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Mind the Gap

Published on Nov 20, 2015

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Mind the Gap

Supporting GTAs and bridging the information skills gap
Photo by cacophonyx


Historical and contextual
Photo by Matt Seppings

The problem

Fitting more into an already crowded schedule
Photo by Gustavo Minas


Light at the end of the tunnel
Working with Academic Development Directorate staff to design module and assignment.
Other Library staff on Working Group had input.
Hoping to strengthen links with new lecturers


  • Supporting Information Literacy
  • Developing information literate teachers
  • Developing course material for students
Photo by Bobcatnorth


To prepare content a lot of research was required and following identified:
key reports in field e.g. Google generation
key thinkers in field
examples of good practice, locally, nationally & internationally. e.g. ANCIL
Title - very important to get people’s attention to sign up for workshop. However, GTAs are motivated to sign up as workshop attendance counts towards their PDHEP (Lecturer Training Programme)
Session was advertised as part of the programme of academic development workshops offered by the ADD. Also advertised in monthly Library bulletins re: electronic resources.
Photo by tpjournal

Putting you in the driving seat...
Time for a short interactive exercise

Photo by photoverulam


  • Introduce concepts of IL
  • Explain importance
  • Examples of good practice
  • Pedagogy
  • Application


Making you walk the path less travelled
Participants used pc to find a definition of information literacy, explained how they found their definition on a Google form.
We used the responses on the Google form to create a Wordle or used Text is Beautiful to create this from the SCONUL seven pillars PDF or Wikipedia page (need min. 5000 characters or a Wikipedia page).
Polleverywhere used to seek answers to a question or to start a debate e.g. Do you agree with the statement “Google is white bread for the mind?” and display the results on screen.
Padlet wall of ideas that participants could add to during the workshop and then we could discuss the ideas they had put up. The wall could be turned into PDF and distributed
Respondents asked to create a lesson plan
Used Google forms to answer a brief assignment which took a scenario-based learning approach and asked participants to create a 250-400 word proposal for a fictional departmental meeting, on implementing a IL or Dl learning objective within a lesson, and identifying and attempting to find solutions to potential problems. Participants had 10 days to submit. Completed assignments were then distributed to the whole group after the submission date. So, participants gained a variety of proposals which they could reflect upon and compare.
Photo by stringberd

hints and tips

  • Title should be "cool"
  • Apply some pedagogy
  • Interactive
  • Clear learning outcomes
  • Experiment: accept failure and success
Give it a cool title - using the word Google is good… our numbers went up when this
Apply some pedagogy: but not too much! It’s handy to give the talk a framework and show that you do know what you are talking about, but the focus of the session is IL and DL skills.
Make it interactive - get the participants to do the work. It’s more interesting and also less work for you (once you find activities that work!)
Have clear learning outcomes so participants know what to expect
Don’t be afraid to experiment
Don’t get too discouraged if things go wrong, or participants are reluctant. Have some prompting questions to stimulate discussion: all the usual tricks when holding training sessions work just as well on the lecturers!
Photo by failing_angel

“Wanted to do this for my students, learned a lot for myself!”
“Thought provoking. Good ideas and good examples of good practice at other institutions”
“Very interesting, was quite inspired to inquire further”

The session has been changed substantially each time it is delivered to reflect participant feedback and also any new research which has been conducted. This makes comparison between sessions a bit hard.

There has been some incorporation of IL and DL skill development into the new course proposals that we are seeing through Faculty Board. It is too early to tell if this is in response to the program, and the draft IL policy, or if this has found its way onto the agenda through other means, but we are at least helping to support this movement.
Photo by Matt Seppings

“There was not much time for discussion…”
“I thought it was for research rather than teaching…”
“I think the course is for course convenors not GTAs. Good course for those designing courses”

Photo by bixentro


Because not everything in life is perfect...
Not teachers ourselves.
Getting people to attend!
Practical (e.g. passwords) and technical problems
Late comers
We found that the participants really wanted to discuss the broader range of IL skills, so we could not focus solely on DL.
Not teachers ourselves - had to research and seek feedback from colleague in ADD. We took part in a peer review exercise.
Confusion! - In one session confusion over purpose of sessions some GTAs thought it was to improve own information literacy skills as they are also research students. We’ve made the wording of the course blurb a bit clearer to combat this.
We found that the participants really wanted to discuss the broader range of IL skills, so we could not focus solely on DL
Photo by tompagenet

Typical barriers

  • Resistance!
  • Lack of control
  • Reluctance
  • Time to get everything in
  • Optional module: not getting eveyone
Resistance - One interaction was to complete a detailed lesson plan. Resistance to completing the task; opposition to extra work involved in using social media to support teaching.
Some GTAs commented that they do not have any control over the syllabus and assessment methods: future skilling.
Time to implement activities
Reluctance to do the training: GTAs want to do their subject!
It’s still an optional module on the GTA course, and it is hard to persuade lecturers that don’t have to do this to attend at present.


  • Staff Moodle site
  • More interactive
  • Extension
  • Other collaborations
  • Better use of existing technology
Staff Moodle site - Staff Development and ADD creating own Moodle sites - will include support information for this course too. Final assessment can then be submitted through Moodle? Also, easier to refer people back to this.
More interactivity - need to include another exercise
Extension - Possible extension into a 2 workshop session
Other collaborations - consider other collaborations with the ADD
Better use of existing technology e.g. Prezi
Support with online tutorial- we already have these for students, using the Mind the Gap branding.
How to reach long serving lecturers? (Refreshing skills, reconnecting with students- would appreciate any thoughts and ideas on this!)


Disclaimer: we may not have the answer!
Photo by steena

Contact us
Beth Clark: bc3@soas.ac.uk
Victoria Bird

Photo by mdavidford

Please see handout

Photos all CC licenced (in order):
cacophonyx, Matt Seppings, Gustavo Minas, David Holt, Bobcatnorth, tpjournal, photoverulam,Michel Poitrenaud, stringberd, falling_angel, Matt Seppings, bixentro, tompagenet,Peter aka anemoneprojectors - camera busted!, x-ray delta one, steena, mdavidford, thomasrost

Photo by thomasrost