On February 2, 2021, FSU Librarians Liz Dunne, Adam Beauchamp, Rachel Duke, and Lindsey Wharton provided an overview of the online instruction that the Libraries developed before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The online instruction was presented to the FSU Foundation Board of Trustees to help the members better understand how technology is leveraged by the Libraries to get students engaged in the online learning environment.
Dean of University Libraries Gale Etschmaier started off by mentioning how much FSU Libraries have changed from the past while still being a central center for community at FSU. Even more changes took place in March when FSU Libraries closed their physical spaces as a result of the pandemic. Fortunately, the Libraries were able to provide digital access to materials for the university’s faculty, staff, and students. When FSU Libraries reopened in August, with COVID-19 protocols, fewer students were present in the physical libraries, but a virtual community was still upheld between the Libraries and the students. Online tutoring in chemistry, physics, math, and statistics was offered and subscriptions were made to online books and other educational content that weren’t available beforehand.
The four FSU Librarians who were a part of the given overview took the time to demonstrated the teaching partnerships of FSU Libraries in the online environment that cater to students at the university.
Background information about how FSU undergraduate learners are reached was provided by Liz Dunne. She included how students start interacting with the Libraries in the beginning of their undergraduate years through courses like ENC 2135 that require conducting academic research. Now that in-person learning has been shifted to being asynchronous, teachers are able to use learning modules when instructing students, which offers students flexibility through individual pacing. These modules can be found on the learning management system used by the university, better known as Canvas, under specific courses. Students are able to access academic/scholar sources, peer-reviewed sources, knowledge checks throughout the process of completion, and more. Modules also include a final review with a survey where students can give feedback on how they like this FSU Libraries resource and how the Libraries can make any necessary improvements.
Adam Beauchamp continued by explaining how discussion-based and hands-on approaches to learning have been converted to the Zoom platform and other electronic platforms. Throughout his explanation, he also shared lessons where electronic resources were used to teach primary sources for the purpose of historical research; he even worked with students in a collaborative manner to historically think about primary sources in digital form.
Next, Rachel Duke spoke on the Special Collections & Archives, which creates a space for historical documents and books to be available. Its goal is to engage students in interactive learning through primary-source materials effective through Canvas. Some activities are adapted from in-person classes to the Canvas format to accommodate students during remote learning, and students can be a part of a research community as they work with their peers to create research questions and synthesize a new understanding of historical contexts. Zoom breakout rooms can be used for students to share their discoveries after the activities and full conversations are also held altogether.
Ultimately, the pandemic was a learning opportunity for us, and while we’re excited to get students back into our classroom, using tools and technologies to expand our reach and impact isn’t over. In 2020 we served 78 classes and over 1,000 students through over 20 modules, 40 assignments, and 115 pages of content that we designed online; our level of engagement is only going to improve from here.Rachel Duke
The last FSU Librarian to speak on online instruction at the Libraries was Lindsey Wharton. She elaborated on how the Libraries’ presence provides opportunities for better communication between teachers and students, engagement, and integration of library services in the online environment of Canvas. Simple and easy access for learners includes their most successful integration by far, which is Library Tools. This feature is available in all Canvas courses with links leading to the Libraries website, database, integrated chat box, and more.
The overall shift to remote instructions increased the need to use these digital tools even though a lot of them have already been in place before the pandemic. Fortunately, engaging with the Libraries resources, services and people makes it all a seamless library experience in a flexible environment.