May 2014 Site of the Month
PRIMO Site of the Month: May 2014
Authors: Laurie Borchard and Anna Fidgeon
Institution: California State University - Northridge
Interviewee: Laurie Borchard and Anna Fidgeon
Interviewer: Lisa Vassady
Research Therapy is meant to be a quick, easy-to-understand source for basic undergraduate-level research concepts. Each Research Therapy session consists of a short video along with a combination of graphics, text, charts, and links that can be used as a cohesive whole or mix-and-matched depending on the situation. Videos can be played in class, for example, while graphics can be posted to a Course Management System. Research Therapy is meant to be appealing to undergraduates with a variety of learning styles and preferences as well as in different environments.
Q: What factors inspired you to commence your Research Therapy video series?
A: We wanted to create tutorials that covered basic information literacy skills, but we wanted to make it fun and easily recognizable for students so we decided to brand it with Research Therapy. We wanted something that incorporated video, text and images that could be mixed and matched depending on the need.
Q: How do you choose the topics of your Research Therapy video series and blog? Are they based on anecdotal or statistical evidence collected by your staff?
A: We try to stick with conceptual topics related to information literacy rather than tutorials that focus on tools, such as databases since they are updated so much. At the beginning of each semester we create a list of topics and then we release them throughout the semester at times we think the students need them most. For example, students are just starting their research at the beginning of the semester so they may need help with picking a topic or developing a search strategy, and then later in the semester they may need information about citations.
Q: Who is the intended audience, and what is the primary intended use of the Research Therapy videos? Are they integrated into classes, workshops, assignments, etc.?
A: Our videos are used across multiple disciplines, mostly lower level undergraduate classes where the students are new to research. However, they are also used in upper level undergraduate and graduate classes. The videos are utilized by librarians at the Oviatt Library in their course guides, face-to-face instruction, flipped classroom, and are embedded into LMS courses.
Q: Who was involved in designing, planning and implementing this series? Did you collect input from faculty and students during the process?
A: We were hired at the same time as the Digital Learning Initiatives Librarians and one of our first projects was to develop an instructional video series that could be used in different contexts. We began with anecdotal evidence concerning the topics, and we assessed the tutorials and guides already available to students. We seek topic ideas from librarians along with teaching faculty and always having a running list of ideas.
Q: What technologies do you utilize for your videos and blog? Why did you choose them? Were they challenging to master?
A: We had access to Camtasia and Microsoft Office products for images, along with free tools like Flickr Creative Commons images and Bitstrips.com. We are planning to expand the Research Therapy to more interactive tutorials using Adobe Captivate and the Adobe Creative Suite. We are also working on adapting the series into an iBook. We both had experience with Camtasia which is easy to get the hang of with practice. Our institution has access to Lynda.com which we use to learn Photoshop and other skills we don?t have.
Q: Were there any best practices and/or accessibility guidelines you tried to follow while creating this guide?
A: All of our tutorials have closed captioning, and any graphics that we use in our blog posts include alt text. We try to keep the videos under 3 minutes and try to focus on the concept rather than the tool, so they don?t become outdated too quickly.
Q: What is the average time it takes to create one of the videos? What is involved in the process?
A: It can take 8-16 hours to create one blog post, including the video, images, and text. We do include library staff and interns in the creation of some of our tutorials which gives them good experience with tutorial creation.
Q: How have you been promoting the series to your students and faculty?
A: The blog post is one way we promote Research Therapy. We also use Facebook and Twitter, and we send out emails to our colleagues about new content. We also participate in campus events for faculty to promote our work. The videos are used in course guides and we have a digital learning object repository within our LMS Moodle so that faculty have a direct link to all of the tutorials that we create.
Q: Have you received any feedback from students, faculty, staff, and/or coworkers on the video series through the online survey or by any other means? If so, how has it been received?
A: We have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from librarians and faculty that use them in their instruction and online guides. Students react positively when the videos are shown in class. We have also been contacted by librarians from other institutions who would like to use our videos. Three of the videos, Research Therapy: Topic Exploration, Research Therapy: Citing Your Sources, and Research Therapy: Women's Health Resources have also been submitted and accepted into MERLOT.
Q: Have you analyzed the results of the survey or conducted any other type of assessment of the effectiveness of the series?
A: We have not done any formal assessment; we have just received feedback from students and colleagues. We are currently working on developing a formal assessment plan for all of our library tutorials.
Q: Did you encounter any difficulties or unexpected challenges along the way? Do you have any recommendations for others planning to launch a similar series?
A: Before starting a series like this we suggest creating a plan from the design of the posts, to scheduling them, to promotion and finally assessment. Also, it?s important to be consistent with every tutorial, especially when several people are working on different videos. Any difficulties can be worked out through experience so planning is important but it?s important not to over think things.
Q: How do you plan to sustain the video tutorials over the long term?
A: We try to avoid choosing topics that focus on tools, since we all know database interfaces and library webpages are always changing. However, we do have a schedule where once a semester we check not only our Research Therapy videos but all tutorials that are created for the library and make adjustments if needed. We also submit our videos into CSUN?s institutional repository, Scholarworks, as a way to preserve our work.
Q: Is there anything else you would like us to add?
A: We really enjoy doing Research Therapy and we are so happy that our students and colleagues value the work that we do. We are very excited to reach a broader audience with PRIMO.
May 2014 PRIMO Site of the Month