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TL v59n2: Creating a Library Orientation for the iPod Generation
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Tennessee Libraries 

Volume 59 Number 2



 Creating a Library Orientation for the iPod Generation


Virginia Cairns
Toni Carter Dean

University of Tennessee, Chattanooga

TLA 2009 Conference Program Abstract: Instruction librarians at UTC created an iPod-based library orientation program, incorporating movies, music, screen captures, and even a bit of gaming to positively impact a student's first encounter with an academic library. This is their story.

That's what we need....iPods!

About 3 years ago, a bunch of us at UTC were sitting in a webcast dealing with emerging technologies in college libraries. About midway through the webcast, there was a striking photo of students participating in the Duke University iPod Initiative. There they were, walking across the beautiful, green, Duke campus with their iPods on, listening to course lectures in the coolest of formats. At the time, iPods were still pretty new and most of us did not even have one. I was sitting next to Jason Griffey, our Head of Library IT, and he and I looked at each other and said “THAT’S what we need. iPods!” We met about it later and talked over several ideas about using iPods in our library instruction program. We decided we were really serious about pursuing the idea, but we needed money.

We are fortunate at UTC to have a number of different teaching, instructional support and faculty development grant programs. That year, there was an initiative to fund “Student Success” grants and so that was the avenue we pursued.  We drafted a proposal that outlined a broad plan to use iPods to increase student engagement by shifting some of our instruction course content to a more convenient, student-friendly format. We requested in the neighborhood of $15,000 to purchase 30 video iPods, a large screen iMac, assorted peripherals and protective cases for the iPods so they could be circulated safely. We were thrilled when an acceptance email arrived 6 weeks later. We were actually going to do an iPod program in our library!

So what are we going to use them for?                     

So once we realized we actually had the money to do this thing, we sat down to try and get our head around what type of program we should create that would be the best use of the iPod and would also produce maximum benefit for the students.  UTC has a really robust instruction program, with content ranging from first year composition to graduate level seminars. The course that seemed the best fit was the USTU101 First Year Experience. In this course, students explore the library as part of learning to navigate their first semester in college. The library session we had formerly taught for this group was an introduction to the locations, services, people and resources in the Lupton Library.

We spent some time brainstorming a concept for the new program. We started out thinking we would do a movie with a “theme” like the popular CSI shows. But we soon realized we were novice film makers and had little chance of actually creating something that elaborate. We settled on a museum tour idea since it fit well with the goal of the program: explore the library. Once we had the overall theme, we set about creating a master list of all the information about the library that we would like to include in the tour. The list was way too long and ambitious (over 100 items!) so we prioritized each item with a 1, 2 or 3 and this made it quite easy to identify those “core” pieces of information that were most crucial to student success in the first year of college.

Lights, Camera, Action!       

None of the instruction librarians at the Lupton Library had ever made a film before. We had a student worker at the time that was familiar the Mac and video editing, and she helped us get started. Working from the master list of areas to be covered, we simply walked around the building filming segments showing each of the locations, resources, services or equipment we wanted included. We then downloaded all of the clips to the Mac and imported them into iMovie. Once the clips were arranged in the right order, effects, transitions, captions, music and a narration had to be added to complete the project. The arranging and editing of the movie was by far the most time consuming part of the entire process. It can take hours of editing to create just one minute of film. In the case of our movie, it took one librarian working steadily for most of the summer to create our 10 minute movie covering 3 floors of the library.

Putting it all together:

So once we had a movie, then we had to decide how to piece that together into a program that covered all that we wanted to accomplish. We knew there were a few of instructional components that we wanted to retain from previous USTU101 assignments and there were also a few things we wanted to add as enhancements. We wanted to be sure to incorporate a quiz, in order to assess how the students learned using the iPod format. We also wanted to add some sort of a puzzle or game element to encourage the students to complete all parts of the activity. Our Dean wanted us to include some introduction to the Library website and finally we wanted to insure that students still had face to face contact with librarians at the reference desk.

The simplest way to quiz the 750 students enrolled in the program was to use the Test Manager component within Blackboard, the UTC course management system. We created an “Organization” called USTU101 Library and added a quiz for each section to the organization. In order to add a game component, we decided on a series of clues throughout the building that tour participants would gather as they watched the movie and visited each location. We created 4 different sets of color-coded clues and 4 different color-coded guide sheets to go with the clues in order to discourage cheating and encourage students to complete all parts of the program on their own. The clues were letters and the object was to unscramble the letters to form a word. All of the words pertained to Chattanooga, to give the puzzle a local flair.

