Looking back on the fall semester – Instructional Design Intern

This semester as the Instructional Design Intern, I worked on developing educational material for students on the City Tech Library website. In particular, I focused on two major projects. The first was a research guide, built on Springshare’s LibGuide software, that provides students with basic information on how to conduct research in an academic setting. The guide was broken down into six parts: developing a research question; types of sources; finding books; finding articles; evaluating sources; and citations. These pages accommodate multiple learning styles, with text, visuals, search functions, quizzes, and games.

The second major project of this semester was a set of tutorials for the  library website. These tutorials focused on three topics: developing a research question; reading citations, and finding databases. The research question tutorial was fairly simple, consisting of a slideshow of the steps to take in order to develop a research question with a cartoon alongside of it. The cartoon depicted a knight following the steps being outlined to create a research question about dragons.
The second tutorial I developed was the Quest for the Citation Grail. This tutorial was built using Twine, a free non-linear storytelling platform, which allowed for multiple lines of inquiry for students that are all connected in one file. Students have the option from the beginning to start their quest for the grail or to learn more about citation styles. They have the option to explore MLA or APA, with a print book, online academic journal article, and a print newspaper article featured for each of them. Each type of citation is broken down step-by-step, including a highlighted real source example at the top of each page, a description of how each section is formatted, and an example of the section using descriptors rather than a real source. At the end of each citation type, students have the option to learn more about other types of citations or to go back to the quest.

The database tutorial is still a work in progress for next semester, but it will be a series of swiping games which will show students a short profile on each database that can help them make decisions about choosing one. This tutorial is based off of the idea of Tinder and other apps, where users can make rapid choices based on the brief information presented to them
Next semester I will be focusing on wrapping up the finding a database tutorial and on a user experience test of our tutorials. Updates on these projects will be available on the Library Buzz blog.

Swiping right on our databases – Instructional Design Intern

Academic Search Complete Profile
Good evening! Today, I had two main focuses. First was the database swiping game I have been working on. We have decided to change the profiles to have almost no text whatsoever. Students playing this game will not see a paragraph describing a given database, but will instead get a short list of types of materials in the database, the related subjects, full-text availability, and peer review availability. I also worked on fleshing out the text around the game so that students may better understand what it is they are looking at. This includes a link to a full list of databases in alphabetical order that are available at the City Tech library. Additionally, I included a shortened URL for each database (created on yourls.org) in the swiping game itself. This does not create a link for each database, but students can copy the URLinto their browser.
The second focus I had today was on the UX test for the spring. Nora and I are still developing a plan for this test, but I read up today on some of the thoughts behind incorporating user experience in instructional website design. In short, it is important to include user experience because students can more effectively learn the material that you are presenting. Hopefully Nora and I can get more details and will get the ball rolling on our IRB next week.
Have a great week!

Today was focused especially on the database tutorial. Like I mentioned last week, we’ve been focusing on a swiping game for students to use for finding the right database. I created a mock up of the game last week, and today I received feedback about the mock up. The biggest result was that we decided to go a little less text-heavy. This approach is not as informative, but will likely keep students’ interest longer and will hopefully grab their attention quickly. I used Glyphicons from Bootstrap as logos for different aspects of the databases, which should serve as visual clues for the students. I’ve also kept some text to very briefly explain each icon, but overall the design is very visual.
We are also thinking about next semester’s user test. Nora and I had a meeting with Junior Tidal about the possibilities for our method. Although we have not nailed down our exact methodology quite yet, we are thinking of having users complete the tutorial then try to act on the knowledge from the tutorial. For instance, we will have a user take the Citation Grail Quest, then identify parts of a more complicated citation. Another user would look at the LibGuide and try to identify parts of the same complicated citation. We hope to see which was more effective for teaching what we wanted to get across. We’ve set up a basic timeline for the coming user test, which will be carried out over the next few months. Hopefully by the end of this semester we’ll have a better sense of how we will approach our test.
Have a great evening!

