September 2017 Site of the Month

ALA ACRL IS PRIMO logoTitle: Arizona State University Library Tutorials – MLA Citation Style


Authors: Learning Badges Team (Bee Gallegos, Dennis Isbell, Lisa Kammerlocher, Lindsey O’Neill, Virginia Pannebecker, Kevin Pardon, Tammy Wolf)

Online Teaching & Learning (OTL) Team (Sam Dyal, Bee Gallegos, Ashley Gohr, Janice Hermer, Dennis Isbell, Lisa Kammerlocher, Deirdre Kirmis, Marc Mason, Kevin Pardon, Rene Tanner, Julie Tharp, Tammy Wolf)

Institution: Arizona State University

Interviewee: Bee Gallegos & Deirdre Kirmis
Joshua Vossler

Description (provided by the author)

MLA Citation Style is an interactive web-based tutorial designed to teach students when to cite and how to use MLA citation style with interactive examples of citing different sources. Features include ungraded activities embedded in the tutorial, a 10 question quiz at the end that can be graded, and a script of the tutorial.

Q: How did this project come together?

In 2013, after some months of discussion and research, a small group of librarians decided to create a learning badge system with each badge having 2-4 modules. Upon completion of each module’s accompanying quiz with a minimum score of 90%, the student was awarded a certificate; when all of the certificates in the badge group were earned, the student was awarded a badge. We created 4 badges (Explorer, Locator, Researcher, Scholar) with 11 modules.

The majority of librarians on the team were experienced teachers & creators of instructional materials, but had limited experience with Articulate Storyline and related multimedia software used in tutorial development. We developed the first set of tutorials with quizzes for learning badges but needed to solicit assistance in creating the WordPress platform and trouble-shooting technical problems. Because this was an “add-on” for that librarian, the team was on hiatus for close to a year with regards to developing new content.

In spring 2016, the library hired a Web developer who joined the tutorial team. At that time, the decision was made to focus on updating the learning badge tutorials and post them to the library website. With the majority of work done on the existing badge tutorials, we were able to immediately replace similar but outdated tutorials. During the summer of 2016 the Online Teaching & Learning Team divided the remaining tutorials from 2008, and worked in small groups to revise and create new content for fall 2016. We had a Citing Your Sources tutorial but wanted to have specialized tutorials focusing on MLA and APA. The latter two were developed and ready in early fall 2016, thus creating a citation grouping along with the Academic Integrity and the Plagiarism Awareness tutorials.

Q: What drew you to Articulate Storyline over other tutorial production methods?

Adobe Captivate was used in the previous tutorials we developed around 2008, but the team felt Articulate Storyline offered us more in terms of interactivity, which was a baseline requirement for the tutorials. We found Storyline fairly easy to learn and use. Content can be created in Storyline or in PowerPoint and imported into Storyline, allowing less technically inclined librarians to develop content. Tutorials can be made to be as simple or as complex as you choose. We took advantage of its interactive features, such as triggers, states, and the ability to create and embed different kinds of activities within the tutorial to check learning. Storyline is accessible from a variety of devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, etc.). It supports different learning styles, approaches to teaching and learning, and it is easy to update as needed. We began with Storyline, migrated to Storyline 2, and this past spring upgraded to Articulate 360. No matter the version of Articulate Storyline our tutorials were produced with, we can package tutorials in SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) to embed them in our Blackboard Learning Management System, which allows them to send quiz scores to the gradebook.

Q: How is this tutorial being deployed? Who’s using it?

The tutorials are published to a public server and linked to our website. Instructors and instructional designers link to or embed them in their courses within Blackboard, and librarians link to them within their library guides. The tutorials are also published in versions that can be uploaded into Blackboard and to WordPress, as is the case in our learning badges system. A variety of campus-based and ASU online programs assign the tutorials in our learning badges as flipped instruction and course assignments. Depending on the tutorial content, the makeup of a class, and the format of instruction, our tutorials are used in both graduate and undergraduate courses, including orientation courses offered to freshman and new students or upper undergraduate transfers, and students involved in university partnerships such as the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative and Starbucks programs.

Q: How did MLA’s new approach (such as their focus on containers) affect your design process for this tutorial? Has MLA’s new approach made creating citation tutorials easier or harder? 

We have three basic tutorials about citing sources: an overview of why it is important to cite, APA citation style, and this one for MLA citation style. We wanted the APA and MLA tutorials to be similar in look and feel, with interactive screens where the citation parts are explained. We were able to do that for the most part, but the new MLA style with the emphasis on containers required more explanation than APA primarily because it was new and not always intuitive even for librarians who were deeply familiar with MLA style. It required several extra sets of eyes to review the content to ensure accuracy. We had already established an outline with the APA tutorial so it was a matter of following that outline with a few variations. To accompany these three tutorials, we developed Plagiarism Awareness and Academic Integrity, both of which were requested by many faculty. These five tutorials can be packaged and used in classes as a unit.

Q: This tutorial occasionally challenges the viewer to put citation elements for various sources in the correct order, and the tutorial doesn’t move forward until they’re correct. How do you gauge the difficulty of these challenges?

We actually had several general discussions about allowing students to move forward with activities. We decided that users would have three tries to accurately complete an activity. Upon successful completion, the student is notified that the answer is correct, and for the majority of tutorials the correct answers are listed as reinforcement. If the student is unsuccessful after three attempts, the correct responses are displayed and they are allowed to proceed. As for non-activity slides, there was less agreement. In some tutorials, the student must click on all items and read the information before being allowed to move forward, while on others they can choose to skip the information.

Q: Looking at the credits for this tutorial, you have an enviable production team. What are their skill sets? And for our readers who might not have your resources, but are considering creating similar tutorials, what would a skeleton crew production team look like?

Our production team lists everyone who has been involved in the larger tutorial project; not all members are involved in each tutorial but everyone still has the chance to provide feedback on content as their schedules allow. Several members of both the learning badges team and Online Teaching & Learning teams are no longer involved due to leaving the library for another position, retirement, or reassignment, but we chose to include them in the credits because of their contributions to the overall work.

The majority of members are librarians with a variety of subject assignments and who are involved in instruction. Two librarians are active Articulate Storyline users and were involved in the technical creation of the majority of learning badge tutorials. Both essentially learned how to use the software on their own. One Online Teaching & Learning co-chair is a web developer who is responsible for most of the technical work on the tutorials for the library tutorial page and learning badge platform. One additional technology person built the original WordPress platform and acts more as an ad hoc consultant. The majority of team members create content as an add-on to regular liaison librarian responsibilities. The co-chairs edit and finalize the content and technology before publication to the tutorial page. Except for the co-chairs, who are involved in each new or revised tutorial, team member involvement varies widely depending on workload. Typically, one or two members develop content and share it with the entire team for comment before the final work is done. Content creation has never been a problem with a core group of 3-5 individuals being involved from the beginning with the learning badges project; the ongoing challenge is and has always been lack of technical support. Without technical expertise and administrative support you will not be successful.

Q: What are your production stages for this tutorial, and how long did it take you to complete each one? What was the most time-consuming aspect? 

The MLA Citation Style and APA Citation Style tutorials were developed at approximately the same time, so an outline was created for both, indicating the primary points we wanted to make with variations due to style differences and MLA’s focus on containers. The outline was shared and reviewed by team members before content development began. Learning the MLA 8 style was an impediment to getting the tutorial completed as quickly as anticipated. Furthermore, each tutorial featured an interactive element called rollover capability, which allows the student to see the name and description of each citation element by hovering the cursor over it. To accomplish this, we used the states feature of Articulate Storyline. It is one of the more complex and advanced features, which made the tutorials more difficult to complete.

Q: Voiceover can be one of the bigger technical and artistic challenges in tutorial creation. Tell us about the challenges you faced and the decisions you made planning and producing the audio.

Early on, voiceover was a big challenge. We agreed that having both narration and visuals was an essential but we did not have easy access to a studio or good equipment. For the first handful of tutorials, we used student workers as voice actors, good quality headphones to record, and basic tri-fold science fair poster boards to limit some room noise. Audacity recording software was used to clean up some of these tracks.

Support for tutorial development coincided with creation of a makerspace facility and the acquisition of better equipment for recording narration. Initially we used a handful of different staff as narrators, but in the past year decided to use one staff person for all narration. He has previous voiceover experience with PBS and has a great radio voice.

Audio was recorded in a mkrstudio (part of the ASU Library’s makerspace services) using a high-quality microphone and Audacity recording software. After the entire tutorial was recorded, it was imported into Adobe Audition, where it was cleaned up, normalized, and compressed. It was then broken into clips to match each slide in the tutorial. We had some challenges in the mkrstudio getting the sound level and quality right, but once we found the right settings we could apply those each time.

Q: If you had the chance to start over and recreate this tutorial, what would you do differently?

The answer would be to be better acquainted with the new aspects of MLA citation style, so content development would be smoother and allow more time to tutorial development. It would have been helpful to understand using Articulate Storyline’s states feature better. This complex feature allows digital objects to change how they appear depending on user actions, such as hovering the cursor over it or clicking it. It’s best not to be learning new software in the middle of using it to develop content that large numbers of students will rely on for guidance.

Q: How do you define success for this tutorial? How do you know when you’ve succeeded?

We periodically run Google analytics reports to measure statistics on how much the tutorials are being used. Our tutorials can be linked from the website, invoked from within the learning badges system, or embedded into a Blackboard courses, so the analytics give us a general idea of how much and how often they are used, where they are called from, and what the typical patterns of use are. For example, they are used much more at the beginning of the fall semester when there are many new students accessing the library. We also use statistics that we can obtain from LibWizard, which is where students take the corresponding quizzes to the tutorials. These are helpful because we can see trends in grades and missed questions, which alerts us to content that may need to be updated. We feel that success is based on those statistics showing steady or growing use. Also, as more instructors, students, and liaisons begin to use the tutorials, we get feedback from them as to how successful they are based on student performance of library skills. We are also hearing from instructors who learned about the tutorials and of the learning badges platform in particular via colleagues and even students who used them in other courses. Positive word of mouth is a good indicator of satisfaction.

September 2017 Site of the Month