In order to introduce the library website, we created a short screen cast that covered all of the basic sections of the website and also showed students how to get help through our “Ask A Librarian” service. Watching the screencast was one of the “stops” on the library tour, so students learned how to logon to the library PCs in the process. To insure that students actually got to meet one of the librarians, the last stop on the tour was a visit to the reference desk for a “prize” and instructions on how to access the quiz in Blackboard.

We loaded the movie onto all 25 iPods, created a loan rule to check them out to students (3 hours at a time, in house use only), placed colorful clues around the building, shared the new program format with all of the reference librarians who would be meeting students at the desk and then got prepared to take the program to the faculty.

Launching the Program:

Armed with a movie, a puzzle and a quiz, we held an orientation for all of the USTU101 instructors and introduced the iPod concept. The unusual format of the program took some explaining, since most of the instructors were only familiar with our original face to face classroom orientation program. In order to insure that students had a thorough introduction to the new program, we scheduled a 15 minute overview with each section of USTU101 the week before they were to do the tour. With only 25 iPods, we were concerned that too many students showing up at once would deplete the supply, so we scheduled no more than 3 sections per week to go through the program.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned:

The program ran fairly smoothly throughout the fall and spring semesters. Perhaps the most difficult thing to deal with was downloading and distributing the quiz results to the faculty. Because we had to use the “Organization” feature to run the course (rather than actually being instructors in each section of the course) , the test results were not easily broken out by section and student name. In the future we hope to identify a better means of testing and distributing grades for the program.

The grades indicate that for the most part students learned the content we hoped they would.   Blackboard provided the capability of examining results for each of the 20 questions asked. With each question totaling 5 points, the average score for the majority of questions was 4 and above.   The lowest score, a 2.65, was earned on the question “The circulating book collection is located on which floor?”   We believe this may have been a semantics problem, in that students did not understand the term circulating.

Participation level was also examined since students were given more responsibility to complete the activity on their own than in previous years.    The exact total enrolled in USTU101 was 749. By checking the number of quizzes completed as well as the number of guide sheets turned back in, we measured about an 80% participation level. In addition we asked a couple of informal feedback questions about the new iPod format. Over 80% indicated they liked the iPod forma t and found it easy to use.

A comparison of statistics between the iPod tour and a more traditional library class is necessary. Only through this type of assessment can we truly measure the actual impact of the iPods, positive or negative, on the learning experience. Hopefully this will be accomplished in the near future.

Lessons Learned: 

We learned many things in the course of creating and implementing this program. Adequate communication and training is essential when beginning any program that involves technology that is completely new to faculty and staff. We sent extra reminders to both faculty and library staff throughout the term to keep everyone on the same page and there was still occasional confusion on the part of everyone from students to faculty to librarians. On the technology front, we learned that it is essential to write the script first before filming any segments; we ended up with several film clips that were too short to include a narration that covered all that we wanted to mention. In hindsight we would take the script with us when filming to insure that there is sufficient time on the tape for all the necessary information to be included. We also learned that our clues and puzzle were probably too simple as most students solved them before they even came to the library! Next time we might consider creating a different means of insuring that students stop at every destination on the tour. And finally, we found Blackboard to be a frustrating system to use for hosting the quiz and processing grade results, simply because there were so many sections of the course and we had to manage hundreds of individual student scores that were consolidated through a single organization rather than managing the scores for each section separately. In the future, we hope that our Library IT department can help us create a simpler, easier means of offering a quiz and sharing test results with individual faculty one section at a time.

What will the future bring?

Things rarely stay the same for long at UTC and the coming year is no exception. USTU101 is changing formats and will be transformed over the summer into a one-credit-hour course rather than a three-credit-hour course. The iPod program is scheduled to continue within the context of this new course but we do not know exactly how it will be integrated into the new curriculum. The other exciting prospect for the iPods is to use them as an alternate means for students to read high-demand books that may be freely available through Project Gutenberg or Google Books.  We hope to install e-book readers and circulate the iPods with copies of certain texts that are assigned to large numbers of students (for example, The Illiad). This should improve access for our students during peak assignment season. All of us in the Reference and Instruction Department at UTC look forward to continuing our iPod experiment in the coming year as we look for ways to improve what we do with this exciting new instructional format.

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