Library 2.012: Free Online Conferencing Tools for Outreach & Instruction

Welcome Library 2.012 attendees!

Sources referenced in my session, along with some related resources, are listed below. They are also available via the Diigo collaborative bookmarking site: mbfortson’s library2012delivery Bookmarks on Diigo.

The session recording is available here: Free Online Conferencing Tools for Outreach & Instruction.

A pdf of my slide deck is available here: Free Online Conferencing Tools for Outreach & Instruction. If this document is not accessible to you, please contact me so I can get it to you in a format that is.

Thanks for visiting.


Session Description

As liaison to The University of Alabama’s Early College program, I utilized Blackboard IM, an “instant collaboration system” designed for academic use, to offer library instruction to high school students earning college credit by taking online classes. In spring 2012, I worked with the University’s College of Continuing Studies to hold Blackboard IM “office hours” for distance learning students enrolled in English 102 courses.

Blackboard IM offers such features as audio/video conferencing, instant messaging, application and whiteboard sharing, and queued chat. It is an excellent resource for librarians to whom it is available; however, not every institution offers (or can afford to offer) access to the tool.

This session will share no- and low-cost alternatives, such as Google+ Hangouts, Skype, and join.me. Best practices and lessons learned regarding library use of online conferencing tools will also be shared, and attendees will leave the session with tools to help them provide budget-savvy outreach and instruction.

“Online Conferencing”

The description of online conferencing referenced in the session- what it is, how it works, applications for teaching and learning- comes from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Publication “7 Things You Should Know About Virtual Meetings.”

Selected Tools

The following tools were mentioned in the session:

In compiling information about features, I referred to the product websites listed above and the following:

During the session, I shared these links via web tour and chat:

The session highlighted four tools, but there are many, many others. The three sources linked above are a good place to start when looking for additional tools and information, as are these guides:

Best Practices & Lessons Learned

This portion of the session drew from my own experience and that of other librarians.

I learned quite a bit about how other librarians use online conferencing tools at the Fifteenth Distance Library Services Conference, held April 18-20, 2012 in Memphis, TN. The presentations I referenced when developing my Library 2.012 session are:

  • Blackboard IM for Virtual Reference Service (Yingqi Tang & Jodi Poe, Jacksonville State University)
  • Real Time With the Librarian: Using Web Conferencing Software to Connect to Distance Students (Tom Riedel & Paul Betty, Regis University)
  • Table for One – How Librarians Provide Individualized Services to Distance Students via Web Conferencing (Shelley Arvin, Indiana State University; Anthony Kaiser, University of Central Missouri; Heidi Steiner, Norwich University; Anne Barnhart, University of West Georgia; Julie Arnold Lietzau, University of Maryland University College; Sandra Lee Hawes, Saint Leo University)

Presentation descriptions and materials are available on the conference website.

I also consulted these articles:

  • Barnhart, Anne C, and Andrea G. Stanfield. “When Coming to Campus Is Not an Option: Using Web Conferencing to Deliver Library Instruction.” Reference Services Review. 39.1 (2011): 58-65. WorldCat.
  • Hawes, Sandra L. “Playing to Win: Embedded Librarians in Online Classrooms.” Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning. 5 (2011): 56-66. WorldCat.
  • Lietzau, J.A, and B.J Mann. “Breaking Out of the Asynchronous Box: Using Web Conferencing in Distance Learning.” Journal of Library and Information Services in Distance Learning. 3 (2009): 108-119. WorldCat.
  • Reeves, L.A.. “Piloting synchronous online reference services with Elluminate vClass.” Internet Reference Services Quarterly. 10.2 (2005): 19-33. Publisher.
  • Steiner, Heidi. “Bridging Physical and Virtual Reference with Virtual Research Consultations.” Reference Services Review. 39.3 (2011): 439-450. WorldCat.

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