October 2011 Site of the Month

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Kimbel Library Instructional Videos


Author: Joshua Vossler and John Watts

Interviewees: Joshua Vossler and John Watts

Institution: Coastal Carolina University

Interviewer: Jodie Borgerding

Tutorial Description: (provided by the authors): In 2010, librarians at Kimbel Library created a pilot program of five instructional videos addressing fundamental information literacy skills. These videos were created in cooperation with Coastal Carolina University’s First Year Experience Program (FYE), and were designed to introduce FYE students to fundamental information literacy concepts relevant to an annotated bibliography assignment common to all sections of FYE. The objective was to create videos that students would enjoy, or at least not find aversive. By providing instruction that addressed both the affective domain (through humor) and the cognitive domain (through a multimedia presentation of lecture, text, and diagrams), we hoped students would achieve the cognitive goals of our program without developing negative associations with information literacy, the library, or librarians. Each video was created around two outcomes: One cognitive outcome and one affective outcome. Each video had a different cognitive outcome, but all videos shared the same affective outcome, although that outcome was measured separately for each video.


Q: What was the reason for creating the videos and who is the intended audience?

John: Our jobs.

Joshua: Our boss’s boss said, “Guess what you are doing this summer.” It was a top-down directive that the library needed to create digital learning objects (DLOs).

John: The DLOs were intended to replace face-to-face library instruction for 80 sections of the First Year Experience program. Instead these videos are embedded into the Blackboard course for each section and students are supposed to watch them. It is a required element for the course.


Q: Tell me more about who was involved in the production of the videos.

Joshua: John, Tim Hodge and I were involved with the production of the videos. I provided fearless leadership and furthermore was the primary scriptwriter and whiteboard artist.

John: I was the theatrical artist, scriptwriter and puppeteer.

Joshua: Tim is our undergraduate student assistant who became our multimedia assistant. He provided his own equipment, shot and edited the video.


Q: Did this project require any special skills or expertise?

Joshua: We could not have done it without Tim. He brought a lot of expertise on how to use Final Cut Pro, camera operation, editing and so on.

John: For us, the expertise was teaching, Joshua’s research for his book on humor (Humor & Information Literacy: Practical Techniques for Library Instruction) and his classical drawing background. We did get a lot of expertise from Jeanwood, a custodial engineer, on the finer points of chicken handling.


Q: How long did it take you to complete this project?

John: We started in May...

Joshua: And we went live in August so it took us three months from when we were assigned the project to when it was rolled out.


Q: How did you establish the outcomes for the videos?

John: We went through the Dean of the University College to get the main assignment that was common throughout the FYE courses, which was an annotated bibliography. So we framed the videos around having one learning outcome per video. By the time the project was launched, we had 5 videos that covered one specific learning outcome each.


Q: Did you do any accessibility or usability testing on the videos before they were launched?

Joshua: Usability was part of the development process. We exposed prototypes of the videos and the assessment quiz to a sample of students to determine the effectiveness of the videos. For accessibility, we provide a PDF script of the video and created the assessment quiz so that it could be completed using only script without having to have seen the video.


Q: Speaking of assessment, have you had a chance to assess the effectiveness of the videos?

John: We take the results for the Blackboard assessment quizzes and assess the videos and their effectiveness using those data.

Joshua: At the end of each semester, we collect and analyze the data. Right now, we are coming up on our 3rd data collection analysis. Collectively, we found that more than 80% of students reported enjoying the humor in our videos, and more than 90% correctly answered the cognitive assessments.


Q: Did you develop any best practices to help you produce the videos?

John: The best practices came from a list that we created:

  • One learning outcome per video.
  • Each video should be no more than three minutes.
  • Use as little screen capturing as possible.
  • Use humor.
  • Use livestock.


Q: Now that you have completed the project, what tips would give to anyone who may be interested in producing their own instruction videos?

Joshua: Outsource the video production and editing to someone who knows it and has a real familiarity with it. If possible, follow your gut and do not pander to your audience. Give yourself more time for the creative process than you think you’ve allowed. Also, use the H.264 codec to encode your videos to make it accessible across all platforms and devices.

John: Just remember that most of us are librarians, not video production professionals. When narrating, speak at a conversational or faster pace, not your “instructor” voice. Be yourself, share your experiences, and don’t be afraid to use what you think is funny in the video.


Q: Finally, why the chicken?

John: Because the chicken represents Coastal Carolina’s mascot, the Chanticleer, a rooster from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.



October 2011 PRIMO Site of the Month