Creating Engaging Tutorials

I attended my first AABIG (Atlanta Area Bibliographic Instruction Group) Conference last week and learned that there are lots of smart teaching librarians in Georgia, and that they are very excited to share their awesome ideas with others. I’ve found my people!

I was lucky enough to make a short presentation at this conference about creating engaging tutorials, which turns out to be a complicated topic. As I prepared my presentation, I felt confident that interactive, complex tutorials crafted using expensive software like Adobe Captivate were obviously the way to go. As I reflected and consulted the literature though, I encountered some snags in that way of thinking. For one thing, interactive tutorials, while really great at encouraging learning, are not always what students are looking for. When a student wants some information *right away*, an interactive tutorial may bog them down. For point-of-need tutorials, something simple like a screen-casting software that creates 1-2 minute videos may be plenty. Another issue is that not every library can afford the software with all the bells and whistles. What do those librarians do? Are there ways to make tutorials worthwhile for students without spending a fortune? Not to mention the time and energy creating interactive tutorials can take …

The result of that reflection was that I came up with some levels of interactivity that describe elements that librarians can add to flipped classroom or distance learning tutorials. Things at the top level will encourage the most engagement by users, and things at the bottom the least. The benefit of arranging these elements into levels is that it helps librarians realize that having *some* interactivity, even things at the bottom of the pyramid, is better than having none at all. Not all librarians will have the time and money to reach the top step, and that’s ok.

levelsUltimately though, what examining engaging tutorials taught me was that it’s not enough to create tutorials just to say your library has them. Tutorials should be designed to meet real student needs and accomplish learning outcomes, and to do that they must engage the user. It’s not about having lots of fun little clicky buttons in your tutorials, and it’s not about giving the user a video to watch passively. It’s about giving users the chance to apply their learning within the tutorial, assess their own skills, reflect on their knowledge, and finish the tutorial feeling as if they’ve accomplished something of value.

To learn more about my investigation of engaging tutorials, see the LibGuide here: Included is a tutorial about creating tutorials (so meta!) that I used for my presentation.

Feel free to add your two cents below!


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