Creating an online tutorial to develop academic and research skills

Sara L Thornes
2012, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 82-95

Abstract


This paper explores an approach to creating an online tutorial to support postgraduate distance learners in the School of Geography at the University of Leeds. The process used by the author, the subject librarian for geography, is described through the planning and design stages, to development and application, and finally evaluation and future uses of the tutorial.

The aim of the tutorial was to provide a resource students could use to improve and develop their information literacy (IL) and academic skills, addressing the process of producing a written assignment, from planning, to search tools and techniques, to reading and critical thinking, through to writing up and referencing. In planning and designing the tutorial, the content covered in the face-to-face workshop for postgraduate students on finding, managing and evaluating information was reviewed, and information on Library support for distance learners added. To accommodate differing learning styles, and encourage learning by doing, activities such as drag-and-drop exercises, quizzes and videos were used. A learning technologist was consulted for advice on look and feel, navigation and techniques to improve interactivity.

The tutorial was made available via the VLE and students were encouraged by their tutor to look at the tutorial and fill in a short feedback survey. Obtaining qualitative feedback from students in an online environment proved challenging, and ultimately was a major limitation in providing a thorough evaluation of the tutorial. There were also difficulties in obtaining quantitative data on use of the tutorial. With little evidence of whether the tutorial had been helpful to students, or had enabled them to improve their information literacy skills, decisions as to its continuation had to be made based on feedback from academic staff and the perceived benefits, identified by library staff, of reusing the tutorial as a resource to support face-to-face workshops.

While not every IL practitioner will have access to the software used (Articulate), or have the assistance of a learning technologist, the principles of developing online tutorial learning materials, the advice from the learning technologist, and the explanation of limitations and lessons learned will be of interest to any library professional or IL practitioner wishing to create online learning resources.

 


Keywords


information literacy, academic skills, e-learning, learning technologist, online learning, higher education; UK; England

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