November 2016 Site of the Month

Pima Community College Library Tutorials

Authors: Tutorials: Sandra  J. Ley, Lisa Hodgkins, Monique Rodriguez , Eric Comport, Marianne Harris, Becky Moore

Project Managers: Rob Booth, Sandra Ley;  Erin Coleman, designer; Paula Borchardt, illustrator; Tyler Moore, audio designer; Rosanne Couston and Tony Waechter, voice-overs

Institution:  Pima Community College


Interviewees: Sandra J. Ley and Rob Booth
: Lindy Scripps-Hoekstra

Tutorial Description (provided by author): Pima Community College Library’s online, self-paced tutorials instruct students in academic-level research skills at point-of-need, without the limits of time or place. The tutorials educate and entertain researchers as they accompany an animated anthropology student on a research quest into the desert southwest. The tutorials’ setting reflects the unique landscape and history of Tucson, Arizona. Upon completion of the four tutorials, students are able to explore, select and focus a research topic, identify the nature and purpose of a variety of information resources, determine the extent of information needed, and effectively search the library catalog and article databases.

Q: What was the original motivation to develop this project? What were your goals?

A: The Pima Community College (PCC) general education philosophy is based on the belief that all students of higher learning will attain a common core of knowledge that transforms them from college applicants to college-educated citizens, who adapt personally, professionally, and societally to a fluid global culture and who value lifelong learning and civic responsibility. Students cannot attain a common core of knowledge or engage in lifelong learning without the ability to locate, evaluate, and use information from diverse sources in an effective and ethical manner. Therefore, PCC Librarians decided to create a series of engaging online information literacy tutorials to teach college-level information literacy skills to distance-education students, on-campus students with instructors that don’t typically schedule library instruction sessions, and all students who need to simply refresh their research skills. The online, self-paced tutorials are available 24/7 to instruct all students at point-of-need, regardless of where they are located or when instruction is needed.

Q: It looks like you had quite the team in place for this project. Who was involved and why?

A:  The project was a collaboration between the Library and the Center for Learning Technology (CLT). The tutorial storyboards were created by six PCC librarians: Sandra Ley, Lisa Hodgkins, Monique Rodriguez, Eric Comport, Marianne Harris, and Becky Moore. The librarians had the subject area knowledge and instructional design expertise to design and storyboard the tutorials, but not the technical and artistic expertise to produce them. Our brilliant and hard-working colleagues in the CLT were the perfect partners to bring this project to light. From the CLT, Rob Booth worked as a project manager, Erin Coleman was the technical designer, Paula Borchardt was the illustrator, Tyler Moore was the audio designer, and Tony Waechter assisted with voice-overs.

We realized quickly that we couldn’t have every member of each department in contact because it resulted in conflicting information all around. So, we established that each team leader (Sandra Ley from the Library and Rob Booth from CLT) would function as the point person for setting up meetings, relaying questions, and making last-minute decisions. This minor detail simplified everything!

Q: How did you decide what content to include in the tutorials?

A: Our initial concern was to simply teach the research skills that are most often needed to successfully conduct college-level research. Yet we were aware that the CLT wouldn’t have endless time and resources to dedicate exclusively to the Library’s needs, so we had to keep our project at a reasonable dimension. At the same time, the PCC was developing more strenuous guidelines for student learning outcomes, including a college-level outcome for information literacy. As a result, the Library turned to the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards and crafted a streamlined set of five learning outcomes that would inform our tutorial design.

Q: What was your workflow process?

A: We decided to conceive a common look and feel for all the tutorials so there would be a seamless transition from the first to the last. We also wanted students to find the tutorials visually appealing. The team decided to go with a local, Tucson theme and found numerous antique southwest travel posters online that provided graphical inspiration for Paula Borchardt, our talented CLT graphic artist. We invented a main character, Sofia, with a storyline we felt students might identify with: a student who needed help researching a topic from start to finish. Sofia’s research “quest” was mirrored by her physical quest out into the desert where she encountered ancient ruins and started digging for information. Each tutorial starts with a single slide that poses a typical student research need, and then the learning objectives. Within each tutorial, there is a test-your-knowledge feature at every point students are taught a new skill. At the end of each tutorial, students are congratulated and given the option to move on to the next tutorial in the series, or to return to the main tutorials’ page.

