How Librarians at Utah State University Are Spending Less Time on Repetitive Tasks and Delivering Exponentially More Library Instruction

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Source: 2020 ACRL Trends & Statistics Survey

Who is this for?

If you feel like you need to clone yourself to get all of your work done…

If you’d like to spend less time on repetitive tasks and more time on things that really make a difference…

If you're looking for an easier way to measure and report your direct contribution to student success… 

...this is for you.

 

The ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics survey shows an increase in the number of full-time students to library staff. This means there is more responsibility falling on fewer library staff members.

The survey also shows a decrease in the average number of Library Presentations to Groups (instruction sessions) from 2018-2019.

Finding more effective ways to deliver library instruction is the only way to reverse these trends and demonstrate the value the library has to offer.

The Core Concept

It is possible to reduce the amount of time you spend on repetitive tasks and at the same time increase your measurable contribution to student success without adding to your workload, but most academic librarians don’t get those results because they don’t have a cost-effective way to deliver instruction that is always available (asynchronous) AND still creates meaningful librarian-student interaction.

Conventional library instruction methods (“one-shot” instruction and static web pages) limit one-to-one interaction and your ability to measure learning outcomes. Making library instruction interactive and always available online as an assignment within discipline-specific courses will overcome those obstacles and produce dramatic results.

Niche Academy is the simplest and most cost-effective way to deliver these results.

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Our Story

Niche Academy Founder & CEO, Jeromy Wilson, didn’t choose the library life. It chose him. Jeromy was only 4 years old when his father, Jim Wilson, helped found Dynix, a software company responsible for the integrated library system that replaced the need for physical card catalogs. Growing up, he tagged along to countless library conferences and events, before eventually taking a job at Dynix after graduating. But after a few years, as the world was going digital, Jeromy began to notice a problem: despite the increase in available online resources, they just weren’t being used.

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Jared & Jeromy

So in 2013, Jeromy set out to find a solution, and that’s where the idea for Niche Academy was born. He started out on his own, adding to the platform in his free time and taking advantage of the industry contacts he’d already made, but he soon realized that he wasn’t going to be able to do it alone. That’s when he decided to recruit the help of former Dynix co-worker Jared Oates. Together, they were able to get Niche Academy off the ground and it wasn’t long before they found a whole team of people who believed in their idea. 

Seven years later, we are now a team of 34 (and counting!), and are trusted by over 800 library systems (including state libraries, local libraries, and consortia) all across the world. 

After getting our start with just a few short library tutorials, we’re now helping to build the future of online resources and e-learning. 

See a Demo

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A Better Process

Old Approach

“One-shot” sessions offer limited one-to-one interaction. Static LibGuide-style instruction is always available, but not interactive.

New Approach

Library instruction is always available online with interactive elements like quizzes, response prompts, and activities AND a flexible schedule.

Old Result

Static instruction and group instruction limit the ability of library instructors to pose questions, evaluate learning, provide direct feedback and build relationships.

New Result

Library instructors can use response prompts, quizzes, and activities to measure their impact on student learning outcomes. They can proactively follow up with students, both those who are struggling and to commend those doing well.

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Library instructors can have the greatest impact when they can deliver instruction on the learner’s schedule and still offer individual feedback.


Old Approach

“One shot” library instruction is usually part of one specific course in a student’s academic life.

New Approach

Library instruction is included many different courses as an assignment directly within the regular course material in the campus learning management system.

Old Result

Library instruction is usually an anomalous event in a student's academic life. Knowledge retention is limited, only a few topics are covered, and the perception of the library as an essential learning resource is limited.

New Result

Library instruction enhances discipline-specific learning without requiring dedicated class time or additional preparation time from teaching faculty. Library instructors can take ownership of broad concerns like plagiarism and copyright compliance.

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Resistance from faculty and disinterest from students evaporate when library instruction becomes an embedded assignment within a course.


Old Approach

Library instruction is general or all-purpose. It’s delivered in a way that is abstract enough to apply across disciplines and courses.

New Approach

Library instruction is tailored to support specific courses. Course-specific interactive instruction can include applied information literacy skills like research techniques, citation best practices, as well as database introductions.

Old Result

Faculty within disciplines perceive library instruction as a marginally relevant offering rather than a direct support for their own course-specific objectives.

New Result

Library instructors deliver more impact. They spend more time on interactive information literacy, and less time doing database introductions. Teaching faculty see library instructors as valued partners offering direct support for course objectives. The perceived value of instructors and of the library itself increases dramatically.

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The most effective ways a library can support High Impact Educational Practices is by providing course-specific library instruction.


