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Quick Tips for Teaching Online: Reflections on Teaching Online by the Librarians at UL

Picture of the Glucksman Library at the University of Limerick.
The Glucksman Library at the University of Limerick
Thu, 26 Nov 2020

By Michelle Breen.

Reading Time: ~3 minutes

Featured Image Source: Glucksman Library from UL MarComms Campus Buildings collection

Pattie Punch, Micheál O hAodha, Liz Dore, Peter Reilly and Jesse Waters are the librarians in UL’s Information Services Department in the library.

The library teaches academic skills to students. These workshop classes are themed around seeking, finding, using and managing information and are provided to all years and disciplines. A series of general sessions are advertised on our Library Events webpage throughout the year and students sign up for these voluntarily. Librarians also deliver sessions within modules, working closely with the lecturer to ensure a bespoke offering.

From our experiences of giving online library workshops here’s a quick synopsis of our tips for teaching online:

  1. Record your sessions (with the permission of the participants)
  2. Allow time to edit audio transcript of your recording before sharing with the class
  3. Consider co-teaching: Librarians and Faculty together
  4. Encourage listening by having less busy slides
  5. Prompt your students to get reading

Plus, here's a Quick snapshot of how the Library has been supporting you since beginning of Semester.


Figure 1: The Library's tips for teaching online including workshop registration and attendance figures for the first 6 weeks of the autumn semester 2020.

1. Record your sessions (with the permission of the participants)

We record most sessions and provide the slides in advance or afterwards to participants. Students like to receive slides in advance of the session and often ask for a recording of a live session that they have attended. Before we give our sessions we’ve realised that converting our presentation slides from Powerpoint to PDF for upload is essential so that the formatting remains true to the original file, and image sizes are compressed making the file smaller for people to download. 

2. Allow time to edit audio transcript of your recording before sharing with the class

As you know, teaching online takes time, a lot of preparation and a good deal of creativity to do it well. It’s important to us that our material is accessible by all. Our KBS Librarian, Peter Reilly, while editing a Microsoft Stream audio transcript of a video recording, encountered some misinterpretations of his spoken words as detected by the artificial intelligence (AI) powered automated transcription service. See table below for original version of the words spoken and AI’s interpretation of audio transcript.

Original words spoken AI interpretation of words spoken
Glucksman Library Site Deluxe the Lady Said
Log into UL Log in Early
Just go into Glucksman We just go local swim
Mendeley Mentally
Move on then London
So LibGuides So really guys
A-Z Eighty cents
That he can Daddy

3. Consider co-teaching: Librarians and Faculty together

Operating outside the formal timetable provides greater flexibility in terms of the duration of library sessions, which are anything from half an hour to an hour long. A librarian tag-team approach means that we can open the workshops to students from across all the UL faculties. Each librarian brings their own subject expertise and teaching style to the class which enriches the session for students. Having the information literacy sessions embedded into the curriculum is an approach some lecturers have taken and if you want to contact your faculty librarian to consider this for semester 2 or beyond, please email to arrange it.

4. Encourage listening by having less busy slides

We’ve reduced the number of slides and minimized the amount of text on any slide in our workshops. This gives attendees time to listen to and focus on the workshop’s content. In the past we delivered classes on the Cornell Note Taking method and we’ve learned that giving students time to listen facilitates them with a better chance to take good quality notes.

5. Prompt your students to get reading

The library’s core aim with the teaching it does is to enhance students’ ability to find and use scholarly information. These are skills for life. Recognising that reading underpins every aspect of a student’s academic success, the library’s reading lists service aims to put recommended readings at students’ fingertips in the VLE. Our workshops always emphasise the importance of actually reading the material that library searches generate.

Figure 2: Number of views of online library content in the first 6 weeks of the autumn semester 2020.

There were close to 1 million views of online library content in the first 6 weeks of the autmn semester 2020. The library answered over 3,000 online queries from students and faculty and the social media channels had a reach of 250,000. UL Librarians have delivered instruction and consultations to students, faculty and researchers using Skype, Zoom, Teams and Big Blue Button. The library is open 12 hours a day and on Saturdays now but our teaching, like most of UL’s teaching, remains online. Details of upcoming library workshops are available on the library’s events calendar and we invite faculty to share this information with your students. Enquire directly to the library if you wish to talk about embedding information skills sessions into your modules. Lecturers who wish to organise classes for their students on the use of primary sources in the University’s Special Collections and Archives should contact

Thanks for reading.