California Academic & Research Libraries
Fifth Annual Conference - Breakout Sesstion 3, September 20, 1997

New Service Opportunities:
Innovations in Reference, Instruction and Access*

Program Summary

The Student-Centered Electronic Teaching Library:
A New Model for Learning
(Paul T. Adalian, Jr., and Judy Swanson, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo)

Paul Adalian described San Luis Obispo's new facility, the Student-Centered Electronic Teaching Library (SET). Need for this kind of space arose from observations that an electronic teaching library requires an arrangement in which two to three people could be seated around a terminal, and could print and use online resources together.

The new facility, currently under construction, is not intended for 50-minute lectures but is primarily designed for weekly credit classes. Fifty minute sessions will meet in the room, but they will consist of hands-on experience with the terminals as well as with print sources. The room contains 5-foot wide tables placed in the middle. Two students sit across from each other (four students per table). The outside wall is ringed with computers on counters around the wall (the towers are under the counters), with lots of space around each monitor so the students can easily view one another's screens. White boards around the walls allow students to write their search statements on the board so their classmates may critique them. The room is colorfully decorated and completely insulated, although there is no air conditioning. It is located 25 ft from the Reference Desk; if it's not being used by a class students can use it as a lab.

Judy Swanson described the actual teaching done in this new facility as an activity which combines information competency with authoring. Entitled "Authoring and Teaching Multimedia", the course is popular (23 students last quarter, 18 this quarter) because it teaches what students really want to learn. The class is taught by the Library, and is supported by academic faculty. (Although there is a multimedia center on campus for faculty, it does not teach students.) One third of the class consists of lecture and demo; the second two thirds is hands-on practice and instruction The instructors can walk around and see everyone's screens easily.

The students learn web page layout and design using Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe PageMill, and html. (Evaluations at the end of the class included suggestions that in the future the two weeks' teaching of html be eliminated; learning to use PageMill was sufficient.) The students work together in groups of two to put together their Power Point presentations, and web sites. The materials they use are frequently based on the Senior Projects required of all Cal Poly seniors. Judy put together a web site for the class containing tutorials, tips, techniques, and sources for copyright-free graphics.

Students felt that future courses should better integrate the exploration and evaluation of sources with the creation of web sites and presentations. They also wanted more lab time, and more access to scanners.

The expected outcomes for the course are

Eventually, Paul and Judy plan to teach Micro Media Director, electronic design principles, and one-shot sessions on Power Point and web pages. They'll continue to maintain SET as a flexible, high-tech facility and student multimedia development center, but not at the expense of human interaction.

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Using information technology to support instruction:
an inside look at the checks and balances
(Don Bosseau, formerly San Diego State University )

According to Bosseau, university libraries are destined to become more than simply acadamic support services. Instead, they're in a position actually to deliver course materials. Many universities are working toward more efficient course delivery systems without relation to time and place; for example, distance education programs.

Access to research materials and information constitutes a gap in the delivery system, but the Internet and other forms of resource sharing have narrowed this gap. Electronic course reserves presents itself as a likely place to start. The library is already in the business; we're the main force on campus concerning itself with equity access, positive service attitudes, etc. We're the leaders, and we're already engaged in the relevent electronic technical stuff.

To begin offering electronic course reserves, the library must first set up a scanning system and scan all sorts of stuff the professors want, much of which is ephemeral material, e.g. memeographed sheets dating back to the 1950s. Then rudimentary indexing must be done to link the documents to the course. Students access the reserve materials at their workstations, in campus labs, and via the web site.

There may, of course, be potential intellectual property and copyright concerns. Fair use provisions concerning electronic course reserves are not clear-cut. Some campuses exclude anything which is copyrighted. Others get permission from the publishers; others "just do it."

The university administration may begin to question liabilities or printout costs, since students inevitably want a hard copy of their assignments, as well as the material itself. And bitmap images can be hard and slow to download. Some teaching faculty even put lecture notes on electronic reserve, as well as sample exams, etc. A few literally teach their courses this way--so the class time is spent working through the tougher questions and the more advanced material.

