June 2011 Site of the Month

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June 2011 Site of the Month

Cite It Right


Author: Heather Williams, Instructional Designer, First-Year Services, at UTSA Libraries, University of Texas at San Antonio

Interviewees: Heather Williams

Institution: University of Texas at San Antonio’s UTSA Libraries

Interviewer: Alec Sonsteby

Tutorial Description: The Cite It Right tutorial introduces the learner to the importance of citing sources and explains how to cite correctly according to MLA and APA styles. The tutorial is self-paced, allowing the learner to navigate through the tutorial to gain a general understanding of the topic or learn how to cite specific types of sources using either the MLA or APA format. The tutorial includes videos and interactive exercises that illustrate the principles of citing sources and provide guided practice in the use of various citation formats.

Q: Heather, what was the impetus for the tutorial and who is the intended audience?

A: We created the Cite It Right tutorial to meet some on-demand needs of our undergraduates. We have over 30,000 students at UTSA, and while it is impossible for us to reach all of our students via face- to-face instruction, we can provide them with information anytime, anyplace, anywhere through the implementation of on-line learning modules. The instructors of our freshman composition classes asked specifically for us to create modules on the MLA and APA citation formats.

Q: Tell us about the process you used to establish outcomes for the tutorial.

A: In creating this module we had three goals in mind to best serve our on-demand learners. First, we wanted to provide engaging content that met the informational needs of our learners using language and situations that are familiar to them. Second, we wanted the information to be short and concise, providing learners with proper citation techniques in less than 2 minutes. Finally, we wanted to provide our learners with something interactive to give them an opportunity to practice the citation techniques they just learned.

Q: Who was involved in the production of the tutorial and what skills and talents did they contribute?

A: Jeff Lacy, Humanities subject librarian, served as the subject matter expert for this module. I led brainstorming sessions with Jeff Lacy as well as two other librarians, Jeff McAdams (subject librarian for Engineering) and Emme Lopez (reference librarian), to create the Cite it Right module. Jeff Lacy wrote the scripts for the short "how to" videos and did most of the voice-overs. Jeff McAdams wrote the script for the skit. Then I recorded, edited, and made our visions come to life.

Q: How is this tutorial primarily being used at your institution?

A: The Cite it Right tutorial is being used to provide our students with on-demand answers to their basic citation questions. It's a part of a suite of modules targeted to the students of freshman seminar and freshman composition courses.

Q: I am intrigued by the music you used in the video clips. How did you choose the music in each? Was it composed for this tutorial?

A: For me the music is the most difficult part. Often the background music can make or break a short video clip. I spent many hours on Podnova searching for the perfect music to use in each clip. I then used GarageBand to pair the music to the video.

Q: Who are the actors in the "Why Cite" video? If they are not library staff, how did you recruit them?

A: The actors are librarians Jeff McAdams and Emme Lopez. We spent a day creating the "Why Cite" video. Through the use of a homemade green screen, Jeff played both roles as the therapist and the student.

Q: What video editing software did you use for this tutorial?

A: I went to a party store and bought 8 bright green party table cloths to create a massive green screen. I the used Adobe After Effects and Premiere CS5 to edit out the green screen and put it all together.

Q: I really like the drag-and-drop exercises. What software did you use to develop them?

A: I used Adobe Flash and Photoshop CS5.

Q: Usability and accessibility are talked about a lot these days. What sort of usability testing and accessibility analysis did you conduct on the tutorial, if any?

A: Our first web implementation used pop-ups. We redesigned to avoid pop-ups to improve the usability. We also provide text transcripts for all of our tutorial videos so people who can't watch or listen to the videos have something to work with, too.

We're also concerned about accessibility on-the-go, which is important to our users. For this reason we made sure to post each of our videos to YouTube to allow for cross-platform usability.

Q: Have you done any assessment of the effectiveness of the tutorial?

A: We keep an eye on our user analytics to keep track of which parts of the lesson are getting the most views. It is no surprise to us that How to Cite a Website is by far our most popular portion of the tutorial.

Q: Usability and accessibility are talked about a lot these days. What sort of usability testing and accessibility analysis did you conduct on the tutorial, if any?

A: Our first web implementation used pop-ups. We redesigned to avoid pop-ups to improve the usability. We also provide text transcripts for all of our tutorial videos so people who can't watch or listen to the videos have something to work with, too.

Q: The tutorial is applicable and accessible to other institutions. Was this intentional? Are you aware of other libraries using this tutorial or at least the YouTube clips you've uploaded?

A: As an educational institution, we believe that information should be readily accessible and shared. We like to think we're teaching students skills that are applicable anywhere, not just at this school or in this library.

We are not currently aware of any other institution using our tutorial, but we think it likely that not all of our views from YouTube are from UTSA students. We welcome other libraries using and building on our work. We license the tutorials under Creative Commons for that very reason.

Q: From planning to launch, how long did it take to complete this project? Was it more or less time than you originally had planned?

A: I started working at UTSA Libraries on April 1, 2010, and was given the goal of completing the Cite it Right module along with two other Information Literacy modules by August 1, 2010. I am proud to say we met our deadline. So from conceptualization to end product, it took around 3 months for 3 different modules.

Q: What skills were required to produce this tutorial? Did you need to seek any "outside" expertise?

A: Thankfully, we have all the talent necessary to produce the tutorials at the UTSA libraries. To create the framework of the module, I used Dreamweaver and HTML coding. I shot the videos with our Sony AVCHD camcorder. The audio was recorded and edited on a Mac with the use of GarageBand. I then edited the videos with software from Adobe Master Collection CS5. Then I created the interactive practice activities with Flash CS5.

Q: What best practices guided the production of this tutorial?

A: We tried to stick with ACRL's best practices in information literacy:

  • supports diverse approaches to teaching;
  • incorporates appropriate information technology and other media resources;
  • includes active and collaborative activities;
  • encompasses critical thinking and reflection;
  • responds to multiple learning styles;
  • supports student-centered learning;
  • builds on students' existing knowledge; and
  • links information literacy to ongoing coursework and real-life experiences appropriate to program and course level.

Q: Are there existing tutorials on the Web that inspired you? If so, which ones?

A: Yes, we were inspired by the layout of the University of Texas at Austin Libraries' Plagiarism tutorial. (This tutorial was the June 2009 PRIMO Site of the Month. See: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/ about/sections/is/projpubs/primo/site/2009june.cfm).

Q: From your own experience, what tips you would give to others contemplating building their own online tutorial?

A: I would suggest that you have a well thought out game plan before embarking on the actual creation of the module. You have to have the vision of what you want in order to recognize it when you complete it. I truly love creating modules that entertain while they educate. I think that if you have fun during the creation process it will shine through your end product.

June 2011 PRIMO Site of the Month