“The potential benefits of online tutorials are many. Instruction can be scaled, increasing the ability of library staff to reach large groups of students. The variety and styles of web-based tutorials can accommodate different learning styles by using image, audio, and text simultaneously or in combination (Hook). Tempelman-Kluit found online tutorials to be a potential way to “reach those users who cannot or will not come into the library.” Because such users are increasingly able to fulfill academic assignments using full-text resources found online, and because users are increasingly expecting to be able fulfill assignments utilizing online resources, libraries find that online tutorials make sense in terms of adapting instruction to users’ needs. Those same users often have expectations about access in a time frame that doesn’t incorporate waiting for answers, or visiting the library to ask a question during hours the reference staff is traditionally available:

“Online tutorials are a lifeline when reference assistance is unavailable or when a user is accessing library resources from off site . . . [they] allow users to learn when it is most convenient for them to do so. And because tutorials are self-teaching, they allow a patron to internalize information at his or her own pace.“ (Hook)

Additionally, online tutorials, when teaching skills related to online resources, take advantage of situated cognition. Hook writes, “knowledge should be acquired in the same context in which it will be used.” Placing users on the computer, within the browser they will use to access online resources, and where they can instantly put to use what they have learned, makes educational sense.”

The text above is the beginning of a section of an Independent Study that one of my former students, Sara Zoe Patterson, completed over the summer ’07 semester. The completion of this (including a nice bib/webliography) and several examples of how she incorporated screencasts/online tutorials into a school library/media center homepage can be found:
http://eden.rutgers.edu/%7Esarazoe/howto/

I’m sharing this for a few reasons:

  1. I like her bibliography/webliography as it list some great sources of research in this area and, to me, goes a long way to take screencasting and online tutorials from the “flashy” to the necessary.

  2.  She makes use of a technology called Jing. While we both have our reservations about this service; I think it’s one we should keep an eye on.

  3. She also makes use of Spresent, another technology that I think is worth a look.

  4. Lastly, I think her work shows nice specific uses of the technology in a school library/media center environment

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