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Student OCN Pilots Blog

Page history last edited by bradyx 11 years, 10 months ago





Unit Pilot One:


Unit title:

Search Engine and Online Information Skills



Credit value:




OCNWMR unit code:


QCF unit reference





Based upon need and our findings (see: information seeking study) we felt the most pertinent unit to initially pilot was that of finding and selecting information online.


For this we have chosen one of the groups who took part in the original information seeking tasks. This particular group have allowed us to film them during the initial information seeking task and agreed to feedback at the end of the OCN pilot so we can capture feedback and measure any impact the unit may have on their knowledge and skills.


The pilot starts on Wednesday 25th April at 10am with an introductory face to face session introducing the unit and key expectations. There are 10 students and one personal tutor involved in this pilot of the OCN course. The course has been developed to be delivered with an initial face to face session then the rest delivered online. Time will be allocated from the personal tutor sessions to facilitate and complete the activities or tasks necessary for the OCN unit.





The Moodle site was developed and tested in conjuction with the study centre teams as the area of information literacy is more in line with their expertise. The study centres are also where much of the independant study will take place. Along with the personal tutors the study centre teams will be working closely at the learning interface with students.


The site was developed and structured to take learners through session by session meeting outcome by outcome with structured tasks using Moodle tools and worksheets. The site was structured to give learners the learning resources they needed to be able able to complete the tasks.


Each task and activity has a session outline, learning objective, learning resources and learning activites as per the template for the college PAL pack agenda.


Imagery has been used to clearly identify sections and the tasks. At the end of the moodle site there is a checklist section that lists at the tasks and activities needed for assessment and to complete the unit. This both reinforces what needs to be done in total but acts as a means to ensure nothing gets missed.




Feedback was offered throughout and used to amend or modify the moodle site content until it was felt the course was suitable for piloting.

Here is some of the feedback on offer. Overall the feedback gained reflects the first two comments, however the last comment selected here is an area for deeper consideration as we progress with the students through the unit.


Final feedback from a L2 lecturer:

I've been through the complete course, opened every link, read every document and power point. Reminded myself about Boolean logic etc. In summary I found this course, very comprehensive, instructive, easy to understand, visually interesting, and in-line with good teaching practice. Namely clear objectives, excellent knowledge aquisition eg. instructions, demonstrations and facts. Following up with the opportunity for students to practice and test themselves in all areas with an approach that balanced individual research with pre-provided links, forms and documents. 


Other feedback was gained from an experienced lecturer who has previously delivered L2 OCN qualifications

The content appears appropriate to level and the moodle site is laid out well. The language is comprehensive and I would be very interested to know how the students get on


There was feedback gained from the quality manager at Worcester College of Technology 

My only concern would be the student understanding of boolean search logic, as in my experience L2 learners may find this complicated. It may need some extra face to face support to ensure they all understand


All comments will be taken on board and special attention will be paid to the period where students are asked to understand boolean logic and conduct an appropriate search using such logic.









The sessions were planned with the help of the personal tutor involved with this group. Due to the online nature of the content for this course the sessions are timetabled in a computer bay (see image) in the travel and tourism dedicated zones (formally the travel and tourism study centre). There are ten students involved with the average age of 17/18 years old. This OCN is being delivered within their tutorials timetable with three face to face sessions planned to support the unit. This particular student group were also involved in the skills attributes survey and information seeking task in the initial part of the project. Any data generated after our pilot phase will be compared and contrasted with that of before the OCN intervention.


The first session was intended to introduce the unit, however this stage highlighted the importance of introducing it in a far more comprehensive manner and needed to be far more aligned to their subject area for learners to see the relevance or be motivated to engage and participate. 


In the session students were asked to complete a simple introductory task explaining what meta-data is and how this makes Google searching work. To do this a question and answer session was conducted to see if they were already aware of tagging, hash-tags or keywords to align it to something they understood. Facebook and Twitter were used to put this understanding in context. They did feed into the conversation.  A request was then given to then read the comprehensive information that would help them easily answer the question. It became very apparent that these learners did not want to read but just wanted the answers spoon fed to them to be able to fill in their forum post. With much heavy support and continuous coaxing they did complete the basic task. 


What was also interesting that although they verbally articulated the answers they struggled to put it into words. Most of them described in their written work how Google worked rather than what meta-data was. With these learners a second sentence was encouraged to explain from the point of view of tagging when uploading to the internet rather than retrieving. Clearly it seemed that some learners were far more familiar and comfortable with writing about the retrieving process and appeared difficult for them to consider or articulate in words 'how' items are able to be found by search engines. They appeared to take it for granted that Google just finds content and didn't appear that interested how this process of Google finding the content actually happens. There were others however who were able to grasp the concept and explain it well (see image)


The next task was to consider how websites have meta-data and how it is that Google finds the content. The students had to start a worksheet to identify what meta-data or keywords websites would have to add so Google could find them when a person searches on Google.


The worksheet included images of 3 websites and asked the learners to add what they thought the title would be, and what the description Google would offer to the searcher and what the search keywords would be if you were to search for them. For clarity the first website on the worksheet was discussed and many made a start on the worksheet. This worksheet was given as homework to complete.


