K. Holt, P.T. Clements, G.M. Childs

Drexel University (UNITED STATES)
In the current sociopolitical climate of global polarization, economic challenges and significant demographic shifts, learners in universities face an array of options for extending their education. With the virtual explosion of online degree programs, the burgeoning numbers of adult learners enrolling in programs range from older students returning to continue postsecondary studies, to graduate students attending fulltime, having just earned their undergraduate degree. In the majority of academic settings, the learner is now considered to be a consumer or client in the same way that the public is a customer in the business sector. Correspondingly, an education is viewed as a product or service to be provided with predictable outcomes related to economic success, vocational achievement, and job placement. Having little pre-knowledge about the process or the application of course material, the entering learner is often left frustrated and fearful when entering the online classroom. This phenomenon not only can be anxiety provoking but also can result in distracting learners from the otherwise important content of their early online education. While changing the way the learner and faculty interface with the campus library can be anxiety provoking, effective accession of university library resources and database searches are an inherent and inevitable factor in the success of learner education. It is a foundational facet in the quality of course assignments, and further comments upon the capacity of the learner for scholarly rigor. Synchronous Electronic Library Orientation sessions can be used for targeted dissemination and exploration of the significantly important information regarding database searches and accession of available library resources. Such sessions include methods to conduct robust information searches for scholarly manuscripts, accessing statistical data, locating government resources and exploration of interdisciplinary databases. These sessions also allow students to speak in "real time" with the faculty and library staff directly despite being online and geographically remote. Learner feedback regarding these sessions has been very positive and the quality of assignment submissions has significantly improved overall from both technology immigrants and natives.