December 2012 Site of the Month

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December 2012 Site of the Month

How to Search a Database

Author and Interviewee: Lane Wilkinson

Institution: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Interviewer: Jodie Borgerding

Tutorial Description (provided by the author): Tired of being forced to remake database tutorials with each, inevitable interface change, the instruction team at UTC decided to focus efforts on highlighting what all databases have in common. This tutorial is directed at first-year researchers and is included in our instruction sections for English 1020. From keywords to date limits to full-text access, the most common database features are highlighted in a simple, easy-to-understand way. We enlisted the help of a UTC student to work on a script that avoids jargon and covers the features used most by first-year researchers. The end product is a mix of screen-shots, live action...and even a sock puppet.

Q: What was your creative process for creating the tutorial? How long did it take? Did you encounter any challenges?

A: We see students twice a year for library instruction classes, once in the fall for English 1010 and once in the spring for English 1020. However, we were constantly revising the curriculum every semester. We decided to develop a tutorial video for the spring English 1020 class that addressed the basic concepts taught in the library instruction classes. This left us 6-7 weeks to complete the video in time for the first spring semester class.

The first thing we did was come up with a topic for the video. Faculty and students stated that they wanted to learn how to use multiple databases, but we could not devote an entire session to teaching all the databases in order to meet the ACRL standards. Instead we decided to focus the video on highlighting what features most of the databases have in common. I took an inventory of common features in several databases and identified key aspects to highlight in the video. Next, I created the script and captured screencasts with a story board in PowerPoint to determine the flow of the video and how to present the material. The actual filming took about four hours and editing took about 12-15 hours. The majority of the work done was around our own work and time schedules.

Q: How did you recruit the student to write the script? Did they have free rein for the script or did they have to follow any guidelines or objectives?

A: One of our student assistants, Erin, wrote the script. We came up with the concept with her input and she sat in on a few English 1010 and 1020 library instruction classes we taught so she knew what was expected and what students would find entertaining. Erin came up with the idea for the search topic, "Facebook and privacy", in the video. If we wanted to add something to the script we would run it by her to make sure we did not use library jargon or anything that might confuse the viewers.

Q: Have you received any feedback from faculty and students who have seen the video?

A: When we show the videos in the library instruction class, it gets a laugh. To me, this is a strong sign that students are enjoying it. Members of the faculty have asked if we can show the video in other classes besides English 1010 and 1020.

Q: How are you promoting and marketing the video?

A: We host the videos on YouTube and the UTC Instruction website so it is more passive marketing. We mentioned the video on Twitter and Facebook when it first came out. The student portal, MyMocsNet (also known as the Banner system), is the most valuable real estate we have, because the library has advertising space dead center on the page. In the past, we have advertised our videos in that space.

Q: How are you assessing the effectiveness of the video?

A: When we first produced the video, we used indirect assessment. We administered an eight question pre- and post-test with our English 1010 and 1020 library instruction classes. The concepts covered in the tutorials were in the pre- and post-test so we could track at the question level if the students understood the concepts after watching the video. However, that failed because of poor survey questions, but we are revising the instrument. Currently, we have more anecdotal assessment.

Q: Why a sock?

A: I didn’t want to be in the video so we came up with the sock in order to be goofy. We did not want any librarians in the video, so we asked Erin to star in the video. The point was to make it something the students could relate to instead of having the librarians teaching or talking down to them.

Q: How did the student keep a straight face while talking to the sock? How many retakes?

A: Because we did the storyboard beforehand and filmed it in a bullet point sort of way, there were only four or five retakes when the sock came out. Erin really took it seriously.

Q: Is there any advice you would like to offer anyone who is considering creating a tutorial with student input?

A: The most important thing is to take your student’s advice seriously, even if your librarian intuition is pointing you in a different direction. This is because students are the best teachers for their fellow students. We wanted student input on what they consider to be funny, and whether a phrase or library jargon is obvious or not.

December 2012 PRIMO Site of the Month