Association of College & Research Libraries

ACRL: PARTNERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION: Web authorware and courseintegrated library instruction

Martin Kesselman is media services librarian; Delphine Khanna is the former digital project librarian (nowatthe University of Pennsylvania Library); and Lourdes Vazquez is Spanish and Latin American librarian at Rutgers University, e-mail:,,

The Learning Links project at Rutgers University

The Web is providing new opportunities for teaching and learning. The Web is a dynamic environment where distributed information can be accessed without constraints of geographic location or time. In the Web environment, it doesn’t matter if the user is accessing library or instruction resources from a computer in the library, from a computer lab elsewhere on campus, or in the middle of the night from his or her home.

Web-based teaching also enables selfdirected, self-paced instruction. Students can set their own pace, thanks to navigational mechanisms, which allow them to repeat sections or move around within the tutorial until they feel they have assimilated the materials. Self-assessment tests give students further control over the learning process by providing them with immediate feedback on their progress.

Web-based teaching promotes active learning by emphasizing activities of exploration and discovery and by making it easy for students to create their own materials (that is, to publish their own Web pages). Webbased teaching emphasizes collaborative learning by allowing the students to interact with the instructor and other students via email, online chat, and threaded discussion groups. Finally, it is easy to “log” activity on a Web site, thus allowing the instructor to monitor learning and determine the effectiveness of the instruction provided.

A slide from a PowerPoint presentation on course integrated instruction.


Several authoring systems are now available to develop Web-based instructional tutorials. Older packages involved learning on a standalone PC, with the learners working on their own. Newer Web-based packages offer various tools to create teaching units seamlessly integrating text, graphic, audiovideo files. Other tools include options for threaded discussion groups and chats, course management features allowing the students to check their grades, online quizzes that can be graded automatically or manually, a course calendar, and the ability to review their classmates’ homepages. The instructor can also track the students’ progress. To use most of these packages, minimal knowledge of HTML, if any, is necessary. Many of these packages have free demonstration versions available for download on their Web sites.1

At Rutgers University, we are using one of these packages, WebCT, in acollaboratve grant-funded project between the Spanish and Portuguese Department and the Scholarly Communications Center of the Library. The project, entitled “Learning Links: Reading Writing, Information, the Web, and the World, is organized around a series of WebCT Web sites developed to support various under graduate Spanish literature classes.

With Learning Links, students develop their reading and comprehension skills in Spanish and expand their knowledge of Iberoamerican culture and literature. With the help of the Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American librarian and other Rutgers librarians focusing on Web technologies, resources found on the Web and in the library are being incorporated into the Web sites. These include literary texts, authors’ biographical information, literary criticism, cultural information, and demographics. Audiovisual materials found in the Media Center, such as songs and clips of plays or movies that may have been adapted from the texts studied, are added to the WebCT Web sites, as well.

Students are also learning how to search the Web and how to evaluate relevant Web sites they discover on their own.

Learning communities

A unique aspect of this program is the development of learning communities. Students in upper-level undergraduate classes are creating Web sites as writing assignments, providing cultural and historical information in Spanish that is relevant to the readings scheduled in the lower-level courses.

These students are also researching and identifying links for existing Web sites in Spanish, and are working with the Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American librarian to learn to search the Internet and the library catalog and databases for monographic, periodical, and primary documents.

Students will not only be developing information literacy, but technical literacy, as well. As a final product, students are developing their own Web site using Netscape Composer or creating a presentation using Microsoft PowerPoint.

Graduate students are involved in the preparation of the various multimedia materials and in teaching the Web-based courses. These activities allow them to experiment with cutting-edge teaching technologies, which provides them with the skills they will need to become the education professionals of tomorrow.

More generally, students at all levels are encouraged to interact with the librarians involved in the project through training sessions, one-on-one consulting, participation in threaded discussion lists, and e-mail. The Rutgers Libraries’ Scholarly Communication Center is building a laboratory for students to work on computers as a group or on a one-on-one basis with the librarians.

The library component of the project will be evaluated based on the relevance of the print and Web resources selected by the students and on the rationales used to select these sources (such as authority, scholarship, timeliness of data, etc.). The diversity of information resources presented by students in their assignments will be compared with the output of classes that have not received instruction via WebCT and which have only had a traditional one-class period session on the library and information resources.

The WebCT logs will be analyzed to measure how frequently each text and multimedia resource on the site has been accessed by the students. The frequency at which the students e-mailed librarians and participated in threaded discussions moderated by librarians will also be measured.2

A crucial role of the library in the Learning Links project is to assist teaching faculty and instructors with copyright issues.

With the enactment of the Digital Millennium Copyright Law in 1998, dealing with copyrights in the digital environment has become even more complex and confusing. Librarians can provide leadership in the use of copyrighted materials online. For the Learning Links project, librarians and instructors have held several meetings to discuss copyrights and fair use issues.

Learning links

• http:// sccO 1. rutgers. edu/lrnlinks Web-based authorware


Easy T

Learning Space

Toolbook II

Top Class

Web Course in a Box


General resources

ACRL Instruction Section's Web Design and Evaluation Criteria

Training Resources Bookmark -scholzcr/ etech/ training. html • WBT Information Center primer.htm • Web Quality Page (Walt Howe) navnet/ quality. html • World Lecture Hall Discussion lists

NetTrain send e-mail to: with the message: “subscribe nettrain yourname”

Web4LIB send e-mail to: with the message “subscribe Web4Lib yourname"

The four factors of fair use

The highlights of our discussion on the four factors of fair use—purpose, nature, amount, and market were the following. For the “purpose” factor, a strong argument in favor of fair use is that the Learning Links project is digitizing text and media for educational purposes. For the “nature of the information” factor, a good point is that the materials we’ve digitally reproduced are already published in print or on the Web, while they do not constitute textbooks or workbooks. For the “amount” factor, we know that smaller is better. The more we limit the size of excerpted texts, video and music, the more likely it is to be a case of fair use. Finally, for the “market” factor, it is unlikely that students would be buying the books from which the texts are excerpted.

At the end of these discussions, librarians and instructors have agreed on the following points. First, it is important to take advantage of WebCT’s built-in password protection, which ensures that access to Learning Links is limited to students taking the class. Second, in the primary phase of the project, Learning Links is considered a one-year experiment, thus the use of copyrighted materials is considered spontaneous and fair use.

However, it will be necessary to seek permissions from copyright holders for any materials made available on the WebCT Web sites for more than a year.

Our Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American librarian has also been instrumental in helping to identify Web sites that offer images and other materials that are in the public domain and not subject to copyright.

As we enter the second half of the first semester of the Learning Links project, we are excited about the collaboration we’ve developed with the Spanish and Portuguese Department and eager to demonstrate how information literacy and library instruction can be integrated throughout the curriculum in the digital environment.

In the future, the libraries hope to collaborate with other libraries within the United States and the Spanish-speaking world to expand resources and distance learning opportunities for students.

Interviews with authors, lectures, and art exhibits provided by Latin American academic libraries could be digitized and incorporated into the Learning Links course materials.

We are also hopeful that our collaboration can serve as a model for courseintegrated library and information instruction and be applied to other disciplines at Rutgers.


  1. Tess Tobin and Martin Kesselman, “Evaluation of Web-Based Library Instruction Programs,” (prepared for the Workshop on Web-Based Instruction and sponsored by the IFLA User Education RT at King Moghut University, IFLA Annual Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, August 1999).
  2. Mary Lee Bretz et al., “Learning Links: Reading, Writing, Information, the Web, and the World,” (proposal to the University Vice President for Academic Affairs, Rutgers University, Spring 1999).
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