Technology in Library Instruction

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This page includes information on different ways to use technology to enhance library instruction. This page focuses primarily on face-to-face instruction, but be sure to check out our page on technology in online instructional settings, too. Much of the content on this page could work for online instruction, as well.

Please add your own knowledge and experience.

  • "Using Technology as a Learning Tool, Not Just a Cool New Thing": a nice article from Educause demonstrating the increasing role of technology in instruction

Internet (general)

Biased Websites/Hoax Websites

  • Phil Bradley's Fake Websites - a good list of fake/spoof websites compiled by Phil Bradley - Internet Consultant.
  • Spencer Jardine's list of hoax sites - posted on the ili-l listserv.
  • - actually sponsored by a white pride group once you investigate
  • Dihydrogen Monoxide Homepage - a spoof site that talks about the danger of “dhmo” – which is water
  • RYT Hospital - male pregnancies, etc.
  • Ova Prima Foundation - scientific “proof” that the egg came first
  • All About Explorers - made to show how looks can be deceiving
  • Pets or Food
  • article on vaccines, autism, and gulf war syndrome
  • Conservapedia - this is more of a site with extreme bias than a hoax site, but useful for teaching, nonetheless.
  • Panexa - a website satirizing the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus -- a website calling to protect a non-existent creature.
  • Dow Ethics
  • The Dog Island

Concept Mapping

  • MindMeister
  • My Webspiration
  • Mindomo. Mind Mapping and Brainstorming Software. Check out an example of what it can do.
  • Prezi
  • Keyword Map
  • IHMC Cmap Tools: A more robust mind-mapping (concept-mapping) software (free)


  • Hoffman, C. & Polkinghorne, S. (2008). Sparking Flickrs of insight into controlled vocabularies and subject searching. In P. Godwin & J. Parker (Eds.), Information literacy meets library 2.0 (pp. 3-18). London: Facet Publishing.

Summary:This Flickr lesson strives to teach students natural language versus controlled vocabularies, database concepts, and organization methods. The librarians at Concordia University implemented a Flickr lesson into their one-shot instruction sessions that they give to classes that come to the library once for a visit. In their version of the lesson, the instructor uploads images to a library Flickr account before the session. Students are given the password to the account (which is immediately changed afterwards) and then instructed to, individually, tag each of the images so that they could be retrieved by others. After a few minutes, the instructor calls a stop to the tagging and they go through the images, looking at the collection of tags that have been assigned by different students. Students discuss each image and the attached tags. The instructor facilitates the discussion about the tags with some questions: “Are the tags accurate? Do they make sense? Do they actually describe the object? Are the tags meaningful? Is the tag understood by everyone, or only the person who tagged it? Are the tags correctly made? Are they properly spelled? Are there observable variations in the spellings? Do the tags make the photos more retrievable?” (Hoffman & Polkinghorne, 2008, p. 120).

  • Bussert, K., Brown, N. E., & Armstrong, A. H. (2008). IL 2.0 at The American University in Cairo: Flickr in the classroom. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 13(1), 1-13. Retrieved March 4, 2009, from the Haworth Press Online Catalog.

Summary:This lesson helped the students understand the concept of databases, organization, and controlled vocabulary, while allowing them to be creative, interactive, and peer-led in a personal, experiential environment. After some experimentation, the librarians at AUC decided to implement the photo-sharing service Flickr into an introductory lesson before the students were shown any of the library’s resources (in a semester long class). The students divided into groups and were instructed to take pictures of their group, upload them to Flickr, and then to create tags and descriptions for them. They were encouraged to consult with their peers (group members) if they were confused or stuck – the librarian played the role of a facilitator, available for consultation, rather than instructor. Secondly, the students were told to explore the Flickr database, performing searches that located their photos in different ways; in the process, they also found some of their classmates photos during their searches which peaked their engagement in the project (Bussert, Brown, and Armstrong, 2008, p. 5-6).


  • Deitering, A. (2008). Using Wikipedia to eavesdrop on the scholarly conversation. In P. Godwin & J. Parker (Eds.), Information literacy meets library 2.0 (pp. 3-18). London: Facet Publishing.

Summary: An IL lesson designed at Oregon State University works on critical thinking about information sources, evaluation, sources of information, etc – and merges them with the concepts of academic research and knowledge creation to build a lesson that teaches students IL skills that are critical for academic and non-academic life. In 2001, librarians at Oregon State University (OSU) partnered with writing faculty to provide information literacy instruction to every section of WR 121, First Year Composition (FYC) course. This is a course that every undergraduate must take, and the goal is to show students how to research and write in academia. The Wikipedia assignment that was developed for this class, instructed students to find a Wikipedia page about their chosen topic, examine the article’s ‘history’ page (tab), analyze the changes to the article over time by different users, and reflect on how they will use the page in their own argument (paper). As part of another IL assignment, students are required to analyze the ‘discussion’ page (tab) for the Wikipedia article about their chosen topic – people discuss the validity (i.e. neutrality) of articles on this page (Deitering, 2008).


