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INSPIRAL Case Study 6

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					INSPIRAL Case Study 6. Univ. Tennessee                                          1
By S. Brown and S. Currier

INSPIRAL Case Study 6
University of Tennessee Libraries
By Sharron Brown and Sarah Currier

Overview

The University of Tennessee has 26,000 enrolled students in fifteen colleges
and schools, and offers a variety of undergraduate, postgraduate and
professional programmes. Its Outreach and Continuing Education Division
has many units that handle non-traditional teaching and learning programmes,
including the Distance Education and Independent Study section, which
began with correspondence courses and has more recently begun to provide
interactive, web based classrooms, mainly via the Internet eLearning Institute.
The software used for these VLEs is Centra Symposium. The Evening School
uses CourseInfo by Blackboard to enable synchronous and asynchronous
connections to course material. The Off-Campus Services Librarian at the
University's Knoxville Campus Library is responsible for serving the
educational needs of learners on these programmes.

Background to Off-Campus Library Services

In the early 1990s, a co-operative plan between the Evening School
administration and UT Libraries was designed to promote the convenient
service to students and provide an element of authoritative information
provision to the off-campus programmes. Telephone and postal services
were used extensively to answer learner requests and provide materials. By
1994 travel was still an extensive part of the service, where a Library staff
member travelled to promote library resources to off-campus tutors in UT's
system of colleges. In the early days, the use of computer technology was
supported by this staff member via encouraging and assisting students and
tutors with technical aspects.

With increased computer access and resources, learners have gathered more
experience in and motivation to use online facilities. The Off-Campus Services
Librarian's role is now mainly concerned with teaching about the evaluation of
resources rather than how to use the technology. The fax, telephone, voice
mail and answering machine are still central to the service provision, along
with a Chat Service provided using AOL Instant Messenger between 9 and 5.

The Off-Campus Library Services web page offers the following:

   Services
     Students may request reference or research assistance or instruction
       in the use of the libraries' resources.
     Students may request books and copies of journal articles.
     Direct links to FirstSearch and ERIC databases, with instructions and
       support for use.
   Research Help
     Students may contact the Library for research help
     There are also brief instructions on getting started themselves
INSPIRAL Case Study 6. Univ. Tennessee                                          2
By S. Brown and S. Currier

     Direct link to Library catalogue and databases
   Interactive
     Access to web based videoconference meeting with Librarian
     Access to Chat service; Chat Reference "coming soon".
   Document delivery;
     Online inter library loan
     Instructions on using state-wide ILL service.
   Contact information.

In addition to these there is a menu bar thoughout leading to the University
Library web page offering services, catalogues and databases in general. This
includes an extensive guide section, with information on:

   Accessing catalogues and databases when on or off campus
   Accessing electronic course reserves
   Looking for electronic versions of journals
   Citing electronic materials
   Using the inter-library loans service
   Using the Internet
   Using databases and indexes.

Internet eLearning Institute (IEI): The Campus "VLE"

The IEI includes a Virtual Campus page, which links learners to online
campus services, including the Library's web page. However, there is no
direct link to the Off-Campus Library Service, and it is not made clear that this
service exists. It is only accessible through clicking on 'Hodges Library', then
'Departments', then scrolling down to find 'Off-Campus Services'. It is not
listed under 'Services'. The Library offers a Chat and Email Reference service
through its AskUs.Now service; however, this does not appear to be linked to
from the Off-Campus Service, nor does it link to it.

Other online services offered by the Library include:

   The UT Library and other library catalogues
   E-resources, including databases, indexes, e-journals, e-books, an e-
    reserve collection, subject guides to Web resources, and Internet search
    engines
   A range of Library tutorials
   Online document delivery/ILL forms.

Each course within the IEI has its own VLE/web site, and the above resources
are embedded through a menu bar with a link to the Library, which is available
from anywhere in the VLE. However, embedding of subject specific
resources for each module is not included.

The only other information resource option available within the VLEs is the
Web Safari, which allows the tutor or a student to take the rest of the
participants to different web sites together.
INSPIRAL Case Study 6. Univ. Tennessee                                                          3
By S. Brown and S. Currier

Evening School Classes via CourseInfo

CourseInfo is used to deliver standard VLE functions. Here the Library does
provide links to specific web pages, primarily to enable learners to locate
information easily. Again, interactive online reference services, particularly
through live chat and web videoconferencing, are being explored, although
staffing issues and bandwidth problems hamper development. AOL
Messenger is the preferred platform, rather than CourseInfo's own service,
due to its ubiquitousness, and free availability to students.

User training

Prior to a new semester the Library contacts faculty involved in off-campus
courses and schedules a session with the class for library instruction, which is
sometimes delivered by interactive television. A PowerPoint presentation is
available permanently from the course web pages also. Further training is
delivered in class by the tutor, with an online help guide and a telephone help
desk available.

Staff are trained by the campus instructional technology centre.

Conclusions

While it is impossible to generalise about the varied American scene from one
or two case studies, the prevalence in the US of web videoconferencing and
interactive teaching by live-broadcast television appear to be major areas of
difference to the UK scene, as this case study exemplifies1. Live chat
reference service has only been attempted once in the UK to date, to the
author's knowledge2.

However, this is a difference in form rather than content, and this American
University is offering the same range of services and resources to, and
attempting to meet the same needs of online learners as most universities in
the UK. The greater American emphasis on the personal touch in providing
contact with librarians may provide a lesson for the UK in ameliorating the
most common complaint from students about their online learning experience;
lack of personal contact. Some obvious problems of "joined-up-ness", and the
lack of course or module-specific embedding of learning resources, are likely
1
  See also: Ronayne, B. and Rogenmoser, D. Library research instruction for distance learners: an
interactive, multi-media approach. Paper from: Libraries without Walls 4: The Delivery of Library
Services to Distant Users: Distributed Resources - Distributed Learning, 14-18 September
2001, Molyvos, Greece. Publication pending by the Library Association. Examines effective
techniques for library research instruction via live-broadcast, inter-active television, based on
services offered by the Distance Education Librarian at the California State University,
Sacramento.
2
  See: McGill, L. Global chat: web based enquiries at the University of Leicester. Paper from:
Libraries without Walls 4: The Delivery of Library Services to Distant Users: Distributed
Resources - Distributed Learning, 14-18 September 2001, Molyvos, Greece. Publication
pending by the Library Association. Examines a pilot project where live chat reference and
support was offered by the University's Distance Learning Library Service. See also
PowerPoint presentation at: http://www.cerlim.ac.uk/conf/lww4/cont.htm For further information
contact Ms. Lou McGill at lkm5@leicester.ac.uk
INSPIRAL Case Study 6. Univ. Tennessee                                                      4
By S. Brown and S. Currier

reflected in various institutions in the UK. On the plus side, this University's
provision on online information and services could not be accused of spoon-
feeding, with so much user support and training in library research.

Sources:

Casado, M. Delivering library services to remote students. Computers in
Libraries, April 2001. pp. 32-38.

University of Tennessee Distance Learning and Independent Study. Internet
eLearning Institute. Web sites at: http://www.outreach.utk.edu/deis/courselist/IEIcourses.asp
and http://www.outreach.utk.edu/iei/

University of Tennessee Libraries Off-Campus Service. Web site at:
http://www.lib.utk.edu/offcamp/

University of Tennessee Outreach and Continuing Education. Web site at:
http://www.outreach.utk.edu/

				
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