Smile, You’re on Interactive Television!

With the recent departure of our satellite campus librarian, I had to get creative with distance education (DE) Library Instruction sessions. Our college relies on interactive television (iTV) to extend on-ground instruction to our 3 satellite campuses. I’d never used this technology for a one-shot before, but several instructors took me up on my offer to give it a try.

My usual pre-teaching jitters seemed heightened by the prospect of being on camera. My request to the Director of DE for “hair and makeup people” was met with a blank stare. Our iTV classrooms have large flat screen TV monitors at the front of the class and one mounted at the back of the class. The teacher station allows the instructor to present from the computer (presentations, multimedia, Internet) or from a document camera. Controls allow for zooming in on either classroom (the remote site and the “near” site).  When everything is working properly, each classroom can see and hear each other (on one screen) and see and hear the instructor (or what the instructor is choosing to present) on the other screen.

My library instruction session went well and I’ll briefly identify some of the things I did to ensure a successful iTV instruction experience. As I was demonstrating how to use and navigate the library webpage, I made sure to look into the camera at the back of the classroom to address the remote students and encouraged them to ask questions, which they did. I made sure to send handouts to the remote site the day before so the students were prepared for my presentation. This is really important–if the “near” class gets handouts and the remote class doesn’t, the remote learners feel even more isolated and left out. I assured them that, even though they didn’t have a replacement librarian yet at their site, they still had access to a robust collection of library eResources. The students were engaged and seemed genuinely appreciative (it helped that their teacher was there with them).

I usually spend half of my library instruction sessions having students complete a hands-on library activity where they get to practice searching the various databases. Since none of our iTV rooms are equipped with student computers, my presentation lacked this crucial piece. There is potential, however, for maximizing the medium of iTV for future presentations. How about a game show type of activity where the sites compete against each other for a prize?

I’d love to hear your ideas!

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