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Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 290 2017
presentation,” we decided to create a pilot project that emphasized
customization, the flipped classroom, and specific assignments.
When we discussed the findings about the library’s instruction
program with the director of teaching excellence of Cornell’s
College of Engineering, she proposed a collaboration with two of
the engineering courses that she was helping to redesign at the time.
Tying in with the flipped classroom concept employed in the course
redesign, the library produced a number of short instructional videos,
each to develop a specific skill. All of the videos were of the “how-
to” type: how to find high-impact articles; how to find authoritative,
scholarly articles; how to find phase diagrams; how to find high-quality
videos of experiments; etc. These videos were then embedded in the
Blackboard syllabus to accompany specific assignments needing such
skills for a truly on-demand, just-in-time instruction experience,
where students who already have the appropriate skills can easily skip
the items they don’t need. This partnership made even more sense
because, among all the Cornell colleges, the engineering faculty’s
evaluation of the usefulness of library instruction was one of the
least positive. The pilot project targeted two fall 2015 engineering
courses and produced a total of eight videos by two subject librarians.
The length of the videos was between two and eight minutes. Two
different methods were used for presentation. One used a split-
screen method that showed the librarian, subtitles, as well as screen
capture of the information resources being discussed. The other
used only the screen capture with narration and subtitles. All videos
were entitled “Ask a Librarian,” followed by the content of the video
posed as a question. The reasoning behind this approach was to
also use this opportunity to brand the library and show students
the kind of research help they can expect to get from a librarian.
Project Evaluation and Conclusion
We evaluated the video project in various ways. An indication of usage
was the number of times the videos had been accessed along with
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