In 2012 we launched a program that would allow students to earn merit points by attending library instruction sessions. We thought earning merit points, which could give students preference in selecting housing, would draw them to our workshops on database searching and citation styles. We were wrong. That failure prompted us to change our focus from trying to attract students to the library to attempting to bring instruction to them via the Learning Management System. The result: the LMS embedded videos and research modules we created have reached far more students than our face to face workshops ever did.
Type of Library
LMS, library instruction, Learning Management System
When your Info Café Fails, Think of your LMS as Take-Out: Learning from the Services Students Won’t Use to Create the Services They Will
In 2012 we transformed our obsolete periodicals desk into The Info Cafe, and planned a series of information skills workshops for that meeting space. In an effort to encourage attendance at those drop-in sessions, we partnered with the our institution’s merit point program to offer points to each student who attended a twenty-minute workshop on topics ranging from searching a specific database to using a particular citation style. The merit point system, which was discontinued in 2015, provided a range of opportunities for students to amass points that contributed to their odds of getting their preferred choice in the institution's housing lottery. We were confident the prospect of earning merit points would be enough incentive to bring students to the library. We were very wrong.
You could say The Info Café program was a dismal failure. A great deal of staff time was spent developing the content for the workshops, scheduling the sessions, and creating surveys to assess their effectiveness. Over the course of the Fall 2012 semester and Spring 2013 semesters, we scheduled 48 Info Cafe sessions. Some attracted one or two participants. Most failed to attract anyone. In total, only 26 students attended.
We, however, like to think of The Info Café debacle as the catalyst for some of our greatest successes. The InfoCafe’s failure made us realize that we needed to provide the students with the information and support they required at their point of need. We decided one of the easiest ways to meet them at that point of need was through the college’s Learning Management System. Through the creation of a variety of video tutorials, research modules, and librarian-facilitated research discussion forums, we have reached far more students remotely than we ever did at The Information Café.
In the Fall 2017 semester, for example, librarians created learning management system information skills modules for 35 different classes and produced 52 information skills videos. While the Info Café workshops we created reached fewer than the 30 students , our LMS participation in Fall 2017 reached approximately 700 students.