(L-R) Rebecca Jones, Session Moderator; Kathy Petlewski; Evette Atkin
How far afield do your training courses go? Just your own library? All the libraries in the city or the region? How about doing training for an entire state? Well, if your state is Rhode Island or Delaware, it might not be too difficult to get an audience of librarians or users from around the state together. But what if your state is Alaska? Or Hawaii where the state extends across several islands? Even in a medium-sized state like Michigan, it can take 9 hours to drive from one end to the other. The only way to do effective statewide training in such a situation is to use distance learning technologies.
Evette Atkin, Network Librarian and Training Consultant, Michigan Library Consortium and Kathy Petlewski, Electronic Resources Librarian, Plymouth District Library, have created some innovative distance learning courses using Moodle, a free open source software platform, and Second Life. They use Moodle for training on the databases accessible through the Michigan Electronic Library. Each course consists of an introductory lesson and a practice module, and then a quiz. The students can go back after the quiz and review those parts where they need further training. For the general public, courses are offered on database basics and health information, and for library staff, a variety of specialized courses (including one on bookbinding) are available.
The Centra software platform, an online learning environment using virtual training, is also used in real time. The instructor can interact remotely with the students by audio or text chat and can offer feedback and help as needed.
In 2006, Michigan Electronic Library put a building on Second Life’s Information Island, and it proved so successful that they now have a 4,000 square meter site.
Offering statewide training courses is not as difficult as it was formerly, thanks to today’s social networking and Web2.0 tools.
Columnist, Information Today and IL2007 Blog Coordinator