Customizing and using a popular online information literacy tutorial: one library's experience.

Author:Flatley, Robert


Online information literacy tutorials are becoming increasingly popular. Many colleges and universities use a version of TILT (the Texas Information Tutorial) or Searchpath, a modification of TILT by Western Michigan University. Both of these popular tutorials are made available through an "open license" arrangement, which means individuals may download the tutorial files and modify them as needed. This paper describes our experience customizing Searchpath for Kutztown University's Rohrbach Library. The impetus behind the project, the process of customizing Searchpath, the project pilot, our collaborative efforts, and challenges encountered are reviewed. We also discuss why we selected Searchpath rather than TILT, how Kutztown's version of tutorial is currently being used, and our future plans for the product. We offer suggestions to those considering Searchpath for their libraries.

Like other academic libraries, Kutztown librarians struggled with the transition from a bibliographic instruction (BI) to an information literacy (IL) model. We had many meetings and included classroom faculty in the development of our information literacy plan. We decided to incorporate a web-based information literacy tutorial to supplement our in class instruction. The English Department faculty graciously agreed to pilot our online tutorial in their composition courses.

We did not envision completion of the web tutorial as an end in itself. The tutorial presents basic college-level techniques for good research before students visit the library for additional instruction. After students complete the tutorial, professors are encouraged to schedule library-training sessions when their students are assigned a research project. We feel this approach maximizes the benefits of online and face-to-face instruction.

Two online training options were considered--building our own tutorial or modifying an existing one. After some debate, we decided to modify TILT for pragmatic reasons. The decision to use Searchpath was made after attending a conference in which two colleagues presented their work converting TILT for their library. Their biggest regret was that they had not used Searchpath. The learning modules in TILT are divided into three broad categories whereas Searchpath is di-vided into six. They felt six was a much more workable arrangement. They observed that because the TILT modules were longer, students tended to lose interest. The individual Searchpath modules could be completed in a much shorter timeframe and the division of material allows more stopping points, if needed.

Kutztown University "Teachnology" program provided...

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