The storyboard template we used was created by the Library team leader, Sandra Ley. The simple design was created with PowerPoint slides, each one designed to provide a snapshot at every point of each tutorial of simultaneous multimedia features – screen text, audio, and visuals. Once the CLT received a new storyboard, we set up a meeting with each team leader, the tutorial designer, and the technical production team for a read-through. We used these meetings to make sure that all elements of the design were clearly described on the storyboard and technically feasible within our constraints (software, time, etc.) Having the entire group together ensured that any problem areas could be found and addressed quickly, usually on the spot. These post-storyboard meetings between both teams were critical to the overall production process. Once we were convinced we shared a common vision for each tutorial, the CLT took over and began production. Rob Booth, the head of our CLT team, informed us that if they had to focus on one item behind the success of the tutorials, it would be our Library team’s storyboard. Rob said, “We could not have begun the creation process had you not created such detailed and complete storyboards.” (Thanks, Rob!)

In order to test tutorials during the development phase, the CLT created tutorial test environments on our department website and in the College’s course management system, Desire2Learn (D2L). These test environments gave the Librarian team the ability to review the tutorials in different online settings and test the interactions and self-assessments for proper functionality across different browsers, computers, and users.


Q: How long did it take to create the tutorials? Did everything go mostly to schedule or were there some unanticipated hiccups?

A: The librarians conceived of the project and gained institutional approval in late Spring 2010.  A work group was quickly formed to draft student learning outcomes and to design tutorial storyboards. The first storyboard was ready for production in the Fall of 2010, when we encountered the first “hiccup.” At that time, the CLT began an arduous LMS transition from Blackboard to D2L, which was followed by a big push toward online instruction. Faculty members needed training in D2L and assistance transitioning their existing courses into an online format. These projects became CLTs primary objective for the next few years, and library tutorial production was placed on the back burner for at least two years.

The CLT Web Designer, Audio Designer and Illustrator spent thousands of hours on this project over the course of several years. As a complex multimedia project for an educational institution, the accessibility of every element of every scene in every tutorial needed to be addressed. The CLT team created a set of Storyline’s interactive features and reviewed this with the College’s director of Accessibility and Disability Resources department. The director was able to identify what interactive features would work and what would not work for a student with disabilities. The CLT team shared the accessibility testing results with the Librarian team for their consideration.

For example, the Librarian team requested a “drag and drop” feature for Tutorial #1 (Getting Started with Research). While the software could accommodate the request, this interactive feature was found to be inaccessible. The CLT team re-designed the self-assessment as an accessible interactive “fill in the missing pieces” feature that closely approximated the Librarian team’s request. After their online review of the self-assessment, they approved the accessible solution.

Finally, PCC’s course development schedule also greatly impacted the development of these tutorials, since the tutorials were prioritized after the development team’s hard deadlines. Coordinating multiple schedules also affected final project delivery; we were competing with multiple schedules including employees who were off contract and unavailable to work over the summer months. The first tutorial took significantly longer to develop than the other three since many decisions we made established precedent in the subsequent tutorials. Great attention to detail in consistency in the look and feel, audio, and interactions within and between tutorials necessitated a lot of time.


Q: What led you to select Articulate Storyline for this project?

A: The librarians requested software that would provide a multimedia tutorial experience, simple post-production editing for updates and changes over time, chunking for point-of-need entry, and the addition of stand-alone test-your-knowledge features. The software was selected by a CLT member with previous Articulate Storyline experience and who appreciated the extensive online community supporting Storyline as well as the many options for self-quizzing available.

Q: The voiceover audio quality is quite good and it appears you used a separate tool, Reaper, to help with this. What led you to use that tool?

