Virtually Together: Building an Online Information Literacy Community

Susan Archambault


This paper describes the evolution of CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), an open educational resource (OER) developed for librarians and faculty in higher education. Two librarians at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in the United States received a Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC) Project Initiatives Fund grant. The grant proposed to expand upon an internal information literacy assignment collection at LMU by using the “recipe” metaphor to envision the assignments as recipes that could be tweaked or easily adapted to fit into any information literacy curriculum. Input from two faculty focus groups was incorporated into the original prototype design.The site was built using Drupal, an open source content management platform. Several small assessment studies were done to improve the CORA interface, including task-based usability testing, digital fly-on-the-wall observations, librarian interviews, card sorting, and a survey. The goal of the assessment was to improve CORA’s search functionality and ease of use and increase CORA’s relevance to instruction librarians both in the United States and in other countries. Key findings included a reluctance to log in or create a user account; a perception of the site as a marketplace rather than a community; a need to shorten the forms on the site and tweak unclear terminology; a need for more practical “Teaching Resources” such as research guides; and support for expanding the scope of the information literacy concepts beyond the United States. Pay a visit to to see this new virtual community of practice.