Recently I was asked my thoughts on how to go about embedding library instruction into learning management systems (LMS). Questions ranged from is it doable to is it sustainable? The answer to these questions and more is yes!
Embedding library instruction into an LMS can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it.
Strategy: Create a library page within the LMS
At the very least, you should talk to your LMS administrator about creating a library page that is accessible in the system regardless of the course. It serves as a resource page that when clicked links students to library resources. Once the link is embedded into the LMS, the issue is one of webpage creation and maintenance. Often times this page is a general information page from the library’s website. The LMS administrator will just need the URL.
Strategy: Become a “TA” in a course
A library webpage accessible in an LMS system is great but it doesn’t really hit the mark when it comes to embedding yourself in terms of instruction. Another easy step, is to talk to your faculty about gaining TA access that would allow you to create a content page within an individual class. This content page could include basic contact information, maybe a few databases that would be specific to the course or an introduction to you and a link to your course guide. This type of content page within a course would need to be spot-checked every couple of years to ensure the information is accurate and relevant. Keep in mind that links to webpages are not as permanent as we would like. The more links that you include, the more maintenance you will need to do to ensure that the URLs are still working.
Strategy: Create a lesson in a course
With TA access, you can build upon the easy step above and actually create a lesson. This type of content creation is usually connected to or presented as a homework assignment and generally takes the form of “reading lectures”. You can make them more engaging by including links to videos and other multimedia. This type of content creation is usually connected to or presented as a homework assignment. It can include quizzes that are created inside the LMS itself which can be connected to the gradebook to provide credit/no credit or a grade for completing a homework assignment. If you are going to this level, you need to be sure that you are creating content in conjunction with the faculty. Remember you are a guest in their classroom and you would need to make sure that the content you create is meeting the learning objectives/goals of the faculty. Maintenance at this level is generally a yearly spot-check to make sure your content is still current, relevant and that links are still working. Additionally you may be contacted at anytime if students run into technical problems when accessing your content.
Strategy: Create tutorials and embed them within the LMS to be captured in the gradebook
If you are tech savvy and have the time and resources, you can actually use rapid authoring tools to embed a library tutorial inside a learning management system and connect it to the gradebook. This may take the cooperation of your LMS administrator as well as TA access. When thoughtfully designed, a tutorial could take the place of in-person instruction. This option is similar to the one above only the material presented in a tutorial can become interactive and engaging in a way that “reading lectures” do not. Generally a library tutorial will be connected to or presented as a homework assignment as well. These types of tutorials take time to develop and are done in partnership with the faculty. The workload is front-loaded and because the faculty is an active participant in the design, it is unlikely they will want to make changes to it regularly. Our online tutorials are on a 2 year review cycle. Additionally you should plan on being the technical support contact in the event student runs into technical problems or user issues.
Whether you want to just get your feet wet by adding a contact page to a class with a link to your course guide or jump right in and create a tutorial, there are many ways in which you can become a part of the online classroom environment. The key is building a relationship with your faculty so that s/he is comfortable with you becoming a part of their online classroom much like you would do for the traditional classroom.
If one of the strategies interests you, feel free to contact us through the Learning Services Consultation form.