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Information Literacy Online - Developing Multilingual Open Educational Resources Reflecting Multicultural Aspects
Start date: Nov 1, 2016, End date: Aug 31, 2019 PROJECT  FINISHED 

According to the definition of the American Library Association (1989) Information Literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” This definition illustrates that information literacy is a key competence to fully participate in today’s knowledge society. This is particularly true in post-secondary education and research. It is therefore surprising that the level of information literacy of students is low in many cases, as existing studies (some of them conducted at the University of Graz and University of Zadar) report.There might be several explanations for this: In many cases college curricula do not include content aiming at the development of information literacy. Often libraries are involved in teaching information literacy, in some cases academics embed some information literacy elements in their courses. However, since the concept of information literacy is widely unknown outside the information science community, a broad basis that can be used in courses but also by teachers and students on their own should be provided. Accordingly, the main outcome of our project will be a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for developing information literacy focusing on higher education students. A MOOC will provide opportunities for a very broad audience. MOOCs are online courses with no entry barriers aiming at unlimited participation. As open source software solutions are available for MOOCs, the project can focus on developing the content of the course and the accompanying research. Although information literacy consists also of subject-specific elements (for instance, different disciplines usually use different information resources), our MOOC will concentrate on information literacy elements which are relevant for all subjects/disciplines. Examples for such general information literacy elements are Boolean operators, basic principles in knowledge organization, or basic knowledge in copyright law. Accordingly, the first main task of the project will be the joint agreement on the detailed (non-subject specific) content of the MOOC. After having agreed on the content, the MOOC will be implemented in five (six) languages (English, German, Spanish and Catalan, Slovenian and Croatian). Addressing three of the largest language groups in Europe, the MOOC will be available to many citizens with different native languages. Moreover, it will be one of the first MOOCs available in Slovenian and Croatian and as such provide a new innovative model for MOOC development in these two languages/countries. The fact that we will start the implementation in the different languages after having agreed on the common content, will enable us to investigate cultural and language specific differences of the various realizations. Research findings stress the existence of different learning and teaching styles in different cultural and linguistic environments. At the moment research on addressing these factors with MOOCs developed in several languages is lacking.Currently, there are already several information literacy teaching materials available on the internet. However, probably one of the main shortcomings of these information literacy courses is that they usually do not provide (self-) assessments. Therefore, a central innovative approach of our MOOC will be the implementation of technology based assessment components. Right now, lecturers and librarians who teach information literacy skills are investing resources in creating very similar materials on topics such as Boolean operators or plagiarism that could be built and shared collaboratively. The MOOC would allow them to take advantage of the economies of scale by using a common tool useful for all of them.As mentioned above, information literacy also covers subject-specific elements. For instance, there are other information resources relevant for business administration than for medicine. Since it would be much too ambitious, and even unrealistic, to consider all subject-specific aspects, we will demonstrate how the extension of our “general” information literacy MOOC with subject-specific elements could work. This will be done for the disciplines of business administration (University of Graz) and psychology (University of Zadar). Later on, after completion of our project, these extensions could be conducted for other disciplines.
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