How Utah State University's Library Instruction Sessions Went From 1,300 to 35,000 in Just 1 Year Without Hiring New Staff

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Who is this for?

If you feel like you need to clone yourself to really meet the need for library instruction at your institution...

If you want to make a direct and measurable contribution to student success…

If your priorities are more about services than collections…

...this is for you.

 

The ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics survey shows an increase in the ratio of library staff to student FTE. 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 dramatically increase the number and the impact of library instruction sessions without adding new staff or administrative overhead, but most academic libraries don’t get those results because they don't have a cost-effective way to deliver instruction that is always available (asynchronous) AND interactive.

Conventional library instruction methods (live instruction and static web pages) limit one-on-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 produces dramatic results.

Niche Academy offers the simplest and most impactful 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. 

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A Better Way

Old Approach

Live instruction is time constrained with limited options for real interaction. Online instruction is static with no interaction options. 

New Approach

Library instruction is always available online (including ) AND offers interactive elements like quizzes, response prompts and applied learning activities.

Old Result

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

New Result

Library instructors directly measure their impact on student learning outcomes. They can proactively follow up with students, both those who are struggling and 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

Library instruction requires teaching faculty to interrupt their own instruction and preparation time to accommodate it. Learners see it as tangential or have to go out of their way to get it.

New Approach

Library training is easily embedded as an assignment directly into regular online course material within 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

The "one-shot" approach means that library instruction is one-size-fits-all. There is little adaptation across disciplines and almost never from course to course.

New Approach

Library instruction is tailored to support specific courses. Course-specific interactive instruction can include research techniques, citation best practices, and other essential information literacy skills as well as database introductions when necessary.

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.

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, up-to-date 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:

  • Professional quality interactive information literacy tutorials,
  • A collection of database introductions, and
  • a library-specific LMS to deliver tutorials within the campus LMS and still have your own reports.

Result: If you already have instructional designers, illustrators, and video editors on staff, and a good sound recording equipment, you can create tutorials yourself. If you have to outsource this, you will need to budget per finished minute of video.

Price: Niche Academy's cost for creating a single tutorial is about $1,200. If you can match our efficiency and start with just 24 tutorials, the cost for an initial offer would be $28,800.

If you have to outsource the video creation, a minute of finished video will cost around $1,000. If you include just 10 minutes of video in each of your 24 tutorials, you're looking at a cost of $240,000.

DIY or outsource, you'll need a staff librarian to guide the content creation project. Salary.com indicates that the average salary for a college librarian starts at around $60,000/year.

LMS subscription prices vary widely. A typical price is $3,000/year.

You will need someone to configure and manage the library's LMS. An employee to manage the LMS costs $30,000-$40,000 a year.

Finally, you will need to customize/adapt tutorial content for individual courses. If you spend 4 hours per course, and spend $25/hr, you can service 20 courses for $2,000.

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

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A Niche Academy subscription includes a rich set of information literacy tutorials covering topics like research essentials, search techniques, source evaluation, & appropriate citation methods. It also includes continually updated introductions to discipline-specific databases from publishers like JSTOR, EBSCO, ProQuest, and Gale.

The Niche Academy platform is also a robust Learning Management System.

You can also tap into an enormous marketplace of training content maintained by a community of practitioners and library experts. As a customer, you’ll be able to influence Niche Academy’s content creation queue.

Result: The instructional design, video, and audio quality of Niche Academy tutorials are top notch and exactly matched to the needs of academic libraries. The tutorials are completely white-labeled for each institutional library. Faculty members can simply select what they need from a collection of available library training.

Niche Academy integrates with your campus LMS with the industry standard LTI protocol. This gives you real-time usage stats and learner reports. This make it easy to evaluate learner outcomes, provide targeted feedback, and demonstrate your own direct contribution to student success.

Every Niche Academy subscription includes unlimited access to Niche Academy technical support experts. You can rely on their extensive experience to help troubleshoot technical questions and to support your setup.

The Niche Academy platform lets you create course-specific tutorial experiences with a small fraction of the effort, and the library tutorial marketplace lets you select, adapt, and customize material for your own library to continually offer fresh training options.

Price: Subscriptions starting at just $1,200.

Timeframe: Academy setup takes less than 2 hours.

Niche Academy is for academic librarians who want to contribute to student success.

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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Dramatically increase the number of online library instruction sessions you can report

 

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Obtain measurable evidence of your own direct contribution to student success

 

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Deploy limited resources more effectively by not building everything from scratch and spending more time on high impact IL instruction.

 

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Strengthen the library’s position as a dynamic, highly professional, and indispensable resource within the broader institution

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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

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

More questions? Check out our FAQ page.

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