Revised Taxonomy will help information literacy librarians recognize hidden or latent learning objectives.


library instruction; screencasts; on-line tutorials; distance education

With the increase in distance learning in health sciences education, academic librarians are increasingly being called upon to embed information literacy instruction in online courses. The development of an online curriculum requires careful thought about methods of conveying content (Blummer and Kritskaya 199-216; Oud 164-177; Reece 482-493). This paper draws upon the authors' experiences teaching information literacy in an online graduate level course and their subsequent identification of a methodology for assessing and reviewing an online curriculum. In June 2009 the University of Saskatchewan added a new graduate level course, Introduction to Systematic Reviews, to the School of Physical Therapy's Continuing Physical Therapy Education curriculum. Information literacy instruction was embedded into the curriculum, which was designed to accommodate a distributed learning model. The information literacy content was broken down into logical units and inserted into the course modules at the points where students would need the information to proceed with a particular stage of the systematic review. The students enrolled in the course included graduate students, faculty and clinicians from a variety of health sciences backgrounds.

Literature shows that computer-assisted instruction (CAI) can be as effective as in-person instruction (Zhang, Watson and Banfield 478-484; Koufogiannakis and Wiebe 3-43). CAI can vary from short screencasts, which simply supplement in-person instruction, to interactive on-line courses. Studies have examined different facets of instructional effectiveness ranging from cognitive (e.g., retention of definitions) to emotional outcomes (e.g., student satisfaction) (Brettle 18-37). Students prefer interactive tutorials (Blummer and Kritskaya 199-216; Mestre 808-829; Schimming 217-222), and with specific regard to screencast tutorials, students want to be given information and then have an opportunity to try it out (Mestre 808-829). Best practices for creating effective screencast tutorials recommend including clear and flexible navigation, relating material to real world problems, using active learning strategies, accommodating different learning styles, allowing student control of content and pace, providing feedback, and enabling access to a librarian (Blummer and Kritskaya 199-216; Oud 164-177; Mestre 808-829).

In the course on which this paper is based, screen-capture video recordings were created with Camtasia Studio 6 software (Techsmith) for all information literacy instruction, with the exception of the bibliographic management content (i. …

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