March 2012 Site of the Month

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HELIOS: Hemingway Library Information Online Skills Tutorial

Authors: JaNae Kinikin, G. Megan Davis, Ludwig Possie, Fawn Morgan,
Elayne Finlinson, Joanne Christensen, Sarah Herron, Forest Allen

Interviewees: JaNae Kinikin (primary interviewee),
Ludwig Possie, Joanne Christensen, Fawn Morgan

Institutions: Weber State University, Weber High School, Layton High School,
Davis High School, West High School, Fremont High School


Interviewer: Greg Bobish

Tutorial Description: This tutorial is designed to help high school students learn essential library and research skills that will assist them in finding information for papers and projects. After completing ALL of the lessons they should have the necessary skills to conduct a successful search for information.


Q: There were a number of people and institutions involved in making this tutorial. How did you decide who would be responsible for each part? Were the duties clearly split up, or did everyone have a hand in everything?

A: The current version of the tutorial was based on the previous version. Therefore, we had a good base on which to improve. Using the lessons already developed, each member or members took a section of the tutorial and worked on it. Two of the members worked together. Other members worked on sections individually. Then in our face-to-face meetings we discussed our ideas and the team member or members revised the assigned lessons. Once a lesson was finished, it was turned over to Ludwig Possie who put it into the graphic novel format.


Q: Since you were not all at the same institution, did you need to do a lot of the work virtually, or did you meet in person to work on the tutorial?

A: For the most part, we worked in person by meeting at one of the local high schools where one of the project members worked. We did try to meet virtually, but it was difficult. We seemed to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time by meeting face-to-face.


Q: It can be very valuable to high school students when higher education resources are made available to them. How did this collaboration between Weber State and the five high schools come about? Is this part of a larger collaboration, or was this a response to a specific need?

A: Actually, for the first version of the tutorial, we worked with two media specialists from two local high schools, not those involved with the revision project. When the first HeLIOS tutorial was complete, we demonstrated it at the Utah Library Educational Media Association’s annual conference. We knew that the tutorial needed to be revised, so we recruited other media specialists with an interest in the project. We had met these individuals earlier when we conducted a survey regarding information literacy in local high schools. They were all enthusiastic about being involved with the project and brought with them lots of new ideas and the willingness to contribute.


Q: What software and hardware was involved in creating this tutorial? Were there any issues with compatibility in terms of what was available at the different schools?

A: The two major software components in making the tutorial were PowerPoint 2010 and Articulate Studio 09. No special hardware was needed to create the tutorial. I tried to keep compatibility in mind when creating the tutorial. I wanted to have something that would be popular and readily available for anyone to be able to access and participate in the tutorials. Since Flash was the original platform that was used to distribute the tutorial and there didn't seem to be any compatibility issues with the different schools, I decided to stick with that same platform. (Ludwig Possie)


Q: Were you able to draw upon existing expertise in the software, or did you have to learn it from scratch?

A: I had worked with PowerPoint before, but had never touched Articulate. Learning Articulate was very easy. We purchased the Essential Articulate Studio 09 book that I used as reference when I needed further information, but for the most part, the software was very intuitive and easy to develop in. Certainly it was a lot easier than trying to develop something from scratch using Flash. (Ludwig Possie)


Q: I was struck by the quality of the images and how well they fit with the content. I followed up a little and looked at the site referenced in the tutorial where some of them came from, but even with that resource available it must have taken a lot of work to choose, adapt, and order them so effectively. How did you manage this process?

A: The majority of my time was taken by trying to come up with interesting storyboards that would catch the reader's attention. Once I had a concept in mind I used the graphics that were available to me so that I could tell that story. It was challenging at times because the graphics were limited. I'm not a graphic designer so I did my best to crop and copy a lot of stuff around to make it interesting. It was certainly by far the most time consuming part of the project. (Ludwig Possie)


Q: How did you come across the design comics website with the quality free images?

A: When trying to come up with the redesign concept for this project, I knew that I wanted to do something that would capture a young audience’s attention or at least make it interesting for them. The comic book approach was what came to mind. I did a LOT of searching and came across a blog that talked about Articulate and had a reference to the design comic website and how other companies were using these images for their in-house training. I thought the images were perfect for the target audience I was trying to reach and with permission used their material. (Ludwig Possie)


Q: There was quite a lot of content added between the previous version and the new beta version. Was the tutorial reworked in response to feedback of some sort, or did you just decide that something new was needed?

