Online Information Literacy Tutorial

Online Information Literacy Tutorial: The First Step towards incorporating Library Instruction into University’s Online Courses
Presenter: Sharon Yang, Systems Librarian, Rider University

Yang’s presentation was informative and instructive, including demonstrations of online tutorials from around the globe. After reviewing the general usage of information literacy, Yang noted the importance of information literacy tutorials, and indicated their increasing significance as online components of information literacy instruction for traditional and especially distance education. She brought to the audience’s attention the findings of the Sloan Survey of Online Learning: that “. . . enrollment in online learning has increased at a rate of 21.5 percent over the past five years” and that “. . . almost one in five higher education students currently take at least one course online.” (from Recruitment & Retention in Higher Education; Dec 2007, 21:12, p.3.) Thus online information literacy tutorials are significant and necessary components of learning from the basics of library/database access to the more advanced synthesis of research gathering and writing. Currently although many academic libraries have developed or are developing information literacy tutorials at all levels, no statistics on numbers or usage in courses are available.

The primary focus of the talk explained the types of technologies used in creating library information tutorials: HTML, CGI Scripts(Javascript, Perl, C++, PHP), e-learning software both commercial and open source, and finally packaged tutorials. Yang pointed out the differences among these various types or products, provided the range of expense for purchase if necessary, gave a brief but good assessment of ease of use, and finally provided examples of all types. She was even able to demonstrate a cut and paste method of creating a tutorial.

Differences primarily centered on the possibilities of animation and interactivity. HTML is a static format; CGI is animate depending on the complexity of the program used. Yang emphasized that a developer or creator of a tutorial need not know programming to use either format; even CGI can be cut and pasted. Her presentation also showed that tutorials may use a combination of HTML and CGI, a bridge between the fully static and the full CGI.

Her examples and demonstration section were perhaps the most enlightening. With her guidance the audience was able to see the differences among the types and how they would appear on the screen. She provided an immediate look at importing CGI script into a page to begin a tutorial, copying and pasting to notepad then saving to the desktop. She recommended http://www.cgiscript-directory.com as a source for Javascripts.

The next part of the presentation moved to tutorials created by E-learning software, and included examples from Washington State University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, both of which used ViewBuilder software. Babson College used Camtasia, and Trinity Western University Library used Wink.

Yang recommended beginning to work with Wink since it is open source and will provide the practice and facility for a creator of tutorials. Her preferred commercial software is ViewBuilder5, but she again recommended trying free open source for starters. In a humorous aside she mentioned that with the commercial programs librarians would probably have to request funds. Her eloquent shrug drew an appreciate chuckle from the audience, but she did point out that some of these commercial programs cost as little as $200, and the range is up to $1400. Wink is available at http://www.debugmode.com/wink, and a total of 63 free & open source E-learning software are available at http://www.unesco.org/cgi-bin/webworl/portal_freesoftware/cgi/page.cgi?d=1&g=Software/Courseware_Tools/index.shtml.

Yang noted that many of these were Flash files that require Flash player to view in browsers, and use audio, video, and animation that HTML can not produce; but they are not too expensive or difficult to learn and use. She also mentioned the use of Dreamweaver and like programs.

Prepackage tutorials are available for view at TILT (an older model) http://tilt.lib.utsystem.edu/ and the University of Glasgow Study Skills Tutorial http://www.lib.gla.ac.uk/Training/tilt/studyskills.shtml.

Yang commented on the future of online tutorials basing her remarks on Reference Services Review; 2006, 34:4, 491-497. Students respond positively to the interactivity and the gamelike nature of the animated tutorial. “Good online information tutorials should effectively incorporate multiple instructional media into the web presence to convey the instruction in multi-stimulating ways.”

More can be found in Yang, Li. “Effectively Incorporating Instructional Media into Web-based Information Literacy.” Electronic Library 24:2(2006) 294-306. Academic Search Premier. Sharon Yang’s list of publications can be found at Rider University’s Faculty Database, or Sharon will email this presentation to you; her email is yangs@rider.edu.

You may also contact me for the urls supplied by Sharon in her presentation: Denise M. Marshall, Reference/Information Literacy, College at Florham, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison NJ. denimars@fdu.edu

Questions raised: Administrative rights on desktops, relationships with IT if tutorial needed to be placed on web by IT dept, and availabilty of server space.

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