A Way to Reach All of Your Students: The Course Management System

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Simon Fraser University]On: 15 November 2014, At: 18:58Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Journal of Library & Information Servicesin Distance LearningPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wlis20

    A Way to Reach All of Your Students: TheCourse Management SystemLeslie G. Adebonojo aa Charles C. Sherrod Library , East Tennessee State University ,Johnson City , Tennessee , USAPublished online: 14 Sep 2011.

    To cite this article: Leslie G. Adebonojo (2011) A Way to Reach All of Your Students: The CourseManagement System, Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, 5:3, 105-113,DOI: 10.1080/1533290X.2011.605936

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  • Journal of Library & Information Servicesin Distance Learning, 5:105113, 2011Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1533-290X print / 1533-2918 onlineDOI: 10.1080/1533290X.2011.605936

    A Way to Reach All of Your Students:The Course Management System

    LESLIE G. ADEBONOJOCharles C. Sherrod Library, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee, USA

    Due to a shortage of librarians to teach classes coupled with agrowing student body, librarians at East Tennessee State University(ETSU) decided to explore alternative means to deliver instruction.Their charge was to supplement traditional classroom instructionby utilizing ETSUs course management system (Desire2Learn, D2L)to inform students about resources and search techniques. Theycreated a D2L module consisting of short films and documentsabout the library that faculty could add to their course sites. Thispaper outlines the process of selecting topics, creating materials forthe module, and promoting the module to faculty.

    KEYWORDS course management system, tutorials, orientation

    INTRODUCTION

    East Tennessee State University (ETSU) is a midsize university with over15,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Approximatelyone third of our student population participates in online classes or onlinedegree programs. ETSU has a Medical Library which serves the medicalschool and related health fields and the Charles C. Sherrod Library whichserves the undergraduate population and the non-medical school graduateprograms. Sherrod library has four reference librarians devoted to providinglibrary instruction and reference services. Eight additional librarians help atthe reference desk and contribute to the LibGuides program. Librarians atETSU have been creating LibGuides since 2009 for all library instructionclasses as well as for other classes when requested by a professor. TheLibGuides inventory for individual classes includes most English and otherhumanities courses. In order to better serve students who cannot come to

    Address correspondence to Leslie G. Adebonojo, Charles C. Sherrod Library, East Ten-nessee State University, Lake Street & Seehorn Road, Johnson City, TN 37614, USA. E-mail:adebonol@etsu.edu

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    the library, general subject LibGuides have been created to facilitate use oflibrary resources.

    With the LibGuides program well established, the librarians agreed upona new goalto better market library resources while teaching students searchtechniques. Due to staffing constraints, they wanted to decrease the teachingburden on all librarians. After looking at the tools already available throughthe ETSUs online systems, they decided to focus on D2L as a means ofdelivering library content.

    Their reasons were fourfold:

    1. All ETSU students have access to this course management system.2. At the present time, every D2L site has a link to the librarys Web site on

    its homepage. While this quick link is fine for students who know how toutilize the links on the homepage to find information, it is inadequate formost students.

    3. Sherrod Library has experience with using D2L for training graduate as-sistants and student workers.

    4. The undergraduate student services librarian enrolled in a faculty technol-ogy leadership class and could develop content as part of her assignmentsfor this class. These assignments involved learning how to develop Webtools, create podcasts using tools such as Camtasia and Audacity, incor-porate student response systems in the classroom, and create content in aD2L site.

    Since the target audience for this content was the entire student body,whether on or off campus, the initial plan involved enrolling all 15,000students in a Sherrod Library D2L site. The undergraduate student serviceslibrarian discussed the plan with Academic Technology Support. ATS is theunit responsible for providing ETSUs faculty and academic staff with train-ing, resources, and support needed to use technology in their teaching andresearch. ATS discouraged this plan for fear that ETSUs entire system wouldcrash if a significant percentage of our students decided to access the samepart of the module at the same time. They encouraged her to think aboutways to place library content into already existing sites. With help from theATS staff the undergraduate student services librarian developed a moduleon the library that faculty could download into their D2L sites.

    D2L is a flexible tool that allows professors to embed content in avariety of formats (such as video, PowerPoint, and print documents), so thatthey can best accomplish their educational goals. D2Ls course managementsystem has a toolbar which includes: course home, content, checklist (a wayfor students to keep up with assignments), discussion boards, dropbox forsubmitting work, assessments/tests, and grades. The librarians developed abank of questions making a quiz available for professors. The librarian as

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  • A Way to Reach All of Your Students 107

    the creator of the content has full editorial capability until it is downloadedby the instructor. After it is downloaded the course site instructors have thesole ability to modify the content to suit their class needs. For example, ifprofessors prefer to use their own material on the criteria for peer-reviewedjournals, they can add it to the module.

