Tools for the Exceptional Instructional Librarian

#ALAMW13’s session sponsored by the Library and Information Technology Association consisted of a lively discussion among practitioners about tools they use to enhance the student experience and do their jobs better. I hope you find my summary and the resources mentioned useful in your day-to-day work.

What tools can I use to conduct live virtual information instruction sessions?

  • AdobeConnect, BigMarker, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Skype and WebEx were mentioned. With exception to BigMarker & WebEx, I am familiar with all the products and believe Adobe Connect provides the most bang for your buck. It is simple, easy to use interface with lots of flexibility.

It is impossible to do an instructional session on library resources, information literacy, or any other topic justice in one 60 minutes session by themselves (on their own), much less trying to combine several topics.

How can you address that hurdle? Well,

  • Provide the audience you will be speaking with a menu that provides a list of the potential things you can speak on and let them choose a few that are priority. Don’t be surprised if they come back to you and everything is selected.
  • Have a live session where you introduce students to a menu of asynchronous resources that they can get access to at their convenience.
  • Do a pre-assessment to see where the students are knowledge wise and design programming to fill the gap.

What tools can I use to create asynchronous guides, tutorials and lectures?

Some of the tools are less flexible the others. Jing forces you to record everything in one sitting and you cannot do much editing on their platform. PowerPoint on the other hand is quite expensive, however it provides much more flexibility. You can work on one slide at a time. You can include animations and even embed YouTube videos. GoAnimate which promotes itself as the “world’s number one do-it-yourself animated video website” seems fairly easy to use. Apparently novice computer users to create expert looking results.

What are some tools I can use to engage with students?

Not as many tools were mentioned when talking about engagement. One that was mentioned was, PollEveryWhere. Attendee’s had mixed success with this product.

Trying to engage students with digital tool has to be done with care otherwise it’ll just turn the off. For example, when using  polling tool it make sense to start with low stakes fun questions like, “which geographic region are you from?” “do you prefer sweets or salts?” or “what’s your favorite sport?”

One tool that I know has been successfully used to engage students is Twitter. The instructor created a hashtag for the course and had students use it as a back channel where they could ask questions, make comments on lectures, etc. No, comments were not always on topic, but that is one of the things you will have to accept if you are going to use digital tools to engage with an audience.

What are some free tools that I can point patrons towards?

The list below may not directly improve the instructors ability to do their job, it can help novices become more tech savvy. Please share.

Regarding the use of technology for instruction

  • Do not assume everyone has access to the same level of technology. This is especially relevant when creating video/audio content to download and or view. Issues including low-bandwidth, limited access to computers and country-wide firewalls are some of the reasons people may be unable to reach you content. Create your stuff according to the lowest common denominator.
  • Have resources accessible in multiple formats. If possible offer transcripts with power point slides in addition to other multimedia content.
  • DON’T rely on third-party videos! Create some of your OWN videos!  No matter how good other people’s resources are, you want people at your institution to know YOU and that you are authoritative.

1 comment to Tools for the Exceptional Instructional Librarian

  • Mitchell Yates
    May 19, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Reply

    Thanks for the article, Lassana. You pointed out a lot of great resources to facilitate training and learning. Communication is evolving along with technology these days. Products like iMeet ( allow users to connect online, collaborate, and share information with up to 15 people in HD video. iMeet is a completely different virtual meeting experience that will make your job easier and more efficient.

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