Setting Expectations for the Learner

By Joanna Blair

This submission describes how an instructional video sets the learners up for success by communicating common pitfalls in the introduction. This creates realistic expectations and even students who don’t complete the video will know where they might go wrong.

Transcript – Setting Expectations for the Learner (click to open)

Hi everyone, I’m Joanna Blair. I’m the SETAS liaison librarian and scholarly communications librarian, and part of my portfolio is advocating for the use of open educational resources, or OERs, and helping faculty locate OERs.

Last spring I created an instructional video for faculty who are searching for open educational resources (see video below). In many cases faculty are looking to replace a single print textbook, and finding a single open textbook to replace that print publication is really hard, even for an experienced searcher! I think one of the skills that a librarian brings to the table is knowing when to stop searching, or when to switch up your search a little bit and try to look at it from a different angle.

The strategy I used in the video was to present the obstacles at the beginning, even before I showed where to search or how to search for open educational resources. I said in the first 30 seconds, “You probably won’t be able to find the thing that you’re here to look for. Instead, you’re going to have to switch things up and maybe search for individual chapters or articles or discrete topics individually.” This strategy was a response to the frustration I had heard from faculty who were searching unsuccessfully for the perfect replacement open textbook. I recognize that sometimes students benefit from struggling and working through a problem coming up with their own solutions, but I also think it’s really important to frame the problem appropriately and to set people up for success, with limits and expectations around the possible solutions.

This video is part of the TLHE 719 course and I’ve read through some of the feedback from participants and I know that it has helped faculty connect with the information they were they were hoping to find and to look at their search differently. This was a really good reminder for me as an instructor to listen to the common sticking points that that learners have and to find ways to incorporate it into my teaching.

Thanks everyone!

This video is an example of how Joanna “frames the problem and sets people up for success” as she demonstrates how to start a search for open educational resources (OERs). This video is full of helpful search tips throughout!

Transcript – Searching for OERs (click to open)

Hi everyone. I’m Joanna Blair, a scholarly communications librarian at Centennial, and I’m going to talk to you today about searching for open educational resources. Now my first tip is to temper your expectations a little bit. It’s hard to find that single textbook or single open textbook to replace your current textbook. You’re more likely to succeed if you if you take a mix-and-match approach, and maybe look for individual pieces that are open and then put them together into your course, and I’ll give you some tips on where to look.

What I’m going to do is suggest that you start by looking at your weekly schedule and your learning outcomes. So, if I am teaching a course on information literacy, I might have week one as my main topic to “evaluate authority”, so I’m going to match that to a material type. It could be a reading, and I know we often think of about text books and articles, but it might just as well be an activity and maybe even a discussion activity. It might be a video. It doesn’t have to just be readings. You might have more success by looking for the individual topic than you will for the for the textbook topic. So, keep that in mind as you are searching. Also keep in mind what material you think would best match your learning outcome.

Your step after that is to look at some open educational resource repositories, and I will give you a list of those in a minute. And if you are not finding what you’re looking for, I would suggest trying a different repository or changing your search terms a little bit. So, I am using the term “information literacy” but if I were in the UK I would be using the term “information fluency”. Sometimes switching up your search terms will make a big difference.

I want to let you know that there is a guide on the library website. I’ve got the URL down here ( It has an extensive list of open educational resource collections and you can search for resources in any of these. I have a couple of favorites and so I have a slide that lists my favorites. If I’m looking for an open textbook, so a single source to replace my current textbook, there are open textbook libraries and I’m going to start with eCampus Ontario Open Textbook Library because it is a great resource for Canadian content. We’re then going to move on to open educational resource repositories and they have more of those pieces. So, if I’m looking for a homework activity, if I’m looking for a case study or a rubric or even an entire course I might find that more easily through an OER repository than I would through an open textbook library. Depending on what you’re looking for you can start in it either place.

I’m going to start at eCampus Ontario, and I’m going to look for that perfect textbook on “information literacy”. I am using quotation marks so that it searches for those two words right next to each other, and I’ve got three results. So, I’m going to look through my titles and click on one. What I will get is a nice description of my open textbook. It’s going to tell me whether or not it’s been reviewed, publication date, and it’s going to tell you the licence. So, it’s CC BY so I know I can use it, I can adapt it. Here are the different formats where I can download it. I can read a bit more about the author and the institutional affiliation. I also want to read it online, so I’m going to go and check out this book. I have to click through a couple of times and I want to encourage you, when you find these books online, to look through the table of contents. Even if the title of the book isn’t a perfect match, you might find that some of the chapters are a good match for your content or maybe just one week of your content. If I look through this this list of chapter titles there is one on Evaluating Authority. There’s even activities on how to evaluate, so this might be a good match for part of my course, even if it’s not a good match for the entire thing.

So, dig into the sources that you find is one of my tips. If you did want to grab just one chapter you can always grab the link to the online resource and add that to your course. I’m going to go back to my slide. That was an example of an open textbook library.

If you’re not finding everything you need I would suggest going to an open educational resource repository. One that I really like is OER Commons. You can find all of these repositories open on the web. You can google “OER Commons” or you can go to the library guide that has the exhaustive list. I’m going to do a search here for “evaluate authority” and the nice thing about this resource is it lets you narrow by education levels. I can say I only want Community College resources on this topic. Here we go – I’ve got 27 results.

You can see these records are telling me for material type – there’s lesson plans, there’s activities, labs, lectures and I can actually (over on the left) limit my material type to a case study or an assessment. I’m going to limit here to a homework assignment because I am looking for an activity for this topic. I am finding a little bit of information about the source. I can remix, I can share, and if I click into it (I might have to click in a couple times to actually get the resource). OER Commons collects from several different sources, so I might have to click into a different collection. But it is telling me again my license restrictions, telling me a little bit about the resource, and I can click into the resource itself, and examine it, and see if it’s a good match for my learning outcomes.

I’m going to download and then I get to evaluate it. Because I know the license restrictions on this, if this source is not the perfect match for my environment – I can edit it. I know what the permissions are on this source. I know I’ve been given permission to use it and adapt it, so I can start editing and make it perfect for my classroom situation. I hope that helped. You know where to go to get that exhaustive list of OER repositories. If you do need any help finding your material, feel free to reach out to your liaison librarian. I’ve got them all listed here. Good luck with this! Thanks.