In the traditional Hope on campus environment, a librarian is typically invited to deliver various levels of instruction in classrooms or asked to bring students into the library to complete research assignments. For some courses, such as English Composition, the librarian collaborates with the professors on an assignment to identify specific learning outcomes to focus the library instruction toward desired information literacy learning objectives. Some professors simply request that she to teach a particular skill or introduce students to a specialized reference work or study tool. Others do not require in-course instruction services but count on librarians being accessible and approachable to students in the library.
At Hope, we strive to provide library resources and services to our online students the same as we do for our students on campus. However, the welcoming place created on campus where the library staff is friendly and approachable is difficult to replicate online. We hope that with personal familiarity with a librarian as an available approachable person in the online environment will foster a student’s comfort with and entitlement to library resources and services.
We have chosen two courses to pilot this program this fall: HDV1100 Strategies for Success and ENG1100 English Composition. An ASK THE LIBRARIAN page with the librarian’s photo, brief bio, and an invitation to ask her questions has been added to these courses.
Strategies for Success is the first class that an adult HopeOnline undergraduate student takes. It is designed to equip new online students with strategies for academic success and has been identified as a key course for teaching information literacy skills. We anticipate a high level of participation by the librarian in this course. Online tutorials have been developed specifically for students in this course to demonstrate how to find basic library resources through our library. This will be key to developing confidence in their ability to do the kind research required in future classes.
Since the librarian and faculty of the English Composition course have already developed a strong collaborative relationship, this course will allow us to test the effectiveness of an embedded librarian in an eCompanion – the online component for a course taught on campus. Her online presence in this course will facilitate a pathway to assistance for freshmen who might otherwise be reticent to seek help or ask questions in person.
An evaluation at the end of the term, including student perceptions and learning outcomes, will inform our decisions about whether and how to implement the program in subsequent terms.