emerging technologies in instruction, instruction section, acrl

March 2004 Site of the Month

FLYERS Tutorial

Author: Kathleen Webb
Interviewer: Mark Szarko

Librarians at the University of Dayton designed this tutorial to assist students doing research in the English composition courses. Students complete the tutorial prior to coming into the library, so librarians can spend the instruction session answering questions and allowing the students to actually get started with their research. Students can also use the tutorial to review their research skills at any point in their studies.

Interview with tutorial author:

Q: What was the motivation for creating creating the FLYERS Tutorial?

A: The University of Dayton has a very strong relationship with our English composition program. Generally we see each section for at least one library instruction class every semester. Since several English faculty were requesting customized sessions, we needed a way to ensure that all students were receiving the same basic foundation of information searching concepts and skills. We also wanted to ensure that class sessions were making the most effective use of the librarian's skills. Since it appeared to us that Library instruction sessions were becoming increasingly crowded with material that seemed basic and repetitive, we thought an online tutorial would address all our issues.

Q: How long did the entire creation process take? Who was involved? What technology did you use?

A: Two librarians developed the concepts to be presented in the tutorial. The librarians were not given any release time to work on this project so it took about six months to prepare the outline and content. We hired a current staff person who had begun freelancing as a web designer. She had recently started using a software program from Macromedia called Authorware. This program was very powerful and we felt it would be an excellent choice for the tutorial. The Authorware development took an additional three months.

Q: What were some of the challenges (technological or other) that you faced?

A: Time and money were our challenges. Fitting this project into our day-to-day work activities was often difficult. Given our limited funds we were not able to hire a person completely proficient with the Authorware software. She was learning as she went. This meant that some of our ideas for interactivity had to be adjusted. Once the tutorial was completed we did have some problems with the students' ability to access the program. Authorware requires a plug-in and some students had trouble downloading and installing the required application.

Q: What support, if any, did you have in creating the project?

A: We received a Fund for Faculty Development grant. This is a local grant offered to faculty working on projects to improve a course. The grant allowed us to contract for the Authorware development. The Library administration also allowed employee release time from current duties in order to work on the programming.

Q: What kind of feedback, either formal or informal, have you received from students or faculty?

A: Most of the feedback has been very informal. We tested it thoroughly with students and found that most of them enjoyed the interactivity and found the content useful. However, once it was assigned as homework we had complaints that it took too long to complete. Thankfully the English department decided that 20 minutes was not too long for a homework assignment!

We also heard from several librarians around the country who were very interested in how we developed the tutorial. We shared the Authorware files with a few people who were planning similar projects.

Q: What are your future plans for the project?

A: We are continuing to use all the library tutorials to deliver the basics of searching and selecting concepts, thereby freeing the librarians involved in instruction to be more creative in presenting higher level information seeking skills and concepts.

We will update the tutorial as time and money permits.

To contact the authors of the FLYERS tutorial, please write or call:

Kathleen Webb
E-mail: webb@udayton.edu
Phone: 937-229-4263