Smart Searching: An Online Information Literacy Tutorial Tailored Specifically To Introductory Engineering Students
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A common problem facing librarians today is convincing students about the world of information beyond Google. Traditional library instruction is a reasonable answer, but tends not to be effective. First, introductory science courses at Miami University (Oxford, OH) are usually far too large for instruction, with enrollments of between 300 and 800 students. Secondly, many students at this stage fail to see the relevancy of the library instruction because they have not made the connection between good information seeking skills and improved assignments. Finally, students may not see the importance of the instruction because it is not geared towards their current situation. One example of this is E-learn, an online tutorial developed several years ago by the Miami University Libraries. However, the examples used in E-learn were too general to be of great help to science students. In this era of customization and personalization, several librarians at Miami University decided to create a set of online tutorials that are designed specifically for students in specific introductory engineering courses. The result is: Smart Searching: Finding, Citing, & Evaluating Information (http://e-learn.lib.muohio.edu/science/eas and http://e-learn.lib.muohio.edu/science/eas102 ). Librarians worked closely with faculty in the Engineering departments to create this set of tutorials for the introductory engineering courses (300 students). The Smart Searching tutorials have several features that make them unique and applicable to students in these courses. The tutorials are designed to address information seeking skills needed for assignments in each course. Examples used in the tutorials are topics that will be encountered during the course. Secondly, a blog is built in to the tutorials to ease communication between the librarians and students. The tutorials were also created with a customizable back-end interface, so that changes can be completed with ease. While each tutorial is customized to one course, each tutorial can be used as a refresher for students once they leave the course. This session will document the process of creating Smart Searching from initial idea to implementation and its evolution from an optional activity to a fully integrated and required assignment within the introductory engineering courses.