A: PCC TV (PCC’s professional in-house video and audio production unit) did the voiceover recordings for these tutorials. PCC TV then provided the source files to our Audio Designer who felt that Reaper was easier to use and more intuitive than free products such as Audacity.

In addition, Rosanne Couston, one of our librarians, is a talented actress with experience in voice-over work. She was the natural choice for the voice of our main character, Sofia, and did a splendid job. CLT found another colleague with acting experience to give a voice to our librarian in the tutorial, Tucson Jack.

Q: How are the tutorials being used? Are they integrated into any assignments or courses?

A: The tutorials are linked from PCC Library’s homepage and within multiple LibGuides to give students self-service options. Tutorials have also been automatically linked on all Writing 101 D2L course shells and promoted to online and hybrid course instructors since Fall 2015. For instructors who choose to assign the tutorials as homework, there is a corresponding 10-question, 20-point quiz loaded onto our LMS. Some of our writing instructors have integrated the tutorials into their homework assignments, but we can’t know how many unless they inform us directly.

Q: Have you conducted any assessment of the effectiveness of the tutorials?

A: Yes. As previously mentioned, some Writing 101 instructors chose to assign the tutorials as homework, so we created a corresponding 10-question, 20-point quiz that we loaded onto our LMS. We set the following success criterion: “Writing 101 students assessed will reach a minimum average aggregate score of 70%.”

What we didn’t expect was that many Writing 101 students took the quiz without actually viewing and completing all of the tutorials. As a result, for Fall 2015, 198 Writing 101 students took the quiz with an average score 64.7%. In Spring 2016, 152 Writing 101 students took the quiz with an average score of 66.6%. So, we fell a bit short of our success criterion.

Upon investigation, the librarians found there is a selective release tool in D2L that can be applied to the quiz, but it would be restricted to whether or not the student visited a content page in D2L that linked to the Library Tutorials. We cannot find a mechanism in D2L that would make a determination on whether or not a student actually visited and completed a Library Tutorial.  We’ve yet to find a way around this problem. However, we are pleased that our tutorials are being used. In the 2015-2016 academic year, we had a total of 685 clicks on the four tutorials:

  1. Getting Started with Research (312 clicks)
  2. Information Resources (181 clicks)
  3. Using the Library Catalog (101 clicks)
  4. Using Research Databases (90 clicks)

Q: What feedback have you received from faculty? From students?

A: Despite numerous PCC media marketing efforts, as well as embedding the tutorials in D2L and the library home page, not all faculty seem to be aware of the tutorials. Those who do have expressed nothing but enthusiasm. Students are typically silent on such issues so we aren’t surprised we haven’t gotten any formal feedback from them. However, considering that only 350 Writing 101 students were assigned the tutorials in 2015-16, the tutorials still received 685 clicks in that same time, we feel we’re on the right track. We’ve found that ongoing marketing to faculty and students is needed.

Q: What advice would you have for someone contemplating a similar project?

A: Unless your library controls all aspects of dedicated human resource planning, tutorial financing, software training, storyboarding, technical production, post-production, as well as free rein with regard to college website and LMS access and editing, there WILL be delays! Go with the flow and let your faith in the project’s value carry you on when things seem impossible.

Complex multimedia projects of this scope, with contributors from many different departments, require a lot of time. A well-defined storyboard is key to getting all participants on the same page from the beginning. Be prepared to spend months to years of time on the project in order to create a high-quality product, work around everyone’s busy schedules, meet student learning objectives, address accessibility needs, and conduct thorough testing before going live.

Be prepared to coordinate regularly and in-depth with other team players such as your accessibility department, project managers, technical experts, and writers. For example, the Web Designer was extremely organized in her approach with the Storyline software. Simple things like naming schemes, and reference documents that explain what goes where and for which scene, etc., go a long way in helping development proceed smoothly. Additionally, always, always back up your work.

Lastly, we cannot overemphasize the importance of having an excellent working relationship with all staff and departments involved. Each team member was professional, responsive, patient, committed, creative, flexible and, most importantly, kept a sense of humor throughout the entire process.