December 2017 Site of the Month


Title: Arizona State University Library Tutorials – Developing a Research or Guided Question


Creator: Bee Gallegos, Dennis Isbell

Editor: Bee Gallegos

Narrator: Shane Hunt

Contributors: ASU Library Learning Badges Team (Bee Gallegos, Dennis Isbell, Lisa Kammerlocher, Lindsay O’Neill, Virginia Pannebecker, Kevin Pardon, Tammy Wolf)

Institution: Arizona State University

Interviewees: Bee Gallegos & Deirdre Kirmis, Co-Chairs, Online Tutorials & Learning Team (OTL)

Interviewer: Sarah LeMire

Description (provided by the author):

Developing a Research or Guiding Question, one of a group of general concept tutorials, teaches students how to turn a broad topic into a focused research question that can be analyzed in order to draw conclusions. This interactive web-based tutorial also includes a 10-question quiz at the end that can be graded and a script of the tutorial.

Q: How would you describe the audience for this particular tutorial? How do you determine your audience’s needs and at what level to pitch your content?

A: This tutorial was one of the original learning badge tutorials that were developed to meet the needs of two distinct student populations: first year students and transfer students. Several ASU campuses in particular have a large number of transfer students because of their close proximity to the community colleges scattered across the Phoenix metropolitan area. While they are further along in their academic programs, they are new to ASU and the “bigness” of the ASU Library and/or have little preparation for doing academic research. The majority of our conceptual tutorials fit these populations nicely but we’ve also found they are very useful for graduate students who are returning to school. A tutorial such as MLA Citation Style has a clear audience as does the tutorial for APA while the Citing Your Sources tutorial is an overview targeting a larger audience. With other tutorials that target disciplinary audiences, we rely on the librarian working with that constituency.

Q: In your earlier interviews, you described a lot about the technical aspects of creating the tutorial. I’d like to take a step back and ask if you could talk a little bit about your storyboarding process. What does that process look like?

A: To some extent the process depends on the developer. Generally, developers use PowerPoint to develop content, which allows easy export to Articulate Storyline 360 and shows the basic flow of information. Some developers insert images or describe the type of image they envision, but the slides allow reviewers to see how the information is arranged. Several OTL members who are familiar with Storyline develop their content using Storyline because it is easier to envision the tutorial as a whole rather than as standalone text. Once a draft is complete, OTL members review the content.

Q: Unlike some of your other tutorials (e.g., MLA Style), the Developing a Research or Guided Question tutorial teaches a concept, rather than a method. Does the type of tutorial (conceptual or practical) affect the way you create the tutorial, and if so, how?

A: All tutorials begin with the learning outcomes which serve as our outline. When developing a conceptual tutorial, we often have agreement because the concepts are known and generally accepted across librarianship. The approach to presenting the concept is more fluid and is a matter of preference or style that is negotiated among developers and the OTL team. In a tutorial discussing a citation style or even a database, there is more pressure to be accurate since students are using what you said in the papers they submit for grades.

Q: For me, one of the hard parts about teaching concepts in a tutorial is choosing visuals that help convey the tutorial’s message and engage the reader, but aren’t distracting. Can you walk us through your process of envisioning and selecting the visuals for this tutorial?

A: As mentioned in our previous Site of the Month interviews, we do not want the text, narration, and images to conflict and distract from one another. This means choosing visuals can be difficult but can also be obvious. In this tutorial, we discuss developing a research question from the topic idea, so using question marks seemed obvious. In one section, we talk about looking at a topic through a disciplinary lens such as psychology, history, etc., so it was clear we wanted an image of some sort of lens such as a magnifying glass. In another section, the discussion is about starting with a broad subject area and narrowing it to a specific research question, so we used a funnel image. Developers often make suggestions to editors on the idea they want to convey while other times they leave it to the editor. Choosing visuals for conceptual tutorials is more difficult than looking at a database or something concrete. Our library has access to a number of stock photographs and images, but we also use, which has free images available.

