PRIMO Site of the Month: November 2019


Library Research Tutorial

Creators: Julie Harding, Robert Miller, Chris Moua, Melissa Foge, Kee-Young Moon, John Coogan

Institution: University of Maryland – Global Campus

Interviewee: Julie Harding
Interviewer: Janna Mattson

Description of Project (provided by creators): This research tutorial, created in LibGuides CMS, is based on the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. The tutorial outlines the steps in the research process, from creating a research question to citing sources, and also includes information on academic writing. Each module stands alone and can be inserted into learning materials for point of need research help. The video contains text, infographics, screenshots, and video. There are quizzes throughout for self-assessment, and a final quiz at the end that can be emailed to an instructor, or to the student. Many courses use it as a learning resource, and it is also accessible to the public on the Library website.

Q: This tutorial takes the user through the entire research process, from topic development to writing the paper. What was the reason for creating this tutorial?

A: As a large, online university we have historically taken a multi-tiered approach to instruction. We do embedded instruction and we offer course guides for classes, as well as “one shot” sessions. We also offer webinars, subject research guides (LibGuides), a detailed and searchable FAQ, and self-help pages. However, with shorter sessions (8 week) faculty have less time to devote to library instruction. So we wanted to offer a comprehensive tutorial that faculty could embed in their courses. Our older information literacy tutorial, “Secrets of My Research Success,” created in 2008, filled this role, but was long (taking 35 minutes to complete), non-modular, and created in Adobe Flash, which our university mandated could no longer be used for application development. It became clear that a significant revision of the tutorial was needed to meet newly pressing demands.

Q: I really love the simple cartoon drawing of a thinking person on the front page of your tutorial as well as the encouraging and empathetic blurb. The emotions attached to the research process often get overlooked when designing learning objects. What inspired you to include this?

A: We wanted to find a simple image that conveyed a typical student who was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to begin. This image seemed to convey this perfectly.

Q: This theme carries through in the embedded video tutorials in that the user sees emotions on the characters’ faces. Did this inspire your technology choice? What technology did you use to create them?

A: Yes, we wanted to be able to personalize the videos, and make them relatable. That is why we chose PowToon as our tool to create the videos. We also used SnagIt to do screen captures for the videos, and we uploaded all the PowToon videos to YouTube for accessibility purposes.

Q: You’ve also created quizzes for each part of the tutorial. I know the final quiz results can be emailed to the instructor or the student. Can the library use the data in any way for assessment? If so, how?

A: We used LibWizard to create the quizzes. This Springshare application shows the number of students taking the quizzes as well as how they’ve performed. We can do line item analysis at some point to see what questions students are performing poorly on. This data can then be used to edit portions of the tutorial, to help increase student success.

Q: Have faculty used this tutorial as an assignment for their students? If so, what kind of outreach did you do in order to achieve this?

 A: Yes, faculty are using the tutorial as an assignment. More than 1,000 classes have embedded the tutorial in their classrooms from Summer 2018 through Spring 2019. We have nine librarians at the UMGC library who are library liaisons to departments. Each librarian communicated with the faculty before and after tutorial development. We asked for feedback on the tutorial, and we let the faculty know when the tutorial was complete and ready for use.

Q: I noticed elements of universal design for learning (UDL) in this tutorial. In addition to accessibility, you provide multiple means of presentation of content. Did you have UDL in mind when you designed this?

A: While we did have UDL in mind, especially because accessibility was critical in importance, we also placed a particular emphasis on Mayer’s (2018) evidence-based principles for instructional design. Specifically, the tutorial used Mayer’s segmentation, modality, signaling, and personalization principles. We wanted to have small, “bite-sized” chunks of “learner-paced” segments. We wanted the students to be able to view the information at a glance, without being overwhelmed. The videos were a review of the text, and meant to enhance learning. We also wanted to provide reinforcement through the highlighting of essential information by using infographics. The “personal” nature of the videos was meant to make the material relatable.

Q: Why did you decide to use the SpringShare platform to create this tutorial?

A: We evaluated various software platforms and tools, including Storyline, LibGuides CMS, PowToon, SnagIt, Screencast-O-Matic, YouTube, Microsoft Office, the open source Guide on the Side platform, Jing, Twine, Puzzle Maker, and others. Because the tutorial had to be built in-house and the Library wanted to maintain control over the tutorial for upgrades and changes, the LibGuides CMS ultimately emerged as the best base platform for the tutorial development. The LibGuides CMS was also a familiar tool and included LibWizard, which allowed us to build the quizzes and a final exam that could be emailed to the instructor. PowerPoint was chosen for the creation of infographics, and PowToon, YouTube, and SnagIt were used for creating videos.

Q: I notice a team of six people created this tutorial. How did you divide and conquer to get this project completed?

A: There were four reference librarians who actually created the content and the scripts for the videos. We had a systems librarian who helped with software support, and a digital services librarian who created the infographics and videos for us.

Q: The last part of this module includes research in the workplace for alumni. Why did you decide to include this?

A: The “Workplace Research Skills” module was developed to mirror and support the vocational aspect of the University’s focus on competency-based education.

Q: If you could give only one piece of advice to someone who would like to create a similar tutorial, what would it be?

A: Planning is critical. Start with faculty and developers. Ask faculty what they want their students to know. Ask developers their opinion on software development. What’s worked well in the past and what not so well? Then develop outcomes. What exactly do you want the takeaways to be? This is the foundation of your tutorial.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to say about this project?

A: This tutorial took quite a while from conception to implementation. We had a lot of fun planning, designing, and creating this tutorial! We hope that others find it inspirational and are so pleased to be named PRIMO Site of the Month!