Author: Graeme Tobyn – Senior Lecturer (School of Community Health and Midwifery)

Helping students to learn how to make an effective search for literature by showing them how to manipulate database search facilities is as easy online and at a distance as it is to demonstrate in the classroom. In Adobe Connect the lecturer is not limited to power points of slides explaining each step but can show the moves in real time, live to the students.

All this is possible in Adobe Connect by virtue of the share pod. This pod is usually employed for the loading of pdfs and power points to show in the room, or to bring up a white board for more graphic activities. But the pod also allows you to ‘share my screen’ whereby anything that the lecturer brings up on his desktop will be projected into the room. This means that you can guide the student from the initial ‘Library Search’ page through to the electronic resources and the databases, showing how to negotiate access, and back again to pick up the ‘journal finder’ where the student will be able to track down those articles listed by the database but not available as a download from there.

Once you have shown the watching students into a database search facility, you can demonstrate basic and advanced searches, how to export the search history for inclusion in the assignment, if required, how databases can suggest synonyms to expand the range of keywords the students will use in a search, and how to explode and limit their searches for wider cover or narrow focus. Adobe Connect will also allow the lecturer to record audio-visually the session so that the students can watch again and again the steps and hear the explanation until they have refined their own search strategies.

One disadvantage to using ‘share my screen’ is that the lecturer can no longer see what is taking place in the room and is, to all intents and purposes, operating blind. We routinely have two lecturers in our online sessions anyway, so that one can monitor the quality of the experience in the room, while the other leads the exploration of materials outside on their desktop.


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