NUS Libraries experiments with Web conferencing software for instruction

Published Nov 7, 2012 in the Newsletter Issue: Information Literacy -- November 2012

National University of Singapore (NUS) Libraries started using Web conferencing software to conduct information literacy sessions in August 2011. The library had previously recorded physical sessions — archived webcasts or prerecorded videos using software such as Camtasia. With Web conferencing software, we are able to host “live” sessions, allowing online questions and interaction through polls and chats.

Using WebEx, a popular Web conferencing software, the sessions vary from large-scale sessions — over 120 students and staff attending a lecture on EndNote, with one librarian presenting and a team of librarians handling questions — to presentations by one librarian to a handful of students for a small class.

Alex Liu, Resource Librarian for Mathematics, conducts information literacy classes for mathematics students. He found that setting up sessions wasn’t difficult, but he did have to “overcome the strange feeling of talking to the monitor” (though it faded soon enough).

Principal Librarian Wong Kah Wei of the Hon Sui Sen Memorial Library has conducted sessions ranging from “Finding Statistics Online” for NUS staff to “Lunch Time with Librarian,” a series of in-person sessions that she converted into WebEx sessions. While she enjoys the increased interaction in face-to-face sessions, she likes the fact that WebEx sessions are accessible for students who can’t attend in person and that recordings are available for review.

We also experimented with WebEx for our own internal briefings and trainings. In May 2012, Librarian Linda Janti Oei (Science Library), Assistant Librarian Chew Shu Wen (Medical Library) and I used WebEx for an internal training on the Web scale discovery tool that was launching soon.

In the past, such sessions were generally conducted at the Central Library, and staff from the other six NUS libraries had to make the trip to attend in person. By conducting the session virtually using WebEx, it saved time for staff from other libraries and was more convenient for them too. Many attended from their own desks and listened in while on duty during idle periods. Like other WebEx sessions, the session was automatically recorded so staff could review it later.

The session was well received: “Just like to thank the Web Scale Discovery implementation team for coming up with using WebEx, we love it at Science Library as it saves a lot of traveling time, and we don't miss the training when our schedule does not fit.  Thumbs Up!”

We are still relatively new to using WebEx for online training sessions, and our librarians are still exploring, but I feel it fits in very well with our current push toward providing alternative ways for users to interact with us and nicely complements our growing social media and chat reference channels.

By providing various channels for learning, we cater to different user needs and preferences. For example, we conduct EndNote sessions in the following ways:

  • Lectures (face to face)
  • Hands-on tutorials (face to face)
  • Clinics (face to face)
  • Online sessions (WebEx)
  • Recorded online sessions (WebEx/webcasts)

This ensures that regardless of their learning style, users are likely to find a method that is a good fit.

About the Contributor

Aaron Tay

Senior Librarian & E-Service Facilitator

National University of Singapore