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Multimedia Help Guides Assist Student Research

Whether on campus or at home in their pajamas, most students search for scholarly literature using the Internet. This is why Fran Sardone, research skills instruction coordinator with teaching and learning services (TLS) is currently developing multimedia help guides. Employing html, pdf, Flash and audio files, online multimedia help guides are brief movies that ‘show and tell’ searchers how to make the most of their literature searches – in under two minutes. “The guides are just one more tool to connect resources about what we have learned in the past to what we are learning today,�? says Sardone.Sardone says while most students are very comfortable working in an online environment, they are often uncomfortable interacting with scholarly catalogues and indexes. In order to find information relevant to their course assignments, they often need a basic understanding of discipline-specific terminology and academic publication formats. Yet, according to Sardone, students typically do not have this background knowledge. The multimedia help guides are one means of bridging this gap in knowledge by demonstrating and describing the scholarly structures, formats and functions that underlie the complex information search and retrieval processes. Since students are much more likely to use surface learning tactics when they lack practical search experience and are under the pressure of time, guides that are available online, all the time, are one way they can gain assistance when they need it most. The guides can also be used as self-directed tutorials at home or on campus, by instructors conducting workshops and seminars or by faculty as part of lectures and assignments. To view UTSC’s multimedia help guides, visit

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