Here’s an Idea: Database Help at the Point of Need

Another cool idea that came out of the Reference Symposium was generated at the session on Learner-Centered Instruction run by Aimee Whiteside and Barb Horvath. We were all working in small groups to plan our response to a given scenario: students didn’t know the differences between scholarly and popular journals, and we were to design a tutorial to help them navigate between the two kinds of publications. Can it possibly be coincidence that two groups independently came up with the same strategy? We were separated by an entire room and about 100 people, but we both decided that bits and pieces of the tutorial should be embedded in the databases themselves so that when a student wonders whether a citation is a scholarly source or not, he or she could just click on the help button and get walked through the decision from right within the database. Why isn’t this possible? Is it possible?