  • Payne, G. (2008). Engage or enrage: the blog as an assessment tool. In P. Godwin & J. Parker (Eds.), Information literacy meets library 2.0 (pp. 3-18). London: Facet Publishing.

Summary: An IL assignment designed at the University of Northampton strove to move outside the library and academia to think critically about information. A 13 week “module” (course) on information topics was offered to first-year business students at the University of Northampton. The course was based on lectures and seminars on information topics such as censorship, web usability, information management, search strategies, evaluating information, Web 2.0, and the information society. As part of their assignments, students were asked to use Blogger to write at least ten blogs (approx. 250 words each) over the course of the 13 weeks. The blogs were supposed to reflect, analyze, and evaluate the range, quality, reliability, effectiveness, delivery and organization of information that they encountered in their daily lives. They were given guidance on blog writing style, etiquette, and privacy concerns, but specific topics of the blog posts were deliberately left vague so that students would be free to write about what most mattered to them. For added motivation, the blog assignment was made 50% of the students overall grade for the course (blogs were graded by librarians, rather than the business faculty). Despite taking a course on IL concepts, the students had a very difficult time blogging in a critical, thoughtful matter about information they came across outside of the classroom. Instead, the students would focus on how they felt about the subject matter or the topic of their information. As students made posts throughout the course, the librarians would give feedback, trying to direct students to evaluate the information using IL skills rather than blogging about how they felt concerning the subject matter, but the librarians reported that this feedback did not make as much difference in the quality of the posts as they would have liked (Payne, 2008). For more details about lessons learned, see the full article.


Needless to say, you can make a video of just about anything and post it on YouTube or elsewhere.

Many of today's students would prefer to watch a video rather than read text: Oblinger & Oblinger (2005) recommend presenting students with an “image-rich environment” rather than text because they are more comfortable with the layout ("Is It Age or IT").

Some libraries are creating YouTube videos to provide library orientations.

There are also many good short videos out there that have taken the place of text tutorials, covering all subjects from plagiarism to creating an annotated bibliography.

  • Webb, Paula L. "YouTube and libraries." College & Research Libraries News 68.6 (2007): 354-355. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts(EBSCO).

Abstract: The article presents information on possible uses of "YouTube," the Internet video distribution website, by libraries. The author notes that use of social software applications could radically change library instruction and training. She describes how to open a YouTube account, in order to get the most benefit from the tool, and how to edit one's "channel information" or library profile. She states that one of the advantages to using YouTube is the ability to upload videos in any format, which YouTube's servers will convert to a standard. She notes regulations for the materials uploaded to the website.

  • Breakstone, Elizabeth. "Technology." Public Services Quarterly 4.1 (2008): 67-72. ERIC (EBSCO).

Abstract: This column presents an interview with Nick Baker, Reference and Web Services librarian at Williams College. Baker has produced several films for and about the library profession. In 2007, he won an InfoTubey Award for Outstanding Library YouTube Productions for his work. In this interview, Baker shares his ideas and experiences about this creative and interesting new form of library instruction and marketing.

  • For Source Evaluation / Critical Thinking:

Also, as seen in a presentation at ACRL, one library is showing brief 2-3 videos (usually from a news source, ex: 'Does air pollution affect health in China') as a prompt for a discussion of source evaluation. Instead of looking at articles, they appeal to visual students, and have them analyze the videos for facts and credibility. Then fill out a worksheet of facts, define problems, determine info needed, create keywords and then search database.


A growing body of literature is exploring ways in which Twitter can be used to foster student engagement and create avenues for informal discussion in instructional settings.

  • Junco, R., Heiberger, G., and Loken, E. (2010). The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. Article first published online 12 Nov 2010. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00387.x.

Abstract: Despite the widespread use of social media by students and its increased use by instructors, very little empirical evidence is available concerning the impact of social media use on student learning and engagement. This paper describes our semester-long experimental study to determine if using Twitter – the microblogging and social networking platform most amenable to ongoing, public dialogue – for educationally relevant purposes can impact college student engagement and grades. A total of 125 students taking a first year seminar course for pre-health professional majors participated in this study (70 in the experimental group and 55 in the control group). With the experimental group, Twitter was used for various types of academic and co-curricular discussions. Engagement was quantified by using a 19-item scale based on the National Survey of Student Engagement. To assess differences in engagement and grades, we used mixed effects analysis of variance (ANOVA) models, with class sections nested within treatment groups. We also conducted content analyses of samples of Twitter exchanges. The ANOVA results showed that the experimental group had a significantly greater increase in engagement than the control group, as well as higher semester grade point averages. Analyses of Twitter communications showed that students and faculty were both highly engaged in the learning process in ways that transcended traditional classroom activities. This study provides experimental evidence that Twitter can be used as an educational tool to help engage students and to mobilize faculty into a more active and participatory role.

  • Messner, K. (2009). Pleased to Tweet you: Making a case for twitter in the classroom. School Library Journal. 55(12), 44-47.