A: We had some limited feedback from students who had worked through the original tutorial and we used that in the initial redesign discussion. Much of the new material came from the media specialists involved in the project. Since they work with teachers and students on a daily basis they knew what the students needed to know about information literacy concepts.


Q: Are students assigned this tutorial by their teachers, or is it something optional that they choose to do on their own?

A: They can be used either way. Some teachers assign the tutorial as an assignment before instruction. Others use it as a review, during instruction. Sometimes a librarian will include it as supplementary material for after discussion. (Joanne Christensen)

A: One use of the tutorials is a textbook example of best teaching practices: students who have been taught a particular information literacy skill in a classroom situation, but have not mastered competency are assigned by their teacher to review concepts by going through a specific tutorial. We hope students will find the tutorials linked on their school library website and choose to take them on their own, but the reality is that the use is primarily as an assignment. (Fawn Morgan)


Q: The short quizzes at the end of each section are helpful in reinforcing the content, and the instant feedback is valuable. Are you able to track the results of these quizzes to see how well the students are learning the material?

A: No, these quiz results aren’t tracked. The purpose of these quizzes is only to reinforce the concepts taught in the lessons. It is possible to track these scores using the software, but we don’t see a need to do so at this time.


Q: Is student learning assessed mainly by the quizzes within the tutorial, or do teachers ask them to do additional work to show that they’ve learned the material?

A: The end-of-lesson quizzes aren’t designed for assessment. We have created separate assessments for each of the lessons in a database that can be accessed by Utah teachers called UTIPS (Utah Test Item Pool Service).

Some teachers only use the quizzes within the tutorial as the assessment. They usually go on and have the students apply the concepts as they do their research. Others make up their own assessment as part of a unit test. Finally, some teachers use an assessment tool, the UTIPS database, which the HeLIOS authors created. (Joanne Christensen)

A: The quizzes within the tutorials are intended to be an immediate review of concept comprehension. It is expected that the assessment of skills would be part of an inquiry-based unit or research project. The quality of the end product, whether in written essay or other format, shows best how application of skills taught was actually made. (Fawn Morgan)


Q: The tutorial covers a wide range of topics. How did you decide what to include, and how much detail to provide?

A: At the university where I work, our students must take a class or test out to fulfill an information literacy requirement. We based many of the lessons on concepts that Weber State University students are required to know for this test. We also looked at the Utah Library Media and English curriculum. We provided the amount of detail that we thought high school students could understand.


Q: I notice that you make it very clear in your description of the tutorial that viewing ALL of the tutorial sections is important. Do students generally complete all the sections at once, or do they pick and choose depending on what they’re working on at the time?

A: I would say that very few students complete the entire tutorial. Most are probably assigned sections depending on what they are working on. I stressed in the description that all of the sections are important because all of the concepts are covered in the test-out option to meet the information literacy requirement for Weber State University students.


Q: What feedback have you received about the tutorial from either students or faculty?

A: We have received very little feedback from students or faculty. We recently sent a survey on the tutorial to a Utah library media email list and although the survey is not yet complete, half have responded that they have not heard of the tutorial. The student comments that we have received have been both positive and negative. Some students seem to like the graphic novel format; others think it is “cheesy.” Others also mentioned that they would like the information read to them. We are hoping to explore this possibility in the future.


Q: What advice would you have for someone contemplating a similar project?

A: Find GREAT people to work with. Putting together the initial version of the tutorial was challenging because several of the participants rarely completed their assignments in a reasonable amount of time. We worked with an entirely new group of people when revising the tutorial and the process went much more smoothly. Everyone involved was invested in the project and wanted it to be a success. The result was a much-improved product in a much shorter period of time I would also advise anyone contemplating a similar project to double the time that you think it will take to complete.


Q: Is there anything you’d like to add about the tutorial or the process of creating it?

A: I believe HeLIOS is a great resource and I hope teachers and librarians are able to incorporate some of the lessons in the tutorial into their curriculum. Students today believe that everything is on the Internet. This is not the case and teaching essential information literacy skills to students before they get to college will greatly ease the high school to college transition.


March 2012 PRIMO Site of the Month