18th LIASA Annual Conference: Abstracts: Setting sail into uncharted waters

Setting sail into uncharted waters

Unathi Solora, Brenda Van Wyk

The global uptake of eLearning systems in higher education (HE) is improving rapidly. The burning question is whether South African academic libraries and librarians are ready to embody the pivotal role of academic partner in these teaching and learning developments?

Whilst new Learning 2.0 and Learning 3.0 developments are incorporated in Learning Management Systems (LMS) and programmes, developments along similar lines are already the order of the day and included in leading academic library spaces as Library 2.0 and Library 3.0 practices (Kwanya, Stilwell, & Underwood, 2015). Researchers (Farkas, 2015; Tschirhart, Hamm, Perich, Powell, Reiman-Sendi, 2013; Cohen, 2002), allude to a significant disconnect between library services and eLearning practices within HEIs. A likely cause could be that Learning Management System’s (LMS) developers generally do not consider existing library services for inclusion in the LMSs per se (Cohen, 2002, as cited in Farkas, 2015). Tschirhart et al (2013) laments that even the latest and more flexible systems fail to embed a functional role for library and information services in LMS packages and systems.  It is not unheard of for ELearning developers and managers to rather approach consultants to provide high priced products in an attempt to avail access to much needed information sources, before approaching and evaluating services provided by their own library and information services. There is an added and real danger that some developers may revert to indiscriminate use of the internet, without having the necessary discernment and navigational skills required to make informed choices on an academic level and standard. This, whilst the table is already set with an array of services and sources available seamlessly, and in any format, from their own library services.

To this end, this case study presents an independent institute of education’s experience in terms of collaborating and contributing to an eLearning project. The library services embedded links to eResources and subscriptions, access to library guides from the LMS landing page, and supply permalinks within the course material. Over and above negotiating digital rights, copyright and trademark adherence, librarians are following giving support by having in-class orientation sessions and workshops to both students and lecturers. This case study serves as an example of how inter-departmental cooperation and integration enrich the teaching and learning experience. Solutions are offered on addressing challenges and offers a best practices model. Collaboration and cooperation across departments and disciplines enabled embedded information support services and access to academic information via the LMS for a better student experience. It offers a digital solution to a digital generation.