Applying the Framework to an Online Credit-Bearing Information Literacy Course

This page provides supplemental materials related to my poster presentation on Friday, March 24 at #ACRL2017 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Course Syllabus

Fisher – INFO 101 – Summer 2016 Syllabus

Example Assignments

Examples of Assigned Readings


What is INFO 101: Research Essentials?

INFO 101 is a two-credit online information literacy course offered at Pierce College in Washington State. I worked at Pierce from 2012 to 2016 and taught INFO 101 several times. In Summer 2016, I updated my curriculum to integrate the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

How did you use the Framework in your course?

I used the Framework in several ways. What I think is most important is the fact that I asked students to directly interact with the language used in the Framework and to consider its applications in their learning.

For example:

  • The six frames and their definitions were included in my syllabus.
  • Each week in the eight-week course was a module based on a particular frame. The modules were labeled in the online classroom with the names of the frames.
  • In each module, I provided the definition of the frame we were discussing that week and a brief explanation of how our learning activities connected to that frame.
  • For their final reflection paper, students were asked to answer, “Which two frames had the biggest impact on your learning?”

 How did using the Framework change your teaching?

I found that using the Framework helped me focus my learning activities and assessments to emphasize conceptual understanding over skill-based knowledge. Students still completed many skill-based activities (like attempting searches in Google and in subscription databases, and comparing the differences), but the Framework provided a lens through which we could come to shared meaning about those activities. I found myself doing more work to tie all of our work back to the bigger picture, and that felt like a good thing.

Can you give some examples of other things that students did in your course, and how those activities related to the frames?

In the Information Has Value module, students read an article about Aaron Swartz, who hacked MIT servers to download articles from JSTOR and faced severe legal consequences for his actions, and an article about the cost of academic journal subscriptions. We talked about the many meanings of the word “value”—how it might be valuable to know something (because valuable information might change your beliefs or decisions), but we also talked about the monetary meaning of value, and how expensive it can be to access research. Most students were shocked to learn that research articles are not free, and that libraries have to pay for online resources. One student told me they assumed everything in the library had been donated for free.

In the Authority is Constructed and Contextual module, I provided a worksheet with several types of sources for students to review with questions that required them to evaluate which sources would be most appropriate for an academic research paper. In my feedback on that assignment, I made the point that different sources have different purposes; a book review is not a bad source of information, but it is too brief and general to advance an argument in a research paper.

In the Searching as Strategic Exploration module, students read an article from The Washington Post about Google being faulted for racial bias in its image search results. In the article, Sofiya Noble (a professor and researcher at UCLA who studies bias in algorithms and computing) asks, “If Google is not responsible for its algorithm, who is?” Many students did not realize that Google operates on advertising revenue, nor that its algorithm brings back results based on popularity. We also talked about the lack of diversity among Google’s employees; if Google is mostly male and white (and only 2% of Google’s workforce is Black), how does that impact the way they build their products and set their priorities?

How did students react to the Framework? Weren’t they confused?

Students were not confused at all—thanks to lots of repetition and examples! I was extremely pleased with my students’ performance and their engagement with the text of the Framework. In their discussion board posts, assignments, and final reflection papers, each student articulated their understanding of the frames. I was particularly impressed by their meaningful and personal responses when I asked them to reflect on the frames in their final reflection paper. I went back through those papers and tallied up which frames they picked as having the most impact on their learning. You can see the results below. Overall, the most popular frame was Searching as Strategic Exploration (10 out of 14 students picked this as one of their top two frames), followed by Authority is Constructed and Contextual (identified by 7 out of 14 students as one of their top two frames).


Can I see your syllabus and your assignments? Can I adapt or modify your materials?

Yes, yes, and yes! My entire course is available for download in the Canvas Commons, but that only works well if you’re using Canvas as the LMS at your campus. You can find my syllabus here: Fisher – INFO 101 – Summer 2016 Syllabus for ACRL2017 You can also e-mail me with questions or ideas: