Tutorials That Matter: Learning Objects in the Library Instruction Program

By Farkas, Meredith | American Libraries, July-August 2011 | Go to article overview

Tutorials That Matter: Learning Objects in the Library Instruction Program


Farkas, Meredith, American Libraries


Over the past decade, a large number of academic libraries have created online learning objects for their patrons. Whether it was a basic guide on doing research or a suite of tutorials for every database and topic, there has been growing recognition that learning objects are an important way to instruct patrons at their point of need. Tutorials range from PDF versions of paper handouts, to static HTML tutorials, to video screencasts that visually demonstrate searches, to fully interactive tutorials that allow patrons to practice what they've learned.

Less and more

At many libraries, online instruction sits outside of any integrated instruction program - more as an add-on than an integral part of the instructional mission. Academic librarians work to ensure that face-to-face instruction is tied to specific class work so that students can immediately practice their new skills, making the learning more sticky. Many learning objects are not designed for specific classes or in collaboration with faculty teaching in the relevant areas; also, many sit on library websites instead of online classrooms and so are never found by students they would benefit.

Many still do not regard online instruction as something that can be as powerful and effective as face-to-face instruction. Online instruction should not be seen as less-than, but as another excellent way to impact student learning, with its own pros and cons.

Instead of trying to cram as much information as possible into a single one-shot, librarians can design online modules that can be assigned at logical points in a course. The modules don't need to take up valuable class time, which may make it a more attractive option to faculty whose syllabi are already packed with content. Instead of designing a one-size-fits-all instruction session, librarians can create multiple experiences that appeal to different learning styles, which enables students to focus on topics they don't understand and skim areas in which they are proficient.

In the short term, creating learning objects takes a great deal of time and effort. …

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Tutorials That Matter: Learning Objects in the Library Instruction Program
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