Abstract: As the ranks of educators on Twitter grow, more and more are heard about the importance of their "PLNs" (a term reportedly coined by educational technology guru David Warlick). A PLN, or Personal Learning Network, is a group of like-minded professionals with whom one can exchange ideas, advice, and resources. So why shouldn't students have PLNs of their own? That's not so easy in some school districts, where Twitter is blocked along with MySpace and Facebook. But teachers who wish to use the tool for classroom purposes might consider crafting a petition to access it. Online safety is always a concern when new technology is proposed for the classroom, so it's an important issue to address in any social networking proposal. Of course, student learning should be at the heart of such requests. This article presents some dos and don'ts for crafting a successful proposal.

  • Purcell, M. (2012). Twitter tips and tricks for your library and classroom. Library Media Connection. 31(3), 46-47.

Abstract: The article offers information on the educational applications of microblogging website Twitter. Definitions are provided for terminology specific to Twitter, as well as a list of organizations that discuss books and libraries on the website including the American Library Association, publisher Penguin Group, and periodical "School Library Journal." Reasons for using Twitter in libraries and classrooms include improving student writing, exposure to technology, and information sharing.


  • "Clickers" are a remote personal response system. See this helpful Educause article for an introduction: "7 Things You Should Know About Clickers"
  • Dill, Emily. "Do clickers improve library instruction? Lock in your answers now." Journal of Academic Librarianship 34.6 (2008): 527-529.

Abstract: This study measured student retention of a lecture/powerpoint library orientation. One group used clickers to poll students knowledge throughout the presentation (to keep them engaged), while the control group polled students merely by asking them to raise their hands. Both presentations were identical. Students were then given an ungraded pop quiz at the end of the session (using pencil and paper) to see if they could answer questions about the presentation they had just witnessed. Their results showed that the clickers made no difference in this respect -- both groups got approx. half the questions right. However, anecdotally, the librarians did observe that students in the clicker group did seem more engaged in the presentation (even if they didn't retain more). The conclusion was that clickers may have some value, but in this situation the technology itself didn't increase knowledge retention, which would suggest more needed to be done rather than just adding technology to a lesson.


  • Foote, Carolyn. "Checking Out the iPad." MultiMedia & Internet@Schools 17.6 (2010): 17-19. Computer Source (EBSCO).

Abstract: The article focuses on a pilot project at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas which investigated whether iPads were helpful in a school and/or library environment. The pilot project is comprised of three ongoing projects, namely the use of the iPad for teachers, the library applications of the iPad for library student focus groups and small-group classroom assignments using the iPad. It relates that teachers have found the iPad as a useful tool for working with students with special needs. It discusses the advantages of the iPad for library research.

  • Saine, P. (2012).iPods, iPads, and the SMARTBoard: Transforming literacy instruction and student learning. New England Reading Association Journal, 47(2), 74-79.

Abstract: The article focuses on how iPods, iPads, and the SMARTBoard are transforming literacy instruction and the way students are learning in classrooms in the U.S. Teachers mention that when students engage in digital literacy activities, they see these tools as exciting and unique, but often not as schoolwork, while some teachers also claim students become more creative in their thinking. It highlights how teachers have these tools into their instructional activities.


Here is a nice article from Cnet that talks about the differences in the E-readers, and how to pick the one that is right for you (or your library):





Pecha Kucha: A new way of doing powerpoints - to help relieve the all-to-common "death by powerpoint" syndrome:

Cephalonian Method: A different way to do orientations to the library that involves students to make the class more interactive, less librarian monologue.

Cell Phones

Anecdoteally, I heard of one librarian that started every library instruction session by having students put his (or the library's) phone number into their cell phone contact list.

Poll Everywhere: This is the same idea as clickers, except, your audience's personal cell phone's take the place of the clickers. Obviously your audience had to have cell phones, have them on (potential drawbacks), and incur any texting fees applicable to their account. Poll Everywhere does offer free and subscription accounts. Here is a demo video on the company's website: Recent ILI-L post (Feb 18. 2011) on Poll Everywhere, got mixed responses on how well it worked (check their archives:

My students love to use their cell phones when we play Kahoot. It's a free online game that allows teacher to use generated quizzes or make up their own. It's easy to use and your students will be jumping out of their seats with excitement, even research vocabulary - promise. [1] Susan Morris Student Librarian at Admiral Farragut Academy

Classroom Control Systems


Glogster: Online software for students to create digital posters for visual presentations. "A collaborative online learning platform for teachers and students to express their creativity, knowledge, ideas and skills in the classroom." For free version, use:

Simple Booklet: Tool for combining brainstorming & early research objects (images, text, audio or video files, links) into an e-journal log. "Simple Booklet is a free service offering online multimedia booklet creation and publishing. To create a book using Simple Booklet just sign-up for a free account and click create. Select the layout template that suits your needs. To add content click anywhere on the blank canvas and a menu of options will appear. You can add text, images, audio files, videos, and links to each page of your booklet."

WetPaint Wiki: Wiki software (free)

WIKI Spaces: Wiki software (free)

Wallwisher Free, collaborative whiteboard

Prezi 3d canvas, presentation tool