    LITERATURE REVIEW

    One method of supplementing or replacing library instruction is through theuse of online tutorials. As Shiao-Feng Su and Jane Kuto have discoveredthrough their study of 37 Web-based information literacy instruction tutorialsfrom twenty-five academic libraries, librarians have designed many versionsof information tutorials.1 Tutorial content analysis resolved itself into thefollowing three categories: academic tools, information literacy concepts,and orientation of library resources and services.2 These tutorials variedfrom 30 minutes to 2 1/2 hours in length, and seven percent had some sortof table of contents. These tutorials are obviously designed to be in-depthpresentations of one or more concepts to be learned in an independentsetting. Literacy tutorials can be part of larger, encompassing modules orstand alone as solitary teaching tools.

    A second approach to Web-based literacy tools is to create shorterinformation bites that quickly illustrate a simple concept. Lauren Pressslyat Wake Forest University created a toolkit of short videos, no more thantwo minutes long, to teach students a few basic skills.3 At Arizona StateUniversitys Noble Science and Engineering Library, Olivia Bautista Sparksis using five minute videos for library orientations, and to answer repeatonline questions, such as how to export references from PubMed to Ref-Works. They are also used to provide class instruction when librarians areunavailable.4

    Librarians at the University of Surrey created a fifteen-minute multimediatutorial to embed in the BSc and Diploma program of a pre-registrationmodule for nursing students. The tutorial covered selected online databasesand information on literature searching. Between launching the tutorial inJanuary and March there have been 320 hits, and the feedback has beenpositive.5

    Librarians at Harvard College Library developed a resource guide fortheir life science students. The first step was a generic page that was madewidely available. This covered resources for all the sciences and was targetedto undergraduates. However, this sciences page still was so broad that it wasnot really helpful for the life sciences. So the next step was a specific LifeSciences Toolkit, featuring such resources as PubMed and the Thomsondatabases including the Web of Science, BIOSIS, Zoological Record, CAB

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  • 108 L. G. Adebonojo

    Abstracts, etc. (p. 292).6 In 2009 the Toolkit page was added to the lifescience course sites.

    ETSU librarians discovered that they had the opposite problem from thescience librarians at Harvard; namely, that the resource guides were classspecific. Consequently, they needed to develop a more general packageof information for students that would include basic information on usinglibrary resources.

    METHOD

    Identifying general topics that would be suitable for any class (e.g., his-tory, biology, or Appalachian Studies) and for any level of students wasparamount. Since D2L could easily accommodate hundreds of pieces of in-formation, faculty had difficulty deciding on how much material to includein the module. With the help of the ATS staff, the outreach librarian wasable to settle on a limit of 1015 items for the module. In order to deter-mine the content for the videos, three reference librarians reviewed the datacollected from the reference desk, questions asked during library instructionclasses, and feedback from professors. Although they chose not to surveystudents, a survey of students at this point could also be a productive wayto identify topics for the module. The librarians decided on eight generaltopics: an introduction to the library; how to find course reserves (there aremany e-reserves as well as print materials on reserve); how to differentiatescholarly from popular articles (this topic is always requested by professorsfrom all departments across our campus); how to evaluate a Web site; howto find a book; how to find an article; how to use Google Scholar; and howto improve Internet search results with domain searching. They determinedthat including links to citation management tools and Purdues Online Writ-ing Lab would be valuable. Selected print materials from library instructionclasses were converted to PDF files and included in the module along withthe videos. The PDFs served as an alternative access point for the materialin the videos, which is imperative for students who have trouble viewingvideos due to dial-up Internet connections.

    An issue that needs to be addressed early in the planning process for themodule is whether to incorporate videos already in open access sites such asMERLOT (www.merlot.org) or ANTS (ants.wetpaint.com). Since these Websites cover topics of interest, it might be a better use of time to include someof their videos in the module. Creating a short video from scratch can betime consuming, especially for librarians with limited experience with videosoftware. ATS wants the faculty to create all of their own materials, so theETSU brand name will be associated with any intellectual material producedat the university. However, when confronted with the personnel constraints

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  • A Way to Reach All of Your Students 109

    in the library, they agreed that using some premade materials would be thebest solution.

    Once the content has been defined, there are other considerations thatwill help create a successful module:

    Audience An important part of the process in developing a module formass distribution is deciding who is the target audience. At ETSU thelibrarians wanted to reach all of the students at the university and inonline classes. They knew from feedback that the majority of studentsnever enter the physical library building and had minimal contact withlibrarians. The librarians determined online tutorials would be the bestway to reach students.

    Length of Videos The attention spans of many college students must beconsidered when deciding on how long videos should be. Todays gener-ation of college students has grown up with information technology andis used to information presented in short bits. Videos need to be brief andto the point, with a maximum duration of five minutes. There should beno long involved tutorials, but rather short snippets of information abouthow to use the library resource. Each video should have a quick tip onhow to use a library resource.

    Student Learning Styles Since there are many different learning styles, thelibrarians included documents as well as videos in the D2L module. How-ever, as most students would be able to absorb the information presentedin the videos, the majority of the information is presented in that format.For the Web site evaluation and for the explanation of scholarly vs. popularperiodicals, they included print material. These two topics are consistentlyat the top of professors lists on how to critically assess information, andthe librar...