Old Approach

One-shot training offered by the library changes very little between semesters and from year to year.

New Approach

The range of library instruction offerings is continually expanding and being refreshed. Database instruction is updated whenever there are user interface or functionality changes. Information literacy and research support instruction reflects emerging trends and innovations.

Old Result

The library offering is perceived as being stale and marginally relevant.

New Result

Information literacy and research support instruction reflects emerging trends and innovations. Database instruction reflects the most current user interface and functionality changes. 

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Fresh training offerings show that the library is adaptive, innovative, and relevant.

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To Dramatically Increase the Quantity & Quality of Library Instruction

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Options

Do It Yourself

 

 

You will need to create a collection of video-based tutorials including information literacy instruction as well as database introductions. You will also need an LMS platform that can deliver tutorials within the campus LMS and still give you your own reports.

Result: Tutorial creation will require writers, instructional designers, illustrators, recording equipment, video editors, as well as administrative overhead to manage the process.

Price: $10,000/tutorial is a typical price when all costs are considered. If you build an initial set of just 24 tutorials (a typical minimal collection), you'll pay $240,000.

A typical price for an LMS platform subscription is $3,000/year.

Timeframe: With an efficient process, a professional-quality tutorial will take about a month to produce. 24 tutorials will take 2 years to complete.

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A Niche Academy platform includes a collection of professional quality tutorials covering topics like lateral reading, search techniques, source evaluation, & appropriate citation methods. The collection also includes introductions to databases from publishers like JSTOR, EBSCO, PROQUEST, and GALE.

Result: You don't have to start from scratch. White-labeled tutorials can be used as-is or easily customized. Using Niche Academy, the library can create material once and update it on the fly. You can also tap into an enormous marketplace of training content maintained by a community of practitioners and library experts. Students can interact with library instruction within the university LMS, but the library can still track progress and quiz results.

Price: Subscriptions start at just $1,200/yr.

Timeframe: Academy setup takes less than 2 hours.

Niche Academy is for academic librarians who want to make measurable contributions to student success.

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Case Studies

 

“Your customer service... the service that you provide when there are issues or when I want something new... we've had a problem solving kind of relationship... It has been really superior to any other product that we have at USU. That's been really great.”

 

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Library tutorial usage in the 2018-2019 academic year totaled 1,362 views. In the same timeframe from 2019-2020 there were over 35,000 tutorial views.

Utah State University

USU first began working with Niche Academy to train staff in the fall of 2014. 

In 2018, they also began to use Niche Academy to provide library instruction to the broader campus community. This was Teagan Eastman’s focus.

Before Niche...

Prior to Niche Academy, instructional material created by the library was not getting used by the people who could benefit most from it. USU had LibGuides to help people become familiar with Library resources, but most students and faculty did not seek out and use the information there.

With Niche Academy...

While the USU Merrill-Cazier Library continues to use LibGuides, Niche Academy allowed them to dramatically expand their instructional offerings and present them in new contexts: embedded in library web pages and within their EBSCO user interface, for example. 

The Big Change...

Over the last year, Niche Academy has also allowed them to make library tutorials available within the campus LMS so faculty can include them as regular assignments in their own online instruction. Usage is no longer a problem. The library doesn’t have to go out of its way to market the instructional material it creates, Library tutorials are getting used because they’re a part of the regular workflow of university courses and they live at the point of need. 

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Niche Academy Helps You...

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Spend less time on routine or repetitive tasks (like database intros and creating videos).

 

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Spend more time working with students.

 

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Measure your direct contribution to student success.

 

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Deliver (a lot) more library instruction.

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How It Works

Professional Quality Training & Tutorials

The instructional design, video, and audio quality are top-notch and exactly matched to the needs of academic libraries. The tutorials are completely white-labeled for each institutional library.

LTI Integration Within Campus LMS

The library can create material once and update it on the fly, even within a single semester if necessary. Students don't have to log in outside of the campus LMS. Student progress is automatically tracked. The library has automatic visibility into usage stats for library-provided training. Faculty members can add Niche Academy tutorials as assignments within their own courses by simply selecting what they need from a collection of available library instruction.

 

Customized Library Instruction for Individual Faculty Members

The Niche Academy platform makes it easy to assemble the needed parts for a customized course-specific tutorial from existing tutorial material. The existing material may include introductions to discipline-specific databases as well as research essentials like search techniques, source evaluation, and appropriate citation methods. The Niche Academy platform lets you create course-specific tutorial experiences with a small fraction of the effort.

