There is an interesting column by Meredith Farkas in American Libraries about the approach that the University of Arizona is taking with database tutorials, which they call “Guide on the Side.” Basically, you get a slick looking tutorial right next to the database interface. This approach has been tried in the past at other colleges using frames to put the tutorial and database next to each other, but the design constraints of the past meant wonky vertical and horizontal scroll bars across the page. The U of AZ solution looks better.
It’s my understanding that the University of Arizona be releasing the software this summer that will enable libraries to make their own local versions of these tutorials. I was thinking these might be useful for us if we are trying to create some online instructional content that we might otherwise try to do in the classroom. I realize that these tutorials only hit the traditional, tool-based kind of instruction (click here, type that there, etc.), but it’s worth thinking about whether these play help a supporting role in our online instructional efforts.