Finally finding the citation grail! – Update from the Instructional Design Intern

After having a thoroughly turkeyed holiday weekend, I was happy to get back to work here at the City Tech Library. Today, I finally wrapped up the citation grail quest tutorial! We had a few bugs with the style sheets and I needed to rephrase a few things, but I think we’re good to go at last. Keep an eye out over the next week or so for its debut on the library website!
Knight with freed Grail
I also spent some time on the database tutorial today. We might be changing gears away from our subway map idea and instead thinking of databases in terms of dating profiles. Students need to know if a database has what they are looking for in a good match. A quick profile can tell them whether they need to swipe left or right on any given database, so I’m developing swiping games that students can use to find their database match. Hopefully we’ll be able to start featuring these on our website soon.
Have a great week!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Instructional Design Intern

Good evening! Today was another day full of tutorials. I spent most of my time focusing on the citation tutorial on Twine. We have a completed first draft, with some minor edits that I have been implementing this afternoon. Next week, we will be wrapping up the last two major edits and will be ready to style the tutorial and publish it soon after.
I’ve also dedicated some time today to planning the databases tutorial. We have been thinking especially about this subway map concept of databases, with different lines represent different databases that can take you to stops (articles) within various neighborhoods (disciplines) in particular boroughs (broader fields – science/tech; arts/humanities; professional studies). We’re still working through the platform to express this concept. I’m also considering other potential approaches, such as the game Guess Who or Pokémon cards, which might be helpful in representing the idea of databases. More on that tutorial in the future.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Nonstop tutorial action – Update from Instructional Design Intern

Good evening everyone! Today was nonstop tutorial action. I’m continuing to use Twine to develop the citation tutorial. Although we have the gamified part completed, we still have a bit to go on the informational side. I’ve completed the MLA portion today and have finished APA citations for print books with two authors. I’ll be making two more sections for APA (online journal articles and print newspaper articles), then we’ll open it up to some edits. Hopefully it will be ready to go live shortly after Thanksgiving!
I’ll be back tomorrow to wrap up this phase of the citation tutorial and will move on to the database tutorial afterward. Ideally, all three of our tutorials will be officially live by the end of the semester so we can look into some user experience testing next semester. I think we’re on the right track!
Enjoy the rest of your night!

Sporadic on-campus network access on 11/17

There will be sporadic outages of specific network services on Friday, November 17, 2017,  from 3:30 PM to 4:45 PM.
The following services will be affected:

  • Attempts to authenticate to the wired network; If you are already connected and logged in, you should not be affected.
  • New wireless users attempting to logon to any of the wireless networks; If you are already logged in, you may still be affected.

Please contact the Helpdesk for any questions or concerns.

Three developments from the Instructional Design Intern

We have had three major developments since I last posted (sorry for not updating everyone last Thursday!). First, the tutorial on developing a research question has officially been posted to the City Tech Library’s website! Check it out here: https://library.citytech.cuny.edu/tutorials/developing-research-question.
Next up, we’re officially switching to Twine! We really like Twine for its ability to be embedded as well as its flexibility for ADA compliance. We can also insert images, which was something I was worried about not being able to do before, and can easily insert links. Perhaps best of all, the code for the tutorial would not need to be hosted by a company. Twine’s deliverable is an HTML file, meaning that we can take the file and put it anywhere online without having to worry about Twine having technical issues or no longer being a company.
Freed Citation Holy Grail
I’ve spent most of my time since the workshop creating a Twine tutorial on citation reading. It has two major parts. The first is a quest to find the Citation Holy Grail, which is held up by four chains. Users must answer four questions about citations correctly to unlock the grail. The second is a separate path that allows users to learn about citations by going through each part and explaining what it looks like and ways to distinguish it from other sections of a citation. For instance, this tutorial points out that journal article titles cited in MLA are in quotations marks while the journal titles are italicized. This part of the tutorial is still in progress, but hopefully it will all be published soon.
The final development is that I have decided to stay at the City Tech Library as the Instructional Design Intern next semester! I plan to get IRB certified so that we can perform user experience tests on our new tutorials and possibly present our findings at a conference or in an article. I’m excited to keep going forward with my work here!
Have a great week!

New Yorkers in Uniform

This coming Wednesday, the 15th, the Ursula C. Schwerin Library is hosting a showing of a film produced by library faculty for the World War One centennial. Please RSVP to the contact below if interested in attending.