AI Literacy Digital Learning Object Developed Through SMU Libraries & TP Library Partnership

A digital learning object (DLO) on the effective and responsible use of AI tools in research was jointly developed by Singapore Management University (SMU) Libraries and Temasek Polytechnic (TP) Library.

Launched in the last quarter of 2023, this DLO served to fill a then-immediate gap in 2023 when AI tools such as ChatGPT gained popular and widespread usage, presenting a need and opportunity for all to develop practical, critical thinking and ethical literacy in this area.

In the broader context, SMU and TP collaborated on a project to develop a set of AI literacy DLOs entitled Guide to Learning with AI to facilitate online asynchronous learning on this new ground.

On SMU’s front, this project was initiated by the Student Success Centre, partnering the Centre for Teaching Excellence, and SMU Libraries. At TP, the Learning Academy and TP Library were key partners.   Among the set of DLOs in a Guide to Learning with AI, is a 10-minute long module entitled, Effective Use of AI Tools in Research. The module was jointly produced by SMU Libraries and TP Library. This article elaborates upon this DLO module.


In January 2023, ChatGPT reached 100 million monthly active users, a mere two months after its launch, making it the fastest growing app in history (Hu, 2023). The rapid development and adoption of AI technologies, such as ChatGPT, moved from the pages of science fiction to every personal computing device.

As AI tools grew ubiquitous, it was crucial for institutions and students to develop AI literacy and skills to harness the potential of AI tools. This development offers new possibilities and challenges for research – among other types of tasks. Students, educators and researchers consequently need to be aware of AI tools’ capabilities, use cases, limitations, and ethical implications. One may consider these to be components of AI literacy (Ng et al., 2021). Librarians as educators sat up and took notice of this too.

Call to Action

In the wake of this development, SMU and TP agreed to collaborate on a set of DLOs called a Guide to Learning with AI. SMU’s Digital Learning Strategy highlights the need for students to have digital skills as underscored in SMU’s Holistic Student Development Framework. This set of DLOs thus serves to guide students in using AI tools as learning aid. At SMU, this aligns with SMU’s Framework for the Use of Generative AI Tools, while at TP, this complements TP’s ChatGPT Playbook, which advises and provides information to students on using Generative AI effectively.

SMU Libraries and TP Library partnered to produce a DLO on effective and responsible use of AI tools in research. The DLO aims to equip students with the skills and knowledge to leverage on generative AI tools for various tasks undertaken in the research process, such as understanding new concepts, ideation, and presentation, while fostering the ability to understand, evaluate, and apply AI in an ethical and informed manner.

Development of the DLO

The DLO was designed to be interactive and engaging, with graphical narration and quizzes to enhance the learning experience. The following principles were kept in mind when designing and developing the DLO:

  1. Engaging Presentation: The content should be visually appealing, creating an enjoyable learning experience.
  2. Real-world Relevance: The content should mirror scenarios akin to those students encounter in their studies.
  3. Applicability and Adaptability: The content should present prompts that students can use flexibly to tackle similar tasks in their school-related activities.
Excerpt A from Effective Use of AI Tools in Research:
A narrative with characters and scenario that a student could identify with.

The content is presented through a fictional experience of a student’s research experience around AI. This enables students to better connect with the scenario that they are familiar with.

Excerpt B from Effective Use of AI Tools in Research:
A prompt and a screenshot from an AI tool’s output.

Above is an example of a real prompt and screenshot of the results. The DLO also shares the limitations of AI tools and usage in the graphic narratives. Important points are highlighted and summarised once more for intentional repetition to aid learning and knowledge retention.

Excerpt C from Effective Use of AI Tools in Research:
A conversation on critical thinking, leading to a discussion of other ways to use AI Tools from an SMU student’s perspective.

The above shows an SMU student thinking about ways to use AI tools. As students in SMU and TP have different types of assignments, the way they may leverage on AI tools may differ. The DLO is hence, customised to certain degrees, with both SMU Libraries and TP Library adapting the content and scenarios to suit the respective contexts and needs of their audiences.

Rollout of the DLO

The DLO has been piloted and rolled out to different groups of students and staff at both institutions. At TP, the DLO was first piloted in October 2023 to Year One students and received positive feedback, including comments on improvements. The DLO is being rolled out to all Year One students taking the Current Issues & Critical Learning subject offered by the Centre for Life Skills, starting from Academic Year 2024/2025, spanning both the April and October semesters.

At SMU, the DLO rollout was spearheaded by the Student Success Centre (SSC) and was originally targeted for January 2024, as a highly recommended module for students at the start of a new term.  However, given the DLO’s immediate relevance at the time, SSC and SMU Libraries rolled out the DLO earlier, via email, as a pilot for students in November 2023.  

A dipstick survey has been conducted at SMU for the set of DLOs in Guide to Learning with AI, which includes Effective Use of AI Tools in Research. Out of 150 responses, 90% agreed or strongly agreed the set of DLOs was useful. Some of the comments noted that the content is easy to read and comprehend, contributing to a positive learning experience. Users also appreciate the inclusion and variety of scenario-based examples.

A survey at TP shows that out of 845 responses, 95% agreed or strongly agreed that the module was useful for their studies. Students mentioned enjoying the graphic narrative style and interactive activities, reflecting the effectiveness of these chosen mediums of instruction.

Both SMU and TP will use the feedback as an instrument to review the DLO for areas of improvement for further iterations.


The collaboration between SMU Libraries and TP Library is a testament to the shared vision and commitment of both institutions to promote AI as part of information and digital literacy. The DLO showcases the potential and benefits of AI tools in research, and empowers the learners to use them effectively and ethically. The libraries will continue to work together with the joint-objective of strengthening community literacies, as well as to explore other areas of collaboration in the future.

At both SMU and TP, the module will continue to be put forward for all incoming students to develop AI literacy in critical awareness and applications of AI tools. Developed as an open educational resource, TP Library’s version of this DLO is now available via POLITEMall, an online platform that offers access to learning resources for all local polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).


Effective Use of AI Tools in Research development team

SMU Libraries Project Team: Benedict Yeo, Li Zhenyan, Rajen Munoo
TP Library Project Team: Ho Mui Huay, Nurhaniz Abdul Halim, Ruby Seng

Effective Use of AI Tool in Research is part of Guide to Learning with AI.

Key contributors to Guide to Learning with AI: Cheleen Chua, Julyn Kang, Justyn Olby, Ong Siying & Phyllis Pang (SMU), Dewi & Pratima Majal (TP)


Hu, K. (2023, February 2). ChatGPT sets record for fastest-growing user base—Analyst note. Reuters.

Ng, D. T. K., Leung, J. K. L., Chu, S. K. W., & Qiao, M. S. (2021). Conceptualizing AI literacy: An exploratory review. Computers and Education: Artificial Intelligence, 2, 100041.