In summer 2007, three librarians and I embarked on a project to revamp the freshman library orientation experience. In previous years, freshmen taking the university orientation course (UK101, which at this time is not mandatory) spent one class session at the library. The class was split into half PowerPoint presentation from a librarian, half tour of the library.
We were happy with the tour portion of the class but knew that the PowerPoint presentation was in need of updates. Several of us felt it might be lost in a sea of other introductory PowerPoints from other campus entities. How many orientation spiels are first year students treated to in their first three weeks of classes?
For a number of reasons, we thought it might be interesting to try a short video using Second Life avatars for at least a portion of the video. Each of us had some experience or skills to contribute to the project: library instruction experience, script writing abilities, Second Life building skills, a sense of humor, some editing skills, and a desire to see what's possible. We shot half of the film "on location" in Second Life and the other half on campus (with an albeit shaky hand camera). The acting (real and virtual) was done by students or library staff.
UK101 students either laughed at the right times or rolled their eyes--a reaction I was expecting, but figured was satisfactory nonetheless. After all, how much can you really cover in a short orientation in those first critical weeks? Our goal is to simply offer up the library as a friendly, convenient place to go to get help. At this stage, there's no time for database searching demos or the like. Just show that all our libraries are full of helpful librarians, computers, writing help, and other services. And by showing them a video, our hope is that it will be memorable, not lost in a sea of PowerPoints.
I have a great deal more to say about each step of our process, particularly how I edited the video and how I would do things differently next time (steady cam for sure!). The four of us are working on a presentation proposal about the entire experience so I'll likely save many of the details for that. In the meantime, take a look at the finished product.