Tag Archives: Virtual Reference Group

It’s “Yammer-Time”! Consultation and engagement in a virtual community By Tracey Pratchett and Sarah Lewis

So, you’ve probably heard about our project to deliver information literacy via e-learning modules. Well, in this post, we want to tell you a bit more about our approach to consultation and engagement. The Virtual Reference Group (VRG) was set up early in the project to provide feedback on module design and development. It has been an essential part of the development process with library staff providing advice, guidance and support throughout the project. Currently there are in the region of 40 library staff from different sectors signed up to the VRG covering the following:

  • NHS England
  • NHS Scotland
  • NHS Wales
  • NICE
  • Higher Education
  • Royal College of Nursing
  • Royal Society of Medicine
  • An independent hospice
  • Public Health

We have used Yammer as the main method of communication as it is accessible in most trusts. One or two group members have had some issues when Yammer was blocked, but largely these barriers seem to have been overcome. As a tool, it takes a bit of getting used to, but generally it has worked well across organisational boundaries.

There has been a good level of engagement on Yammer, with colleagues advising on a range of topics, from contributing to the module learning objectives via a shared spreadsheet to discussing the potential design and layout of the modules. Generally, feedback so far about the level of communication from the project leads has been positive and we hope to be able to continue the dialogue throughout the project.

For Sarah and I, the VRG has played an essential role, not only in informing the design and development process, but engaging our key stakeholders along the way. By creating this network of library staff, we hope to have 40 advocates who will champion the resources with their users when the modules are launched.

This group has been invaluable to us on a personal level too, providing us with the opportunity to connect with library staff from other parts of the country and different sectors. This has been a really positive experience, expanding our personal networks and enabling us to work with other people in this way.

Finally, we would like to thank all of our wonderful VRG members for their honest and valuable contributions, which have really influenced the development process.

The Service Transformation E-Learning Project (STEP) aims to deliver its information literacy modules in April 2017.

Sarah Lewis
Clinical Outreach Librarian
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Tracey Pratchett
Knowledge and Library Services Manager
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Different folks, different strokes: results of the STEP E-learning surveys by Tracey Pratchett and Sarah Lewis

We had an incredible response to our survey on information skills and e-learning – 139 responses from library staff and 173 from healthcare professionals. This exceeded expectations and has given us a great platform on which to build – thanks to everyone who contributed!

In some ways the results confirmed what we had already expected e.g. key concerns about literature searching included how to access resources and identifying search terms and that interactive elements and ease of access could encourage people to use e-learning. Time pressures were also seen as a potential barrier and many library staff raised concerns about the limitations of older versions of internet browsers.

Interestingly, there were some key differences in perceptions of information literacy needs between library and healthcare staff. Healthcare staff ranked concerns with finding relevant information more highly than librarians. However, library staff felt that healthcare professionals may need more training in advanced searching techniques – something which was not commonly recognised by healthcare staff themselves. Of course, this could be a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know”.

Michelle Madden analysed the survey results and made a number of recommendations which we will take forward. For those of you interested in reading the full report and recommendations, it is available here.

Here are a few selected highlights from the recommendations:

  • Search skills modules should initially focus more on introducing or reinforcing the basics of searching rather than on more advanced search skills.
  • Modules should prioritise the following topics: refining searches when too many or too few results are found, accessing full text articles and awareness of different resources.
  • Employ multiple interactive learning activities to engage different learning styles.
  • Balance accessibility due to browser capability with providing an interactive and engaging learning experience.

At our first face to face project team meeting in the impressive Manchester Central Library we started to clarify what the modules might look like. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Module 1: Introduction to searching modules. This module will outline key problems when searching and where to find help in the e-learning modules. It could also include a few basic questions to get baseline knowledge.
  • Module 2: Where should I start searching? User needs survey highlighted lack of awareness of where to start searching. This module will provide suggestions to where to start looking based on type of question, quality of evidence etc.
  • Module 3: How do I start to develop a search strategy? Will help users to break down search into different concepts but use generic concepts rather than PICO. This module will also introduce combining search terms, thesaurus.
  • Module 4: Too many results? How to narrow down your search. Searching tips such as phrase searching and truncation to help users find relevant articles in less time
  • Module 5: Too few results? How to broaden your search. Searching tips such as phrase searching and truncation to help users find relevant articles in less time
  • Module 6: Searching with thesaurus terms.
  • Module 7: How to search the healthcare databases. This will be a basic overview – perhaps with links out to Youtube videos being produced by NICE. It will allow users to apply their learning into practice.

Please let us know what you think, any comments are welcome!

Sarah Lewis
Clinical Outreach Librarian
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Tracey Pratchett
Knowledge and Library Services Manager
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

STEP by STEP: the origins of the Service Transformation E-Learning Project (STEP) by Tracey Pratchett and Sarah Lewis

In January this year, we found ourselves having a telephone conversation about how we could incorporate blended learning into our information literacy training. This was the first time that we had spoken and we had never met, but we soon realised that we had similar objectives in our library plans. The conversation turned to whether the Knowledge for Healthcare team was developing something along these lines that we could both benefit from.

To us, it made sense to develop something generic which all NHS libraries and staff could use regardless of their location, applying the “do once and share” methodology which is central to the strategy. After some initial scoping and a few key conversations, the STEP ideology began to take shape, a project team was instigated and funding was secured.

Central to the project brief are the following ideas:

  • The e-learning products will be hosted on a central site and will not require a password.
  • Module content will be concise, straightforward and will focus on changing or reinforcing essential search behaviours.
  • The modules will incorporate a variety of interactive elements.
  • They will be available for NHS librarians to use in a number of ways as part of their blended learning offer.
  • They will be generic to suit the needs of all areas of the NHS workforce.

No tall order then!

We are the joint project leads and although we are both enthusiastic about developing this product and we are experienced trainers, we are not experts in developing and designing e-learning! To rectify this, we have enlisted the expertise of Michelle Maden-Jenkins (Independent Information Consultant) and Mandy Davis Blended Learning Manager (Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS FT) to develop the outputs.

We (Sarah and Tracey) are based at opposite ends of the country and met face to face for the first time in Birmingham 2 weeks ago, although we have spoken to each other on a weekly basis to keep the project on track. The whole project team intend to meet for the first time in a fortnight in Manchester. As a dispersed team, most of our meetings will take place using Webex but we aim to meet a couple of times throughout the project to review key milestones. Yammer is also integral to the project as it enables us to share key documents and track progress on project outputs.

Our Steering Group, will be led by Helen Bingham and they will be tasked with monitoring our progress, holding us to account and providing support and expertise along the way. We will also be relying on the knowledge, expertise and support of our librarian colleagues across the country and to this end we have created a Virtual Reference Group who will test and comment on the modules during the development stage. We envisage this group as being our main champions throughout the project.

One final note, thanks to all of you who have contacted us to share your experiences, resources and expertise, it is really appreciated. We’d also like to thank everyone who completed our survey and shared it with their users, in total we had 139 responses from librarians and 173 from NHS staff, what an achievement!

We will be in touch with those of you who asked to join the Virtual Reference Group shortly. If you are not on the Virtual Reference Group, don’t worry, we will keep you up to date via the mailing lists and this blog so watch out for future posts.

Next steps

  • Review the results of the Consultation Surveys to inform product planning
  • Meet with the Steering Group for the first time
  • Project Team meet for the first time
  • Contact the Virtual Reference Group

Sarah Lewis
Clinical Outreach Librarian
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Tracey Pratchett
Knowledge and Library Services Manager
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust