Follow-up on Blackboard Collaborate Report

At the November Instruction in Library Use meeting, Monique Flaccavento and I presented the results of the Blackboard Collaborate (Collaborate) pilot project on behalf of the Collaborate working group (see our previous post here). The primary goal of the project was to explore Collaborate from an instructional librarian perspective and to determine whether it is a feasible option for large-scale, synchronous information literacy (IL) delivery on the St. George campus.

The working group developed and delivered a 30-minute library orientation session geared toward new UofT undergraduates. The content was based on the “Getting Started at UofT Libraries” LibGuide and we delivered 6 online and 3 in-person sessions in the fall of 2013.

We also produced a report in which we provide the course content, discuss the technical issues and software limitations we experienced, and share some best practices. The course was well-received by students who attended, however, instructors experienced significant technical limitations that prevented us from delivering the type live searching we often use in IL instruction. As a result, we were only able to deliver content using PowerPoint slides. The report also addresses the most unexpected outcome of the project: that both registration and attendance rates were significantly lower for the online offerings than for the in-person offerings of the “Getting Started” course. Finally, we make recommendations for moving forward with synchronous, online IL initiatives at UTL.

Recently, members of the working group also met with the Collaborate support team at CTSI to follow up on the report and share the technical difficulties we experienced when testing the software. In particular, we discussed the noticeable delays and inconsistencies that occur between the content displayed on the instructor’s vs. students’ screens when undertaking live searches.  CTSI staff agreed that these issues would cause problems for all instructors using live web applications in Collaborate.  They will be following up with the vendor and update us in early 2014.

UTL is committed to finding a suitable platform for the delivery of online information literacy instruction.  We look forward to continuing to explore online IL instruction options for UTL and we welcome your feedback on this project.

For more information, or a copy of the report, please get in touch with Monique Flaccavento or Jenaya Webb.