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ANTS Purpose and Goal
Over the years, libraries have witnessed a significant growth in their number of online resources; matched with an increasing demand for 24/7 information literacy. At the same time new software - that allows librarians to capture Search Screens and insert audio and/or text - means that librarians can quickly create highly professional Animated Tutorials.
Recognizing that creating and updating Tutorials for each online resource is a daunting task for any library to undertake on its own, librarians in COPPUL got together to find a way to share in their development. This project is an outgrowth of that initiative and our goal is to create a critical mass of Open Source Tutorials for online resources used by libraries everywhere.
How ANTS Enables Sharing
ANTS works by allowing librarians to efficiently build shared resources across institutions. It does so by taking advantage of a host of Open Source, Social Software and Basic Guidelines which provides participants with:
- A central repository (DSpace):
- That any librarian can get an account at - and upload content to.
- Where all Source Code and SWF files are easily located.
- Wiki lists that are open to all - list where participants can learn – and communicate across institutions:
- What has been developed
- What is being worked on
- What is in need of development (NOTE: as this list is on a Wiki it is dynamic - so the list of items in need of development will evolve according to demand. They include Online Resources Tutorial Lists, Information Literacy Lists, Handicapped Users Lists, Literacy Tutorials Lists and DATA & GIS Tutorials Lists)
- End products that are generic enough to be used not just in one library – but in any library. (For further Information see the ANTS Guidelines)
- The ability to instantaneously learn about new content via RSS Feeds and Notifications.
- The ability to learn about what rights they have in relation to specific tutorials via our Creative Commons Information at DSpace and LION TV.
- A host of value added service that enable librarians to:
- Share FLV (Flash Movie), AVI (Windows Media Player) and soon MP4M4V Files via our LION TV site.
- Access Embedding Code for both FLV and SWF Files via our LION TV and Screencast.com sites.
- Learn all about how to Upload Files via our DSpace Tutorial (which includes info about Viewletbuilder files), Camtasia or Captivate Tutorials.
- Embed Tutorials
- Learn more about how to optomize tutorials via our Guidelines and Best Practices in Screencasting sites.
- Get peer help when confronted with technical difficulties by using the Wiki's discussion forum.
Our team believes that this unique set of systems and resources makes ANTS different from other shared repositories. This is because our open source systems are open to all librarians and our utilization of Social Software works to eliminate duplication of effort across institutions. From the start of this project our goal has been to provide the necessary infrastructure so that librarians do not have to reinvent the wheel at each library. So if you believe in the value of inter-institutional shared development of library tutorials, we would encourage you to become a participant and add to our collection. It is an initiative that would benefit library users everywhere!
For more information about how to participate, check out our How to Contribute Section.
This project was an outgrowth of an initiative started by the COPPUL Distance Education Information Literacy Working Group. The group existed from 1998 to 2007. When it initially came together in 1998, one of the issues it set out to address was how institutions could collaborate in the provision of Information Literacy to Distance Education Students.
The first initiative undertaken by the group was the creation of their Doing Research from a Distance online tutorial. It was a comprehensive information literacy tutorial that discussed finding information, evaluating information, citing information, etc. Despite the marketing of it to our Distance Education Students, it was clear by 2004 that the tutorial was getting very little use.
At the same time, newer technology that allowed librarians to quickly capture search screens, add audio or text, and highlight or point to pertinent areas of a search screen, came into existence. This technology was identified as being more user friendly and more interactive. It would also allow librarians to create Point of Need tutorials for highly used electronic resources; but it was recognized that creating and updating an Animated Tutorial for each e-resource would require a lot of work. As a result, in 2004, the COPPUL Distance Education Information Literacy Group was asked to look into ways to enable librarians to collaborate in the development of Point of Need Tutorials.
The group met in September 2004 - along with the Chair of the COPPUL Public Services Group. Several items were identified for development or follow up and by the Spring of 2005 these undertakings were completed. The group subsequently made a presentation about the project to the COPPUL Public Services Group in November 2005 and received some very positive and helpful feedback in the process. This feedback was integrated into the overall plan for the project. Then in February 2006, the Project was announced to COPPUL Librarians.
Opening the Project beyond COPPUL
Almost as soon as the project was released, discussion arose around opening the project up beyond COPPUL Librarians. In particular, ANTS Team members recognized that the Open Source products we used would not restrict who could participate and that the more participants we had, the more likely it would be that we could create the critical mass of tutorials that we were striving to achieve. As a result, requests were made to expand the project, and in September 2006, ANTS was given the go ahead to open the project to any librarian regardless of institution of origin. Consequently, ANTS is now international in scope and open to professional librarians around the globe.
Moving Beyond Database Tutorials
In 2006 and 2007 ANTS members gave presentations about the project at CLA, Access 2006, and ACRL. At the time several librarians indicated that they would like to see many different types of tutorials added to the project. The ANTS Team took their recommendations under advisement and expanded the project to include any type of library related learning objects including:
- Information Literacy Tutorials Identified for Development,
- Literacy Tutorials,
- Data and GIS Library Tutorials, and
- Tutorials for Handicapped Users
New ANTS Sites
During the initial phases of the project, the ANTS Team also received feedback from participants and interested parties related to additional desirable features for the project. This feedback – along with our own list of preferences – led us to look for Wikis and Broadcast Sites that would enable us to do more. As a result, starting in the Spring of 2007, the ANimated Tutorial Sharing Project introduced a number of new sites. In particular:
- All content found on our old web page (www.brandonu.ca/library/coppul) and our old Wiki (http://wiki.uwinnipeg.ca/index.php/COPPUL_Tutorials ) was migrated to this Wiki in order to take advantage of its Social Networking, Tagging, Sharing, and Discussion Forum features.
- Responding to concerns that (a) not all SWF files displayed well at DSpace, and (b) that DSpace did not provide embedding code, Paul Pival at the University of Calgary, secured Techsmith's sponsorship and thereby provide us with our Screencast.com site. This Sponsorship was renewed again in September 2008!
- In response to requests to have a YouTube-like site, and enable us to Push ANTS content out to popular brand sites, we introduced our LION TV site in May of 2008. To read more about it, click here.
Moving Beyond Sharing to Providing Information about Screencasting
Expanding the project to include new sites, led the initial ANT Team members - Carmen Kazakoff-Lane (Brandon University), Paul Pival (University of Calgary) and Bill Badke (Trinity Western University) to conclude that we would need more people on the Team to assist with the additional workload. As a result, in the Fall of 2007, Paul Betty (Regis University), Richard Baer (Camuson College) and Duncan Dixon (Trinity Western University) were added to the team. These new members brought with them a host of new ideas that we all felt were important to share with others. As a result, both existing and new team members felt it would be good to add new sections to the Wiki that discussed how to optimize tutorials, measure their usage using Google Analytics, and get User Feedback using existing online survey technology. These and other ideas were added to the Wiki under our Best Practices in Screencasting Section and our How to Embed Tutorials Section. Team members also sought out to use the new Wiki’s Discussion Forum to post discussions about Camtasia or Captivate.
It is our hope that new and better ideas will continue to be added and discussed at this site. In so doing, we hope that ANTS contributors will share more than tutorials --- they will also share knowledge.