Bringing it together, putting it online: A consistent, strategic and student centred approach to online orientation
Monash University Library (MUL) has for the first time incorporated an innovative online space for commencing students into its Orientation 2016 program: http://guides.lib.monash.edu/orientation/home
This pilot adopted a student centred approach and unified the Library’s online orientation message across the seven branch libraries in Australia. The orientation period represents an important opportunity for the Library to connect with new students. However, it can be challenging to compete with other university services also vying for students’ attention. It is imperative that the Library ensures that, along with face to face contact, it has an intuitive and consistent online presence during orientation that enables students to access information about the Library and its services in a way that is adaptable to students’ needs and technology use. This paper examines how we set out to create a virtual space to orientate students, and what we learnt along the way.
Orientation for MUL has historically been conducted on a branch-by-branch basis, meaning that each branch has created similar resources with varying levels of quality and design. There has been no centralised online space for orientation content and no unified Library orientation message. A working group was formed to address these issues. The group consisted of staff of varying HEW levels working across five of MUL’s branches. From the planning stages the group aligned all decisions with the university-wide ‘Orientation Transition Framework’. The framework states that orientation and weeks one to four are the key times to engage with students and this provided the basis for our design. It was decided that the Library Guide software would be the platform used to house the resources. Four key aspects of the Library were brainstormed. For each of these key areas a short video was created. Students’ voices were considered to be necessary to ensure that we created student centred content and it was decided that current Monash University students would be incorporated into the videos. Scripts for each of the videos were created and approved by the working group. The content was filmed on an iPhone 6 using the FiLMiC Pro app. Editing was done using Adobe Premier. The films were uploaded to YouTube and then embedded on the Library Guide. Weeks one to four content was repurposed from existing Library content and added to the Library Guide on a separate tab so that students could access the content when they needed at the appropriate time.
The analytics from the Library Guide show strong student engagement. Since the guide was officially released in the week before O-week up until the end of week four the guide was viewed over 6,300 times. During orientation week the guide was viewed over 1, 600 times. The analytics from the four videos uploaded to YouTube tell a similar story - the videos were viewed over 1, 700 times from the week before O-week till the end of week 4 with each video having an excellent retention rate with 79% if viewers staying to watch the entire video.
MUL’s pilot online orientation program succeeded its aims. The strong levels of student engagement warrant developing content and refining the Orientation Library guide for future orientations. The focus will be on creating new resources for weeks one to four and incorporating student feedback into the changes.