Live and Online: Bringing Library Instruction into Students’ Living Rooms*
At my school, we provide our students with 3 different delivery methods: traditional day classes, evening classes, and online classes. At the library, we are lucky to have both the ability and the invitation from faculty to deliver instruction to all 3 types of classes. When I was preparing to write this post, I remembered the recent survey regarding faculty and librarian views on their interactions with each other (http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/09/academic-libraries/closing-gap-librarian-faculty-views-research/). While some of our faculty, as at many institutions, might not communicate with us as well as we would prefer–when it comes to information literacy instruction, we have several with whom we’ve been able to work closely in developing both one-shot and multiple-session instruction opportunities.
I have had the enjoyable task of working with one of our online-only faculty to bring business-related research instruction to his classes. This professor, who I’ll call Dr G., believes very strongly in the importance of the library and its resources for student success, so we have been doing hour-long (approximately) sessions that cover reminders about citation and plagiarism with more in-depth coverage of our main business database and other related sources (depending on the course focus). What makes these sessions even more valuable is that, because we have access to teleconferencing software, we are able to offer these sessions live. I set up and run the meeting room, which allows us to start with a PowerPoint presentation but also switch back and forth to screen-sharing so I can demonstrate databases and other online resources. The Chat feature enables the students who attend the live session to not only respond to our questions but also use the opportunity to ask questions of their own. Since the professor and I lead the session together, they ask questions about their course content and about using library and other information resources.
Since these are online classes, we understand that not everyone is able to attend the live session as scheduled. The software allows us to record the meeting in all its details, so the students can see and hear everything that happened. Dr. G. has a great way of making sure that most (if not all) of the students actually watch the session who did not attend: he asks 5 questions spaced throughout the session, providing the answers at the same time. These are not course-related questions, though–they’re somewhat silly, personal questions about him that students are not able to guess or find by Googling. (Example: what was his first non-elementary-school role in a theater production?)
The turnouts for these sessions are, of course, less than we would prefer, but there is no way we could schedule the sessions when all the students would be available. We just had our 3 sessions for this quarter, and 1 session had no students attend. Dr. G. and I still ran through the session, recording it, since all the students are required to watch it (although it went a little more quickly with no student questions). The third session this quarter had the best turnout I remember–9 of the 25 were there from the beginning, with a 10th student logging in late.
For the students that do manage to attend, we have always had positive feedback about the relevance of the sessions. I know there have been several students who have taken more than one class with this professor–and have still come to subsequent live sessions rather than simply watch the recording. (Sure, they may feel obligated to attend if possible, but we like to hope they appreciate the additional time with us and the resources and the chance to ask questions. It probably doesn’t hurt that Dr. G. started as a musical theatre major so he is rather entertaining.)
In addition to the normal “thank you” and “this was helpful/useful” comments, almost every session a student remarks that “I wish I had gotten this information earlier.” I consider that my challenge to continue to reach out to the other faculty members who teach online classes–but who do not utilize the librarian services…yet.
*Part of the title for this post is a modification of what Dr. G. has started to say in the sessions…bringing the library into their living rooms