The design of the Wilson's Library Literature Online tutorial.

Author:Bianco, Cecile


The Wilson's Library Literature Online tutorial (LLOT) was designed for the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College for the Master's level class LIS 408, User Instruction. This paper, which accompanies the tutorial, will do the following:

* Provide background on the institution.

* Summarize findings from a literature review of use of library tutorials at the graduate level.

* Discuss the planning and the needs assessment for the tutorial.

* Discuss the educational strategies used in the tutorial and its strategic design based on the literature review.

* Propose an evaluation form for the tutorial.

* Propose a hypothetical budget for the tutorial.

The Institution

The Graduate School of Library and Information Science is part of Simmons College, a women's college founded in 1899 with approximately 1,300 undergraduate students granting Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Graduate programs offered include physical therapy, nutrition, nursing, health-care administration, children's literature, English, French, liberal studies, Spanish, social work, and management (Peterson's annual guides/undergraduate study, 2004).

The Master's program is a graduate, co-educational Master's of Science, which requires 36 semester units to complete. There are three required courses:

* Reference/Information Services, which covers provision of reference services in a library and also core reference sources.

* Organization of Knowledge, which covers cataloging and classification.

One of:

* Management

* The Role of Research, which covers how to identify and investigate research questions, and how to read and evaluate a research paper (Simmons GSLIS Master of Science, 2004).

Students in the program can choose from a general set of electives including academic, public, or special libraries, web publishing, children's/youth librarianship, etc. or they can choose from the following concentrations:

* Archives Management

* School Media Management

* Competitive Intelligence

* Preservation Management

There are about 600 students typically enrolled in each of the Fall and Spring semesters and about 300 in the summer. In 2002, the school graduated 215 Master's degrees (Peterson's Graduate Programs, 2004).

The School also offers a Doctor of Arts degree in Library and Information Science. This degree is designed for experienced librarians to learn administration and management. It requires 60 credit hours, a supervised Field Research of 4 units, and a comprehensive examination (Simmons GSLIS, Doctor of Arts, 2004).

The Library

The GSLIS Library contains approximately 25,000 monographs, 10,000 bound periodicals and 59,000 microforms (Bridget Capobianco, GSLIS Library Assistant, Personal Communication, 2004): it also has access to about 101 electronic databases (Simmons Colleges Libraries, 2004).

The GSLIS Library offers bibliographic instruction workshops every semester. These are one-hour workshops geared toward library science students. They are hands-on training sessions and include sessions on:

* Simmons' OPAC

* Wilson's Library Literature

* LISA: Library and Information Science Abstracts

* ISTA: Information and Science Technology Abstracts

* InfoTrac's Expanded Academic

* Dialog Classic

* How to find journals and journal articles.

Staff of the Simmons College Libraries includes:

* Director who oversees all other departments/librarians

* Administrative Assistant for the director.

* Associate Director for Public Services, who oversees 3 librarians and 3 library assistants

* Associate Director for Technical Services/Cataloging Librarian, who oversees 5 librarians and 2 library assistants.

* One archivist and 6 subject specialist librarians, who collectively oversee 3 library assistants.

The GSLIS Collection is one of the collections of the Simmons College Libraries and is managed by the GSLIS Librarian. The department also includes two full-time library assistants (one of which splits time with the GSLIS West campus) and 7 part time student library assistants (Bridget Capobianco & Gary Atwood, Personal Communication, 2004).

Literature Review

Because graduate students may need to write theses and dissertations, it is crucial for them to learn how to use the library. The University of Maryland University College and the Northridge campus of the California State System are two institutions that have information literacy requirements in some of their graduate programs (Kelly, Orr, and Houck, 2001; Curzon, 2002). Issues of design of online tutorials for graduate students have been addressed by Ardis & Hass (2001), and Holmes (2003).

Graduate students differ from undergraduate students in several ways:

1. They are more heterogeneous in nationality, background, citizenship and age (Edwards, 2000)

2. They are older and so have a greater interest in the course material and in learning and less concern about grades than younger students (Claxton and Murrell, 1987).

3. They are more likely to live off campus or be distance education students.

4. They are more likely to be required to do a thesis or dissertation.

5. They do not often ask others for help (Prestamo 1998; Onwuegbuzie, 1998).

These differences point to online education as a good way to address the special needs of graduate students. Teaching library resources in person to a heterogeneous group can be difficult if they all have different skill levels: with an online program, each one can go at his/her own pace. An online course can be done at any time and at home. The person does not have to ask others questions that might betray lack of knowledge. There, online instruction would be able to capture these students in ways that in-person instruction could not.

Because computer education is one-way, and lacks human interaction, design issues become very important. The program should explain things in an understandable way, have a goal for what the student will learn in the timeframe of the tutorial, provide examples, and test the student for understanding. Nancy Dewald (1999) addressed best practices in the design and content in...

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