Postcards from the torrid zone: Using effective teamwork, story and gamification to create a vibrant suite of reusable learning objects

ALIA Library

Bryan, Sharon; Hooper, Helen; Mathiesen, Bronwyn

ALIA Information Online 2015 Conference, 2-5 February 2015, Sydney: at the edge.
The James Cook University Library is heavily invested in online resources. In the 2012 Client Satisfaction Survey, a substantial number of respondents stated that they wanted to learn more about accessing databases, ejournals, and ebooks. There was a clear need to provide flexible delivery of training beyond the face-to-face sessions offered on campus. With three campuses across two countries and increasing numbers of off-campus students, it was important to develop outreach programmes to deliver information literacy (IL) support to students in diverse locations. Using a Student Services and Amenities Fees grant, a suite of re-usable learning objects (RLOs) was designed to provide asynchronous learning opportunities for our multimodal learners.
The first step, creating a team to carry out the project, was the most challenging. We began with a large, committee-like team, but found the workflow difficult to manage. A smaller team, given dedicated time and space for the project, proved more effective. An environmental scan included an audit of the Library’s current online tools and those used by other institutions. We selected a combination of tools which would give us the most flexibility, including LibGuides and Articulate Storyline, and chose to adapt a modular format that had previously worked well. We developed a story to provide coherent themes for each module – basing our story on the adventure of a "Road Trip" ( Each module became a town in a fictional tropical region, and activities were designed to follow that theme. Using the principles of gamification, we rewarded people for completing the module by giving them games to re-enforce the key messages and presented a "certificate" for completing the module – in this case, "postcards". We created and repurposed existing RLOs. Some were "out of the box" applications of the tools, and some were coded by the team. We also outsourced some IT development and graphic design – enabling us to create a professional look for the package. Real postcards were designed to market the suite. The package was trialled by a number of small focus groups, given a soft launch mid-2013 and then refined for 2014.
By mid-2014, the Info Skills Road Trip had received over 17,000 hits. This programme is completely voluntary, without any subject embedding. Given the size of JCU, this shows great potential. Feedback has been highly positive – and indicates the resource has been particularly useful for those returning to study: “I am brand new to this and have not studied for many, many years, I found this to be very informative and interesting.”
We found three elements in particular contributed to the success of this project: the creation of a small, dedicated team, hiring professionals to assist with technology and graphic design, and the use of “Story” and gamification to create an engaging through-line for the content. The Road Trip has been quite a journey, and has informed practice for future projects.
Our experience with developing this project can assist other libraries in the creation of online Information Literacy packages.

Deakin, ACT: Australian Library and Information Association
James Cook University