Desire 2 Learn Research Support

announce-desire2learn-newsBy: Robin Shapiro, PCC Faculty Librarian

June 3, 2013

Students in online classes, especially those who take classes exclusively online, may not be aware of the support offered to them through the library. They may never pass the library, physically or metaphorically, and not take advantage of the selection of excellent sources which would support their learning in various courses. In an exciting recent development, the library will connect discipline specific “research guides” to every single online class beginning summer term 2013.

Pam Kessinger, Library Faculty Department Chair, spoke with Robin Shapiro, Librarian at the Rock Creek campus library, about the implementation of this new library service for distance learning courses.

PAM: Robin, would you describe the Research Support widget for us, what it is, and what it does?

ROBIN: The Research Support widget really represents the front door of library for distance learning students. Every D2L class by default will have a little box with a link to the library and to the appropriate discipline’s Library Research Guide. We created a table of the guides matched up to every D2L course abbreviation. When a student clicks on the link for the research guide for their class, they’ll find resources and links curated by PCC librarians.

PAM: Where did you get the idea?

ROBIN: Direct from Portland State University. We heard about it first at the Online Northwest Conference a year ago, and then we looked for ways to implement a similar tool. We realized we had a good opportunity as PCC upgrades to a new version of Desire2Learn; adding the widget is part of the update for all courses.

PAM: What did it take to implement?

ROBIN: We had different technical issues from PSU. But with excellent PCC technical support—Andy Freed from TSS did a lot, along with the library’s Digital Services team — we launched the widget about 6 months from the start of the project.

PAM: What is the purpose of the D2L Research Support project?

ROBIN: The challenge has been in bringing the library to distance learning students. There are over 4500 students who take only distance courses and may never come to campus. We have suspected that few of the distance-learning-only students took full advantage of the library’s online sources.

PAM: How will this improve student success?

ROBIN: This is an important opportunity to put the library where the distance learning students are—to put the library into their space. We know that students who use library resources are more successful (see the report, Academic Success: How Library Services Make a Difference. [pdf]) The D2L Widget project will now make subject research readily available to students and easier to find. This will provide a new avenue for students to explore their academic interests and to find ways to support their learning. It will help students to connect their course into the wider context of the discipline. We also hope to see students connecting more with the college as they use services otherwise missed, as the library can be.

PAM: How will we know the project is working?

ROBIN: At the beginning we will look at how frequently library research guides are accessed. We can see how many students click from Desire2Learn to the guides, and which ones are selected. Going forward, we hope to see students and  faculty contacting librarians about the guides, with comments and recommendations for new links.

PAM: Next steps?

ROBIN: We’ll use Google Analytics to track if there is first, an uptick in usage, and then, look in more detail about what the students link out to from the guides. As instructors grow accustomed to having library research for courses easily available, we hope they will contact librarians, to design course-specific class pages to link to particular classes and research assignments. Over all, the library looks to provide equitable library service for distance learning students.

Works cited

Library & Learning
Vol 5 Issue 1 June 2013

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