May 2012 Site of the Month
Aubie Asks @ the Libraries
Authors: Toni Carter and Joseph Wanders
Interviewees: Toni Carter
Institutions: Auburn University Libraries
Interviewer: Alec Sonsteby
Tutorial Description: This project consists of several short (under 3 minute) videos starring the Auburn University mascot, Aubie. The videos provide brief instruction on how to use the Libraries' resources and offer help with understanding concepts, such as identifying scholarly articles.
Q: Toni, what was the impetus for the Aubie Asks @ the Libraries instructional video project and who is the intended audience?
A: In an effort to accommodate different learning styles, I sometimes show videos during library instruction sessions. Colleagues do the same, so I felt that creating our own set of videos would allow us to achieve our student learning outcomes while at the same time offering a more personalized touch for Auburn students. Although intended for students, some of the videos, such as “Finding Full-Text,” are perfectly suitable for faculty as well.
Q: How are the videos primarily being used at Auburn University?
A: We use the videos in library instruction sessions to introduce or reinforce concepts. We also post them on our LibGuides for students to review after class. Or, if we did not have time to cover an important topic during a class, such as reading citations, we can refer them to a video on the LibGuide. The videos can also be sent to students who ask questions at the Reference desk via email, chat, or even text message.
Q: Tell us about the process you used to establish objectives for the video content.
A: A small group of librarians established objectives by identifying the most crucial information literacy outcomes that students need to know in order to conduct research at Auburn. These include concepts that we cover in class, but that often need reinforcement. Obviously we could not cover everything, but I feel that we have hit the basics.
Q: Who was involved in the production of the Aubie Asks videos and what skills and talents did they contribute?
A: I work in a library with many talented and supportive people. Marcia Boosinger, Associate Dean of Public Services, edited my application for a Daniel F. Breeden Endowed Grant, sponsored by Auburn’s Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. With the money that I received from this grant, I hired one of the library’s graduate student employees, Joseph Wanders, to assist me in producing the videos. Neither Joe nor I had tremendous experience with video production, so we relied on training from the staff of the library’s Media and Digital Resource Lab. This included Gerrit Dewitt, Gary Hawkins, and Chris Mixon. Other colleagues who contributed their talent and skills include: Stephen Holmes, student worker in the MDRL, filmed the Aubie footage; JP Pendleton, head of Circulation, created the large coffee cup and books; Eileen Hall, MDRL staff member, created the large student ID; Tony Oravet, the library’s Web Designer, created a special webpage to host the videos; Aaron Trehub, Assistant Dean for Technology and Technical Services, provided a Mac for my office; Michael Zekoff, library graduate student employee, assisted in the early stages of video production; Nancy Noe, Instructor Coordinator, came up with the idea of using Aubie; Leigh Younce, Juliet Rumble, and Barbara Bishop, reference librarians, helped brainstorm for what concepts to cover; Tim Dodge, Leigh Younce, Nancy Noe, Ava Scott, Amber Kuykendoll, and James Renfroe appeared in the video; Cayce Van Horn from the library’s administrative office received permission from the band to use their music; and, of course, Aubie!
Q: Speaking as someone who was in a high school marching band, I am interested in the music you used in the videos. Did you talk with the athletics or music program about using the music—which I assume is the school song? What was their reaction to the project? Did you use an existing recording or was a new recording commissioned for the project?
A: Our communications/public relations person at that time, Cayce Van Horn, spoke with the band director and received permission for us to use the music as long as we did not plan on profiting from it. There are several different songs used, including the fight song and popular tunes played at athletic events. They were from a CD the marching band produced for the 2009-2010 season.
Q: Are there one or more “Aubies” in the videos? Is the individual who performs as Aubie the same person who usually performs at games and other school events?
A: Several students play the role of Aubie on campus, but only one appears in the videos. Due to the heat, a student can only be in the Aubie costume for 45 minutes at a time, so we had to plan the shots very strategically to maximize the time we had with him. You will never see Aubie without “his head,” so I still do not know if it was male or female. He even has a handler that travels with him!
Q: What skills were required to produce these videos? Did you need to seek any "outside" expertise?
A: The most important skill needed for producing the videos was a good knowledge of how to use iMovie. As mentioned above, the staff from the library’s Media and Digital Resource Lab provided training for us.
Q: Accessibility is talked about a lot these days. Are transcripts or other alternate media available for the videos?
A: Unfortunately we do not have transcripts, but this is something I have considered. I definitely want it to reach the largest audience possible.
Q: Have you done any assessment of the effectiveness of the videos in meeting your established objectives?
A: I have not done formal assessment on the effectiveness of the videos, but have been gathering some informal feedback. My colleagues have been very positive in their use of the videos in class and on their LibGuides. Over the past year we’ve had 797 views. I added a two-question survey to the end of the videos, but the response rate has been extremely low. I hope to review the videos in six months to check for outdated material. At that point I may do a focus group with students to determine if an effort should be made to update the videos or to produce new ones.
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: From planning to launch the project took about a year and a half. Much too long, of course, but I was not really on a deadline. I often needed to put this aside in order to tackle other priorities. Also, the library website changed in the midst of production, so a couple of videos had to be edited.
Q: What best practices guided the production of these videos?
A: I wanted to keep the videos short and to the point. I felt that if they were too long students would lose interest. I also wanted them to have a bit of entertainment value.
Q: Are there existing library video series on the Web that inspired you? If so, which ones?
A: I found Cornell’s Research Minutes particularly inspiring. I liked the short and to the point nature of the videos. http://guides.library.cornell.edu/content.php?pid=65846&search_terms=research+minute
Q: From your own experience, what tips you would give to others contemplating producing their own instructional library videos?
A: I would suggest creating deadlines and sticking to them. This keeps the project from lingering on too long.