The best and most relevant to me was Fostering Library as Place for Distance Students: Best Practices from Two Universities (PowerPoint), presented by Heidi Steiner, Distance Learning Librarian at Norwich University and Beth Filar-Williams, Coordinator of Library Services for Distance Education at University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Some points from the presentation:
- Virtual reference is much harder than face-to-face. You end up making a lot of assumptions, and there are often miscommunications.
- ACRL provides Standards for Distance Learning Library Services
- Students need access to library resources and course management from a distance
- At Norwich, every distance program has its own specific library webpage - to create a place for those students
- Resources available from a distance are important. This includes e-journals, databases, e-books, Films on Demand, and ILLiad for for seamless ILL transactions. Both libraries will mail books to student; one pays return postage, one does not.
- For distance students, it is especially important to be available at their point of need - through IM, plenty of research/subject guides, tutorials on how to use the resources, and more.
- For instruction, both institutions use a lot of tutorials. They have experimented with synchronous options. One recommends Elluminate vOffice. You have to pay for it, but it's only one room, so it's a lesser license than regular Elluminate. EventBrite was recommended for setting up instruction - it allows people to register for an event and also automatically sends reminder emails. Being embedded in course management discussion boards is another option.
- The presenters also discussed the importance of "Being Real" - making distance students realize there are humans staffing IM reference, not robots. They also mentioned including video clips of librarians introducing themselves on their websites/subject guides.
- Join.me was recommended for sharing your computer screen with a student. They said it is incredibly easy to use - all you do is send the student a URL. And it's free!
- Two other technology tools they use are free scheduling software tools: tungle.me and Jiffle. I'm definitely going to have to look into some of these!
Some other distance learning notes from poster sessions:
- Some libraries use Skype to talk to distance students
- Screenr - does screencasting, but it has to be done all in one go (no editing!) and there is a time limit (maybe 5 minutes?).
- Librarians at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse evaluated several free web-conferencing tools. Information is on a LibGuide they created specifically for this topic.