Q: In this tutorial, you use a variety of checks on learning to keep viewers engaged and reinforce learning. How do you develop your checks on learning? How do you determine what types of questions to ask or activities to design?

A: Our goal is for the tutorials to be interactive, which could mean an activity that checks learning or might be “Click and Read” as is the case in our slide that asks students to develop research questions using “Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.” Early on, we set a goal of 2-3 activities per tutorial. Articulate Storyline 360 allows you to break content into scenes or chapters. This helps organize information into discrete segments as long or as short as needed, but it also helps with identifying places to insert activities. This tutorial talks about the research question being a mechanism for focusing the topic; this led to the activity which displays sample research questions and asks the user to pick the most focused option.

Q: In your earlier interviews, you mentioned that your team has not yet analyzed quiz data for student performance, but that you are collecting feedback and partnering with the Action Lab to analyze tutorial usage. Can you talk about your process or plans for revising tutorials? Do you have a schedule for review and revision?

A: Much of our feedback on existing tutorials comes from individual faculty members who notice something or get feedback from their students assigned to view the tutorial. We are currently making revisions to two tutorials based on faculty feedback.

Since OTL was reconstituted in 2016, we have experienced several periods of revision. Approximately eight tutorials were developed as part of the learning badge project in 2013-2014. Several needed updating due to changes to the library website and/or processes while others merely need updated images and what we called de-badging, which removed all badge images and wording. Something as simple as a mandated update of all university websites required a host of tutorials be updated to reflect the new look. In addition to these revisions in 2016, 3-5 tutorials developed almost 10 years prior underwent complete revisions of content and structure. We had an action plan for each tutorial with timelines, but often experienced slippage with meeting specific check points; however, the most important deadline, completion by the start of fall semester, was met. In early 2017, the library selected a new Library Services Platform which again required a host of changes. We knew this was coming and developed a timeline for updating tutorials; however, implementation of the LSP put final revisions weeks behind.

Q: Creating tutorials can be a very time-consuming process. Can you describe for us the timeline for proposing, storyboarding, developing, and launching a tutorial? Do tutorial projects happen year-round, or are there specific times that are preferred for these projects to begin?

A: Tutorials are a year-round endeavor, but like many academic libraries, we try to gear up during the summer or between semesters. It seems the start of fall or spring semester is often the deadline and we work backward from there, setting milestones for each step of the creative process. We have a series of tutorial request forms developed to assist in setting priorities and organizing our time since this is an additional job responsibility for the majority of OTL members, but to date, we have not used those as anticipated. As for the timeline, there is not a set time established for developing any tutorial other than as quickly as possible in recognition that members have other responsibilities.

Q: Where are ASU Library’s tutorials hosted? Were there other hosting options considered, and why was this location selected?

A: ASU Library tutorials are hosted on an internal ASU web server that allows public access, and allows us to link to them from our library website. We considered hosting the tutorials in the same hosting location as our website, but we wanted to keep them centralized in a location from which they could be easily linked within other projects, such as Blackboard courses and library guides. The hosting solution for our website also has space limitations, and we didn’t want to use storage space that might be needed for website files. Eventually, we would like to develop a learning object repository, which would allow us to host and organize all of our learning materials in one location, so that we can utilize more sophisticated version tracking and offer easy access to instructors and course designers.

Q: What are the future goals of ASU Library’s Online Tutorials & Learning Team? Are there new projects on the horizon?

A: The ASU Library is going through a period of reorganization and hiring, but the Online Tutorials & Learning team is formally represented in the organizational chart, and there is a recognition that online teaching resources is the best way to reach the large number of on-campus and online students we have. Unfortunately, OTL membership has suffered due to retirement, resignations, and reassignments, but we still have new projects in progress or on the wish list. We have several new tutorials that deal with disciplinary databases being developed for January 2018.We also have the development of a learning object repository on the horizon as well as the creation of Blackboard courses that target specific student populations (e.g., first year students) or disciplines.