Top 5 Articles About Creating Learning Objects

By Kim Wobick and Carrie Girton

With the start of a new school year, many of us are or will soon be creating and updating learning objects for our students. Whether you’re working on tutorials, infographics, or modules, these articles have great tips to get you started and help you create captivating and helpful learning objects.

To read more articles about learning objects, take a look at the citation list the Research and Publications committee has compiled.

To view the entire bibliography we have compiled, visit the DLS Zotero library.
Please note: this list contains items that have been published since the last DLS Bibliography. Our post from May 10, 2017 provides more detail and explanation of the new format.

Ferrance, C., & West, P. J. (2017). Standardizing and managing online tutorials for improved learning. In ACRL 2017 Proceedings (pp. 656–661). Baltimore, MD: ACRL. Retrieved from

This paper outlines the challenges faced by the George Mason University libraries to assess and organize the varied collection of library-created tutorials that had been produced over time, with the goal of unifying the look and feel of the tutorials as well as making them easier to locate by all users. This project was assisted by the creation of an Instructional Design Librarian position, as well as the Learning Technologies Lab, which provides the software and hardware needed to create tutorials in one central place.

A working group was formed to formally evaluate existing tutorials, organize the storage of these objects, and design a template that would be utilized for all future products. Tutorial content is also mapped to both the ACRL information literacy framework as well as the Mason instructional learning outcomes, assisting in forward planning for tutorial creation. It took three years for the goal of a unified bank of tutorials to be achieved, working through challenges such as web site redesign, negotiations for server space and equipment, and bureaucracy. The end result produced a bank of 120 uniformly branded tutorials which were more easily accessed by users.


  • Partnerships within both the library and the institution are important. Having buy-in and assistance from librarians, faculty, as well as the IT department is critical to achieving project goals.
  • Maintenance of storage and backup processes and spaces ensure that tutorials don’t get lost in the shuffle and are easily retrieved by creators for editing and revision when needed.
  • As with any major project, the ability to be flexible and patient with every aspect of the work is critical.

Hess, A. N., & Hristova, M. (2016). To search or to browse: How users navigate a new interface for online library tutorials. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 23(2), 168–183.

This usability study at Oakland University in Michigan examined how students access library tutorials, providing insight into user’s library needs. The study found that students regularly access library tutorials, even outside of their academic courses. The library was provided with valuable information about how students reached the library tutorials, and what specifically was being utilized at what point in the semester.


  • Students accessed library-produced tutorials primarily at their point of need in the semester, coinciding with assignment cycles and anecdotal evidence over time.
  • Students browsed for tutorials as much as using organic searching, while using a provided word cloud (facilitated searching) the least.
  • The two highest utilized search terms were “references” and “RefWorks” on the library web site.


Martin, N. A., & Martin, R. (2015). Would You Watch It? Creating Effective and Engaging Video Tutorials. Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, 9(1/2), 40.

The first part of this article discusses five categories or types of tutorials: screencasts, slidecasts, live action video, animation, and interactivity. For each category, the authors explain that type of tutorial and how it can be used. They also detail pros and downsides for both creator and user, software options for creating and editing, and skills needed for creating and editing. The second part of the article focuses on elements that will be part of any type of tutorial. “Best Practice” suggestions are given in the areas of content, compatibility, accessibility, and audio. As in the first section of the article, the authors go into great detail in each category about how to make your tutorial effective for all users.


  • Consider the content and purpose to determine which type of tutorial would be best.
  • Content, compatibility, accessibility, and audio all play a key role in the success and effectiveness of a tutorial.
  • There are software options for creating learning objects for those with any skill level.


Moran, C., & Mulvihill, R. (2017). Finding the Balance in Online Library Instruction: Sustainable and Personal. Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, 11(1-2), 13–24.

This article details the evolution of library instruction at the University of Central Florida (UCF), the second largest public university in Florida. The challenge at UCF, as at many libraries, is reaching the most students possible through a scalable and maintainable instruction program with a limited number of librarians, as well as continually adapting to emerging technologies and always providing a personal touch to a growing online student population.

The authors detail several models of instruction that have been tried or are ongoing at UCF, which include both personalized librarian service and more technology-based projects utilizing LibGuides and Canvas. The progression of information literacy and library instruction projects with an increasing reliance on available technologies provide a useful roadmap for all libraries to consider when developing or strengthening sustainable instruction and service to online students.


  • Development of an Information Literacy and Outreach Department helped to centralize the creation and implementation of sustainable information literacy projects.
  • Information literacy modules that are based on concepts as opposed to tasks within the actual library databases, and can be added to classes in UCF’s LMS. This has increased the longevity of the tutorials.
  • Incremental usage of technological development, such as the use of Canvas and the LibGuides LTI gives the librarians time to learn the new technology and be able to present potential library information literacy projects to faculty.
  • Specific challenges include workload management, technological learning curve, delivering a consistent experience to all students.


Rose, R. (2016, December 7). 6 Dimensions for More Effective Online Instructional Videos. Campus Technology. Retrieved from

In this article, the author explains that there are six areas that should be considered when creating tutorials and videos: sound-to-silence balance, visual context-to-detail balance, feature-to-application balance, balance between framing/assessment and substance, personality balance, balance between training solutions and non-training solutions. For each area, the author defines the term, describes why this area should be considered and how that area affects video quality, and details best practices for that area. While there is no “recipe” for creating the desired effect, all of these areas have an impact on the final product and should be considered when creating tutorials.


  • “Designing online instruction is still as much art as science and cannot be reduced to a notebook of formulas.”
  • Every project needs tweaking to get it as good as it can be. Sometimes countless tweaks and changes.
  • Consider content, audience, and purpose when determining the “right” balance in each area.
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