Interviewee: Lindsay Matts-Benson
Interviewer: Maribeth Slebodnik
Ace the Job Search Using Library Resources is an interactive tutorial created to give students an edge in researching employers and careers by using library databases and other resources. The tutorial features six scenarios with representative characters seeking assistance at various stages of the job search process from background career information to researching a company for an interview. Each scenario features 2-3 different resources based on the research question in the scenario and uses brief videos to demonstrate specific resources.
Q: What led you to develop this resource?
A: We started developing this resource after meeting with three of our liaison librarians who were interested in developing a video version of an in-person workshop which two of them (Caroline Lilyard and Van Houlson) developed. The workshops this tutorial replaced were infrequently offered and required significant effort to promote, plan, and deliver. Caroline and Van had noticed that they didn’t have the in-person attendance they had in the past and wanted to reach a broader audience. They wanted to reach users – students and staff in career offices – who may want to use the library’s business databases for career research and job exploration.
With such a broad audience, we needed to make sure that we were informing the users at a level where they wouldn’t get too overwhelmed with the complexity of the resources, but were still gaining an idea of what was available. Sources of career information continue to be available on library websites as well as those of career offices, but none of the previous guides and handouts (distributed at workshops) provided the context and guidance found in the current Ace the Job online tutorial. The tutorial includes scenarios that represent students at different stages in the academic journey and does a better job at reaching a broader spectrum of users. We still have requests for instructional sessions and questions about how to use library databases for job and career research, but these tend to be advanced.
Q: How did you develop the content/structure/organization?
A: After the initial meeting with liaison librarians, Van, Caroline, Laurel, and Andrew (Information Literacy Assistant) and I sat down to brainstorm how we were going to present the content. The more we thought about it, the more we found that just presenting the resources wasn’t going to meet our learning objectives. We had such a broad audience and variety of resources that we didn’t think a 10-minute video would be the best way to present the information. We ended up deciding to produce two projects: a short video promoting the library resources available for job searching and an interactive tutorial where learners would have the opportunity to see and apply the library resources for job searching.
Q: How did you develop the student scenarios that you incorporated?
A: Initially we brainstormed three different scenarios involving an undergraduate student, a graduate student, and a professional student. Since we were working with our Social Sciences and Professional Programs liaisons, we wanted to make sure we included some of their disciplines as well as disciplines where we have high enrollment, like our health sciences programs. Creating the student scenarios was a lot of fun. We used the whiteboard in my office to lay out each of the scenarios and identify what resources each of the characters would use. Originally we were going to touch on all four types of resources (career information, industry reports, company directories, and article databases) for each character, but in the end we decided to touch on at least two that would move the student along the right path. For instance, Bill (looking for career options in landscape architecture) didn’t need to look in article databases since he was at the beginning of his career search.
Once we had a skeleton of the six scenario characters, we brought them to Van, Caroline, and Laurel to work on. We asked them to come up with a research path for each scenario. To keep everything within a doable scope, we asked them to act like they were working with the student at the reference desk and to guide the student to two to three resources. After the research paths were set, Andrew started building the database walkthrough videos with Van, Caroline, and Laurel while I started to build the framework for the tutorial. The biggest challenge with the scenarios was to make sure that the resources we included were applicable to the character’s objective and that we were presenting a reasonable amount of information without overwhelming the user.
Q: How did you choose the technology? Can you tell us a bit more about the technical/accessibility/software side of this project?
A: Our team uses two pieces of software for all of our tutorials: Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate. We knew that we wanted the tutorial to be interactive rather than a streaming video. Articulate Storyline tends to give us better options for design than Adobe Captivate and the output for a mobile friendly version is better in our experience using Articulate Storyline. Articulate seamlessly creates two versions of the tutorial, a Flash file and an HTML5 file, so we don’t have to do much extra work to have our projects meet our minimum level of accessibility.
For the walkthrough videos, we tried doing screen capture in Articulate to little success so Andrew built those in Captivate. Library databases tend to change their interfaces, so it made more sense to us to make the walkthrough videos using a resource where we could edit them easily. It also made it much easier to collaborate on the project. I built pieces in Articulate and Andrew worked in Captivate and we merged them together for the final product. Captioning the walkthrough videos was also much easier when we created the streaming videos in Captivate since we can directly upload them to YouTube and build captions there. Andrew also built a static version of each of the walkthrough videos, so if a student did not want to watch the video or needed an alternate format, they had the option of a text-only version.
Q: What specific best practices did you follow to develop this resource?
A: Our team has best practices for both the technology and pedagogy side for each project we create. We follow the ADDIE model (Analysis – Design – Development – Implementation – Evaluation) for our instructional design process. We intend that everything that we create shows diversity and is accessible. We purposely developed our characters from different cultural backgrounds in order to better reflect the diversity of our audience. To the best of our ability and the technology’s ability, we built the tutorial to be accessible in as many ways as possible. For instance, the tutorial can be navigated through mouse interaction as well as keyboard interaction (using the Tab key). We refrain from using the word “Click” in the tutorial and instead use “Select” or “Visit” as not all of our users will actually click on the buttons.
Q: Have you done any assessment of the effectiveness of the tutorial in meeting your established objectives?
A: Not formally. In our testing stage we asked our colleagues if they felt this tutorial met the established learning objectives. However, we would like to build in some sort of assessment of our users to confirm this.
Q: How much student involvement did you have on the project?
A: We only have anecdotal information from the in-person workshops Van and Caroline had in the past.
Q: Are you doing outreach or promotion to students in specific courses or majors? In other words, how do students know the tutorial exists?
A: Yes, because we promoted it through the Career Development Network, which represents over 100 specialists on campus representing the career support services for all the various colleges and schools at the University of Minnesota. We also feature the tutorial as an embedded online learning object on various University of Minnesota Libraries websites. However, there are additional staff on campus that could be strategic for promoting among subject departments, like Academic Advisors.
Q: Did you do any usability testing on the tutorials? What did you learn?
A: We did not do any formal usability testing. Informally, we asked colleagues to try to break the tutorial, mainly to tell us where the navigation was off and where they got lost. Even doing this with colleagues improved our navigation and user experience. We learned that users needed an easy way to get back to things and that no one looked at this tutorial as linear. They wanted to explore, which is what we wanted them to do!
Usage statistics are tracked using Google Analytics. The tutorial was posted July 15, 2014. Since that date (July 15, 2014-April 14, 2015) there are 512 unique pageviews with an average visit of 5 minutes.
Q: Do you have any recommendations or advice for someone beginning to contemplate or plan a similar project?
A: Give yourself a realistic timeline and stick to it. Our project took much longer than we expected, but we were able to achieve the quality we wanted. It just felt like it was never going to get finished during the last 10%, and it was hard not to give up or to be too nitpicky with things.
March 2015 PRIMO Site of the Month