March 2011 Site of the Month


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May 2011 Site of the Month

Research Essentials Tutorials

http://libguides.bentley.edu/librarytutorials

Author: Elizabeth Galoozis

Interviewee: Elizabeth Galoozis

Institution: Bentley University

Interviewer: Kristin Whitehair

Tutorial Description: These three tutorials, which may be viewed separately or as a sequence, are designed to teach students how to find specialized business information about companies and industries using Bentley University library resources.

Q: I’d like to start by asking, what prompted this project? What are the goals of this tutorial in regard to both students and the institution?

A: Bentley has been in the process of overhauling its general business (GB) core of classes that all undergraduates must take. In the old GB Core, the library provided in-person instruction sessions in company and industry research. In the new GB Core, a different course (GB112) addressed the same concepts with a different final project. This course was also to be offered almost exclusively in the fall semester. Given the large number of freshmen, the small number of librarians, the assignment’s due date, we decided that a series of online tutorials would be a more feasible instructional method. The goal of the tutorials is for students to get a solid grounding in concepts and skills related to company and industry research, both specifically for their final project, and more broadly for future courses and job-related research. Goals for the tutorials’ content were drawn from the goals of the GB Core itself.

Q: Who was your target audience for this tutorial? How did students and faculty respond to it?

A: Our target audience was the freshmen taking GB112. The tutorials that are posted publicly on our website are slightly different versions of the tutorials that students viewed through their Course Management System (CMS) site; those referred more to the students’ actual research project.

The faculty responded well to having the tutorials integrated into the course. Students had to complete quizzes after each tutorial, which gave faculty a better idea of student performance. Students had a variety of responses. Some felt that the tutorials should be shorter. Others said they preferred the tutorials to in-person instruction, and liked being able to go back to them. Based on the actual final projects, the most challenging part for students continues to be evaluating information for its usefulness and context, which is something I’d like to concentrate on more in future versions of the tutorials.

Q: Can you talk a little bit more about who was part of the design process? Who was involved in the design process?

A: The in-person presentation for the previous GB core was created by my colleague Lisa Curtin, and I drew heavily from it for the tutorials' content. I solicited input from my fellow reference librarians on what they thought the tutorials should contain and look like. I also read a lot about creating online tutorials, and looked at what other institutions had done.

One of the first things I did was create an abbreviated version of the first tutorial. I showed it to both the GB faculty and the reference staff, to get feedback on its look and feel. When I finished the first tutorial, I asked a couple of the library’s student employees to go through the tutorial and give feedback about the content and design.

Q: What were some of the technologies you used to create this tutorial? What skillsets are needed to create a tutorial like this?

A: I used Adobe Captivate to create the tutorials, and I used SnagIt (http://www.techsmith.com/snagit/default.asp) to capture many of the images. I did research on tutorial-creating software, and decided that Captivate was the best one for what I wanted to do. There was definitely a learning curve, though - that's why I would recommend making an abbreviated mock tutorial, just test out doing everything you want to do.

I would say that the most crucial skill is organization, or project management. There is a lot to keep track of - images, audio, narrative - and having a system to track progress and revisions was enormously helpful. Knowledge of how people learn, and in particular how they learn from online tutorials, is also important - did a lot of reading in that area. And if you’re planning to narrate audio yourself, good speaking skills are necessary. I don't think my narration will be winning a Grammy anytime soon, but I learned to modulate volume and tone along the way.

Q: About how long did it take you to put the tutorial together?

A: Between the planning, researching and learning the software, and the actual tutorial creation, I would say a few months. I wasn’t working on the tutorial exclusively, of course.

Q: Have you done any kind of formal assessment of the tutorial, or do you have plans to do that?

A: GB112 students have to take a quiz after completing each tutorial, so their quiz grades are one form of assessment. I’d like to do a survey of students in the near future about the tutorials, especially targeting students who completed them a year or two ago.

Q: How is this tutorial promoted to your users?

A: The tutorials and quizzes are embedded into the CMS sites for all GB112 students, and their quiz grades count toward their final grade in the course. Students are reminded by email and announcements ahead of and during the two-week period in which they must complete the tutorials and quizzes. This fall, we’re also planning brief, in-person visits to the classroom to build faculty support and reinforce the importance of the tutorials in particular and research skills in general.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you encountered in creating the tutorial?

A: The biggest challenge was diving into the software. It took me a long time to figure out how to do certain things, which could be frustrating. It took me a lot longer to create the first tutorial; the other two went much more quickly.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who was considering creating a tutorial like this one?

A: Give yourself plenty of time to lay the groundwork: coming up with what you want to accomplish with the tutorial, doing research on what software would be best, and testing out design concepts on colleagues and the target audience. If you’re recording audio, make sure you have a quiet space where you can do that. Also, I’m sure this isn’t a new piece of advice in PRIMO, but I highly recommend making a storyboard. It forces you to put down on paper exactly what objects and text you want in each slide or section, rather than a list of vague descriptions.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add that our readers might like to know?

A: I think before I started this project, I would have liked for someone to tell me, "It can be done!"

May 2011 PRIMO Site of the Month