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Library Tutorial by the Students for the Students

Mar 31, 2011

Dr. Turpin (rear) with (left to right) Dr. Lee, Camille Brockett, Cindy Quan, Lorrie Knight
Dr. Turpin (rear) with (left to right) Dr. Lee, Camille Brockett, Cindy Quan, Lorrie Knight

For those students who have already taken the Pacific Seminars 2 class, you may recall your professor directing you to the web-based library tutorial called PLUTO. The tutorial helps students learn the ins and outs of conducting and citing research for their PACS II paper.

You may have thought, okay cool, I get to learn online instead of reading through a blurry, text-heavy handout. But then astronaut Commander Carl appears on the Welcome screen and you silently groan, feeling like you are back in grammar school with your Weekly Reader.

That's all changed thanks to some Pacific student creativity and a lot of support from professors, staff, and the Pacific Fund.

A Pacific Fund grant allowed graphic design students to be paid for redesigning two web-based tutorials on Pacific's Library website. Cindy Quan '11 has redesigned the PLUTO interface, and Camille Brockett '11 started work on the Library's new international student orientation guide—a resource to assist students in adapting to a new school, culture and country. In addition to redesigning the "look and feel," the students must make sure the interfaces are easy to navigate.

Communication Professor Dr. Paul Turpin, who teaches a PACS 2 seminar course, initiated the project. He felt students would be more responsive to an interface that appeared more relevant and current. The PACS 1 anthology cover has been designed for several years by Visual Arts students through a design contest held within a class, and that gave Dr. Turpin the idea to do something similar for the online tutorials.

So he enlisted the assistance of Visual Arts Professor Marie Lee, who specializes in interactivity and animation. She held a design contest in her class, and Cindy and Camille were selected for the project based on their submitted works.

PLUTO Before PLUTO After

Before

After

Librarian Lorrie Knight, who was part of the original PLUTO development team, and Greg Joksch, who provides IT support for the Library, were also involved.

These projects allow Cindy and Camille to showcase their talents and gain real-world work experience. Lorrie Knight explained that the project was much like a client-vendor relationship: "The students had regular meetings with us and have to respond to our feedback and work through technical issues."

"The project gave me the opportunity to work with people with different skills and backgrounds," said Cindy. "I learned to listen to their input and translate their ideas visually into a concrete design solution. I gained a lot from this experience, and the project will be a valuable contribution to my portfolio."

"This was truly a collaborative project," said Dr. Turpin. "It brought together faculty from different disciplines, library and technical staff, and students." He is happy to see that the team effort is bringing fresh life to the library web materials, with students themselves supporting learning for their peers.

See the new PLUTO module on the Library website.

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