Need to provide quick, task-based instruction? Do it with GIFs!

We know that our library users greatly appreciate the Library’s video tutorials. Tutorials allow users to learn research skills on demand, independent of time or geography. These tutorials can also be used to shorten a librarian’s instruction time in the classroom, leaving time for more active learning activities. However, designing, creating, and publishing tutorials can be very time-and-labor intensive. GIFs are an easy-to-create, low-maintenance alternative to video tutorials while still providing visually dynamic instructional content.

What is a GIF?

“GIF” stands for “graphics interchange format.” Released 29 years ago, the GIF provided a way for content developers to share compressed color animations that slow modems could load easily. Early website developers used GIFs to break up content-heavy websites or illustrate that their site was still in progress.

Early GIFs letting users know websites were still being developed

As the internet evolved, so did GIFs. Now, GIFs permeate many forms of digital communication. From text messages to email to social media, GIFs provide a (mostly humorous) way for people to express themselves.

Trudeau awkward handshake GIF
When everyone wants to shake your hand at once

GIFs as Library Instruction

Librarians have started to explore how GIFs might be an alternative instructional media. Using GIFs to display short, task-based activities can communicate step-based instruction more succinctly than images or text. Additionally GIFs can loop repeatedly, allowing users to continuously reference instruction.

Take for example, Sarah’s library guide for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She wanted a way to communicate how scholars can limit their searches by region in Factiva. Narrowing by region is a seemingly quick process for librarians, but explaining the multiple steps and Factiva’s interface to first-time users can be difficult and confusing. Using a GIF, Sarah could show to process of limiting newspaper searches by region while keeping her LibGuide clean.

Factiva GIF
Limit by region in Factiva

Creating GIFs

GIF creators often fall into two categories: software and web apps. For high-quality GIF options, using software will be the most effective solution. Sarah’s GIF was created by making a screencast in Screenflow, and then producing the GIF in Adobe Photoshop.

However, if you don’t have this software and still want to make a quick GIF, try recording your screen with Screencast-o-Matic and uploading/editing the GIF in GIPHY. This is how I made the GIF embedded in the library news story “Unrequired Reading at the Library.”

FInding Class of 2000 Books GIF
Searching for leisure reading in the library

Notice that Screencast-o-matic automatically highlights your mouse cursor, which can be hard to find in smaller images.

Other GIF maker options are a Chrome extension or MakeaGIf.com.

If you have any questions or need help making GIFs, please ask Julie or Kaitlin.

Resources

Aleman, Karla and Porter, Toccara (2016, April 21). 10-Second Demos: Boiling Asynchronous Online Instruction Down to the Essentials with GIF Graphics. Retrieved from: http://research.moreheadstate.edu/c.php?g=242750&p=1614356.

Suhr, K. (2014, October 22). Using animated GIF images for library instruction. Retrieved from: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2014/using-animated-gif-images-for-library-instruction/

Gamifying Library Instruction: A Case Study

The Library Research Round Table (LRRT) of the American Library Association (ALA) recently awarded Eamon Tewell and Katelyn Angell the Jesse H. Shera Award for Distinguished Published Research for the article, “Far from a Trivial Pursuit: Assessing the effectiveness of games in information literacy instruction.” The study finds that students who played online games improved significantly more from pre-test to post-test than students who received a lecture in library instruction.

The games used by Tewell and Angell are openly available: Doing Research (from University of Illinois at Chicago) and Citation Tic Tac Toe (from James Madison University).

How do we do assessment here?

In looking for information about assessment to post to Instructionally Speaking, I found a lot of articles that described assessment in environments that didn’t quite seem to apply to ours.  Would we be able to review and score students’ papers using AAC&U’s Information Literacy VALUE rubric like Wendy Holliday et al. in “An Information Literacy Snapshot: Authentic Assessment across the Curriculum”?  Can we participate in curriculum mapping when, in many cases, we don’t have course outcomes or objectives in which to map?

I then read this statement in Kuh’s report Knowing What Students Know and Can Do: The Current State of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment in US Colleges and Universities.

In general, institutional selectivity is negatively related to assessment activity.  For  almost every category of assessment activity, the more selective an institution’s admissions standards, the less likely it is to employ various assessment approaches, or use the results.

Why is this?  Does it apply here?  If so, what does this mean for us?

References:

Wendy Holliday, Betty Dance, Erin Davis, Britt Fagerheim, Anne Hedrich, Kacy Lundstrom, and Pamela Martin. “An Information Literacy Snapshot: Authentic Assessment across the Curriculum.” Coll. Res. Libr. March, 2015. 76:170-187; doi:10.5860/crl.76.2.170

Kuh, G. D., Jankowski, N., Ikenberry, S. O., & Kinzie, J. (2014). Knowing What Students Know and Can Do: The Current State of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment in US Colleges and Universities. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

 

Librarian Burnout

According to Tim and Zahra Baird, two librarians writing in LIScareer.com, the very nature of library work predisposes us to burnout.  A normal library workday can be described as a continuous round of interruptions.  When demands for our services (including reference questions and reader’s advisory) roll in, we must refocus ourselves to find the answers and set aside whatever else we have been working on.  These constant breaks in our day interrupt the flow of our concentration and make it hard for us to complete our tasks.  The repetitive nature of library work induces monotony; boredom can easily set in by doing things over and over again, making us prime candidates for burnout.

When you’re burned out in your job, you can feel exhausted, ineffective, unenthusiastic, and isolated from your colleagues. It can greatly depreciate work performance and workplace morale.

Maria Accardi, author of Feminist Pedagogy for Library Instruction, has created a new blog called Librarian Burnout as a place for fellow academic librarians to commiserate in burnout stories and share creative ways to combat burnout in librarianship. The blog has a certain tint for library instruction (teaching the same one-shot can get tiresome), however, there are considerations for all types of burnout in different roles of librarianship. It’s still a relatively new blog, so there are only a few posts to read, but I encourage you all to take a look! Maybe even post a story yourself.