September 2015 Site of the Month

InfoRhode Tutorials

Authors: Jim Kinnie, Amanda Izenstark, Mary MacDonald

Institution: University of Rhode Island

Interviewee: Jim Kinnie
Interviewer: Lindy Scripps-Hoekstra

Project Description: InfoRhode Tutorials is an online tutorial that explores the basics of college-level research. It consists of six modules that follow the research process: Start, Identify, Gather I, Gather II, Evaluate, and Cite. Each module includes two sections (one has three sections); each section has a presentation (short video), an interactive activity, and a quiz. InfoRhode modules can be used for point-of-need instruction, as an embedded resource in a credit course, or as a substitute for lecture/demonstration in flipped classrooms. They can stand alone or be used in customizable combinations.

Q: What led you to develop this resource?

A: Several years ago University of Rhode Island (URI) Public Services librarians identified a need for online resources, tailored for URI’s curriculum, that could be used for the purposes stated above in the project description. In 2012 my colleagues Mary MacDonald, Amanda Izenstark, and I received an Innovation in Technology grant from the Provost’s office to create a series of videos that would support the curriculum.

Q: Who is the intended audience?

A: Our audience consists of any undergraduate, novice researcher, or anyone needing a refresher on research techniques, such as non-traditional and returning students. We also use the InfoRhode Tutorials with high school students in dual enrollment Writing classes.

Q: Tell us about the process you used to determine what content to cover:

A: We determined the common themes and threads by looking at what questions we are frequently asked, what we tend to cover in our first-year experience sessions and introductory writing sessions, as well as some content from our three-credit course, LIB 120: Introduction to Information Literacy.

Q: What led you to select Adobe Captivate for the tutorials?

A: The cost and functionality made Adobe Captivate the best choice for us. Our budget was limited, but Adobe Captivate allowed us to create both the static and interactive elements of the tutorial. Adobe Captivate supports HTML5 which opened up the tutorials for use on iPads (the iPad HTML5 version never met our expectations, so we did not emphasize it). Captivate also supports SCORM standards for reporting quiz scores to an LMS (planned for a future URI version of Sakai, our learning management system).

Q: Who was involved in designing and implementing this resource?

A: We have a very small staff, and it was three librarians who put this together. Mary MacDonald, our Head of Instruction, was instrumental in identifying the themes and reviewing the scripts the three of us wrote together. Amanda Izenstark, Reference & Instructional Design Librarian, did the original visuals, the audio, and the first round of video tutorials that became version one. I created assessments for the original videos in URI’s LMS Sakai. I developed the current interactive version during my sabbatical leave in Spring 2014.

Q: From initial plan to final release, how long did it take to complete the tutorials?

A: The tutorials were created in two stages. The first stage involved developing the content, the scripts, and recording videos. We were very concerned about usability and the ability for the tutorials to be accessible across platforms. When the tutorials were originally conceived, however, iPads didn’t support Flash, and we wanted to make sure we had closed captioning. To address those issues, we created a series of videos that we posted on YouTube (thus making YouTube take care of standardizing the output for users) and added our own closed captioning. This took about a year. Version two (which is what you see today) still has the videos, but developing and fine-tuning the interactivity took another year, including the six-month sabbatical, additional scripting and audio recording, and usability studies with students.

Q: How are the tutorials being promoted and used at your institution? Are they integrated into classes, workshops, assignments, etc.?

A: Different instructors use the tutorials differently, which was how we intended for them to be used. They stand together as a whole, but can also be used in single tutorial parts or clusters.

Our LIB 120 instructors use the tutorials at various points throughout the semester to supplement course materials. Instructors from History and Nursing, for example, require students to use specific sections before their library sessions. One graduate instructor requires the entire series at the start of her course as a way to make sure all of the students are on the same research page at the outset of the course.

We are conducting a flipped classroom pilot for our programmatic instruction with the Department of Writing and Rhetoric where students complete three of the tutorial modules before their library session as a replacement for an in-class demonstration, leaving more time for guided searching.

Additionally, we are promoting the use of InfoRhode to Rhode Island school media librarians who may want to include it in their lessons as they prepare junior and senior level students for college level information research. InfoRhode was shared at a recent statewide summer conference for Rhode Island K-12 SLMS as a resource that is available for high school students. In the next year InfoRhode will be included in a toolkit designed for students to use in learning about the information literacy transition from high school to college. InfoRhode will be promoted at the statewide “October is IL Month!” showcase currently in the planning stages.

More generally, the tutorials are included in our “Getting Started @ the URI Libraries” guide, which is meant for anyone new to the URI Libraries.

Q: What has been the response to “InfoRhode Tutorials”?

A:  We have not actively solicited feedback other than from the usability testers and the students and instructors in the Writing pilot. Other than the refinement suggestions from the testers and some browser compatibility issues from the pilot students, comments showed they thought the tutorial was useful; instructors in the pilot have signed up for a continuation this semester.

Many of the grad students who have reviewed the tutorials as a tool for getting up to speed on library research at a new level or institution have noted that it was a useful refresher on research, and provided them with an understanding of tools and techniques they can use when searching.

Q: What lessons did you learn in the creation of this project?

A: We learned several lessons: expect to maintain tutorials to stay current (since the tutorial was published URI Libraries has switched to a new catalog); conduct a literature review to identify best practices for creating tutorials; usability testing was very important; some kind of formal training in the use of authoring software helps a lot (even online training sources such as

September 2015 PRIMO Site of the Month