Instruction Section May 2003 Site of the Month


emerging technologies in instruction, instruction section, acrl

May 2003 Site of the Month

Freshman Advising Workshop Library Tutorial
http://www.gwu.edu/gelman/instruct/faw/intro/
Interview by John Hickok


Description:

The Freshman Advising Workshop Library Tutorial (FAWLT) was developed by librarians at the Gelman Library at George Washington University. It is an interactive tutorial designed to show incoming freshmen the basics of searching the library catalog, Lexis-Nexis, and Periodical Abstracts. The goal of the tutorial, according to the authors, is to "provide hands-on experience in searching the catalog and databases." With this in mind, the tutorial employs Javascript and other DHTML tools to create mock-ups of search interfaces. Students interact with these mock-ups in order to complete the tutorial.

Interview with Tutorial Authors:

To highlight the background and design of this noteworthy tutorial, the following interview with the tutorial authors is provided:

Q: How did the FAWLT come to be?
A: Our Education and Instruction Group had tried various approaches with instruction for the Freshman Advising Program, but none of them seemed successful. The library director lobbied hard for a "tutorial," which prompted the webmaster to explore production methods. The webmaster and instruction librarians agreed that the tutorial should be interactive, i.e., students would have to do something other than just read text on web pages.

Q: What was the motivation in creating it?
A: We had worked with the Freshman Advising Program for a few years and had tried various approaches to get the students some hands-on experience in using basic library resources. We had poor attendance at "live" library instruction sessions and a printed "treasure hunt" created havoc at the reference desk. We thought an online tutorial could provide some hands-on experience without creating impossible demands for in-person instruction.

Q: How long did the entire creation process take?
A: We started serious discussions in January and the tutorial was in use in September 2002. The webmaster and assistant had spent about 2 months prior to Jan. testing various production methods. When we were pretty sure that we could actually put it together, the instruction librarians started working on the actual instructional elements to put in the tutorial. So, 2 months studying how to do it, 8 months writing it and putting it together.

Q:Was the integrating the storyboard/components with the technology a challenge?
A: It was a learning experience, but a few things pulled us through. Our web student assistant already knew Javascript and Cascading Style Sheets pretty well, so he could produce the interactive parts of the tutorial. Creating the sample screens took a lot of work in PhotoShop, but it was basically just cutting and pasting elements of the screen to produce a screen that was legible and fit into the page size.

Q: What are the future plans for the tutorial?
A: We have plans to revise the tutorial. One big hazard of this type of tutorial is that it relies so much on the interfaces of the OPAC, databases, etc. This summer, our OPAC interface will change dramatically, as will the library homepage. This means we have to create all new screen shots and write new instructions for the tutorial. Maybe this is why you don't see many tutorials of this type.

To contact the authors of FAWLT, visit http://www.gwu.edu/gelman/instruct/faw/intro/