Skip to Content

University Libraries

Bridging the social distancing divide

In September, I visited Dr. Jennifer Blevins’s Social Advocacy and Ethical Life (SAEL 200) classroom for a 50-minute, in-person library instruction session. It was the type of visit I have made hundreds of times during my tenure at the UofSC Libraries, and the type of visit I relish: the opportunity to tell students about the outstanding resources and services available to them as well as teach database selection, search techniques and other library research related topics.

This session was more challenging than most because it took place in a socially distanced classroom setting. 

To add interactivity and real-time assessment in such a setting – two keys to fostering engagement -- I incorporated Nearpod into the session. Nearpod is an online student engagement platform that allows students to join in a lesson. As slides were projected on a screen, students viewed those slides on their own devices. I then challenged students with Nearpod’s Time to Climb, a gamified activity where students pick an avatar and race to the top of a mountain while answering multiple choice questions, based on presentation topics. The session finished up with an overview of library databases relevant to the assignment’s topics and criteria.  

In addition to the in-person session for the students in the classroom, I created video tutorials and a research guide for students in Dr. Blevins’ two online asynchronous SAEL 200 sections. The guide included links to relevant databases as well as video tutorials. The video tutorials and research guide were designed to mirror what was covered in the in-person library instruction session to ensure continuity, no matter the delivery mode.

Dr. Blevins kindly noted that "Karen provided a comprehensive overview of library resources while simultaneously focusing on my students' specific research needs. Her Nearpod activity was a fun way to encourage participation and review the material." She also wrote that she was grateful for the comprehensive overview of research and library services for her virtual students. 

My colleagues and I in Research and Instruction are happy to work with you to create a library instruction session tailored to meet the needs of your students. Reach out to me at, contact your subject librarian, or complete an instruction request form to let us know how we can help. We look forward to working with you!

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.