Clearly, this format is only a step away from providing entire course content via electronic reserve. Libraries must begin now to assert leadership in the area of distance education. Will the mission of academic libraries eventually be expanded to include preservation of course materials? It seems logical, if the course content itself is held in the library. Librarians are adjusting to the information age more readily than are some teaching faculty. Will libraries one day become the primary foci of courses?

A participant asked Bosseau why faculty would use the library's web page rather than their own. He responded that the library is staffed more hours, servers run the web site, and we can deliver better content. And a lot of professors aren't ready yet to do it themselves--for those, we can help. All this will be wildly costly: really snazzy electronic course content systems must be frequently updated. "Ultimate" multimedia course/reserve delivery systems are on their way to the marketplace now. Libraries are in a unique position to take a leadership role in the area of electronic course reserves. There are risks, but we can move ahead. "That's my position, and I'm sticking to it," Bosseau concluded.

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Interactive Reference Service (IRS) at UC Irvine:
expanding reference service beyond the reference desk
(Susan Lessick)

Lessick described the new reference videoconferencing project at UC Irvine as, so far, small, inexpensive, and lots of fun, with much potential.

Since Fall, 1996, UC Irvine science librarians have used videoconferencing at the reference desk to provide reference assistance to students working in a lab at the Medical Academic Computing Center about one half mile from the Library.

Equipped with a computer, videocamera and microphone at the reference desk, librarians can directly assist students with their projects, meeting them at their point of need. At Irvine there is a great deal of focus on technology--they plan to develop a digital library by 1999, and the IRS is part of the library's strategic plan.

Not much data is available on the use of interactive video, although it's widely used in medical services, in businesses, etc. At UCI the groundwork had already been laid, with most of the equipment and infrastructure in place. Almost all buildings are wired and connected via the campus infrastructure.

When the project began in the Fall of 1996, it was announced with banners, posters, and campus-wide anouncements. The goals of the project were to +

The service is offered from 1:00 to 2:00 each day. An extra librarian is on the reference desk at that time; he or she sits down five minutes before 1:00, dons headphones, and checks to be sure everything is working properly. Access to MELVYL, the online catalog, and Netscape is available. A videocamera on top of the screen films the librarian, whose image is then visible in the medical laboratory. Instructions are posted in the lab next to the computer.

At first, of course, there was some silliness--students passing the screen would, giggling, stick out their tongues at the camera. The first week there were no legitimate questions or interactions. The second week brought a better response, but usage was light. E-mail anouncements went out, and students were lured with a pizza party and a gift certificate at the campus bookstore. This worked. The following week about twenty questions were logged.

The initial testing didn't work well technically. Eventually they used a Power Mac (a 7100/80, 80MHz, 16 mb ram. 700 mb hard drive, running on MacOS7.5.5). In February, 1997, they began using another desktop videoconferencing application called Apple Video/Phone Kit with a document sharing capability called Timbuktu (this product was faster, with better color.)

On the screen the student sees the librarian in the upper right, the online catalog in the lower right, a chat tool window, and a shared board upon which the librarian or the student can send a home page, a URL, or images.

Typically, the librarians focus on Medline searching, advise students on searching strategies, or paste subject headings in the chat box so students can see the best way to formulate a search, all using combinations of verbal interchange and textual information.

Evaluation of the project has brought generally positive feedback. It's thought to be helpful to see the actual person. Students appreciate the convenience and the librarians' outreach efforts, but they feel the IRS workstation should be in a separate room. They also suggest that more publicity would help, and of course they complain that it's still necessary to come to the library and find the article; they wonder if full-text document delivery will be forthcoming. The librarians involved suggest a larger monitor than the 16 inch model in use. An audio cue would be helpful so librarians know when a student is ready to start an interview. Also a headset with a built-in microphone would help to reduce self-consciousness.

The project will definitely continue, with plans to expand it to another facility at a satellite campus in Orange County, sixteen miles away.

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submitted by recorder
Judy Clarence
Media/Music Library
California State University Hayward
Hayward CA 94542
(510) 885-3780