Library badges go live! Or, what I did this summer.

Halfway through last year, a directive from the Cal State Fullerton Provost filtered down the ranks to me, the Instructional Design Librarian: Develop a 10-minute library tutorial that all freshmen will be required to complete.

For such a short sentence, it sure turned into a large project. For starters, a 10-minute tutorial could never be enough. And how are librarians supposed to “require” freshmen to do anything? We don’t even teach credit-bearing courses.

I had already been thinking about the possibilities of digital badges since mid-2015. Our library dean thought that an info lit badges program was a terrific idea.

Illustration of all five badges

As of August 2016, I now have the first module complete: four interactive Storyline tutorials with integrated assessment are live in our learning management system. Together, the four tutorials comprise a complete orientation to Pollak Library and the basics of library research. Once completed with a 100% score, students earn a digital badge that is visible on their LMS profile, allowing their instructors and peers to see their accomplishment.

See the demo:

Spark tutorials logo

You can also try out the full tutorials.

Our First Year Experience program is requiring all of its students to complete all four tutorials this semester – that’s more than 600 students. Many other faculty have indicated interest as well in assigning these tutorials to their students.

This is the start of something big. And my position, Instructional Design Librarian, only came into existence at Pollak Library two years ago, in 2014.

I’m about to start designing the tutorials in the second module – there are four planned modules altogether.

But let’s back up. I want to tell you how we got here.

  • August 2014: I start at Cal State Fullerton as Instructional Design Librarian
  • Fall 2014: I partner with another librarian on redesigning the library component of our campus’ first year experience program, then called Freshman Programs. We designed a 45-minute Storyline tutorial based on a few learning objectives grounded in the new ACRL Framework, and pilot it with three Freshman Programs instructors as part of a flipped classroom format. We got good feedback.
  • January 2015: Our campus is all abuzz about assessment. I apply to ACRL’s Assessment in Action (AiA) program with a proposed project that would explore how librarians can effectively serve in online courses, preferably in a scalable manner.
  • June 2015: The AiA project proposal is accepted; I am now part of a cohort enrolled in ACRL’s year-long assessment program. I partner with the Human Services librarian and a faculty member to design another 45-minute library research tutorial for an online junior-level class for fall semester. We also embed the librarian into the course itself.
  • Fall 2015: I am asked, along with the librarian I partnered with in fall 2014, to chair a new Information Literacy Taskforce. Our job is to gather librarians to develop information literacy student learning outcomes for all freshmen based on the new ACRL Framework. My librarian partner didn’t want to be a co-chair, so I ended up chairing the task force alone. I also serve as the instructional designer, and the librarians as the Subject Matter Experts.
  • December 2015: We get good results in our AiA project, but, obviously, embedding into a course is time-consuming and I can’t develop a custom tutorial for every single class (this one took me about 40 hours, as did the Fall 2014 one).
  • Spring 2016: Increased focus at campus level on assessment, WASC accreditation (information literacy requirement), and high-impact practices for students. We have Moodle as our learning management system, and I know that it’s possible to issue badges within Moodle, so I start lobbying hard for adding badges capability. Our campus LMS team acquiesces.
  • January 2016: CINDEr completes its work. We did great. Our learning objectives are divided into four sections: Pollak Library, Evaluation, Searching, and Citations. This is just the beginning. These learning objectives, once mastered, will lay a solid foundation for Cal State Fullerton students to become information literate. We focused on freshmen, but the same curriculum would be essential for all students to master.
  • February 2016: In February 2016, I was asked by the library dean to present at a library-wide meeting on how I was planning for library instruction to not only scale up, but also meet campus assessment demands and WASC accreditation, and support high-impact practices on campus. This is the 8-minute presentation I gave:
  • Summer 2016: Badges go live in the LMS! I go into overdrive developing our learning objectives into tutorials and designing the badges program. It took me about 75 hours to design and develop the tutorials, and figure out how to implement the badges program. This number doesn’t include my colleagues’ feedback on the original storyboards and testing the tutorials.
  • Fall 2016: Pollak Library Spark Tutorials are tested, proven, and ready to go!

A digital badges program for completing automated tutorials is the perfect solution that helps us meet all of the pressure on library instruction. Faculty can even mix and match the tutorials they want students to complete, since each is only 10-15 minutes.Furthermore, when this project is fully realized, our badges will show potential employers how amazingly information literate our graduates are.

We are now able to:

  • Scale up our instruction, helping us meet WASC’s info lit requirement
    • We can also now focus time in one-shots on hands-on practice as part of a flipped classroom format
  • Track students that complete the tutorials for assessment purposes
  • Allow faculty to confirm that students completed the tutorials

It’s like all of the pressures on myself and library instruction funneled perfectly into this outcome: online tutorials rewarded with digital badges. I’m more than a little intimidated by developing the rest of the modules, let alone maintaining them, but I am very proud of this project.