December 2011 No.79  
   In this issue

E-learning at the Li Ka Shing Library: another step forward


The Li Ka Shing Library at the Singapore Management University (SMU) has been employing online learning, especially for our instructional services, for the past few years. The library has created and embedded course readings in the Learning Management System of the university, used online research guides for teaching and learning, and channelled current awareness through RSS and social media.

   Responding to Feedback

During our face-to-face instructional sessions, students clearly preferred to have the sessions in an electronic format. They reasoned that this will facilitate self learning, giving them a flexible schedule and the convenience of learning off-campus.

To follow up on the feedback and to further focus our effort in e-learning, an e-learning initiative was included in our library’s strategic plan. A team of five library staff members was formed in late 2010. They were asked to re-evaluate the current practices and identify instructional areas that could be enhanced with e-learning.

   The e-Team’s Output

The team started by putting together all the learning objects relevant to the students and the larger Singapore Management University community. As far as possible, we tried to avoid a duplication of effort. We were pleasantly surprised to find that many academic libraries have created, published and shared useful learning objects. Rather than re-create similar learning objects, we provided links to them, for example, ‘Purdue Online Writing Lab’ and ‘Plagiarism Carol Video’ from the University of Bergen. Through this ‘environment scan’, we also learned from other libraries’ initiatives and experience.

With most team members new to e-learning, there was a steep learning curve which also aroused team members’ curiosity and motivated them to produce their own learning objects. The team created several learning objects using software such as Captivate, Lectora, and various freeware and online platforms like GoAnimate and Xtranormal. Some of the tools were procured and shared with the library by the Centre for Teaching Excellence, a university centre that aims to enhance teaching effectiveness. The team developed multimedia screencasts for database searching, animation that explained boolean operators and an interactive game for citation styles.

   Reaching Out, Reaching In

In July 2011, the team developed and launched a comprehensive suite of learning objects, titled Our Space, Your Space, which focus on library etiquette. Our Space, Your Space was launched as part of the library orientation programme for freshmen. The topic, library etiquette, seemed too trivial to be included in library classes or library tours and is perceived as common knowledge. However, the necessity of addressing library etiquette has been voiced by many library users. We therefore considered this topic as a perfect choice for e-learning and delivered it in a pre-emptive, non-lecturing package of video, animation, images, text and audio.

The link to Our Space, Your Space was sent to approximately 2,000 freshmen, out of which some 470 students left their comments and feedback. The students generally felt that this e-learning module was a positive experience (93 percent) and most (94 percent) claimed that they now had a better understanding of library etiquette. The freshmen also used words such as “interesting”, “useful”, “engaging” and “fun” to describe the module.

   Next Steps

E-learning benefitted the library by augmenting our limited manpower resources, delivering content which is not covered in library classes and supplementing our face-to-face instruction sessions.

Moving forward, the e-learning team will look at further ways to collaborate with the university’s Learning Management System and make use of mobile platforms to deliver our learning objects.

Li Ka Shing Library’s e-learning objects can be accessed here.

(Submitted by: Yuyun W. Ishak, Rajendra Munoo, Chrissy Tan, Devika Sangaram and Janelle Chin. The e-learning team members can be reached at

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