April 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Credo’s SKILL Modules Help Educators Cover More Ground

Credo Skill Modules

Credo’s SKILL Module

Like so many library directors, last year Katie Johnson was faced with a budgetary torpedo—her staff was reduced from two librarians to one.

So she looked for a way to supplement her existing information literacy curriculum to cover the same number of classes as the two librarians used to cover. “As with most schools, I do all that I can to integrate information literacy skills into existing course content,” says Johnson, M.S., library director at Cretin-Derham Hall, a private 9-12 college prep high school with 1,250 students in St. Paul, Minnesota.

She purchased Credo’s SKILL Modules—a digital platform consisting of 24 videos and tutorials to support research instruction. Containing approximately 90 minutes of multimedia content, with instructor guides and assessment tools included, SKILL Modules can serve as an entire instructional course or educators can select components as needed. Johnson is currently using the platform in two ways:

Johnson was tasked with teaching over 200 sophomores the research process as they were preparing projects for a National History Day competition over a period of several weeks. She says the videos that had the most impact were The Research Process, Thesis Statements, and The Importance of Evaluating Sources.

Johnson, hoping that featuring the content in as many ways as possible would increase its use, created a research process LibGuide, which can be used by any student, any time via their iPad. “Many colleges use it to deliver information sources and library content to students,” she says.

Students took a variety of courses from a variety of teachers, and the teachers were willing to incorporate the SKILL content into their assignments. “There are still faculty members who haven’t utilized our services.” Although when appropriate, Johnson says she continues to “invite and encourage.”

While Johnson uses Credo to introduce students to specific skills in the research process at the start of a project, or if the librarian isn’t available, it’s also a useful tool for students who’ve violated academic policy. The Academic Integrity videos can address issues of plagiarism, for example.

In the academic integrity Module, says Johnson, “students learn school policy on academic integrity, and how their behavior violates that policy and who it impacts, what intellectual property is, what plagiarism is; and how their behavior needs to change to break the cheating cycle with time management and preparation.”

Sara Anderson was looking for a way to test her students’ prior knowledge about research. As head librarian, Curriculum Committee at Lawrence Academy, an independent high school in Groton, Massachusetts, she had been a subscriber to Credo Reference for a number of years and had them prepare custom study guides. She says her students and faculty had been pleased with the platform and its use as a starting point in research.

“When the opportunity to try the InfoLit SKILL Modules arose, I thought it would be a good way for the students to test their prior knowledge and then move on to the research process,” she says. “It would be instructive for them to be thinking about this as they choose and gather information on their paper topic.”

Anderson (M.S. in Library and Information Science, Simmons College) says the challenge for students is that beginning research with background information from the library catalog is not automatic in the age of Google and other un-vetted information sources. “We are in the beginning stages of using these Modules with our students.”

Among faculty, progress in getting buy-in comes incrementally, as we all know. “Faculty is often under pressure to meet their own curricular goals, and don’t see this benefitting the students as much as their own content,” says Katie Johnson at Cretin-Derham. Despite encountering challenges with gaining school-wide priority, Johnson is gaining momentum with teachers, thanks to evidence of local college librarians commenting about incoming students lacking the necessary skills needed for college level research.

And Anderson, too, even at an early stage, can see that “using the SKILL Modules is sparking conversation about ‘process’ with my faculty colleagues.”

But as for the students and their reaction to the platform, Johnson says so far, so good. “As with all teaching, if the students feel it’s relevant to their interests and academic success, they will be engaged—not necessarily excited, but engaged.”

Instructional content and technology featured in the SKILL Modules are designed by Credo Education – a subsidiary of Credo Reference. Credo Education’s innovative solutions are designed to close gaps in critical thinking and information skills that persist throughout a student’s academic career, then on into their work and adult life. For a deeper look into instructional content offered in the SKILL Modules, try Credo Education’s Fake News Challenge. After viewing a series of videos that explain why fake news exists, and absorbing tips on how to determine credible sources, you can then test your critical thinking and information literacy skills by taking the Challenge.


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Facts Matter: Information Literacy for the Real World
Libraries and news organizations are joining forces in a variety of ways to promote news literacy, create innovative community programming, and help patrons/students identify misinformation. This online course will teach you how to partner with local news organizations to promote news literacy through a range of programs—including a citizen journalism hub at your library.