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Opportunity from Disruption: HSLS Experiments with New Methods of Instruction

Since April 2020, the HSLS instruction team has held bi-weekly meetings to introduce new tools, share challenges, and make recommendations. We have had the opportunity to experiment with new instructional methods and assess which practices we will permanently adopt going forward.

For example, we recently licensed LibWizard from Springshare to create self-paced tutorials on topics like Getting Started with EndNote. Instructors have used active learning techniques like polling, short discussions via TopHat, and Zoom Breakout rooms to increase engagement. Other instructors provide directions for detailed hands-on activities that can be done during or after class.

The HSLS MolBio team has taken advantage of Zoom Webinars by recording each of their classes and making them available on the comprehensive MolBio Workshop/Class Guides. Many instructors have leaned into LibGuides as complements to HSLS classes. Providing a LibGuide where course materials can be hosted, links posted, and class recordings stored allows us to keep any materials shared fresh, up to date, and accessible. For an excellent example, check out the Gene Regulation Guide.

Each semester HSLS Liaison Librarians work directly with course instructors to provide content and lectures related to information literacy. With the move to fully remote instruction last year, many librarians became directly embedded into Canvas courses. We have been able to create asynchronous materials using varying technologies to supplement any synchronous presentations. This allows us to consider more student-friendly methods of delivery. Videos or podcasts can be created in short chunks and quizzes can be created to identify sticking points. Activities like a Guide on the Side Tutorial will prompt you to set up browser windows so that you can read instructions while following along with a website, such as PubMed. Students then also have the modules to refer to later in the semester when completing a relevant assignment.

While we have had fun integrating new techniques, we remain mindful of some of the challenges of online-only instruction. Some learners may prefer to come in person to the library classroom, where distractions are limited and computers are provided for hands-on work.

For the moment, remote and hybrid offerings have led to increased class attendance, and we continue to add more asynchronous options for those unavailable during the typical workday. We are always looking for feedback and would love to hear more about your experience and how we can best deliver instruction. Please feel free to send an email with your suggestions or commiserations. Despite worries to the contrary, it is actually easier than ever to connect–you do not even need to walk up the hill anymore!

~Rose Turner