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Monday, 21 March 2016

LIHNN Literature Searching MOOC

Suzannah Bridge
Rachel Walker

Suzannah Bridge and Rachel Walker are the newest members of the IR team - you’ll find them working on the Information Desk in the ScHARR Library. They both have a background in libraries, but neither of them had worked in a library supporting health research before and they have found that there is plenty to learn! Here Suzannah writes about taking part in the LIHNN Literature Searching MOOC.


Shortly after Rachel and I started working at ScHARR LIHNN began a pilot of a literature searching MOOC aimed at health librarians. As literature searching in a health context was new to both of us we jumped at the opportunity to learn, and supplement the training that our colleagues Mark and Naila had given us.

The MOOC covers six aspects of literature searching, spread across as many weeks; Ask, Scope, Search, Refine, Summarise and Evaluate. The MOOC is primarily aimed at librarians working within NHS England, but the vast majority of the content is useful to anyone with an interest in literature searching. The first four weeks broke down the literature searching process, covering things such as the PICO framework, the levels of evidence pyramid, how and where to find synonyms, using thesaurus terms, and search filters. The final two weeks of the MOOC were more directly aimed at those working within NHS England, and although interesting were somewhat less relevant to us.

Screenshot of the MOOC

Here's Rachel's experience of the MOOC:
I heard about the LIHNN literature searching MOOC through my colleagues at ScHARR. As a new member of staff in the ScHARR Library, I was keen to get an insight into how to carry out a health related literature search which would enable me to support my colleagues and students. The MOOC was an excellent introduction to literature searching and gave me a good overview of how to carry out a health related literature search. The advice on identifying search terms and synonyms, and selecting the most relevant resources to carry out a search was very useful. I am looking forward to putting these new skills into practise.

Rachel started (and finished!) the MOOC before me, and after hearing her positive reviews I decided to give it a go. Aside from the obvious benefits of learning about literature searching in health, I’ve also found the MOOC interesting from the perspective of an LIS professional; looking not just what the MOOC is teaching, but how this teaching is being delivered.

A few weeks ago I attended an NLPN Digital Skills event where one of the developers of the MOOC, Michelle Maden, spoke. Having participated in the MOOC it was really interesting to hear about it from the perspective of a developer/instructor on the course. Michelle reported that a number of the MOOC participants were LIS professionals who already had these skills themselves, but were looking to the MOOC for ideas about how to train others.

For anyone who is looking to develop online training, particularly on a larger scale, Michelle had several tips:
  • Find out what your potential audience/users need before developing any training or deciding on a platform
  • Make sure you use a range of teaching methods to cater for various learning styles
  • Ensure the content is interactive to keep learners engaged
These are observations that I hope will come in useful soon as we look to update IRIS, the online information skills training we offer to ScHARR students.

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