3/06/2006

Whose Tutorial?

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First session of the day. Check-in as usual went very smoothly. I was going to go to a different session, but my colleagues at the library asked me to sit in on this one on developing tutorials for information literacy. We're creating similar things.



Jen and Eric are libriarians at Miami University in SW OH. They do a lot of instruction for first-year students, as well as develop materials for instructors. Buy-in from faculty is important.



http://elearn.lib.muohio.edu

was a good start, but it gets out of date very quickly. It is also necessarily very broad in scope, so it's not very subject-specific. That limits its relevance to specific classes, even when a class has several hundred students.


The solution was to develop subject-specific tutorials. Example - Intro to Biology - Goal was to improve writing in the discipline, incorporating research and citation skills. For most students this is their first college science course, so it's a good place to introduce literature review. The online tutorial was written into the revised lab manual.


Content of the tutorial is "smart searching." Covers typical search strategies - keyword selection, Boolean logic, truncation, stop words, etc. Has five modules - Using MiamiLINK (library portal), finding journal articles, citing sources, searching the web for information, and finding books.

Modules on finding journal articles and citing sources are currently complete - the others are in progress.

Activities vary - straight instruction, games, etc., many in PDF format. There's an admin interface to make it easy to add and update material. They update announcements week-to-week to help students keep on-track with assignments.


Back-end is PHP and MySQL - text stored in a database. There are also games in Flash, animations built in Fireworks, and screencasts.


Results - traffic at the reference desk has dropped from 30-40/week to 2-3/week. Students who have questions have better questions. Faculty report that students' writing has improved, while they are spending less time teaching lit search techniques.


elearn.lib.muohio.edu/science/ODCE also see /bmz and /eas.

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