 

Continually Updated Training

Using Niche Academy, you can select training material from a continually expanding collection of high quality library instruction. You can tap into an enormous marketplace of training content contributed by a community of practitioners and library experts. As a customer, you’ll also be able to influence Niche Academy’s content creation queue. The Niche Academy library tutorial marketplace lets you select, adapt, and customize material for your own library to continually offer fresh training options.

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The Value of Niche Academy

value of niche academy

Niche Academy did not increase prices in 2020 due to COVID, but we expect a price increase for new customers in 2021.

Our Policy: No price increase upon renewal. 

If you subscribe before the new year, you’ll be locked in and will not see a price increase.

 


 

COVID has created a focus on eResources. This is an opportunity.

Our Guarantee: If you use Niche Academy to offer interactive library instruction within your campus LMS, we guarantee results. If you’re not completely satisfied with your results in the first year, we’ll credit you a full year’s subscription.

Get a Price

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Questions?

Q: Do Niche Academy's tutorials align with the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education?

A: Yes, you can see how our tutorials align with the six ACRL frameworks here.

 

Q: How is Niche Academy different from CREDO Info Lit - Core?

A: Both Niche Academy and Info Lit - Core accomplish some of the same things. Both products offer, for example:

  • Tutorials aligned with the ACRL frames that teach essential information literacy skills
  • Integration with campus LMS systems like Canvas
  • Robust reporting on usage and student progress
  • Customization options that let you adapt instruction to the needs of your institution, specific instructors, courses, and classes
  • Metrics to demonstrate the impact of Info Lit instruction to other campus stakeholders
  • Compliance with accessibility and privacy requirements

The differences are based on fundamentally different business models. Infobase is a publisher that licenses content. Niche Academy is a software company whose revenue is tied to a simple platform subscription. As a result, you'll notice that Niche Academy offers:

  • more open educational resources available through the platform, including content created by other libraries and experts in the community
  • no additional charges based on which tutorials you use or how much you use them
  • more attention to the quality of the user experience for learners, instructors, and content creators. It's easier to create and customize training on the platform. It's easier to find and generate reports.
  • more options for interactive instruction with Niche Academy including activities, open-ended response prompts, polls, etc. It is a fully baked LMS in its own right. In fact staff training is a primary use case for most of our customers and you'll find lots of professional development instruction available on the platform.
  • more ways to embed tutorial experiences within websites and online tools like LibGuides

Q: How is Niche Academy different from LibGuides?

A: LibGuides is a library oriented Content Management System that is used to present information and count the number of views.

Niche Academy is a library oriented Learning Management System that is used to create interactive tutorials and measure learning outcomes. Niche Academy lets you provide feedback to individual learners and offer library instruction directly within the campus LMS.

Niche Academy customers will often embed tutorials within LibGuides to enrich the information presented there. Niche Academy offers a number of visually appealing embed options for this use case.

Q: Are accessibility features available?

A: Yes. Niche Academy is compliant with the WCAG 2.1 standard at the AA level. This is something we work hard to maintain as we continuously update the platform. If you spot anything that’s slipped through our testing, please let us know. A thorough enumeration of our compliance level is available in the Niche Academy Accessibility Conformance Report.

 

Q: Are we limited to a certain number of training and support hours?

A: No. A Niche Academy subscription includes unlimited professional support. See the answer above on what’s included in the price.

Q: What maintenance and support is included with a Niche Academy subscription?

A: Niche Academy provides live technical support during business hours. There is no additional charge levied for Niche Academy support and there are no support tiers. Small customers get the same thoughtful attention as everyone else.  

All aspects of initial onboarding are included in the Niche Academy support offering including:

  • The creation of customer academies and initial population of appropriate tutorials from the Niche Academy marketplace.
  • Basic configuration of tutorials within each customer academy including invitation of learners, the addition of custom links, and showing or hiding available tutorial elements appropriately for the intended audience.
  • The implementation of LTI integration with your campus LMS
  • Live training calls with all customer staff that need to learn how to use Niche Academy.

 

Q: What’s the process for reaching Niche Academy support?

A: Niche Academy support specialists can be reached by phone, by email, or through questions submitted within the platform itself. In addition to the live support, Niche Academy provides a searchable knowledge base and a collection of self-paced help tutorials covering basic administrative tasks and the process for tutorial creation.

 

Q: Will this tool replace me?

A: If the security of your job is enhanced by measuring the direct value you provide, Niche Academy will help, not hurt. You'll be able to deliver more training and richer library learning experiences because the Niche Academy tutorial marketplace means you don't have to create training from scratch. You'll have more opportunities for direct interaction with learners. Niche will also make it easy for you to deliver reports on instructional outcomes.

 

 

More questions? Check out our FAQ page.

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