What is Digital Library Learning or DILL?
Two countries, two universities, one language, one goal, a good result – this is the international master’s programme Digital Library Learning.
The international programme called DILL started as a collaboration between three universities: Tallinn University, University of Oslo, and University of Parma. Currently it is a joint programme between Tallinn University and University of Parma. It is the only library and information sciences programme in Europe with Erasmus Mundus support.
The abbreviation DILL comes from Digital Library Learning. The goal is to prepare skilful information specialists for the digital library field.
The programme was first run in the 2007/2008 academic year, with English as the working language. The programme was set in a way that students would study in each university for at least a semester: the first in Oslo, the second in Tallinn and the third in Parma. They had to choose one of the three in which to write their master’s thesis.
Tallinn University, where Sirje Virkus and Aira Lepik lead the programme, became a popular university for writing theses from the go. Out of the 18 students that enrolled in the first year, 7 stayed here to finish their work, and 10 out of the 21 decided likewise in the second year.
We know, who we teach
Even though Erasmus Mundus supports only contact lessons, the courses had an extensive e-learning support, which made life for students a lot easier. With the permission of respective authors, many parts of books were digitised and made available in an e-learning environment.
There were video conferences with acclaimed researchers from Europe and the USA, where the students could discuss and ask questions directly. For example, there were video conferences with Christian Schlögl from Graz University in Austria and Professor Ronald E. Day from Indiana State University, as well as Skype-conversations with professor emeritus Tom Wilson from the UK.
Before the studies, the students are thoroughly researched. Since 2007, the programme applies diagnostic analysis: the students’ specific knowledge and skills are found out, in addition to their previous experience and preferences on information and communication technology tools, including social software; their preferences in teaching and learning methods and their previous concerns and hardships in education.
In case the students show very different knowledge in some subjects, the e-learning environment divides them into different levels (beginners, advanced students etc.). The e-learning environment and digital learning objects make this process simpler.
Fun virtual seminar
Thanks to the cooperation with the Cergy Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications from France, the course of Human Resources Management was integrated with a virtual entrepreneurship seminar. This was led by lecturers from Estonia and France, and the participants were Digital Library Learning students from Estonia, who teamed up with Informatics students from France.
The seminar was virtual, which means the teams worked in their home countries. Live video seminars enabled the students to attend the lectures and seminars in the mornings and use Skype for group work in the afternoons. The documents were shared via Dropbox, Google Docs and Moodle.
To succeed in their projects, the students had to use their problem solving skills, plan strategically when establishing their companies, create their financial and marketing plans, and submitted funding applications to an international panel of investors, which comprised of TU and ITIN lecturers.
The students’ creativity in planning imaginary companies created an inspiring environment, wherein the supervisors themselves stopped to think about real investment opportunities regarding some projects. One of the participants, Ezera Kulizooma, used this course as the basis of her master’s thesis.
Conferences provide feedback
From 2009, the students are offered a chance to make thesis-based presentations at the international QQML (Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries) conferences.
Supervised by TU lecturers, nearly 30 students have made presentations in the Using Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Digital Library Education and Research section during the seven conferences.
According to the students, presenting their ideas at a conference merely a month before submitting their final thesis is an excellent experience: they receive specific feedback, test their presentation skills, participate in academic discussions and learn to defend and reason their statements.
In most cases the students have used the possibility to publish their presentation as an article in the international peer-review QQML Journal.
At times, alumni from the DILL programme join the QQML conferences with their presentations based on their PhD theses, which enrich the conference as well as the unity of the DILL community.
Tallinn University is next
Until now, the programme has been coordinated by the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences but starting with the academic year 2015/2016, the coordinator has been Information Sciences study area of the Tallinn University School of Digital Technologies.
What is Erasmus Mundus?
Erasmus Mundus is a collaborative and exchange programme within the EU, with the goal to promote higher education in Europe, widen and improve the students’ competitiveness in the labour market and promote the dialogue and understanding between people and cultures.
The programme offers solutions to problems in European higher education concerning globalisation and helps to adjust the educational systems to the demands of the knowledge-based society. The goal is to increase the attractiveness and visibility of European higher education across the globe and promote the unification of academic degrees across European universities.
Read more about the programme and admission requirements from our webpage.
Ask our student ambassadors what they think about the programme: tlu.ee/ambassadors.