emerging technologies in instruction, instruction section, acrl

July 2003 Site of the Month

OASIS: Online Advancement of Student Information Skills
Jeff Rosen, San Francisco State University
Judy Smith


OASIS is an online interactive tutorial designed to give undergraduate students a basic level of competence in the skills needed to find, use and evaluate information of all kinds. Successful completion of the tutorial (or an equivalent course at another institution) is required of all first year students by the end of their first year at San Francisco State University. The tutorial consists of 8 chapters, each of which is followed by a short quiz that students take online. Quizzes are automatically graded online and the results displayed on the student's monitor while quiz grades are recorded to their student record.

Interview with tutorial author:

Q. What was the motivation for creating OASIS?

A. The library had a workbook requirement that was required of all students before they graduate. Beginning in 1981, the library administered: Library Resources: a Self-Paced Workbook. However, in the late 1990s, we began to realize that the workbook was outdated. In 1999, the academic senate gave us the mandate to create an academic requirement, so this was the impetus. The history of the library requirement and the recognition of information literacy were important in helping create OASIS.

Q. How did your campus community respond to the move from a workbook-based library requirement to a Web-based tutorial?

A. The Library realized the importance of marketing our new tutorial and funded a variety of promotional materials that gave OASIS a high profile on campus. We are lucky because our faculty have fully embraced OASIS and are big supporters. The students like it because it's free (unlike the workbook) and because it is available online from anywhere.

Q. How long did the entire creation process take?

A. It took a little more than one year. We built upon a tutorial already in existence. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo had created an information competence tutorial based on ACRL standards. They allowed anyone in the CSU system to adopt it. We probably adapted it the most. We rewrote huge chunks of it and added graphics, gave it a look and name change, and added interactive quizzes.

Q. What were some of the challenges you faced?

A. Finding a balance in tone and language-52 % of our students are not native English speakers. The challenge was getting across complex concepts to people struggling with English but to not leave other students behind.

Q. What are the plans for the tutorial?

A. We make changes to the tutorial as needed and we will revise the content as competencies change. We also would like to implement a formal way of assessing the tutorial's impact on students' information literacy skills.

Q. What technologies did you use to create the tutorial

A. The content of the tutorial is simple html code. We used a variety of common editors and graphics programs. The quizzes are served up via a custom, Oracle-based program which was developed by our campus' Division of Information Technology.

To contact the authors of OASIS, please write or call:

Jeff Rosen
Senior Assistant Librarian
Information, Research & Instructional Services
J. Paul Leonard Library, Office 209
San Francisco State University
1630 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132-4030
e-mail: jrosen@sfsu.edu
phone: (415) 338-1811