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Optimizing Library Resources for Online Students at Purdue University Calumet

Submitted by on August 19, 2013 – 12:00 pmNo Comment

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Do your online students know how to engage with your institution’s library resources?

Bridging the gap between online students and an on-campus library is challenging for a number of reasons (perceived or real): lack of direction from the professor, lack of support from the library or university, or simply because the library is “out of sight, out of mind” in the virtual classroom.

To ensure online students receive the same level of library support as its on-campus students, Purdue University Calumet (PUC) has knocked down several of these barriers thanks to Lynda Schoop, PUC’s Reference Librarian for Educational Partnerships. In this role, Schoop supports students enrolled in PUC’s Academic Partnerships (AP) programs.

We interviewed Schoop to dig deeper into the optimization of library resources for their online students. Read below as Schoop provides valuable insight for institutions tackling similar challenges.

How did you get involved with providing library support for online courses?

PUC created a new distance learning librarian position, reference librarian for educational partnerships, to assist the students enrolled in the AP programs. I was hired into this position in 2011, and I serve as the primary library contact for our AP students.

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How do you provide support for online faculty?

I create online library research guides (LibGuides) for individual courses that involve research or library use. I communicate with faculty about areas where students could use additional help and regularly add information to the LibGuides.

For example, on one of my LibGuides I created extensive information on primary and secondary sources with examples and tips on how to distinguish between the two as required by an assignment.

In the LibGuides, I prepare videos demonstrating how to search library databases and eliminate sources that are not appropriate for assignments. Faculty members communicate to me articles they assign in courses so I can add links to these articles on the LibGuides.

View one of Schoop’s LibGuides that shows Nursing 18200 students how to access library resources for a writing assignment.

Additionally, I provide support for the overall function of the AP RN-to-BSN program by overseeing the library portion of the new student orientation, grading and providing feedback on the library assignment that students submit.

Lynda Schoop

Lynda Schoop, PUC Reference Librarian for Educational Partnerships

How do you provide support for online students?

In addition to the LibGuides, I host live online group sessions where I use Adobe Connect screen sharing software so that students can see my computer screen as I demonstrate database searching.  The sessions are timed to coincide with research assignments and are geared toward the specific requirements for each assignment.

I am available by phone, email, and chat to assist our online students. Students can contact me with questions about how to find articles, what is an appropriate source, how to cite a source, computer or LMS-related questions, or anything related to the library or library research.

I send an email to new students to introduce myself and provide links to the library guide pages for the particular course so students are aware of this resource.

What advice would you give other librarians who want to provide support for online courses?

Take the initiative to reach out to online faculty and students to let them know you are available, and specify how you can help them. For our online students, it is especially important to contact them so they know help is available since they will not come into the library as part of a class.

Also, learn about different technologies that you can use to maximize your support, such as screen sharing software, so that you can offer various methods of reaching and helping students.

Your Turn!

Does your college or university optimize library resources for online students? If so, how? Share with us in the comments section.

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