Library instruction through online video and social media

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Library
University of California, Berkeley

July 16, 2010

Creative Commons License
Jeffery Loo
Chemical Informatics Librarian


We made online instructional videos for PubChem, a free database of the biological activities of small molecules developed by NCBI at the National Institutes of Health.

The videos are modular with each one addressing research problems and tasks in chemical informatics. This arrangement encourages remixing, reuse, and sharing that can be tailored to different learning needs. The videos are stored in and delivered through YouTube - a popular, video-sharing website that offers social media features for commenting, voting, and video sharing.

This pilot project demonstrates that online video development is not cost prohibitive when using software and services that are free, open source, readily available at academic libraries, or cost five dollars.

Why did we make online videos?

We hope online videos for library instruction will raise the library’s visibility and communicate our value. The videos may facilitate patron engagement and library use in a number of ways:


We had three goals for developing these videos.

1.  Follow principles of effective instruction by:

2.  Use social media to:

3.  Minimize costs by:

May we present the online videos?

Here is a sample video:

All 12 videos are available by:

Features of our online videos
The instructional videos are available in the popular YouTube web site and searchable in Google.
Watch the high-definition videos on an iPhone app, a mobile device, a television, or computer.
Quick to view, most of the videos are 6 minutes or shorter.
Suitable for different learning styles.

Listen to a mini-lecture, watch a demonstration, read the summary.

Each video addresses a single research problem or skill.

Tailor to learning needs by watching selectively.

Review the lessons with video summaries.
A table of contents for jumping to a specific part of the video.
Remix with playlists, reuse by embedding videos on your site, and share with recommender services.
With open content, be creative and improve these videos yourself.
Videos are extensible.

Embed them into a library web page, make your own playlist, display them in a library guide - and allow others to do the same.

Voting and commenting features offer instructional feedback.
Making every penny count by using software that are free, readily available at academic libraries, or cost five dollars.
Tools used
Tools used Function Cost
Microsoft PowerPoint Create slide content Readily available at many academic libraries.

Alternatively, use for free.

GIMP Edit graphics Free, open-source software
Audacity Record and edit audio Free, open-source software
Screencast-o-Matic Make screencasts
(e.g., record computer demonstrations with video and audio)

However, we paid five dollars for advanced features.

Windows Live Movie Maker Edit video Free
YouTube Store and distribute videos Free
Creativity Make videos engaging Free and priceless

While online videos offer advantages with efficiency and engagement, they cannot substitute the rich interaction of in-person, classroom instruction.

Advantages of online videos (relative to in-person, classroom instruction)

Disadvantages of online videos (relative to in-person, classroom instruction)


We have not conducted an evaluation of this pilot project yet. For details about our experiences, please contact Jeffery Loo -


We created online videos for library instruction at low cost using software that was free, readily available at academic libraries, or cost five dollars.

Because the videos are modular and address specific research tasks, they can be remixed and tailored to different learning needs.

By storing them in YouTube, they are viewable on multiple platforms (e.g., mobile phones, desktops, televisions) and they leverage social media for video sharing and instructional assessment through voting and commenting.


Horrigan, J. (2006, November 20). The Internet as a Resource for News and Information about Science. Retrieved July 17, 2010, from

Rainie, L. (2009, November 20). The New Information Ecology. Retrieved July 17, 2010, from

Schonfeld, R. C., & Housewright, R. (2010). Faculty Survey 2009: Key Strategic Insights for Libraries, Publishers, and Societies. New York: ITHAKA.

Wieling, M., & Hofman, W. (2010). The impact of online video lecture recordings and automated feedback on student performance. Computers & Education, 54(4), 992-998.