VALA2020 SC9 Murphy

Building librarians’ skills in curriculum development and learning design

VALA2020 SC9
Thursday 13 February 2020, 1:45 – 3:25

Jennifer Murphy
  • Victoria University Melbourne
Sarika Singh
  • Victoria University

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View the presentation slides here:


With change comes opportunity, and The VU Way provides opportunities for librarians to engage with the learning and teaching agenda at Victoria University, Melbourne, in new and exciting ways. Librarians have been collaborating and partnering with academics for decades whether it be teaching, sourcing resources or unit development. Through The VU Way strategic direction, librarians are now formally embedded in curriculum development with academic staff, and critical partners alongside learning designers in the re-design and development process of undergraduate curriculum. The systematic re-design of all 1st Year units of study began in 2017 continuing through to 3rd Year units in 2019 ready for 2020 delivery.

This partnership extends the sphere of VU Library influence and knowledge as we work with the language of academia in discussing learning outcomes, assessments, and scaffolding of student skills in Unit Design Teams. Academic librarian competencies such as understanding of learning & teaching theory and practice, working with learning management systems, and digital content creation are identified in Leong & Woods (2018), and through this project there has been opportunities for staff in personal and professional development in these areas. There have also been opportunities to engage in conversations about copyright and licensing, and to formalise the use of reading list software into the online study spaces. Librarians at Victoria University have discipline knowledge, are outcome and student-focused, known as trusted professionals, and work within a library environment which encourages innovations and professional development in digital technologies.

The engagement with Unit Design Teams has led further opportunities for the librarians tasked with the role of Learning Designers as the University sought support from outside the central Learning and Teaching Team for experienced and knowledgeable staff. The role of Learning Designer (Educational Developer) includes the elements of: 1) assisting with the design of sustainable, high quality learning and assessment activities, incorporating evidence-based design principles; 2) building staff capability in the appropriate use of digital tools to enhance teaching and curriculum design practices; 3) developing flexible, activity based student learning experiences. (Victoria University, 2019).

Stepping outside of the comfort zone provided opportunities to build new skills for the future. Creating visually stimulating and interactive learning objects to engage students with the content and designed to assist with student retention of the subject matter became the role of librarians as learning designers. Collaboration expanded language and competencies to build assessments, create rubrics, and set up quizzes and gradebooks.

Librarians need to be adaptive and ready to meet the needs of future students and academic institutions which are disrupting and changing the teaching landscape. Rather than focusing on position titles, capacity to adapt, innovate, problem-solve and communicate has temporarily led several librarians down an unexpected pathway splitting their time between Librarian and Learning Designer roles. While it is difficult to predict the future of Library and Information Management roles, seizing opportunities when presented will certainly place these librarians in a great position.

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