To prepare for the second session we had a long discussion with the tutor to find out what would be the most appropriate way to deliver the next session. We all agreed that the more alignment to their vocational subject area would be the best course of action to engage them and offer currency and relevance. Based upon this the task worksheets for session two have been amended to a travel and tourism theme and based upon conducting searches online for specific information that customers might ask for in a travel agents. A range of four scenarios has been created to adopt a range of specific and unpredictable requests as real-life often requires.






This session was based upon a scenario of searching for information for a customer and the types of criteria they request for a holiday or short break. This felt like a more engaging session and the learners took to the task well. They did struggle a bit with the concept of Boolean search techniques, as previously predicted by our Quality Manager, however this was resolved with a more personal supportive environment talk to learners one to one as they needed the help. Eventually this task was completed and the second one started. Again the second task was introduced and started with the intention of completing it as homework.


After this session we requested feedback from students and one student volunteered to be on camera to talk about her related digital literacy experiences at school, teacher expectations of her skills and how at this early stage she felt the unit would be useful to her in her longer term learning. Overall many of the students found the boolean technique an interesting concept, but at this early stage it would be very hard to see if this would influence their future searching techniques.


Students had to use their identified Boolean logic search techniques to find information based upon a set of criteria from a chosen customer. Using their search terms they were to find seven websites that would offer their customer information based around their needs. There were 4 customer types and learners had to randomly select their customer out of a pile of paper to simulate the unpredictable nature of customers and their diverse requirements.


They needed to find seven web sources as a set of information to give the customer ranging from destinations, activities, mobility information, specific location needs, nearby facilities and flights to do with their specified holiday. The session aimed to get them started on this task so they had the scaffolding and experience of doing the task for homework.






The students were asked to build upon the work they did in previous sessions by looking closely at the websites they had found and evaluate them as sources of infornation. They were asked to select three of their sources and put them through the 'CRAAP' test. This enables them to to not only look at the one page they have found but varify its contents by looking at the website it comes from in the wider context, who it is made by, the credentials, the age and type of information etc.


Some students found this particularly difficult to do as they had not considered websites in this much depth before to authenticate or validate its content or value of worth for what they are using it for. Students were asked to complete at least two website evaluations during the session and do the third as homework. Sadly though some students had not completed their homework from previous sessions so needed extra support to coax them to complete and catch up with the tasks to prepare them to finish this weeks task as homework.


At this stage students were referred back to the Moodle site checklist at the bottom of the Moodle site to see what they had completed and what else was left for them to do. It was decided that by completing the homework for this session meant that students only had the harvard referencing element to do. To catch up students have been given an extra week to go over the moodle site content to complete any outstanding tasks before the next session in two weeks. It is planned that this session will be a mop up session for uncompleted work but also a session to demonstrate the harvard referencing for websites or web sources.




This session was a mop up session aimed at getting some students to catch up on tasks and others to complete the final harvard referencing task. However due to other priorities of this group for their main qualification this session did not wholly run to plan. Many had not completed their homework and others had to leave early for other main subject qualification exams. It was agreed that another session next week would be aranged to ensure we had the full hour to assist students with all their needs. However those that we did have managed to catch up to the point where we could all go through the NeilsToolBox harvard referencing task next session.


Weds 30th May 2012 - Extra session to compensate for last week.


The customer enquiries we used were useful as the theme to guide their work of creating boolean searches and finding appropriate websites. Some students still made the error of finding the first websites they could find to complete the task but we steered in the right direction by explaining who and what specific information their customer would want. For example one of the customers specifically wanted a quite holiday in the UK or ireland, yet one of the first websites selected from a student enquiry described quiet holidays in Crete, Greece. When explaining this error in the context of if they worked in a travel agent they understood that if a customer enquires about UK holidays but then gets information given to then on Crete they would be far from impressed. It was interesting still how little checking students did to ensure the websites they were finding were appropriate for the search they were conducting. They still showed elements of skimming and lack of critical skills. These habits appear to be engrained into them and even with coaxing and putting the search in context they still did not go any further for information than the first page of Google. This is certainly a skill that needs developing and focusing on for the level 3 and 4 OCN units.


When doing the CRAAP sheets to evaluate in detail 3 websites or webpages they found. It did not occur to them that to answer some of the questions about the author or contact details that they may need to delve deeper into the website or follow links to check information. They only were able to look at a website at face value and in a two dimensional way.  Even when a page had a link to 'contact details' but the contact details were not on that specific page they saw it as the site having no contact details, another concern of the shallow nature of understanding web page content or to gain in depth infornation online to meet a customers needs. Again another element that would need expanding on in the later level 3 and 4 units.


Students at level two had not before been exposed to or heard of Harvard referencing so it was decided that we would introduce them to the concept of it instead by showing them what harvard references look like and the type of information from the web source that makes up a reference.  The NeilsToolBox website was a relief to them to know that the final harvard referecing task was not as daunting as they had thought but at least gave them the experiencing of identifying the infornation needed to make up a harvard reference. This is certainly a tool we would use again as learners found this very helpful and a useful exercise to look more closely at the websites.


Another interesting find during this pilot was that students preferred to give in assignment work by hand or by email than use the online submission tool


Information Seeking OCN documentation:


Lesson Plan Week One

Lesson Plan Week Two

Lesson Plan Week Three

Lesson Plan Week Four

 Lesson Plan Week Five


Scheme of Work


Moodle site zip




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