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Lindsey Martin. Meeting the challenges of e-learning: achieving and maintaining an e-ethos in an academic library ALDP April 2007 . Aims and Overview. Focus upon the strategic approach to embedding e-learning within an academic library service and its maintenance: Defining e-learning

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Lindsey Martin

Meeting the challenges of e-learning:achieving and maintaining an e-ethos in an academic library

ALDP April 2007

aims and overview
Aims and Overview

Focus upon the strategic approach to embedding e-learning within an academic library service and its maintenance:

Defining e-learning

Impact of e-learning on libraries and job roles

The Edge Hill context

Role of leadership, strategy and vision

The strategy in action

Reviewing the strategy

Next actions

defining e learning
‘Any technologically mediated learning using computers, whether in a face-to-face classroom setting or from distance learning’

(University of South Dakota)

Defining e-learning
impact of e learning on libraries and job roles
Impact of e-learning on libraries and job roles
  • Early initiatives not led by librarians
  • Largely focused at short-term, local project level
  • But offering new opportunities for collaboration across services
  • Evidence of increasing involvement in technical support, learner support, discovery & embedding of e-resources, instructional design and e-tutoring
  • Impacting on roles across the library – subject librarian, front-line support, collections
role of leadership strategy vision
Role of leadership, strategy & vision
  • Organisational readiness for e-learning requires leadership that visibly values and encourages learning
  • Dean and senior management team’s vision was to engender an e-ethos that enthuses and equips staff at all levels with necessary skills
  • Central is embedding e-learning opportunities within the staff development programme and within everyday working practices of all staff
  • Staff would develop their roles where appropriate
  • Purpose is the benefit of learners who have access to skilled and knowledgeable support staff at point of need

The strategy in action

  • Staff development is consciously planned
    • Inclusive approach - staff at all levels
    • Introduce e-learning from day 1
  • Future needs are identified
    • Performance review and communication channels
    • Through restructuring, changing roles and teams
  • Providing a baseline of knowledge and skills for all staff
    • ProVIDE (staff induction and information base)
    • Supporting Online Learning (4 week online module)
  • Beyond the baseline
    • Customer Care module for all staff
    • Other staff development opportunities dependent on job role
    • Experiential learning through small project work

Reviewing the strategy

  • Staff enthusiasm for e-learning has diminished
  • Engagement with e-learning is inhibited by lack of understanding of the demands of e-environment
  • Completion rates reduced
  • Online products and process remained the same
  • Hypothesis: there is a gap between the rhetoric around the e-ethos and the reality for staff across the service
  • Action research would enable me to explore this gap and determine how rhetoric and reality might become more closely aligned


  • Review of past e-learning modules and staff development activities
  • Qualitative and quantitative data from WebCT use
  • Module evaluations and completed portfolios
  • Questionnaire to elicit attitudes to e-learning, personal skills assessment and their view of where e-learning sits in relation to job role
  • Reflecting on my delivery of an online module
  • Maintaining a reflective journal of my experiences during the reconnaissance


  • Our vision of an e-ethos is unpublished – there is no continuing point of reference
  • Supporting material e.g. pre-module information has not been treated as part of the learning process
  • Staff perceive e-learning as less effective than face to face
  • Little marketing of e-learning staff development
  • Baseline skills for e-learning had not been defined
  • E-skills and competences for specific roles have not been identified
  • Staff complained of lack of time to complete online modules
  • Staff report lack of opportunities to follow up what was learned
  • Line managers and supervisors not engaging with the notion of e-ethos

Actions identified: theme 1

  • Marketing and communication: publishing and promoting the vision
    • Audio/video/print of vision for ProVIDE
    • Review all pre-module communications focusing on value rather than content
    • Newsletter for staff
    • Face-to-face awareness-raising sessions to explore and improve perceptions
    • Marketing to be a rolling programme targeted to various stakeholders

Actions identified: theme 2

  • Articulating and communicating e-skills and competencies
    • Baseline competencies tested and refined
    • Front-line staff competencies tested and refined
    • Consultation process prior to implementation

Actions identified: theme 3

  • Management issues around e-learning
    • Promote value of e-learning to line managers and supervisors
    • Senior management to communicate their expectations concerning the promotion of an e-ethos and how staff participating should be supported
    • Review locations available for staff to undertake e-staff development

Lessons learned

  • The role of leadership, strategy and vision is essential for cultural change
  • Over time sustainability of an e-ethos may wane
  • Requires continuing communication of the vision and senior management’s expectations around engagement with e-learning
  • Continuing promotion of the value of e-learning is crucial
  • Action research can be ‘messy’ but provides a richer insight than evaluation alone


  • Lindsey Martin
  • Information & Research Co-ordinator (Arts & Sciences)
  • Learning Services
  • Edge Hill University
  • United Kingdom