Dec 26, 2008 by Information Technology Editorial Board
This site has a rich quantity of stand-alone modules addressing various resources available in a library and resources for successful learning. The modules are arranged by type of course such as college orientation, research skills,English composition, institution/department specific and library work/study instruction. Some modules include exercises and tests. All modules are available in HTML form in addition to other formats such as Flash movie, PowerPoint or Camatasia file. Flash movie source is available for many modules. There is a tutorial, not for the faint of heart, explaining how to modify the Flash source module. In addition there is a storyboard in PowerPoint, a tutorial about CLIP (Cooperative Library Instruction Project), resource tools and implementation steps. Modules and tests can be integrated into course management software according to the site. Powerpoint presentations can be downloaded over dial up lines. There are 31 modules, all of which can stand by themselves.
This module is an essential overview of library resources, search techniques, and appropriate citation of materials aimed at students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science of Organizational Leadership (BSOL) at Northeastern University. It does apply, however, to all students.
One of the very strong points about this site is that all objectives for EACH lesson are stated in the introduction and refreshed at the end.
The goals are to teach the students and to have them apply the following to their work:
Using library resources such as ebscohost, ebrary, and netlibrary
In addition, there are separate subject tutorials provided by instructors of courses such as English Comp 101 or Nursing.
The learning goal is to familiarize the student with library and learning
Target Student Population:
The target student population is the college student however some these modules could be used in a high school environment.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Familiarity with common Internet terms such as: URL,
Basic computer literacy, including the ability to navigate between different screens and to download as well as install free players (Flash),
the ablity to bookmark a page and to return to it later, a rough idea of a project to produce, famliiarity with online search databases, famliarity with a university or college library,the ablility to create screenshots (not necessary but useful if a learner needs to take notes during the tutorial).
Type of Material:
The tutorial material is in animation form. The alternative form is images and graphics.
Highly recommend for anyone enrolled in the school studying and doing research. I would further recommend this very nice tutoral (especially plagiarism, google, URL evaluation, research strategy) to anyone, including graduate students, university or college staff, and general public. This is an excellent refresher especially for those who constantly use Google.
The introductory site note is flash player. I would recommend installing the latest version (9), available freely from Adobe. com (do a search for flash player). Users will need Internet Explorer or Firefox though this module seems to work better in Internet Explorer. Fast connections are also recommended. Technical requirements include a computer with monitor, a Flash enabled browser and PowerPoint support.
Evaluation and Observation
Most of the tutorials are in text and audio delivery. The information is clear and well presented. The tutorials adhere to some of the Bill 508 requirements. Very strong module: 1. Very clear tutorials. I enjoyed going through them. 2. Nice clean layout 3. Objectives are very clear and stated before each module 4. Good use of examples.
Flash presentations have some challenges rendering screen shots. The quality of the audio varies between modules. On some of the HTML presentations, the text wrote over the button pop up labels. The PowerPoints need a style guide for consistency (titles, crowding, etc). Not all of the files marked as PowerPoint were PowerPoint files. For the visually impaired, the buttons do not announce themselves in the Flash modules.
The navigation could be improved; it is not very intuitive. For example, there are the following buttons for each module: BACK, REPlAY, NEXT. I did not find these intuitive. It would have been helpful to have a PAUSE button to hit right in the middle of the chapter, if necessary, or, at least, to have the following: BACK, PAUSE, REPLAY, FORWARD. It may have been helpful to have this naviation for each chapter. Perhaps hotspots could be used for "jumping" to a URL or a chapter (if the authors used Camtasia or Captivate).
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Of the non-institution specific modules, the combination of tutorial, exercise and test, make some of these modules very suitable as teaching tools. Other modules might be used as reference material.
These tutorials are very effective in teaching the solid basics of research and orientation to the library.
I would ask the authors to include PDF files along with these tutorials because some users may prefer to have the documentation for reading and printing in addition to 24/7 access of the flash file (see example at techsmith.com Camtasia/Snagit tutorials).
In addition, the voiceovers sound a little "robotic." There may be a slight issue with the sound file but the users may need to listen to the narration for a little bit before getting used to it.
Not all modules have exercises and tests.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The design of the tutorials lends them to ease of use by students.
Some modules had a lengthly download. Not all Flash modules contained an audio track. Not all visuals rendered well on the screen.