York librarians and archivists develop online research classes

York librarians and archivists are adapting their workshops and classes for the COVID-19 era. All library instruction classes – both drop-in library workshops and in-class, course-specific instruction – will take place online for the fall term.

Teaching & Learning librarians and archivists are developing new online resources to teach research skills to incoming students, many of whom are attending university for the first time. The Libraries’ instructional services and resources can be synchronous (live, via Zoom) or asynchronous, and are available for student use at any time online.

online learning

York librarians and archivists are adapting their workshops and classes for the COVID-19 era

Some librarian-instructors find video-making software a novel way to introduce key research skills to large undergraduate classes. Teaching & Learning Librarian Ilo Maimets is using Powtoon software to produce a series of short online videos for a first-year health studies course. Paired with voice-over PowerPoint slides, the series introduces new students to the library research process and builds core skills, such as using article databases, understanding peer review, building robust search queries, or using a citation manager to organize references.

Teaching & Learning Librarian Kalina Grewal plans to use both synchronous and asynchronous techniques to reach a large first-year sociology class this fall, pre-recording a brief video for students to watch and following up with a live Zoom session in class for questions and practice exercises.

Dana Craig, director of the Libraries’ Student Learning & Academic Success Department, leads a team in using Powtoon to produce four online videos to introduce library resources and research skills to beginning psychology students. And in conjunction with ESL faculty from the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics, Craig and her team piloted a library skills project for ELL learners, incorporating slides, short videos, interactive activities, and a Q&=-and-A into live Zoom classes, with modules for student use after class. View the ESL videos on YouTube here.

Some librarian-instructors are using open-source software to create interactive content online. Stephanie Quail, a Teaching & Learning librarian in the Bronfman Business Library, developed interactive video modules, with quizzes, to support graduate programs for the Schulich School of Business during the summer 2020 semester. The modules were prepared using H5P, open-source software that is free to post-secondary educators through eCampusOntario. Graduate students in different time zones could access the modules and develop business information literacy skills at their own pace. Quail also designed an online tutorial for the summer section of an upper-year writing class, to support students as they completed a group project. The self-paced module, created with H5P, incorporates videos, quizzes, drag-and-drop exercises and business database tutorials.

writing notes schulich

York librarians and archivists are adapting their workshops and classes for the COVID-19 era

Other instructors have adopted a “flipped classroom” approach. Data Services Librarian Rosa Orlandini asked students in an upper-year biology field course to do a preliminary map activity before class, and devoted class time to active learning activities, reading maps and using Zoom break-out rooms to complete a small-group task.

York librarians also collaborate with faculty on assignment and course design. Teaching & Learning Librarian Lisa Sloniowski and Digital Scholarship Librarian Kris Joseph are working with faculty in the Department of English to develop a new digital humanities research assignment for a fourth-year English class. Using Scalar, an open-source web publishing platform, students will create an annotated digital edition of a set of short ghost stories from the Victorian period. Sloniowski is also contributing the library research components for the pilot of a new first-year course on academic literacies, currently being developed in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

New library research guides, with links to online-only material, are being prepared in many disciplines. For example, an extensive guide to lesson planning materials for teacher-candidates in the BEd program will be available for the Fall term. Course instructors from all disciplines are invited to link to a library research guide in their field in course Moodle sites.

The Libraries’ SPARK (Student Papers & Academic Research Kit) project offers short online tutorials geared to beginning researchers. Modules demonstrate the key elements of the scholarly research process and include printable tips sheets. SPARK tutorials are available on the library website any time and can be incorporated into a course Moodle site.

"Strong research skills contribute to student success," said York University Dean of Libraries Joy Kirchner. "Reaching out to students to help them build digital literacy competencies has perhaps never been more important than in the COVID era."

Contact York University Libraries to arrange a class tailored to a course. For fall term and year-long courses, book by Aug. 15. Instructors can request an in-class Zoom workshop here.

To learn more about library instructional services and initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

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