WeLIS: Wales e-Library Information Skills: e-modules for training users in information searching skills

HLG Nursing Bulletin Vol 32 (3/4)

Nia Morris, Clinical Librarian
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board
John Spalding Library
Wrexham Medical Institute
Croesnewydd Rd
LL13 7YT


Health Librarians in Wales spend many hours preparing teaching materials and instructing patrons how to use electronic resources to help them to find evidence based information. Due to work commitments or pressures of time, many NHS staff are unable to attend one-to-one tutorials or traditional formal training sessions organised by their local health library service. To overcome this barrier to learning, an e-learning project called WeLIS (Wales e-Library Information Skills) has been set up to create a health information online training resource for NHS Wales staff, at a time and place to suit them. WeLIS has been created by a small group of health librarians from across Wales. The course will be implemented on a national scale. It will provide a 24 hour, seven day a week learning environment with easily accessible material to enable staff to develop or refresh their information searching skills.


It is recognised that e-learning has an important role in complementing the traditional forms of training currently provided by librarians. E-learning is fast becoming incorporated into medical education and if library trainers are to be effective they need to be able to offer training that is in tune with today’s students and technology (Morrison & Krishnamurthy, 2008).

However e-learning is not about creating slides and notes online. E-learning should enhance, or at the very least offer, the same level of learning opportunities that a classroom or one to one tutorial would offer library users. (Schutt & Hightower, 2009) (Wedlake, 2010)

The idea of producing e-learning tutorials as an adjunct to the formal education offered within the health libraries across Wales was discussed in an All Wales Health Information and Libraries Extension Service (AWHILES) meeting in 2009.

AWHILES is a partnership between NHS Wales and Cardiff University health libraries. Led by Duncan Olivier, Assistant Librarian at Singleton Hospital in Swansea, health librarians across Wales came together to create what has become known as the WeLIS (Welsh e-Learning Information Skills) project.

Before starting the project, it was important to establish what online educational support services were already available within NHS Wales. There are multiple free resources available to create robust learning materials. However it would be fair to say that as technology changes and improves, new challenges are created. The Group were advised by NHS Wales Informatics Service, (NWIS) to use Moodle as a standard free virtual learning environment (VLE) on which to place WeLIS for access by NHS Wales users as this is the standard VLE used for e-resources in NHS Wales.

Discussion took place regarding course structure, the target audience, how to measure success and course duration. It was decided that the online course would be structured into individual course modules, culminating in a final assessment.

The course modules include NHS Wales e-Library for health; Planning your Search; OVID (Medline); CINAHL Database, Cochrane Library, Referencing and How to Evaluate your Results (Critical Appraisal).

Following this, an e-learning specification template was prepared for submission to the National Programme Delivery Group for approval before the learning materials could be created. Once this was accepted and the modules had been produced, they could be uploaded onto the course profile on the NHS Wales VLE.

Course Content

Each section of the individual modules will include a PowerPoint presentation, a handout, an assessment and a film demonstration of the skills being taught. The presentation and handouts are PDF copies of the course work which are uploaded onto a library in Moodle.

The Group agreed that the content of the modules should be multidisciplinary focused in terms of search examples and the need to cover both primary and secondary care.

The role of each module is to enable novice users to become skilled in information searching and will complement training already received in formal sessions run by local NHS library services.

An issue faced early on related to the changes carried out by OVID and EBSCO on their interfaces. This had an impact on the work involved on the CINAHL database module, the first one to be produced. Recently changes have been made to the Cochrane Library Database interface, which means the work that has already been produced for the Cochrane module will need to be revised. This is an aspect of creating e-learning modules as well as traditional teaching which can be very frustrating and time consuming!

The Technology behind WeLIS

The VLE Moodle is accessible from NHS Wales’ e-learning website https://www.mle.wales.nhs.uk/ where users can enrol on the course using a NHS e-learning password.

A course structure designed by the Cardiff University Postgraduate Learning and Teaching Online (PLATO) team, allowed the WeLIS Group to modify the content. The structure was created using HTML source code and the Group uses Dreamweaver to amend the HTML code to change or add new content to the course.

Early on in the discussions regarding the content of the modules, the Group wanted to include screen shots demonstrating searches using the CINAHL, OVID Medline and Cochrane databases. The aim of the demonstration is to enhance the learner’s visual experience of using e-modules.

This was achieved by a member of the team recording and editing film clips using Camtasia Studio.

This work also involved preparing the narration for the ‘voice- over’ and screen text. The process of writing the narration for the CINAHL e-module took a couple of drafts before the Group were satisfied that it was precise, succinct and pitched at the right level. A fellow health librarian in Wales kindly agreed to be the ‘voice over’.

Course Assessment

The assessments are created in Moodle and aim to test the learner’s knowledge as well as to encourage managers to support staff develop skills as part of their Continuing Personal Development. A quiz is offered at the end of each section of the module. This gives participants an opportunity to check their own progress and the opportunity to repeat certain sections.

The quizzes are not included in the final assessment. There is always the option for participants to complete the course in the library computer room with librarians at hand to offer support and guidance if needed.

An assessment is given at the end of each module and participants will have to pass a certain percentage to successfully complete the course and be awarded a certificate. The CINAHL database module contains a ten question assessment, which includes multiple choice and True or False type questions.


Creating a virtual learning course has to be approached in a different way to planning a traditional teaching session. It is not just a case of transplanting your traditional materials into an electronic format. It is about ensuring that the information is presented in sufficient detail, but also explained logically and in a clear and interesting manner to make the participant want to complete the module.

Spending some time searching the internet for ideas was invaluable. Many organisations have made their interactive teaching sessions available on the internet, and this proved useful in order to get ideas and to get a feel of what might work and what might not.

Producing online teaching requires new skills and can be a steep learning curve and developing an e-course takes time and effort. None of the Group members had any previous experience of using technology for education and without the support of the team from PLATO would have struggled to produce an e-learning resource.

A number of versions of the CINAHL e-module were produced before the Group was satisfied with it. Feedback from the WeLIS Group members was essential, as well as from colleagues across AWHILES. The CINAHL module was launched in July 2012 and a feedback form was produced for users to evaluate the effectiveness of the module as a teaching tool as well as its content and style. The WeLIS Group meets around four times a year via video conferencing and these meetings are an opportunity for the members to share ideas, get others’ opinion on the work done and generally encourage each other along.

Now that the first WeLIS e-module has been launched, the Group now has the experience to move on to develop further modules. The plan is to have two more ready by the end of the year. The team are currently working on ensuring consistency between each module by designing a course style sheet which will then be used for the entire course.

The project has been, and continues to be developed, but is one that the Group believe will benefit information searching skills training within NHS Wales.


Morrison, R.S. & Krishnamurthy, M. (2008) ‘Customized library tutorial for online BSN students’, Nurse Educator, 33 (1), pp.18-21.

Schutt, M.S. & Hightower, B. (2009) ‘Enhancing RN-BSN students’ information literacy skills through the use of instructional technology’, Journal of Nursing Education, 48(2), pp. 101-105.

Wedlake, S. (2010) ‘Examining midwives’ perceptions of using e-learning for continuing professional development’, MIDIRS Midwifery Digest, 20(2), pp. 143-50.

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